BUSTING THE MOST COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS IN START-UP MARKETING
Starting a business can be scary — no secret there — and on top of that, there’s a lot of misinformation out there steering potential business owners awry. Not cool…But what can we do about it? How can we make sure start-ups don’t fall victim to the most common marketing myths? We’re here to help!
Today we’re going to bust some of the most common myths when it comes to start-up marketing. Whether you’re just getting started or looking to scale, we’re going to debunk some of our favourite (or least favourite, depending on how you look at it) marketing myths.
MYTH 1: YOU NEED A BIG BUDGET
Bigger is not always better when it comes to marketing budgets. Working with big marketing budgets is great but unfortunately that’s not the reality for most start-ups. Sometimes smaller budgets are a blessing in disguise. When working with smaller budgets, you’re forced to get creative and think outside of the box. You’re also in a great position to question your plan and evaluate what platforms give you the best bang for your buck. You don’t need a big budget to make a big impact. Instead, select a few high return platforms — here are some of our favourites: Email, Google AdWords, Social Media and Media Relations — and put them to work! It’s important to keep optimizing while you’re in this somewhat experimental stage. Depending on your business, product and target market, the best platform will vary so keep testing and keep optimizing!
OUR ADVICE: Take your small marketing budget and invest in only a few high-return platforms. Start with one and then diversify as you start to see success. Email and social are always great places to start. Have ZERO budget? It’s all about email marketing (think leveraging your email list to boost sales), content production (think blogs and free trial influencer partnerships) and media relations (think pitching stories to magazines and morning show segments). After building your brand in the “earned” space and bringing in more cash, you can start to diversify into high-return advertising platforms like social media advertising and Google AdWords.
MYTH 2: SOCIAL MEDIA IS FREE
WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! This is one big myth. Many companies think that social media is FREE but this could not be further from the truth. We just talked about low-cost marketing solutions but there is a big difference between low-cost and no-cost. Budget is required for many parts of the social media marketing process — from content production (photography/videography, design, copywriting), to getting reach (advertising), to monitoring/scheduling (human resources). You need to allocate dollars to social media if you want to see success. Companies and influencers are investing big bucks to make their social channels stand out. And by big, we mean 6 to 7 figure big. Potential customers are bombarded with content daily and to stand out in the crowd you will need to look the part. High quality, aesthetically pleasing, useful content is important to potential customers, especially customers you’re finding on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. The days of iPhone photos and no-photo/video posts are over. But don’t worry — we have the tea on how to stand out without breaking the bank!
OUR ADVICE: If you’re just starting out and don’t have budget for professional designers, use a free online design website like CANVA. CANVA provides social templates that will help you create content that looks professional without the price tag of hiring a professional. Before you get started, find some inspiration! Look at social channels you follow personally and figure out what you like about them — Is it their theme? Their copy? Their images? Find out what you like and use that as inspiration. Don’t copy — be original — but why not look at companies doing it right for inspiration? It’s a great place to start. If you have a little bit of budget saved away, consider buying a good camera to start creating your own content. This is more applicable to product/lifestyle businesses vs tech/B2B. Most influencers use a CANNON DSLR or something similar. This is a relatively affordable camera that will give you influencer worthy imagery without hiring a professional photographer. Last piece of advice, for managing your social accounts early on use a free content management tool like HOOTSUITE. With HOOTSUITE you can load up to 3 social accounts for free and schedule posts quickly and easily across all platforms. This is a great way to get started before you start to hire a team.
MYTH 3: SOME MARKETING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING
So we just talked through some common myths surrounding budget which leads us to an interesting myth — some marketing is better than none. Although we would consider this a myth, there is some grey area here. One would typically think that having some advertising, some social, some blogging would be better than nothing right? Not always the case. If you’re out in market with a non-cohesive, sporadic marketing program, you could be giving potential customers the wrong impression. When you’re social is sloppy, your ads are confusing and your media placement is all kinds of wrong, you’re telling customers “We have no idea what we’re doing!”. We assume that’s not the objective. Before you start throwing things into market, its important to have a strategy. Get your ducks in a row. Pick your platforms. And most importantly come up with a media plan/calendar that makes sense for your business. Once you have this, figure out how you’ll create top quality content to serve-up to your customers. The final question you need to ask yourself is who? Who who in your business will manage everything? Planning is critical for making you look like marketing pros. And never forget it!
OUR ADVICE: Plan before you activate. Don’t start your social account, blog or advertising plan without a plan in place that includes your budget, your media calendar and who’s managing what including — content production, buying and management of optimization. And always remember, if you need help, ask for it! There are many amazing freelancers and start-up marketing experts who can offer support during your early days.
[shameless plug — that’s what we do!]
MYTH 4: THE BIGGER YOUR MARKET THE BETTER
Have you ever heard of a niche market? If not, here’s an introduction. Niche markets are a group of people with common characteristics that make them alike with similar tastes, interests and buying behaviours. Focusing your marketing efforts on a small but select group of people is always the best way to build a brand and launch a new product. Find the people who will love it most and build something that they will love and use — and use a lot. If you start too big and broad, you will lose your focus and as a result will dilute your brand. You can’t be all things to all people — yet. Even Amazon started as a company focused on selling books online. Now look where they are! Find your tribe and make them the most loyal tribe around — then scale. Don’t cast a wide net too soon. It never ends well.
OUR ADVICE: Start small, start focused, start targeted. Then scale.
MYTH 5: MORE FUNCTIONALITY IS BETTER
Similar to Myth 4, more is not better. Often founders/creators get so wrapped up in being the best product/service out there that they try and do too much. Doing too much is often worse than doing too little. Offering too much functionality or too many services at too many price points can be confusing to consumers, especially early on. Instead of trying to be the most functional product or one-stop-shop service out there, try doing one thing better than anyone. For example, how did Instagram get so popular so quickly? Simple — it stripped down Facebook to one key thing that customers loved — photo sharing — and did it better. Sometimes being the best at one thing can set you apart from the crowd and get new customers fast.
OUR ADVICE: Simplify. Simplify. And simplify some more. Think about what the simplest version of your product or service is and market the heck out of it. Being the best at one thing will help your dollar stretch further, your customer feel more confident and less confused while also allowing you to focus your marketing efforts on boosting one thing, rather than one million!
MYTH 6: CHEAPER IS ALWAYS BETTER
Enter Apple. Apple is a great example of a company who made a premium price point work and work well. Offering your product for cheaper than your competition is an option however it’s not the only option. Sometimes creating a premium product in what is typically an economy space or creating a new premium category all together is the best course of action. There is almost always a place for a premium product so why not let it be yours. If you have a great product that could work in the premium space, don’t undercut yourself to get more sales. Sometimes more expensive is better. And in all cases, the margins are way juicier.
OUR ADVICE: Be fair in what you charge your customers but don’t think that cheaper is better. There is a very strong demand for premium products in most categories so if you have a premium product in design, quality and service — charge for it!
MYTH 7: YOU NEED A MARKETING TEAM
Having a marketing team is amazing but it’s not always possible nor is it always needed. If you operate in the consumer space, you will eventually want an internal marketing team since consumer products/services are more high maintenance when it comes to marketing needs and management. Do you need one right away? NO. If you operate in the B2B space with less complex marketing needs, you could very easily get away with one Marketing Manager or no marketing person at all provided someone on your team is savvy enough to carry out your social, email and client acquisition needs. Long story short — you don’t need a marketing team to make marketing magic.
OUR ADVICE: Freelancers and agencies are your new best friend. Early-on, rely on freelancers and small, boutique agencies to help you on your marketing journey. These people are subject matter experts so you will get access to the skills you need while keeping project costs low. Companies like CTRINE VENTURES (i.e. US!) provide world-class, affordable marketing for early-stage start-up businesses. We work as an extension of your team and help you reach your business goals fast at a budget that works for you. Check-out our website or send us an email if this sounds like something your business needs[firstname.lastname@example.org]!
Just remember — just because you’re starting out, doesn’t mean you can’t build a legendary marketing program! There are a lot of myths out there but hopefully you’re leaving us more enlightened.
As always, if you have any questions or need more information please leave a comment, send us a DM on Instagram or Facebook (@ctrineventures) or email us! We love hearing from you and love bringing your wildest dreams to life.
CTRINEVENTURES.com || @CTRINEVENTURES || GetStarted@CTRINEVENTURES.com
CTRINE VENTURES is a management consulting group specializing in start-up marketing, funding and project management. We create world-class and affordable marketing programs for start-up and scale-up businesses around the world and then work with our funding network to help take businesses to the next level. CxV partners with true innovators and disruptors across all industries. From Tech to Wellness, we work with the most talented, creative and open-minded hustlers who are exceptionally passionate about their industry, their business and making a real impact. We’re currently accepting new clients. Let’s change the world together!