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Prioritizing your marketing time and resources can be a daunting task. Having previously discussed five marketing time wasters that startups should avoid, it seems wise to examine five marketing priorities you should consider as you put together a plan.priorities1

In general, your marketing efforts have two goals: reach potential customers and help them find you. If you can successfully navigate the following marketing deliverables, you’ll be well on your way to providing a strong foundation for your company. Stop me if they sound familiar.

Validate market need assumptions – You probably know how critical this is to your company’s survival, but it’s just as critical to your marketing plan. Conduct interviews with potential customers to ensure you’re on the right path about the problem or need they have – and whether your product will address it.

The needs you believe to exist may not match the market’s reality. Going blindly with gut instinct in your marketing can be costly. Going blindly with your gut in your business can be catastrophic.

Define and deliver your first working version of the product – Get a product that has value, that people will pay for and (most importantly) that will allow you to collect feedback from early adopters as soon as possible. The objective here is to avoid large investments of time and resources that take a product down the wrong path.

Marketing and research are two sides of the same coin. And if you’re lucky (and have made wise decisions as you have put together your first version), you’ll be able to begin building buzz even as you hone the product and add features.

Validate pricing and business model – There are three key guides to keep in mind when establishing a starting point price: competition, product margins and customer value. Each provides valuable data, but for startups the focus should be on value. Spend the time necessary to clearly understand the value of meeting your customer’s market need. Pricing with this value as a foundation will optimize your returns as a company.

For startups in a new market, customers aren’t necessarily looking for a bargain as much as meeting a need, but they will not pay more than they perceive it to be worth. Ensure your price is the right one before you begin to focus on marketing. If it’s not, it won’t matter how good your marketing is.

Establish a strong web marketing presence – The best marketing is no substitute for having your ideal customers seeking you. To prepare for this, you need a content rich website. (As an added bonus, Web marketing is the most cost effective medium for interacting with prospects.) Also, start a corporate blog and establish a Twitter account. Use them to keep interested parties up to date with what you’re working on and any new features you have released.

Your website is the face of the company and your blog is its voice. Communicate clearly and make a good impression. Regular communication with high value content costs next to nothing – but as a marketing tool, its returns will astound you.

Put the tools in place to track key marketing metrics – It’s critical, of course, to ensure that your marketing is working. Develop measurements for your efforts, with a particular focus on web analytics and lead tracking. Know who’s coming to your Web site, how they found you and where they spend their time. And ensure you are able to track your leads pipeline, conversion rates and marketing touch points (i.e. first touch, last touch and marketing interactions).

Without these basic tools, you will never know what’s succeeding and what’s failing, which can be a quick way to deplete your marketing budget.

As you can see, the key points of startup marketing aren’t all that different from the key points of launching a successful startup. By sticking with the fundamentals, you’ll be able to preserve your company’s capital and lay a foundation for future success – in both your promotional and business goals.

Image by Redvers via Flickr.

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