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The Ultimate Guide on Building a Marketing Strategy for Startups from Scratch

Justin Ou

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The Ultimate Guide on Building a Marketing Strategy for Startups from Scratch

Photo by Mikael Blomkvist from Pexels

Creating a marketing strategy for your startup may seem like an easy task; you just showcase your company’s strengths, right? Well, not exactly. Successful marketing strategies aren’t just thrown together. They’re designed by understanding both who a business is marketing to, and what makes people within that audience choose one service or product over another. Let’s go over the basic steps for building a marketing strategy for startups from scratch.

1. Determine the best market audience for your startup

A common mistake new startups make is creating a marketing strategy with no market audience in mind. Think of your average or ideal customer. What is their age, gender, and income level? Where are they from and what do they do for a living? What else do you know about who they are?

Another blunder often made by new startups is to try to appeal to a wide audience. The more details you can think of when creating a profile of your market audience, the easier it will be to appeal to their specific likes and dislikes, instilling brand loyalty and cultivating a strong reputation. You don’t want to market to an entire city, for instance, when you know that only a small percentage of the population is a potential customer.

2. Build your brand to cater to your market audience

Once you have your market audience in mind, you will be able to build your brand to cater to their wants, needs, and likes. Everything impacts the story and perception of your brand, from logo design to color choices, writing styles and tone, as well as the images and aesthetics you use. Gerber Labs was created as an eCommerce platform that would allow students, businesses, and hobbyists to order small quantities of custom printed circuit boards (PCBs). We have an aesthetic that matches our brand, with a modern approachable style and blog posts that answer common questions. Should we have chosen a more traditional audience of industrial or enterprise level companies, our approach would be to style our brand to appeal to commercial businesses.

3. Promote a digital presence

People are constantly online in this day and age. You need to establish your startup with a digital presence by creating a website and social media accounts. Interact with your market audience and begin to gain followers so that you can build your brand’s reputation. Creating and promoting your digital brand is extremely important. Posting regularly on social media, as well as responding to positive feedback, complaints and criticisms, is a way to make your startup seem active, involved, and current. Your online presence also gives your startup its own personality, voice, and image.

4. Use your value proposition to connect with your niche

Your startup’s value proposition is what makes your company unique. What need does your startup fulfill, and what does it do differently than your competitors? Use what sets your company apart to market to your niche, and listen to their feedback. When you notice that people who are part of your market audience are all asking for the same thing, or making similar complaints, being receptive to their needs will improve your company’s reputation as well as increase brand loyalty.

For instance, at Gerber Labs we would continuously get questions about things such as the differences between 2-layer and 4-layer PCBs, how to estimate PCB costs, and how to buy a printed circuit board. Once we introduced in-depth articles on our most-asked questions, our blog began bringing in about half of our organic traffic each month. In responding to our market audience, we created a way to appeal to new customers.

5. Set a budget and stick to it

When creating your marketing strategy, you need to set a budget and stick to it. It’s tempting to tell yourself that every dollar you spend is an investment and get carried away with the process. A budget helps you determine what your ROI is for each campaign, so you can track what is effective and what’s not. You don’t want to spend money you may need for future projects or an unexpected emergency. Although it is easy to continue to add on to your marketing budget, ensuring that you aren’t losing money in the process is just as important as any other part of your business plan. Keeping track of how much money it takes to acquire each new client is a great way to determine if your marketing strategy is effective.

6. Create and track actionable goals

In marketing and advertising, data is king. You are already tracking everything from demographics to metrics. Why not track your marketing goals? Creating and tracking actionable goals gives your marketing strategy structure and direction. Instead of aimlessly trying out new ideas or projects you aren’t sure will work, setting specific goals makes it easy to map out your intention. Make a list of specific, realistic goals, both for long and short term plans.

As you can see, a marketing plan for a startup isn’t quite as easy as just trying ideas that you like until one works; it takes a thoughtful marketing strategy, a budget and actionable goals to make your startup successful. By following our steps, you will be on your way to creating a marketing strategy and brand image that reflects the unique values and ideas that your company represents.

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Justin is Co-founder and Marketing Manager of Gerber Labs, an Orange County based engineering startup that is currently rolling out a platform that makes custom printed circuit boards (PCB’s) accessible to electrical engineering students, hobbyists and small businesses.

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