The One-Person Marketing Plan for Startups

Struggling to devise a marketing strategy as a one-person startup? We’ve compiled the best advice to help you stop making excuses and create that perfect marketing plan for your startup today.

There are well over 22 million one-person businesses in the U.S., and this figure is only expected to grow. Not all startups will get off the ground and become successful – given a staggering 80% of entrepreneurs don’t appreciate the importance of good marketing, that’s hardly surprising. And a large team of marketing professionals is no use, anyway, if you don’t know how to measure their effectiveness.

But if you know marketing is so crucial to your startup’s success and you want to start making progress, how do you find the time, energy and most importantly the resources to market your business well? Some of the most effective marketing doesn’t cost much. You just have to be creative.

Make connections and get referrals

There’s no better marketing than client testimonials and positive reviews. Referral marketing is all about using those crucial connections – be it customers, clients, friends, family or business connections – to promote your services by word of mouth or online.

How does this work? Incentives such as discounts for introducing new customers to you can work, as can encouraging all customers to leave testimonials online. If you have trusted business contacts, see if they can recommend you to colleagues, customers and other businesses. You never know how wide your network is until you start exploiting it.

Make friends with influencers

Similarly to using your connections to your advantage, you should seek out new ones. There are bloggers and other popular influencers who are always looking for new products and businesses to highlight. You could pitch to do a guest blog, or an interview, or see if they would be interested in reviewing your product.

Getting creative and developing your networking skills will help drive traffic back to your own site and, in turn, hopefully turn inquiries into sales.

Identify your place within the market

You need to know who your customer base is, where to target your marketing, and how you compare against the competition already out there. You should know what you’ve got to offer, why it stands out, and why customers should trust you. If you don’t understand your startup’s core messages, you’ll struggle to devise an effective marketing plan.

Think of it this way – if a potential customer called you right now and asked you to describe your product, what’s unique about it, and why exactly this customer should buy from you, how would you answer them? Work that out, and you’re closer to devising a useful marketing plan.

Not sure how to go about finding your target market? Have a look here for some advice.


It’s important to understand what attracts visitors to your site, but also how long they stay on your site, and whether they come back. You want to know if they’re reading your articles all the way to the end, or fading out and never returning. Once you identify trends and problems, you can go about fixing them.

Getting familiar with analytics is critical to building a robust marketing plan – there’s no point running a site if no one stays long or comes back.

Social media

Marketing your business on social media doesn’t cost you anything, but is incredibly effective. Choose platforms like Twitter and Instagram where you can make short, sharp posts advertising your services and highlighting positive reviews. Social media platforms are also a great place for others to showcase your services and leave positive testimonials.

Email marketing

So long as you have a properly-curated list of potential clients and customers to target, email marketing can be incredibly effective. In fact, it has a reliable and very impressive ROI. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t take up much time – just don’t send out multiple emails a day or you’ll send the wrong message to potential clientele.

Aim for crisp, concise emails which highlight your unique selling points, deals and offers, and what your business has to offer.

Content marketing

Similarly as above, don’t underestimate the power of a well-run blog with great visibility and traffic. Engaging content, be it in video or written form, is a great way to make your business more personal and help customers relate to you. And, if you really don’t have the time to run a blog yourself, it’s relatively inexpensive to outsource the work to experienced writers.

Content marketing can involve much more than a blog, but this tried and true content form is a proven lead generator and it can also be used to build your company’s reputation as an industry thought leader.

Market yourself

There’s something particularly appealing about knowing you’re dealing with the person running the show. It’s all well and good spending money on expensive PR managers and a marketing team, but is that who clients really want to meet? Chris Dingman, CEO of The Dingman Group, doesn’t think so – given he went from a one-man startup to CEO of an international brand with offices in the likes of London and Denver, he knows what he’s talking about.

He didn’t spend money on marketing. Instead, his marketing plan is built around clients connecting with him as opposed to just a brand name. It’s not that he didn’t have a marketing strategy – it was just more personal and effective than hiring a large team of marketing experts.

Dig deep to see what you can offer clients. Does your personal story align with your brand, or do you have a special connection to the products you’re selling? It’s time to be resourceful and get brainstorming – key skills for any startup.

Focus on what matters

Ultimately, as a one-person team, you’ll struggle to find the time to implement every marketing idea and suggestion made to you. This is why it’s worth repeating how important it is to know your market. If you know who you’re targeting, and how they are most likely to find your services, you can focus your energy on delivering your business message in the right way.

You don’t need an expensive team to devise a successful marketing plan for your startup. All you need is the patience, resilience, creativity and resourcefulness to build a tailored marketing plan, directing your energy where it’s most effective by ultimately knowing your own business inside out. These are all skills you’re going to need to make your business a success – start capitalizing on them today.

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

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