We’re excited to kick-off our first blog post with content that came from our hearts. We have very strong feelings about marketing and in particular for startups, so we threw together our top three things we think you should remember as you kick off your amazing idea.

#1: Know Your Audience (From Melissa)

“What is the one thing you recommend I do with my marketing?” I’ve heard this question from those I mentor, employers and cocktailers. And I always answer the same thing “know your audience!” The fact is, if you don’t do this correctly, then all your other marketing will fail. It sounds pretty basic, but you would be surprised how complex it actually is.

Let’s simplify it with a couple quick tips:

  1. Never consider yourself “the audience”.

    Let’s face it, you created the company/product/service, so of course you are the audience, right? Well, not quite. You must remember how close you are to not only your idea, but every detail surrounding it and therefore your perceptions and emotions are skewed.

  2. Make informed decisions.

    Even if you are 100% certain you know your audience will like something, test it anyway. And don’t be afraid to hear something that goes against your thinking. It’s your company, you will always make the decision, just be open to seeing all sides if you want to properly reach that audience.

  3. Make time to do audience analysis.

    It seems daunting, time consuming, and as if you don’t have the resources to do it right. But when it informs all of your marketing, it’s simply a small piece in an important puzzle.

    • Find what works with the resources and budget you have and do your best repeat this at least every year (depending on your product/service)

    • Keep it simple and remember this market research is “insight” and not “answers”

  4. Listen and engage with your audience.

    My favorite way to do this is by developing a customer advisory board to throw ideas at. There are many ways to do this and it should be designed to fit your company’s specific needs.

    Custom build products for clients with budget to do so. Building products/services your customers want should be part of your roadmap (note, this does not mean building everything your customers ask for!)

    Reply to comments on social even if you fear for the worst.

#2: A Powerful Foundation (From Laura)

Don’t underestimate the power of a solid foundation. But Laura, what does this even MEAN?!

  1. Your brand image is important but so is the machine that powers it.

    One of the first things you should do is consider what tools and platforms will drive your success.

    • Consider email, social media, CRM, paid advertising and don’t forget analytics!

  2. You don’t have to break the bank on tools.

    There are so many free or low cost solutions available to marketers. But remember, try to find solutions that will fit the needs of your business in the short term and the long term. Check out this blog article from Hootsuite for a list of ideas: https://adespresso.com/blog/marketing-tools/

  3. Build a library of content that can repurposed across multiple mediums.

    Don’t get bogged down in the “I have to write a white paper to be a credible thought leader” approach. Create content that will engage your audience and use it, use it, use it. Create a month long social media series, use it in nurture emails, have sales put it in their email signatures, and the list goes on.

  4. Do your lead management due diligence up front.

    Define your demand waterfall! OMG what the heck is a DEMAND WATERFALL?! The demand waterfall helps you track leads through your marketing and sales funnel and ultimately gives you the ability to measure the ROI of your marketing spend. Check out this two part series from MarketOne for an in depth explanation: https://www.marketone.com/articles/sirius-decisions-demand-waterfall-explained-pt-1. Trust me on this one, your investors will thank you.

  5. Keep your eye on the prize.

    Get in the habit of assigning KPIs to every single thing that comes out of marketing. It will become second nature and you’ll quickly be able to evaluate the success (or failure) of your efforts and you can do more (or less) of that particular things. Also, you’ll be able to quickly assess how a campaign as a whole is performing.

#3: Take Chances! (From us both!)

Let’s face it, you didn’t startup because you were afraid, right? No! Entrepreneurs are FEARLESS! It’s a beautiful thing. And you should take that approach with your marketing. We’re not saying to go out and waste your entire budget on a single TV ad, but we are saying you should consider it.

  1. No matter what, dedicate at least 10% of your marketing budget to a gut idea, something that excites you or something you’ve never done before (don’t forget to give it a KPI!).

  2. Fearless ideas in marketing should be perfectly aligned with any strategies you have with earned media (PR or Influencer) for maximum potential.

  3. Don’t be afraid to spend money on marketing. If you’re willing to put budget behind sales people, then you should match that with marketing. Not only will you grow awareness of your brand, but that awareness will support every effort your salespeople make.

  4. Plan but also act. Marketers in general need time to properly plan and measure. The challenge is to act on a wild idea that may not be data-driven or supported. Now and then, the right wild idea pays off, so don’t be afraid to act on them.

  5. Awareness: we could talk hours on this and how to formulate the right strategy and timing for your brand, but for right now suffice it to say that you need it. Period. So take the time to determine what your strategy will be and make budget for it.