Step Away from the Marketing Candy

So imagine that the latest rom-com/action/thriller has just hit cinemas and it’s a film you’re dying to see. You get your crew, book your tickets and prepare for night of laughter, tears or non-stop thrill.

You show up and head straight for the pick-n-mix. You grab some gummy bears and some cola bottles and of course a few giant strawberries but as you’re bag starts to fill you think “do I really need all of this?”. Everyone else has bags filled with sweets so you think “whatever” and happily buy them. Halfway through the movie you realise that you’ve made a terrible mistake following the crowd and you now have a massive stomach ache.

Weirdly, everyone else around you who stuffed those sweets into their bags seems fine. Everyone else did it so it must be the best strategy for candy eating right? Everyone else has blah-blah-blah in their marketing mix so it must be the best thing for my business right?

Wanting to do (or eat) everything at once without considering what’s best for you and your business is a sure-fire way to bite off more than you can chew. You want to be on every social channel, have a blog post a day, work with multiple influencers and create videos by the dozen? The one thing you’ve missed while in this sugar high (see what I did there?) is considering your audience. Where are they? Are they on Twitter? Are they reading blogs? Do they listen to influencers? If not, why are you spending valuable time and resources especially as a startup with limited funds?

One of the most important parts of building a marketing plan is understanding your audience. Do the research, talk to existing clients and look at what your competitors are doing. Do NOT dive right in and create an account on every social channel while simultaneously publishing a blog post on whatever you feel like writing. Inconsistency is the leading cause of marketing strategy deaths in all of the UK - hell, all of the world. Step away from that publish button and think about the following first:

  • Where does my target audience hang out? Are they more likely to enjoy a blog post or perhaps an image posted on Instagram? What type of results has similar content achieved? Hint...Buzzsumo has a free version and it’s your best friend as of right now!
  • What can I keep up with? Don’t fall victim to the many blog funerals we’ve had to have on account of neglect. Remember that consistency is key and you want to create an expectation for your audience - if you start by posting once a week, make sure you can keep up even once you scale. Cuppa SEO say that once you start publishing blog posts inconsistently, your “blogging muscles” get weak. Keep your blog game strong and steady!
  • Use data, use data, use data. Marketers has been given the gift of sight in the last few years which means there is no reason to do anything within your marketing plan without some metrics to back it up. Whether they be internal metrics or research from the industry, don’t just do something because “you feel it will work” - it’s great to be creative but do yourself a favour by starting off with a set of beautiful kpi’s to ensure success or learnings are measured.
  • Leverage the free stuff. Along with understanding where your target audience is, another thing to consider is cost. Another mistake I see startups making is they plunge into PPC and social adverts like they are magic beans that will propel their business into the beanstalk of success. The truth is, paid advertising can be expensive and time consuming and for a newly launched startup, you’ll likely need to keep the investment low. Why not start with the free stuff? I’m talking about social media, blogging and attending startup events (you can find a ton of free ones on Eventbrite!). As long as you can A) be consistent and B) come up with engaging and exciting content - the world is your oyster.  
  • Your story is unique...do it justice. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard someone describe their business as “a solution for finance” or “transportation technology”. What was Chandler Bing’s job again? Oh right - no one knows because it was so boringly described we tuned out after the second word. Talk about your business with the same gusto you’d describe your last holiday - give it some energy, some excitement and a little allure so you’re not just another solution in a world of “solutions”. Hint: your story = your brand
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Building a marketing strategy can be a daunting task and it’s likely that that there will be many iterations but keeping in mind that marketing isn’t ‘one size fits all’ will help you to come up with creative, data-driven and consistent strategies that can help you create a community of engaged and loyal customers who can’t wait to get your next monthly newsletter!

Remember, a taste of everything will only lead you towards a massive stomach ache.