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As a startup founder, you are focused on reaching product/market fit, collecting feedback from your first customers, iterating your product, building business partnerships and raising money.

Now that first money has come in, and you can finally think about leveling up your startup marketing. You have the option to hire a full-time marketer, engage with an agency or contract a freelancer. The priority is to start your content marketing efforts and where possible implement marketing automation. There are common mistakes you can make which can be costly at such a sensitive phase. Together with Nick we are offering a range of services targeted at Startups. Here is our approach and how we help startups avoid the pitfalls of bad marketing.

A lot of questions you might have to answer before kicking off your marketing efforts

A lot of questions you might have to answer before kicking off your startup marketing efforts

Get to know your target group

You have thought about your potential customers and their problems all the time while developing your product, but maybe never sat down to write those findings down on a piece of paper. Before rushing into creating content or booking ads it is important to think about the audiences you want to reach. We help you to do that. That is called creating a marketing persona. Here is a guide on how to get started with that, and by doing this it is possible to increase your ROI.

Talk about your goals

What should your startup marketing activities lead to? Are you selling a product to get shipped and your goal is to make a sale, or a software product and generate sign ups, or leads for sales to follow up? What does the customer journey look like, what does your funnel look like, and how long is your sales cycle?

At different stages along a customer journey goals may differ, for example, objectives for a B2C and a B2B can be different and can include:

  • Build subscribers or followers, get shares on your content
  • Get potential customers to leave an email, fill out a form or request a demo of your product
  • Download a whitepaper, a software trial or demo content
  • Start a chat, a webinar or watch a live video
  • Order a product, buy a subscription
  • Request to get contacted via sales

Create a content marketing strategy

Based on your findings, from answering the questions above, you will be able to sit down as a team and work on the question of which content will interest your target groups. This involves a content brainstorming, putting that content in different categories along the customer journey, calculating resources and discussing what you think is needed to make this strategy succeed.

Your content strategy should reflect your business strategy and give a clear understanding of where it leads to. Remember a nice mix between deep and shallow content helps widen your reach and makes the resources stretch a little further as well.

Talk about the tech

Thousands of apps, tools, and software options are available to set up your marketing infrastructure stack. We help you focus on a few, guiding you to choosing the right toolset for your business. If you are new to this you will be overwhelmed by the options available and could get lost when trying to evaluate all by yourself, wasting valuable time.

For example:

  • Landing pages: Should you use Hubspot, Unbounce, Instapage, or …
  • Social Media Publishing and Monitoring: Hootsuite, Bufferapp, Swat.io or …
  • Building Followers on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin
  • Web Analytics: Which tools in addition to Google Analytics should we use? I.e. Mixpanel, Hotjar
  • Newsletter and tools for subscription forms: What fits best for us?

Decide on which platforms to launch presences on

For blogging and social media – there are many options available. Depending on your resources you have to decide where to start and how to build a following.

Each platform has its own technicalities, so pushing the same content to every platform though possible, is likely not to lead to any brand awareness or quality followers. Self-hosting is usually the better idea in the long term.

Talk about your existing data or network

If you worked on your product or service for some time, you have already started your marketing effort. Maybe it was just 1:1 or 1:few, at pitching events and meetups, biz-dev or sales meetings. This means you already have momentum. Maybe it is just 50 email addresses to get started with, a Facebook page or a LinkedIn account or a meetup you founded. You do not start from scratch and can start to market your product to the people in your network first. You can use old pitch decks, brainstorming sessions etc to start with

Work on long-term vs. Short-term strategy

Answering all those questions is nothing you can finish in one day, especially with people from different business areas involved. While you are working on answering these questions you will have to execute some activities right away. If you sent a monthly newsletter, don’t stop doing it now, if you run a presence on Facebook, keep doing it in the meantime.

Benefits for founders and startup marketers

Hire the right marketer

Depending on your marketing goals you can create a profile for your first full-time in-house marketer. We help you to find the right talent by creating the job description with you, giving you a list of potential interview questions, give feedback on potential candidates and then help with onboarding.

What are typical questions or topics a marketer should know about?

This is a primer on questions to be discussed or point that might be built in your marketing team (and some blog examples we created on that topics):

A typical startup marketing journey

A typical startup marketing journey

Let’s talk about budget

Our approach is to work through these questions with startup founders and marketers, leaving you with a strategy on how to get started and avoid burning money. We help you to calculate a marketing budget to get this strategy alive. i.e. budgets for content creation can be very different: starting a video blog will require more resources than kicking off a presence on Twitter. Quickly setting up a single landing page with WordPress is easier then relaunching your whole web-presence etc.

Typical questions asked:

  • What SAAS tools should we subscribe to / buy
  • On average, how long does the creation of the blog post about X take and how much does it cost?
  • How much time is needed to run your social media presences, what does outsourcing cost?
  • We need a video interview with our founders to pitch to investors, how much budget is needed?

Growth hacking and creativity

As soon as your marketing department is getting the basics right and starting to feel secure in executing your daily business you can start thinking about a more creative approach. You will learn about the concept of Growth hacking, what is behind the ongoing buzz and what skills, methods (or unknown territory) you need to explore to take your digital marketing to the next steps.

Blue = getting the basics right and the infrastructure in place. Green = time to explore new territories

Blue = getting the basics right and the infrastructure in place.
Green = time to explore new territories

What are the top reasons to hire an agency like Fresh van Root to driving your startup’s marketing effort?

  • Put the juniors on the fast track: after funding, get them ready to do the best job they can
  • Avoid common mistakes, present the company state of the art on digital channels
  • Give Startups senior knowledge, avoid losing money
  • Mentoring support = peace of mind
  • Access to a pool of marketing talent and freelancers
  • Know how transfer on all state of the art tactics and tools
  • Faster time2market

These is just a very rough overview on a few things you might want to think about before rushing into executing single marketing activities. If you need help in getting started you can use our

  • first-hour free consulting option or hire us to host an in-house workshop with your team to work on those questions.
  • Is your startup taking part in WeXelerate accelerator program? You can book an office hour via the portal

In any case, feel free to reach out to us via email to office[at]freshvanroot.com or FB, TW, etc.


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  1. Dear Rolf, thanks a lot for the most fruitful meeting at wexelerate. Your advice in terms of how to get started in marketing our product is highly appreciated and will prevent our project definitely from some stranded funds. Kind regards, George

  2. Great article, well done Rolf! . I should say it’s quality reading also for pre-funding start-up, and I’m the right example. When you are going to present your business plan to any serious and senior business angel or early-VC. Preparation of you marketing strategy will show them you are ready and have good vision for rolling out. It can help a lot when you are from more tech scene like AI, BioTech, VR/AR, to see both sides of your business.

  3. Guys, thank you very much for all your advice and tips on how to create a content marketing strategy during our WeXelerate meeting. We took all your ideas into account and we are planning to build our blog and content around it. Thanks one more time :)

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