We recently released EpicBeat Plus, a significant upgrade over EpicBeat. The last few months have been crucial in making EpicBeat Plus happen. They’ve been filled with long days and longer nights of endless testing, unexpected bug fixes and last minute changes. But it’s this constant flurry of activity that makes life at a startup so exciting. There is an inexplicable thrill in not knowing what’s coming your way or how you’re going to deal with it.

When it comes to startup marketing, you often end up balancing limited resources and multiple to-do’s. You face organizations with big budgets and large editorial teams on one side and an audience that has more content options at its disposal than it has time to consume, on the other.

There are countless problems that these challenges translate to: identifying ideal topics, figuring out how to manage creation and promotion, deciding how to split the bill between what to allocate and where. However, most startup marketing problems stem from some basic issues.

The Problem Of Incorrect Comparisons

“But <insert any popular B2C brand> has a million followers. Why can’t we get the same social media numbers for our encryption software and data protection company?”

What is the problem: Different metrics matter to different businesses. While it’s true that Marketing is all about grabbing eyeballs, gathering potential leads, conversions and growth, it’s important to understand that different things matter to different audiences. Nike has an active presence on Instagram. But if you’re selling automobile components, it’s unlikely that following the same strategy as Nike’s on Instagram would get you similar results.

What you can do: Instead of arbitrarily comparing your brand with another well marketed brand in an unrelated industry, you need to identify others like you in the same industry and find out how they communicate with their audience.

Some questions you need to ask:

  • How is my competition reaching out to the audience and what’s working for them?
  • How do I use content to position my product in a way that trumps my competitors and makes me the best option in my category?

When you start looking at relevant players in your own industry, you not only have a better comparison for success, but also discover ideas that can feed back into your own content plan.

The Stage Of The Company

“I need to sign up customers. Right now, all I can think about is selling.”

What is the problem: When you’re starting off with a new venture, there are a thousand things that take precedence over marketing. ‘Sales’ looms over everything else as the most important thing and often becomes the only metric you’re running after. Often with good reason.

The need for having a content strategy becomes apparent only after the necessity of content becomes real enough to be a potent problem. Simply put, when you have no content, you have no content problems.

What you can do: What marketers fail to realise (me included) is that establishing yourself as a credible opinion leader in your segment isn’t something that comes overnight. Building a coveted reader base that looks up to you for ideas takes time and constant effort. It doesn’t matter if you produce one relevant piece of content or ten. It doesn’t matter if you actively engage on one network or on five. What really matters is ensuring that you’re saying something of value, whenever or wherever you say it.

Some questions you need to ask:

  • What all qualifies as content?
  • What is my audience looking for?
  • How can I fuse my product with the kind of content that my audience needs?

The need for content is no longer a ‘yes or no’ question. The only question, if there is one, is when?

The Problem Of Plenty

“Something about the Super Bowl?”

“Or maybe Beyonce’s latest video?”

“Oh, I hear Snapchat is big nowadays.”

Brainwave! “How about discussing Beyonce’s Super Bowl performances on Snapchat?!”

Facepalm.

What is the problem: Facebook, Twitter and the league of social networks provide a constant stream of trending topics that you can potentially capitalise on. Add to that the trustworthy instinct of a seasoned marketer and what you have on your hands is a problem of abundance, not of scarcity. Hardly any marketer is clueless about what to say. Rather, the problem is that there are too many ideas and opportunities that present themselves. 

What you need to do: While it makes sense to track trends across social networks, identifying the appropriate ones that can be extended to your own brand depends on using the right tools that can guide the process. Data can help fine tune the process of creativity in a way that interjects brands in relevant conversations without appearing forced.

Some questions you need to ask:

  • Where is my audience and what are they talking about?
  • Which topics are relevant to me and my industry?

Inability To Link Marketing Activities To ROI

“Whodunnit?”

Top 4 Challenges Of Startup Marketing And Their Solutions_image

What is the problem:  One of the oft-repeated challenges faced by marketers, is the inability to categorically link marketing activities to outcome. The problem here lies in an inability to understand these activities in tandem with each other. Each activity is measured in separate silos without understanding how they blend into each other. When product, marketing and sales function as three distinct buckets with limited overlap, you end up measuring some aspects twice while others don’t get measured at all.

What you need to do:  The inability to track marketing activities to its final outcome is a myth. Content, once created, crosses multiple measureable touch points where performance can be recorded and analysed. The level of engagement generated by a piece of content or the number of downloads for an ebook indicate how well received it was by the audience. The number of visitors to your website from your blog and finally the number of website visitors that became potential leads and later translated to actual customers can be tracked using tools that draw a line between content creation, level of engagement and content conversion.

Some questions you need to ask:

  • Is my content getting read and/or downloaded?
  • How many of the visitors on my blog ended up visiting my website?
  • How much of my content is awareness related and how much focusses on lead generation?
  • How can I measure my content objectives against their performance?

 

This list doesn’t capture all the challenges that come with marketing at a startup. We believe that such a conclusive list is impossible to create because of the dynamism that is unique to startups. Every startup is fraught with its own challenges and this is all the more true when it comes to startup marketing. What we’ve tried to do is to initiate a discussion about the fundamental issues that are common to all startups in the early leg of their journey. What are some of the challenges that keep you up at night and how do you deal with them? Let us know @epictions on Twitter.

 

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