When my talk finished a queue of eager entrepreneurs formed to come chat. Some to say thanks, some to add to a topic I had been covering, and most to ask questions about a marketing issue specific about their startup.
One question that comes up time and time again, whether at Web Summit or at any event when I meet startup founders, goes something like this:
– Which is better, digital or traditional marketing?
– I hear [insert new ad format that has just been covered on TechCunch and Wired] sounds awesome, should I try it?
– Which is better for marketing, Facebook or Linkedin?
– I’m about to do some marketing and going to start Facebook ads, what’s the best way to get good results?
Sound familiar? If you haven’t asked these questions your self, you’ve probably been at a meetup where someone has.
However people asking these questions, are usually thinking about things in the wrong order. In this post I’ll discuss the two most important questions you need to ask yourself, and have answers to, before you should even consider any of the above questions.
These are the 2 secret ingredients to a successful marketing plan.
And the good news is, when you ask yourself these two questions – the answers to the other questions generally take care of themselves.
Why this is important
Whether you’re a founder, or Head of Marketing/ startup CMO, growing your business is really hard, so making sure you have the right foundations in place is super important. Having these foundations is the core of having a marketing strategy.
What are not the two most important elements of your marketing strategy:
– Value prop
– A good product
– Key metrics to track
Yes, these are all super important but I’m assuming you already have these nailed and have product/market fit….therefore outside the scope of this post.
The 2 secret ingredients of your startup’s marketing plan:
These will sound super obvious but not having thought of these is the no.1 most common mistake I see startups make.
1) What’s your Target Market?
Who is the target market your startup is addressing?
Most common answer I hear to this question? Everyone!
Let’s think about it: Is your target market my 84 year old Aunt who lives in the West of Ireland and doesn’t access the internet?
Is your target marketing my 5 year old nephew who started school this year?
If the answer to the above is no, then already your target market is by definition not everybody.
I would challenge you to keep your target market as hyper targeted as possible i.e. a specific sex, location and age range of around 5 years, profession etc
Why so targeted? Well let’s consider if your target age range is 18 – 35 year olds. Sounds reasonable right?
Well let’s think about this more: Do 18 year olds and 35 year olds buy, read and watch the same things? I’d argue that there’s quite a considerable difference in behaviour in people of these ages.
Also, give it a go bidding for a 35 year old and an 18 year old on Facebook ads. You’ll see a big difference in price per click.
Your marketing strategy will succeed if it’s the right message for the right people in the right place for the right price. The more hyper targeted you are, the higher the likelihood of you doing this successfully.
Growing a startup is hard enough, don’t make it harder by targeting your marketing messages at the wrong people and then wonder why you’re not getting the results you’re expecting.
2) What are you trying to achieve?
Again, this is almost slap-forehead obvious, but most startups I speak to don’t do it.
The second essential element of your startup marketing plan is your OBJECTIVE
What are you trying to achieve?
Is it 5,000,000 users in 3 months? Is it 100 users in 3 months. One is not a better objective than the other per se, it all depends on your business and your situation.
This is super important as knowing what you need to achieve will change the way you even think about what marketing tactics/channels you should consider.
If you goal is 5,000,000 users, you have to think about things radically different than if it’s 250 users.
There’s a much cited acronym called SMART objectives, which you should follow when setting your objectives.
Example of a Bad objective (not using SMART): We want to grow really fast and be a successful startup
Good objective: We want to gain 250 paying users in the first 6 months
The challenge in goal setting is to make your objective a great challenge while also only borderline achievable. Make it too easy, and you won’t push yourself, make it too far out of reach and there’s a risk you’ll lose heart and give up. Make it uber ambitious and just out of reach
How to take action:
Right now – list out your target market, and your objectives
These are the two more important elements of your startup marketing plan before you get started. Get them down and then you can begin building on what channels to use and get those users flowing in 🙂
Any other essential ingredients of a startup marketing plan you’d like to share? Please share them in the comments below