Is your growth or startup marketing plan destined to become yet another failure?
You may know the story: A founder has a killer idea for a product or solution that will solve a real problem. When marketing the startup, they build a website, grab some social handles, and start running ads…but nothing happens.
Despite all that precious budget they spent, they’re not getting many visitors and leads, and almost none of those are converting into buyers. Why? Because they didn’t understand the factors that make startup marketing successful. And when you’re just getting off the ground, wasting all that time and energy can be catastrophic. Read on to learn how to avoid these pitfalls.
- 0.1 The Four Parts of a Successful Startup Growth Strategy
- 1. Part 1: The Secret to Startup Marketing Success—Build Your Brand
- 1.1 What’s in a Brand?
- 1.2 Startup Marketing is Brand Building, Not Brand Maintenance
- 1.3 Don’t Jump the Gun on Your Startup Marketing Plan
- 2. Part 2: 5 Tips for Building Your Startup Marketing Plan
- 2.1 Identify Your Strengths and Focus on Them
- 2.2 Look at What Your Competitors Are Doing
- 2.3 Set and Manage Your Startup Marketing Budget
- 2.4 Build Your Startup Marketing Plan
- 2.4.1 Build Buyer Personas
- 2.4.2 Crystallize Your Core Value Proposition
- 2.4.3 Tailor Your Startup Marketing Strategy to Your Resources
- 2.5 Execute, Track, and Test
- 2.5.1 Additional Marketing Resources for Startups
- 3. Part 3: 7 Types of Digital Marketing for Startups
- 3.1 Content Marketing for Startups
- 3.1.1 5 Content Marketing Strategies for Startups
- 3.1.2 Startup Marketing Resources for Content Marketing
- 3.1.3 Startup Marketing Tools for Content Marketing
- 3.2 SEO for Startups
- 3.2.1 5 SEO Marketing Strategies for Startups
- 3.2.2 Startup Marketing Tools for SEO
- 3.3 Social Media Marketing for Startups
- 3.3.1 Startup Marketing Resources for Social Media
- 3.3.2 Startup Marketing Tools for Social Media
- 3.4 Email Marketing for Startups
- 3.4.1 4 Email Marketing Strategies for Startups
- 3.4.2 Startup Marketing Tools for Email
- 3.5 Advertising for Startups
- 3.5.1 4 Paid Advertising Marketing Strategies for Startups
- 3.5.2 Startup Marketing Resources for Paid Advertising
- 3.6 Websites for Startups
- 3.6.1 User Experience (UX) Optimization
- 3.6.2 User Flow Analysis
- 3.6.3 Landing Page Optimization
- 3.6.4 Add Attractions
- 3.6.5 Usability Testing
- 3.6.6 5 Website Marketing Strategies for Startups
- 3.6.7 Top Website Tools and Resources for Startups
- 3.7 Event Marketing for Startups
- 3.7.1 Virtual Events
- 3.7.2 Regional Events
- 3.7.3 User Conferences and Industry Trade Shows
- 3.7.4 Startup Marketing Tools and Resources for Event Marketing
- 4. Part 4: How to Maximize Startup Lead and Demand Gen Efforts
- 4.1 Scale Yourself as a Founder
- 4.2 The Importance of Sales and Marketing Alignment
- 4.2.1 Top Sales Lead Tools for Startups
- 4.3 Make Your Product Drive Demand with Growth Marketing
- 4.4 Working with an Agency as a Startup
- 5. Feeling More Comfortable with Startup Marketing Now?
The Four Parts of a Successful Startup Growth Strategy
A startup marketing plan that works takes much more than just checking off boxes and being on social. This comprehensive guide will explain how startup founders and small teams can build a successful marketing and lead generation strategy.
- In Part 1, we’ll discuss why you must focus on building your brand.
- In Part 2, we’ll lay out five tips for building your startup marketing plan.
- In Part 3, you’ll learn about the seven most effective types of digital marketing for startups.
- In Part 4, we’ll look at additional ways and resources to maximize lead generation efforts.
Part 1: The Secret to Startup Marketing Success—Build Your Brand
Here’s the startup marketing plan that finds success:
- Step 1: Build a brand
- Step 2: Sell it
The entire process is way more complex, but in the end, it boils down to those two steps.
Your goal is to establish a footprint in your audience’s mind. You want your startup to be known as an entity that solves a specific problem using a high-quality solution. Cementing your brand’s reputation drives purchases and builds business momentum.
Example: Dollar Shave Club. The startup saw an issue—namely, having to buy expensive razors. The solution: Subscribe to have affordable razors delivered straight to your doorstep.
Dollar Shave Club was so successful at building its brand through positive product experiences that it was eventually bought out for $1 billion.
What’s in a Brand?
So, what exactly is a brand? You promise your buyers: “If you buy our product, you’ll get a quality solution.”
Your brand travels through word of mouth. It’s discovered when people interact with your product. They must like what they find—no amount of advertising can make a bad product good, like a breakfast cereal that burns people’s tongues. You get one chance to make an impression.
Create a strong brand by building a product that buyers will genuinely enjoy. Word about your product will begin to spread on its own. The stronger your brand and the better the product experience, the more durable your impression and the more effective all of your marketing will be.
It’s as true for consumer packaged goods as it is for marketing for tech startups.
Startup Marketing is Brand Building, Not Brand Maintenance
When you think of “startup marketing,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably “advertising,” but ads aren’t the answer. Establishing a brand that’s backed by trust and quality isn’t something you can do with just advertisements.
“Most marketers confuse brand building with brand maintenance,” say marketing experts Al Ries and Laura Ries in their book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.
Most big brands use advertising for brand maintenance—think billboards, banner ads, radio spots, and Superbowl commercials. However, you’re not at that stage (or budget) just yet, young founder. Before you can maintain your brand, you need to build it in the first place.
Don’t Jump the Gun on Your Startup Marketing Plan
You may be champing at the bit to get started with this whole “startup marketing” thing, but don’t sprint out the gate. Resist the initial pressure to act immediately—whether from your peers, investors, or the board.
Instead, study. Invest in building an authentic brand. Know—don’t just guess—why people buy. It’s the only way you’ll get through those next few months of blistering activity and see the results you wanted.
Part 2: 5 Tips for Building Your Startup Marketing Plan
1. Identify Your Strengths and Focus on Them
As a startup, you can’t afford to spread yourself thin. It’s better to dominate one channel than to bore audiences with many and better to produce one remarkable asset than to write many mediocre ones.
So, what are the best marketing strategies for a startup or founder? The answer: The marketing strategies that play to your strengths.
What are your startup’s unique advantages? What’s remarkable about your product or process? What do you have that those big brands don’t? Identify it and double down.
For instance, many startups find that their small size and low budget are actually benefits to their marketing efforts, not detriments. When it comes to approaches like video marketing, those scrappy, small-budget videos can make your startup feel far more human and relatable than your larger rivals.
2. Look at What Your Competitors Are Doing
Use this intel to know where to focus your efforts (because it’s working in those markets) or where to avoid (because those markets are already saturated).
Don’t duplicate their marketing initiatives wholesale, but don’t miss out on the valuable insights you can gain from their marketing decisions. If your competition is doing something, figure out why, then put it to work in a way that complements your own brand.
3. Set and Manage Your Startup Marketing Budget
Next, you’ll need to decide on your marketing budget. Here’s a common question: “For early-stage startups, it’s advisable to spend what percentage of your revenue on marketing?” The answer is always “it depends.”
Most mature businesses spend 10% of their budget on marketing. The marketing budget for startups will likely be higher—you’re in the insurgent stage of the corporate lifecycle where it’s build a brand or die. Though Gartner says the average marketing budget for a startup is 11.2%, up to 20% is acceptable.
Within that startup marketing budget, spend 85% on conservative activities that you know work—branding, PR, email marketing, content marketing—and 15% on moonshot projects. Most moonshots won’t pay off (or break even), but some will succeed wildly and help you learn, grow, and pivot to channels and assets that work best for you.
Learning what doesn’t work is just as important as learning what does. After years of spending four to five hours each month selecting images for its blog posts, one startup agency learned that the blog actually looked better without them. The time and startup marketing budget they had spent was worse than just wasted—it had diverted time and money from more profitable activities.
4. Build Your Startup Marketing Plan
With all that reflection, competitor research, and budgeting work finished, you may feel ready to get rolling on your first startup marketing program…but there’s actually a little more prep work to be done before you can get on the road.
Writing blogs and buying ads willy-nilly isn’t going to get you anywhere. First, build a detailed, carefully considered startup marketing plan. It’s the roadmap that will guide you all the way through the execution and refinement of each marketing program you run.
A lot of the things you should be doing at this stage share commonalities with standard, non-startup marketing strategy generation. But if it’s been a while since you read your last “marketing 101” guide, here’s a quick refresher.
Build Buyer Personas
You’re probably no stranger to the buyer persona concept or your ideal customer profile. It’s a fictionalized individual who represents your larger customer base. Based on what you know about your target audience, you nail down the type of job they’re most likely to have, their probable lifestyle choices, their most common values and fears, etc.
Drilling down to this level of detail lets you hyper-focus on the marketing activities that are most likely to pay dividends. Example: Instead of deciding to run ads on all major social media outlets, you can consult your buyer persona to wind down to the social media your target persona is most likely to hang out on.
This leads to less wasted resources—which is especially important when you’re working nearly alone as a founder or with a small startup marketing budget.
Crystallize Your Core Value Proposition
Now that you know who your audience is (via the buyer personas), what do they care about? What desires drive them, and what fears keep them up at night? What questions are they asking Google?
Those findings will be invaluable levers for your startup marketing plan. You may be selling a product, but truly effective startup marketing strategies also sell an outcome.
Use those wants, needs, and fears as cornerstones of your messaging. Use your marketing to explain how you’ll solve a problem, attain a goal, or avoid a pitfall that is relevant and authentic to your audience.
Presenting a strong value proposition is so important because your startup is a new player on the scene. When was the last time Coca-Cola told you about what its product does or what problems it solves? Big brands can get away with brand maintenance because they’re so entrenched in the market’s consciousness. Your startup, on the other hand, needs to tell consumers exactly what a purchase will get them and why.
Tailor Your Startup Marketing Strategy to Your Resources
You probably don’t have the startup marketing budget to throw at every idea that comes along, so you need to refine your choices down to the options that are most likely to work for you. What approaches best suit your staffing, skillset, and budget?
If you’ve got great content creators, lean into content. If someone has an eye for design and can write a punchy headline, consider an ad campaign. Have a naturally charismatic presenter on the team? Events and webinars might be more your speed.
(More on each of these types of digital marketing for startups in Part 3.)
5. Execute, Track, and Test
You’ve done your homework. Now it’s time to actually develop your marketing program, execute it, and see how it fares.
Don’t forget to set performance goals and KPIs before launch, then reflect on them after the program concludes. Did you get the results you expected? If not, it’s back to the drawing board. Tweak how you talk about your product, the imagery you use, and the methods you use to reach your audience. Permutation makes perfect!
Additional Marketing Resources for Startups
- The Best Small Business Tech Stack (Vidyard)
- How to Build A Startup Marketing Budget (HubSpot)
- SMB Video Marketing Guide (Vidyard)
Part 3: 7 Types of Digital Marketing for Startups
There are many ways to market your startup based on what it is and who your buyers are. The smartest marketers narrow their options and pick one or two things to do well before expanding.
Below, we detail seven strategies for (mostly) digital marketing for startups:
1. Content Marketing for Startups
Great content is rooted in a deep understanding of how your buyers think, and many startup marketers don’t invest enough in this.
The goal of content marketing is simple: establish your startup as an authority through valuable content. This attracts the attention of prospective customers and search engines. For example, Michelin’s star rating system started as maps for drivers, increasing tire sales.
Content marketing for startups can take various forms: guides, case studies, videos, blogs, infographics, tools, checklists, or calculators. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is a prime example. Great content requires a deep understanding of your buyers, an aspect that startup marketers often overlook.
Most startups are understandably intoxicated by the opportunity they have perceived. It’s why they started the company. In marketing, that can cause a sort of willful blindness, particularly among first-time entrepreneurs. They think everyone else is as excited as they are and that they don’t have to put the hard yards in to persuade their target audience. It’s often a problem if a first-time engineering or sales leader leads the company. Marketing usually ends up being more ‘look at me’ and less about romancing the opportunity or explaining the problem they solve.Stan WoodsVelocity PartnersCEO
Content marketing fails when it gets too concerned or when it has too apparent a conflict of interest. The Sisyphean struggle of content marketers is stopping others on the team from inserting calls to action or pitches for the product. Readers sense a fake immediately and flee.
To create great content, follow the four Es: Engaging, educational, emotional, and empathetic.
5 Content Marketing Strategies for Startups
- Use video. There’s no better way to connect with your audience authentically and meaningfully.
- Leverage artificial intelligence (responsibly). Far from perfect, AI generative tools can help with content ideation, creation, editing, and repurposing to help you scale your efforts.
- Keep it mainly product-free. Use your content to educate, not shill your product. Non-customers should still find your content helpful. A piece of content that’s obviously trying to sell them something will make them click away, especially when it’s coming this early in the buyer’s journey.
- Showcase your customers.46% of adults in the U.S. say they trust consumer-written online reviews, while only 10% trust ads on websites, and 9% have faith in written messages from brands.
- Stay organized. Map your content to where it belongs in your marketing funnel. You can create what’s known as a content matrix where you list all the assets and where they belong in your funnel so you can see coverage gaps.
Startup Marketing Resources for Content Marketing
Startup Marketing Tools for Content Marketing
- Design and stock photography:Unsplash, Canva, Powtoon
- Ideation and Writing:Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, Jasper, ChatGPT
- Freelancers:Upwork, PeoplePerHour, Narrato
- Content management:WordPress, HubSpot, Vidyard Hosting
- Collaboration and productivity:Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Trello, HeySpace
2. SEO for Startups
If you’re focused on inbound marketing, it means you’re trying to get people to come to you. Your biggest traffic driver here will probably be from search engines like Google. This is known as organic traffic.
You’ll see a lot of search engine optimization (SEO) advice that makes it seem like magic. It suggests if you only have the right combination of keywords, you can “trick” Google and rank high on the first page. Banish that idea. Google updates its algorithm constantly to thwart SEO hacksters.
Instead, understand what Google wants—to show people the answers they enjoy. This content is so useful or entertaining that they click, stay to read or watch, click around some more, and share.
Google expresses this using its “E-A-T” methodology. It elevates sites that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
So, good SEO for startups is primarily about having a website full of well-written and well-designed content. That’s why video is such a big help. People love videos, so adding a video to your website increases your chances of ranking on the first page of Google results by 50x. That makes it well worth the effort—especially when 75% of people never venture past that first page of search results.
In addition to a video hosting solution for your website, don’t forget to focus on your YouTube channel as well. Video content is being prioritized more and more in search algorithms.
5 SEO Marketing Strategies for Startups
- Do your research. Identify what keywords you want to own and what your competitors are using.
- Be consistent. Use keywords consistently across your site—blogs, campaign pages, case studies, and product pages.
- Language matters. Ensure you use customer language, not internal corporate jargon.
- Crosslink and backlink. Link relevant content across your site and find backlink opportunities with third-party content on other sites, i.e., integration partners, resellers, industry-related posts, and influencers.
- Optimize content. Don’t set and forget your content once published. Keeping it updated regularly will keep it working for you. And content that isn’t performing? Unpublish or redirect.
Startup Marketing Tools for SEO
3. Social Media Marketing for Startups
Startups on social media have huge pros and cons. Only on platforms like TikTok, LinkedIn, or X can you go viral and reach massive audiences, with algorithms recommending your profile to millions. But there’s a catch. Growing a social media following for startups is like building a house on rented land. Networks can change rules overnight, and you can’t control them.
When LinkedIn changed its algorithm to deprioritize organic posts from companies to force them to buy more ads, most businesses had no choice but to pay.
However, when social media marketing for startups works, it can work wonders. The data startup CB Insights has built the most significant newsletter of any B2B brand thanks to its riotously funny and helpful X presence. Their CEO and brand personality, Anand Sanwal, credits their success to daring to post provocative topics.
You don’t want to be boring ever, but in B2B, the bar is so shallow that if you’re not dull, you will stand out. The reality is most B2B marketing is self-promotional, jargon-infested drivel. And that is because people think that in B2B, you need to be boring, serious, and buttoned up. Most B2B marketers forget that people reading their content want to be educated but also like to be entertained.Anand SanwalCB InsightsCEO
What exactly should you post? Social tends to be a great place to share your startup’s content marketing, but that’s not your only option.
Test to see what works for your audience. Try text posts, videos, polls, memes, quotes, GIFs, and carousels (Follow Vidyard’s LinkedIn channel to see how this mix works in action). Cross-promotion is often highly effective and helps you tap into other larger but related audiences—you can hand your account over to a social media personality for a day. Also, don’t forget to leverage your employees to like and share. And as a founder, don’t forget to build your personal brand on social.
Hear from Vidyard’s Social Media Manager, Charlie Rogers, on strategies for growing your social presence.
Startup Marketing Resources for Social Media
- The Ultimate Social Media Video Guide
- TikTok For B2B: 6 Tips To Creating Binge-Worthy Videos
- The Top Social Selling Best Practices to Follow
- How to Use Each LinkedIn Video Format
- Social Media Marketing Society
- Hootsuite blog
Startup Marketing Tools for Social Media
- Social media management:Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer
- Design:Canva, Adobe Spark
- Video creation and editing:Vidyard Messages, CapCut, OpusClip
4. Email Marketing for Startups
Don’t think for a second that just because over half the world’s population uses email, it’s old and boring. It’s a direct line of communication to all those people, and they check it as much as 15 times per day for a total of five hours.
Email has one massive advantage over other channels like social media: It’s a way to build an owned audience. Nobody can take your email list from you or stop you from using it.
There are many different ways to go about email marketing, but the most common is to set triggered emails to respond when people take action, like subscribing to your newsletter on your site. Triggered emails are crucial for online businesses, serving as the foundation of communication with prospects and customers. They provide opportunities to educate and cross-promote products. Additionally, email nurtures can be used to activate, onboard, upgrade, or upsell customers and drip information until they’re ready to buy. However, caution must be exercised to prevent misuse.
Just because you have an email doesn’t mean you should send offers immediately. Think about your audience, understand their relationship to your business and why they gave you their email, anticipate their interests and needs, and only then, craft an email to send the right message at the right time.Mollie BodensteinerGranularEnterprise Data Architect
You also have to do the hard work of providing enough value for people to share their email in the first place.
“A purchased list is never as good as an earned one,” says Mollie Bodensteiner, Enterprise Data Architect at Granular, an Iowa-based software startup. “There’s no shortcut, and then you must work hard to ensure people receive and understand your emails. Just because they opened it doesn’t mean they read it.”
The biggest mistake Mollie sees in email marketing? “Not having the right technical foundation to get into the inbox. You must set up things for deliverability, configure the right authentication (SPF, DKIM, TLS, DMARC), monitor performance, avoid spam traps, keep your lists clean, and optimize your email templates.”
4 Email Marketing Strategies for Startups
- Don’t buy too much email software. The best software for you depends on how much time you can dedicate to it. You may want to eventually have workflows, triggers, website integration, and lead scoring, but if all you can save now is a few hours a week, it’s better to choose a more straightforward, cheaper platform.
- Test, test, test. A/B test your email content regularly to see what yields the best open and click-through rates. Test things like personalization, emojis, memes, subject lines, button colors, etc.
- Send videos in email. Using “video” in your subject line can increase open and click-through rates.
- Test automated lead generation email tools. Advancements in AI will find leads in your designated territory and automatically generate and send emails for you.
Startup Marketing Tools for Email
Email was a core distribution channel for our Holiday Campaign, which won a Telly Award for its innovation and creativity. Playful and relatable video content, an irresistible email subject line, and a personalized user experience helped us stand out in inboxes.
5. Advertising for Startups
Another big inbound channel is running digital ads—known as paid traffic.
How do you advertise your startup business? It’s pretty simple: Create and run ads that identify and solve your prospective customers’ problems.
When someone clicks your ad, you want to send them to a specific landing page that shows exactly what you promised. The biggest error in startup advertising is sending people to your homepage and hoping they figure it out from there. Direct them to precisely what the ad showed—down to the model type or product color. Otherwise, your ads will be penalized, and they’ll actually cost you more.
To improve your conversions, you must track them, revisit them, and tune them constantly. Nobody ever created a successful startup by launching a site, setting up an ad, and then sitting back and relaxing.
Andy Crestodina, CMO of Orbit Media, a Chicago-based web design and marketing agency, explains that website marketing and advertising for startups is a relentless game of trial and error.
“Why does someone become a lead? Consider the psychology of the visitor,” says Andy. “People come to a website with a story that led them there. They have a problem. They are asking themselves a series of questions. Am I in the right place? Does this company offer solutions that are likely a fit for my problem? Do I have reasons to believe this is a credible website? Is there evidence here? Have they helped other people? What statistics or stories, data points, or testimonials make me believe this?”
Only when you know the questions people are asking can you build a valuable website for marketing.
Every person in every market has to have a series of questions answered before they will convert. Your website’s job is to answer them. That’s it.Andy CrestondinaOrbit MediaCMO
4 Paid Advertising Marketing Strategies for Startups
- Use ads to test messaging. A/B test ads to see which messages work best and reuse the winners elsewhere in your marketing.
- Segment. If you show one ad to everyone, it may be mildly interesting to all. But if you group your buyers into several segments and show them each something specific to them, you’ll get them excited.
- If it works, keep running it. Startups often stop running an ad when the marketing team tires of it. Don’t. Let it run until the market tires of it.
- Switch out visual ads often. The exception is with ads with photos, as with Facebook. Facebook’s granular targeting means the groups seeing your ads see them a lot. If they see them consistently for more than two weeks, they grow fatigued, and the ads stop working.
Startup Marketing Resources for Paid Advertising
6. Websites for Startups
Your website is often the cornerstone of your digital marketing—all roads lead to it. However, many startups fail to consider their site’s purpose. Is your site the place where buyers add items to their cart or just a digital business card? Is it meant to collect people’s emails so you can market to them further, or is it just a series of pages to reinforce what your sales team says?
Each goal necessitates a different approach. Our rule for startups is this: Build the fewest number of pages you can while still answering your customers’ questions well enough to get them to take the desired action. If you have too many pages, the website becomes a labyrinth. Your visitors get lost and close the tab.
This ideal path through your website is known as the ideal buyer journey or golden path. It would be best if you mapped out this journey based on the questions you expect them to ask and made navigating to the next anticipated question a simple process.
Once you have an ideal user path, you can apply various strategies to increase conversions. You pick an outcome tied to revenue—maybe purchases, form fills, or sign-ups—and then work backward to see how many people you can drive there and how many of them take that desired action.
User Experience (UX) Optimization
Make your website brain-dead simple. Assume nobody will figure anything out, and always inform visitors what will happen on the next page if they click.
“A website’s job is to answer questions, but few do,” says Andy of Orbit Media. “Say I fill out a contact form. I actually don’t know what happens next. The channel is unknown, and the timing is unknown. This is the key moment—the moment of truth—and all I’m left with is uncertainty. Are you going to call me back? Will you email me? Will you do it today or in the future? All these uncertainties are a problem for the prospect and a big reason they feel a need to submit several forms on several websites.”
User Flow Analysis
Website analytics tools like Google Analytics allow you to see which pages people visit most and which page they tend to visit next. If you see high “drop-offs,” it means someone exited the page at that point. That generally means they didn’t find what they sought; otherwise, they would have taken action.
Landing Page Optimization
When you’ve found a page that performs poorly—lots of people dropping off—you can begin to test that will improve that conversion rate.
Adding video to your landing page is a great way to inject more information and engagement into a poorly performing page (with the bonus of making the page more attractive to search engines). For instance, an explainer video can lay out the concept behind your product in just a couple of minutes, making it a great addition to your homepage.
Aside from SEO and ads, what brings people to your website? And just as important, what brings them back?
If all your site shows is product information, there’s not much there for people who may buy one day but aren’t yet ready. To attract a broader audience, build authority by answering questions on a topic through a blog, a resources section, or a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. Adding an FAQ video to that page will scale your efforts even further. It’ll make you look good both in the eyes of prospective customers and search engines.
The best way to understand your site’s strengths and shortcomings can be to ask your users themselves.
With usability testing, real people run through a sample workflow on your site and then offer feedback on the experience. This can shed light on functionality issues, points of confusion, and opportunities for improvement to the user experience that can only be spotted with fresh, unbiased eyes.
5 Website Marketing Strategies for Startups
- Keep things simple. Use a simple domain name, short URLs, and concise page messaging.
- Invest in branding. Ensure branding and design are consistent across your site.
- Guide the user. Have clear primary and secondary calls to action.
- Design mobile-first. Ensure your site has a mobile-friendly design and layout.
- Pick the right platform. Do your research on the web platform that best fits your needs (i.e., do you need e-commerce vs. portfolio). Security, server space, speed, and support are essential factors to consider.
Top Website Tools and Resources for Startups
- Optimization and conversion: Intercom, Calendly, Unbounce, Optimizely
- Design, hosting, and e-commerce: WordPress, Shopify, Balsamiq, Wix, Squarespace, Vidyard
- Grow and Convert blog
7. Event Marketing for Startups
Believe it or not, events can be one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies for startups. Event marketing can be a wonderful way to not only connect with your prospects and customers but also connect your prospects and customers with each other. (Even if it’s only virtually.)
Unlike a webinar, which is a one-to-many message, events are many-to-many. People network, connect, learn, meet, and associate all the positive things that come out of that with your startup. There are a few event marketing types and approaches you can employ.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that lots of events still work online, though you may have to make adjustments to the format. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, however.
“My best advice for startups considering events as a new initiative is to think in terms of your event as a minimum viable product (MVP),” says Christine Farrier, Senior Director of Partner and Channel Marketing at Demandbase.
“What’s the smallest possible version of an event that you can launch and still extract lessons that could later be scaled up?”
Want to start hosting a virtual event big enough to feed your SDR team for an entire quarter? “Begin with the ‘friends and family’ size event,” says Christine. “If it works, conduct pre- and post-event briefings, begin documenting what works into a webinar playbook, and then double the goals for the next iteration.”
Vidyard has been running its virtual Fast Forward event for years. However, with the move to all things digital in 2020, we knew we had to step up our virtual user experience.
For our bi-annual virtual summit, we leverage a virtual event platform (Accelevents) to help us manage the event logistics and Zoom Webinars to host our monthly webinar sessions. Then all on-demand sessions are hosted in Vidyard Hubs to keep that content working for us long after the live events.
Coupled with highly-targeted relevant content and speakers, our Fast Forward program is a lead generation machine that works time and time again. And feeds our content marketing machine.
Where it’s practical, regional events are an approachable entry point for startups who can’t shell out cash for a convention center. You can hold them in coworking spaces, partner offices, and boutique venues.
Historically Vidyard has hosted Video in Business Lunch and Learns that are small (usually 20 to 30 attendees) and regionally focused. They provided the opportunity to bring together local go-to-market leaders and professionals seeking actionable tips for activating their GTM strategies with minimal budgets.
User Conferences and Industry Trade Shows
You can market at other people’s events, too. The budget option here is to simply send your salespeople to wander the showroom floor and take meetings. If you have a bit more budget, you can book a booth, speak at breakout sessions, or host a panel.
Startup Marketing Tools and Resources for Event Marketing
- Event Manager Blog
- Vidyard: video messaging, video hubs, and video hosting
Part 4: How to Maximize Startup Lead and Demand Gen Efforts
We’ve covered a ton of tactics and tools already to help with your startup marketing foundations, but how do you generate demand and interest in your products effectively as a startup? We’ll cover a few approaches below.
Scale Yourself as a Founder
You may have a tiny sales and marketing team, or you very well may be a team of one. As a result, lead generation can be a challenge. In addition to building your personal brand and networking at industry events, you can look to leverage automated lead gen tools to help you automate outbound sales prospecting efforts so you can focus on other parts of your business.
With tools like Vidyard Prospector, you simply set your territory and target audience, and the tool will automatically build your lead lists and send AI-generated emails and perfectly timed follow-ups for you. If you get responses, you can follow up accordingly or sales can start to work those leads through the funnel.
The Importance of Sales and Marketing Alignment
As you build your sales and marketing team, you may soon realize these two functions can often clash. But don’t forget that you’re on the same team—the revenue team and alignment between sales and marketing is crucial to your growth success. The best way to work together is to spend a lot of time together and measure the same metrics.
It’s difficult for a marketer to blame sales for not closing enough deals if they’re in the proverbial room and hearing how some of those leads were a really bad fit. And it’s tough for sales to blame marketing for driving bad leads when they can see how hard marketing works. Both teams need to communicate constantly and ask, “How can I help you help me do my job better?”
Top Sales Lead Tools for Startups
- Vidyard: video messaging, automated prospecting, and digital sales rooms
Make Your Product Drive Demand with Growth Marketing
Growth marketing is a strategic approach that centers around acquiring and retaining users by leveraging a product’s virality, stickiness, and habit-forming nature. It works particularly well for SaaS companies that have user-focused solutions. The focus is on inbound actively that drives activations (usually a free version with fewer features works here), and then things like referrals and amazing onboarding and user experiences can let your product speak for itself.
As a startup, leveraging growth marketing can be instrumental in driving demand for your products. By understanding user behavior and preferences and continuously iterating based on insights, you and your teams can create a product experience that attracts and retains customers. By focusing on the growth marketing approach, as a founder or startup, you have the opportunity to scale rapidly and achieve sustainable growth.
Working with an Agency as a Startup
As a startup, you may not have the bandwidth or resources to do it all when it comes to executing or even developing your go-to-market strategy. One approach is to hire an entrepreneur in residence to bring in some seasoned experience on a short-term basis.
Another may be to look to external agencies to help with your demand generation needs.
Focus your marketing attention on where you’re most comfortable and look to bring in consultants or agencies to help you in other areas.
Feeling More Comfortable with Startup Marketing Now?
Digital and growth marketing for startups can seem intimidating at first look. But with the right planning, strategy, and execution, your startup can be making waves in the market in no time.
Now go forth and make a splash.
This post was originally published on July 9, 2020. It was updated on November 8, 2023.