By Michael Briggin
Running a startup can be a rewarding and exciting venture. However, an effective marketing strategy is a big factor to your startup’s success.
Sure, you can be in lean startup mode, or you’re cash solid with significant funding from angel investors and VCs. In every stage of the evolution of a startup, outlining how you’re going to market your product or service ensures you have less of an uphill battle to climb.
Here’s how you as a founder should look at each stage in the startup lifecycle:
Analyze what the need is and if your concept falls into the category of B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer). If you’re a B2B startup, your marketing goals would be heavy on business development and sales. If you’re a B2C startup, you’ll likely have to emphasize an eCommerce strategy on top of sales.
As long as you conduct right competitive analysis you can figure out the better direction to take your product in moving forward. Competitive analysis is key in any marketing strategy.
What problem are you trying to solve?
How is your solution different than what other one that exists?
What pain points in your industry are being affected?
Interacting with potential customers can help you get better clarity as to how practical your concept can be providing you intend to have it fully developed.
Be laser-focused on validating your business model. If you work on an early-stage prototype, it’s not important that it’s functional right away.
What you need to do is ensure that the prototype can lead to a product and that testing is essential for this process to be undertaken. The more customer interactions with your prototype, the better information you move along in the product development cycle.
This is where you must emphasize product development to ensure you have a viable product and that you’re ready to launch it.
Ideally you will have come further in validating your business model and your product should be ready for testing. You will need more of this if you want the market to react positively to your product.
At this point your product has made a considerable amount of sales and it’s a matter of increasing them so you get more traction. When you have your product on the market, business development is important and differs from B2B organizations vs. B2C organizations. The more avenues you can use increase sales, the better.
Not all marketing methods are the same. It’s important to not just know what programs and tools you need to help you execute your marketing strategy but also when and why you need them. Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing are different mediums that can help your startup depending on your bandwidth, budget and scope of your target market.
From your marketing campaigns, you will have a clear sense of how your audience has reacted depending on how much traction you’ve gotten. Venture Capital (VC) firms take notice in this case. Obtaining Series A funding and on is important but maintaining focus for your marketing goals allows you to better make your case.
Prepare for this phase, which may include funding to date from angel investors and VCs but being laser-focused on revenue is far more important.
Continuing to look at your marketing strategy and figuring out from the metrics what works and what does not work is a healthy way to ensure you say competitive and maintain your position in your target market.
This may not occur for every startup, let alone even yours. However, if your desire is to sell your product to another company, know how the market would be affected and what you are getting your startup into before it is sold.