How important is communication and marketing for a start-up business?

When launching a start-up, what is the importance of communication and marketing?

The answer, of course, depends on your outlook on marketing and the type of product/service that you will be offering. When commencing a new business, putting finances in order and seeking financial advice is seen as a first priority whereas communication and marketing for the business is often somewhat overlooked, or seen as irrelevant during the initial phases.

However, we believe startups should be considering marketing strategies and/or speaking to marketing agencies from the outset so that they can gain insight and move forward more efficiently and potentially faster. Why?  Because social media, digital platforms, in-store promotions or trade incentives are recognised as cost-effective means in which to get a business out there and boost sales.

Many start-up founders, especially those working within the science and technology sectors pay too much attention to the technical aspects of their product, wrongly assuming that people will understand their product the same way in which they do themselves. Increased competition from the launch of similar offerings and more rapid times to market mean that the way entrepreneurs communicate their products and services is more crucial now than ever before. With more new ventures being technology focused, investors will want to have the confidence that there is a strong marketing plan in place for taking the product to market. The principle is straightforward, but a good marketing plan is not simple; it requires a high level of time and research.

Today a major source of competitive advantage lies in positively impacting the customer experience. With appropriate knowledge, businesses can better understand the customer needs that they are trying to address, the motivations surrounding such needs, and their customers’ communication preferences, both on and off line. This insight allows businesses to design highly relevant and sometimes predictive marketing experiences across the entire customer lifecycle. Think Amazon, Nike and Coca-Cola, for examples.

Any new entrepreneur or start-up has a story, yet they can sometimes underestimate the importance of this story. An entrepreneur must be able to tell his or her story in a stimulating way keeping their journey in line with the brand they are trying to establish. Once a start-up has been launched, there is often a believe that a logo and website is all that’s needed for a brand to be formed. But branding goes significantly beyond a logo; it is more about how you position your company with your audience and create an emotional attachment between them. One of the best ways in which to do this is engaging your target audience throughout the branding process to establish how they perceive your company.

Your brand’s audience must be given a message which is simple to understand but still sophisticated. The audience needs to take on board what you’re trying to achieve regardless of their background. ‘Sophisticated simplicity’ is the key to this: however complex a product or service a successful entrepreneur or marketer has to be able to describe the work they’re doing in the simplest way possible. This can ultimately be achieved through successful communication and marketing.

Marketing blogs and social media strategists discuss the importance of social media as the ‘cure all’ marketing solution for any type of business in the 21st Century. Social media has been an important channel of marketing over the last decade for four main reasons: content, advertising, customer care and inbound marketing.  However, a small B2B business with a small pool of local potential clients will have little use for social media tools – good old fashioned door to door engagement could be more effective. In this instance, embarking on social media would most likely be a waste of time and effort, resulting in a lack of connection between your company and the public (lack of followers, tweets, links, and comments) which may ultimately reflect badly on your company image.

In conclusion, effective communication from the outset is essential for the smooth running of any business: to convey the company’s values, mission and culture and of course to promote the product or service you provide. Today’s marketing toolkits are bigger than ever, so knowing the distinctive qualities of each type of marketing tool, and being able to prioritise them effectively, is essential when marketing for a start-up. They are also the fundamentals for your start-up to build a solid base for your business’s future.

For further reading, you might like to read:

Marketing communication for tech startups: Market leadership through word-of-mouth marketing