I recently had the opportunity to attend the Everywhere Else conference in Memphis, TN to meet and learn with many promising startups from across the country – Dan Rogers of Millenium Search, LLC has outlined some of the most promising companies in attendance on his blog – but I was there to focus on marketing for the startup community. The conference was founded to provide a networking opportunity for startups not based in the hubs of New York or Silicon Valley, but rather those entrepreneurs cutting their own paths “everywhere else” in the country.

I was there not as a startup, but as a marketing agency looking to see what startups are doing to market themselves and learn from other successful founders. Scott Case, the CEO of Startup America, provided a crucial wake-up call to the founders in attendance – “It’s not ‘if you build it, they will come,’ it’s ‘If you market it,  they will come.” Startups everywhere need to pay attention – you may have a great idea, but if no one knows about it, it will not work as a business.

A branding session by The Brandery outlined the following steps that every startup should consider when beginning a marketing strategy and build a brand pyramid, the foundation of all marketing messaging:

  • Brand Promise – The essence of your brand, and the highest-level benefit that your company or products contributes to the consumer.
  • Brand Positioning – The value statement of your company or product, similar to an elevator pitch. Why does anyone need the idea that you are bringing to market?
  • Brand Character – The portrayal of your idea that should convey truth and inspiration while demonstrating the need for your idea.
  • Brand Attributes – The base level of your brand, which should illustrate points of difference and points of parity between your product or idea and your competitors.

Once you have your brand defined, it’s time to consider how you will market your idea, and through which channels. Startups should consider the following strategic marketing initiatives:

  • A Website – Absolutely, a must have for traffic, leads, and information about your company. This should be the foundation of your marketing channels, and should be optimized to capture and convert leads. All other marketing efforts should drive people to the site. While I won’t go into detail here, it is also important to support your website through SEO, PPC, email marketing, and other website marketing efforts.
  • Public Relations – Depending on the quality of your media outreach efforts and the potential importance of your idea or business, public relations can either be a huge boon or wasted time. As a technology startup, getting coverage in Mashable, Techcrunch, VentureBeat, etc. can catapult you into the public sphere, but the chances of getting this coverage without properly curating your pitch and relationships are slim.
  • Social Media – While time-consuming, a well-groomed presence on social media can give an air of credibility to your brand, while allowing for communication distribution and engagement with your key audiences. Start with a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Angel’s List. These four networks will allow you to engage existing consumers, find new leads, and show a presence to potential investors.
  • A Pitch Deck – For getting new investors, a pitch deck will be a crucial piece of your marketing mix. Ensure that it is short but impactful by providing the information that investors need, and consider revising your deck for each pitch based on the conversations that you have had with the investor prior to your meeting.

Marketing a new startup can be time-consuming, but is of paramount importance to achieve awareness, recognition, and success. If you’re unsure where to start, hire a startup marketing agency to help define your brand and business goals, and execute your marketing strategy for you.