There is so much to do when you are launching a new product as a startup, developing the app or website is the priority as without it there is no startup. However once built the product needs to be found, needs to be used, needs to be grown – and how does this happen? Marketing.
Now marketing can seem like a scary subject when it comes to startups, you have little to no budget, and little to no resources to deliver anything. Prioritisation therefore becomes key, what marketing do you NEED to make your next product a success? That’s what I’m here to answer, giving you the tips and tricks to launch your startup successfully.
Here are the 8 marketing basics that every startup needs to launch a new app or website:
- A Discoverable Marketing-Website
- A Blog To Generate Content
- A Downloadable Lead Magnet
- Industry Marketplace Profiles
- Audience Targeting & Competitor Analysis
- A Marketing Calendar & Strategy
- Social Post Templates
- Consistent Branding
Don’t get scared off by that list! Below I will break down what each one means, why it is important and how you can deliver it.
1. A Discoverable Marketing-Website
The basis of any marketing you will do for a digital product will include your digital home, your website. Now your product might be a website in itself, a digital platform that people can log in to and use on any web browser, but that isn’t what we are talking about here.
This is your Marketing-Website, where you explain what your product is, provide content to potential customers, and attract new leads. The primary purpose of this website is to make you DISCOVERABLE.
In today’s age of digital products, people need to be able to search for your product with a few clicks, whether or not they know your website URL, whether or not they even remember your company name. If a potential lead has heard about you, or simply has a need that you can solve, they need to be able to search whatever they are looking for and have your website come up in the results.
How do you do this? You create a website, with as many or few pages as you can manage, and focus on keywords – the words your leads will be searching for. That includes; your product name, the problem you are solving, the solution you provide, your location, and anything else that is specific to your startup. All of this information should be in your copy throughout your website pages, in your webpage titles, and in the meta description that shows up in search results. Once this is all done and your website published search engines like Google will start scanning your website and ranking you for these words.
2. A Blog To Generate Content
Secondly, you are going to need a blog to start generating new content. People who don’t know about you will rarely search for the exact solution you provide. More likely they will search for advice or solutions to issues in the same area you are operating in. So by creating blogs around your area of expertise and answering questions that are similar you are likely to be found by these users.
If they find your content helpful, they’ll also see your brand, and see that you provide services that could help them. This is free, inbound, quality lead generation at it’s finest.
So how do you do this? How do you build a blog and think of things to write about? There are lots of tools out there that can automatically generate common questions users have. You just enter your keywords for your area and they’ll recommend titles for blogs you could write. Pick one you feel confident with, write down your knowledge, and publish it to the world. My favourite platform for this is AnswerThePublic.
“But I can’t write a big blog, I’m no expert, what do I do?” One, that is non-sense, if you are building a product you know plenty about your industry, and two, anyone can write a blog. They don’t have to be two-thousand-word essays. Just make sure you have an intro to the question, a middle discussion with your knowledge, and a conclusion that quickly wraps up what you have said – oh and try and reach 600 words. Trust me you’ll get there in no time, in fact as you read this blog it is already over 600 and has over 200 words in just the titles and intro alone.
As for actually setting up a blog technically, there are lots of blogging sites out there, take your pick (WordPress being the obvious) – BUT I would recommend building it as part of your own marketing-website if you can. This will help increase your traffic to the main site, make you more discoverable, and users are more likely to look at your wider product offering after reading your blog if it is all the same website.
3. A Downloadable Lead Magnet
This sounds like a very technical marketing term, “lead magnet”, but all it means is something that a lead will want to download and in exchange give you their email. This can be as simple as a product overview guide, or something that can help them directly like a worksheet, template, or step by step process guide. The more useful to the user, the more email addresses you can collect.
Now some people or businesses are sceptical about giving away content or knowledge to a lead for free. I have two answers for this. The first, it isn’t free – it was paid for with an email which if you have to get from a lead generation company or spend your own time finding will cost you money in one way or another. The second, building trust with a lead is invaluable. If you can become a trusted advisor, a provider of valuable resources, they are exponentially more likely to want to use your product and pay for it.
How do people find these lead magnets? By placing them over your website and blogs. They come for a blog answering a question, and then they find a free resource to help them with a small problem. It’s a no brainer for them to quickly provide a simple email in exchange for this assistance and you have also doubled the chances they will remember your brand as you can send the resource directly to their email. If you want an example head over to Na:gne Studio’s Product Marketing Services page and check out our downloadable service overview… subtle plug.
4. Industry Marketplace Profiles
In every industry there are marketplaces, review websites, and digital communities. These are often free sites to list your business profile on and they give you a unique option when you are first launching – they can help you become discoverable.
How? Firstly through their own SEO optimisation and search engine rankings. Because these websites are often established and have incredible community engagement through usage and reviews, they rank very well in search engines like google. Therefore listing your details on one of their sites is a great way to have a profile with your name and branding appear in search results quickly.
You can then take advantage of this discoverability by linking back to your own website and content. This directs visitors back to your site, and, through having links from a prominent site going to yours, your own site will have its search ranking increased (known as backlinking). Some examples of these sites include G2, Capterra, and Product Hunt.
5. Audience Targeting & Competitor Analysis
Who are you trying to reach? Who is your target customer? And what do your direct competitors do to reach out to them? Most product teams will have done work to identify this, as to build a product that works for a specific user you need to know about them, and what competitors are already offering them. This data is also incredibly important for marketing though.
Why? Because having this information can speed up the time it takes for you to start advertising to the right people, sharing the right content socially, and emailing the right deals instantly.
So what do you need at a minimum for audience targeting? You need to build a rough “Persona” for your target customer. At a minimum, this should include age, job title, seniority in business, location, average salary, social platforms they use, the content they interact with (ebooks, videos…), professional knowledge (finance, design, sales…). The more you can add the better you will understand your audience.
Why does this help? Take a social post as an example, you now know what social platforms to post, that maybe you should offer an ebook to interest them, that you should be paying to push your post in a particular city or country to a particular age group with a particular set of job titles or earning a particular amount of money. The more you know the more accurate and effective you can be.
As for competitor analysis, especially in the early days, you can fast track the type of content you should be producing by looking at theirs and seeing what is getting the best engagement, what is getting the most shares, what emails even encouraged you to engage. Using this knowledge you can create content that you know will engage the same target audience. Moving forward you can also start to see what they do that the audience doesn’t like and separate yourself from them.
6. A Marketing Calendar & Strategy
When are you going to post to social media? When are you going to email those users? When were you supposed to announce that new feature? The only way to keep track of all the things going on in a startup – and crucially, make sure you are telling people about them – is to create a calendar.
This works to help you remember when to post and send emails etc, but it also helps others within the business as they can add to your calendar when events and release are happening. They can do this well in advance, and in a month when it finally gets released you’ll be well prepared (or at least won’t have forgotten to do anything!)
When it comes to social, comms, and marketing in general, being consistent and timely is crucial. The more consistent you are with content the better the engagement you get will be. The more timely you are with content (as in sending an update about features the day they are released) the better the engagement you get will be. It’s a simple idea, but users and leads crave reliable and competent information, and if you can be that source you are already better than 90% of businesses out there.
As for strategy, this goes hand in hand with your calendar. In the beginning, your strategy simply needs to outline where your limited resources are going to be used. You might have one or two people who can do marketing, that isn’t enough to run 6 social accounts, daily emails and newsletters, instruction videos and release videos, ebooks and blogs, advertising and backlink generating.
You can only do so much so what are you going to do? Pick the 1 or 2 social channels that are the best for your audience, pick the 1 or 2 content types that are best for your audience, pick the 1 or 2 topics that your audience will engage with the most and limit your entire calendar to revolve around these alone. Anything that falls out of your strategy scope gets deleted. This will ensure what you do produce is quality content, once more back to the idea of being consistent and timely.
Without a strategy, your efforts will have little to no payoff, you will be stressed and late all the time, and you will throw money into unnecessary marketing activites. With a strategy, you will be surprised at your results and your customers will be delighted.
7. Social Post Templates
Why make things hard on yourself? Don’t spend hours every time you need to create a social post trying to design a new image and then turning it a dozen different sizes so you can post it on all platforms. Templates are key for startups to produce quality content with limited resources. They also allow you to be more timely with producing content as needed. If you are surprised with a release, or a crash, or some change in the market, templates will help you respond immediately.
So how do you get these? Two easy ways:
One, if you are a little bit design orientated and know your design platforms you can download free templates from the web, or make a one-off payment to a designer to custom build you templates that match your brand. Once you have these it is simple to use Photoshop, Illustrator or Figma to adjust as needed.
Two, if you don’t have these skills there are websites dedicated to people just like you! They allow you to select your colours, type your header, button text, and any filler text, select a quick image, and bam! – you now have an image in 12 different sizes for any ad or social post you could need. These usually have a low monthly cost to use the service but worth it for the time and resource savings. Plus that monthly cost is still likely cheaper than Adobe Photoshop/Creative Cloud! Some examples include Canva and Bannersnack.
8. Consistent Branding
Now, this is the most argued thing I mention to early-stage founders, “people don’t care about brand…”, “they just want to know how it works and what it does”. This is simply wrong. It usually comes from technical founders talking to technical adopters. They are enveloped in the backend and the features and pay little attention to the brand.
So why is it wrong? Again, two main reasons:
The first, with 98% of platforms, the user is not a technical adopter. They are simply a user trying to find a platform that can help them solve a problem. They don’t care about the backend, the technical reasons it works so well, they just want a solution. Therefore they will be heavily influenced by brand, by the perception of trust and quality and knowledge of the area. By confidence that paying money for this platform will give them the returns they need, as most platforms require some payment or card details before even testing, and people don’t just give these out to anyone.
The second, even technical adopters, despite what they say, are HEAVILY influenced by brands. Look at tech gear companies, the allegiances to AMD vs Intel, or gaming companies and those backing their favourite games, Xbox vs Playstation. They all have arguments why they choose one over the other, but the ongoing allegiance to one is brand. Brand loyalty, brand perception, brand experience.
So that’s why brand is important no matter what people say. Now, why have I mentioned needing “Consistent” Branding. Because when you are a new company being discoverable across the digital world is important. If someone sees a social post from you, then goes to your website, it is important that they feel like they went to the right website… else they will just leave. If your brand differs from social to website this is what they will think.
It also matters as they see you over the wider industry. If they once visited your website, then a year later see the same brand on a “top 20” blog, or at a digital conference, seeing that consistent brand will jog their memory. They are far more likely to re-engage, to share your story, to tell their team about what they remember you doing. All these things continue to create your story and help gain leads and traction.
Finally, consistent branding is more than just your images and logos. It is how you interact with users, how you are perceived. Professional or friendly? For anyone or exclusive? When you respond on social media, when you email users, when you write copy on your website and product, you will portray your branding through a “voice” you create as your brand.
Keeping this consistent helps sell your product. If it is an exclusive high priced product, and you are on Twitter talking politics, sharing sports clips, and chatting with any user, you will breakdown this view and make it harder to sell exclusively. Alternatively, if you are for anyone and want to be friendly and available, but respond to everyone on Twitter with “please email [email protected] for further” and only post bug fix updates, your community won’t feel like they are being listened to or engaged with, and you will lose that natural ability to grow through building a strong community of evangelists.
So that’s my complete list of Marketing Basics every startup needs to launch their new product. Make yourself discoverable with a website, create content that users will find helpful and search for, and create a lead magnet that they will want to give you their email in exchange for. Build up those free profiles on industry sites to get your name out there, know who you are targeting and speed up ideas by checking out your competitors. Keep on track with a calendar of marketing activity and limit what you deliver with a strategy to remain effective, get templates to make posting socially a simple task, and finally keep you brand consistent to help you sell and convert users.
There are plenty of other marketing tactics and tools that you can use, but my experience launching products for a decade has shown me these are the most effective tools in your startup tool kit. So go implement them and if you have any questions feel free to reach out via my social or email details below. Also…
We can help – Our Product Marketing Services.
Now as I said above, all of these tasks can be done by your team, especially with Google as your friend. But, if you don’t have the time or resources, or you aren’t comfortable in delivering these things, my team and I can help.
Here at Na:gne Studio we are experts in helping startups and entrepreneurs build brand new products. We have decades of experience designing, developing, and growing apps and websites globally through digital marketing.
You can check exactly what our Product Marketing Services offer via the link below, or contact me directly to chat through how we can help you via [email protected].
Written by Jimmy McLellan
Chief Commercial Officer, Na:gne Studio
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