B2B Startup Marketing Checklist
If you are starting a new company or project, these are the things you will need do from a marketing point of view in the first couple of weeks.
Pick a name that will work long-term.
Needs to be simple, memorable, and unambiguous. The “.com” domain should be available without playing tricks with the name (like dropping vowels or adding dashes). Also, just because there’s no website on a domain doesn’t mean it’s available. Available means something you can register immediately, or that has a price attached to it that you’re willing to pay. Don’t wander down the rabbit hole of finding the perfect name if you have no indication that it’s for sale. This will waste a bunch of your time. See the next section for more tips on picking a name.
Domain name inspiration tools:
Put up a simple website.
Doesn’t have to be fancy. The goal is to put enough content on the site to start the Google clock. Don’t worry about the site not saying much (nobody’s going to be looking at it anyway). Make sure to use a decent content management system (CMS). If changing your web page involves uploading files via FTP—or a call to a friend or family member —you’re doing it wrong. Even if you have technical skills, just because you can handcraft HTML doesn’t mean you should for your new website. The structure and features of a CMS are going to be very important someday. Trust me.
Get some links to your website.
If you have a personal website, link to it from there. If you have investors, they’re likely more than happy to link to your new website (if they aren’t already). The goal is to get the Google crawler to start indexing your site and start building some authority and trust for your website domain. To check whether your site is being indexed by Google, do a search such as site:yoursite.com (not perfect, but good enough).
Set up a Twitter account.
The name of the account should match your company/domain name. Link to your Twitter account from your main site and to your main site from your Twitter account. (Note: If you have a natural skepticism of the value of Twitter, you are welcome to this skepticism. But go ahead and grab your Twitter account name anyway. You can resume your skepticism after you do that.)
Set up an e-mail subscription.
Although we’re big fans of RSS, and we wish the rest of the world were too, not everyone is there yet. Allow your website visitors to be notified of updates by e-mail. Mailchimp is a popular option for email subscription.
Email subscription services:
Get a nice logo.
Don’t obsess over it, and don’t spend thousands of dollars on it. You can run a quick contest on 99designs or CrowdSpring, or find a freelance designer on the web or through your network. Make sure you get the vector file (Illustrator or EPS file) as part of the final deliverable. Logos are pretty important online, because you’ll be using a variation of it for many of your online profiles. Quick tips on logos: Simple is better, because simple is more flexible. You’re going to use the logo in a variety of ways. In print, online, and maybe even on marketing giveaways.
Set up a simple Facebook business page.
This is also known as a “fan” page. You’re not going to get many fans in the early days. That’s OK. Just get something out there. Add a simple description of your business and link back to your main website.
Create a simple Facebook URL.
Facebook now allows specifying a custom URL for your fan page. So, you can create something like http://facebook.com/acme (instead of the ugly URL Facebook gives you by default). Take advantage of this feature. For bonus points, set up a sub-domain and redirect it to your Facebook page. For example, here’s what we did: facebook.acme.com. Setting up this sub-domain is free and usually pretty easy (it’s done through the registrar for your domain).
Kick off a blog.
You can use one of the free hosting tools (like WordPress.com), but don’t use their domain name. Put your blog on blog.yourcompany.com, or if you have the technical proficiency, make it yourcompany.com/blog. Do NOT make it yourcompany.wordpress.com because you want to control all the SEO authority for your blog and channel it towards your main website. Chances are, WordPress.com doesn’t need your help with their SEO.
Write a blog article.
Talk about what you’re passionate about. What makes your business different? Why did you start it? Describe your favorite customers. Just make yourself write. If writing doesn’t come easily to you, it might be difficult at first—but it gets easier.
Blog post inspiration:
Set up Google Alerts.
You want to create alerts for at least the following: your company name, link:yourdomain.com, and “industry term.” Try to find a good balance for your industry term so you don’t get flooded with alerts that you simply will start ignoring. This may take some iteration and refining. (Oh, and use the “As It Happens” option in Google Alerts so you’re not waiting around for new alerts to show up.)
Find your closest three competitors.
Pretend someone is paying you $10,000 for locating each competitor. Really try hard. Barely managed to find three? Take a lot of effort? Great. Now find three more. Of these six, pick the two that you think have the most marketing savvy. They should have a website Grade > 90, a blog with some readers, a website that you can envision people using, a Twitter account that they actually post to, and so on. These are the competitors you’re going to start tracking and learning from. Add their names and websites to your Google Alerts.
Competition research tools:
Update your LinkedIn profile.
You do have a LinkedIn profile, right? Mention your new startup website, and add a link to your startup to one of the three slots for this purpose. Make sure you specify the anchor text. Don’t go with the default of “My Website.” The anchor text should be your startup’s name and maybe a couple of words describing what it does.
Find relevant Twitter users.
Use the Twitter search feature to find high-impact Twitter users in your industry. Start following them. You want to start forging relationships and building your Twitter network. Resist the temptation to mass-follow a bunch of random people or play other games just to get your follower count up. That’s not going to matter. Get some high-quality relationships going.
Create a StumbleUpon account.
Specify your areas of interest (part of the registration). Spend 10 minutes a day (no more!) stumbling and voting things up/down. Start befriending those who are submitting sites that are relevant and interesting for your startup. Don’t submit your own stuff—just start contributing.
Find the bloggers who are writing about your topic area.
Subscribe to their feeds, and read their stuff regularly. Leave valuable comments and participate in the conversation. (Do not spam them or write “fluff” comments. If you don’t have something useful to add to the conversation, don’t comment.)
Start building some business contacts on Facebook.
Organize your users into groups—one for your business and another for friends/family. This will come in handy later. Don’t spam people and ask them to visit your website. At this point, your website is still probably not worth visiting.
Install web analytics software.
You need to start tracking your website traffic. Where is it coming from? Where is it going? What keywords are pulling in qualified leads? The most popular option here is Google Analytics (which is free).
Engage your blog commenters.
When you start seeing blog comments (it will take time, but you will), make sure to engage them. Leave a comment yourself to continue the conversation, or answer a question that someone had. This demonstrates that you care about the conversation.
Promote your promoters.
When someone links to you or writes about you on his or her blog, help get him or her more traffic. Tweet about it. Stumble it. Digg it. Helping others helps you. Further, other people notice this behavior and are more likely to link to you and write about you because they know you’re not the type to hoard Internet mojo.
Grab your company name on YouTube.
Just like grabbing a domain name and a Twitter account, a YouTube username allows you to post videos and strengthen your brand (e.g., http://youtube.com/acme).
Create and post a video or screencast.
A screencast is a simple recording of your computer screen and audio. Record a simple and short “how-to” for something related to your industry. Demonstrate how to do something simple (just because it’s simple to you, doesn’t mean everyone knows how to do it). Post this video to the YouTube account for your business. Write a blog article with some explanatory material, and embed this video in the article.
Screencast recording software:
Make a list of all the top people in your industry.
Convert this into a blog post. Example: “17 Real Estate Rockstars I’d Love to Have Coffee With.” Just list the people and why you think they’re great. Link to their websites or online profiles (this is good, because it helps those that read your article and it increases the chances that the people you mention will notice your article and visit).
Subscribe to your personal LinkedIn RSS feed.
It’s helpful to keep up with your network of connections and do a quick scan of what’s going on with them (who they connect to, which groups they join, etc.). The best way to do this is to subscribe to your personal RSS feed. To do this, click on the orange RSS icon in the “Network Updates” section of your home page on LinkedIn.
Some other resources:
- Startup Marketing Advice from Balsamiq Studio – “Peldi”, Founder of Balsamiq
- 10 Marketing Hacks to Boost your startup – Ben Lang, Entrepreneur, TED speaker
- Complete guide to SEO – Patrick McKenzie
- How To Get Media Coverage For Your Startup: A Complete Guide – Leo Widrich, Co-founder Buffer
- The No BS Guide to Start Doing SEO at Your Business – Chris Warren
- Effective Link building – Ross Simmons
- Startups 101: The Complete Mint Presentation – Aaron Patzer, founder Mint.com
- Marketing Game Plan for Mint.com – Aaron Patzer, founder Mint.com
- Kissmetrics Infographics
- B2B Growth Hacking: Get your first million users – Conrad Wadowski
- Find More Customers for Your B2B SaaS Product with These 5 Distribution Hacks (B2B SAAS Marketing) – Lars Lofgren
- Marc Andreessen – Future of the Enterprise – Alexia Tsotsis/Marc Andreessen
- Why Your Marketing Campaign Sucks – Mark Suster
- How to Effectively Build an SEO Campaign From The Ground Up – Neil Patel