As a startup, it is imperative to get the word out to potential customers about your product or service in order to grow the business and bring it to scale. Marketing plays a critical role in helping a brand be known. The dilemma lies in the fact that many young companies have a limited or nonexistent marketing budget. Regardless, spending money on marketing and advertising is a long term strategy that takes time to build. Yet, it is the key to amplifying your message and positioning your brand in front of new audiences and potential investors. Therefore, when creating a marketing budget for a startup, these six factors that need to be considered:
Branding is the first impression of your business. Carefully planning the design and having it produced for materials such as brochures, flyers, and business cards will require a portion of your budget. However, branding is more than just a logo, it is the core of the company and defines the entire customer experience including a startup's website, social media channels, and staff. All of these elements will have an impact on the business, therefore anticipating these types of expenses in advance will make the road to market share less challenging.
Social Media Marketing
While social media is meant to be free, paying for ads on either Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn can significantly drive traffic to a startup's website. A startup's social media channels act as the face of the company and are the first things customers encounter when searching for a business online. As a startup, you want to reach as many people as possible in order to gain awareness of the brand. This is key because people tend to purchase from companies with whom they are familiar. It is crucial startups build a community on social media but this is a gradual process that takes time, which is why startups must view social media marketing as an investment and spend wisely in order to maximize the return.
Google Ads and Traditional Advertising
Oftentimes, customers have a clear picture of what they want when searching on Google or other search engines. For example, Google AdWords can get a startup's name directly in front of consumers at a critical time in the buying process—when they are searching for information on a particular product or service and evaluating the options available. Investing a portion of your budget for Google ads can pay off immensely in traffic and brand awareness. The same can be said about traditional advertising, which can create media buzz that leads to increased visibility for the brand—the ultimate goal for any company
Potential customers and investors will perform digital due diligence before they decide to work with a start-up. This is the reason your web site and social media pages need to shine and be updated regularly with high-quality content. Last year, Google introduced a new formula to its search results page that prioritizes websites that are mobile responsive. According to comScore, 199 million people own smartphones, and Google Search is the fifth most popular app used on these phones (50.2 percent, behind Facebook, Facebook Messenger, YouTube and Google Play). Today, websites need to be designed with the mobile user in mind or risk being buried in search results, which could mean lost sales.
Events including conferences and expos present a networking opportunity for many startups seeking to reach a large pool of customers and investors. The access to experts, insiders and press can be a tremendous investment. Yet, events need to be chosen cautiously since it can eat a large chunk of a startup's marketing budget. It is wise to have a strong tactical plan for events that includes scheduled meetings with customers or investors to create an opportunity for maximum exposure.
Setting Specific Goals
A startup must define the goals it wants to achieve and how much it will cost to achieve them. Spending without a clear strategy is a recipe for disaster. However, startups should always build a cushion into their budget because things may not go 100 percent as planned. Your measures should align with your plan and your plan should change as you evaluate their effectiveness.
There are a multitude of platforms and marketing techniques a startup can utilize to push awareness for its product or service. However, the key is to remain within budget no matter the route taken with marketing efforts.