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How to Develop a Marketing Strategy for a Startup

Welcome to this first module for developing a marketing strategy for to meet your startup business needs. The first thing you need to do is to figure out how much money you will need to launch your venture. You should also complete your initial market research, discover what competitors are offering and figure out how you will reach customers and generate leads and sales. Remember: you can’t expect anyone to know about your company if you haven’t communicated its value and the benefits it delivers. Before we get started, we suggest reading over the Assignment Guide and making sure that you have all of the materials we’ve listed in the Course Materials section.

Great marketing requires a great strategy. This book will help you develop the strategy that will get your business funded, attract more customers, and increase sales. The book is designed for startup founders, marketing professionals, non-profit managers, and business executives who want to successfully launch their business/non-profit.

Define your end goal.

Just as it is practically impossible to embark on a road trip without knowing your destination, you have to define your marketing and business goals before you can achieve them.

Do you relate with your target market on social media? How do you plan to increase your number of followers? How do you plan to generate traffic for your website? Reaching out to leads or prospects and converting them into customers requires a well-defined approach with specific objectives.

What goals do you hope to accomplish over the next six months? Two years? Five years? When you have an end goal, you can use key metrics to gauge the success or failure of your marketing strategy.

 Determine your target market.

What can you possibly achieve without identifying whom you are selling to? No matter how great of a marketing plan, product, or service you have, customers are crucial to the success of your small business. But who are these customers?

You must define your target customer so you can structure your marketing strategy to meet their needs. But how can you determine your target audience? Here are three ideas to get you started:

  1. Identify the basic demographics of your target prospects, such as their gender, age, and location.
  2. Learn how to relate to your audience by analyzing their personalities and/or shopping behaviors.
  3. Establish your brand’s message following your research.

These suggestions will help you hone your specific audience and determine their needs so your product or service satisfies them.

 Find your place in the market

According to a study by CB Insights, lack of demand in the marketplace is the number one reason startups fail. Maybe the product or service being offered doesn’t solve a problem or isn’t unique enough to set itself apart from the competition. Maybe its focus is too narrow and the pool of potential customers isn’t large enough to build (and scale) a successful company. Or, maybe it just hasn’t been positioned correctly and never had the chance to reach the right people.

To give your new startup a better chance of avoiding these common pitfalls, take time to thoroughly research other products on the market and gauge interest from your potential customers. Once you’ve determined there is enough demand to sustain your business, you can start thinking about how you’ll tell your target audience about all the great stuff you have to offer.

Determine your budget

The marketing budget for a startup will be affected by several factors, including operational costs and revenue forecasts. But no matter how much money you’re able to set aside for marketing, it’s important to spend wisely. Think about your goals, and focus your marketing dollars on the channels that will help you achieve them. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way or to try something new if a particular channel doesn’t prove fruitful.

As your business—and your budget—grows, you can always start allocating more money toward your marketing and expanding your reach to previously untapped audiences.

Conduct keyword research.

An important part of any digital marketing strategy is keyword research. You need to determine the keywords that best define your business, and which keywords your target audience will be searching to find you online. These keywords are essential to your startup marketing strategy and will be used among various platforms, such as your website, blogs, social media networks and advertisements.

 Develop KPIs and metrics.

The only way to know if your marketing campaign is a success is by determining your key performance indicators and core metrics. If you start recording baseline metrics right away, you will have something to compare future growth or decline against.

Make sure your metrics and KPIs are specific and measurable. For example, don’t just say you want to grow your social media following – make this specific and measurable by saying you want to gain 1,000 new followers every month. Instead of simply saying you want to build an email list, you might say you want an average email click-through rate (CTR) of 4%.

The exact metrics that determine your success will be unique to your business, but you need to establish them early on and continue to measure against them. As your business grows and becomes more successful, you may want to reevaluate which KPIs and metrics make the most sense.

 Create a website and/or blog.

An online presence is important for nearly every business. Although it can depend on your target market and your industry, you will probably want to set up a company website and blog. These can be valuable tools to establish your startup as a credible organization. Depending on your budget and skill set, you can build and manage these on your own, or you can hire professionals to develop them for you.

Simply creating these webpages is not enough, though. You need someone to continually update them and produce fresh content. If you have a blog, create a consistent posting schedule that works for your audience, and only push out valuable content. [Read all our reviews of the best website builders and design services.]

Find the right social channels for your startup.

As social media usage worldwide continues to grow, so does the importance of incorporating social channels into the marketing plan for your startup with a social media marketing strategy. Whether you’re creating and scheduling posts across channels, posting directly, or creating ads, social media can quickly communicate with your existing fans, friends, and customers. It can also help expand your reach and encourage more people to check out your website, store, or products.

  • Facebook and Instagram ads: Facebook and Instagram each have more than a billion users worldwide, which means you’ve got a huge collection of potential customers at your fingertips. You can target specific segments of people with ads for your startup—like folks who live in a particular location or are within a certain age range. And if you’re a Mailchimp user, you can create both Facebook and Instagram ads directly from your account.
  • Twitter ads: Twitter provides several advertising options that help you raise awareness of your startup, drive people to your website, attract new followers, and more. You can target people by demographics, location, interest, or even based on other accounts they follow or keywords they use in their tweets.
  • LinkedIn ads: LinkedIn gives startups the opportunity to connect with (and promote themselves to) other like-minded professionals. They even offer the ability to focus your marketing efforts on specific collections of people, like those who work in a particular industry or have a certain job title.


Every company, regardless of its size needs a marketing strategy. Whether it is a startup created by a group of young entrepreneurs or an established business looking to expand its current reach, marketing is essential for growth and profitability.

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