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This is the tenth article in a series on how to start a company in 2020. See the previous article, Outsource Ancillary Functions.

“Guerrilla marketing is needed because it gives small businesses a delightfully unfair advantage: certainty in an uncertain world, economy in a high-priced world, simplicity in a complicated world, marketing awareness in a clueless world.” – Jay Conrad Levinson, Father of Guerrilla Marketing

The specifics of how you will create demand (marketing) and how you will generate revenue (sales) should be detailed in a Guerilla Marketing and Sales Plan that is separate from the business plan.

Unless you have millions of dollars for advertising and promotion – and to deploy a large direct sales force – you have no choice but to do guerrilla marketing. There are many books, blogs and how-to resources available on the subject. They all boil down to three things:

  1. How will you generate awareness for your product among the target audience?
  2. How will you create customer affinity for your product over competing products?
  3. How will you facilitate customer advocacy of your product that creates more customers and creates virality and network effects?

Those are the key marketing objectives of every startup. Sales, on the other hand, comprise a very different set of functions. Sales is a contact sport. It is done with cold calls/emails, one-on-one meetings, networking events and old fashion customer service. Sales closes the deal and gets the order. Your marketing and sales plan should distinctly address the strategies, tactics and actions for both marketing and selling your product.

Things to Think About and Decide

First, think about all the ways you could reach your target customers with as little money as possible.

Second, think about the “story” you want to tell them and what form that should take, such as a video, a trial, a sample, or a testimonial from a real customer.

Third, think about who the influencers are in the marketplace. Are there certain people that if they used your product could influence hundreds or thousands of others to buy it?

Fourth, think about which sales channels are best for your product. Will you sell direct? Will you sell through wholesalers, distributors or retailers?

Fifth, decide on your budget and determine which guerrilla marketing strategies and tactics you can afford to do a soft launch of your product.

Things to Do (or not)

  • Estimate your cost of customer acquisition and the lifetime value of the average customer. Continually measure these metrics until you get accurate and predictable numbers.
  • Update all of your social media accounts to have a serious profile picture and professional personal description, removing any comments, photos, jokes or other material that may be viewed as unprofessional. Customers and investors “buy” the people behind a startup before they buy the product.
  • Hire a talented (and experienced) copywriter on contract. It’s one of the best marketing investments you can make.
  • Develop an email mailing list of at least 25 friends, associates, advisers and target customers that you will send monthly progress updates to about your business and progress. Enroll these people as brand ambassadors.
  • Write at least 15 phrases for Google, Facebook, Linkedin, or other high-traffic social media site that your customers use. Create and test different ads that capture your positioning. Refine the ads based on click-thrus.
  • Test two or three different landing pages for your web site and track views, clicks and conversions.
  • After you have tested various landing page designs, create and launch a website or blog. Test the site on various services like UsabilityHub.com.
  • Create company pages on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites that your customers use. Deploy a system to post content to your blog and social media pages. Track the results.
  • Identify 6-10 journalists or bloggers that have covered your market and related companies. Add an insightful comment to each relevant story written by each of them and link to the comment from your blog.
  • Do not hire a PR firm for your launch. Instead, identify three newsworthy milestones that your company has achieved (or will achieve) and have your copywriter draft three press releases. Send out one press release every 3-4 weeks.
  • Do not hire a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firm or consultant. You don’t have enough money or market awareness (yet) to dominate keywords. Instead, use free tools like Google Analytics and free trial accounts with services like Moz to optimize your website with the appropriate keywords, tags, labels, and metadata.

Recommended Readings & Resources

Startup Marketing and Sales, Video by Geoff Wilson and Steve Tingiris

Startup Selling, Video by Mike O’Donnell, StartupBiz

Newsjacking, The art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story and generating media coverage and social media engagement.

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, Great book by Ryan Holiday

Strategic Sales Presentations, Book by Jack Malcolm

Fiverr.com, Hire people to answer your questions, perform small tasks.

MechanticalTurk – Amazon, Conduct market research. Survey your target audience. Mobilize workers to complete small tasks for your startup.

iStockPhoto and 123RF.com, Royalty free stock photography, images and clip art.

MailChimp, Build and manage an email list of customers and supporters. Send emails to opt-in list.

ReTargeter and Google AdWords, Ad platforms for driving traffic to your website. Create launch ad campaigns with banner ads and pay-per-click text ads.

Webpage Test, Test your website’s performance.

Wufoo Form Builder and TypeForm, Great apps for creating and managing forms on your website or blog.

Screencast-O-Matic.com, Capture screen shots of your app; record an online demo.

moz, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and diagnostic app.

Skitch and Snag It, Annotate, edit and share your screen shots with Skitch. Capture screen shots with Snag It. Tech Smith also offers a video production app, but it is quite pricey for most startups.

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Stay tuned for Step 11, Capitalize the Company

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Post Author: Michael ODonnell