February 13, 2022
When you’re starting out as a small business or startup, it can be hard to know how to get your message out into the world. Big corporations get to work with massive marketing budgets — a luxury you don’t have. Other startups credit a million and one different formulas with their success. Consultants all have advice, but it can be impossible to pick out the good advice from the bad.
Once you’ve been around the block a few times, though, you know a few formulas that definitely don’t work.
Our team has years of collective experience helping early-stage startups launch, refine, and scale their marketing. We want to help small businesses succeed, so we put our heads together to share some of the most common marketing myths out there below. That way, you can skip the mistakes and jump right into building a marketing strategy that works.
Create a cool product, throw it up on Product Hunt, and potential customers will flock to you, right?
As innovative, affordable, and downright amazing as your brand might be, you still need some kind of marketing strategy to get your name out there. Even brands that have been famously successful without relying on traditional advertising have still embraced marketing in one way or another. In its early days, Sriracha distributed its hot sauce among Asian chefs. Kiehl’s got started by offering potential customers free samples, free consultations, and 100% money-back guarantees.
You don’t need to go the traditional advertising route of investing in paid ads, buying billboards, or taking out full-page magazine spreads. You can go guerrilla. But don't make the mistake of thinking you don't need a startup marketing strategy.
Talk to any marketer out there, and they’ll be able to tell you a horror story about working with an early-stage business that expected them to dominate every marketing channel immediately. Chances are, they were asked to set up email marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, all social channels, and Google AdWords from the word “go.” Not only that, but their boss also wanted them to launch a podcast and conference series.
Whoa there. Take a breath.
While it can be tempting to be everywhere at once, it’s actually not an effective strategy. If you spread your efforts too thin, you won't be able to own any channels properly.
Instead, start by thinking of who your target customer is, where they're already shopping, and how they’re interacting with content naturally. Are your prospective customers more likely to read a blog post or be swayed by word-of-mouth marketing? Are they obsessed with murder-mystery podcasts or are they scrolling through influencers' outfits of the day on Instagram?
Start slowly, concentrate your efforts on one or two channels, and then grow into other channels once you've built a solid foundation.
Okay, so you've narrowed your marketing activities down to social media marketing and building your email list. Perfect!
So.... why aren't you getting more customers?
You might be focusing on the wrong metrics as you build out your marketing. Many people focus on targeting the keywords with the highest possible organic traffic, working with influencers with the largest followings, and going after the widest possible market share.
But that's a mistake. Rather than targeting all the potential customers out there, you should get really specific about who your ideal customer is and then focus solely on winning them over. You might get less traffic overall, but your conversion rate will go up. And ultimately, that's what you want to focus on: you can have all the eyeballs in the world on your product, but if they're not turning into paying customers, you're wasting your efforts.
Rather than posting about every hashtag-able day out there, narrow in on who your target market is, and then focus on producing the types of content they will want to consume. Choose long-tail, relevant keywords over vague, high-traffic ones. Work with influencers that have an engaged, value-aligned audience — even if their follower count is smaller.
Think of it as selling your professional chef's knife at a kitchen convention, rather than trying to sell it on a Times Square sidewalk. By getting really targeted, you'll actually connect with your target market — rather than yelling your message at people who aren't really interested.
As your startup scales, so do your marketing needs. And yet many companies don't immediately grow their marketing teams — choosing instead to rely on a single, T-shaped marketer to handle everything from their digital marketing to their event marketing campaigns.
While we believe a single, whip-smart marketer and a strong startup marketing plan can do amazing things, it's also important to recognize your limitations. At a certain point, you'll need to either expand your team dramatically or lean on external help — like freelancers or an agency — to meet your business goals.
We might be biased, but personally, we recommend working with a full-stack marketing agency. By working with them, you can gain marketing expertise as well as the skills of a full, well-rounded team — all at the fraction of the cost of hiring these experts yourself. Once you've built the foundation of your branding and marketing, working with an external partner can help pour fuel on the flames of your growth.
If you'd like some expert help from Day One, we work with startups of all sizes to set and grow their marketing plans — working as their own, internal marketing team at the cost of a single hire. We work closely with companies to establish a tailored, long-term strategy to get them going and growing.
Curious how we could help you out? Reach out for a free consultation.