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Over recent years we’ve had the privilege of working with a number of great startups.
From Florena Fermented Skincare, backed by the giant Beiersdorf brand, to DrinkTG who we helped on their journey from a kitchen table to the shelves of Tesco & Asda, we’ve helped burgeoning businesses to grow and flourish with great pride.
One thing all these businesses have in common is their profound ambition.
The founders truly believe they’ve come up with the next Gymshark, Uber or AirBnb and dedicate their lives to growing their businesses.
But a lot of the time, the marketing budget available doesn’t quite tally with the scale of their ambitions. That’s not a negative, it’s a statement of fact when there are millions of things to invest in from premises to people, R&D to tech.
As a business with many of the same investment conundrums, we get it.
So how do you get maximum bang for your buck as a startup?
The keyword we use when talking to startups is realism.
While you can spend tens of thousands of pounds on marketing activity that doesn’t have a direct impact on sales, in the early days do you really need to?
Realistically, probably not – although the investments you make ahead of launch are fundamental to the future success of your brand, so I’m not suggesting for one second that it should be done on the cheap or by a random on Fiverr.com.
If you hire a smart agency (one that knows what it’s doing, doesn’t take the piss and genuinely wants to help) getting the marketing basics that you need to launch can be done much more efficiently.
So based on some recent conversations we’ve been having with a very exciting startup, here’s how we’d recommend getting your marketing off the ground.
There’s no need to go for expensive software here. Open source systems like WordPress or low-cost tools like Craft will do a great job and almost certainly stand the test of time. If budgets are really tight and you can’t stretch to a bespoke look & feel, grab an off the shelf style from Themeforest to get started. It won’t have the same degree of personalisation but it’ll do a great job in the short term. After all, not everyone can go for a Saville Row suit – most of us go to Next!
Off the shelf is the way to go here too. Shopify is just one of many platforms that offers low cost SaaS-based options that will get your store open in no time. It might even be possible to start by selling directly through social channels on Meta & TikTok or via 3rd party merchants like Etsy and Amazon – but watch out for their transaction fees!
When the big dogs carry out a rebrand, sensationalist headlines like “BT spends £30m on new logo” tend to follow.
But the bill is only that much because they have thousands of vans, uniforms, offices and documents to refresh (and the fact they choose big, expensive networked agencies to do the work).
Startups don’t have to operate with those parameters, so the costs can be much lower. We are currently working on branding for a startup which has the not-so-hefty price tag of £5,100 for a selection of logos, colour palette, typography and business card designs.
Again this is not an area where you need to over-think: The startup’s mantra of “Fail fast” is the name of the game.
Experiment with different channels, see what type of content works for your audience and which platforms deliver the best results.
Which leads me nicely on to one key element of your social media plan – KPIs. As my recent exploits on LinkedIn showed, simply getting impressions isn’t usually enough. So set clear and realistic KPIs that you can measure against each week / month / quarter to make your strategic decisions.
A whistle-stop tour
That’s just a quick brain-fart of thoughts and considerations around startup marketing.
Regardless of the stage of your business or brand, marketing investment decisions are complex and multi-faceted – it’s important not to over-think them but also not to take them lightly.
If you need an outside point of view, give us a shout.