Foundational Marketing

Getting Started: How To Build A Marketing Foundation

By Trusted CMO

Getting Started: How to build a marketing foundation

For early-stage startup founders, incorporating marketing into your daily activities can seem daunting, especially if you don't have any experience. You can hire someone, or you can take the first few steps on your own.

As the founder, you wear many hats. In addition to being the CEO, CFO, and COO, you are also the chief marketing officer. With more than 25 years of experience as a chief marketing officer (CMO) and early-stage marketing executive, I've distilled my most poignant marketing tips.

Identify your target audience

First and foremost, you need to define your target market. Who are your ideal customers? What are their needs and desires?

Once you know who you're targeting, you can start creating content that will appeal to them. This can be anything from blog posts and infographics to how-to guides and white papers. The key is to produce high-quality content that will help you attract and engage your target audience. You also need to make sure that your website is optimized for search engine ranking (SEO/SERP). This means including relevant keywords in your titles and metadata. Finally, you need to promote your content through social media and email marketing. These are just a few of the most important marketing activities for early-stage startups. If you put in the time and effort, you'll be able to successfully reach your target market and grow your business.

Research, research, and research

Know your market. Understand your buyer and why they buy. Study the macro trends in your industry-learn what can crush or catalyze you. Follow your competitors, both direct and adjacent. Read their press releases, messaging, and homepages. Keep on top of where the market is going.

Set SMART goals

Goal setting is a powerful way to build your company diligently. Abide by the SMART acronym, ensuring that goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Revisit your goals weekly, monthly, and quarterly, and relentlessly prioritize while staying open to new opportunities that might necessitate a shift.

Choose a marketing strategy that serves multiple goals

It's a good idea to set goals that you can attain with a single marketing strategy. This way, you can grow your business along multiple fronts while focusing your energy on one big initiative. Work backward from your objectives to develop a marketing strategy that will help you get to where you're going.

Get your marketing tactics dialed in

The number of marketing approaches and recommended tactics can be overwhelming to someone new in marketing. Take the time to understand what's available to you and why you should do it before choosing what to do. Make a long list of all the possible marketing tactics-for example, content marketing or paid advertising-and then, with careful consideration of your goals, cross off anything that doesn't fit.

Carefully decide what not to do

Your time is valuable. Deciding what not to do is more important than deciding what to do. As you assemble a marketing plan, cross off most of the activities, or schedule them for a later date when you have the time and resources to execute. Document your reasoning and notes, so your choices are visible to any advisor who questions them.

Don't Say, 'we don't have any competition.'

Saying "we don't have any competition" is admitting ignorance. Whether your product is an entirely new thing or a better solution to an existing problem, it's doubtful that you have no competition. Remember that one of the biggest competitive threats is that your buyers choose to do nothing. If you don't find a direct competitor right away, compile a list of what would stop someone from buying your product. If you can't think of anything, you're not looking hard enough!

Don't rely solely on product-led growth

When launching a new product, it's important to be confident in its ability to sell itself. However, it's also essential to understand buyer behavior and how product adoption plays into that. The excitement around your product might draw in your first thousand customers; putting that extra effort into keeping them will help your brand and business grow to its full potential. By understanding how people adopt new products, you can develop strategies for keeping existing customers engaged; a loyal customer base is key to sustainable growth. By understanding the psychology behind why people buy (or don't buy) products, you can ensure that your brand is destined for success.

Don't dismiss the process

Having a plan is essential to success in any endeavor. Without a clear roadmap, it is easy to get lost along the way or make costly mistakes. However, simply having a plan is not enough. It is also important to have a reliable process in place for executing that plan. When it comes to accomplishing tasks, “winging it” is never a good idea. Instead, take the time to think through your activities from start to finish, considering costs, timing and completion criteria. Be sure to involve others in the process, so that you are not shouldering the entire burden yourself. Keep in mind that successful execution is a marathon, not a sprint.

Don't expect perfection

If you aren't a marketer by trade, a few missteps are to be expected. You can't learn if you don't try. Forgive yourself for any mistakes. Learn from them and move on. Maintain a positive attitude and remember that you will encounter hurdles. Keep your goals in mind and be flexible with any setbacks. Remind yourself of the reasons why you started this journey in the first place.

As an early-stage founder, you'll get a lot of advice. New team members, venture capitalists and "experts" will tell you how you should be marketing. It is 100% likely that suggestions will require 100% more of your time, money, and resources. Listen to advice, then consider what makes the most sense for your business and what is the best use of your time right now.

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