Startup Marketing – 6 factors for a smart marketing strategy

If you’re working for a startup, you probably don’t have a big budget to implement your marketing strategy. Money is tight and that’s why you need to be smart about how you are spending it.

Here are 6 factors you should take into account for a smart marketing strategy:

1. Customer Retention over Customer Acquisition

Every time you get a new customer – oh, such a rush!

It’s vital to earn more and more customers each month, but before you get all excited looking at the numbers you need to also check your retention rates.

What’s the point of getting new customers if a high percentage of them don’t come back the next month?

Just as you have a new customer acquisition strategy in place you need to leverage a great retention strategy as well.


Because it’s 5-25x less expensive to keep a customer than to acquire a new one.

That’s the reason Slack has 5x more customer support representatives than salespeople (source).

Learn how to use email marketing to boost renewals and scale your business.

Here are 14 customer retention strategies via HubSpot:

  • Inspire with a mission;
  • Empower customers with convenience;
  • Leverage personalization;
  • Speak to your customers;
  • Use gamification and referral programs;
  • Create a divide between you and your competitors;
  • Use subscriptions to bolster the experience;
  • Use experiences to elicit positive feelings;
  • Capitalize on social proof;
  • Educate your customers;
  • Surprise and delight;
  • Offer support on the right platforms;
  • Thank your customers;
  • Apologize when you make mistakes.


2. Go bold & unconventional with your marketing campaigns

Remember the 2018 Skittles Super Bowl ad?

Here it is to refresh your memory:

It’s bold and unconventional for sure, but also a little weird and bizarre, but Skittles was able to pull this off because, well, it’s Skittles.

If this is not your usual cup of tea, here are other bold and unconventional marketing campaigns from Burger King, One Strange Rock and UK’SHONA KWELANGA.

What is psychographics?

How to design such creative marketing campaigns?

  • Always have your customer’s psychographics in mind as a starting point.
  • Gather in-depth knowledge of your customer’s pain points, problems and struggles.
  • Open your mind to other forms of creativity.

Go outside the boundaries of your industry or your comfort zone and observe how other artists express their art.

Art is nothing but another tool for self-expression and communication with the audience.

Visit art galleries, observe contemporary art installations, learn about innovative architecture, graphic design and illustration.

You can start with Abstract, a Netflix original documentary series highlighting artists in the field of design.

3. Plan for consistency

Interest is shown in effort; talk is supported by actions and trust is earned in consistency.

D Young

A little delivered consistently over a long period of time goes a lot further than a one time hit and run campaign.

Go back to the drawing board and write your marketing plan for the next year. It’s a difficult task because it requires sustained focus and attention but it will be worth the effort.

Another popular saying is “consistency always leads to excellence”. It also leads to refinement of the product (ie: marketing plan), improved communication skills, it builds your reputation and increases brand awareness.

consistency (2)-min

4. Share your journey with your tribe

Growing your startup is a journey, and like any other journey, it has ups and downs.

Share your journey with your fanbase! Don’t create content, document your journey as Gary Vee touted a few years back.

Sharing your startup’s highlights with your fanbase encourages engagement and increases brand awareness.

Celebrate your achievements together and show them your failures – they will be happy to encourage and support you.

People want to cheer for the startup they love or support. They want to feel connected with the team behind the startup. And you want the same because engagement and support lead to sales.

In his book, ‘Marketing Rebellion’, Mark Schaefer tells the story of how Procter&Gamble lost a huge chunk of market share for Ivory, the brand’s signature soap while spending millions of dollars on marketing and advertising.


Because the brand failed to make an emotional connection with its customer base.

Other soap suppliers run small operations or family businesses and yet they are able to connect with their customers by sharing their mission, their involvement in the community, their efforts to be a sustainable business.

This is what today’s customer says: “I don’t know if I love this brand, but I love the hands that made it.”

It’s about finding your tribe and keeping a close and authentic relationship with it like Seth Godin says in his book ‘Tribes’:

Two different things: a crowd is a tribe without a leader. A crowd is a tribe without communication. Most organizations spend their time marketing to the crowd. Smart organizations assemble the tribe.

Seth Godin


5. Blog about your journey

Blogging is good for SEO. Google loves fresh content that is relevant to your audience.

Question is: should you use blogging platforms like Medium or should you self-host your blog?

If you are just starting out, writing on Medium could be the best solution for your startup.

No inspiration? Here is when and what to blog about.

Here is the main advantage: Medium has a higher domain authority than your website could ever achieve which means Google will return articles published on Medium before your website content.

A good example is Slack: they hosted the company blog on Medium before moving it on their domain.

Pros and cons: Medium vs Self-Hosted Blog

Another platform you should consider as a startup founder is Indie Hackers. I found out about this platform from Rand Fishkin who talked about it in one of his LinkedIn posts.

Give it a go and also take into account that you can also sign up to be interviewed.


6. Connect with your fans and early adopters in real life

There’s nothing more important than human connection: we crave it, it keeps us sane, it improves our life quality and even our lifespan.

Make it a goal to connect with your fanbase, prospects and customers on a regular basis. Ask a few well-thought questions (avoid an interrogation!) and listen to what they have to say.

Connecting with your fans and customers reflects positively on your personal brand and it’s a great way to raise awareness, build engagement and trust.

It’s also a source of inspiration, new ideas for the business or marketing efforts.

And it comes at the price of a cup of coffee so what are you waiting for?


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