7 Steps to Startup Marketing Strategy [Guide 2023]

Katarzyna Dereń Katarzyna Dereń
January 28, 2023 ・ 16 min read

Starting a business is an exciting and challenging initiative. A solid marketing strategy is essential for any startup looking to establish a foothold in the market and build a sustainable business.

Take a look at Airbnb, the home-sharing platform that disrupted the hotel industry by successfully marketing its unique value proposition of offering personalized accommodations for travelers. As a result, Airbnb drove growth in the long term.

With the right approach, a startup marketing strategy can turn a great idea into a thriving business.

Table of contents:

Is it possible to run a successful startup without investing in digital marketing?

Running a startup without a digital marketing strategy is nearly impossible nowadays.

In today’s digital age, most consumers spend a significant amount of their time online, and an increasing number of business transactions are conducted online.

By not investing in digital marketing, a startup may miss out on a significant portion of the market and potential customers.

Additionally, digital marketing channels such as social media, email marketing, and content marketing can be relatively low cost, but highly effective ways to reach and engage with customers, build a community around the brand, and generate leads and sales.

Furthermore, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can help startups to improve their visibility on search engines and attract more organic traffic to their website.

With the rise of e-commerce and online transactions, a great startup marketing strategy is essential for startups to establish a competitive edge and stand out in a crowded market. If a startup doesn’t invest in marketing, it will be much harder for them to compete with companies that do.

In short, a startup that doesn’t pay attention to marketing misses many business opportunities.

Monitor online mentions of your startup!

Importance of marketing for startups

Startups can benefit from marketing in several ways, including:

  • Building brand awareness: Marketing can help startups to establish a strong brand and create awareness about their products or services, which is crucial for long-term success.
  • Reaching a wider audience: Marketing can help startups reach a wide audience, increasing their chances of success.
  • Targeting specific segments: Marketing can help startups to target specific segments of the market with their advertising and messaging, which can increase the effectiveness of their campaigns.
  • Generating leads and sales: Marketing can help startups to generate leads and sales, which is crucial for their survival and growth.
  • Building customer loyalty: Marketing can help startups to build customer loyalty, which can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Gathering customer insights: Marketing can provide startups with valuable data and insights about their customers, which can be used to make data-driven decisions and optimize their marketing efforts.
  • Staying competitive: Marketing can help startups to establish a competitive edge and stand out in a crowded market.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Marketing channels are generally more cost-effective than traditional marketing channels, and startups can reach a wide audience with a relatively small budget.
  • Creating a strong online presence: Marketing can help startups to establish a solid online presence, which is crucial in today’s digital age. A robust online presence can increase visibility and credibility and help startups to build trust with their customers.
  • Building relationships: Marketing can help startups to build relationships with their customers, which can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth recommendations. By engaging with customers, startups can get valuable feedback and insights that can help them improve their products or services.
  • Measuring and analyzing: Each marketing channel provide startups with valuable data and insights about their target audience, which can be used to make data-driven decisions and optimize their marketing efforts. With the right metrics, startups can track their progress, measure the ROI of their campaigns, and make data-driven decisions.

7 steps to startup marketing strategy

Here are some steps that you need to take to develop a startup marketing plan:

01 Identify the target audience

Identifying the target audience for a startup is crucial for creating an effective marketing strategy. Here are some steps to help identify the target audience for a startup:

  • Define your product or service: Understand the features and benefits of your product or service, and how it solves a specific problem for a specific group of people.
  • Conduct market research: Conduct research on the market, including competitors, industry trends, and customer demographics. This can provide valuable insights into who will most likely be interested in your product or service.
  • Identify customer characteristics: Look at the characteristics of your ideal customer, such as age, gender, location, income, education, and interests.
  • Create buyer personas: Create buyer personas, which are fictional representations of your ideal customer. This can help you understand how to communicate with your target audience and what marketing channels to use.
  • Analyze data: Analyze data from your website, social media, and other sources to understand your audience and their behavior. This can provide valuable insights into who is visiting your website, what they are looking for, and how they interact with your brand.
  • Test and validate: Test your assumptions by talking to your customers, conducting surveys, or focus groups. This can validate your findings and help you fine-tune your target audience.
  • Keep updating: Keep updating your target audience based on new data and insights as customers’ needs and behavior change over time.

Monitor online mentions of your startup and products!

02 Create USP

A unique selling proposition (USP) is a statement that communicates the unique benefit or advantage that a product or service offers to customers.

When creating a USP for a startup, it’s essential to identify the unique benefit of the product or service and communicate it clearly and concisely.

It’s also important to ensure that the USP is something that the company can consistently deliver and is valuable to your target audience.

By having a clear and compelling USP, startups can stand out from the competition and attract the attention of potential customers. It will also be a strong point when positioning your startup in the market and communicating with investors.

Example of USP
Example of USP

03 Choose marketing goals

The most important marketing goals for startups can vary depending on the company’s specific needs and objectives. However, some common marketing goals for startups include:

  • Generating leads: This involves attracting potential customers to the startup’s website or other digital channels through tactics such as social listening, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Converting leads into customers: This involves turning website visitors into paying customers by creating a seamless and effective customer journey that includes calls-to-action (CTAs) and landing pages.
  • Scaling the business: This involves growing the business to a point where it can support large numbers of customers and generate significant revenue.
  • Achieving profitability: This involves creating a business model that generates enough revenue to cover costs and create a profit.
  • Maximizing ROI: This involves ensuring that the startup’s digital marketing efforts are generating a positive return on investment by focusing on cost-effective tactics and channels.
  • Building an engaged community: This involves creating a loyal following of customers, prospects and influencers who will support and promote the startup.
  • Raise brand awareness: This involves increasing the visibility of the startup’s brand through digital channels such as social media, search engines, and online advertising.
  • Use of automation: Automation tools can help startups save time and resources, by automating repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media posting, etc.

04 Choose digital marketing channels

Some of the most important marketing channels for startups include:

  • Social media: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be used to reach a broad audience, build a community around a brand, and engage with customers.
  • Content marketing: Creating valuable content such as blog posts, videos, and infographics can help to establish a startup as a thought leader in its industry and attract organic traffic to its website.
  • Email marketing: An email is still a powerful tool for reaching customers and building relationships. Email marketing can be used to nurture leads and convert them into customers.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is a set of techniques used to improve the visibility of a website on search engines like Google and Bing. By optimizing the website and its content, startups can attract more organic traffic to their website.
  • Influencer marketing: Partnering with social media influencers can help startups to reach a new audience and build trust and credibility.
  • Paid advertising: Platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads can help startups reach their target audience cost-effectively.
  • Chatbots and messaging apps: Chatbots and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger can be used to interact with customers and provide customer support, which can help to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Webinars and live streaming: Platforms like Zoom and YouTube Live can be used to host webinars and live streaming events, which can be an effective way to educate and engage with customers and build a community around a brand.
  • Affiliate marketing: By partnering with other businesses or individuals to promote their products or services, startups can tap into existing customer bases and reach new audiences.
  • Virtual events: With the rise of remote working, virtual events such as online conferences, webinars, and meetups can help startups to connect with customers and cost-effectively build their brands.

It’s worth noting that the most important channels for a startup will depend on the marketing budget, the specific industry, the audience, and the goals. 

05 Try social listening

Social listening is the process of monitoring and analyzing online conversations and mentions of a brand, product, or industry. 

Monitor online mentions of your startup and products!

It will help you:

  1. Understand how customers feel about their brand, products, or services and use this information to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  2. Monitor competitors, see what they are doing, what they are saying, and what strategies are working for them so that they can adapt and improve their own startup marketing plan.
  3. Identify and respond to customer complaints or issues in real-time, improving customer service and preventing negative sentiment from spreading.
  4. Track the success of hashtags or marketing campaigns by monitoring mentions, likes, shares, and other metrics, and use this information to improve future campaigns.
  5. Find influencers in the industry who can help you reach a wider audience and increase brand awareness.
  6. Identify industry trends, such as new technologies or changes in consumer behavior, and adapt their digital marketing efforts accordingly.

Overall, social listening is a powerful tool that can help startups gain a deeper understanding of their customers, competitors, and industry and use this information to improve their startup marketing tactics.

Mentions detected by the Brand24 tool
Mentions detected by the Brand24 tool

06 Build a strong brand

Branding is important for startups because it helps to establish the company’s identity and differentiate it from competitors.

A strong brand can also build trust and credibility with potential customers, investors, and partners.

Additionally, a well-defined brand can make it easier for a startup to communicate its value proposition and messaging.

Overall, a clear and consistent brand can help a startup to establish a foothold in the market and create a loyal customer base.

How to create a strong brand identity?

Creating a strong brand identity is an important step for startups to establish a presence in the market and build a loyal customer base. Here are some steps to help create a strong brand identity:

  1. Define your brand’s mission and values: Understand what it stands for and represents. This will help to guide all branding decisions and ensure consistency across all platforms.
  2. Research your competition: Research your competitors and understand what sets your brand apart from them. This will help you to identify your unique selling points and create a distinct image.
  3. Develop a brand voice: Develop a brand voice that reflects your mission and values, and that resonates with your target audience. This will help to create a consistent message across all platforms.
  4. Create a visual identity: Create a visual identity that represents your brand, including a logo, color scheme, and typography. This will help to create a consistent image across all platforms.
  5. Establish a brand personality: Establish a brand personality that reflects your mission, values, and target audience. This will help to create a connection with customers and foster a sense of community around the brand.
  6. Implement the brand: Implement the brand across all platforms, including the website, social media, packaging, and advertising. This will help to create a consistent image and message across all platforms.
  7. Monitor and adapt: Monitor the effectiveness of your branding efforts and adapt as needed based on customer feedback and market trends. This will help ensure the brand stays relevant and effective over time.

07 Measure and analyze results

To analyze data and make data-driven marketing decisions, businesses should follow these steps:

  • Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business: Identify the most important metrics for your business, such as website traffic, conversion rates, and customer engagement. These metrics will help you measure the success of your marketing campaigns. Check: Key Social Media Metrics
  • Collect and organize data: Collect data from various sources such as analytics tools, surveys, and customer feedback. Organize the data in a way that makes it easy to analyze and draw insights from. Check: The Best Social Media Analytics Tools to Use
  • Analyze the data: Use data analysis techniques such as segmentation, regression analysis, and A/B testing to understand the data and identify patterns and trends.
  • Draw insights: Use the data to draw insights about your customers, such as their behavior, demographics, and preferences. Use these insights to make informed decisions about your marketing strategy.
  • Test and iterate: Test your digital marketing strategies and campaigns, and use the data to make changes and improve them. Continuously analyze and iterate on your strategies to make them more effective over time.
  • Communicate your findings: Share your findings with the rest of the team so that they can use the data to make informed decisions.
  • Utilize data visualization tools: Data visualization tools such as charts, graphs, and diagrams can help you present your findings in a clear and easy-to-understand format.
  • Keep track of your progress: Keep track of your progress over time by regularly monitoring key metrics and comparing them to your goals. This will help you identify areas that need improvement and track the effectiveness of your data-driven marketing decisions.

Examples of great startup marketing strategies


Dropbox used a referral program as a key part of its startup marketing strategy, offering both the referrer and the referred additional storage space for each referral. This not only helped them acquire new users, but also incentivized existing users to promote the product.

Dropbox - referral program


Hootsuite’s early startup marketing plan was based on building a strong social media presence and community through engaging with users on various platforms and creating valuable content. They also leveraged influencer marketing and events to build brand awareness.


Slack’s early marketing plan relied heavily on content marketing, specifically targeted at the technology industry. They created a blog, The Slack Blog, and produced various content such as ebooks, webinars, and whitepapers.

Slack blog


Airbnb’s marketing strategy has created a sense of community and belonging. They often use user-generated content, such as photos and reviews, to showcase their platform’s unique experiences. They also leverage influencer marketing and events to build brand awareness and community engagement.


Uber’s early startup marketing plan was based on heavy promotions and discounts to attract customers and then relying on word-of-mouth and social media to sustain growth. They also leveraged partnerships with other companies and events to build brand awareness.

Uber - promo codes


HubSpot’s early startup marketing strategy was based on inbound marketing, which focuses on creating valuable content and experiences that attract customers to the website rather than interrupting them with traditional advertising. They utilized blog, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media to generate leads.


Canva’s startup marketing strategy is based on providing a free version of its design tool with a paid version for more advanced features. This allowed them to acquire a large user base quickly and then monetize through upgrades and additional features.

Canva - free tool

Monitor online mentions of your startup and products!


A startup marketing strategy is a vital component of the success of any new business. It is the foundation that helps startups to raise brand awareness, generate leads and acquire customers.

To build a solid startup marketing plan, you need to:

  1. Understand your target audience
  2. Define your unique value proposition
  3. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs)
  4. Utilize growth hacking techniques
  5. Measure and analyze efforts

Want to boost your marketing tactics? Try Brand24 for free!


What is startup marketing?

Startup marketing refers to the unique set of strategies and tactics used by early-stage companies to promote their products or services, grow their customer base, and establish a strong brand presence in the market. Given that startups often operate under resource constraints, their marketing approach must be highly creative, agile, and cost-effective.

Startup marketing might involve leveraging various channels and tactics, including but not limited to, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing, and public relations. A well-planned marketing campaign can drive awareness and lead to the growth of the startup business.

What are the stages of marketing for a startup?

Marketing for a startup generally follows these stages:

  1. Market Research: This is the initial phase where you identify your target audience, understand their needs and preferences, and analyze your competition. The information gathered here informs your entire marketing strategy.
  2. Product-Market Fit: In this stage, you align your product or service with identified market needs. You may need to tweak your offering based on customer feedback to ensure it provides value to your target audience.
  3. Pre-Launch Marketing: This is when you start to create buzz around your product or service. You can do this through a variety of marketing channels such as email newsletters, social media, and influencer partnerships.
  4. Launch: The launch is when you officially introduce your product or service to the market. This might involve a major marketing push, including creating ads for various channels to reach a larger audience.
  5. Growth and Retention: After the launch, the focus shifts to attracting new customers and retaining existing customers. This can be achieved through tactics like content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and paid ads.
  6. Expansion: Once you’ve secured a strong customer base and steady revenue, you might consider expanding into new markets or developing new products or services.

Each of these stages requires a different marketing approach, and the tactics used will continually evolve based on the startup’s growth and market response.

How do I find startup customers?

Finding customers for your startup involves a combination of precise targeting and proactive outreach. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Understand Your Target Market: Conducting market research will help you identify your ideal customers, understand their needs, preferences, and the channels they frequent.
  2. Leverage Social Media Channels: Having a robust presence on social media is crucial. Engage with your audience through consistent and valuable content, participate in relevant discussions, and promote your product or service.
  3. Networking and Events: Attend industry events, trade shows, and networking gatherings. This allows you to connect with potential customers, partners, and even mentors. Online webinars and virtual conferences can also be valuable.
  4. Engage Early Adopters: Early adopters are those who are keen to try new products or services and can provide invaluable feedback. They can become advocates for your brand, helping to spread the word.
  5. Referral Marketing: Encourage your satisfied customers to refer others to your business. You can incentivize this through a referral program that rewards customers for every successful referral.
  6. Partnerships: Collaborate with businesses that complement your offering. Their customers could potentially be interested in your product or service too.

How to do product marketing at a startup?

Product marketing at a startup is a crucial process to successfully introduce your product to the market and build customer engagement. Here are steps to execute it effectively:

  1. Know Your Product and Market: It starts with an in-depth understanding of your product’s unique features, benefits, and the problem it solves. Concurrently, conduct market research to understand your target audience and competitors.
  2. Develop a Positioning Statement: Define the unique value your product brings to the market. This positioning statement will be central to all your communication and marketing strategies.
  3. Define Your Marketing Strategy: Build a successful marketing strategy to reach your target audience. This might involve content marketing, social media marketing, email campaigns, SEO, PPC advertising, and influencer partnerships.
  4. Create a Launch Plan: This involves choosing a launch date, coordinating marketing activities leading up to the launch, and planning any launch events or promotions.
  5. Execute Your Marketing Strategy: Implement the strategies outlined in your marketing plan. This could include creating and distributing content, running social media campaigns, or launching your email marketing campaign.
  6. Monitor and Adjust: Regularly review your strategy’s performance using the right metrics such as customer acquisition cost, conversion rate, or customer lifetime value. Use these insights to adjust your strategy and ensure the best return on investment.

Remember, while product marketing at a startup can be challenging, it offers the opportunity to create innovative campaigns that genuinely resonate with your audience. A successful marketing strategy takes time, experimentation, and adaptability.