Some advice to get the marketing going when you startup.
Paperwork is filed, and you’re an official business. You’ve done your lean canvas, determined your resource holes and how to fill them, and begun to build your product. The next steps typically depend on the type of business you’re building, but you know you will need to eventually market your startup. Before you begin, be sure to read our post on what to do before you start your startup.
Many startup founders jump head-first into marketing with little or no experience. While it’s true anyone can create a Twitter profile, it does take some experience and knowledge to market a startup company as the needs of every startup vary depending on its stage. In this series, Marketing Your Startup, we’ll cover the different phases of marketing for your startup company. Here is a getting started resource guide.
Naming Your Startup
You may already be beyond this step–but if you’re not, there are some serious considerations here. Your name is your brand. When creating a name, you want it to be unique. Here are things you must do when in choosing a name:
- Look in the US Trademark Database. This is the first step to ensure no one else owns the name mark you’re considering, regardless of whether or not it’s being used.
- Do some online research–are there other companies with similar names (or large companies with product names with the name you’re considering)? If so, it is best to continue to consider other options. The amount of effort, time, and money to build a brand name when another company is known for yours will be really difficult, and avoided if possible.
- Look at available domain names available. If you’re forced to take a web address that is not a .com and/or is a varied spelling of your name, the chances of your customers finding you is unlikely.
- If you’re building an app, search the app store for others with similar names. If there isn’t an app with the name you’re considering, then taking a varied URL isn’t as big of a deal.
- Consider SEO: There are two ways to approach this. If you’re building a company in a competitive market, such as the beauty space, having a name–complete with URL–with the word “beauty” in it will give you a huge advantage as the term is already highly searched. You will need to work hard on SEO to build visibility, but there is an audience already built in. Alternatively, you can create a word that is completely unique–this will ensure there is no confusion when potential customers Google you, and you will own your SEO.
- Social media; we’ll talk about setting up social media later, but you might want to consider whether or not your brand name, with no variation, is available on social media platforms before picking a name. This is especially important if you think social media marketing is a core component of your business–which is likely.
Design is your visual brand, and is as important as your name. Here are considerations when beginning your website or product design:
- Consider your audience. You may love a “sleek” look, but if you’re building an app for kids–that aesthetic doesn’t make sense.
- Start by looking at tons of different products, websites, and apps. If you are building a physical product, also look for great examples of packaging design. Gather examples of design that you love, designs for companies with a similar target market, and see if there is any overlap. This doesn’t mean you should try and copy another company’s design, but if others have a look and feel that speaks well to the target audience, you can likely use them as inspiration.
- Logo design: After you’ve analyzed your potential audience, you will need to engage a designer to create a logo. There are websites that can design a logo for pretty cheap, but it’s usually best to go with an established logo designer. They can take into consideration all of the different use cases–horizontal vs. square, a version for social media and favicon use, symmetry, and fonts.
- Fonts: Speaking of fonts, most people choose the most basic web fonts available. Being super particular about fonts being used on your website, if they aren’t basic webfonts, will make your website less consistent across browsers and versions.
- Colors: Nailing down specific colors can be left to a designer, but you should have an idea of what you like. You should also do a bit of research on the psychology of color.
Once you’re past your proof of concept, you can work further to develop a brand story and positioning statement(s). But starting with the right amount of strategy in regards to design from the outset is a smart way to approach launch. Learn more about our client approach to design here!
What Accounts You Need
You may not be a marketing expert, but there will be some marketing tools you need to claim before you bring someone on board. This involves setting up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn–if all of those make sense for your brand. Here’s how to determine what social media accounts make sense for you.
This one is the most universally needed. This account is good for starting to follow other fellow startups (and investors,) sharing industry news, and building lists of people who are important in your industry.
If your product is consumer facing, a shopping product, and/or isn’t an app, Facebook probably makes sense for your brand. If you are building an app or a highly technical product, you may not want to bother at this stage. Facebook is primarily pay-to-play these days–and while it isn’t expensive, it doesn’t usually make much sense for many early stage companies. If you have determined, in your Lean Canvas, your customers are likely male and/or millennials, Facebook might not be a priority.
If you’re building a highly visual product or app, or a lifestyle brand, then Instagram can be an incredibly effective platform.
If you’re building a shopping site, or a consumer product, then Pinterest could be effective for you. Additionally, if your website appeals to women between the ages of 28-40, and you can share images relative to your business–and drive traffic back to your business– then Pinterest is a great tool for you.
While YouTube is massive, and the potential audience is vast, creating content for this channel can be extremely time consuming. However, YouTube is the channel where it matters the least whether or not you’re posting consistently. The inbound link does help with SEO as well–so this one is fine to use even if you only have a few videos.
You can always create a company page later on–LinkedIn doesn’t fall high on our priority list of accounts to create. However, much like YouTube, there isn’t as much maintenance needed with this channel, so this is completely your call.
Periscope and Snapchat
We don’t recommend startups use these unless they seamlessly mesh with the company and its operations–without a dedicated marketing team, creating this content consistently can be difficult.
The most important thing to consider with any social media as part of your marketing plan is only taking on as much as you can effectively manage. If you cannot keep up on Twitter, it likely makes sense to claim the handle, park it with one tweet driving users to your website. Learn how to organically grow your social media following here.
These are the initial things your company needs to do in order to set your startup brand up for success. In our next Marketing Your Startup post, we’ll cover customer research.