The startup world is full of infinite challenges. Financial management struggles, budget limitations, insufficient human resources, dynamic markets – and, if this wasn’t enough, the Marketing department isn’t falling behind either.
As a Marketing professional with almost 2 years of experience in various startups, I wanted to share the startup Marketing challenges that I’ve faced during my work at different technological companies.
And although 2 years may not sound as much, I think that I’ve learned some really valuable lessons that might be helpful for future Marketers – so why not share them?
Startup Marketing Challenge 1: Racing with Technology
Technology is the main reason for the existence of startups. Every day, hundreds of tech teams work really hard to deliver the most innovative solutions on the market.
As a Marketer, this means that you will work in a sector that is experiencing minor and major changes daily. It is a constant race to keep up with the speed of technology. Every day, you have to know exactly what happens in the sector, and be capable of responding immediately in the most adequate way. What do I mean? Well, let me give you a couple of examples.
I currently work at two different startups – one that provides digital payment solutions for processing online transactions, and one that develops cloud-based SaaS applications and services, including call recording and virtual fax.
A couple of days ago, I was browsing through the news for call recording, and I stumbled across an article that sounded much like “It will no longer be possible to record calls on Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+“. “Hey”, I thought to myself, “it might be a good idea to send it to my manager, sounds like a good topic to write for our blog”. So I did that.
A few minutes later, he came to me with a real excitement in his eyes, saying “Do you realize that this could be a great opportunity for us? If Samsung disables call recording functions on S9/S9+ and other Samsung devices, we could offer our solutions to companies that need to comply with regulations like MiFID II and GDPR!“
Well, despite the fact that I found the article, I wasn’t able to see the opportunity before he said it to me! But now I completely understood.
Do you see what I mean?
Opportunities can appear out of nowhere, and if you aren’t able to identify them and seize them as fast as possible, somebody else will. Staying up-to-date with market and technological changes will be key to your success in solving startup Marketing challenges.
Another example that show how fast things can change came from my other company, a leading provider in digital payment solutions for enterprises in the Spanish industry.
When I joined the company only 8 months ago, our Marketing strategy was perfectly aligned with the team’s technological advances. However, only a couple of months later, we introduced so many changes into our portfolio of services, that we could now position as a payment gateway – something we weren’t able to do before.
As a result, only a few months later, we had to re-write and re-focus our whole Marketing strategy almost from scratch, because it wasn’t aligning with the product any longer.
Conclusions – how can you solve this challenge?
As a Marketer in the startup industry, you will discover that not only your company’s direction and vision might be changing constantly along the way, but the market as well will be introducing new opportunities and threats all the time.
So, how can we solve these challenges? My personal advice:
- Stay aligned with your IT department on a daily basis. Make sure that you always know what are they working on, what will be their next projects, and when are they going to launch new products. If possible, organize daily or weekly meetings to make sure that your Marketing strategy is perfectly aligned with your company’s product development. Even if you work for the Marketing department and you feel that technology doesn’t concern you, it does; you need to know where the whole company is going. All the time.
- Read, read, and read – reading news, books, and articles will not only enrich your knowledge in the industry, but will also help you discover new trends and opportunities that might have a huge positive impact on your company.
Startup Marketing Challenge 2: Budget limitations
One of the biggest startup Marketing challenges comes from budget limitations. You need to decide – what investments should I make in Marketing efforts? Should I focus more on bringing organic traffic, or going directly for paid traffic to attract more customers, as it doesn’t take as long?
Of course, this will depend on your company. I don’t know how it is for B2C businesses because I’ve never worked for one, but I can share with you some advice on Digital Marketing for B2B companies:
Conclusions – how can you solve this challenge?
When it comes to social media, channels such as Facebook and Instagram haven’t proven to be efficient for B2B companies. From my experience, investing in Facebook advertising won’t bring you qualified traffic that might convert to potential buyers. Why?
Because when users go to Facebook, they want to see videos of cats instead of ads. So, even if Facebook advertising is not expensive, it might be more worthy switching this budget to LinkedIn or even better – AdWords.
If you have budget for LinkedIn, that’s great – but if you don’t, don’t worry about it. Although LinkedIn is the perfect platform for B2B Marketing, it can be much more expensive than other social media channels, and the results might not be that amazing – users on LinkedIn aren’t particularly fond of ads either.
If you are a Marketing department on a budget, my personal advice is to dedicate a good part of your budget to AdWords. Why? As opposed to Facebook, when users search on Google, they actually want to see ads more than in any other occassion – if you are searching for the best beach resort in Europe for the cheapest price, wouldn’t you want to receive some nice offers? I would!
Source: Search Engine Land
For more info on Search Engine Marketing, make sure to read my post Introduction to SEM for beginners!
Search Engine Optimization
Another important part of your budget should be for bringing organic traffic – although it’s a long-term strategy and won’t bring you immediate results, you will notice a great increase in traffic after a few months of hard work. Trust me, it will be worth it!
And yes, although you don’t pay anything directly for organic traffic, you still consume Marketing budget from employee’s perspective, because it takes time to generate quality content. However, it is a time well-spent.
For more information on Search Engine Optimization, visit my post Introduction to SEO for beginners!
As a Marketer on a budget, any free tools that can save time and improve your Marketing strategy should be welcome, right? Here are a few of my recommendations:
- Slack – a great tool that lets you create a digital workspace for your team where you can chat and exchange files. It comes with a free plan, and it saves a lot of time from unnecessary e-mails!
- Yandex Metrica – a completely free alternative to Google Analytics that gives you analytics, records user sessions, and provides you with useful heatmaps.
- Asana – a fun tool that lets you track and manage your team projects efficiently. It has saved many hours for my team!
For more tools, check out my post 25 awesome must-have tools for small businesses.
Startup Marketing Challenge 3: Derailing from your Marketing objectives
As opposed to a multinational company, being a part of the Marketing department in a startup means that you might have to assume different responsibilities, including sales, PR, advertising, customer support, onboarding, and sometimes even human resources (it has happened to me as well).
This variety of responsibilities means that you can easily lose track of your Marketing objectives while trying to perform other roles in the company. And that’s okay – as long as you are conscious of it, and get back on track as soon as possible.
Conclusions – how can you solve this challenge?
There are a few things that can help you successfully overcome this startup Marketing challenge:
I already mentioned the tool Asana, but I really recommend it as it has been really helpful for my company to keep all things neat and organized (and no, I am not getting paid for that). The biggest benefit from using Asana is that you can set up due dates, assign tasks, and know how projects are advancing at each moment.
With this tool, you can easily see if you’ve missed the due date, making you conscious on how well you’re doing with project organization. There are other tools on the market as well, and I definitely recommend to use such software to keep a better track of your Marketing and Business objectives.
Store your documents on the cloud
If you are still searching through thousands of e-mails to find important documents, you might be losing a lot of valuable time that you could dedicate on better things. By storing and organizing everything on the cloud, you can access it from anywhere, at any time – and much faster.
I’ve only used Google Drive so far, but if you want to keep your documents as private as possible, you can give Spider Oak a try as well (I haven’t tried it myself).
Automate yout Marketing processes
Nowadays, there are various tools, services and platforms that can help you automate a lot of Marketing processes, saving you plenty of time along the way. Below, I will give you a list of the tools that I’ve used so far, but you can explore other options as well:
- MailChimp – probably the most popular tool for automating E-mail Marketing. It is very flexible, and comes with a free plan, which is great news for startups on a budget.
- HubSpot – Hubspot has a lot of tools for automation of CRM, Sales, and Marketing processes. The company offers free plans for the majority of its services, and also plenty of free Marketing resources.
- Hootsuite – this Social Media Marketing tool lets you manage and monitor all your social channels at once. It comes with a free plan as well.
Startups face a lot of Marketing challenges, but luckily, there are fun and creative ways to overcome them. These were my recommendations and suggestions – feel free to express your opinion in the comments!