As you have made the decision to start your own business, there seems to be no end to the marketing you’ll need to do to get your business noticed and reach new customers.
Well today it’s your luck day because from idea to growth stage, we have put together the most comprehensive startup marketing strategy “to do list” to help you scale up and grow effectively your business online
Whatever your business idea is, here are the 100 startup marketing strategies you need to take a closer look at. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all alone as you can always outsource one of Fiverr’ sellers to help you get the job done.
Pre-Launch Startup Marketing Strategies
The first step for any serious startup is to determine the feasibility of your idea.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Brainstorm an idea or concept – You likely have no shortage of ideas for your new startup. But how workable are they? A good solution is to join career & business meetups near your city and get start-up advice from real-world experts who have been where you are and can help you better express and formulate your idea into something more concrete.
- Make a mind-map of your business idea – Map out your own skills, experience and expertise, who your potential customers might be, as well as the products or services you can offer them. As you do this, it’s likely that new ideas will come to mind, or opportunities to bridge gaps in the marketplace. You can use an online mind-map tool such as mindmeister.com to help you collect your thoughts.
- Encourage suggestions from family and friends – No one knows your strengths (and weaknesses) like those closest to you. What are they struggling with? How could they help you create a unique angle for your business that you’d truly excel at? The only way to know is to ask them!
- Take advantage of free local resources – Your local Small Business Administration or sba.gov has a wide range of free resources available to help you, including how to manage your business, get contracts, apply for business loans and much more
- Assess the market potential of your idea – Whether you’re selling locally or not, it’s a good idea to see if your idea has merit. For example, how different or distinctive is your product or service from what’s already out there?
- Do keyword research – When testing the potential of your idea for online markets, a good starting place is to do keyword research. Are people searching for it? What words or phrases are they using? Is it going to satisfy a market need? Do the words and phrases differ based on geographic location? Solid keyword research can reveal answers to these questions and much more.
- Scope out the competition – Every great business has competition out there. Unless you’re inventing something truly novel and unique, don’t be fooled by hopes and dreams of “zero competition”. Zero competition often means zero interest, so be sure to look at your competitors’ successes and failures as a sign of what to do (and what not to do). Doing the aforementioned keyword research will help you better understand your competitive chances (or not) and help you stay one step ahead of the competition
- Define your target audience – Once you know your idea has potential and that there are people searching for it, the next step is to define that audience. You must create a detailed description of your target customer. You can use demographics like their gender, age range, and education, as well as “psychographics”, the things that matter to them, the causes they believe in, what they support and more.
- What’s keeping your target audience up at night? When you’ve defined your target audience, the next step is naturally to determine what their problems are (related to your product or service). You can find this out by asking them directly through a poll or survey, or by browsing online forums and Q & A sites related to your topic or industry.
- How can you help your target audience achieve their goals? Now that you know who they are and what’s troubling them, how can you help? Make a list of how your product or service can benefit them, and why they should care.
- Assess how viable your idea is – This is not quite the same as #5 on the list, as by this point, we want to see how “do-able” the idea is. Assess your idea from all angles: what tools or services will you need to make it a reality? How cost effective are they? Will you need a loan to fund your business or can you do it yourself? Just because you can do everything yourself, should you?
- Develop an MVP for testing – An MVP in this case is a Minimally Viable Product. This could be a “lite” or trial version of your full product. Developing this will help you determine whether customers are truly interested in it and willing to purchase it before you invest a lot of money in further development.
- Assess product/service profitability – Just because you can make a product that people want doesn’t necessarily mean it will be profitable. Do a full appraisal of your costs involved and identify your break-even point – in other words, after you consider the costs related to your product, how many would you need to sell to make up the difference?
- Design your business plan – So you have a product, an audience, a solid profit margin and excitement about your product. The next step is to formulate it into a solid business plan. The SBA can help you get started and your local library has tons of books on how to write a realistic, well-formed business plan.
- Create a meaningful customer acquisition plan – Even if you know customers are searching for and interested in your product, how will you share the news about it to them? How will you attract them and, perhaps more importantly, keep them? There are lots of ways to do this both online and offline, including giveaways and contests, specials and coupons, and much more.
- Set smart milestones and goals – Your new business growth is only as reliable as the fuel you put into it. In this case the fuel comes in the form of goals. Look at the resources you have at your disposal and set smart, achievable milestones and goals. Don’t get overwhelmed, but take things one piece at a time.
- Define your key message – Call it a key message, a universal selling proposition, or what simply makes your product or service unique compared to the rest. This is going to be your key message and the key differentiator between you and your competitors. Find out what your difference is and then make sure it’s clear, easy to understand and actionable
- Write a mock press release – A press release can be an invaluable source of exposure, and it’s important that you get it right. There’s no better way to do that starting out than to write a mock press release for practice. Learn the guidelines and what reporters are looking for so that your real press release doesn’t go straight to the circular file.
- Build your marketing framework – How do you plan to market your product or service successfully? What marketing channels and services will you use? Creating a framework means crafting a plan of action for every social and marketing network you want to use – not simply using them because everyone else does.
- Define your future business structure – And speaking of the future, it’s a good idea to start planning out your future business structure now. Will you go it alone as a sole proprietor? A partnership? An LLC or corporation? It may seem far-fetched to decide now, but doing so can save you a lot of headache (and a lot of restructuring) later.
- Evaluate cash flow needs for the coming months – It also may seem premature to start thinking about your cash flow needs before your business takes off, but getting together at least a preliminary budget for your plans will help you avoid an early stage cash flow shortage. Estimating your cash flow incomes and expenditures over your first quarter will help you get a better handle on what needs to be purchased and what’s simply “nice to have” but not mission critical at this point.
- Define your business sales process – Since we’re in the defining stages, it’s also important to define your business sales process. What is your sales funnel like? How will you establish credibility and trust with your audience? What about your product lifecycle? Thinking about this before you launch is important as it will affect all of your marketing and sales endeavors.
- Define a strategic plan – Creating a long-term strategic plan is a smart investment in the future of your company – not just in the first year, but 3-5 years down the road as well. Take the time to map out a detailed plan, including how objectives are handled, priorities assigned and problems resolved in order to save yourself encountering many potential problems when your startup finally takes off.
- Define your operations plan – After establishing a strategic plan, you’ll need to set a plan for the day-to-day operations and management of your business. Decide which tasks to prioritize, who’s responsible for them, when they’re due and how much it will cost to get them done.
- Finalize your pricing plan – Pricing is one of those all-important but often overlooked stages in the business startup process. How will you price your product or service? How can you deliver value to the customer? How will you conduct your pricing strategy to stay competitive?
- Look for funding sources – Funding can come from more than just your own pocket. You may be able to raise venture capital, apply for a business loan or in some cases receive a grant. Your local Small Business Association will have more details on funding sources you can look to in order to grow your business startup cash. Crowdfunding is also a great way to generate extra money for your idea.
- Finalize your detailed launch plan – As we get closer to launch, you’ll want to have a detailed plan in place for what will happen before, during and after launch. This helps you to foresee any potential pitfalls that could derail your plans and also helps you create a more cohesive plan of action after you launch, when the real work begins!
- Choose a great business name – Why is choosing a business name so far down on the list? Because for as much time as people spend trying to think of a clever name, they don’t spend nearly as much time planning out the process or devising strategies. While a great name is crucial, all of these other tasks are just as important! Get friends, family and associates to help you brainstorm. The name should be easy to spell, easy to pronounce and easy to type.
- Create a logo – Even if you’re not much of an artist, there are plenty of skilled designers online who can help you create a memorable logo that looks great both in print and on the web. Your logo should be easily recognizable, like your business name, and brandable. Could you envision it on t-shirts, letterheads, or the side of a building? Dream big!
- Buy a domain name – It’s getting harder and harder to find an available “.com” name, so many companies, especially startups, are looking toward other domain extensions like .me, .io and .ly to create interesting, brandable names. Exact match domains may still give you an advantage, however before proceeding it’s better you read the Google EMD update.
- Build a landing page with a call to action and opt-in form – A simple landing page with a call-to-action and an opt-in form can help you generate excitement about your new product while building your email list. There are lots of DIY landing page platforms, or you can hire a freelance designer to create something customized just for you.
- Secure your business name with every social media site you will use – Once you have a business name, you’ll want to reserve it on every social media site you plan to use. The last thing you want is a competitor stealing your name or masquerading as your business.
- Start building your social media fan base – Once you’ve reserved your name, start building your fan base. Reach out to potential fans, bloggers and writers and encourage them to follow/friend/fan you on social media.
- Find niche market influencers/bloggers and start to build relationships – Bloggers in your particular industry can be a great source of traffic. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them and let them know that you’re a regular reader and have something valuable to share with them. Don’t spam.
- Drive traffic to the landing page with AdWords – As your social media exposure grows, you won’t want to forget about that landing page. Set up an account with Google AdWords to drive paid traffic to the page by creating ads and choosing the right keywords. You can also hire a professional to help you set up your AdWords account.
- Build relationships with journalists through LinkedIn and HARO – Journalists are always looking for the latest news and businesses are no exception. Reach out to those who are likely to cover your industry through sites like LinkedIn and HARO (helpareporter.com) where journalists look for industry experts to interview for stories.
- Collect feedback – Feedback from visitors to your site, social media or other avenues can be invaluable, even if your product isn’t ready yet. Sites like Usertesting.com can let you view your landing page through the eyes of a potential customer and can give you valuable feedback on what should be improved.
- Define actionable goals for the landing page – Building a list from your landing page is just the first step. You can also use it to help build your social media profile, encourage users to attend a free webinar and so forth.
- Implement analytics to track your goals – You’ll never know how well your page is performing if you don’t have analytics in place. Google Analytics is free and easy to set up. It can show you where your traffic is coming from, whether or not visitors are staying on your pages and much more.
- Build up interest on social media – Simply having a presence on Facebook or Twitter is no longer enough. Running contests, general polls and other initiatives can help drive up excitement about your product while increasing its exposure to potential customers.
- Take pre-orders! Once you’ve started to generate a buzz on social media and paid advertising, you can capture that excitement by way of pre-orders. Some companies even give customers a little something extra for pre-ordering.
- Plan out your website design – Your website is not the same as your landing page. Rather, it’s much more thorough and involved. You’ll want to plan out the number of pages, their general content and so on before you even hire a designer.
- Plan out your website architecture – How many pages will your website have? Where will they go? Planning out the architecture of your site helps create a “flow” that users can easily follow. They’ll know precisely where to go if they have questions, or what to do in order to make a purchase.
- Write your own website content – No one knows your product or service better than you do, so even if you don’t feel like you’re much of a writer, take the time to write your own website content. You can always work with a professional copywriter later to refine it if you’d like!
- Create a content marketing strategy – This is different than your social media strategy and involves using content to market for you. The most common ways of doing this are through sharing articles, infographics or videos, but you’ll soon determine which content types work best for your particular needs.
- Brainstorm for your upcoming marketing campaign – It’s getting closer to launch, which is why you’ll want to think of ideas you can use for your very first AdWords marketing campaign. What is the goal of the campaign? Which ad format will you use? Are your headlines effective? What about your landing page? Your call to action? There are a lot of things to think about, but getting this information right will help your ads receive a higher quality score, meaning you’ll pay less but still get great exposure.
- Choose a reliable hosting platform – Your hosting is where your website files are stored and it’s vital that you have a reliable, highly-reviewed website hosting platform. The last thing you want on launch day is for the servers to go down! Research web hosts thoroughly and find one that meets both your needs and budget. If you need some help with the migration process, Fiverr offers you great solutions.
- Get the website built and make sure it’s mobile friendly – When having your website built, be sure that the end result is “responsive” — that is, that it can be displayed just as well on smartphones, tablets and mobile devices as it can on your desktop. Ensure your developer knows and understands the importance of this task as Google is penalizing sites in mobile search that are not mobile friendly
- Block your new website from search engines using robots.txt – Robots.txt is a special file that’s stored on your server and blocks search engine robots from crawling your pages. Why do this? Because it’s not quite ready for primetime yet, and you don’t want anyone seeing it when it’s under construction.
- Set up a GREAT customer support system – A company is only as great as its customers, which is why you’ll want to set up a fantastic customer support system. The good news is that there are all kinds of customer service software programs available. Here’s a handy comparison chart to help you decide which is right for you.
- Optimize your website for search engines – Even though your website can’t (yet) be found by search engines, it’s a good idea to fully optimize it so that when it IS ready, your content will be as search engine friendly as it can be.
- Synchronize Google Search Console and Google Analytics Accounts – To see how your site shows up and performs in organic search results, you can integrate your search console data in your Google Analytics reports. Here’s how.
- Synchronize Google AdWords and Google Analytics Accounts – In order to analyze customer activity on your website after an ad is clicked, you can simply link your Google Analytics property to your AdWords account. Here’s how to do that.
- Get your website proofread – Grammatical and spelling errors can make your beautifully-designed website look amateurish and poorly planned. Take the time to get it professionally proofread so that when you launch, everything looks and reads correctly.
- Make sure your website is PCI Compliant if processing credit cards – If you’re processing credit cards, you want to be sure that your website is using the latest in transactional security. You can do this through ensuring that it is PCI compliant. Read more about the PCI security standards and how to ensure compliancy by clicking here.
- Get a custom 404 error page – The 404 page is the page that displays when something can’t be found on your site. Why let this traffic go to waste? A custom 404 page can help point users (and search engines) in the right direction and also helps increase the number of pages indexed by search engines too.
- Share key message with journalists and bloggers – There’s nothing bloggers and journalists love more than a unique angle. Your key message could have just the right angle if they’re covering your industry. Make sure they know what makes your business different – and why they should pay attention!
- Draw out the suspense! Even though you’re close to officially launching, there are still steps you can take to draw out the suspense as long as possible. Keep your prospects guessing as to what’s behind the digital curtain – make a game of it on social media!
- Make your launch AN EVENT – Don’t just launch quietly. Turn it into an event – even just a digital one. You can offer prizes or giveaways, anything to make people remember it. And as long as you’re generating the excitement…
- Create an event video – Don’t forget to take a video of the event (or the participants) so that you can look back a year from now or longer and see how much your business has grown!
- Develop your brand story – When you create memorable events, you’ll start to weave the beginnings of a story. What is your brand? What does it stand for? What do you stand for?
- Make the product or service available to important influencers – The right influencers have the ability to carry your message to their thousands and thousands of followers. Don’t be shy in letting them try out your product or service too and give you feedback!
- Get partners involved – Influencers get pitched for products and services all the time, which is why you want to form strategic partnerships with other companies and owners who aren’t directly competitive, but rather lend themselves well to your product or service and amplify your own efforts.
- Offer free trials, online downloads, product videos and demos – The key to getting people to act is to let them try out the product or service, even if it’s just a “lite” version or a demo. Once they see and try it for themselves, they’ll be that much more likely to recommend it to others.
- Build your AdWords campaign landing page – Do you remember what we talked about in #46? Now’s the time to implement that landing page where everyone who clicks on your ads will go. Keep in mind that the experience you give the consumer here will affect your ad rank as well as your cost per click and position. Read more by going here.
- Set up a thank you page for the campaign – In order to avoid confusion, be sure to thank your subscribers for entering their information, downloading your file or making a purchase. Make sure they know you appreciate them!
- Set up campaign goal tracking in analytics – You’ll want to see just how successful your campaigns are and how far-reaching the exposure you’re getting is, so be sure to set up campaign goals in your analytics dashboard. Here’s how to do it with Google Analytics.
- Leverage paid distribution channels – Paid media networks like Facebook, Twitter and AdWords are a great starting place for your advertising, but don’t forget about retargeting networks like AdRoll (www.adroll.com) to set up campaigns to reach those customers who saw your ad but didn’t act on it at first.
- Offer limited-time bonuses or discounts – Nothing encourages people to act quite like bonuses and discounts. Oftentimes that can be just enough to convince them to order – especially first-time customers.
- Publish a survey that supports the value of your product – If you’re able to interview or poll your customers, look for ways to use that information to support and build on the value of your product. There are many free online polling services that make it point-and-click simple to get started.
- Keep the release rolling! Even if launch day is over, you can still keep the momentum strong by checking back in on your customers, asking about their experiences, offering help or guides, and of course…
- Follow-up emails to check on customer satisfaction – How happy are they with the product? Did they encounter any bugs or issues? Would they recommend the service to a friend? Be sure to check back in regularly!
- Tweak your products or services based on the initial feedback of your first customers – No one ever said that a launch is a “once and done” thing. Your product will likely undergo several variations before you hit that “sweet spot” with customers. Don’t be afraid to refine and tweak it based on their feedback.
- Reverse-engineer your top competitors – You don’t have to reinvent the wheel in your business. Find out what your competitors are doing and see if you can reverse engineer or build off of their efforts. What are they successful with and how can you leverage that success for yourself (without copying them directly)? You can see these kinds of details using an online tool like SEMrush. Reverse-engineering a competitor’s website is also a great way to find link-building opportunities and content topic ideas.
- Find broken link opportunities – How could a broken link be an opportunity, you ask? When a page returns a “not found” error (404), you can use this to your advantage by creating a similar piece of content on the same topic. Then, contact the source that’s linking to the not found page, and let them know that their link is broken, but that you have a more updated piece covering the same topic. The chances are very high that they will link to you instead!
- Become a guest author to get targeted traffic as well as backlinks to leverage your SEO efforts – Guest blogging for others is a great way to maximize your exposure as well as backlinks. It’s also an ideal way to establish your name and your business as an authority in your particular industry. Many sites welcome guest authors and some will even pay a small amount.
- Offer ongoing support – Customers want to know they’re taken care of, and one of the best ways to do that is through ongoing support. Whether it’s an extension of the default support that comes with your product or service, or an ongoing subscription, you can add to your existing revenue stream by providing ongoing support options for your clients.
- Send a “surprise” or unannounced bonus to your customers or demo users – Another great sales tactic (and relationship builder) with customers is to send an unannounced bonus or a special surprise gift to them. In addition to being something of value (it doesn’t have to be a huge giveaway), customers will appreciate the gesture and you’ll continue to earn their loyalty and their business.
- Set future goals – Don’t just think about ways to grow your business today – think about the future as well! What are your goals in business a year from now? Five years? Ten years? Take a look back at the strategic plan you developed on step #23. How close are you to your goal?
- Reassess your buyers’ path to sales – what are common reasons why sales didn’t happen? – For all the reasons why you might not have gotten a sale, think of potential causes. Look at the path to sales to see if there is any friction in your funnel or obstacles that could be dissuading your customers from buying.
- Re-evaluate your company’s conversion funnel – By the same token, take a closer look at your conversion funnel. Perhaps customers are feeling too pressured to buy or they aren’t getting enough information to be able to make a more informed decision. How can you fix that?
- Shift your focus to retention – There comes a point when you have plenty of customers and brand recognition in your industry. When this happens, shift your focus to customer retention. What can you do to keep customers and get them to come back or upgrade? Remember, it’s much cheaper to retain your customers than find new ones. Build that loyalty!
- Connect with people in groups and on forums – Businesses truly thrive when they connect with others, so don’t hesitate to reach out to customers and supporters alike through user groups and forums. This is not a place to spam or blast your sales pitch, but rather to get to know people, their problems and issues, and think of ways your product or service could solve those. Encourage them to come to you – naturally.
- Set up a blog strategy plan (guidelines, topic ideas, editorial planner) – Another great method of reaching more potential customers and growing your website’s user base is through a blog. To blog successfully, you’ll want to create a strategic plan that includes guidelines, topics and an editorial calendar. Reach out to potential influencers or fans to contribute guest posts too!
- Identify your competitors’ most shared content – To help you brainstorm ideas for your blog, look at what’s shared the most among your competitors. What kind of content gets the most clicks or likes?
- Set up a blog – Setting up a blog is easy and can be done within a few minutes. WordPress is a popular blogging platform used by a vast majority of sites. Your blog can also be customized to match the look and feel of your existing site.
- Set up an email opt-in form – This is different than the opt-in form you set up for your original landing page. Many people who buy your product or service want to stay “in the loop” on new products or services you offer, so let them do just that by entering their email address in a form in exchange for a free newsletter.
- Design and create two calls to action – A call to action is whatever action you want users to take when they land on your site. It could be ordering, subscribing, telling a friend or leaving a review, to name a few things. Why create two? This will let you test and see which one your customers tend to use more – something you’ll only learn through your analytics.
- Publish 2-3 blog posts per month – With an editorial calendar, you can schedule and publish 2-3 blog posts per month (or more if you’d like), so that your customers and users are always kept informed of fresh, new information in your industry.
- Syndicate your blog content via Buffer – Buffer is a social media sharing tool that makes it easy to syndicate your blog content to social media. Creating an account is free and only takes a minute.
- Send re-engagement campaigns – Remember all those users that visited your site but didn’t buy? Now’s the time to use your email marketing service to re-engage with them and remind them about your product or service. Maybe they just forgot or were distracted with other things? A re-engagement campaign can remind them in a way that’s not intrusive.
- Build a squeeze page – A squeeze page is a type of landing page where you give away something in exchange for the user’s email address. It’s not quite as involved as a full-fledged landing page, but is nevertheless a great way to build your prospecting list with a freebie.
- Track performance and adjust – All this time, you should be checking in on your web analytics and making course corrections and adjustments as you learn where your more valuable traffic and highest volume orders are coming from.
- Optimize your social media accounts – Don’t neglect your social media accounts! Now is a great time to optimize your accounts, update your profile photo or cover photo, and start discussions with your fans.
- Attend industry events and conferences – Having a presence at networking and local events and conferences can help get your product or service noticed even more than strictly doing business online. Find out what industry conferences and workshops are happening near you and make it a point to be there!
- Give lectures and presentations – If you operate in a truly unique or specialized niche, don’t hesitate to throw your hat into the ring and offer to give a lecture or presentation at the event. People will value your insider knowledge and expertise!
- Build your YouTube channel – YouTube is another area worth concentrating on, particularly if you can show your product being built or designed, and the quality and effort you put into it. Don’t forget, you can optimize your YouTube channel for search engines too, and since Google owns YouTube, you can bet that your videos will show up in search results as well.
- Use expert roundups to generate links and social shares – If you look up to the true experts in your field, why not interview them or ask them a question about a particular concern in your industry? If you get enough responses, you can create an “expert round up” on your chosen topic and use it to build backlinks and shares on social media.
- Drive incremental sales with affiliate marketing – Affiliates are another great source of recurring income where both parties win! Although affiliate marketing won’t be a huge sales generator, it will nevertheless drive incremental sales when done right. Digital products in particular are hot items for affiliate marketers.
- Enter new markets in new geographic locations – As your business is purring along, consider expanding into new geographic locations or new markets entirely — ones that complement your existing business skill set and products/services.
“We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.” (Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup)
Take-off Startup Marketing Strategies
You’ve finally hit the LAUNCH button on your new business – congratulations! Now you’ll want to make sure everything is running at optimum levels so that you don’t get stomped on by your competitors right from the start. Here’s what you’ll want to do:
In this stage the key problems are how to grow rapidly and how to finance that growth (Source: The Five Stages of Small Business Growth)
Growth Startup Marketing Strategies
Once you’ve launched, you’ve overcome a major hurdle that many would-be entrepreneurs still only dream of! Now to keep the momentum going strong, you’ll want to do the following:
As you can see, growing a business is no small task. But by looking over this list, you’ll have all the tips and tricks you need to prepare for a stellar launch and maintain momentum even in the midst of fierce competition, plus you can always look into Fiverr’s marketplace to get the help you need