MODERN MARKETING TO IDENTIFY, ATTRACT & ENGAGE.
The Ultimate Guide to Smart Marketing to Launch and Grow Business
What Startups & Small Businesses Need to Know About ‘Smarketing’
Let’s unravel the great unknown that is marketing. It’s not about sales, branding, or advertising, although it does support each of those efforts directly. Marketing, including startup marketing and scaleup marketing, is an all-encompassing process by which companies can identify, attract, and engage their customers and audiences. And these processes are best leveraged if startups and scaling companies have a true understanding of their purpose and know precisely what to do to execute them. When you apply sales strategies to those marketing processes, it will lead you to maximize ‘smarketing’ for best results. Neither will be effective as a stand-alone strategy. But integrating sales and marketing is the magic wand solution every startup and scaleup wants to know.
Regardless of your business model, it’s best to start with the three pillars of marketing basics.
Identifying your market, or selecting your target audience, is based on two things:
The utility of your solution to solve a potential customer need, and
The ability and willingness of a potential customer to purchase your solution.
Attracting customers requires communicating the right message to the right audience at the right time with the right media.
A story, well told, with clear, concise, and consistent messaging, attracts potential customers to your solution.
Your brand represents the value of your solution in the eyes of your customers.
Engaging your target audience and turning them into buyers requires commitment and investment.
Build a relationship with your prospective buyers so that when they are ready to buy, they think of you.
Understand the motivations of your prospective buyers and what you can do to make it frictionless for them to become your customers.
By knowing who to talk to, what to say to them, and what to do for them, you can connect your solution to customers to solve their problems. Who they are, what they want, and how they want to be treated are not just essential principles for great marketing your business; these principles also work across all relationships in life.
Companies often spend the bulk of their time, talent, and resources focused on building the right product or service, with marketing as an afterthought if there’s enough time and budget available. However, the early involvement and a strong commitment to marketing can provide marketplace validation, generate a precise path to achieving your business goals, and deliver greater returns. The most successful companies start with their marketing to better inform the creation and development of their solutions and better serve their marketplace. Marketing is a key driver of successful businesses in both startup and scaleup capacities.
While there is no single formula that works for all businesses, there are common elements that help drive startup marketing and scaleup marketing success.
Remember who you were in high school? Maybe you were the jock with mad athletic skills on the football field or basketball court. Maybe you were the self-proclaimed nerd, notorious for impeccable grades or playing the oboe in the school band. Perhaps you were the wallflower, who rarely spoke up, hoping to blend in with the crowd and avoid attention.
Whoever you were then, and who you are now, you’re still you. However, the reputation you had or how others perceived you would be your brand. Your brand evolved and matured over time, too, didn’t it? You’re likely a different person today than you were in high school.
With that stroll down memory lane in mind, consider the current state of your business. And as a business leader, you can use this example to better understand your company’s brand. For startups, it’s just like being a freshman in high school. The world is your oyster, and your company’s brand can be anything you want. For a scaling company, it’s like being in college. Your company brand has evolved since it began and is now ready to pivot to scale to do big things. In either scenario, the goal is still to identify, attract, and engage with marketing efforts. But you can’t successfully engage the world until you first get real about your brand.
Cultivate Your Brand, Starting with a Brand Audit.
If you don’t know where you are, it’s hard to get to where you want to be. This is especially true in branding.
Often, people think branding is the outward expression of a brand, story, or messages expressed by tangible assets like a logo, a tag line, and maybe even a color scheme. While those are important parts of every brand, they are just parts. Additionally, business leaders have an idea of what they want their brand to be and ignore what their brand perception actually is. As you develop and evaluate your brand, remember to be honest about how your target audience feels about your company. A brand audit can help you assess your current brand position and develop a more holistic and inclusive strategic plan moving forward.
A brand audit is a snapshot in time that looks at your company branding from end to end. The audit evaluates your internal perspective, your external reception, and your customer-facing point of view. While it serves as an important checkpoint, it is not, in itself, a brand strategy. It can be used, however, as a starting point for improving and evolving to grow your business and elevate your brand.
Typically, a brand audit will examine:
Internal branding: brand values, value proposition, market positioning, company culture
External branding: brand story, brand identity, media content (paid/earned/owned)
Customer PoV: customer collateral, thought leadership, customer systems, and support.
Every company, from startup to scaleup and even mature stage, should regularly undergo a brand audit to:
Understand the business, the language, and the goals in the current environment
Provide a baseline for sharing information, uniting all stakeholders and teams
Make educated recommendations on how to elevate the brand to create better outcomes.
If your business is in the startup phase of operations, you might be developing your brand message and profile for the first time. You have a clean slate to plant your flag based on your company’s unique strategic positioning. Here are some questions to help inspire startup marketing direction for your brand.
- Are you innovating with something new or revolutionary?
- Are you improving on an existing offering in a big way?
- How do you want your core audience to feel when they encounter your brand?
- Is there one (or more) specific solution with which your customers should associate your brand?
For those companies already in business with plans to jumpstart scaling and growth efforts, brand auditing might highlight these key questions to address before you engage in any growth or scaleup marketing efforts.
- Does your current brand perception align with your projected brand strategy?
- Do you need to re-establish your brand’s position among your core audience?
- Do you need to introduce your brand to a new audience as part of your growth plan?
- Can your brand evolve with your anticipated growth?
Determining the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing starts with the current state baseline evaluation generated from an effective brand audit. It is a process that will help you measure snapshots in time along the path to reaching your goals.
With a clear vision and brand message, you can begin to identify your target audience. What problems are you uniquely positioned to solve? What areas are your competitors neglecting now that represent an opportunity for you? And more importantly, who does your target market represent the most?
Create a Picture of Your Ideal Customer with Perfect Personas
You’ve evaluated your brand image and are ready to now focus on identifying your target market. A current state analysis of your core audience can help you determine your baseline. You can customize this analysis process depending on the needs and model of your business. However, most target market analyses consist of a few essential factors – including the buyer persona.
With the structure and context of personas, it is easier to create messages that resonate and move target customers into desired outcomes. Each persona is specialized as a unique buying audience, so it is not uncommon to create multiple personas, depending on the outcomes you are trying to achieve. Using data on existing customers, markets, and industries, combined with surveys, interviews, and other research, you can build personas to help you focus your efforts to identify, attract and engage customers to your solution.
Common elements of building a persona include:
ROLE: Not only the job title and duties but required skills, knowledge, and reporting structures
COMPANY: Specific information on size, structure, and marketplace, as well as more generalized trends on the industry and how the company fits into the bigger picture
GOALS: What success looks like for this person, how they are measured and what keeps them awake at night
PERSONAL: What motivates this person not only at work but in life, and how do they approach the purchasing process
Building personas is an important part of every marketing program. The results can contribute to:
Refining customer solutions
Validating a viable marketplace
Identifying targeted prospects
Developing messages that resonate with target audiences
Optimizing the sales process, and
Enhancing the strategic marketing roadmap
From buyers to users to influencers, creating perfect personas can help you know the “who, where, and how” to focus your marketing so that you reach your business goals with less cost and greater success.
Customer Journey vs. Buyer Journey
Company leaders should recognize the key difference between the customers’ journey and the buyers’ journey. The customer is in control of the customers’ journey, whereby the individual behaves according to browsing and purchasing preferences. The buyers’ journey is the path your company escorts an individual down once company contact has been initiated. You can’t control what they do before they encounter your brand. But once they make contact, everything that happens next is all up to you – and your buyers’ journey strategy.
Content strategy has become a buzzword term in the marketing ecosystem. And there are various schools of thought out there about what constitutes engaging and relevant content these days. But none of those tidbits of advice are intended to be a blanket solution to developing yours. Each business entity will determine a customized approach to defining and offering engaging content as it relates to your core audience and your brand positioning.
Build Credibility by Generating Original Content
Regardless of your business model or offering, being an authority in your space can be a great content strategy to inspire trust among your audience and to separate your brand from competitors. The goal is to create and share news, not noise. Be intentional about your approach to content creation. And with so many channels available to reach customers, you have incredible opportunities to explore how and where you can showcase your expertise.
Companies of all sizes are fast-becoming experts in their space by offering authority-based content across:
- Scholarly publications
- Tutorial videos
- Thought leadership podcasts
- Consulting resources
- Online courses
- Public speaking events
- Guest contributor events
Original content uses the expertise and experience of your company’s best and brightest people to resonate with clients, instill confidence in your company, and educate industry consumers.
What makes content original? Consider these key points:
- Original content might be a new perspective on an existing topic.
- Original content is a new solution to an old problem.
- Original content offers benefits and information that is otherwise hard to find.
Creating original content ongoing demonstrates what your teams know, say, and do to make your company the better choice. It is an undeniable and unique advantage for positioning your company as a leader and an expert. And it has to be a continuous effort to be effective.
The Thought Leadership Angle
As you consider your company’s capacity for generating original content, it’s also important to explore thought leadership paths. Unlike resharing of common knowledge topics or information, thought leadership content seeks to disrupt common thinking, perceptions, and norms. Thought leadership is a conversation or perspective that contributes to solving a common problem without necessarily pushing a specific solution from a specific company. Establishing thought leadership is a continual effort that, over time, builds credibility within markets and among audiences.
Thought leadership efforts are not at all related to sales. These communications won’t have calls to action or necessarily direct the audience to make a purchasing decision. Instead, they’ll focus on exploring a topic “thoughtfully” with intentions of educating, informing, and exploring.
Thought leadership content can be extended across different media channels to reach intended audiences, including:
Educational and Informational Videos, and
Collaborate with your teams to identify those members who might be best suited for thought leadership and original content contribution. You can then create a calendar of topics for current and future discussions. Using your buyer personas, you can then select those channels that reach your target audience to deliver your original content. Executing this plan will:
- Attract, generate interest and engage with your prospects and customers
- Build ongoing awareness for the brand
- Build trust in your brand as an authority in your space
- Create confidence and demonstrate competence in solving customer pain points
Startup Content Marketing
For startup companies not yet hitting those $1 million revenue benchmarks, original content can be a great passive effort to introduce and grow the brand. Remember, thought leadership won’t ask for the sale. It will, however, help establish trust and brand recognition, a primary challenge for startups. Here are some ideas to help develop a robust content strategy for your startup marketing strategy:
Explore industry hot topics.
Volunteer to be a guest or offer guest posts on reputable and relevant sites.
Create visual content that supports text or audio content pieces.
Partner with industry influencers.
Improve your reach and frequency with social media cross-posting.
Discuss niche topics.
How To Scale Content Marketing
For more established businesses looking to revamp the content strategy to support a scale and growth plan, a content process will need to be adopted, as well. HubSpot suggests following this content creation format:
- Cite content creation examples that resonate
- Develop content plans among your teams
- Identify the content creation process for ongoing output
- Identify the roster of content creation tools needed for execution
- Establish a content calendar for contributors to follow
To know if your original content is resonating with your core audience as intended, it’s imperative to monitor the engagement metrics. Just because you’re not assessing sales transactions doesn’t mean you want to blindly push content without accountability. To gauge the success of your original content strategy, you can look for analytics regarding:
- Website traffic
- Customer retention data
- Click-through rates (CTRs)
- Social shares and post engagement
- Time on page
- Bounce rates
Remember, original content and thought leadership will build consumer trust in your brand and company. It additionally elevates ideas and solutions that are part of your company’s core offering or intellectual property. If executed correctly, it will influence your industry and marketplace in a way that supports your online and offline marketing impact. It’s the differentiator that should be incorporated into your marketing strategy to help your company pivot, innovate, and transform your company to best leverage your competitive advantage.
There is a vast ecosystem of marketing channels and outreach platforms. And without a map, your business could get lost in the vastness of the noisy void. The most successful marketing strategies involve the proper use of precise channels that align with your target markets for delivering those key messages at the right times. While customizing which channels are most effective for your business model, there are a few that every business should be tapping into for marketing results.
Your Website Is Your Storefront to the World
Opening a business 20 years ago meant renting a space, investing in great signage, and presenting your storefront in the most welcoming way. Since most of today’s transactions occur online, and more specifically, on mobile devices, your storefront is now your website. And because there are literally millions of websites to browse, you’ll also need your company’s site to stand out and be inviting for users to explore. Frictionless experiences matter most with concise, informative layouts and brand-consistent designs.
Here are a few other essentials every company website needs to embrace:
Site security and privacy
Fast-loading page speeds
Concise messaging that resonates
Seamless user experiences
Intelligent landing pages
Hybrid engagements allowing users to find their own answers and easily connect to get answers
Calls to action for more than the purchasing decision itself (get more information, sign up for the newsletter, check out the video, send me a free sample)
Social Media Reaches Nearly Every Target
Businesses, regardless of their offering or B2B versus B2C model, can be improving their marketing efforts with smart social media strategies. Whether you’re looking to increase referrals, land new clients, or stay relevant with trends in your industry, there’s an ideal social media channel to use.
- Nearly 57% of the global population is using social media.
- More than 93% of the 4.8 billion internet users worldwide are on social media.
- Of the 5.27 billion people using mobile phones on the planet, 85% of them are using social media.
Categorically, there are different types of social media to evaluate first when developing your online marketing strategy. These include:
Social Networking Sites (Facebook, Twitter)
Social Review Sites (Google Reviews, Yelp)
Image Sharing Sites (Instagram)
Discussion Sites (Reddit, Quora)
Video Hosting Sites (YouTube, TikTok)
These might all encompass blogs, wikis, micro-blogs, social bookmarking, user rating services, online collaboration, public sharing, public publishing, and social networks, too. Using your buyer personas and brand positioning, you can identify which of these channels connects to your target audience the most. It’s encouraged to be selective and choose a number of channels that your process and content resources can manage successfully. It won’t help to have 20 company profiles that you can’t effectively use or manage.
Imagine your company sells paper clips. Here’s how you might cater your message, based on the nature of these more common social platforms:
Facebook: Our company makes paper clips, and everyone loves paperclips.
Instagram: Here’s a photo of our paper clips.
Twitter: Look, John’s using one of our paperclips right now.
YouTube: Here’s a tutorial video about how to use our paper clips.
Reddit: Let’s share hacks and tips for using our paper clips.
LinkedIn: Let’s discuss the skills and engineering that go into proper paperclip production and use.
TikTok: Look, there’s Sandy dancing and organizing her workspace with our paperclips.
Snapchat: Here’s our employee selling our incredible paperclips to a new customer.
Those are just a few of the core channels that most consumers engage with daily. But there are still other social marketing mediums under the “social media” umbrella that may be a great fit for your company, including Pinterest, WhatsApp, and Tumblr.
Social media marketing can be organic or paid, manually generated or automated, and promote an individual or a company. It’s not an “either/or” choice but a concerted effort for “all of the above.” The success of a social media marketing program can be easily determined by some key metrics, including return on ad spend (ROAS), engagement, reach, and conversions. Whether paid, earned, or owned, the ultimate goal of social media is to share and extend the reach of your brand, your message, and your engagement to others in your network who can then share with their networks and compound the reach of your communications.
The Reach vs. Frequency Dynamic
When you determine which marketing ecosystem channels to develop first with your marketing strategy, you’ll also want to be mindful of ROI and metrics. There is no shortage of advice out there about which is more valuable, reach or frequency. But ultimately, you’ll need to measure and assign value to both.
Reach: The number of core audience members you can estimate reaching with a given message.
Frequency: The number of times a specific core audience member encounters your message.
In general, the Marketing Rule of 7 still applies in today’s marketplace. Meaning an individual will need to hear a company’s message up to 7 times before taking action toward a purchasing decision.
Startups face unique challenges that established companies have already overcome. You’ll need to find the most effective channels for introducing your concepts or solutions as well as engaging core audiences. And you likely won’t have the extensive budget to support being on all the channels, all the time, or all at once. These tend to be the most successful startup marketing channels to explore as a priority:
- Affiliate marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Pay-per-click marketing
- Retargeting advertising
- Content marketing
- Influencer marketing
Growth Marketing Channels
Companies already generating well over $1 million in revenue, with a growth strategy to scale, will want to evaluate the current channels being leveraged. Identify those that identify, attract, and engage the best based on your ideal personas and target market. You can then develop robust growth marketing strategies using those channels already proven to be effective. Don’t be afraid, however, to tap into new channels if your growth plan includes a new buyer persona, new market, or innovative new offering. HubSpot suggests companies explore these channels as a priority:
Website enhancement and blogs
Social media channels
Email marketing campaigns
Search engine optimization
Developing Your Digital Presence
Your website and online marketing assets can share your story, attract attention to your business, and help you find new customers if you’re able to connect with them using the channels they prefer. Whether you’re tapping into landing pages as part of an email campaign or offering tutorials about how to use your product, you’re essentially transforming potential customers into buyers and advocates of your brand. Your online marketing takes many forms, including websites, landing pages, original content, and interaction across social sites, all designed in concert to capture an “audience of one.”
Developing effective online marketing requires a strategic plan that maps the customer journey and then uses messaging and media to move target customers along to the buyer journey. Online marketing integrates a mix of many different media channels, including:
- Site Design and Development
- Search Engine Optimization
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Online Advertising
Using a “hub and spoke” methodology, develop online marketing content and campaigns that extend reach through the “spokes” of online search, email, social media, and advertising. You can even use offline or traditional channels to bring customers to the “hub” online site – where they can connect and engage – to build a customer relationship. By implementing effective branding, ideal personas targeted messaging, and business intelligence with a hub and spoke strategy, online marketing can ignite demand generation and support the sales process to help you reach your goals.
Online marketing, when you understand the digital marketing ecosystem, is measurable, value-driven, tested and proven as an effective process that helps businesses grow. With a well-defined call to action for each paid, earned, or owned media interaction, online marketing is one of the best ways to build the customer journey and engage your audience.
If you take nothing away from this pillar guide to marketing strategy, at least hear this. Your marketing strategy is not sales. But it does directly impact the demand for your company offering, which ultimately leads to sales. Marketing warms your audience by identifying, attracting, and engaging them in order to better position them to receive your sales pitch.
Transform Audiences into Prospects with Demand Generation
Demand generation is the specialization of building brand authority to create awareness and interest that engages prospects. Once engaged, prospects then exit the customer journey and enter the buyer journey, a path you entirely control. If you can create the demand for your offering, the prospects will become workable leads in your sales funnel, primed for the next few steps leading to a conversion.
Although different from lead generation, which is the process that qualifies and moves prospects through the sales cycle, demand generation is an integral and collaborative high-value marketing strategy. Coupled with the sales process to build a long-term customer relationship, you’re also leveraging “smarketing” efforts.
Demand generation capitalizes on the interactive nature of commerce as an exchange. By focusing on a “give to get” model, demand generation provides value in the form of information, knowledge, and “value-adds” that a potential customer wants in exchange for information about that customer.
Demand generation relies on integration with lead generation and the sales process. Inbound marketing, gated content, blogging, email campaigns, social media marketing, and other content-focused activities can all be a part of demand generation. The key is that the transaction between buyer and seller has an exchange of value that causes each to continue to the next step or touchpoint along the customer journey.
More specifically, demand generation finds and attracts potential customers with content and guides them along a strategic path, gaining confirmation and information. The process may look like this:
A contact engages with demand generation content in exchange for personal information
The exchange of personal information feeds a CRM platform
Leads are tracked in a conversion funnel with a “lead nurturing and scoring” methodology
Lead scoring rules trigger a conversion point, moving the lead from marketing to sales
The lead becomes part of the sales process and moves toward becoming a customer
The Demand Generation Path to Sales
As the sales process continues to gather information on the lead, that information is cycled back to marketing to inform the demand generation process and enable optimization through activities including retargeting, “special offer” campaigns, and even as research to improve marketing content. This symbiotic cycle represents the collaborative nature of integrated “smarketing,” or marketing and sales.
It’s this seamless collaboration between marketing and sales execution that delivers exceptional value and a strong bridge between the two functions that help accelerate growth and reach business goals.
Once you have an outline that includes your buyer personas, your core brand message, your proven marketing ecosystem channels, and a plan for demand generation, it’s time to consider your processes to put these elements to work. This is where adopting marketing automation comes into play, offering increased benefits. Don’t hire 20 people to post, write, produce, and analyze your campaigns when there is software available to handle all of those tasks seamlessly.
Marketing Automation, Defined
Marketing automation is a broad-stroked term used to describe the process by which software is used to execute monotonous marketing tasks automatically. Marketers within your company can be relieved of repetitive steps in everything from social media posting to scheduling email marketing sequences. Marketing automation is primarily an efficiency adoption. But it also allows companies to create more intuitive and personalized experiences for customers. And as innovation and technology continue to evolve, more and more tasks within your marketing strategy process can be effectively automated.
Benefits of Incorporating Automation
There are incredible benefits for companies that incorporate marketing automation into their marketing strategies.
The most significant advantages are:
Streamlined and personalized workflows
Make sense of accumulated data and analytics
Free up your marketers’ time to pursue other productive marketing tasks
One automation tool every business needs is customer relationship management software or CRM. You’ll want to approach embracing CRM software solutions methodically, with the intention of finding the perfect combination of strategy, software, and customer-centric solutions. Automate what you can without compromising the personalization your marketing needs to reach specific core targets. Find ways to automate how you nurture prospects, delight customers, and transform existing customers into fierce brand advocates.
Start by evaluating your customer journey and identifying the key brand touchpoints. You can then develop the automation needed to connect those touchpoints, thus moving your targets closer to the buyers’ journey and sales funnel. Don’t automate where conversations or customized experiences are required. Instead, use the CRM to streamline the processes that connect those engagements.
As an example, HubSpot CRM is a platform with built-in features that allow companies to boost conversions, track engagement, improve revenue, leverage multiple channels, and build stronger customer relationships.
If your company is a startup or yet to hit your first $1 million, you’ll need a robust CRM tool. At this phase of your business, you’ll appreciate the customizable nature of CRM solutions. You’ll also rely on the immediate and untapped stream of data and metrics. Additionally, your teams will appreciate the convenience of CRM efficiencies, allowing them to do more with less.
Startups can begin to set up successful CRMs by:
- Assembling a CRM Team
- Evaluating Company Needs and Size
- Establishing Best Practices
- Incorporating Data Syncing Automations
Businesses in a position to scale likely already have a grasp on identifying the ideal customers. These leaders also know their customers’ pain points better than anyone else in the business. Because the vantage point of a scaling business is different from a startup, leaders will look for unique criteria from their CRM solutions.
Scaling companies will focus on CRMs that address customer problems with pinpoint precision. But they’ll also embrace those solutions ideal for advanced growth into emerging markets. And ROI is always a top priority during that scaling journey. Data and metrics provided by a CRM solution will play a key role in how scaling businesses map out their growth trajectory, as well.
Scaleups can develop successful CRM solutions by:
- Integrating Commerce Teams
- Embracing Emerging Technology
- Prioritizing Effective Scaling
- Focusing on Customer Pain Point Resolution
We’ve mentioned “smarketing” before. But it’s important to make a proper introduction for leaders who may need reminding.
As you develop your marketing strategy, remember that marketing plans, resources, people, and tools should never operate in a silo. Instead, they need to be cohesive with your sales strategy. The integration of your marketing roadmap with your sales roadmap is where true “smarketing” success lies.
What HubSpot Says about ‘Smarketing’
HubSpot officially defines “smarketing” as the alignment of your sales and marketing teams, created through direct and frequent communication between the two. The outcome is a roster of measurable goals for each designated team to hit along with mutual accountability measures. The concept sounds simple. But if you’ve ever tried merging two departments, you know just how complex those engagements, goal-setting conversations, and processes can be.
When you successfully achieve this merging of strategies, here’s what it means for your business:
You’ll have a structure in place to determine measurable goals for both marketing and sales.
You’ll enjoy a streamlined demand and lead generation process.
Your company data will align with both sales and marketing to provide relevant and actionable insights used to navigate the market and continue to grow.
Your CRM and marketing automation solutions will be aligned for maximum results and efficiencies.
Your core customer profiles and frameworks will align and shift with ever-changing consumer preferences.
Your teams will move in sync with each other allowing for flexibility in shifting either strategy.
How Do Businesses Do ‘Smarketing?’
In most businesses, you can’t just wish your idea to life. You need to create yet another process and roadmap to follow for proper execution. An approach to “smarketing” should be viewed through the same lens. And these are the first steps to aligning your marketing and sales objectives and teams to create that perfect union for success.
- Develop a shared and aligned benchmark of terms and definitions
- Share funnels and tools between marketing and sales teams
- Create closed-loop reporting between your marketing and sales teams
- Select CRMs and automation that integrate seamlessly
- Disseminate all relevant information and communication for complete transparency of common goals, challenges, and accountability measures
Sometimes taking in countless suggestions and best practices, tools and resources, advice, and pointers about marketing is overwhelming. And because every business model is unique, not every piece of advice is ideal. However, another baseline you can explore as you develop your marketing plan that typically applies to every business is the list of marketing to-don’ts. These are common mistakes business leaders make, in startups and scaleups, that you can keep in your peripheral to avoid.
Before you take any execution steps, reference this list of mistakes to ensure you’re not heading in the wrong direction:
Launching without ample research or testing into buyer personas, market trends, or data
Losing sight of core target audience pain points
Failing to capitalize on existing client data and loyalty
Neglecting automation efficiencies that make sense
Not analyzing your data and metrics for strategy validity
Inability to offer a unique value proposition in your messaging
Creating content that no longer resonates
Promoting inconsistent messaging, imaging, and content that doesn’t support your brand
Spamming versus engaging
Engaging in filler advertising or messaging just to be doing something
Continue with a marketing strategy that isn’t working as well as it once did
Ignoring trends that impact your core customers, your core company offering, or your market viability
Setting it and forgetting it with your strategy, campaigns, or efforts
Another key mistake company leaders make with their marketing efforts is attempting to take on what they can’t effectively manage. Whether you’re a startup or a scaleup, if you don’t have the required people, tools, and resources to effectively develop a marketing strategy and execute it, consider working with a professional marketing partner. And if you’re making any of these common mistakes without a plan for redirection, a marketing firm can be a great asset for turning things around and getting your marketing strategy back on track.
Now that you’re fully armed with all the knowledge, definitions, and tactics to consider, you’re ready to develop your company’s marketing strategy. If you don’t feel entirely confident in how to proceed or are more definitive about some of these critical factors than others, here are a few first steps to consider.
Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Mysterious
Marketing can sometimes be described as an elusive unicorn that only a magic wand and ridiculous budgets can tame. But developing a successful marketing strategy doesn’t have to be a black hole shrouded in mystery. Start with the basic elements of marketing, as described above, and make distinctions rooted in data. Fill in the blanks that you know and use a systematic approach to filling what you don’t know. When you have all the necessary ingredients and cooking instructions, you can begin to assemble and bake your cake, right?
The truth is that marketing works best when it is cohesive, agile, and collaborative, with a strategic plan that is aligned with the business. Systems and processes can support personalized, flexible, scalable, and repeatable marketing to improve efficiencies and deliver a better return on investment.
To identify, attract and engage customers, follow these steps:
Cultivate your brand, starting with a brand audit
Create a picture of your ideal customer with perfect personas
Construct your presence with online marketing
Share and engage with social marketing
Personalize your customer journey with marketing automation
Turn personas into prospects with demand generation
Align marketing and sales for ultimate “smarketing” success
Avoid common mistakes along the way
It’s also imperative to recognize when it’s time to bring in professional help. If you fall short of the people, time, and resources needed to properly develop your marketing strategy, consider working with a marketing partner. Much like you would outsource your company’s accounting, payroll, customer service, or operations segments, outsourcing your marketing efforts can ensure proper and consistent execution in line with your core vision and plan.
With marketing as a core part of your business strategy, you’ll have a foundation for successfully accelerating the growth of your startup or scaleup.