5 Marketing Tips Every Startup Founder Needs to Know

by Emily Brungard - Marketing Analyst

At High Alpha, we’ve launched 17 companies, taking concepts and turning them into products, building their marketing foundations along with the many other facets of a startup. We’ve been around the block a few times when it comes to startup marketing — here’s what we’ve learned.

Test everything

Startup marketing is all about testing. The benefit of being a flexible, young business is that you’re not constrained by traditional corporate red tape. Everything from the color of a CTA button on your website to product pricing can be tested, tweaked, and iterated until something sticks.

When you think you’ve tested everything you possibly can, test some more.

Data is your best friend

87% of marketers say data is their company’s most under-utilized asset. Only 49% of marketers claim to be somewhat or very effective at using data-informed insights to guide future strategy. Everyone preaches the importance of being a data-driven organization, but far less people know how to use data to get there.

The benefit of testing early and often is that you’re collecting data. Some of your data might be in the form of percentages and ratios. Some will also be anecdotal. You’ll learn which channels work and which don’t, what tone of voice is most successful, what kind of imagery performs best — a lot of data that doesn’t necessarily translate into numbers. Data provides business value, as well as a competitive advantage.

When it comes to impressing investors, money talks. An investor will care far more about the number of customers you’re attracting and retaining than the design of your new trade show booth. When you can link your marketing to cold, hard results (like ARR, CAC, or churn) you can justify your investment.

Love the problem

One of our favorite quotes during Sprint Week at High Alpha is “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.” During Sprint Week, the path from a framed problem to a viable solution isn’t pre-defined. We have to be comfortable making decisions with limited data, talk with customers to uncover nuggets that help us shape our decisions, and rapidly iterate every step of the way. The same idea rings true throughout the business-building process.

Make it your goal to answer the questions that people are already asking, addressing the pain that people are already feeling. Produce resources that help people solve those problems. Pro tip: Quora is a great place to find out what people are asking. Once you know what people want to know, you can custom-build content to show them solutions.

Content is a magnet

Valuable content is a big part of building initial relationships with future customers. Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. When you pit paid search against content marketing, content marketing gets three times the leads per dollar spent.

Not sure where to start? Spend some time on Quora to see what questions people are asking related to your topic. Make a list of 50 questions that you think your target audience is asking themselves. Going back to my previous point, these questions don’t need to be all about you and your company — in fact, they shouldn’t be. Relate your questions to your future customers’ problems.

Don’t launch into emptiness

Your startup’s launch date shouldn’t also be the first time you’re generating leads. You’ll have a much more successful launch if you have a list of existing beta users or even a product waitlist. One easy way to generate pre-launch hype is by creating a landing page on your website with a form that allows people to sign up for your product. This helps you gauge consumer interest early on, and it gives you a starting pool of potential customers.

Your signup page should be as quick and user-friendly as possible — it could simply be an email field with a description of your upcoming product. Your landing page should provide enough information to pique interest and make users feel comfortable sharing their information, but don’t overcomplicate it. This Loupe landing page does both well.

Looking for other tips to get started on building your startup? Check out our startup tips for finance and design as well.

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