The reality of marketing your startup is quite brutal.

Great product? Amazing design? Wide audience scope? – It’s all for nothing if there’s no one looking at it or using it.

On the other hand – you’ve got your marketing campaigns nailed, social worked out, email marketing perfected – but if your product is useless, it’s still going to go down the pan.

Starting up is a balance – with your time, energy and effort needing to be carefully split between developing a great product and putting it out to the world effectively. We can’t help you with the product (otherwise we’d have already done it!) – but we can help you put some solid foundations in place to make sure your marketing isn’t going to let you down…

  1. Your personal brand influences your business brand

Here’s an interesting thing you might not have considered…

You’ve already done a heap of marketing for your business. It’s right there on your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google+ profile. Along with every forum post that can be associated with you, blog comments, Reddit comments… and so on.

Oh, but you weren’t marketing? Those daft jokes aren’t meant for business?

Tough luck. You’ve left your digital footprint and now it’s part of the business you’ve put your name against. It’s easy to find out who you are – and tie you, rightly, to your business. People really do go out of their way to test your credibility by doing so.

The good news is, you can have a tidy up and present a footprint that’s perfectly aligned with your brand – but you’ve got to understand the principles or personal branding if you want to make it work for you.

Essentially, you need to know your audience. When you know it, you need to create some values and principles that convey the message you want from your brand to your audience. Once you’ve cracked that – you’ve got to live it.

Remember when Twitter was for stupid jokes and Facebook was exclusively for pictures of your cat? Yeah, well, those days have gone – social media is now for selling yourself – the biggest ingredient in your business brand.

  1. Create brilliant (and diverse) content

Creating good content is absolutely essential if you’re going to establish some strong foundations in online marketing.

To some degree, it’s easy to create a personal brand – social media gives you the mouthpiece, then you can decide on your values and flesh your personal brand out with whatever’s needed.

Creating a business brand is a little trickier though. The messages can’t be quite so overtly delivered – you need to be seen as putting out the right messages – but instead of out and out self-promotion, you need to offer value.

Offering value’s easy to some degree, you can talk about the gap in the market your product is filling – and explain why it’s beneficial for your customers to plug that gap with your product – but, when the USP is covered, some brands will then struggle.

This is when you’ve got to get smart with your content. Remember, you’re casting your net wider than just you and the easily won customers. You’re going to need to reach deep into your desired market and think about what’s going to draw those harder to find customers out.

The answer? Well, that’s going to be fairly unique to you – but there will be some brands like you doing it well already check out Atlas Ceramics for example– and there are talented writers and agencies out there who’ll help you get imaginative…

  1. Practice exceptional customer service and interaction

This might seem like an obvious step – but it’s one that an astounding number of startups fail on:

Respond to the people who are contacting you online.

Startups have this tendency to be on ‘transmit’ constantly – create the content, share the content – ad infinitum. But, what use is all this great content if you’re not engaging with the people who are sharing, reading, commenting and so forth?

Talk to people – it puts out some really important messages to the people who are looking at you. Firstly, you’re a company who takes customer service seriously – which instils an enormous amount of confidence in people who witness it. What’s more, you’re a company who’s there, present, passionate. People like it when it looks like a company cares about them and what they’re saying.

It’s not just a warm tingly feeling you’re giving people either – you’re directly influencing your conversions and business conversations. If you’re getting back to people within 2 hours of their initial enquiry, those customers are 34% more likely to buy from you, 43% more likely to recommend you – and 42% more likely to shout about how good you are on social media.

Miss that 2-hour window? Think it’s okay to leave someone hanging for a couple of days? Think again – a negative experience with a company on social media leads to over 50% of people considering themselves ‘unlikely’ to spend with you ever again. You’ve been warned.

  1. Understand that your website should look great

It used to be that opening a business meant having a solid business address or a pretty shop front – now it means making a big impact with your website design. It’s easy to cut corners here – especially if you think no one’s going to be looking for a while, but in reality, you want to get this right first time – and grow your site from a really solid beginning.

Be careful that you don’t look at your website as simply a means to communicate what your company does – it’s so much more than a CV or resumé. Your site is a place to engage people’s emotions – like all the very best marketing does.

There’s some emotional engagement in every purchase, even if you’re a B2B product. Think about what your customer wants and build your site around the emotions that will go hand in hand with that. Does your product save time? Is it a touch of luxury? Is it just 100% function? It really doesn’t matter – find a designer that’s as much about psychology as they are about crisp design and your site will really start working for you and the brand you’re establishing.