Startup Marketing & Brand Development: Starting Off on the Right Foot
Building a startup? Awesome! There are 2 ways to do it: Cobble things together yourself, or hire a highly-specialized, startup marketing agency.
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Your heart explodes with emotion when you think about all the future possibilities that your startup’s business model holds. But then reality kicks in once you start trying to market your shiny, new startup.
As a new entrepreneur, nobody really prepares you for the tough road ahead. They never tell you that the marketplace is a slush pile where countless businesses, products, and services are launched into the vast pool of ubiquitous sameness each year.
Startup businesses face tons of challenges while trying to get off the ground, and one of the biggest missteps is only going skin-deep on brand development, or planning how exactly you’ll go to market. Nothing hurts more than creating something you believe is great, but nobody seems to be looking in your direction.
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While it may seem unnecessary, hiring a startup marketing agency to help define your value, who your unique buying tribes are, and how best to engage them in order to help your ‘big idea’ make it past the infant stage, can be absolute make, or break.
If done right, startup marketing, and brand development can be a money-minting monster. Here are some valuable lessons that you should consider early on to save yourself from a million sleepless nights and a wasted advertising budget aimed in the wrong direction.
1. Identify Your Market (the tighter, the better)
Here is a reality check: No matter how great you think your product is, only a small section of the population will be interested in it, in most cases. This is your “niche.” This means that if you try to sell your startup to everyone, you are wasting both your time and money. This is nearly impossible unless your ad budget to build brand awareness is nearly infinite (we’re guessing it’s not).
Practically speaking, it’s almost impossible to brand a business without context — the Who, and even more importantly, the Why behind why this thing even exists.
The best way to make an impact is to focus on a niche based on the product or service that you are offering, and who it resonates with.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing your market, and identifying your unique buying tribes:
- Value proposition – A good value proposition should give you an edge over your competitors. It is what potential clients use to evaluate you. The question is, is it unique enough to set your brand apart?
- Competition – If you want to be a big player in the field, you should start your marketing plan with your competition in mind. Every business wants to be at the intersection of what clients want. Capturing demand more, especially in a saturated market, needs several sleepless nights of hard work.
- Market Size – Many startups face the challenge of not being able to size their potential market effectively. It is essential to know the approximate number of potential customers in your target area.
- Market Wealth – Can your target market afford to buy your product?
There are audiences that you can’t predict when starting out, which is why you should keep an open ear to get an up-to-date picture of the different audiences that your brand attracts, and the community you want to build around it.
2. Differentiate Your Brand
Another reality check: No matter how unique you think your startup is, there’s a good chance someone else is already doing it. If your brand/product doesn’t stand out from the rest, sales and building traction will be difficult to come by.
Sometimes what makes you stand out in a crowded space has nothing to do with the product or brand itself. It could be how well your messaging and core brand values are being communicated, in order to build powerful brand engagement from the start. Can your unique buying tribes see themselves in the lifestyle your brand is portraying, and the problems it solves for them? The most important thing here is to be different.
Here are some other strategies you can capitalize on to help set you apart from competitors:
- Create a unique voice and tone for your brand – Your stellar business idea won’t go far without a voice. There is something about brand voice and tone that allows you to connect more intimately with your customers. During the early stages of a business, customers recognize how they are addressed and spoken to, impacting their view of your brand.
- Create unique content to drive brand awareness – A solid brand identity gives you the power to create unique content. Most startups commit business suicide by pushing their logos into every post they make. Your logo is an essential aspect of brand identity, but it doesn’t tell your brand story. The real question is, how are you working towards making your Instagram posts capture who you are? Are you regularly updating your website with original blog posts? Creating new content and keeping up with consistency might feel like it’s too big of a task, but how else do you expect to keep your brand sticky?
3. Keep Your End of the Bargain
One of the biggest mistakes startups make is diving into marketing with an incomplete business model. Nobody will fall in love with your brand if you’re still struggling to get your purpose right; if your Why isn’t clearly communicated in your core marketing messaging.
Strive to keep the promises that you make to your customers. THAT is what authenticity is all about! It may simple, but keeping your brand promises is tough, we’ll admit. But even though it’s tough, it is one of the “secret sauce” elements of a well-established brand, startup, or not!
So Why Is It Important to Consider Hiring a Startup Marketing Agency?
Most startup CEOs resort to freelance sites to draft up a couple of marketing concepts for them. Or worse, do it by themselves. This is your first mistake. Startup branding is just like going on a first date where you would want to make an excellent first impression.
1. You Will Be Able to Achieve Your Goals Faster Than When You Work Alone
Taking care of a business’s marketing needs is a full-time job, especially when it comes to startups. Picking dynamic experts is an excellent way to save time and focus on what you do best. A specialized, senior marketing team with experience working with startups specifically will help you craft and implement excellent approaches towards building customer traction in order to achieve your business’s goals within a short timeframe.
2. You Will Get New Insights
Whatever you are doing, chances are you are doing it for the first time. You are probably still trying to figure out everything in your business plan. Bringing a digital marketing agency on board is like expanding your team and gaining a new set of talents and skills. Marketing experts can give you new insights into how you should deal with things, as well as unbiased advice on your marketing strategy.
3. You Will Be Able to Track Your Audience
The greatest drawback for most startups is not being able to track who or what fraction of your target audience saw your ad. A startup marketing agency will help you analyze the data, and make sense of it alongside current marketing trends & analytical metrics. This will help you gear your business towards achieving more of your goals, or key progress indicators.
To sum it up, startup marketing and brand development are just as important as product development. Contrary to popular belief, building your app or product should not come before planning out who it is for, how it will improve their lives, and why it exists as far as how you’ll take it to market.
You might have the most innovative product in the market, but if you fail to lay a strong foundation for your brand and communicate why it can change lives (seriously!), chances are the business won’t do well as you might expect.
Developing a strong brand and marketing plan is absolutely critical for startups to realize early success. And one of the best, and most efficient ways to do that is to engage a startup marketing agency that knows the terrain and can lead the way.