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Startups today face countless challenges.

Those challenges are client-facing and internal. For founders, the challenges are personal and professional. Managing those challenges alone is a hefty responsibility and a formidable full-time job, to say the least.

But at the heart of it all is marketing. Without a solid marketing process to generate and convert leads, the rest of the challenges will quickly become irrelevant.

So how does a startup build its marketing process from the ground up?

Examining the startup culture is the perfect place to answer this question, because not only are they doing it and doing it well, but many are wildly successful at doing so.

All businesses must operate with the understanding that today’s potential customers don’t want to be sold a product or a service. They expect businesses to understand them and their pain points. They expect a customized experience.

These five strategies can help startups build a marketing process that will drive long term success.

Step 1: Begin with the Right Corporate Mindset

Startups that focus heavily on generating short-term revenue often drive their marketing teams crazy. A company-first strategy is something that marketers in today’s environment want to avoid.

Customer-centric businesses, on the other hand, focus on building quality relationships and providing value to their customers. Engagement and connection are respected and valued.

It’s not the sole responsibility of the marketing team to adopt this mindset; every department must be customer-centric for the marketing process to be truly effective. Customers will quickly find out if you only talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

To ensure your startup begins as a customer-centric operation, the founder must first get on board and then the mindset must be deployed company-wide.

2. Define the Buyer Persona

Many organizations call themselves customer-centric, but map out their business processes without considering what their potential customers are experiencing.

Customers don’t care about the company’s marketing process. Customers are on their own purchasing journey, and it’s up to your business to find out what that journey looks like.

For a business to become customer-centric, everyone must understand who the ideal customer is.

So, who is your ideal customer?

Lay it all out. One characteristic at a time.

  • Age
  • Professional Title
  • Geographic Location
  • Income Level
  • Buying habits
  • Personality traits
  • Pain Points
  • Goals

Then share the buyer persona with members of your team and other teams throughout the company.

When every department is aligned with the buyer persona, each and every person throughout the organization can design, market, sell or provide customer service more effectively.

3. Track KPIs

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

To determine if the marketing process is working, businesses must track and measure progress.

Some of the most important metrics to track are conversion rates across stages. Analyzing the right metrics, or key performance indicators (KPIs), allows an organization to identify and remove roadblocks in the marketing processes.

Many leads will disappear throughout the marketing and sales process.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Assuming the majority of those leads were somewhat qualified, we can also assume that businesses have been able to glean valuable information about where potential customers are opting out and what is missing from the marketing plan.

4. Maintain Consistent Messaging and Branding

Many times, founders oversimplify the marketing process by overlooking the need for effective and consistent messaging. They think that because the startup is in its infancy, the many changes that are likely to happen render branding irrelevant.

While it’s true that startups will undergo minor changes over time, developing consistent messaging and branding is critical for instilling confidence and credibility with your customers.

The opposite is also true. Founders can needlessly complicate the marketing process by overloading the messaging with too much information.

Develop a process that provides just enough information at the right times without creating information fatigue for your leads.

5. Continue to Optimize the Process

Once the marketing process has been designed, many companies admire the impressive process that has been created and quickly get back to business. But the work is not over.

Startups must maintain a vigilant focus on continuous optimization of the marketing process. It is a work-in-progress and should be treated as such.

Final Thoughts

The basic tenets described in these five steps are only the foundation upon which to build out the rest of the process, but they should serve as the compass to direct the remainder of your startup’s marketing decisions.