Running a marketing campaign for a startup is equal parts frustrating and exhilarating. Most startup marketers have a large amount of freedom when it comes to setting the direction of their campaigns, with ample opportunity for testing new ideas and exploring uncharted territory.
But this lack of structure also carries risk. Among many other things, it’s easy for marketers to lose focus of the bigger picture, mismanage limited funds, pick the wrong metrics to track success and sideline the wellbeing of their team in pursuit of fast growth.
As coronavirus loosens its hold on the world economy and more businesses return to the fray, many marketers are wondering how to formulate their strategies. If that sounds like you, this post outlines five practical tools to help you succeed.
1. Financial Management Tools
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of proper financial administration to startups. Financial mismanagement can kill a budding company faster than anything else.
As a marketer, you will likely have a set monthly budget. Management tools will enable you to allocate this pot of money to various activities – established channels, new marketing opportunities, staff wellbeing etc. in the most effective way. Ideally, you should monitor your budget and spend on a daily basis, ensuring that resources are correctly directed to the relevant areas.
Integrating accounting software with other apps across your organization will enable you to keep up-to-date with spending in real-time. In this way, you can be alert to any potential threats to your budget, along with opportunities.
Crucially, a tech stack which provides you with a full overview of your cash reserves will allow you to weather any storms that come along. It’s easy to overspend when you’re not aware of how much money you have in the bank and marketing budgets will also need to be adapted based on spending in other departments.
2. Visual Branding and Design Tools
Branding and messaging is the basis of all marketing campaigns. Many marketers make the mistake of developing an incomplete or superficial branding strategy that doesn’t account for the nuances of market research, positioning and the company’s overall value proposition.
This is particularly the case when it comes to visual materials. In many startups, design takes a back seat. Professional graphics are costly and optimizing the visual elements of your branding across multiple fronts – ads, social media, websites, printed materials and so on – can be very expensive.
In most cases, however, this is an unwise approach. The return-on-investment for money spent on design is usually positive for startups.
It’s important to remember that your marketing budget is limited. As such, it’s crucial to make a positive first impression. And nothing sends potential customers scurrying faster than sub-par, unprofessional visuals.
What a lot of marketers don’t realize is that beautifully-designed materials needn’t break the bank. A whole host of apps and tools enable startups to create stunning materials in line with their tone, brand philosophy and value proposition, at a fraction of what an agency would charge. Invest in software and services like Adobe Creative Cloud, Shutterstock, InVision and so on. Once you see the quality of your marketing visuals, you’ll be glad you did.
3. Testing Infrastructure for Traction Channels
In their book Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth, Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares outline a simple marketing philosophy.
They suggest that startups should focus on finding their “traction channel”. This is the marketing channel (or channels) that will deliver the fastest possible growth. Examples include organic search engine optimization, Facebook marketing, content marketing and joint ventures.
Companies that are able to identify their traction channels early on have a much better chance at success.
If you’re going to find your traction opportunities, it’s essential to implement a robust testing infrastructure. You need to know which strategies are working and which aren’t. And the only way of doing this is to organize metrics from multiple campaigns into one centralized reporting area.
As a marketer, you will likely need to collate data from multiple platforms and analytics dashboards. While elements of this task will need to be done manually, automation tools like Zapier will help to speed up the process of transferring data.
4. Core KPIs and Success Metrics
Your KPIs are the set of metrics that indicate the overall health and success of your startup.
In the early days, it’s crucial to distinguish between metrics that provide you with useful information and so-called “vanity metrics”. These figures are good for your ego, but don’t actually provide any insights about the performance of your campaigns.
While there are others, marketers should take notice of two KPIs in particular:
- Customer Acquisition Cost – Customer acquisition cost is a relatively straightforward metric. It is the amount it costs to acquire a new customer. This number will vary for different marketing channels and strategies but, generally speaking, a diminishing overall customer acquisition cost points to an efficient marketing strategy.
- Customer Lifetime Value – Customer lifetime value is calculated by combining average purchase value, average purchase frequency and the average customer lifetime. If a startup’s customer acquisition cost is higher than its customer lifetime value, then it’s going to get into deep water pretty quickly.
Build out a set of KPIs unique to your startup. Just remember to ignore those metrics that don’t supply any meaningful information.
5. A Mental Health Programme
It’s easy to sideline your team’s mental health. From a productivity standpoint, however, this is a big mistake. Research shows that happier employees are more efficient, creative and hard-working.
Spend some time implementing practical measures, whether in the form of an employee assistance program (EAP), wellness-promoting events or a positive, green workspace, that contribute to the overall health of your team.
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