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This FREE Startup Marketing Strategy Isn't Clickbait.

Updated: May 11

5 Steps to Startup Marketing Strategy Victory

It's time to ditch your fears about startup marketing strategy. If you operated from a place of self-doubt, you wouldn't be a startup business founder. You can develop a memorable campaign that increases brand awareness and converts early sales — and you can do it within your budget.

5 step startup marketing strategy from Perk Copywriting
Here's your 5-step roadmap to startup business marketing strategy.

Low cost marketing strategies for startups don't just exist — they're more accessible than ever. All it takes is a marketing plan that targets and capitalizes on small-budget, high visibility tactics. I use 5 strategies that help startup founders grow sustainably.

Here's what I'll cover in this winning startup marketing strategy guide:

  • Brand identity is the single most important aspect of startup marketing strategy. Don't cut corners and engage in copycat marketing — 86% of customers reject any brand image they consider inauthentic.

  • Inbound marketing content converts new customer sales at a rate 2-5x greater than outbound marketing. Create engaging social media content that drives new website traffic.

  • A content-rich blog is the backbone of a strong marketing strategy for startups. My clients at HOMR reached 105K weekly impressions in 8 months by developing a world-class blog for homeowners — with zero ad spend.

  • Video marketing content is essential to your digital marketing strategy. You must use video content in social media marketing — 84% of customers make a purchase after watching a video.

  • Go meet your ideal customer! There's still no beating face-to-face interaction for startup founders. Get out to consumer trade shows, conduct focus groups and interviews.

So why am I giving this advice away? It's the only way I know how to serve startup founders. You're going to get 5 winning marketing strategies for a startup in this article. For free.

Want a deeper dive? Check out the full Perk Copywriting startup brand strategy playbook.

Why My Startup Marketing Plan Isn't Clickbait

Tired of “startup marketing playbooks” that offer no advice — unless it's behind a paywall? 

That's not how I operate. Over 50% of my lifetime clients (and 80% of my clients in the last 3 years) are startup founders. They rely on me to craft unique, engaging content marketing strategies that fit a startup budget.

Tight margins, narrow focus, big wins. 

I bring 15+ years of content marketing experience to the table. A lot of that time was spent helping “big box” companies win. Here's what they don't want startup founders to know: most of their marketing tools are incredibly scalable.

Of course, I'd like to work with you. But I'm not greedy — let me earn your trust first. Here's step #1 to a killer startup marketing plan.

Step 1: Get Your Own Brand Identity. No Copycat Marketing.

good luck cats, copycat marketing and brand identity

Did you really dream of owning your own startup business just to steal your brand identity from a competitor? It sounds like a silly question, but you'd be surprised how many startup founders do it.

It's such a pervasive problem, there's a term for it — brand jacking. And come on. You're better than that.

Copycat marketing is easy to spot in logos and packaging — a supermarket brand cola bottle that vaguely looks like Coke, for example. Stealing a marketing tactic from an existing brand isn't as transparent, but the effects are just as deadly. 

Why? 88% of consumers won't buy from a company they see as inauthentic, or one they don't recognize (G2).

Unique Brand Identity is Crucial for Startup Founders

The average American consumer sees roughly 10,000 ads per day. If you look, sound or feel anything like those other ads, you're doomed — especially as a startup. 

If Gatorade and Powerade come across as simliar, fine. They're entrenched brands with enormous budgets. You aren't. You have to stand out.

“The way a company brands itself is everything,” says Sir Richard Branson. “It will ultimately decide whether a business survives.”

Want to ensure your brand identity is unique and memorable? Make sure you can answer these 10 questions.

Startup Brand Identity Success Story: HOMR

If you've got the goods, you don't need to imitate anyone else's marketing strategy. That's HOMR.

HOMR is a Dallas-based home service concierge that connects homeowners with vetted contractors for every home management need. Painters, roofers, landscapers, cleaning services — wouldn't you love one service to rate, schedule and manage them all for you?

As their website puts it: “Stop reading 3 articles, calling 2 friends, and scrolling through 7 plumbers to fix 1 pipe.”

HOMR's braintrust is full of actual brains. (Refreshing!) With 100+ years of combined home management experience, it's a startup that actually strives to serve, inform, and save its neighbors money.

The result: Homeowners get well-researched contractor recommendations who provide free quotes on residential contracting. Then, HOMR schedules and reviews their work. 

The best part? HOMR's 24/7 concierge services start at just $9/month.

Read more about how HOMR works, and their industry-leading contractor vetting process.

Step 2: Embrace Inbound Marketing Content. 

shot of espresso as inbound marketing content

Conventional outbound marketing is the drip coffee of brand awareness. Inbound marketing is a double shot of espresso.

Inbound marketing draws consumers to your website, to experience further branded content and calls to action.  

Inbound marketing serves 3 crucial elements of startup business marketing brilliantly:

  1. Your target audience is hand-delivered valuable content, which drives them to your website and social media platforms.

  2. Once there, your new customer is a captive audience to further articles, videos and calls to action.

  3. Those calls to action drive conversions at a rate over 5 times higher than outbound marketing.

Don't take my word for it. I did the market research — and the stats back me up.

5 Inbound Marketing Statistics To Learn (and Love)

New business owners who make inbound strategies the core of their digital marketing campaign win for 5 key reasons:

  1. Conversion Rate: The average outbound marketing lead conversion rate is 1.5-2%. Compare that with inbound marketing conversion rates, which sit at 4.5-10% as of 2022.

  2. Effectiveness: 75% of marketing professionals think inbound marketing is highly effective.

  3. Confidence: 53% of marketing professionals state inbound marketing leads to higher ROI than outbound marketing.

  4. Organic Traffic: The #1 goal of 60% of inbound marketers is improving organic online visibility.

  5. Value: Inbound marketing leads cost 61% less than outbound marketing leads.

data above sourced from 2024 report by FinancesOnline and a 2022 report by LeadLander.

So what's the best way to nurture inbound leads? Funny you should ask — it's my next step to killer startup marketing strategy.

Step 3: Invest in a Startup Blog. Now.

80% of blog owners report measurable growth in new lead generation

A great blog is the backbone of effective startup inbound marketing. 78% of customers would rather learn about a company through articles than ads (Zippia).

Right now, I know you have 2 instant objections to starting a blog — that's because you've been given misinformation about who reads blogs, and how well blogs convert leads into sales.

“Millennials don't read blogs!” you're probably screaming. That's insanely false — millennials are 247% more likely to be influenced by blog articles (Hubspot).

As for lead generation and conversion? Small businesses and startups with blogs create 126% more lead growth than those that don't.

If you're wondering about the cost — here's how I helped a startup blog reach 500k monthly impressions in 8 months without spending a dime on paid advertising.

500K Monthly Impressions, 8 Months, Zero Paid Ad Spending

During the last week of August 2023, HOMR approached me with a simple-yet-daring challenge: Fully take over content creation for their blog, and drive website traffic and conversions with zero ad spending.

I was hooked. It was an opportunity I was dying for — to prove that startups that invested in valuable content over paid advertising won.

That week, HOMR's blog had 11.9K impressions and zero conversions. No problem. They had the service, the people and the inherent value. It was up to a good content marketer to prove it to their target market.

Eight months later: It's the week of April 21-28, 2024. HOMR's Home Experts blog has 105K weekly impressions and is driving conversions across 3 unique marketing channels. 

Drive your target audience to your website with intriguing social media content, then nurture those inbound leads with a well-executed, content-rich blog that converts.

Want that kind of content marketing success with zero ad spend? Let me manage your blog and keyword strategy

Step 4: Crush Your Short Form Video Marketing Content.

short form video content for startup marketing strategy

Video marketing continues to dominate the current content marketing landscape. And why not? Nearly ¾ of all digital consumers prefer short form video content to all other forms of online advertising.

You don't need a massive budget or long, sprawling production. In fact, short form video (under 60 seconds) performs better — its ROI is 2.5x greater than all other formats (Statista).

Find a quality video production company that specializes in punchy social media videos. They offer better value — and more visually appealing content — for a digital audience.

Startup Video Marketing Success Story: Dollar Shave Club

I can't believe it's been 12 years since Dollar Shave Club dropped the best startup marketing video I've ever seen.

Don't take my word for it — when the YouTube comments say your video is unskippable, you've won.

12 years and 28+ million views later, Dollar Shave Club's punchy, irreverent and industry-disrupting video still informs how great startup brands approach digital marketing. (Liquid Death, Wood Milk — the list goes on.)

You don't have to sound like Dollar Shave Club to nail a startup video campaign. You just need to identify how they won:

  • Clear, direct and unmistakable messaging. On brand, succinct, and to the point.

  • Surprising content. Every few seconds, you're shown something you didn't expect to see.

  • Integrated brand story. Tell people what you do, how you do it, and why it makes their lives better.

  • A memorable hook. Distill your offer. Make it one simple phrase. Then repeat it. A lot.

Want to nail your startup video marketing strategy? Study these 4 YouTube content creators!

Step 5: Go Meet Your Potential Customer (In Person.)

female startup founder meets new customers at in-person marketing event

Yes, I'm about to push in-person customer engagement in the era of digital marketing. But unless you have a six-figure marketing budget (or more), face to face marketing efforts are vital to early brand recognition.

I'm not talking about “guerrilla marketing” — meet your target market in an earnest, heartfelt way. If you're a B2B startup, attend trade shows and join your local SBA or Rotary Club. If you're B2C, create memorable pop-up consumer engagement events or ask another business to collaborate on a community event. 

Sustainable Growth Marketing Starts Face to Face

Bizzabo reports that 80.4% of organizers view in-person marketing events as their “most impactful marketing channel”. While I feel other components of startup marketing are equally important, there's no understating the value of personal connection.

In person marketing and consumer engagement offers 4 core benefits for new business owners:

  1. “Sticky” brand recognition. In particular, trade shows are shown to increase brand recognition by 76% (Cvent).

  2. Trust-building public relations. Potential customers are far more likely to buy from brands they trust. Build instant credibility with face-to-face engagement.

  3. Real-time buyer persona evolution. The best way to meet your real target audience is to see who's truly interested in real time. You'll inform and adjust your brand's ideal customer profile as you collect leads.

  4. Heightened referral marketing opportunities. Ask any Main Street shop in America. Existing customers who buy in person are more likely to write online reviews and engage in word-of-mouth marketing. That's free advertising.

Let's look at how the team at Tandem Design Co are winning with their boots on the ground.

Startup Brand Awareness Success Story: Tandem Design Co

Tandem Design Co is dedicated to making color accessible and inclusive for everyone, regardless of sight abilities. I'm privileged to work with Frank and his team as their line of Braille sticky notes makes our world a little more inclusive — and a lot more vibrant.

Tandem Design Co wins by serving the blind and low sighted community — and by meeting them where they are. They've conducted a case study with Lighthouse SF, a San Francisco non-profit focused on independence for the visually impaired. They've also attended multiple consumer trade shows and provided product engagement opportunities.

I'm most fascinated by TDC's one-on-one product engagement interviews. The experience of watching visually impaired adults have some of their first meaningful interactions with color is joyous and deeply meaningful. 

Introducing Braille to sticky notes is a small disruption that drives massive societal change. It allows low sighted individuals access to color in new contexts — and a chance to use color as a tool in their daily lives. And it grants sighted individuals a more thoughtful approach to living and working with people who are visually impaired.

Support Tandem Design Co — check out their Braille sticky note rainbow palette!

3 Things Your Startup Doesn't Need Yet

We've covered 5 essential components of your startup marketing campaign. It's just as important to highlight the digital marketing tools your brand doesn't need just yet

There's nothing inherently wrong with any of these strategies, and chances are at least one is a part of your future marketing goals. For now, each of them is a cost you don't really need.

1. Google Ads*

Yes, there's an asterisk. Google ad placement is an effective marketing strategy for startups if it's focused on brand awareness.

Too many startup founders rely on paid ad content to drive early sales. But ask yourself: would you buy from a brand you've never heard of? Take a realistic walk down a new customer journey:

  1. They search Google for the product or service you happen to provide.

  2. They see your sponsored ad on Google SERP (search engine results page).

  3. They click your sponsored link.

  4. They realize they've never heard of you, and go somewhere they recognize.

You've paid for the click, lost the conversion, and done nothing to inform a potential customer about who you are.

Wouldn't that advertising dollar be better spent on customer education? The next time that customer sees your brand in their Google results, you're 33% more likely to convert the sale (Zippia).

2. Influencer Marketing

Sure, you can hire a micro-influencer to plug your brand for $1,000-$2,500. But one YouTube video, Twitch stream or Instagram reel gets a consumer's attention for how long? A few seconds? A minute, if you're lucky?

It's far more effective to pay for ad placement on a mega-influencer's Instagram reel — don't worry, that'll only cost you a minimum of $7,500. 

Unless your next round of VC funding is coming from a Jenner, your investors probably won't be too happy with that ad spend.

3. Enterprise Marketing Automation Software

Enterprise SaaS (software-as-a-service) platforms are fantastic, but you're not an enterprise (yet!). Vertical SaaS platforms are far leaner, targeted and cost-effective for startup founders.

Vertical SaaS companies focus on individual processes, allowing founders to pick and choose the applications they need at each stage of early growth. 

If you need customer experience solutions, Birdeye is a strong option.

If you want a great no-code vertical SaaS platform, try Quickbase.

Startup Content Marketing = Capturing Every Win

startup marketing strategy trophy for brand victory

Marketing strategy for a startup business isn't one-size-fits-all. Founders seeking initial rounds of funding have different marketing goals than those in their go-to-market phase.

But all startups have overarching similarities that define an effective marketing strategy:

  • A uniquely identifiable brand drives early target audience education and awareness.

  • Inbound marketing (and content marketing as a whole) offer a strong balance of low cost and high visibility.

  • Startup video marketing content offers unparalled potential as a social media platform growth strategy.

  • Put your product or service directly in consumers' hands by finding pathways to in-person engagement.

A great startup marketing campaign starts with a free consultation — I'm waiting to hear from you!

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