Welcoming to Archangel's blog - Guest Author: Lana Weal
"Your first five years [of your startup] will probably be 5% product, 25% marketing, 70% sales to customers, investors, hires." Alan Jones, Startup Mentor & Investor
We all know that marketing and sales is a huge part of a startup's success - both the short and long term. No question about it. Founders start businesses to sell something and selling that product requires a dedication to sales and marketing.
Marketing is a lot like a startup itself. It’s all about the long term game and making consistent plays.
Sure, quick wins and rapid growth are great. But if you’re not thinking about the long-term, then you'll only get wins in the short term.
Marketing is all about creating a clear focus or clear campaign to sell something. Marketing involves a combo of owned, earned and paid media, and there’s a difference between focusing on a specific idea with campaign marketing vs always-on marketing. Across all of the channels, you've got to communicate clearly about what you offer. Founders need to not only attract the right potential customers, but they need to communicate with those customers so well that they will part with their money and become a part of your community. And that’s the whole reason why we all get into business in the first place. To make money in exchange for something that makes a difference to a person’s life - and ideally this is done in a smooth, clear and simple way.
It can be hard to figure out what to do with your marketing. Talking about what you sell can be hard. So, here are some tips and what founders should know about marketing to make all your sales and marketing operations go a bit smoother.
Five things startup founders should know about marketing:
- Find what works for you.
- Be open to testing and learning. Constantly.
- Make the most of your partners.
- Answer FAQs, talk about your users and repurpose your content.
- Understand your metrics.
1. Find what works for you.
Different marketing approaches work for different people depending on your preferences. When you're first starting out as a founder or if you want to support your marketing team, really lean into the marketing ideas, channels and content that come easiest to you.
There are many digital and in-real-life marketing channels and tactics. Find what you enjoy doing and find a way to really strengthen that channel or tactic.
Do you like writing? Write blogs to show your expertise and offer guests articles on external websites for wider reach. Enjoy 1:1 convos? Try pitching for podcast interviews and provide value to other communities. Or start a podcast yourself. Enjoy connecting with community members? Build your community and run an event. Like sharing knowledge? Create a way to educate.
When you’re getting started or wanting to work with your marketing team, get started with a few marketing tasks that you’d prefer than others. Founders can always get started with a good old brainstorm of what you know about your industry and why you got started. There are also plenty of posting templates and guides which can give you formulas to create engaging social posts or blogs.
Start small and focus on batching tasks. So most of your planning, writing or designing in one session at a time.
2. Be open to testing and learning. Constantly.
Just like a startup, marketing is all about testing and learning as well.
There’s no perfect way to do marketing. Ideally, we’re all making data-driven decisions when it comes to marketing - but sometimes you’ve got to do something out of the ordinary to get extraordinary results.
Marketing is long-term. Marketing requires lots of strategy sessions, creative ideas, soft launches, and a willingness to adapt. It's also important to acknowledge when marketing activity isn’t working, isn't getting results, or isn’t very good.
Run tests to understand what channels are best for your startup and your community engagement.
Have a brainstorming session and map out all the possible marketing tests you could run. Then choose the best ideas (perhaps through the ICE method for marketing assessing the impact, confidence and ease of each test) and see which tests would be the most effective for you to try.
Set a time limit. Run the test. Evaluate your results. Adjust accordingly.
Adjusting your marketing approach could mean slightly changing, completely updating or removing messages, assets, channels or entire campaign types.
What you do this month might be completely different to what you do in six months.
Be open to change and try new things. Always look back on your data to see what's working and what's not.
3. Make the most of your partners.
It takes a village to build a business. The more partners you have on your side sharing what you’re doing and sharing their audience with you, then the more likely you’ll have success.
Take time to map out your ecosystem and supporters. Outline your customers, suppliers, member groups, social media groups, key events, newsletters, industry groups, and other complementary services you should be aware of and potentially partner with.
Then, when you’re launching something new or need community support, you know you’ve got a list of supporters you can call on to share the message. And make it easy for them. Share a social post, imagery and tags that you want them to share when you're making those asks.
It takes a village to build a startup and for startups that raise venture capital, they will have on average a 7-10 year relationship with investors. You're in it for the long term and should build strong relationships to support your success.
The startup journey is going to be a lot about who you know, who you can connect with, and who you can connect within your community.
Cherish those relationships and show your appreciation. Give back and hero their work where you can too.
4. Answer FAQs, talk about your users and repurpose your content.
Usually when you start a business, you’re committing to doing something really well. So lean into that feeling of being the expert, specialist, or passionately committed to solving a problem.
You need to be able to showcase that you’re an expert in your area. You need to be able to answer any question your customers might have about the quality of what you’re offering.
Showcase on your website, FAQs, blog, case studies and testimonials that your community is a good one to be a part of. Show your customers that you’ve got their back, that you understand them, that they don’t need to worry about their outstanding questions, and that if they spend money with you, it will be well spent.
FAQs content is great to share on all your channels - website, social media, email. Consistently.
Answering FAQs is great for SEO as well. With the rise of voice search, virtual assistants and chatbots, answering FAQs is a huge part of the future of marketing.
What content you create around your product, FAQs and your users is up to you.
What does your industry expect? Are you B2B or B2C? These customers prefer different content types. B2B customers are usually looking for proof that they will get ROI on their purchase. B2C customers are looking for good deals and quality products that align with their values.
People want to see themselves in your marketing. Share user generated content and quotes from your audience to show why they love you.
Almost everyone online is seeking information. Package up content around your startup and ship it to the world.
There are over 200 factors that go into SEO so there are many things that go into improving your organic results. But if you start creating great content regularly for your audience that answers FAQs, this content shows search engines that your website should appear in the search results for those common searches.
Repurposing content is beneficial and very underrated. Through repetition across channels, your ideas will become more refined and you'll create messages that you can stand by.
Not every customer reads every piece of your content across all your channels. And sometimes, repurposing content in creative ways helps you to reinforce your message or educate your audience.
If you’re struggling to know where to start creating content, focus down. Focus on one message, to one audience, on one channel. And answer your FAQs.
5. Understand your metrics.
You start a business to make money. So it's important to work backwards from how you earn money. How do people buy from you? Is it after booking a demo? Or after they visit a sales page? How do your customers get to those conversion points? What content leads them there? How do you attract people to that content? Then start measuring the different touchpoints.
How are you attracting people to the point of conversion? Track that and then try to improve those metrics over time.
The pirate AARRR metrics are a great place to start to track your metrics from acquisition to conversion. Or if your startup is community focused, you can set goals and track metrics around your community engagement.
If you’re not tracking where your sales are coming from, how will you know where to put your marketing energy, money or time?
Start small, be consistent and always be learning!
Marketing can seem like a never-ending challenge. But when you start small, focus on what you know then test and learn, you’re likely to see results quickly. When you focus on your existing partners and answering FAQs for your customers, you’ll realise you have many resources to engage with your audience. Find what works for you, start small and keep going!
With a love for storytelling, Lana has worked with some of Australia’s most well known brands, local businesses and early-stage startups and accelerators. Lana is the founder of Market Mindfully and supports purpose-driven businesses to share their story and make more impact by focusing on making SEO and organic partnerships fun and easy. With a fascination with the power of no-code tools, Lana created Women of Statue to showcase monuments of women around the world. She’s also the host for the upcoming In Kind Company podcasts focused on sharing stories of purpose-driven founders.