Profit 101 Video: Startup Costs - Marketing

Nov 8, 2023

A breakdown of marketing needs for your startup

Startup Marketing Costs
Startup Marketing Costs

You've got to understand your marketing funnel from top to bottom, and I would argue that nobody can understand this other than you. This is actually a key differentiator in startups today. If 10-15 years ago, or further back, tech startups were differentiated more by their technology, increasingly, I believe they're differentiated more by their marketing. This is because the cost of delivering software or creating software and creating good technology is dropping, so that's becoming less of a barrier to entry and less of a differentiator. The ability to market and to reach your customer base effectively is more of a differentiator. It's always been important, but it's become more accentuated as a result. So, you've got to understand this process within your business and understand all of the channels, even if you don't end up executing all of them.

What are the channels? I'm no marketing genius, so you can probably find many better videos on this anywhere you look, but of course, you've got your social, email, direct — by which I mean meeting people face to face — and through conferences, which can be very effective, particularly in vertical niches.

Email really takes on two types. There's what I'll call cold outbound email and then there's email more newsletter style. You've got both of those and lots of additional potential channels that you could hit. These are some of the highlights, actually. The other ones would be the content piece and SEO, so bringing those folks searching for your product in organically.

All of these channels, and many more, but when you look at them, when you actually break them down, social — who better than you to actually get out there and spread your message on social media? Also, because who knows the message other than you? You need to experiment with the message before you can scale it and hand it off to someone. You've got to get out there and do that posting or at least create the content that needs to get posted.

Then, use AI. Honestly, there's a free version I believe of Buffer, so there's tools that can help you spread the same message across many different social media platforms. You can accomplish that one at low cost; you just have to do the work of creating the actual content.

Similarly, cold outbound email has gotten harder, but there's tools like Warmly, Instantly, that have relatively inexpensive tiers or even free tiers to help you get started with this and to do some experiments before you go further.

Conferences aren't cheap, but there are conferences like SaaStr where you can volunteer to gain access. As an early stage founder, that's an important way to be able to get out there and interact with others in your industry. If nothing else, you can start by attending before you buy an actual booth. It's also worth noting that in many industry conferences, there is a special discounted rate for startups, and for technology kiosks, there's often a tech alley or something similar in a lot of conferences that you can access at a cheaper rate. Finally, on conferences, they're almost always negotiable, so negotiate the price you pay, unlike with software that you buy online.

Newsletter emails, of course, there's premium tiers for almost all of these products, and the content SEO — I guess I missed the other one which is SEM, so paid ads. Hey, content, going back to the social media, you've got to write that content. There are lots of tools, many with premium tiers, which help on the SEO side. On the SEM side, this means Google ads and Facebook ads, and so forth. Don't think you need to blow a budget out to start getting some initial test feedback. I found that $10 a day will do.

It's a lot of channels in aggregate when you look at marketing, and this is actually why I think that one of the two co-founders in most effective startups is going to be someone who takes this by the horns. Even if you don't have a technical co-founder but you've got a product co-founder, somebody who owns that, well, you should have someone who owns this. Or if you are the technical founder, then you need to find that co-founder who owns all this because there are so many channels it's enough work that it is a full-time job, and something I think you should invest in directly before you try to pay somebody to do it, particularly before you even know what your message is.

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