Digital Marketing on a Startup Budget: Top 4 Considerations

The day you close your first round of funding is cause for celebration.

By the next day, however, you may find that nearly all your newly acquired capital has suddenly been spoken for! Whether the money has gone to building out a qualified team or covering production costs, early stage startup funding can run out quickly. Before you’ve spent all your money, however, you need to consider your digital marketing needs and budget for these needs accordingly.

What Goes Into Building A Strategy?

“Startups often assume digital marketing will be virtually free, but that’s not the case,” cautions Brian Sutter, the Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode Technologies. “When they realize just how much it costs to run a Facebook ad campaign or robust thought leadership program, most founders are in for a surprise. I don’t just mean the cost of buying the ads – there’s so much more that goes into building out the strategy.”

This is a problem I frequently encounter with my own digital marketing small business clients. Digital marketing has a reputation as a DIY activity. From MailChimp to Hootsuite, there are a host of free or low-cost platforms for managing digital marketing basics. But don’t forget you’ll need someone to not only do the actual management, but also bring critical strategic insight and guidance to your digital marketing.


“Sure, a college intern can schedule your social media posts, but that intern will need clear guidance for building out your brand voice and interacting with leads. It would be wise to hire a digital marketing company that has spent years refining best practices for social media lead generation. You can’t expect an unpaid intern to deliver that level of expert knowledge.” says Will Gallahue Director of Marketing at Advantix Digital

Here’s how to get started with a startup marketing plan that won’t break the bank:

1. Write Out A Plan.

When you run a startup, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day minutia. Details, like crafting the perfect Instagram post or selecting the right button color for your lead generation form, can take on a larger than life importance, causing you to lose sight of the bigger picture. Your solution: a clear plan that keeps you focused.

Creating an initial six-month marketing plan is an important process in which you document your big picture goals, detailed objectives and the marketing tactics you’ll utilize to reach these objectives that will ultimately drive big picture goal success. Even if you have a “plan” in your head, it’s important to get this plan on out paper with a specific timeline for meeting each stage. This will ensure your team and any third-party consultants or freelancers are all on the same page about marketing goals.

2. Differentiate Between Big Picture Goals And Short-Term Objectives.

Part of your planning process includes differentiating between high-level goals and more detailed marketing objectives. High-level goals focus on the big picture needs, like building brand awareness and generating leads. Detailed objectives get into the nitty-gritty. For example, if your generating leads is your top big picture goal, then more detailed objectives would include quantify how many leads per week or month, how you’ll move them through the sales funnel, and target performance goals for closure rate.

3. Start With The Brand Basics.

What is your startup’s vision and mission? What does your brand voice sound like? How do you talk about your startup? These may seem like basic questions that as the founder you intuitively know that answers to. But what about your co-founders, employees and freelancers– do they know how to define your brand?

Startups often rush to start building their social media presence or crank out a quickie website and overlook the importance of first clarifying branding basics. Something as simple as a mini “brand cheat sheet” that lists your mission, vision, values and examples of preferred voice and tone will ensure all the future marketing messaging you develop is consistent across all touch points.

4. Cover Your Bases.

So, you want to run a PPC campaign on social media to drive leads to your website. That’s all well and good, but have you thought through all the different elements you need in place to make this plan a success? For starters, you’ll want to be sure you have an intuitive, mobile-friendly website. Next, you’ll need to build out landing pages exclusively for this campaign. Then, you’ll need to build out a lead capture form on the backend that’s connected to a lead management system.

If you’re using free content downloads to entice your leads, you’ll also need to have a high quality white paper written. In short, there’s a lot that goes into a marketing campaign. Be sure you’ve got the basics in place before you get started with a marketing campaign so you’re positioned for success.

Bottom Line:

Once you’ve got the basics in place, it’s now safe to consider which marketing tactics make the most sense for your budget, objectives and goals.

By weighing your big picture goals and objectives against the different marketing tactics at your disposal (and their respective cost), you’ll be able to make the most informed decision for quick wins– without spending a fortune.

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Jeremy Webb

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Jeremy WebbDigital Marketing on a Startup Budget: Top 4 Considerations

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