If you are a startup that is just about to launch your product/service are there steps that every startup should take to form a solid foundation for their marketing outreach strategy?
What were some of the things that were on your marketing plan when you started out that were successful and provided the highest rate of return.
Is a marketing plan even necessary?
What you need is a Go to Market Strategy. The components of which are listed below:
The best thing to do is start this early and update often. It also should be tied to your product development plans so that they are in sync and ready when the product is ready.
You don't need a 'formal' marketing plan, but you do need to have a plan of action. Doing nothing but allowing google to index your site will get you nowhere.
There are many good books on this subject. Many have been mentioned on this site, if you search for 'marketing books'. My greatest discovery in marketing, is that the best marketing strategy is not trying to perform 'mass marketing' techniques. This 'impersonal' strategy just doesn't seem to work for newcomers. You should try to think more 'personal' when starting your marketing. Think 'one personal action at a time'.
Set up google alerts to alert you when there's anything posted about your specific domain. Then, go and add comments to the article/thread/post, and show you know what you're talking about. Leave your signature/link to your site. This will begin to drive traffic to your site, while improving your rankings with search phrases on the page you posted to. It will also get you known in the social realm of your domain. Put a lot of thought into your posts/comments. Bad posts and comments will just drive away business.
There are very good books on 'social web marketing'. These books will change the way you think about traditional marketing techniques in todays connected society.
Here's a few suggestions to get you going
I will answer absolutely yes. But "plan" to me is a process and the information created at the end of that process no matter what final form it takes. It could be a 100 page marketing plan, a one-page executive summary or everything in your head. It can literally be a month long, around the clock effort or a half day working session or even a couple hours at lunch. But you need to know the basic answers. My outline that I've used for years, definitely customized based on particular situations:
SITUATION ANALYSIS - what does the world you're competing in look like?
SITUATION ANALYSIS - what does your internal world look like?
MARKETING EXECUTION - where are you going and how will you get there?
I'd argue that if you don't know this information then you're hurting your chances of success. And the plan should be regularly reviewed and adjusted based on what you learn as you execute it.
Best of luck,
Yes, of course a plan is necessary! And the process is fairly straightforward.
Identify your market, your segments. Try to determine which 'methods' will reach them, with least effort, least cost, and greatest penetration.
Create a GREAT message, say it often, say it loud and say it in the right places.
What tools you use, how much you use them, and how much you spend are the variables. Measure the 'results', revise your plan, and re-implement.
Repeat as needed.
Hope this helps.
To keep it really simple as there has been a lot of good detail written already - you absolutely have to understand your target market. Conversations are only effective if you are talking to somebody - a conversation with a dark room is a waste of time. Visualise who your potential customers are and most importantly how your product is going to make their life easier or more fulfilling.
Once you know who they are, work out where they are and then all of the excellent ideas above can be utilised.