Marketing is an indispensable activity within any company. In the early days of your start-up, you’ll probably be acting out of turn, but sooner or later you’ll do well to draw up a strategy. Your marketing strategy is the roadmap that shapes your efforts.

When you start promoting your product or service, your strategy provides a clear direction. In addition, the marketing strategy forms a solid basis to fall back on later if you get a bit lost. In this post, we’ll discuss why a marketing strategy pays off.

First and foremost, one thing must be clear: what value does your company offer your customers and end users? Every marketing decision you make should be in line with this so-called value proposition. Consistently incorporate the value you offer into your marketing communications: in your slogan, in your pitch, in the body of your website, in the content of your blog, on your flyers and banners, etc.

Tip: if you get lost: start with ‘why’. You’ve probably heard of Simon Sinek‘s Golden Circle. According to Sinek, everything you do should start from the why: why do you do what you do? This is the part of your marketing story that encourages people to take action (read: buy your product). After that, it’s interesting to zoom in on how you’re going to do that. What does your process look like? Finally, the what: what is your product?

Before you start brainstorming about which marketing strategy is best for your start-up, you need to make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. This way you can monitoryour progress.
Provide baseline measurements so you have a reference to measure against later. Make sure you don’t
vanity metrics
keep an eye on it. These are numbers that have no effect on your baseline but just look good, like Facebook likes for example.

Choose the appropriate tools for your strategy.

Setting goals and measuring your efforts is important, but you can only do that if you use the right tools. For example, install Google Analytics to measure your website traffic.
If you want to optimize the user experience on your website, work with Hotjar for example. If you want to track the marketing impact on sales, use a tool like Pipedrive, Salesforce, Zoho, Insightly, or even more elaborate: Hubspot! There are also numerous dashboard apps like Geckboard and Klipfolio, that show all your data across channels at a glance.

Because your company and your team are often small in the beginning, you’ll still have a noticeable impact on your marketing efforts and you’ll also notice the cross-pollination between your different departments more readily. In large companies, the CEO is often miles away from the marketing department and Product and Sales are also often unaware of which campaigns are currently running. In a start-up you are more often on the same page, which has a noticeable effect on your marketing efforts.

Map out which channels are relevant. Choose the marketing mix that best suits your business, because although the possibilities are endless, your budget is rather limited.

Are you going full on content marketing with your blog, do you want to create buzz by setting up a PR strategy and scoring interviews, are you going for the flexibility of advertising on Google, do you prefer the brand awareness of events or the trust of partnerships?

And if you opt for social media marketing, does your start-up fit better on Pinterest or on LinkedIn? The possibilities are endless, so a little preliminary research is not a bad idea!

An interesting criterion for deciding which resources to use is of course the budget. As a start-up or scale-up you don’t have huge marketing budgets, even if you have raised funding. Therefore, it is recommended that you focus on the resources that are a bit cheaper or free in the beginning . TV ads and radio spots are often excluded. If you do want to go for the more expensive channels, focus your budget there so your ROI is worth it.

Marketing is trial and error

Your marketing plan will obviously not look like McDonalds or UniLever’s, keep that in mind when you choose your channels. Experimentation is allowed, but after a while your experiments have to bring in money. Your runway (if you have one at all) is considerably shorter than at large companies. When you notice something isn’t working, you need to quickly shift up a gear and/or adjust your strategy. Note: remember that certain things like building a community or content strategy are not short term wins . These are things that you have to put a lot of time into and they only pay off in the long run. Realize that before you get into it, and make sure you have enough other outlets in your marketing mix to keep the pennies rolling in.

Schedule your analysis moments in time. Remember here: the more you can measure, the more you can adjust and improve! Keep a close eye on the percentage of your trial customers who buy, on the number of visitors to the website who actually order, on the number of blog readers who subscribe to the newsletter, and on the number of newsletter readers who in turn visit the website again, … Because to measure is to know!

Finally, it can be helpful to keep an eye on the competition!
But beware : competition is not always competition. Be open to partnerships with similar products or services. One less enemy is one more friend. Also, don’t be afraid to encourage victories by competitors.

If another start-up makes it into the mainstream media, raises investments or wins a great partnership, it often paves the way for your start-up.

If other start-ups or scale-ups can do it, why not you?

Don’t be put off by all of the above, you’re not alone after all. Indeed, start-ups can often benefit from free support and advice. Large companies and experienced mentors are only too happy to take a start-up under their wings. They often do this to get the start-up mentality into their own business.

You as a start-up get things in return that are worth a lot, such as office space, advertising opportunities on various media and advice. The government also supports start-ups. For example, you can apply for FIT grants that will come in handy to make your marketing mix, for example, to have your website translated into English. Incubator and accelerator programs can also help you on your way.

Whatever you do, remember above all that a marketing strategy is not static: it moves and has to evolve with your product, your team, the industry and current trends. So spend enough time on it, but keep in mind that the strategy should be evaluated regularly.