light bulbs

In watching a presentation that April Dunford did recently at TechTO, she mentioned something that caught my attention: how startup marketing is usually about fixing things.

As much as startup want to jump-start their marketing to drive brand awareness and grow the business, there are many things that need to be refurbished or rebuilt.

The biggest marketing targets include the following:

  1. Websites that do a lousy job of telling potential customers what a company does and why anyone would be interested. The fix: a new approach to messaging so a “core story” is developed that clearly articulates a startup’s value propositions, key benefits, and target audiences. It’s messaging that people understand immediately.
  2. Websites with ineffective or non-existent calls to action. Even if a startup attracts traffic, it doesn’t generate leads, demo requests, downloads, emails or telephone calls. The Website can be pretty but it fails to actively encourage people to do something specific – e.g. Want to learn how our super-fabulous product will super-charge your profits? Ask for a demo today!”. The fix: Decide what you want people to do once they get to your Website? If it’s asking for a demo, maybe there should be a big button on every page that says “Ask for a Demo!”. If you’re not crystal clear on a Website’s function, you can’t expect people to do what you want them to do.
  3. A lack of basic marketing and sales collateral. We’re talking one-pagers (aka sales sheets) that provide a snapshot of your product, key benefits, and leading features, as well as customers. It’s a user-friendly tool that can be used by a potential customer to champion your product within their organization. Many startups are stumbling with sales decks that are overflowing with information and text. It is difficult for audiences to digest and don’t provide opportunities to tell stories. The fix: Decide on the marketing and sales collateral that will drive people down the funnel. Then, create collateral that includes a combination of information and creativity. You’re looking to inspire, encourage and excite target audiences.
  4. A shotgun approach to marketing. They using a variety of marketing tools and channels but not doing a particularly good job at anything in particular. There’s coverage but it’s, at best, mediocre. The fix: establish marketing priorities that align with the buyer’s journey. It’s better to focus on a few things that make an impact on the funnel.
  5. A lack of coordination between marketing and sales. For early-stage startups, the biggest job for marketing is supporting sales. Marketing needs to be focused on doing whatever it takes to help sales attract people into the funnel and then how to nurture them towards making a purchase. Too often, marketing is focused on brand awareness and attracting Website traffic, while sales scrambles to connect with potential customers to educate them about the product. The fix: Marketers and sales need to work together to focus on things that make an impact. It means determining what best drives strategic goals. It could be a better Website, sales sheets, video, eBooks, sales decks, videos, conference sponsorship, etc. It’s a matter of coming up with the right mix to reach the right people.

Bottom line: As much as startup marketing is about accelerating growth, you need to walk before you run. The initial focus in many cases has to be fixing things and establishing a solid foundation before anything else.

If you’re looking to jump-start your startup marketing, I can help you make it happen – everything from messaging and brand positioning to strategic planning and content development. Here’s how you can explore the different ways we can work together.