Startup your Startup Marketing Part 1: The Basics

You had a clever idea once and with a little blood, sweat, and code you’ve made it a reality. Congratulations, you’re a startup! Now what? In theory, you could just keep your prototype all to yourself, maybe a few close friends, but where’s the profit in that? You want to sell your hard work and grow your production to serve as many people as possible right? You’re certain if more people knew about your clever new product or service you’d be living a Shut up and take my money! meme. If you or any of your team went to business school then you probably already know what comes next: now you need Marketing.

Over the next three weeks we’ll be sharing a comprehensive marketing strategy you can use to get your fledgling startup from zero to hero. We’re kicking it off this week with “The Basics,” where we cover the brand collateral your startup needs before you even have the investors to pay for it. We'll be back next week with Creating Your Startup Strategy” where we outline how to plan a creative marketing strategy. And the last week we’ll finish up with The Fun Stuff,” where we cover promotional materials and how best to use them.

Alright, let’s get started.

To get your startup off the ground you know you need two kinds of people, investors and customers. With that in mind, we have a list of the minimum materials you’ll need to attract them, if you’re independently wealthy you can ignore this advice–but for the rest of us, pay attention. To get the most out of your marketing you must have:

  • a style guide
  • business cards
  • a pitch deck
  • a one-pager
  • a web presence

Everything comes after the style guide. Your startup has a story to tell and your style guide defines the visual language you'll use to tell your story. At a minimum, it includes your logo and its variants, primary and secondary colors, a typeface, and simple do’s and don’t for your brand. It’s important to define your brand before someone else does it for you. This can be as detailed or as sparse as you need it, just make sure the choices you make are supported by the research you conducted on yourself and your customers. Dating apps won’t have the same “vibe” as a service robot and nothing looks like a dating app for service robots. This is how you tell your story across multiple platforms and manage to make it all sound consistent.

For your business cards, you should only use a Moo template to get you through your first hundred days. Be sure your cards adhere to your style guide, they have the correct colors, fonts, and logo. Just remember to check your printer's specifications. Lookout for size, bleed, color and finish, they can all be used to make a fancier business card, but they can also come back to haunt you if your printer is subpar. Buyer beware.

Pitch decks, you know you need one, you might even have one, but does it match your style guide? It should. Your pitch deck is the story you tell investors and it should sound like you. Investors only spend an average of 3 minutes and 44 seconds looking at your pitch deck. You want it to grab their attention, and you want it to be memorable (in a good way). Keep your slide deck short with no more than 20 slides and only have one idea presented on each slide. Don’t overwhelm your 4 minutes. Finally, let your slides show and your speaker tell, and less is always more.

The next thing you’re going to need is a one-pager. This is your leave-behind. Think of it as a halfway point between a business card and a pitch deck. You want to give your investors something tangible to remember you by. A business card is too small to tell them anything meaningful about what you do, and a pitch deck shouldn’t have so much detail that it’s capable of standing on its own. One-pagers, also known as one-sheets, are 8 ½ X 11 (same size as a normal sheet of paper) and are detailed summaries of your pitch deck. Select the most important, and most accessible parts of your pitch deck and don’t forget to use your style guide.

Finally, you need a presence on the world wide web. Designing and launching a whole website while running a fledgling startup is more than a little ambitious. Which is why most startups opt for a landing page. Your “coming soon” page can spread the word about your exciting new project with sections for ”Clients” or “As Seen In,” all while capturing user information or gaining an additional social network follower. As to whether or not your buisness needs its own social media account is up to you. It's not advisable to start creating social media content before you have a strategy, just use the platforms that make the most sense for networking within your industry.

Initially, startup marketing should be utilitarian. Focus on honing your brand's visual language, make the necessary networking collateral you’ll use to get investors, then once you have the capital you can move on to a real marketing strategy. We'll go into more detail about that next week when we discuss startup strategy.

Until then…