It’s never too early to begin building a startup marketing plan. This is because, like most other situations in life, success is never overnight. Creating a successful marketing strategy is a process, one that transitions from ideation and documentation to actionable and purposeful tactics.
As a startup founder, your time and resources are limited and thus incredibly precious. That’s why this article isn’t about how to launch a Facebook page or an email campaign. While you may have already considered (or even begun) implementing a marketing plan, there are a few items you must make sure are not overlooked.
Whatever stage your startup is in, take control of its future by completing these five (5) crucial steps for building a startup marketing plan:
1. Create a marketing folder. You have probably completed competitor and market research. You have also developed presentations, pitches, and other company information.
A copy of everything you have documented up to this point should be saved in a digital folder labeled for marketing.
When you hire a marketing team, whether it be an in-house team or an outsourced agency, they will need much of the data that you have already collected. This is because they need to understand how you’ve been communicating with buyers, partners, and investors up to this point in time.
2. Add Google Analytics to your website. Google Analytics is a free and powerful tool provided by Google to help marketers understand how website visitors interact with digital properties, such as company websites or mobile applications. Its functions allow Google Analytics users to collect, segment, and report visitors’ online and purchasing behavior.
One of the foundations for successful marketing is the analysis of company and consumer data. This is so your team can understand trends in behavior that indicate an increase or decrease of interest in your company. The strategist is then more equipped to build a marketing strategy built on data, rather than only opinion or what she thinks will work.
Marketing is a science. The best marketers constantly hypothesize, document, test, and analyze results. If you give them data starting from the birth of the company, they will better understand what has been working, what hasn’t been working, and how to best use resources for meeting goals.
Google Analytics will only collect data once its code has been added to the website. It cannot collect data previous to when Google Analytics is added. This is why it’s imperative for you to add the tracking code to your website right now.
3. Be selective about your marketing education. Whether you are the CEO or CMO, you’re probably not going to be executing every aspect of your marketing plan forever. As your company grows, you will hire or contract someone to do this for you.
You might teach yourself how to advertise on Facebook and LinkedIn, or run a Google Adwords campaign, but be choosey about your education. When it comes to tactical implementation, only learn what is necessary at the time. The rest of your education should be directed to understanding the following:
- Why and how digital marketing works. If you are the one who will be managing your marketing efforts and/or hiring your marketing team, it’s crucial you comprehend the whole marketing landscape. Focus your research on why current digital marketing works. Understand how channels such as social media, email, content, and paid advertising work together. Learn how digital marketing can complement your offline marketing and sales efforts. The only time you should be learning at a tactical level is if you need to execute a marketing plan.
- What to look for when hiring. Educate yourself on what experience is needed to effectively develop and implement your startup marketing plan. What kind of knowledge, skill sets, or training is best suited for a marketing consultant, social media manager, or SEO specialist?
- What to expect from your team. Your marketing consultant should play a role in this type of education. Prior research of what to expect from digital marketing will save you stress, time, and money. If you expect certain results in three months when six months is already an ambitious goal, you’ll be extremely disappointed and possibly let go of a marketing team that is doing a superb job. The reverse can also be applied. If you expect certain results in a six months when it should only take three months, you’re at risk of wasting precious resources.
4. Educate investors. Let your investors know you’re interested in a smart, cost-effective marketing program. Show them your research and the statistics of companies (especially in your industry) that are reaping the benefits of digital marketing. Remember that your investors qualify as an audience. Communications are vital to keeping a healthy, long-term relationship.
There may even be consultants that will give you a free consultation and/or presentation. Invite your investors to this meeting.
5. Build relationships with marketers. The best marketing partnerships are those that are not made in haste. To find a partner that is a good fit for your company you should allow for longer courtships. Start mingling with marketing consultants, freelancers, and agencies. Get to know their culture, values, and operations. Allow them to get to know you, too. Share your goals and expectations. This will help guarantee that the two parties are a good fit.