7 Best Marketing Practices for Startups

“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” — David Packard

You’ll agree with me that the marketing process is much harder than the building process.

But you have to market your startup if you must succeed. You should know that there are lots of alternatives out there. Your target customers have plenty of options at their disposal.

Success in the startup world comes from finding out what works. But you don’t have to go through a string of failures before you learn what works and what doesn’t work.

A lot of startups have been there before. Many failed, but some succeeded. Below are 7 best marketing strategies that work for startups.

1. Focus on a Niche Market

I know you have some big guys as competitors. These big guys have more resources and are more established than you.

How can you compete with the big guys?

The trick is not to compete with them – you have to beat them!

How can you beat the big guys when you don’t have the huge resources, connections and reputation they have?

The strategy is to focus on a small segment of the market. Trying to capture the whole market at once is like trying to win the world at a go. It’s too difficult. You can’t do that.

To win the whole world, you need to win a small country first. Then you win two countries. Then you win a continent. Then you win another continent until you win the whole world. Gaining a large market share is like that – it’s a step-by-step process.

Do you remember how Facebook started?

It started as a small social platform where Harvard students can connect with each other. Then it became a platform where numerous students from different colleges can connect with each other. Then it became a platform where dads, moms, teens and grannies can connect with their friends and families.

Don’t set out to be everything in the early stages of your startup. Focus on one small market segment and be the best there. Then move to another small market segment until you capture the whole industry.

2. Take Advantage of Social Media

Social media has leveled the playing field. Startups with zero budget can now compete with the big brands.

Social media has changed the way businesses communicate. Social media have made it possible for small firms to widen their exposure and strengthen their ties with customers.

Startups like Orabrush and Coconut Bliss became internet sensations by adopting social media. You can do it too.

You should be on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.

3. Content Marketing is the foundation for SEO and Social Media

You need content marketing to succeed on social media. You should keep in mind that social media is nothing without content.

Search engines are also a great place to acquire more customers for your startup. You need a knowledge of how SEO works to succeed on search engines. But SEO, just like social media, is ineffective without good contents.

Content marketing is the secret of successful startups. Startups like Groupon, Shopify, Orabrush, Copyblogger, Hubspot and Mint will be nowhere today if not for content marketing.

According to Contently, 72% of B2C content marketers are producing more content than they were a year ago. This trend will only continue to increase. Why? It’s because content marketing works.

Now, when I say adopt content marketing, I don’t mean that your startup should hire a writer to produce a 500-word article for $5. You won’t succeed in content marketing that way. You need a content marketing plan. You need a talented, experienced writer to help you carry out your plans.

If you can deliver high-quality contents on a regular basis, then you will succeed in content marketing. And if you can succeed in content marketing, you know your startup will succeed too. No doubt!

4. Inbound Marketing Can Turn Your Startup into a Multi-million Dollar Brand

The term “inbound marketing” was coined by Hubspot co-founder Brian Halligan. And it is no surprise that this Inbound Marketing concept had turned Hubspot into the billion dollar brand it is today.

Inbound marketing is a simple, yet powerful marketing strategy that can take your startup from the ground zero to the highest up! The amazing thing about inbound marketing is, it will continue to bring positive results for a very long time to come.

Inbound marketing combined blogging, SEO, social media and email marketing together. You don’t need a big budget to use this strategy. In fact, you can start using it even if you have zero marketing budget. What you need is a good writing skill to create high-quality contents on a consistent basis.

To get started with inbound marketing, you need to create a lot of high-quality contents and give them away for free.

Neil Patel is doing this with his Quick Sprout blog, where he gives away high-quality advanced guides.

Hubspot is doing the same with their library which is full of useful content resources.

5. Outsmart, Don’t Outspend your Competitors

As I told you above, your competitors have all the resources they will ever need at their disposal, so you can’t outspend them. But marketing isn’t about having a big budget. Your competitors can have all the money they will ever need in this world and you can still outsmart them.

How can you outsmart your competitors?

You can’t beat your competitors by offering similar products at similar prices. People will rather stick with your competitors because they don’t have a solid reason why they should buy from you. But if they see something that makes you different, then it will be easier for them to switch to your startup.

What’s that thing that makes your startup different?

Once you recognize that thing, you should make it the center of your marketing messages. Talk about it wherever you can communicate with prospects.

Another way to outsmart your competitors is to improve the user experience of your startup product.

I’m not talking about customer service. What I’m talking about is the look and feel of your product should be totally unique and better than your competitors’.

For example, you can feel and see the difference between Twitter and Facebook, between Google and Bing, and between Instagram and Pinterest.

Another great way to outsmart your competitors is to spend more time with your current customers. You may have fewer customers compared to your competitors, but spending more time with them will ensure you never lose them.

Your current customers are more likely to recommend your startup to their friends when you treat them well.

These are some of the little things new startups tend to neglect, but they are great ways to outsmart your big competitors.

6. Build Trust with People

People don’t buy from a business they don’t trust. Most successful startups have one simple secret: Trust!

With trust, your business will grow. Without trust, you may as well pack up and go home because no one will buy from you. No one will ever recommend their friends to buy from you.

Many startups forget this truth, and that is why most fail. I’m sure you don’t want your startup to fail. So, what should you do to build trust with prospects?

The first step is to have a great product or service. Is your startup good enough to make the front page of a major news site?

People don’t need another product or service. What they need is a better product that will give them value for their money.

Consistency is another way to build trust among prospects.

Offering a great product today, and offering an average product tomorrow won’t cut it. You must deliver on a consistent basis. You have to always surpass your previous feats.

For example, look at successful brands like Google, Apple, Alibaba, Warby Parker and Toyota. They’re always looking for ways to make something better. Can you do the same thing?

Another effective way to build trust is to maintain transparency.

How can you make your startup transparent?

The answer is simple:

You should let people into your company’s world.

You should let people know more about what’s happening behind the scenes at your startup. Let people know who you are, your likes and dislikes. Let people know about your accountant, who is she, what she enjoys. Let people know you’re working on something great. Let them know why you’re raising your prices and the added value that comes with the higher pricing. Let them know when you hire a new employee. Introduce your employees to them. Let them know how much your company makes per annum even though it has no use for them.

The more people can relate to your startup’s stories, the more they like you. And the more people like you, the more they trust you.

Transparency is a great marketing strategy that is currently being under-used by many startups.

7. Apply A/B Testing

A/B Test stands for Always Be Testing.

Why should you always be testing?

That’s a great question!

A simple test can have profound impacts on your customer acquisition rate, your customer retention rate, and your revenue.

You never know if a simple idea could boost your profits until you test it.

Your A/B test doesn’t have to be perfect. It only has to better previous results.

Adding or removing a word on your sales page could double your conversion rate.

Changing the color of your call-to-action button could triple your conversion rate.

Adding a picture, or removing a picture could increase or decrease the time spent on your sales page. You just never know.

Ideas are meant to be tested. There’s no perfect idea until you test it against others. So, keep a/b testing.