Startup Marketing

Startup Marketing: Foundation | Part 1

Kennie Christiansen Online Marketing, SEO, Startup Marketing

Your Pro SEO has constructed a four part series on “Startup Marketing” to help you make the best marketing decisions for your new venture. Below is Part 1: Foundation | Startup Marketing.

Starting a business is a unique experience, highest highs and lowest lows. Unfortunately, the “build it and they will come” mantra doesn’t hold much weight and those overnight success stories you hear about are often forgetting to include the part where there were years of hard work. Having been approached by many startups in the last year, it can be difficult for them to gain effective marketing. Lack of a marketing budget, resources, and knowing what works for them pose all sort of hurdles to overcome.

You have to be sure every effort, no matter how small, is well-planned and flawlessly executed. And to make it even more difficult, the traditional marketing strategies don’t always work, in-fact they rarely do.

Startup marketing is a whole different animal. How so? The secret is properly combining the right channels: Content Marketing and PR.



Before you start building your plan, you need a solid foundation. A successful startup marketing strategy follows that same principle. Before you jump into marketing your startup, make sure you have the following bases covered.

1. Choosing a Target Market

It’s easy for startup founders to believe the whole world will love their products, trust me I have fallen for that. After all, us founders eat, sleep and breathe their products. If I were to see a doctor I am rather sure I would get diagnosed with a sever case of OCD for my startups. The reality is that only a small portion of the population is interested in your product, a very small portion.

If you try to market your startup to everyone, you waste both time and money and it drain you emotionally. The key is to identify a niche target market and go after market share aggressively, like a tiger.

How do you choose a market? There are four main factors to consider:

  1. Market Size – Are you targeting a regional demographic? Male? Children? Know exactly how many potential customers are in your target market.
  2. Market Wealth – Does this market have the money to spend on your product?
  3. Market Competition – Is the market saturated? As in, are their many competitors?
  4. Value Proposition – Is your value proposition unique enough to cut thru the noise?

2. Defining Keywords

Now the SEO comes into play! With a clearly defined market, you can begin building a keyword list. You’ll use the keyword list primarily for blogging, social media and your main marketing site. Essentially, you want to build a list of words or phrases that are highly relevant to your brand or company oferings. Ask yourself this: What would someone type into Google to find your startup’s website?

Start with a core keyword list. This is a list of three to five keywords that completely summarize what your startup does. For example, Apple’s core keyword list is: iPhone, Mac and iPod. Your core keyword list should be based on your value proposition. What is it that you’re offering customers?

Tip: Your core keywords make excellent blog categories.

Now you’ll want to expand your core keyword list to include secondary keywords. Secondary keywords are more specific. Using Apple as a continuing example: iPod Mini, iTouch, iPhone 6+, Mac Pro, and other secondary items the company uses to define themselves.

Use an SEO firm to identify the competition for your markets keywords. Your Pro SEO is able to identify the most efficient keywords to capture the most traffic for the smallest amount of time and money. The best keywords found through our SEO firm will be identified by low competition and high traffic. In other words, a lot of people are searching for them, but few results are displayed.

3. Defining Success

Success is different for every startup. Maybe success is 300 new signups per month for Startup A while Startup B thinks success is $20,000 in revenue per month. Whatever your idea of success may be, define it early and define it rigidly. This is especially important if you are working with an SEO firm, we SEO guys are goal oriented and we want to know what you are expecting so we can provide that level of service and you will pay only for that level of servie. Write it down or send it to the entire team. Just make sure everyone you’re working with knows your definition of success and is prepared to work towards it.

Be sure to stay consistent. It doesn’t matter if you’re defining success by signups, revenue, profit or anything else you can think of. What does matter is that it’s tied to real growth and that it’s measured the same way each month. For example, don’t define success as 300 new signups one month and then $20,000 in revenue the next. Pick one style and don’t stray, you’ll lose your vision.

4. Setting Core Metrics

Just as you shouldn’t indulge vanity success, you shouldn’t indulge vanity metrics. While vanity metrics are appealing, if only to your ego, they are useless. They are not tied to real growth, meaning you won’t know if your startup is a roaring success or total flop until it’s far too late.

Tip: Record baseline metrics right away so you can easily determine your growth.

5. Estimating a Conversion Rate

The next step is to assign conversion rates and values. Consider newsletter signups, for example. 100 new newsletter signups per month could be incredible growth if your conversion rate is 20%. That is, if 20% of your newsletter subscribers become paying customers. If your conversion rate is closer to 1%, those 100 newsletter signups might be insignificant.

Estimate (based on historical data) your lead conversion rate. Now do the same to estimate the lifetime value of a customer. If you know how many of your leads convert and how much those conversions generate for your startup, you can assign values to goal completions like newsletter signups. $2,500 per month from your newsletter is a lot more indicative of success than 100 new newsletter signups.

6. Setting a Budget

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the money. How much can you afford to spend on your startup marketing strategy? Remember that while inbound marketing leads cost 61% less than outbound marketing leads, they are not free. Set a budget early in the game and accept that limitation.

“57% of startup marketing managers are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis.”

More importantly, carefully plan how you intend to divide that budget. Maybe your blog has been your most powerful tool to date and you want to invest 40% of the budget on it. Or maybe you want to spend 35% of the budget to develop a new eBook or online course. Just be sure you have the logistics settled before you start spending (or you might just lose your hat).


This has been Part 1 of a 4 part series. Next we will discuss how to use Social Media in your startup strategy.