Marketing 101: What Every Startup Needs to Know

Alex Alexander
Chief Marketing Officer
June 3, 2021

So you’re starting a brand. (Congrats!) As far as you know, it has enough of an edge to stand out from its competitors, and your product or service is timely and useful. You think it’ll be the next Nike or Apple of its industry. What’s next?

If you’ve done your homework, you already know that marketing is not only a key component of your business development, but the very set of tactics and holistic end-to-end strategies that get people interested in your brand. If this sounds a bit nebulous, that’s because it is. Marketing is a complex, diffuse machine — think of it as a kind of circulatory system that pushes your product or service in front of the right audiences and (hopefully) brings them back to the heart of it all: your brand.

In our digital age, marketing is more democratic than ever before. Sure, saturation is at an all-time high (competition is *noisy*), but brands with smaller budgets now have the chance to see growth by starting out with just one or two marketing channels — given that a clear strategy is in place.

So before you throw your money into the wind, we’ll share some food for thought on key aspects of a marketing strategy and where to start.

Get to Know Your Customer Like a Best Friend

Marketing isn’t as easy as pumping money behind Facebook Ads and blog posts and seeing exponential results. Long story short: you won’t reap what you sow — unless you know where you’re sowing, and how you’re doing it. 

Getting to know your target customer really, really well should be Step #1 before you put any dollars behind a campaign. You should know the fundamentals of your audience persona down pat: their demographics (age, gender, location, income), lifestyle, workstyle, goals, pain points, information sources, engagement scenarios, and general day-in-the-life activities and attitudes. You should know how they solve problems — their research process, whether they trust their grandma or Goop, what thoughts or questions keep them from adding your solution to their cart. 

Your buyers already exist, and they’ve left trails of bread-crumbs and footprints all over the web for you to explore and incorporate into your target audience analysis. Scour your competitors’ social media comments and online reviews, browse Reddit/Quora/Facebook forums and groups, and use Google Trends to identify up-and-coming search terms. Put on an anthropologist’s hat. As you compile your notes, pay attention to any patterns across your potential customers’ questions, complaints, and keywords.

Build a Relationship With Consistent Two-Way Value

Once you have clear audience personas, there’s still no guarantee that they’ll “swipe right” on your brand. In fact, your consumers are pretty exhausted by the barrage of salesy, aggressive ads they see every day, everywhere. The bulk of your efforts should be spent on building a frictionless marketing funnel that treats them as a relationship to nurture rather than a destination to arrive at. 

The problem with the traditional marketing funnel is that it’s in the shape of a cone. Where does your audience go after they convert and “fall out” of the spout? What are you doing to create indefinite value and build long-term brand loyalists? Are you consistently engaging with your existing customers to cross-sell or upsell other SKUs, creating evangelists who will help you spread the word (for free) through user-generated content and referrals, and recalibrating your own product/service by gaining valuable insight in the form of surveys and reviews?

How to Build a Team That Can Handle All Aspects of Marketing

Facebook Ads, Google Ads, TikTok marketing, VR, email flows, SEO, whitepapers and blogs, social media management — there are dozens of avenues you can take to market your brand, and no single strategy is going to work for everyone. Your marketing funnel — that dynamic relationship you’re trying to build with your target audiences — contains several key touchpoints that each involves a different set of tools and tactics to drive your buyers toward conversion. It can be overwhelming for one person, or even a few team members, to manage it all — not to mention that a single ad or email might involve the skills of a copywriter, designer, ad/email manager, and others. Every type of marketing you deploy is also tracked and measured according to specific industry standards and KPIs that are their own fields of expertise.

Hiring an agency to help you manage all aspects of marketing comes with a few perks that an in-house team might lack. To start, it’s cheaper — and best for smaller-budget companies that need expert-level support without the dizzying overhead of top-talent salaries. Plus, when you hire an agency (even if it’s for just one marketing channel), you’re essentially hiring the minds of an entire team that are constantly collaborating and executing on dozens projects across numerous industries — which equips an agency with better optics into the latest industry developments than a siloed in-house employee might have.

At Sieo, our team has dozens of years of marketing, BD, and operational experience that allows us to grow brands at all stages of development. You can think of us as a long-term partner with all the creative and marketing know-how to find the most efficient, impactful solutions to help your brand scale. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to drop us a line — we’d love to hear from you.

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