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“If no one knows about your product, your startup will never take off.”
Some of the world’s leading software products have been built by some of the best engineers and developers. Even if you create the most sophisticated and slick application, however, if it doesn’t get noticed, it will often lead to nothing.
This is why marketing is essential for any entrepreneur looking to build their startup. For example, if you look at Slack, Butterfield used traditional strategies like PR and word of mouth to get his product into the hands of other tech companies within his network.
For other companies like Robinhood, it built hype over a waiting list with a product that seemed too good to be true at the time (no fees for trading stocks).
Marketing should be a part of any startup strategy, and those that don’t pay attention may pay the consequences down the path.
It is important, however, to understand what type of strategy works with your product. A waiting list could work for some startups but not for others (trust me, I’ve experimented myself!), and it’s important to develop marketing skills that matter to your product.
However, for most startups, you can still pick up many marketing skills that will help you in the long-run, no matter the situation.
Let’s look at some of the more essential marketing skills needed if you’re an entrepreneur.
1. Creating a content writing / SEO strategy
Content marketing is still very underrated as a marketing skill, even though many companies leverage blogs as one of their main traffic sources.
Although content marketing and SEO can have a separate correlation, I decided to group these as they often go hand in hand. One of the best ways to drive traffic is through targeted blogs to your personas. For example, I wanted to drive marketing and product personas to Yought’s Blog, so I built specific content that targeted those that might search for blogs that I produced.
One of the best resources for learning this is Ahref’s content marketing blog. It’s one of the most comprehensive reads that kick starts your journey on creating content and optimizing it for SEO.
Companies that have blogs generate 67% more leads per month than companies who don’t have blogs –Source
Unless you’re releasing a product tomorrow, producing content is a strategy that pays dividends in the long run and should be on your to-do list for learning marketing skills.
2. Knowing how to use email marketing
I often see emails done incorrectly. I get a handful of cold emails every day from aspiring new entrepreneurs, businesses, agencies, and more. As much as I’d love to reply to each one, I just don’t have time.
Usually, the ones that catch my attention are the ones that manage to add a layer of personalization within the email.
However, cold emails are just one tactic under the umbrella of email marketing.
Even those with email lists, many have no idea how to engage them properly. Some of the most basic email marketing strategies can not only help you nurture your list but also sell into it later down the line.
For a basic list, here are some emails you should have in your strategy:
Nurture emails — Usually, you can set up a general 5–8 email sequence to nurture your email list.
Onboarding emails — Self-explanatory.
Churn emails — This is if someone cancels their subscription.
Re-engage emails — This could be if someone signed up for your product and never did anything else after that.
Sales engagement — This will depend on how you set it up, but usually, you want the user to be engaged with a few of your emails before you send this out.
These are just some of the many types you can do, but one of the beauties of setting up your email strategy is this can all be automated. Once you set it up, you can set and forget it and periodically update the content if need be.
There are many email tools in the market today that can help set this up, and most make it quite easy to do so. Here are some great examples:
3. A basic foundation of graphic design skills
Graphic design can be an underrated part of any business.
This is because first impressions do actually matter and gives a unique identity to your business. How your startup is presented, including graphics, colors, and even your website, are vital parts of your marketing.
For example, startups like Squarespace and Slack have a very distinct look and feel.
While you don’t need to become an expert in graphics design, it’s important to have a fundamental understanding of it, at least. With tools in the market like Canva, it’s never been easier to create your brand and logos. On top of this, you can use these programs to help create eBooks and other marketing material that your startup needs.
Although outsourcing the graphic design work might be suitable for some, grasping a basic foundation of graphic design skills will carry your marketing from the beginning of your startup until you establish enough of a business.
4. Learn video marketing
Video is becoming an essential part of everyday life for consumers. It is estimated in 2021 that people will spend at least 100 minutes a day watching videos.
It is one of the most important parts of marketing and yet is still underrated. Although making videos might not come naturally to you, many startups can leverage it in various ways.
Some ways to use video marketing include demos, how-to guides, and explainer type videos.
48% of consumers want videos to reflect what they are interested in — Source
Beyond this, you can use video marketing via channels like Youtube, TikTok, Snapchat, and even LinkedIn Live. All of these are viable channels to build a brand and expose your startup to a wider audience. This, of course, depends on what your business is.
Although creating videos is more complicated than creating graphics, it is still a relatively important skill to pick up. There are many tools in the market that help create demos while learning to edit is relatively straightforward (I learned to create videos on Adobe Premiere).
5. Market themselves and their vision
I often see entrepreneurs, especially newer ones, sell themselves short, especially their product. More than often, investors will not only look if your product is solving a pain point (and if there is a market to be gained) but also you as a person and team.
They want to believe in your vision, and your product should also be marketable to build interest.
Of course, sometimes products get overvalued (E.g., Theranos and WeWork), but even then, most of these products get to this stage due to successfully marketing the vision and themselves.
Marketing is often a skill that many entrepreneurs choose not to pay as much attention to compared to product and development.
However, some essential marketing skills will help any entrepreneur, especially those looking for a more sustainable long-term focus around their business.
*Note some links above are affiliate links