12:00 AM, December 15, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:33 PM, December 16, 2017


The marketing primer for startups

Let's say you just started a business. If it's a tech company with a vague revenue model, congratulations, You're a startup, 'arry! If it's a normal business, you probably have a solid revenue model and value chain; if not, you've far bigger problems than marketing. For the rest, without relevant experience, marketing can be a daunting task. Here's a short crash course on the thinking process behind your marketing.

Manage your expectations

A small marketing budget rarely ensures mass success and if you are banking on becoming "viral," you might as well play poker for a living. Virality can be achieved through small budgets as shown through numerous cases like Dollar Shave Club and Will it Blend? by Blendtec, but those are exceptions to the norm. What you can however do is use that budget to improve your product so that people do the marketing themselves through word of mouth. More on that later.

Target a niche

Let's say you are making a ridesharing app (if you are, please stop) then you should be targeting the communities built around cars or traffic. Groups like Traffic Alert are often littered with complaints that your product can specifically address. Once you have a community rooting for you, they themselves will feel as if they are a part of your product design. These users will carry your brand everywhere and recommend their friends as well. More importantly, a lot of these group admins are key opinion leaders that can at times make or break businesses.

Push out that minimum viable product

Your MVP has to be pushed out into the market to fine tune and correct any mistakes. This is where your community feedback comes super handy. The first 50-100 users are essentially your beta testers who might have golden suggestions. Make sure you treat them well.

Provide a unique selling point

No, “Bangladeshi Uber” is not a good idea for your app. Nor is offering every single service on the planet. Narrow down your focus into one area that solves your niche's problems. Have a one line answer for your brand: “It's a carpooling platform for university students.” Does it differentiate you from Uber? Yes, as of now. Does it target a niche that has frequent transport problems? Yes. Once you establish that, consumers will demand that you move into other areas like office carpooling, etc.

Shareability = Win

My first work for a startup was for I had a KPI of selling 100 copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and I accomplished that without using any traditional marketing tools. We simply delivered a Hogwarts acceptance letter, wax sealed with the Hogwarts emblem to our customers. The effect was instantaneous, we sold over 200 copies and people were coming back for more and asking if they'll get the letter. Our reply was “Only if you have magic in your blood.” The bonus? Most of the buyers shared the picture of the letter on their social media pages. This is a prime example of giving your target group something they truly care about with minimum cost. Try and see if you can integrate a shareable aspect to your product. Finally, remember one thing: people only share exceptional experiences. This can be good or bad. Up to how well you strategise.

Content Marketing is your lifeline

Some four or five years ago, Urban Truth began their #UTPeople campaign. Basically, people who uploaded pictures wearing UT products on their Instagram profile with the hashtag #UTPeople and Urban Truth picked out the best pictures to feature on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The ones who get featured receive a voucher for the picture. These sort of content-centric giveaways vs contests work to not only build your brand but provide great exposure of your service. Even Apple does the same with their #shotoniphone Instagram hashtag. Think how you can integrate content into your long-term marketing vision.

Collect those emails!

Regardless of what activity you do, make sure there is a newsletter option from day one. These emails and contact information you collect can be used later for targeted media buying.

Stop saying Bangladesh everywhere

No, your USP cannot be "Bangladeshi." Consumers are now global citizens of the internet. They are using the latest Silicon Valley apps. There is absolutely no demand for Bangladeshi labelled services especially if it's inferior to the [global] competitors. Once you have reached the same level in terms of functionality, only then can you share your Bangladeshi story. Before that, you're asking the user to associate themselves with a brand that may or may not succeed under the Bangladeshi label. A good example of a business doing this right is MIB Spirit - Made in Bangladesh.

Next up, how to implement these into your marketing process. Watch this space.


Rumman R Kalam is the founder of Rantages and uses his 8 years of content experience as a consultant to help brands develop their long-term vision and bring stability to their marketing activities. Reach him at

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