5 marketing strategies to launch your startup

Once you’ve transitioned away from the seed stage of business development and are launching your startup, you need to implement marketing tactics that your target audience will notice and start earning revenue.

Not all marketing strategies were made for every stage of your business. When you’re ready to launch your product or service to your market, you’ll want to leverage specific startup marketing strategies. Here are five strategies to get you started:

  1. Create a startup launch marketing plan

  2. A marketing plan helps formalize and measure how you’ll announce your launch. Think of it as Google Maps with specific directions for marketing your new company.

    Your startup launch marketing plan should have all the components of any basic marketing plan but provide specifics around your strategic position, the problem you’re solving, and brand development. The messaging you develop in the startup launch marketing plan should also focus on language that introduces your brand, its values, and its benefits for your target market.

  3. Participate in a startup competition

  4. If your new business focuses on a technology solution, consider entering a startup competition. There are many standalone and conference-based startup competitions where you can garner valuable word of mouth (and maybe even more funding).

    These pitch competitions also provide insight into your potential competitors and what investors are willing to back. Journalists are increasingly covering these competitions, which means you can get press attention that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Startup competitions take place as part of conferences and as separate events. Many of these competitions require a pitch deck, a business plan, and a product or service demonstration. When presenting, you’ll only have a few minutes to convince your audience, much like the elevator pitch you’d present to a venture capitalist. Focus on what makes your startup unique and what adds long-term value to a specific issue or problem.

  5. Identify launch platforms and channels

  6. You can make initial contact with your audience in many ways, but some marketing channels work better than others when you’re set to launch. First, make sure you have a place to funnel any traffic you generate — i.e., a website.

    Second, look at the channels that are best positioned to introduce your company to a new audience, including social media, a blog, content marketing, and email marketing. Optimize your articles for SEO so they appear high on search engine results pages. Tap resources like Google AdWords and Facebook ads. Find out where your potential new customers spend the most time and contact them through those channels.

    Don’t try to sell them your product or service on first contact. Instead, introduce your company and its values. Provide quality content they can use. Focus on providing relevant information that keeps your audience coming back for more.

    You can also develop a thought leadership position through articles and guest blogs. If people are interested in the value your company offers, they can learn more about your products or services by visiting your website.

  7. Enlist influencers and social media followers

  8. One of the main challenges for a startup is building credibility and trust with an audience that knows nothing about the company and its products or services.

    A potential solution is to target the people consumers and business purchasers look to for guidance on their purchasing decisions — social media and other online influencers.  Engaging with influencers can help you build a following that learns to trust you and recommends your products or services to all of their contacts.

    This is a low-cost, easy-to-implement social media marketing strategy that helps speed traction and brand awareness. You probably won’t attract the attention of the biggest influencers straight out of the gate. However, the world of influencer marketing also includes micro-influencers who focus on niche areas with smaller, more targeted audiences.

    You can identify micro-influencers on social channels with minimal research. Look for online communities that match what you offer. On the technical side, for example, there are many developer communities. And on the consumer side, there are often communities among certain demographics (like mothers) that can be strong influencers among their social circles.

  9. Combine offline and online strategies

  10. With so many people using online and mobile channels, it might seem like digital marketing is the obvious focal point for your marketing. While many of the marketing tactics do work well for a startup launch, don’t neglect offline marketing campaigns as part of your overall strategy.

    Depending on what you offer, an offline strategy might include participating in trade shows, setting up a kiosk or pop-up shop, and sharing printed materials about what you offer to your audience. If your budget allows, you might want to explore other offline tactics like billboards and infomercials.

    When implementing offline marketing strategies, align your efforts with your online marketing strategies so that messaging and timing help you optimize results. For example, all offline marketing strategies should include your social media and website information. Online, share information about your startup’s plans to participate in upcoming offline events.

Preparing and executing the launch of your startup is one of the most exciting times in the entrepreneurial journey. Keep in mind that your marketing efforts should be cost-effective but tailored to building both a solid reputation among potential customers and a return on investment for investors and other stakeholders.

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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