A start-ups success often comes down to its marketing.And yet the vast majority of start-up founders have no marketing experience and little spend. How do you deal with this dangerous contradiction. There are a million articles out there on brand development, launch marketing, PR, viral videos and more. Reading them all would be a start – or you can check our blur Group’s tried and tested approach below! The framework below, done right, is typically rolled out, step by step, over 18 months. Hope it helps.
A Brand (start-up) or Product Launch Framework
1. Strategic Positioning (& Early Adopter Target Market Definition)The first step in a successful brand/product launch programme is a strategic positioning exercise including the early adopter target market simulation. Correct positioning is as critical as aiming your guns in the right direction at the start of an assault. Start by defining the ‘category’ that your product/service exists within and then map it to its key product benefits, the core value proposition and competitor benchmarking right down to core messages and launch strategies, plans and objectives – at least for the first 12-24 months. Keep asking who exactly is my customer and why exactly should they buy from me?
2. Brand DevelopmentIn this world of intangibles and endless competition branding is everything. Your name, logo and URL need to stand out from the crowd and ‘mean something’. You should run a quality yet rapid programme for developing the best fit brand name, iconography and/or logo – and start with URL’s that are available. Get creative. Don’t put it off. You’ll only regret it later. Strap lines need to be created as well where necessary. If you already have the right name and URL’s give it the right look and feel – a logo to lure employees, customers and partners from day one.
3. Web PresenceIn the new dawn of social media and digital marketing your Web presence is more important than ever – and more complicated. It no longer includes just a brochureWare or functional Website – you need a sophisticated website – think website as customer ‘application’ rather than for information. You’ll also need a rich blog site, a dynamic Facebook Fan page and the right Twitter page at a minimum. Some also need Web apps, Facebook apps, iPhone apps and more. Get your Web presence right before launch! It’s all in the design, but content and structure is critical – embedded with the most relevant key words, SEO tags and visual elements.
4. Blog StrategyNo business can get by without a successful blog. By the end of 2011 43% of all US companies will have a blog – don’t be one of the 57% left behind. It’s the core of a modern, ‘Social’ marketing and communications strategy. It should enhance the company’s strategic positioning, promote its product/service category, define credentials, messages and benefits as well as drive a successful thought leadership and ‘challenger’ framework. The blog is your marketing front foot – make sure it strikes out for you. Blog sites should be set up properly, designed professionally and managed tightly. Editorial strategies need to be developed, writers appointed, guest programmes implemented and content carefully planned and produced.
5. Digital PR & PartneringTo support and drive the company’s Web presence and social media marketing activities a digital PR and partnering programme needs to be kicked off not just to drive communications, traffic, networking and partnering but also to monitor conversations, WOM and online reputation. Twitter is your main tool – but an effective digital PR and partnering programme should be tightly linked to the key, numeric business goals and help drive revenues and clients/users. Advanced digital PR techniques such as viral, Crowdsourcing, community and WOM should be mastered to enhance day to day digital PR and partnering mechanisms. In the digital domain PR should include customer and business development communications as well as the standard blogger and media outreach.
6. Viral videos & guerrilla marketingViral video and guerrilla marketing programmes (both for B2B and B2C environments) done in the right way can help amplify and spike awareness and WOM. They should be carefully produced and executed as done in the wrong way or too fast they can back fire. Viral videos/games and guerrilla activities are all about great, original ideas, content and production. Some of the most viral videos cost next to nothing to produce. Just get creative – and remember real humour nearly always works.
7. SEO & Link-SpreadingSemantic as well as algorithmic SEO initiatives must be applied to ensure that your Web presence, blog, digital PR and social media marketing activities have a solid technical underpinning and get effectively amplified with the network dynamics that the Internet can deliver. A link-spreading and link-baiting strategy should be tightly co-ordinated with the digital PR and social media marketing programme. Key words are King – research them, develop them, extend them and have them drive your content.
8. Online AdvertisingPhase 1 and Phase 2 put in place a firm and cost effective launch programme with basic viral ingredients. Once adopted and effectively running it should be further extended and enhanced. This is what Phase 3 is about – kicking off with online advertising programmes. Now that you know a great deal more about your brand, product/service, market, prospects, users, clients and partners post launch, you are in a better position to develop effective advertising programmes. A Google AdWords programme is the best place to start as it is cost effective, flexible, results oriented and highly scalable. Following this Yahoo/Bing, Facebook ads and banner campaigns can be considered and developed.
9. Strategic PRDigital PR activities form the bread and butter of PR today – now it needs a few toppings. PR initiatives to strategically drive event or research driven, high profile awareness with big media and high impact events can be developed once your brand and product/service are established and likely to get the response and recognition necessary. This is rifle shot to high reader, relevant media, critical conferences and later radio and TV. It’s rifle to target ‘big impact’. This kind of PR is the topping not the cake.
10. Crowdsourcing CampaignsCrowdsourced campaigns have become another key arrow in the Social marketing quiver. Large brands and SME’s are starting to tap into the power of the Crowd for contest based campaign ideas as well as viral content development and marketing. Crowdsourcing can also be used for cost effective business development, market research, opinion gathering, customer service support and more.
11. Speaking & BriefingOnce your reputation and awareness has been developed a highly targeted speaking and analyst/media briefing programme should be developed to ensure that your brand remains top of mind and relevant. By now you should be developing content and initiatives that drive your thought leadership position in the market. Time to take the lead – take it on the road. Beyond launch!
©blur Group 2010. All rights reserved.
Image Courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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