Startups often focus wholeheartedly on building a great product- and so they should: Great products are what distinguish the unicorns from the also-rans, the Slack growth curve vs. several other team project management tools that just haven't got off the ground.
But even startups with great products need some Marketing in order to launch successfully. So when should you start your Marketing planning? Start it as soon as you know what your first product for sale will be. This might be so firm in your mind that you can start planning your strategy when you write your business plan, but it might change along the way as your product evolves during its development, or as the competitive landscape changes. Here are some key times to work on your Marketing:
Business Plan Stage: When you're writing out your business plan, or at least a lean business canvas, think deeply about your Marketing elements- What is your product's market positioning? What is your pricing model? Is your USP (unique selling point) strong and how can it be marketed to your key target customers? What is your customer persona? Where will they find your products- online? In a store? How much will you need to budget for Marketing?
This is also a good time to work out your company mission and values. Having these firm will help to attract the right team to work on your company in the early stages.
Pre-Launch: A lot of startups get to almost the launch stage and realise that they haven't planned out any of their marketing activities. At the time that you set up your website, set up all of your social accounts. Secure everything from Facebook to Tumblr to YouTube to Weibo, even if you think you aren't going to use them yet. It's better that you own your company's best named pages than someone else.
At this time, map out your Marketing activities, both for launch and through the first sales cycle. Detail your content strategy, and your online and offline campaign plans. Tweak your budget if need be. Set up all of your analytics, if they are separate tools from your social and website pages.
More Tips on Starting Your Marketing Efforts Right
1) Contact relevant press journalists and interviewers two months before your launch so that they have enough time to meet their press deadlines. Magazines especially need long lead times. Know what story you plan to pitch to them.
2) Start seeding your social media pages before your official launch day. This way, at launch, there will already be activity on pages when your target customers search for them, making them easier to find, and more appealing to join.
3) Refer to your analytics results to see which channels are working best for you. This will be different for different types of products. Check them daily if you can, to understand what is happening, and at least weekly for overall results on where your leads are coming from.
If you need help in creating your Marketing strategy, or setting up your Marketing plans and systems, do contact us. We're happy to help.