Marketing challenges for startups - and how to overcome them

Anna knows firsthand what it takes to market a startup.

This article on marketing challenges for startups is a guest contribution by Anna Segova, Communication Manager at 2hats, Australia.


Every job comes with a set of challenges. At a startup, these challenges are magnified with the pressure of building something new that is yet to be proven. Marketing a startup can be a challenge as you and your team have a huge responsibility to take a tiny seed and grow it into a forest. Marketing a startup is completely different to marketing a corporation.

“Your job as a marketer is to convince those customers that they are better off spending their hard-earned money with you – and that is a hard gig.”


The biggest challenge in marketing a startup is staying competitive with big players on the market. Even if you have a ground-breaking idea that has never been thought of before, your business still has to compete with other companies targeting the same audience. Your job as a marketer is to convince those customers that they are better off spending their hard-earned money with you – and that is a hard gig.

Winning market shares when you start from zero is tough. To get ahead, you need to clearly differentiate your startup from your competitors. Your unique selling proposition always lies in what you can offer your customers and your competitors can’t.

In other words, find a way to be different or at least market yourself in a different way. A competitive advantage will always triumph and elevate a startup from the shadows to the forefront of the market.

Limited budget

Startups usually operate on a shoestring budget, having to report back to investors on every dollar spent. With a smaller marketing budget, gaining market shares can be challenging when being out performed by a giant competitor.

Startups usually turn to Lean marketing strategies, minimizing the costs and making the most out of the free methods available, such as social media.

The best way to overcome this challenge for a startup is to focus on Lean marketing strategies. Having the support of a strong fan base for one is a great way for a startup to leverage referrals and gain free word-of-mouth marketing.

Building a fan base

Building a name for a business from scratch is challenging. The advantages of operating under a well-known name are strong consumer awareness and the brand’s reputation, which becomes the foundation for future marketing campaigns.

Many startup founders struggle with building a loyal fan base. When launching a startup, it is essential to build an audience prior to launch. Allocating resources to relationship building is key to ensure consistent content and a strong value proposition for customers.

2hats, for instance, have been consistently present on social media long before the product even existed. Social media engagement has not only built a strong audience prior to launch but has also helped to test the app idea on potential users.

Putting together a marketing team

Working in a startup, you’ll need to wear many different hats. Many startups lack the funding to put together a full marketing team. A marketer at an early stage startup will often have to fill in a number of roles: The copywriter, the account executive, the social media manager and the creative director all at the same time – you name it.

The good thing is that it never gets boring!

One solution for early stage startups is to outsource marketing tasks to ease a workload for the internal team. Hiring an external marketing agency or freelancers is a great solution for kicking off a launch marketing campaign. However, nothing can replace an internal marketing team that is fully dedicated to seeing your brand succeed.

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