February 13, 2022

Marketing for startups is broken. Here's how we do it instead.

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Craze Team

Marketing can be a difficult task, even when it comes to promoting a well-established product for a well-known brand: you need to be intimately familiar with your target market, aware of the cultural landscape, and able to devote time, cash, and energy to your most effective channels. 

When you’re trying to do the same for a high-growth or early-stage startup, all of those challenges are multiplied — since startups work at a faster speed, face fiercer competition, and have a higher failure rate (up to 90%, in fact).

Aside from that, however, there are specific reasons why marketing for startups is so challenging. Below, we dive into them — and explain how you can overcome them.

Why your startup marketing strategy isn’t working

If you’re like most startups, chances are you aren’t operating with a robust and specialized in-house marketing team at your disposal. In fact, close to 45% of startups don’t even have one in-house marketer to their name, with marketing duties often falling instead to the founder, an overwhelmed “jack of all trades” employee, or a freelancer. 

Startups are also at a disadvantage because — despite having less manpower and smaller budgets — they need to move fast in order to disrupt giants and fend off incumbents. And even if you have time on your side, you’re often faced with an overwhelming number of marketing approaches to choose from — without necessarily knowing which will be the best fit for your nascent brand.

When you do finally dive into a strategy, you end up having to source a social media marketer off of MarketerHire, an email marketing specialist from Upwork, and pricey content marketing from an agency. Soon you realize you also need a videographer and a paid ads expert — and perhaps even an art director, since none of your freelancers’ deliverables fit together cohesively.

At the end of it all, your ramshackle approach to marketing has cost you an arm and a leg — without getting you the results you need. You jump to the next strategy, without really understanding why the first didn’t work or what you’ll change the next time around to resonate with potential customers.

This system is clearly broken — and it’s why we use a full-stack approach to marketing for startups here at Craze.

What is full-stack marketing for startups?

Craze is home to a team of specialized marketing professionals, all of whom work full-time for us. When we work with you, our full-time team becomes your marketing team — all the way from the initial strategizing phase all the way through to measuring results. And because our partners generally stick around for the long term, you can be guaranteed that while we’re focused on the day-to-day, we’re equally driven by tomorrow.

We work with a large range of clients, all of who have wildly different businesses, different services, and different products. A few come to us with an existing strategy and only need limited help in executing a campaign. Most, however, have little to no marketing infrastructure, and need help crafting a strategy from the ground up.

At the end of the day, though, our clients all have the same immediate needs: they need to move quickly. They need to stay within budget. And they need constant communication and attention to detail.

And so those priorities become our priorities. Through market research, hours of consulting, and a dynamic onboarding process, we're able to get up to speed on every aspect of their business and build a marketing plan that actually pushes their business goals forward.

How we helped College Sports Advisors double their growth using the Craze system

College Sports Advisors is a player-management advisory that matches young athletes to college sports opportunities across the United States. Their business model is super simple, yet complex: at the start of the customer journey, athletes' families pay a flat fee — and then it's on CSA to deliver, finding each athlete strong college opportunities to further their sports careers.

Marketing CSA's services might be easy if CSA were simply looking to bring on athletes of any caliber to their program, but not every student who loves playing baseball in high school is a good fit for college sports. CSA's clients need to be both strong athletes and good students, which means CSA needs to be extremely selective in terms of the customers they choose to bring on. 

For that reason, simply pouring dollars into social media marketing or search engine optimization doesn’t attract CSA's very specific target audience. It doesn’t do much for their conversion rates, either.

When CSA first came to Craze with their challenge, we started off with consulting and thoughtful brainstorming to better understand their business. Over time, our strategy became clear: we decided to use the solid foundation of customers that CSA had already built to reach even more qualified athletes.

How did we do that?

We decided to create a full digital marketing strategy that focused on CSA's most valuable asset: its satisfied customers. That meant elevating the CSA brand and its existing athletes through strong marketing, dynamic media, and a consistent, shareable social presence. Because after all, if Player X is a qualified player for CSA, then he/she'll likely have a network of friends who are in the same position, right?

We decided to reach that target audience by making CSA athletes feel like pros, capturing plenty of relevant content that they could share on their own social media platforms. If we could create content that they would want to share, we knew we would multiply CSA's targeted organic reach without swinging and missing on paid ads.

To capture the varied types of content that we needed, we organized a single-day shoot in January 2021 with the goal of highlighting CSA's athletes, hearing their stories, and learning how CSA transformed their lives.

The result was over 8 months of content, including thousands of photos and video clips, that would form the foundation of our new social media strategy. With our new approach, we built out an ad campaign targeting the athletes themselves, as well as their parents (the true decision makers for CSA). We also set up strategic retargeting to make sure CSA’s audience were repeatedly being directed back to CSA’s website.

Less than a year later, they've already doubled their growth — thanks to the difference in how we approach things here at Craze and the incredible work CSA is doing in the field. And the best part is: working with us didn't result in a years-long engagement for CSA, or cost them multiple six figures. It just took an aware, engaged, and full-stack team ready to confront the challenge head-on.

This is just one example of how we custom-built a solution for a client’s unique challenge. Curious to hear how we could help your business? Get started with a free consulting call with the Craze team