In the year 2008, a group of young entrepreneurs who had started an innovative startup had incurred a debt of over $20,000 and were looking out for options to pay their bills. It was the time when Obama-McCain elections were around the corner. They came up with an idea of selling a limited edition of cereals boxes called Obama O’s and Captain McCain.
Little did they know that this idea would catapult them to success and bring them a profit of $30,000. It even got them featured in national television. The entrepreneurs we are talking about are Brian Chesky and his co-founders, and the startup in question is Air bed and breakfast, popularly called the Airbnb.
Now, we are not asking you to sell cereals, all we are trying to say is…
Marketing is essential for every startup, and you must not ignore it
You have an idea, you work on it and pitch it to your family, friends, and even angel investors. You are now on the road to start your company. Now how do you let your target customer know about your existence?
The one-word solution to it is Marketing.
Marketing helps you to create brand awareness and generate leads for your business. It helps you to reach where your audience is, and inform them of your offerings. The challenging part about marketing is, unlike the big brands, you might not be able to shell out lakhs or crores to place your advertisement in newspapers or on TV. That of course, is the best way of reaching a broad audience.
However, the good part is with the advent of the digital medium; you can still reach out to your target audience at a fraction of the cost. The idea is to make an effective marketing plan. You have to choose activities that are result-oriented and budget-friendly. There is a wide range of options available for marketing – from referrals and offering coupons and samples to using inbound marketing and SEO. The challenge is to identify the ones that will be relevant to your business and budget.
Do I have to set up a separate team for it?
There are several roles in marketing. You need an inbound marketing specialist, a designer, a writer, a media planner, a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and so on. While setting up a separate team for marketing helps you to plan and execute marketing activities in-house, there is a challenge in finding the right talent especially when you are starting your new venture.
So, we recommend that you identify the activities that you can do in-house with your team and those that can be outsourced to experts who will do it for you at a lesser cost. This way, you will be able to balance your marketing activities and can focus on other things that require your immediate attention.
What are the activities that can be done in-house?
There are several activities, which can be undertaken by your team. These are the kinds of activities, which yield a better result when they are researched and executed internally by people within the organization. Some of these include:
Creating a network is an important aspect of marketing, and only people who are closely associated with the startup can do it as they know your business well. It involves making acquaintances, getting to know people from other industries, and pitching your ideas to them. Having a strong network is considered important for a business. It is an asset for future use.
Referrals are the best form of marketing. A company should ask for referrals from happy customers because referrals make it easier for new customers to rely on and trust the company. People within the startup should do this activity to add a personal touch to the interaction. Outsourcing it to agencies might look impersonal and make the customer feel disengaged.
- Offering Coupons and Free Samples
Coupons are attractive to people, and it is mostly noted that people will come to you if they get a coupon. If given on one purchase, they will surely return for a second visit to use the coupon. Similar attractiveness is in the free samples. Once a customer uses a free sample, it is likely that they will buy more.
These marketing strategies help in expanding the customer base at a greater speed with more chances of return. Such marketing strategies can be determined within the startup only as you have a better perspective on the budget and the type of target audience to target through such activities.
Activities that can be outsourced
At an initial stage, you can do marketing in some fields, but other fields require expertise. As newcomers in the market, you might not have the required bandwidth or knowledge to develop and execute marketing strategies on your own. Hence, it is better to outsource it to professionals and leave some activities for them. Few activities that can be outsourced include:
- Website Designing
A website is like your address in a virtual world. Everybody prefers to check out the website before taking a decision. As the famous adage goes – the first impression is the last impression. You can use cheap or free website designs, but they look unprofessional and might put off your prospects. Therefore, outsourcing this activity is the best option.
Marketing agencies will help you make the website look appealing and professional. They will ensure that the user is left with a good experience when they visit your website.
- Logo Designing
A logo is the identity of your company. You add it on all the brochures, products, packaging et cetera. Start-ups tend to rely on unprofessional people such as friends or family to make their logo. This does not work out as desired. Professionals are aware of the ongoing trends and know what suits your brand image. It is thus essential to leave this task to professional designers.
- Blogging and Content Writing
Content gives your target audience the information about what you do. Thus, it is crucial that the message be readable and compelling. Bloggers and content writers are proficient in converting your thoughts into words. Outsourcing this activity will help you focus on other crucial aspects of your business.
- Account-based Marketing
Account marketing is used to research the targeted accounts in a market. This approach is used to generate high revenue due to its concentration on set accounts. Thorough research goes into this type of marketing, and a company has to decide on a band that it wishes to target. Thus, it is essential that account-based marketing is done within the company instead of outsourcing it.
- Inbound Marketing
Unlike earlier where cold calling was an acceptable norm for generating leads, today’s marketing calls for a more personal way of communication. As a startup, you have to remember that your target buyer will not convert through a cold call. On the contrary, it can put them off.
You need a more effective approach to convert them. Inbound marketing is the most effective way of engaging with your client. The methodology, which was made popular by HubSpot, involves creating awareness about the challenges your target group face, converting them by using content to address their problem, closing the buyer journey by offering solutions to their problem, and finally delighting by engaging with them forever.
Unlike other forms of marketing, inbound marketing is not a one-time activity. It is a continuous process that requires an investment of time and efforts. As a startup, you might not have the time to pursue it constantly. Thus, it is important to outsource it to an agency that has expertise in it. Agencies like FractionalCMO have a partnership with HubSpot. It helps us to offer innovative inbound solutions to our clients.
- Social Media Marketing
Social media is an inseparable part of everybody’s life, thus making it a great tool to promote your new products or services to people in creative ways. However, this has to be done on a regular basis. Plus, with social media platforms such as Facebook changing their algorithms frequently, it can become challenging for you to identify and engage with the right audience.
Agencies are well aware of the algorithms and can dedicate resources to help you achieve your marketing objectives. Thus, it makes sense to outsource it to agencies instead of investing your valuable time on it.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a long-term activity that requires a deep understanding of the Google algorithm. Merely adding keywords to your content might be a fruitless exercise, you need to have a well-planned SEO strategy to ensure that your website ranks high on search engines. Agencies are well-aware of how SEO works.
Besides creating and implementing SEO strategies, they use website audit tools such as Growth Robotics to analyze the gaps in your website and address it to ensure that your website is compliant with Google’s requisites.
- Marketing Automation
Marketing automation means automating the various repetitive marketing tasks such as forwarding emails to your prospects, managing campaigns, and so on. This type of activity helps to reach out to a large number of people with lesser efforts and minimal budget. Outsourcing this activity to a professional saves the trouble of buying automation software, which costs high.
You do not even have to hire experts to interpret the data. Agencies implement the strategy, analyse, interpret the data, and give it to you in an understandable format so you can think of the further course of action.
We hope we have been able to help you determine the activities that you must undertake and the ones that you should outsource. This will help you focus on the activities that are core to your business while leaving the rest to the experts. Remember, as a startup, marketing is crucial to your business growth, so ensure that you have a right plan, right expertise, and right resources to implement it.