How to Create Your First Startup Marketing Plan

Have you tried online dating? In a nutshell, it goes like setting up a profile, writing a witty bio, and uploading some pictures that reflect your personality. Then after setting match preferences based on specific demographics, you begin the game of swiping right or left.

Now, things are similar in the business world. Where instead of marketing yourself, you’re marketing your product.

Like your dating profile, your business has a website, a positioning, and a personality you present to your potential match, i.e., your potential customer.

Your online dating success depends on two things — How well you market your personality and whether you’re marketing it to the right audience or not. The matching algorithm works just like the google search engine — it rewards you for being attractive and penalizes you for being dull.

Having a magnetic personality is hard work. You can get fit, build new hobbies, sharpen a skill, and more. However, it’s your system that makes you stick to these habits and help you transform.

Your marketing plan is what makes you stick to this system. It shapes your personality and brings you closer to your match, your customer.

By the end of this article, you’ll:

  • Realize what you need to build a marketing plan for your business
  • We’ll cover ways to shape your short and long term goals
  • And uncover mistakes that marketers make early on

So, let’s dive in.

Every marketing plan starts by defining four essential things.

First, who you’re going after — your target audience.

Understand your audience’s interests, aspirations, and challenges.

Second, your value proposition. You pick themes to communicate a story to builds a connection with your audience.

Third, your channels. Figure out places where your audience hangs out and assign a budget to these channels based on their effectiveness.

And last, your measurement. Select a model to measure your marketing efforts and get insights into how and where your audience interacts with you.

To keep things simple, you can either use:

  1. The first touch model credits the marketing channel that first interacted with your audience.
  2. The last touch model credits the marketing channel which your prospect/customer used to convert.

To give an example, say you’re a business that’s running Google search ads. You’re also frequently posting on Facebook. Plus, you host webinars on valuable topics.

If a prospect clicks on your search ads last week and lands on your website but did not sign-up. But follows you on Facebook. Then sees your Facebook post on the webinar two days back and lands on your website and signs-up.

The first touch model will attribute to google search, and the last touch will attribute to Facebook.

You can use either. I prefer the last touch as it tells you about the most effective channel. As if you’re doing singular marketing activities, your first and last conversion channel could be the same.

Now, there’s one thing that we missed in this entire process. Something that most teams also forget, i.e., laying down the success criteria of this marketing plan. The expectation of what we’re looking to achieve.

You might think it’s dumb, like who starts without a goal, right? Well, the answer is most organizations.

Yes, all businesses market to acquire more customers, more revenue, more traction, and whatnot.

Trying to solve all business challenges through your first marketing plan is outrageously crazy! That’s where marketing teams fail, trying to accomplish everything.

I can’t stress enough why prioritizing your goal, whether it’s to build awareness, convert prospects, engage customers, or drive repeat business. Each one of them is a beast in itself.

So, now the question is — how to prioritize amongst these goals? The simple answer is just to divide them into short and long-term needs.

Short-term needs are immediate — Like feeding your sales team with leads which requires having a website, building sizable traffic, writing content, gathering social proof, and curating sales decks. Hygiene, as most people call it.

Long-term needs are problems you see yourself solving after 2 or 3 quarters, like setting up customer onboarding, requiring writing nurture flows, tracking funnel reports, setting product tours, etc.

Survival is key! So, 2–3 quarters is still long-term in that context.

As a marketer, it’s essential to know what’s the most urgent business priority. Your marketing plan shouldn’t just solve for it but knock it out of the park.

Another big mistake that marketers make is that they get cold feet. They pause or suspend their campaigns immediately to save costs without thinking much about its impact.

Henry Ford once said — Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”

If you’re someone who has done this, then don’t feel bad. We’ve all been there. However, know when this situation arises again, you know there’s something flawed in the system than in the campaign.

The only way you can save money is by spending it on the problem that matters to you the most. It’s the price you pay to learn and grow.

Let me know your thoughts on this subject or what you think about this article.

In the next article, we’ll discuss how marketers can put their money where their mouth is — covering some marketing mistakes I have made or seen in my experience and what we can learn from it to spend our budget wisely.

Till then, keep hustling.

Utkarsh works at the intersection of Sales, Marketing, and Product teams. He has spent the last 7 years helping SaaS startups to scale. Leads PMM @ Airmeet.