Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Online Marketing in a Box

Recently, I've been thinking about the kinds of distribution and marketing strategies that startup companies can implement to build the foundation for that area of their business.

Most startup teams have a solid marketing person to round them out, but I always run into companies that are engineering-heavy and founded by developers who aren't able to immediately bring on a marketing person - which makes sense since my developer friends can pretty easily build and launch their own startup companies with just one or two other programmers.

I was also recently told about The Founder Institute, an "entrepreneur training program" that walks its members through various presentation modules with notable speakers, to train its members to conceive and Incorporate a startup company within a 4 month period.  A friend of mine who is a member told me that they give you a directory of sites that helps you get several operational areas of a company started up, but doesn't necessarily focus on sites that provide marketing services.

With all of the hype around programs like this, LaunchPadLA, and incubator programs like Y Combinator and Techstars I wonder why I haven't seen comprehensive Marketing Startup Kits or sites, like a "consultant in a box" for early-stage startup companies.

For the most part, my experience is with software and online-based companies, so I'm speaking to the web presence of startup companies, but I think there are several, mostly-free, marketing channels and tools that an early-stage startup can implement and use.


SEO (Search engine optimization)
How to SEO your website (Mahalo) This is the most comprehensive explanation of all of the factors that go into setting up the SEO channel of your website that I've seen (they themselves are an SEO-focused website)
SEOmoz.org - reputable SEO firm with a lot of good guides on beginner SEO
Google Keyword Tool - free tool for selecting, evaluating, and discovering keywords

Mechanical Viral Marketing
Openinviter - Open source API for uploading address books and social network friend lists

Transactional/ Retention Email Marketing
- iContact - super basic email newsletter solution
- AWeber - basic automated email marketing provider
- Sendgrid

Site Analytics
- Google Analytics - site activity and transaction monitoring tool
- Chartbeat

UI Optimization
- Clicktale.com - Website user-navigation heatmap
- Google Conversion Optimizer - Free Google A/B testing tool
- Usertesting

Advertising - SEM, Display
- Adwords - Google's free SEM and Ad Display tool
- Yahoo Small Business - Yahoo's free SEM tool (has a greater Display advertising focus)

Community Management
- Get Satisfaction - help desk management tool


Social Media Presence
- Facebook Page
- LinkedIn Page
- Twitter account


The initial focus and expertise required for each marketing channel will change depending on whether the company is B2B or B2C, but an Email Marketing Provider, Analytics tool, and SEO metatags should be set up on a basic level.

(I'm planning to expand upon most of these channels in later posts.)

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