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  • Writer's pictureAriana Shives

Build Buzz and Secure Funding: Pre-Launch Marketing Strategies




As a startup founder, you're building something unprecedented; naturally, you want the world to know about it. Yet, there's a delicate balance between revealing your innovation too early and waiting too long to craft your narrative. In the competitive startup realm, how you present your new brand to potential customers and investors can make all the difference.


I'm Ariana, CEO of Mastermind Media Works. As a Product Designer, I've designed strategic products for multiple startups during their pre-seed and seed rounds, and as a co-founder and partner in multiple early-stage companies, I've had my share of successes and failures. I've collated my experience into this post, which will guide you through the essential stages of advertising your product and outline the optimal timing for launching your marketing efforts to get ahead of the competition.


Understand the Intersection of Branding and Advertising

Before we talk about when to start advertising, let's establish a foundation: complete branding is your first milestone. This includes not just a logo and color palette but also a cohesive brand voice and strategy. As a startup, your brand is the embodiment of your vision and values, tailored to resonate with your ideal customers. It’s the narrative that will permeate through your advertising, and it’s vital that this story is clear, consistent, and compelling.


In order to create effective marketing collateral, you must have a clear set of brand guidelines, including a deliberate brand voice. The brand guidelines you use throughout your initial advertising and marketing are what will attract your first customers and are essential to the success of your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). I highly recommend defining your brand's strategic mission, vision, and values along with your brand guidelines. Having these as your brand's ultimate guide throughout the many changes and iterations you'll go through will keep you consistent and keep your customers engaged.


Start a Marketing Page with a Waitlist

Once you have your branding locked down, consider creating a marketing page with a waitlist feature as an initial point of advertising. This isn't just about generating early buzz; it's a strategic move toward audience building, data collection, and fundraising.


A waitlist serves as a direct line to those who've expressed interest in your offering and are likely to be your first customers. It also provides a platform to communicate developments, nurture leads, and foster a community. Possibly more importantly, a thriving waitlist shows potential investors that your product has garnered interest, even if you don't have revenue data yet.


Why start this so early? Even if your MVP isn't market-ready, your brand should be. People connect with stories and solutions; you can start telling that story and engaging future investors and users now if you have a solid brand strategy. Remember, your messaging should be focused on the problem you solve, not just the product you offer.


Advertise Your MVP to the Right Audience Segment

As you develop your MVP, it's critical to identify and engage with the right audience niche. Specialize your advertising to reach the groups most likely to benefit from your MVP. Speak their language, address their pain points, and explain how your solution is not only unique but tailored to them.


This targeted approach ensures the preliminary feedback you receive is relevant and actionable; this is the group most invested in seeing your product hit the market because it meets their specific needs. A strategy centered around your niche target audience also allows for more personalized engagement, creating early adopters who can quickly transform into brand advocates.


Collect and Analyze Essential Data

Every interaction with your marketing page and waitlist offers valuable insights. Traffic, conversion rates, user behavior, and feedback contribute to a data pool that can refine your MVP and future product expansions. Collecting this information at an early stage demonstrates to potential investors that you’re data-driven and customer-focused. Sharing these insights can showcase market validation and growth potential, making your startup an attractive investment opportunity.


Consider incorporating incentives for early sign-ups, such as beta access, special pricing, or additional features, when using your waitlist implementation. Doing so turns your waitlist into a research tool—what entices early adopters can inform future marketing strategies.


Showcasing Your Startup to Investors

When you approach investors, you'll need more than just a compelling elevator pitch; you'll need evidence of a market that's eager for your offering. The data from your marketing efforts, now infused with brand identity, becomes your empirical narrative. It demonstrates an understanding of your audience, a validation of your concept, and the ability to execute your vision. Use this data to illustrate to investors not only where your startup stands but where it’s poised to go.


Advertise Early But Wisely

Starting to advertise with a strong brand and a planned MVP positions your startup at an advantage. It facilitates early relationships with customers and sets a precedent for transparency and engagement that many startup patrons value. Be strategic with your advertising spend by focusing on high-impact activities that build your community and enhance brand visibility within your niche.



 


Start advertising your startup as soon as you have a cogent branding strategy and a semblance of your MVP. Initiate conversations and establish your presence in the market through a waitlist on your marketing page. Engage with your audience niche to collect valuable data that guides your product development and bolsters your pitch to potential investors.

The journey from concept to launch is dynamic and challenging, but with the right timing and strategic advertising, your startup can carve out its place in the market while building a foundation for sustained growth and success.

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