For most early-stage startups, the focus is on selling—how can you bring your product to market faster, start making a profit today, and create this incredible new thing that everybody wants. Excitement is a great motivator, but success requires realism.
Marketing for early-stage startups can be the make-or-break catalyst, either propelling you far into success or straight down into the graveyard of so many other failed startups. Let’s take a look at the top marketing tips for early-stage startups so you can create a strategy that best suits your brand’s needs and guarantee its success.
Research your market and competitors
Ads pop up literally everywhere we look billboards while driving, on the TV, surrounding the blog post you’re reading, in your social media feed. As an early-stage startup, this is your perfect opportunity to get a little insight into your competitors and their audience if the product is similar.
Scroll through the comments on the ad’s social media post, write down what you like/don’t like about the banner ads you see online and find out who is engaging. It’ll provide valuable insight into who your best potential audience is with minimal investment on your part.
Customer engagement is more valuable than monetary investment
Platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are amazing, allowing startups to seek funds while advertising their product's potential. Whether you use these platforms or not, don’t let the constant desire for funding cloud the purpose of your product and who it’s for.
For early-stage startups, interacting and engaging with your customers/audience is much more valuable than more money from investors. Your customers provide feedback on what’s working and what isn’t about your product and your marketing strategy.
They also keep you in check about focusing on the purpose of your product. When early-stage startups receive more funding than necessary, they tend to try and “improve” their product before it even reaches the market. This often leads to failure. For example, look at the Successfully Funded section of Kickstarter and see how many of those brands are currently active.
Keep your focus on the basics
There’s no need to have the latest marketing technology; your brand can certainly succeed without it. Most of the time, the latest and greatest marketing tech is both a fad and exorbitantly expensive. Early-stage startups shouldn’t invest too much into them, as most of the features will be left unused, underused, or incorrectly used.
Keep your marketing strategy straightforward. Use the tools available to you already and upgrade when necessary. A confident, capable, and like-minded team is much more useful.
Use data as a marketing asset
Consumers love infographics and testimonials. Even when they don’t read the actual content or review, they look at the numbers. “90% of buyers saw benefits in the first week of use”, “4 out 5 users purchased another one”, or even “4.8 out of 5 stars”. These are bite-sized pieces of information that consumers get on board with.
As an early-stage startup, you most likely don’t have that many data points to share. But you can certainly ask for reviews from however many consumers you have, even if it’s from a prototype product. There will always be some piece of data that paints your brand in a good light. The best part of this strategy is you can add to it and change it as time goes on.
Let your customers market the product for you
Following up with the first point about customer engagement, early-stage startups can easily benefit from free customer promotion. Ask them to share a picture using your product or embed a share link into the product itself.
Adding incentives to this is always helpful, like giving 10% off for referrals, but it’s unnecessary for success.
Reach Out to Influencers
Social media influencers and bloggers are a seriously hot commodity today. If you’re an early-stage startup right now, try reaching out to a few to get your name out there. You’ll be surprised at how helpful it is.
Of course, choose an influencer that’s related to your brand, mission, or vision. It wouldn’t make sense for an e-bike startup to use a makeup influencer. And be aware of the monetary cost as many of these people can be pricey.