The One-Person Marketing Plan for Startups

If you’re researching how to market your business, odds are you’re finding lots of information about marketing plans that require big teams and equally big budgets. But as a startup founder, you know neither of those are realistic for your brand.

Well, it ain’t easy going it alone — that’s for sure. But it’s not impossible. And if you’ve already launched a startup, you’re no stranger to making things happen.

We’re here to tell you that marketing your startup brand is no different. In fact, one-person startup marketing plans can be more authentic, personalized, and effective than big-budget strategies that cast a wide net with no real connection to the audience they’re trying to capture.

Quick Takeaways

  • Successful entrepreneurs don’t over-worry about the limited resource dilemma, they focus on making the most out of what they do have.
  • Establishing a strong digital presence that builds brand credibility is key.
  • Social media provides an important direct channel for customer engagement.
  • Customer reviews and referrals are essential to building consumer trust.
  • One-person startup marketing plans require a growth mindset and focus on measuring goals and metrics.

The One-Person Startup Marketing Dilemma

No matter how motivated you are (and you’re an entrepreneur, so we know you’re motivated), startup marketers have a common dilemma: limited resources. Human, financial, you name it — startups are typically doing a lot with a little, at least in the beginning.

So how do you make it work without the cash and the people larger companies have to implement their marketing plans? You’ve got to make the most of what you do have. With the right approach, your startup’s resource dilemma can be what inspires you to find creative ways to successfully reach your customers and build your brand.

Establish Your Presence

First thing’s first — you’ve got to get established on the market. Your website is the most important contributor to your brand’s credible digital presence, and your digital presence is the key to building brand awareness and a customer base.

Website is most important contributor to a brand’s online credibility

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Remember, your website is the main place you’ll drive inquiries, search traffic, and social media followers to learn more about what your company does, so it should be a compelling and accurate representation of your brand. Your website should provide the look, feel, and message you want your potential customers to receive when they’re considering your brand.

To get your website up and running, you’ll need to:

  • Choose a web host and content management system (WordPress is a top choice for startups and small businesses, but there are lots of options out there)
  • Pick a domain name that is easy to remember and spell (use the KISS rule — keep it simple… okay, the KIS rule)
  • Be sure your design aesthetic aligns with your brand vision. Many CMS systems have templates you can start with, but when you can, work with a professional designer to really make your website shine visually.
  • Make your content concise, compelling, and customer-focused. People only read about 20% of the content they see on any given page, so make your most important messages easy to see, use clear calls to action that tell your customers how to connect with you, and enhance your web content with images and videos to make it more memorable.

Get Active on Social Media

Social media is the next step to getting your brand established online, and the best way to directly engage with your customers.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to social media marketing; platforms have different capabilities and user demographics, and while it’s good to have a multi-platform presence, you don’t have to utilize every single one just because it exists.

When you’re creating your social media strategy, think about:

  • Who your customer is and which platforms they use
  • The kinds of content you’ll create and which platforms support it best
  • Creating easy-to-remember handles that include your brand name
  • How you’ll manage your posting schedule and measure engagement

Creating a content calendar is important because it helps you manage and balance the timing, topics, and tasks involved with keeping your social media active. There are several useful (and affordable!) software tools you can use that automate posting and track both post and platform engagement metrics.

Remember, too, that it’s always better to do a few platforms well than every platform poorly. A good best practice is to start small and scale up. Focus first on the platforms that best serve your brands and your customers, then build out your schedule and content as it’s manageable.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you decide which platforms to start with:

Alt-Text: Social media platform comparison

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Create Great Content

Content marketing is the most effective way to build an online audience for your brand. When you create good content on a consistent basis, you drive organic traffic to your website and establish your brand as an expert and thought leader.

It’s also cost-effective; on average, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional paid advertising channels while generating 3x as many leads.

It’s important to remember that content marketing is different from plain old content: it is totally customer-focused and addresses topics, questions, and needs related to your brand that your customers care about.

Here’s what to keep in mind when you’re developing a content marketing strategy:

  • Your blog should not be the only part of your content marketing strategy. It involves a comprehensive sharing strategy through multiple digital channels like video, social media, and email.
  • Consistency is key; just like with social media, managing your content topics and publishing schedule with a content calendar will help you stay on track.
  • Use SEO to optimize your content for search engine traffic; 93% of all online experiences start with search engines. When people search for products and services like the ones you offer, you want your brand to appear at the top of the list.

Content marketing has impactful benefits that can truly transform your brand reputation and position in the market.

It builds consumer trust, perhaps the most important contributor to customer conversion. It also creates a snowball effect; once you begin to build a library of valuable content, your brand presence gets bigger and your content serves as a foundation for its own growth.

Leverage Reviews and Referrals

Speaking of consumer trust, let’s talk about the #1 most powerful tool for establishing it: customer reviews and referrals. 94% of people say they would recommend a brand after rating their experience as “very good,” and 93% say they read reviews before making a purchase.

Positive reviews and referrals also go a long way in establishing credibility for a startup just beginning to build its customer base and reputation.

Here’s how you can leverage reviews and referrals:

  • Ask for reviews from your customers; 68% of people say they’re willing to provide a review or testimonial when asked.
  • Make reviews and testimonials on your website, especially on product or services pages.
  • Ask customers to add reviews right to your social media channels so others can see them.
  • Write case studies and feature stories on your website to showcase real examples of how your brand gets results.
  • Reward customers for recommending your brand with referral incentives like discounts on future purchases.

Have a Growth Hacker Mindset

Growth hacking is a concept invented by startup founders who needed to rapidly grow their businesses on limited budgets. In short, growth hackers continually seek out opportunities and look for tricks that help their businesses grow.

Here’s where growth hackers focus:

  • SEO optimization – Google’s algorithms change often, and growth hackers stay up to date on how to keep their content SEO optimized.
  • Viral content – It’s hard to predict what exactly will make a piece of content go viral, but growth hackers are in the know about social trends and work to give their content its best chance at virality.
  • Data analytics – Data analysis gives you an objective story on how your content is performing. It tells you what’s working, what’s not, and where small adjustments might make a big impact.
  • Innovative ideas – Growth hackers aren’t afraid to experiment, get creative, or be the first to try new strategies and tactics.
  • Goals and metrics – The key to evaluating your marketing plan’s success is establishing what success looks like using measurable goals and metrics.

Most of all, growth hacking requires continual agility and adjustment. Here’s how Dropbox made a small growth-hacker tweak to their revenue model that yielded big results.

Measure Your Success

Let’s expand on that final growth hacker focus area: goals and metrics.

One of the essential strategies behind one-person startup marketing plans is continually knowing what’s working and what’s not. To do that, you need ways to measure your success, which requires establishing what success means for your brand.

Here’s where to focus:

  • Website traffic and engagement – These aren’t one in the same. Traffic is how well you’re getting people to click your links and arrive at your content. You can measure it by number of page views, click rates, and unique visitors to your site.

Engagement is how much your web visitors are truly interacting with your content (i.e. how long they’re staying on your site, duration of page or video views, number of pages viewed during a website visit, etc.).

  • Social media engagement – Look at metrics like number of followers, rate of follower growth, and average post engagement to understand how well your social media strategy is working.
  • Resource allocation – The saying is true: time is money when it comes to growing your startup. Be aware of where you’re allocating your time and financial resources, and be sure those strategies are getting ROI that justifies both.
  • Leads, conversions, and sales – Ultimately, the goal of every marketing plan is to acquire customers and increase revenue. Set benchmark goals for lead generation, conversion rates, and sales, then understand how each of your marketing strategies contributes.

Doing so helps you pinpoint where there might be gaps you need to address in your customer journey. For example, if you’re generating many leads but your conversion rate remains low, you know your top-of-the-funnel tactics are working but your conversion strategy needs adjustment.

Main Takeaway Recap

Remember: running a one-man ship is no easy undertaking, but with intentional strategy and focus it’s absolutely possible to do successfully.

When you’re launching your one-person startup marketing plan:

  • Don’t be discouraged by limited resources; instead, remain dedicated to making the most out of what you do have.
  • Establish your web presence with a high-quality website and create great content that snowballs to yield bigger and bigger results.
  • Know which social media platforms are best for your business. Then, start small and scale up as you’re able.
  • Have a growth hacker mindset and continually measure results. Don’t just implement strategies and hope they’ll work — be proactive in finding opportunities, be accountable, and stay agile to make adjustments when needed.

If you’re ready to implement a winning content strategy for your startup, check out our Content Builder Services or schedule a free consultation 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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