This is the first post of The #HustleMax Series By Soham Sabnis
YOU DON’T NEED A MARKETING PLAN! What you need is a workable marketing plan.
Try entering ‘marketing plan for startups’ in your Google search bar and you will find zillions of templates. Pro alert – most of the things you will find will eat into your precious time without actually helping you. I suggest, don’t waste your time reading such content.
What you need to understand
Let us agree that you have started a company, passion project because it interests you. So, with that thing sorted, your startup is here to provide value to ‘your’ customers and ‘make’ money for yourself. Only if you are running an NGO, money making might not be your focus.
Here is your workable plan:
The idea is to work on the perfect message. This pushes less burden on YOU to explain what you are trying to sell. Putting the right message across to the customer is half of your marketing work done. How will you do this? And who are your customers? All your questions are answered in the following points.
The Branding Checklist
I love to speak about this. IF you ever meet me in person and ask me to give you a logo designing budget – I will say – GO MAKE a simple logo. Use Canva, or any similar tool available that lets you create a logo in less than 5 minutes. AND move on… Though it is necessary for your business to have a logo, please don’t spend too much time and money on it. Unless your offering is not out in the market and is providing value to your customers, nobody, repeat NOBODY really cares what the logo is. Along with logo, please don’t spend time in creating a fancy website. Instead focus on creating complete social media pages.
The key to get the right message is SPEED. Once you have decided what the message is, put in work for getting the message out! Reach out to your potential customers.
Not many founders spend time on the customer personas. Sad, but true. What is a customer profile or persona? Understand this – your product or service is NOT for every human being on the earth. Hence, list down demographics for your offerings and create a small questionnaire to circulate among the pool of your potential customers – or market. Make sure the market is sizeable to get the required data. Use suitable distribution channels for fetching data.
Again, there are many tools available for creating customer personas.I would suggest using a simple excel sheet or google forms to create a research data. This allows you to arrange the data, to create customer personas.
While this is largely underestimated in the marketing world, a community is the most crucial part in any marketing exercise. Community is the collection of your brand ambassadors. It can be a mailing list, fans on social media, real customers, friends or family. These are group of people who will be promoting the CORRECT MESSAGE to POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS which eventually results in SALES!
Building a strong community takes time. There are various ways which can be explored to do this. I will give you a simple rule – Create (build) a list of 1000 people who give a hoot about your product irrespective of whether it fails or flourishes. The NUMBER is big – believe me. Getting 1000 people who care about your brand is not at all easy, but do it anyway. Remember that your social media fans don’t count. Most of the brands, by running paid ads, reach to figure but fake numbers do not help in converting customers. Read more about the concept by Kevin Kelly – 1000 True Fans.
Tip: When you are building the community around your brand- the message has to provide value. Which means you can’t sell all the time. That will not only put people off but also dissolve your brand value.
Trust me, the only thing that matters is sales. This is what will fetch the money to pay your bills next month. Which also means, that it has to be the focus, when you are crafting the above listed items. Hiring a sales team is not a solution for this. Maybe later when your business grows, but until then – the founder has to be the ace salesperson for the company.
Growth Hack for all of the above: Work With Influencers!
An influencer is a person who can create an impact on your potential buyers by promoting your brand directly or indirectly. Once you have the message and target audience defined, make a list of people who are potential influencers. Here is a small workflow which will give you a clear understanding on how to work with influencers.
Hypothetical startup: Let’s say we have a small baking company that makes customised cakes and other bakery items. The target audience is in Pune and customers are typically those working in IT, who have the capacity to spend on customized cakes.
Disclaimer: In order for this to become successful, it needs a lot of work. and a hell lot of patience. BUT THIS WORKS.
- Search for Pune bloggers – food, lifestyle, mom-bloggers on Instagram
- Search for people who live in Pune and have 2000+ people following them
- Once you have the list – follow everyone.
- Engage with them by commenting on their posts. Hold on to your salesman – you still have much work to do.
- Reach out to every shortlisted individual offering him or her free cake so that they can enjoy your product.
- Ask them to write about the product if they like it – and share a picture on Instagram – you can come up with a unique hashtag or ask them to tag you – share your website link.
- 5 out of 10 will not respond
- 3 out of 10 will ask for money for posts (if you have budget – go ahead)
- 2 out of 10 will say yes to do it for free. These are your early adopters. They are convinced about your product and its capacity.
- Here is your moment of success! Word of mouth especially from influencers will jack up your sales. Thereby creating more ambassadors and in turn a bigger community.
I will leave you with this. Stop wasting time on creating plans. It is time to work now! Are you ready to #HustleMax?
About Soham Sabnis:
Marketing professional dabbling in startup space for 5+ years. Soham is a consultant for growth and sales for many startups. With a big idea head, he is expert in creating exceptionable plans for growth. Photographer at heart, Soham loves traveling. You can check his travel and photography blog here: Pictures Personified