As a tech startup founder, you’re no doubt keen to get your product to market. The major players all have flashy websites, branding and marketing budgets to burn.
It’s easy to convince yourself that you need that too, but you really don’t. Despite what the average marketing agency will tell you.
Yes, you need an online presence and, yes, it should look professional. However, the one thing established businesses have that you don’t is brand awareness. Users have been and are already visiting their websites because they know who they are.
You’re not there yet. But you will be.
Moreover, their concerns are different to yours. An established business is focused on growing its customer base and pleasing shareholders.
Your business is either looking for its first ten big customers or funding. So your priorities and what you need to do to achieve success are totally different.
So, before you drop $100,000 on a website you need to take care of the fundamentals. Without addressing these core elements of your marketing strategy, your tech startup will never get off the ground.
What message are you sending?
Your Value Proposition
You’ve got a product. You’re ready to sell. But you need to figure out how to communicate that product or service to your prospects. This is where startup marketing differs from mainstream marketing in tech. Most established businesses know what they’re selling, how to sell it and who they’re selling it to.
You don’t because you’ve never sold before. At least not to someone you didn’t know personally. But that’s okay, it’s a process.
You need to refine your messaging so you’re communicating your offer as clearly as possible. If you can’t tell a perfect stranger what you’re selling in a sentence or two, and they understand it, it needs to be refined some more.
As you work through your proposition you may find that the kind of customer you want changes too. This is a good thing.
As a tech startup, you need to focus on one (maybe two) markets that you can win. The more business you chase the faster you burn through budgets and the less profitable you become.
You will also end up with more competitors than you know how to handle.
Unless you’re selling fast-moving consumer goods, trying to be all things to all people will dilute your messaging. And your marketing budget.
By defining your proposition, and your messaging you’ll be able to devise a marketing strategy that works.
This iterative process will also help you to define who your ideal customer is. Marketing in tech should never be the proverbial blunderbuss. Rather it should be a series of planned actions that help you to communicate with your ideal customer.
It also has the added benefit of qualifying out potential customers as well. These are the ones who have the money but don’t necessarily want to spend it. They quibble every line item on invoices and pay late.
They’re also the ones who after you’ve put your heart and soul into the project, they’ll have a laundry list of changes that swallow up any profit you hoped to make.
Everything about your business should clearly state who you are, what you offer and exactly the kind of customer you want to deal with.
While turning away business may feel uncomfortable for a tech startup, it will benefit you in the long run.
If you perform a cost analysis on any project you’ve ever delivered to a difficult client you can almost guarantee that you made a loss. Plus it was a miserable experience.
You don’t need those kinds of customers. They’re impossible to please, you won’t earn any repeat business and they won’t refer you to anyone in their network.
Instead, put your energies into marketing to the right customers.
Marketing your Tech Startup
The work you do around your proposition, messaging and customers need to be channelled into your marketing activity.
Because you’re not burning cash on a long and involved web build project, you’re in a position to move faster and start building your pipeline.
Marketing in tech is similar to other industries but with one crucial difference, credibility is everything.
Because new innovations are cropping up in every industry on an almost daily basis you need to establish yourself and your business as credible as quickly as possible.
You also need to get traffic to your site.
Driving Organic Traffic
Blogs are one of the most effective – and cost-effective – ways of driving traffic to your website. There are two distinct components to successful blogging:
SEO – Well optimised blogs are picked up by Google and served to users. Google, as the dominant search engine, defines the rules that blogs need to follow to get traffic. The more traffic they get, the more likely they are to be served in search results.
Providing a blog is evergreen (it holds long term relevance) it can drive substantial traffic to your site for years.
Relevance – Relevant content that answers the questions your prospects are asking builds trust and strengthens your credibility as an expert.
The more content they consume, the more they’ll trust you which will make selling to them all the easier when the time comes.
Moreover, because relevance matters to the reader, it matters to Google. Your content can be optimised to the max but if it isn’t relevant to the query asked, it won’t get seen.
As the founder of a tech startup, you need to establish your authority as a thought leader quickly. While your product or solution may be unique, there will be others competing for market share.
The thing that will differentiate you from your competitors is your ability to demonstrate a higher level of understanding. Both of the sectors you operate in and of the needs of your potential clients.
Whitepapers are uniquely suited to this task. They allow you to pose questions, challenge the status quo and be as disruptive in your space as you like.
They allow you to challenge your prospects to think differently about their situation or their challenges. Then you offer the solution that can help.
Whitepapers aren’t written with SEO in mind. Rather than are usually downloadable pieces of content either shared freely or via a gateway.
If you choose to gate your content make sure you have a means of (a) capturing the data and (b) following up with those people the same day.
A robust process surrounding gated content is essential to convert that show of interest into a sale.
Marketing in tech is highly competitive so you need to take any advantage you can to maximise conversions.
Landing pages allow you to create an optimised web page that is focused on one thing. That could be selling a product at a particular price, or driving users to download your whitepaper.
Whatever your desired outcome, your landing page should focus exclusively on that.
There are various tools out there to help you build your page and then you’ll either need to point it at a dedicated subdomain or link it to your website.
From here you use it as a sales tool or spend some money on AdWords to drive traffic.
To avoid burning budgets unnecessarily use the Google Adwords tool to identify the keywords that will give you the most bang for your buck. Without breaking the bank.
Google Adwords, LinkedIn ads and YouTube ads – amongst others – can be a highly effective way of driving traffic to your website or your landing pages.
In the early days of your business, it can also be a way of getting potential clients to your website. After all your future clients haven’t heard of you so building an ad and going after some of those keywords makes sense.
It’s also worth considering sponsoring your company name. There are two reasons for this.
- By sponsoring the right keywords, you’ll start to expose your audience to your brand. It’s a great way to disrupt your space and get noticed. Having a well-designed landing page and a strong offer waiting for them will sweeten the deal.
- It expands your real estate. Whether you rank for your brand term or not, the more space you take up at the top of the search results the better.
You should also back this up with Google My Business. It’s a free service provided by Google and serves top-level information about your business.
Between organic, paid and Google My Business, you stand to occupy the top third of page one.
Iterate and Improve
Marketing, like tech, is not an exact science. Some experiments work and others don’t. Don’t be afraid to test and iterate to generate the best results.
The benefit of digital marketing is the array of data at your fingertips. Whether it’s Analytics, Search Console or AdWords, you will be able to gain insight into your buyer’s behaviour.
Equipped with that knowledge you’re in a position to make educated guesses about what they want to see.
Build on this further by split testing a landing page, or trialling different paid search campaigns. Not everything will work but rather than work away or point fingers, use failure as an opportunity to learn.
Don’t forget as a tech startup you’re in uncharted waters. Use that to your advantage by trying campaigns and writing content that more established businesses won’t attempt.
Your agility and ability to pivot towards a new campaign will help you to outperform bigger companies.
With each campaign, piece of content or landing page you’ll understand your audience a little better. This means the next campaign will move faster and be more successful.
At Nituno, we work with tech startups like yours to develop a digital marketing strategy that suits your business. Get in touch with us today and let us show you how to take your marketing to the next level.