Branding and brand awareness are two of the first areas most startups prioritize when it comes to marketing. Establishing a brand and growing brand awareness are important (and doable) for young startups, but many approach these areas in the wrong way.
I’ll give you the dos and don’ts in this blog, including how one Accelity client developed a strong industry presence in just a year and a half.
What not to do
Too often, we see cash-strapped startups spend $10,000-$50,000 on their brand, logo, website, etc. early in their existence. This is the wrong strategy.
Of course, a business needs a name, logo, colors and website—but I highly recommend going the simple route with all of these elements. Work with someone on Fiverr (or a similar platform) to create a logo and basic website. Why go basic with your startup’s brand?
- In your startup’s earliest days, your #1 priority should be generating leads and getting your first few customers. Too many startups spend months getting their logo and website perfect, only to realize they haven’t nailed product-market fit and need to go back to the drawing board. Start with a quick and dirty brand, then go validate your business by getting a few paying customers in the door.
- Your branding will likely evolve over the first couple of years in business, so it doesn’t make sense to invest tens of thousands into it upfront.
- Early startup success will not be based on your brand. Unless you have an enormous budget, your first customers aren’t going to come to you because of your well-known brand. Your initial leads and customers will come through more targeted sales and marketing efforts, and they’ll likely have no clue who you are until you educate them (and that’s okay!).
You can still grow brand awareness
Even though branding shouldn’t be a priority for early startups, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start thinking about brand awareness. Most startups don’t have the financial luxury of making a huge marketing splash when they launch, getting noticed quickly through high-dollar advertising placements, securing pricey conference sponsorships, producing viral content and other similar strategies.
Instead, the best strategy for growing startup brand awareness is slowly and steadily establishing your company as an expert in your industry through free educational content and resources. When you regularly distribute highly valuable, educational content to your target audience, they will start to recognize you as an industry resource with credibility.
That’s when you can build on that initial awareness for a snowball effect, getting your content seen by more people, growing your presence in more markets and becoming more recognizable within the industry. It’s a long-term play (during which you should also be doing targeted lead generation and sales outreach) that will yield excellent results if executed well.
Learn from a real-world example
Content and inbound marketing is Accelity’s focus, so I wanted to share a story of one client’s success to illustrate my point in this blog. LeaseCrunch started working with Accelity about a year and a half ago as a new startup with no marketing or brand presence. When they came to us, they had:
- Only a couple hundred leads in their database
- Few if any qualified leads or demo requests
- Less than 200 monthly website visitors
Our strategy with LeaseCrunch focused around creating monthly downloadable content offers and educational blogs, along with targeted list building activities to grow their lead list. About a year into working together, Accelity helped LeaseCrunch expand their marketing focus to include comprehensive pillar content, conference attendance, and sponsored content opportunities with top industry publications.
Now, roughly 18 months into our engagement, LeaseCrunch boasts the following numbers:
- 7,000+ leads in their database
- A monthly average of 24 qualified leads and 23 demo requests
- 1,600+ average monthly website visitors
Most impressively, when they attend conferences or speak to prospects on sales calls, they hear fantastic feedback about their content and marketing efforts. Prospects recognize their brand, request to be added to their email list, and are eager to read their latest content. The ability to build such enormous brand recognition within their industry in such a short time is why LeaseCrunch has such a steady flow of qualified leads and demo requests, with prospects who already trust and feel connected to LeaseCrunch through their educational content.