Systematic Steps for an Effective Startup Marketing Plan

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Setting up shop or starting any business may bring out all sorts of weird. Whether it be anxiety and nerve-wracking emotions or feelings of anticipation, thrill and excitement is dependent upon the amount of preparation and planning you have made before any soft or formal opening.

For any type of business to actually succeed, a good business plan along with an effective marketing plan is needed. In between the activities of getting the word out, selecting suppliers, down to planning budget and finances, spending enough time in making your startup marketing plan is vital in translating your business plan into an operational success formula. All the more important when you’re starting with what is essentially a bare room of a business.

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Foundation for Success

Success in business, they say, is not achieved overnight, much less in the blink of an eye. More often than not, it involves hard work and patience (sometimes even getting down on all fours just to get things done). The key is to targeting the correct audience with the right products thereby, avoiding wasting both time and money.

Having said that, you must start by laying down the bricks that make for a strong and solid foundation for your planned business.

Strategic Positioning

In choosing a market for your business, a lot of factors need to be considered. As such, the main factors to be considered are the following:

  • Market size. Know roughly what the potential is in your potential market, in terms of raw numbers. What are the demographics? Men? Women? Children? Define the category your product exists to serve. The market size does not have to be a very precise number, a close estimated figure would do. And remember, be realistic.
  • Market wealth. Is there $$$ to be made in the market? From data collected, you should be able to determine if your intended audience can stack up the dough for your business with your product or service.
  • Competition. How saturated is the market? Who are your competitors? Come up with names and numbers. The more you know the players, the better you will be able to plan in winning the game.
  • Value proposition. How do you intend to create a niche market for yourself and your business? Does your value proposition have what it takes to surge through static and come out crisp, fresh, and unique?

Another element here in market selection is, after identifying a clear market target, you have to be aggressive enough to strike hard and grab a generous portion of the market share.

(An in-depth explanation of these factors can be found in the article “Better Together Market Research Business.”)

Keyword Definition

In today’s strange and modern age, even antique shops and stores have their own websites. Google is a dear old friend you call up when you need something. Anything. And with that in mind, having a keyword list that you can use for your website, blogs, and other social media is important in making your brand or business more searchable in Google or any other search engine.

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When I, the customer, need…say, goats (fill in the blanks with your product)…what do I type in the search engine? That is the language of your customers—make sure you know what phrases they will be using. Speak their language.

  • Make an initial list of keywords and phases. This list would contain anything and everything that would come into mind when trying to search for your product or the problem your product solves. A substantial list with categories should be made.
  • Time to be picky. Narrow down to the keywords which most customers may type in or look for.
  • Produce a core keyword list that exactly describe your business.
  • Make a secondary keyword list that expands from your core keyword list.

Creating a list of words and phrases that highly relate to your brand is the main point of this exercise. Be sure to incorporate your value proposition into your keyword list as in what your business is selling or offering to the customers.

Success Objectives

For every business, the definition of success may be spelled out differently from the other. For a small run-off-the-mill company, success may mean a $500 profit for a service job. For another business, only a monthly revenue of no less than $50,000 would mean success.

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Creating a specific and measurable goal is as important as making it attainable and relevant. There is difference between reaching for the stars and merely dreaming of them. Mankind has shown this in a way by reaching the moon. Well, the moon is not a star, but the point here is thinking of achieving something is entirely different from doing and achieving the actual thing.

Success, they say, is much like happiness. It depends on whose eyes you are peering through. It is therefore important for you to sit down with your staff or team and discuss how success will be defined in order for everybody to be on board and prepared to achieve that goal.

An important contributing factor for continued success is consistency. It plainly means there will be no letting up of the intensity that everyone had given at the initial phases of operation. The process of growing is of continual change and adaptation. Commitment to providing the same fierceness and aggressiveness in dedication to the business is needed to maintain desired results.

Define Primary Metrics and Milestones

Measuring success means you have points where quantifiable measurements can be taken. Selecting these points is vital in gauging your actual progress or success. Never try to measure everything. You’ll end up being a nutjob sooner than being billionaire bachelor or whatever wild debonair success story you may come up with.

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Key points

  • Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics are the true movers that impact your business more than any other metric. In basketball terms, these would be the Kevin Durants that would win you the championship. Know who they are and you will know who you want to be playing on the court to achieve your goal.
  • Milestones are small successes. They indicate that there is progress and your business is going somewhere. Celebrate them. Embrace them. Every small win counts towards a bigger win. Stay focused and be comforted with the little achievements made with milestones that are certainly paving the way to your planned success.

Point is, selecting a few quality metrics that are accurate and specific can depict actual results rather than if you had a multitude of data that would only take longer to process and get you nowhere. Milestones keep you on track and are a way of assessing where you presently are in your business plan.

Conversion Rate

For startups, the conversion rate is very important when building a customer base. Factors that determine the values of your conversion rate must be eyed carefully. Growth rate is closely related to conversion rates and determining the conversion rate is key to measuring your progress.

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Assigning correct values to instances that are considered complete or “converted” customer is important when collecting the correct statistical data. Knowing the value behind the conversion of your leads can help you forecast and assign values to your targets or goals.

Here are a few helpful points in improving your website conversion rate:

  • Use website surveys. Website survey questionnaires provide additional information on any potential customer visiting your site. These surveys can be crafted to identify what products you have that can be offered to a certain type of potential customer. You can further incorporate the addition of a contact email for the next method, blogging.
  • Blogging. Writing about related articles connected to your product or business helps in getting attention and also being found by search engines. Blogging using your set of core keywords additionally helps get your page found by potential customers typing in the keywords related to your product.
  • Landing page. Landing pages offer calls to action targeting a specific problem, which is, of course, answered by your product. Making a sale is the entire purpose and intent behind the page. Additionally, potential customer contact information can be gathered through different forms and polls and surveys.
  • Social media. Getting people to follow you through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest allows the potential customers to be aware of your product and business. This slowly points the direction of awareness to interest and, consequently, a conversion or sale. Furthermore, many websites are now employing social login features that integrate social media accounts, instantly signing them up as a new member to your site. This speeds up the process of registration for users and significantly increases new sign-ups.
  • Email marketing. By sending a simple marketing email, educating prospects about your product or business becomes easier. A good example is sending a FAQ sheet. This provides them with all the necessary information about your product or business. This is not only cheap but also a very efficient way to reach a number of prospects faster than you can read this paragraph. Amazing, right?
  • Creating urgency. By the simple mention of a due date, we are almost always compelled to pay our bills. So it goes in a website. By placing a countdown timer or date range for a certain item on sale, customers are likely to click on or continue with a purchase rather than pause and think about it. Follow-up instructions further add to the effect and should at least increase conversions to about 25% from the first click.
  • Calls to action. It is true when they say that nothing is as compelling as someone telling you to do what you have to do. By suggesting an action you want for your customer to do, it gives the customer a reason to follow through and click that buy button. Most people are accustomed to being told what to do, requiring nothing more than a little nudge in the right direction, and the mere suggestion along with a visual representation of giving them that option certainly provides for that click-through. Some websites incorporate these well, with every page containing “buy now” buttons or pop-ups.
  • Contact forms. Another technique to increase your leads and conversions would be through contact forms. They are quite simple and easy opportunities to capture important visitor information. The simple act of having them opt to receive email newsletters and updates does this.
  • Referrals. Another old and trusted method of increasing conversions is through referrals. Asking existing customers for referrals is also advantageous to the customer in that you can offer them discounts on their next purchase if they refer someone who later becomes a customer. This is also highly connected to customer incentive programs, which you can offer as well.
  • Repeat purchase. Some customers only need to be reminded of how much they enjoyed their previously bought item or product to get an additional sale. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • Appreciation. From a simple thank-you email to a birthday email, little gestures of gratitude go a long way in making a customer feel important. This is especially important in bridging communications with a potential long-standing customer. Offering freebies is an added factor in building customer loyalty.

Budget Forecast

When everything is said and done, it all boils down to money. How much do you have allocated for the startup marketing plan? Marketing plans are necessary to have in conjunction with a startup of a business, but it does not come without a price.

Coming up with leads and qualifying them need both time and money. Be sure to have a clear set budget with limits in relation to your return of investment assessment. Your budgeting should also include in how you plan to distribute or allocate funding to any marketing tactics in place.

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Now, here are a few examples of what people normally do with the marketing moolah instead of aimlessly splurging and sending it down the drain hoping something would stick.

Marketing tactic 1: Social media

Yes, again. Facebook and Twitter are for free but the ads are not. Posting your banner ads and then boosting them increases your reach and should bring in a few more customers. Now all this of course lies in the premise of your business having a social media account. But hey, who doesn’t have one nowadays? The platform and timing will depend on your target demographic, but unless you are trying to sell to the Amish or the Luddite, this is one channel you cannot ignore.

Marketing tactic 2: Gimmicks

Get your marketing staff off their asses and have them find a way to get attention to your business. Sponsoring a contest and donating proceeds to the winner’s charity is one sure way. How about hosting a dinner for media people for a press release? Or flying clients off to the Bahamas on a sponsored trip—anything that is exciting enough to grab attention and point it to your products. In the world of big money, he who entertains is king.

Marketing tactic 3: Google Ads and content marketing

Most consumers these days only have trust in one persona for all their needs—the Internet. Search engines like Google make money by having ads on their site and posting these ads in conjunction to a search term or word. Having worked on your keyword list, aligning it with Google Adwords should be no problem.

This increases not only traffic to your website but also adds to the probability of more conversions. Just don’t get too complacent and put all your eggs in that Google basket, though. Google Ads can also mean the pitfall for your business if you don’t constantly review all the keywords and phrases that you are paying for. Any current top trends in the market change and so should your keywords and phrases.

Marketing tactic 4: Conferences and expos

Though a tad traditional, conferences and expos still exist and are still a very good way to create leads and conversions on the spot. Get a booth and have potential customers immediately inquiring about your business and your products. This is another way to expand your customer base, as trade shows and expos get the publicity and roll-up banner advertising you want at the same time.

If you have more on your budget, then one-upping the game would be by sponsoring the event itself, inviting your competitors in the same industry. This not only good exposure for your business but a great way to gain reputation in the market or industry your business is in.

Marketing tactic 5: Hiring a publicist or media professional

If budget permits, hiring an expert in the field may reap rewards since they may already have existing writer and editor contacts who can do write ups, copy-writing, and publications for your business. These experts in the market know the secrets of successful branding, and already have the media machinery to maximize media attention to your business.

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Sometimes you have to do it the way big-time players do in order for you to achieve the level of attention that you want for your business. Done right, you’ll make not just a splash but a wave everyone else wants to get on. That’s called trend setting. Surf’s up!

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