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The ultimate 5 step guide to growing your startup through marketing

Hello?! Customers?! Come to us! We are here! You keep on screaming. But they do not keep on coming. Let’s talk about startup marketing.

To name a few of the low-lands greatest startups: Booking.com, VanMoof, MosaMeat, Swapfiets, The Ocean Cleanup, and 3D Hubs.
You have heard of them. Through newspaper articles, blog posts, LinkedIn ads, or the hype surrounding them. We didn’t even talk about the banned TV-commercial from VanMoof. Or the number of times you have seen the face behind The Ocean Cleanup passing by.

It does not surprise me. Since the Dutch tech scene employs more than 69,000 people. Consisting of early-stage startups to scaleups resulting in 1,661 companies. The Netherlands ranks as #4 in Europe’s best startup land.

The marketing budget is limited but the goals are endless. Unlike the 800 people teams inside corporates, startups might have one or two members dedicated to marketing.

They focus on too many of the 50+ marketing channels and there is no real strategy in place. They simply want to do too much. However, they need expertise and high-quality skills. Narrowing down the focus, and tapping into know-how is key.

Here are 5 steps to slay your startup marketing:

1. Establish your why

On average, a human adult makes about 35.000 decisions a day, and 95% of these decisions are made unconsciously. So does your audience. The big question for you is how to convince your (potential) clients to choose your products or services over your competitors’ ones. Do you want to convince them of how awesome your products or services are? Or would you like to subconsciously touch their hearts and convince them to spend their money at your firm?

If you choose the latter, you choose correctly. But how, you might think. By establishing your “why”. Startup marketing starts by sending out a compelling message that warms the heart of your audience. I know you have probably been bombarded with Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. I’m sorry. But filling in the steps of this model and establishing your why, how, and what are essential in creating a brand that your audience will love. This model is a simple yet powerful way that provides a stimulus for inspiring leadership.

Your why is the base of your story, and by having this clear, you discover the core of your business. Why you exist in the first place. It drives you to do what you do every day, and it serves as your motivation. It helps you thrive and gives your customers a reason to do business with you other than solely for the product or services you offer. If you can answer the why question, you can really affect people. It makes your startup personal and human and creates a distinctive and recognizable character. It should be more than just wanting to make money or creating amazing things. Strive for something that makes the world a tiny bit better every day.

The golden circle in short:

Write down the answers to the following questions

  • Why: What is your purpose? What do you believe in? 
  • How: How does your process work? What are the specific actions you take? 
  • What: What are the results you achieve and is the outcome of your “why”.

Create a story of your answers and combine these with your mission and vision statement. Now you have a strong message to shoot into the world. Make your story perfect by talking about it to team members. Once you have your compelling story ready, it is time to spread it to your channels and beyond. Want to know more about how to establish your why and take your branding to the next level? Check out our branding package and start creating your story. Or check our Victor, one of HelloMaaS’s 350+ marketing freelancers, who wrote a blog on creating attractive brands.

2. To whom are you selling?

Startup owners, I hate to break it to you. Your product or service is not for everyone. I know you sometimes think it is. It is not. Know who you sell to.

When you create specific customer personas. You understand the needs and wants of your audience. It is not only about age and where they live. No, we want to know what Dominique, his hopes, and dreams are. What Olivia is struggling with. Where Geraldine shops and seeks career advice. The more specific the better.   

After creating personas, you know who to focus on. The next step is how to reach them. By creating audience segments you optimize targeting and advertising budgets. You can tailor your brand, channel mix, and messaging to specific groups. Improve your chances to grow faster and smarter. Audience segmentation includes criteria such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Geography
  • Interests
  • Affinities
  • Connections
  • Location
  • Buying and online behavior

Critically narrowing down your target market is tricky. Because you want to sell to everyone. Get help from outside in, to accelerate this step. Check out our marketing packages on personas and audience segmentation

3. Set up your startup marketing strategy

To get the most out of your startup marketing plan, you need to create a strategy. After getting your message straight and your audiences clear. It is time to set goals, align departments, and do competitor research. Often goals are set in a SMART way: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. A smart goal looks like this:

Sell 30% more of product X over the next 3 months.

Creating goals that are SMART encourages the realization of them. Since employees within startups obtain multiple roles, it is important to align your goals and KPIs. Because marketing overlaps with sales or product and vice versa.

Knowing what your competitors’ do on a marketing level helps direct your strategy. Following their footsteps, or doing the exact opposite. There are no rules in marketing. Only when it comes down to SEO.

Startups that need to attract customers, try the growth hacking stuff. But traction and growth are not the same things. You know all the hacky tricks: building email lists, cold outreach, guerrilla tricks, and a/b testing. However, growing a startup to a billion-dollar company is not the same thing. Just like Ferdinand Goetzen from 3D Hubs says, you need to start with growth. A sustainable marketing strategy to attract, keep, and understand clients. Build your product with your customers. A match made in heaven for any marketing strategy.

4. Start with content marketing

Content is king, a cliche? Not really. To share your message, starting with content marketing is vital. It is the way to lure in customers and give them that final push they sometimes need before buying from you. With content marketing, you provide your audience with relevant information that makes them smarter. This information doesn’t have to be directly related to your products or services, but it shows your expertise and creates authority. Sharing the right content will make you a knowledge giver for your target group and creates brand preference.

Fine, but how to start? And which type of content marketing is the best? As you know from the previous step, you know precisely what your why is, and you have established your compelling story. You also know who your target audience is, and in your strategy, you have discovered what channels they use, so you can reach them easily.

For instance, forms of content marketing are texts such as blogs or web texts, videos, photos, infographics but also social media messages, and even homemade gifs. You could use these different kinds of content to share who you are, what you offer, and why they should come to you to buy your products or services.

Usually, interactive content works best, such as video, gifs, interactive webinars, live streaming, and more. These content forms generate the most engagement as moving images are easier to remember than pictures or plain text. It is a must to include this in your content marketing mix. Other forms of content that you should not miss out on are; blogs on your website, starting guest blogging to gain authority, sharing your content on social media, and making guest appearances in podcasts or creating your own.

Try this

  • Blogging: the easiest way to enhance SEO and share value with your customers. Write along with an extensive keyword list. 
  • Ebook: understand the interest of ‘early adopters’ in your product. Also, another way to share your knowledge and increase your email newsletter audience. 
  • Podcast: since Joe Rogan’s podcast was sold to Spotify for 100M, podcasting is now serious business. Check out our podcast HelloMasters with insider marketing tricks from CMO’s and startup founders. 

It’s tempting to start producing content, but I recommend creating a strategy first. At HelloMaaS we handpicked 5 content specialists to enhance your content strategy

5. Increase visibility and credibility through PR

The world of PR is a mystery. Releasing stories through internal connections and press kits is key. It is crucial to win at startup marketing. How and where to start? 

Public relations helps increase awareness online and offline. As a startup, you have many stories to tell. From the amount of money that you raised to the market, which you’re disrupting. If done right, PR is successful to create long-term buzz. News articles and tv-visits are everlasting. 

We at HelloMaaS, are also a startup. One of our main marketing focuses in the traction period was PR. Through the help of a marketing specialist, we gained traction from multiple media and news sources. Check out HelloMaaS featured in Quote, AD, JAN, Emerce, or BNR news radio. 

Our PR specialists work performance-based. Easy right? Check out what is included in our PR package or contact us if you have any questions. 

We help startups and scaleups with marketing. HelloMaaS is a new platform to organize your marketing smarter and cheaper with 30+ marketing packages. 

Tune in to our HelloMasters episode where we debunk 10 startup myths. With startup founders: Rado Raykov of Holler.Live, Willemijn Schneyder of SwipeGuide, Sander Nagtegaal of Unless, Louise Doorn of HelloMaaS, together with co-host Ellen Bark-Lindhout of Collider.io.

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