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Marketing Your Startup: 5 Lessons From Insiders

by Ksenia Larina, Content & Brand Owner at Lemon.io

As you embark on a new project of your own, all your efforts become channeled into “making it all work” and translating your ideas into a successful startup. In this professional and personal quest, both relying on your inner entrepreneurial senses and following the well-trodden grounds are workable strategies. You might have already gathered tips and “don’ts” enough for authoring your own “Startup 101” course.

But the following 5 lessons from insiders will definitely add to your knowledge-base. In particular, they will make it easier for you to navigate one of the most significant processes – marketing your startup.

Lesson 1 – “A strategy as a marker of existence”, or “A strategy first” myth.

Try to overcome your existential fears and thoughts like “how can we call ourselves a startup without a well-defined long-term strategy?”.

A strategy should be based on something. This “something” includes at least understanding of your product/service, your mission, and context in which you are going to operate. Learning the context may not only take some time, but it also requires flexibility from your side due to its changing nature. In fact, no strategy is actually a good strategy as long as you keep on searching and experimenting. And do it consciously. Note your variants and hypotheses, make a list of obstacles and observations, outline your steps, your expectation to each step, and analyse the outcomes of each step. Such gradual conscious actions will bring you a step closer to understanding what will work best for you and prevent unrealistic expectations, as well as strategies “for the sake of strategies”. 

Lesson 2 – Translate “smart theoretical concepts” into understandable questions about your startup that you can answer.

You will need these answers for proper marketing positioning.

Take, for example, “mission”. “What is our mission?” may sound too abstract and complicated in the early stages of your startup business. But what does “mission” actually mean? 

Mission is about “What are we here for?” question. Our customers are not just people who will pay for our product/service. They are a particular socio-cultural group with particular values, so what can we bring to them? What is their problem that we can fix? What is their need that we can provide?

Another example is “brand archetype”. Yes, you can easily google those 12 archetypes, and somehow intuitively assign one of them to your product or customer. But will it help you to better understand yourself and the way you should position yourself? What is the easier question that we can ask as an alternative? 

How about: “What personality from literature/cartoons/Hollywood films we can associate ourselves with? What are his/her strengths, and, maybe, oddities that make him/her unique”.Do not underestimate such seemingly  “fun” things as they will help you to tell the right “story” about your brand. 

So the idea is to take basic brand-related marketing concepts, “put them down to earth”,  use them to better understand yourself to outline the best way to position your startup. 

Lesson 3 – When cliches end, good content marketing begins. 

As you share something with your audience, avoid trite expressions, unless, of course, you want to join the Club of unique team of experts, working in synergy with industry gurus who think outside the box, use game-changing strategies, and provide revolutionary products in today’s world. 

Look at the content that you generate and try to define the percentage of space-fillers and information that actually carries any value. Noone uses cliches on purpose, of course, but the idea is to timely detect them and eradicate them from your message. 

Lesson 4 – You need to stand out, but not get out. 

The idea of developing a unique innovative product that would be different from others stands behind every startup. Uniqueness is associated with attractiveness for investors, getting through entry barriers, and surviving the competitive landscape. However, there is a thin line between standing out and “getting out”. The latter means an intentional refusal to associate itself with any competitors and industry as a whole. If you are “too unique” to fit anything known, you will be misunderstood by customers who will not be able to associate you with something they got used to. So, you should find your place within the community, including competitors, build necessary links, but not ignore the existing paradigm.

Lesson 5 – “Perfect” does not equal “rewarding”.

There is always a risk that you will waste so much time and resources on making something perfect where good would be enough. Just give your “good” a go and make improvements only based on some first results. 

So, learning is key in mastering the science of startup marketing.  But as soon as you find what works best for you, you will turn this rocket science into your personal adventure. Do not hesitate to start executing your idea and let results exceed your expectations. 

 

Ksenia Larina is Content & Brand Owner at Lemon.io by title and a devoted writer by nature – it has been Ksenia’s passion for her entire life. 6+ years deep in digital marketing, Ksenia loves being a part of the team that’s building something from scratch. This is why her job is to basically start early-stage companies up. Currently taking pride in creating the universe of Lemon.io, Ksenia somehow finds enough time to write mega-useful marketing guides.

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