It’s been front of your mind for quite a while now.  You’ve become dissatisfied with your 9 to 5 job, with the daily grind, and with working for someone else who benefits from your ideas and your labor.  Finally, you’re ready to take the plunge:  you’ve decided to start your own business.  Naturally, you’re excited—but are you prepared?

It’s Not as Easy as It Looks

Launching a new business comes with inherent challenges, even if you have a great idea. You need to make smart decisions to ensure that idea works in the marketplace.  As Ravi Kikan writing for LinkedIn notes:

“One of my colleagues once told me that starting a company is 30% idea/strategy 70% execution, I think execution is actually more like 80% – as any idea, no matter how good it is can unfortunately be duplicated. The idea is the necessary starting stone and if your idea is exceptional and has mass appeal it certainly is an asset”

Why is effective execution such an uphill climb for the lion’s share of business startups?  The reason is simple:  startups face a set of unique challenges they need to meet to succeed.  Those challenges include everything from financing and cash flow to offering products and services people want, having a solid business plan and, of course, creating an effective marketing plan.  And, the stakes couldn’t be higher since so many startups fail.

So, What Are the Successful Startups Doing Right?

That takes us back to where we started:  the startups which succeed are the ones who are adequately prepared—they get their ducks in a row before they ever post the “open” sign on the door.  Nowhere is adequate preparation more critically important than with regard to marketing.  If you wait until you’ve launched your business to begin pulling together a digital marketing plan, you’ve probably waited too long.

What Should My Digital Marketing Plan Include?

Digital marketing is different things to different people, and of course, no two businesses are exactly alike.  You need to pull together a plan that’s customized to your industry and your business (preferably with the guidance of a competent digital marketing agency).  That said, some digital marketing strategies work for most startups.  Before you launch your new business, make sure you have the following four ready to roll:

1.  Do Your Research

You can’t get your business off the ground if you don’t clearly identify your target audience.  Who, in other words, are the ideal customers for your business?  Are they men or women or both?  How old are they?  What’s their income level?  What are their online habits?  Nailing down these demographic and behavioral characteristics will help you customize every other aspect of your digital marketing plan.

You should also take the time to effectively segment your prospects.  One of the best ways to do that is by creating “buyer personas.”  These are fictional representatives of key market segments.  Creating buyer personas will help you personalize your marketing efforts to get more bang for your buck.

2.  Embrace Content Marketing

Before you begin talking sales with prospective customers, you need to earn their trust.  That’s where content marketing comes in.

Here’s how it works:  you create content (like blogs, articles, case studies or white papers) that provides useful and relevant information to your prospective customers.  You post that content on a landing page on your website.  You offer it in exchange for your prospects’ contact information (especially their email addresses).  If the content is strong, they’ll give you their contact information, and you’ll have a slew of new leads for your business.

To be most effective, create your content before you launch, as well as the strategies for how you’ll drive prospects to it.  Finally, make sure you have enough content, and preferably customized content, to get you off the ground.

3.  Leverage Email Marketing

Now you have the email addresses of prospective customers for your business. This means that you need a sound email marketing plan that effectively nurtures those leads, moving them steadily through the buyer’s journey and closer to making purchases.

Once again, you need to personalize the lead nurturing you do with email marketing.  If you’ve done your research and created robust buyer personas, this will be much easier to do.  In addition, make sure the emails you send follow best practices. They should include engaging subject lines, be optimized for mobile devices (like smartphones and tablets), and they should focus on your prospects’ needs and help them solve their problems.

4.  Don’t Forget Social Media

If you want to connect with prospective customers, you need to go where they are—and, increasingly, where they are is on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  One of the key benefits of social media is that these sites are, well, social.  Unlike other outlets, social media will enable you to initiate meaningful conversations with prospects, and in this way personalize your business and enhance trust.  If you do it right, social media marketing will help take your business to the next level—it’s the reason 90% of marketers say social media marketing is important for their companies.

Conclusion

A smart digital marketing plan is just one of the ingredients of a successful startup.  To be one of the startups that succeeds, you need the help of competent professionals, not just with digital marketing, but also effective financial management.

To learn more about the ways our financial modeling, CFO, bookkeeping, capital raising, and financial reporting services will help you increase profitability and grow your business, contact us today.

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