MARKETING

The Unsexy, But Crucial, Marketing Priorities for a New Business

Follow these fundamentals and you are sure to set up your business for long-term success.
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If you’re in charge of leading marketing at a brand-new business, it can feel like a bit of a blur at first. The beginning is an exciting time--a bit scary, yes--but definitely exhilarating.

Executing a strong marketing strategy from the moment you open the doors is critical. But what should you prioritize when planning marketing for a new business? According to my experience leading marketing during Marketo’s early days, the following areas are some of the most important to invest your time in from the get-go. Though their names may not sound as sexy as growth hacking and other trendy marketing terms, if you follow these fundamentals you are sure to set up your business for long-term success.

Product Value

Before you scale your marketing, start with the bread and butter of the whole operation: your product. Before you can get into the details of go-to-market, don’t forget that product is one of the four P's of marketing. You have to be completely confident that your product holds real value and solves a true need. In general, the products that truly succeed are the ones that offer a full solution to a definable problem or pain. You want a product that is an “aspirin”--one that eliminates your pain--rather than one that behaves like a “vitamin” and merely makes things incrementally better. 

Once you’ve defined the value of your product, articulate it. Develop messaging and a story around the problem your product solves. And lastly, ask yourself, “How are we different?” If you’re able to clearly differentiate your product from other solutions in the market, then you’re more likely to catch people’s attention. You’re valuable, you’re different, and now you’re ready to go to market.

Build Your Brand

Shape your brand with content marketing and thought leadership. At Marketo, we started writing our blog before we even had any product to sell. It can seem an expensive and daunting task to build your brand perception and awareness from scratch, but if you position your company as a unique expert in a particular area, you will steadily gain the public’s trust, which is more valuable in the long run. 

Create a series of articles, share visual content, cultivate a blog, maintain a personable social media presence--the list goes on. All of these strategies are a long-term investment. Content marketing takes time, consistency, and creativity. But if you keep publishing valuable, engaging, relevant content, you will slowly but surely position your brand as a thought leader and, ultimately, an expert. 

Become an Expert

In the B2B world especially, buying a product is risky. If employees buy the wrong product, they could cost their company time and money and potentially lose their job. There’s a reason fear and doubt play such a large role in the buying process! Because people inherently weigh a loss more than they value a gain, it’s critical to make buyers feel confident in your product. If you’ve establish your company as a thought leader and expert, you’ll minimize fear, build trust, and spark more sales.   

Better yet, if you can use content marketing to convey expertise and trustworthiness to prospects before they’re even looking for a solution, you catch them before they've put up their anti-marketing shields, and they’re more receptive to your message. When they are actually looking to buy, they’re more likely to come back to your company. Think of it this way: Whom are you more likely to marry, your long-term partner or someone you met today? Same with marketing. Buyers are more likely going to come to your company if yours is the brand they're familiar with and the one they see sharing its expertise on blogs, Twitter, and industry websites. 

Value Word of Mouth

Buyers trust one another more than anything else. Engage with the community you’ve built through thought leadership and incentivize that army of advocates and influencers to work with you. Warm referrals between co-workers and friends are more important than ever in today’s noisy marketing world. The bigger your community gets, the more valuable it is. That being said, you have to invest in jump-starting any community. It’s your responsibility to keep the network active and engaged with your brand--the peer-to-peer referral effect doesn’t happen by itself. Instead, you have to offer people valuable content and keep them actively participating through events and other community incentives on a constant drumbeat.  

Your job as a marketer will never be over, and although that first year can be a whirlwind, it’s the most important time in a new business. It’s the time in which you set the tone for your entire brand, you begin to build a loyal audience person by person, you share with the world why your product is worth attention, and you encourage people to share that with one another. If you can focus on those core tenets as a new business marketer, you’re setting a solid foundation for a long time to come. 

 

Last updated: Feb 6, 2014

JON MILLER | Columnist

Jon Miller leads strategy and execution for Marketo. Before co-founding Marketo, Miller was vice president of product marketing at Epiphany and held positions at Exchange Partners and Gemini Consulting. Miller holds a bachelor?s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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