How to market a startup: Getting leads to go from zero to hero

How to market a startup

Stellar articles from Rocket Fuel Labs HQ.

In the early days, Seed and pre-Series A companies grow through brute force—namely, cold calling as many prospects and closing as many deals as possible.

This methodology works to quickly and efficiently fuel growth. To a degree. At a certain point, inbound leads need to become a reliable and steady stream of new business. This is especially true as you’re proving out unit economics and product market fit in advance of a major fundraise.

So how do you turn budding leads into steady streams?

Find the fruit on the ground.
Early business growth means a reliance on early adopters, particularly with technology solutions.

The challenge: You don’t have the budget to waste on Facebook or Google advertising to people who aren’t searching for the solution you’re providing or aren’t willing to try a new technology that hasn’t already gained traction or a meaningful number of customers.

The solution: Forget low-hanging fruit and grab the fruit on the ground.

To find this fruit, identify signals. What behaviors indicate that one business is more likely than another to buy your product?

For Mercato, the fastest growing independent grocery store delivery app, the answer was “tech-savvy grocery stores driving traffic to their website.”

Mercato realized that a grocery store with an optimized Google Plus page understood the importance of online marketing more than a store with two or three reviews. And a grocery store with a website was far more likely to be interested in an eCommerce solution than a store without one. By compiling these signals, Mercato was able to determine who was most likely to purchase their product.

The next order of business: figuring out where prospects and customers are in relation to the adoption curve—and then meeting them where they’re at. We helped Mercato build a list of these companies and target them directly and precisely with messages we knew would resonate and engage.

The result: By helping Mercato predict leads, build pipeline and generate opportunities, we helped it achieve year-over-year growth to take it from a $5 million company to a $50 million company.

Spend at the bottom of the funnel.
Once you know who is more likely to buy, you’ll want to target those prospects through multiple channels to maximize effectiveness and reach. If you successfully obtained targets’ email addresses, an email campaign is an obvious next step.

But it shouldn’t be your only step. Market to them on Facebook and build lookalike audiences to get your ads in front of similar businesses. Consider direct mail if you’re aiming for an enterprise sale. Make your multichannel communications work as hard as you do by ensuring that calls to action are clear, compelling and actionable.

Don’t underestimate the power of the call to action. These periods on the end of your marketing statement can be the make-or-break moment. You’ve identified people who are most likely to buy with the problem that your solution solves. Don’t be coy. Let them know you want them exactly what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do it.

Finally, follow up with sales calls in a timely manner. Even if they’re interested, they might need a little nudge. They’re busy, and they don’t know how much you can help them. Yet.

Plant seeds at the top of the funnel.
While you’re focused on furthering and converting the lowest hanging (or grounded) fruit, you can also seed the top of the funnel without breaking the bank. The most effective and cost-efficient way to cultivate results: content.

Get help from a trusted firm or advisor to ensure that your content is optimized for search results. If your service is new or the first of its kind, even early adopters won’t be looking for it. Create content that is optimized for searches they ARE conducting, whether it’s how to run a small business, managing finances, hiring best practices… whatever makes sense for your particular solution.

Are they on LinkedIn? Post articles and original content.

Are they active on Twitter? Make sure you’re tweeting and using the hashtags they’re using.

Find out where your audience spends most of its time online and get to know them. Play it smart and they’ll want to get to know you.

Don’t ignore the brand.
A lot of start-ups think that brand is a “big company” problem. Truth is, it’s a big idea solution.

When you’re trying to scale quickly in an environment with any competition, ignoring brand can be a fatal mistake.

Brand differentiates. It tells customers why they should care about your product. It inspires them to choose your product over other available options. Brand connects, secures and endures.

If you don’t know why customers should choose your brand or which messages resonate more fully, don’t panic. Do research.

Survey your customers. Ask them why they chose your product and what they think is different (and better).

Just don’t make it multiple choice. Let them communicate what moves them. No one can articulate what makes you awesome and unique better than your happiest and most loyal customers. Who knows—they just might end up writing your next campaign.

Ready to go from zero to hero?
So are we. And we’re here to help with proven solutions and unbeatable expertise.

Let’s talk about how we can help you go further, faster.


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