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How to do startup marketing: where to start and what to focus on

You’re a startup with a great idea for a product or service. Creating your widget is probably well underway, and you want to launch it, sell it, and get some money in the bank. It’s time to do some startup marketing.

Who are you going to sell it to?

How are you going to find them?

What are you going to say to them when you find them that will convince them to buy?

Where should you focus your marketing resources and expertise?

What do you do if you don’t have any marketing expertise?

Read on – I’m going to point you in the right direction.


Get your first ten customers (at least) by being ultra-focused on solving just one problem, for one group of people, in one market, with one product/service (as embodied in Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore). Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people because it never works. Stay focused!

Startup marketing is about being focused. Being focused will help you keep your messaging simple. Boil what you do, and the benefits of your widget (the problem it solves), down to as few words as possible. If you can’t boil it down, you’re doing too much for too many people. Cut it down. Focus.

To validate your boiled down messaging, read it aloud (or better still, get someone else to read it). If, after reading it, you can say “so what?”, you need to start again. The point here is that it’s not possible to say “so what?” to a benefit statement. Ergo, your messaging needs to be about benefits, not features.

Boil the benefits of your widget (the problem it solves) down to as few words as possible. If you can’t boil it down, you’re doing too much for too many people.

What you want is your potential customers saying “ah, that’s what I need.. it solves my problem exactly”. They won’t say this when they hear that your widget is blue, but they will say it when you tell them that “it’s so quiet, you can use it to read in bed”.

An alternative approach, if you haven’t finished creating your product or service, is actually to start with the messaging process… if you write the boiled down message first, you’ll know what your MVP is (minimum viable product). Clever eh?

Do this and don’t deviate. Stay focused.


To get your first customers, you need leads. Your customers start out as leads. To get leads, you need to understand the personas of your ideal buyer (the person who’s going to become a lead).

To snare them, you need to understand the problem they have (the one your widget solves) and how they see it in their language and fit your messages around that. Get into the heads of your personas. See the world from their perspective.

Focus your lead generation efforts to the channels where your target customers ‘are’. Are they on Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Are they searching for solutions to their problem on Google?

Don’t spread your (probably) meagre marketing resources too thin across all possible channels. Own one channel well with lots of valuable content presented attractively. This could be articles that are useful to your target personas posted to Twitter or FaceBook, or on your website. Or it could be Facebook, Twitter or Google ads. It could be anything – but don’t try and cover lots of channels in a so-so way. Focus.

On your simple (affordable) website, get your SEO right by making sure that your page content is useful to your targeted personas, and reflects how they’ll research solutions to their problems – you’re reading this article because it’s potentially helpful to you… You probably found it by searching for the statement in the title of the article.

If you write content that’s useful and valuable to your target audience – they will see you as a trusted advisor. This is important because when you gain that trust, you become the go-to person (company) for quality content on your particular topic (or market or whatever).


You don’t need to do much to get some basic product marketing done for your startup, and you’ll divvy the tasks up amongst the people you’ve got – it might take a while, but you’ll get there in the end.

Sometimes you’re just too close to what you’re doing to crystallise your messaging in the way that’s needed.

However, don’t underestimate the usefulness of outside help in crafting your messaging or creating your content. Don’t think that you have to do it because nobody else understands what you do. A good product marketing person will be able to get this info out of you very quickly and have your messaging sorted in no time. They can also bring an outsider’s perspective to it. Sometimes you’re just too close to what you’re doing to crystallise your messaging in the way that’s needed. Expert outside help also means that you can focus your expertise on your widgets.

Was that useful? Have I helped you move your startup marketing thoughts along a bit?

Get in touch – let me know how I can help you. It’s what I’m here for.


2017-09-01T10:37:59+00:00 September 12th, 2017|