Creating a tech startup marketing plan for your venture-backed organization helps you stay focused on reaching people who want your product — and providing ROI for your investors. If you don’t have a market that’s willing to buy, your venture stage won’t last long. Follow this nine-step strategy to get your product in front of prospects and turn them into customers.
If you try to market your growth stage tech startup to everyone, you won’t succeed. Market size, wealth, competition, and proposition matter. How many people are in your market? Can they afford your product? Who are your competitors? Why will your product stand out?
Do market research to find the people who have the most to gain from (and can pay for) your tech product. Discover their pain points and how your growth stage startup solves their problems. Creating buyer personas keeps your ideal customers top of mind during marketing activities. Assessing demographics such as age, gender, income, and education helps you relate to their challenges.
Where does your target audience spend time? For example, you don’t want to put effort into Instagram or Facebook if your tech buyers are hanging out on Twitter and LinkedIn. Meet your customers where they are—in life (persona) and online (channel). The more you know about your ideal user, the better you can speak to them at each journey stage.
Remember, you’re building relationships with your tech customers. You don’t just want quick sales. Brand awareness and interest are as crucial as high conversion rates and closed deals. Narrowing down and getting to know your audience allows you to align their needs with your product.
What will success look like for your venture-backed tech startup? First, determine what you want to achieve in the first month, quarter, and year. When you define what success means to your business, you can ensure your team is working toward it.
Setting SMART goals gives your venture stage startup a sense of direction. For example, you may aim for a specific revenue goal in the first quarter. Or maybe you’d like to hit a certain number of subscriptions in the first month. Whatever goals you choose must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This approach is critical for startups where one person may oversee several initiatives.
Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) allows you to measure progress during this all-important growth stage. Monitor metrics essential to your tech startup’s success and review which KPIs matter most as your business grows. Tracking this data from the beginning gives you a baseline to compare with future performance.
Decide how much money you can invest in your tech startup marketing budget. You may not have a lot of funds to spare initially, so settle on a comfortable amount. Then, divide money based on which strategies you believe will be most cost-effective for your business.
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Every product has a story. Knowing the “why” behind your growth stage startup enables you to push that narrative in your marketing campaign efforts. Telling people why you put hard work into creating this new product stirs emotion and generates interest.
How does your product solve customers’ problems? People looking for solutions are willing to spend money to make their lives easier. Therefore, you must explain what your tech does to remove pain points or bring joy. However, keep the loss aversion principle by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in mind. People prefer avoiding loss to gaining benefit.
The tech world grows every day. So how’s your product different from the competition? Create a value proposition that states what makes your tech unique and why it’s the best solution for your target audience. This affirmation will lift your product above the crowd and into the spotlight.
Just as you need to know why your tech works, you also need to understand why it doesn’t. Brainstorm any objections a prospect may have so you can respond. Or better yet, get ahead of any opposition and address concerns early. Use focus groups for feedback on the pros and cons of your product.
Now that you know your product, research the competition. Once you understand why people respond to their tech, you can turn those users toward your venture stage startup.
First, figure out the saturation level in your market. Is there a handful of businesses offering similar tech, or are dozens of startups pushing the same product? This data will help you understand the demand for your tech and the amount of effort it will take for you to break into the market.
Next, identify your major competitors and see what they’re doing to market their tech. What types of content are they creating? Which platforms are they using to push their product? Follow them on social media channels and sign up for their emails to learn their communication strategies.
After you’ve analyzed your main competition’s messaging, pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses. Investigate whether their content is valuable and consistent. See how much people engage with their tech startup on social media. Then, you can focus marketing efforts on replicating what they’re doing well and filling in the gaps where they fall short.
Content marketing is the foundation of inbound marketing for your growth stage startup. Devise a strategy to bring your target audience to your website by providing information they’re already seeking. Types of content include blogs, eBooks, videos, podcasts, infographics, webinars, and newsletters.
Focus on one content type in the beginning based on the format your audience prefers. Ensure the information is beneficial for prospects and meets their needs. For example, you could start a blog that answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about your tech product. Then, nurture readers to view other posts at the end of each article.
Distribute your content on social media and use search engine optimization (SEO) tactics so people can find it. Add keywords that match your prospects’ search intent. This strategy helps search engines find and display your content in search engine results pages (SERPs). Creating high-quality content will help you build authority for your venture stage startup.
Another way to make a name for yourself in the tech world is guest blogging. Ask the owner of a popular blog in your field if you can contribute a post. Once your blog takes off, invite industry influencers to write posts for you. When both parties promote this content, each partner widens their network and drives traffic to their website.
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Your email list—like your website content—is an owned asset you can control. Subscribers give you their personal information because they’re interested in your growth stage startup. Build on these relationships with a strategy that personalizes communication.
Here are some ideas for building your tech company's email list:
Let a prospect download your eBook once they submit their name and email address
Ask a reader to sign up for your newsletter at the end of a blog post
Include an email address field on your “Contact Us” form
Make sure the subscription process is quick and easy to encourage your target audience to sign up.
Once you’ve collected emails, send your tech subscribers personalized content to keep their interest. For example, let them know about discounts you’re offering, share industry news, or pass along other relevant information. However, don’t send your audience too much content. You don’t want to push them to unsubscribe.
Email marketing is an effective way to reach new customers. However, it only works when your audience wants your content. If your tech startup wants to generate brand awareness or go straight into selling, email marketing is not the right strategy. Nurture email subscribers into sales qualified leads (SQLs) with personalization, automation, and testing.
You can use social media for venture stage startups to talk about your brand, distribute relevant content, and produce leads. Use these platforms to reach your target market by offering helpful information. Then, send potential users to your website to explore your solution.
Choose the social media platforms your prospects use most often. Your tech startup doesn’t need to be active on every account if your potential customers only show up on two channels. Instead, find out what people say about your brand and industry on various platforms. Then, use that data to determine where to spend your time and energy.
Use target keywords and hashtags in your social media posts to build communities and get into conversations. Tailor your growth stage startup content to the platform and the audience it serves. For example, LinkedIn users look for thought leadership and actionable tips. Instagram users scroll for pretty pictures and creative captions. Twitter users like tweets that get to the point and cut the fluff.
Collaborate with influencers in the tech industry to grow your audience. Partnering with people who already have a following in your niche is a quick way to get product referrals. Before working with an influencer, evaluate their reach, relevance, and resonance. How many followers do they have? Do those people represent your target audience? How much does the influencer engage with their followers?
Content, email, and social media are long-term marketing tactics. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allows you to generate leads for your venture stage startup right away. Use PPC to gauge your return on investment (ROI) while you’re building content and making connections.
Pick a few keywords that relate the most to your tech product. If you use too many keywords—even if they are relevant—your ads will pop up everywhere, and you won’t be targeting the right people. The goal is to pinpoint prospects interested in your tech and drive them to your site.
Figure out your bidding strategy once you see which keywords work for your growth stage startup. In time, you can get rid of the non-performing keywords and put money towards the ones that get results. If your preferred keywords are also someone else’s, you may have to bid higher than you’d like to stay competitive.
Track and monitor your PPC campaign results daily to stay updated on the data. Not only do search behaviors change, but other tech startups could outbid you. Plus, new competitors may come into the market and shake things up. So be on the lookout for metric changes such as placement, click-through rate, and cost.
"Applying a Growth Mindset to Growth Marketing"
A public relations (PR) campaign is ideal for a venture stage startup. People love talking about the latest technology, and word of mouth can go a long way. This strategy can help your company build authority and establish credibility in the industry.
Come up with positioning statements for your tech startup. Include what your product is, how it will affect others, and who will care about it. Follow this example from Amazon. “For consumers who want to purchase a wide range of products online with quick delivery, Amazon provides a one-stop online shopping site. Amazon sets itself apart from other online retailers with its customer obsession, passion for innovation, and commitment to operational excellence.”
Create a press kit with a media advisory, company logos, product screenshots, and founder biographies and photos. The advisory should include your positioning statements and a summary of your growth stage startup. Ensure your press kit is engaging, concise, and accessible with tools such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
Interact with journalists before pushing your tech startup to determine which writers are the best fit. Then, talk to them on social media, and leave comments on their content. If you make friends with journalists before asking them for anything, they’ll be more likely to accept your product pitches in the future.
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O8 has experience and expertise in marketing for tech startups and meeting growth demands.