Start Marketing your Business at the Beginning

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If you’re starting a new business, you’re not going through it alone. Around the world, entrepreneurs just like you are experiencing many of the same thoughts, concerns, victories, and setbacks. Mailchimp teamed up with Hall & Partners to survey 505 entrepreneurs about their experience of starting a business, and the main conclusion is this: Start Marketing your Business at the Beginning.

The results confirmed something we’ve experienced firsthand: launching a small business isn’t easy. It’s a time-consuming process that can be tough for even the most seasoned entrepreneurs.

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Nearly half of the entrepreneurs we surveyed identified their startup experience as a “slow burn,”
meaning that the journey from idea to action was slow.

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# Chapter 1: Conquering the uncertainty around starting a business

Entrepreneurs have to reach at least 10 different milestones before their business gets off the ground.

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With so many steps involved, it can be difficult for small businesses to know where to start and what to prioritize along the way. To help ease their concerns, entrepreneurs often try to learn everything they can about running a business.

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What was the hardest part of starting your business?
“The hardest thing was learning, becoming proficient, and feeling confident enough to start this business.”

— Founder of a financial services firm
Pre-launch business


What scared you the most?
“The fear of failing. I was too afraid to start this brand for about 6 years before actually taking action.”

— Founder of a retail business
Launched in 2012

Now what?
Keep moving forward,
even if you don’t have all the answers.

# Set long- and short-term goals.
Establish long-term goals for growth, revenue,
and profits, so you never lose sight of where
you’re going. Then, identify short-term goals to
help you stay motivated along the way.

# Learn from your peers.
Seek out advice from other entrepreneurs as
you’re starting your business. Read books,
listen to podcasts, attend trade shows, or visit
local businesses to chat with like-minded folks
who have been in your shoes.

# Don’t be discouraged by failure.
When you’re a business owner, it’s important
to remember that everything is a learning
opportunity—especially the stuff that doesn’t
turn out exactly as you expected.

# Chapter 2: Don’t wait to start finding your audience

Small business owners have a lot on their plate, and attracting customers often seems like a task that can wait until after launch. But by having a pipeline of potential customers in place earlier, you may find that it’s easier to start generating business.

Entrepreneurs recognize the importance of developing a customer pipeline, but don’t always focus on the steps that could help them get their first customer faster.

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Small businesses are also less likely to pay for tools when they’re just getting started.

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What was your biggest concern while getting started?
“It was difficult to know what to say for people to buy my product. I was worried I was charging too much.”
— Founder of a retail business
Launched in 2018


Which milestone took longer to reach than expected?
“Making our first sale. It took us time to find the right customers for our business.”
— Founder of a content provider
Launched in 2019


What has been the biggest challenge for your business?
“Getting new customers. It’s hard to get a regular customer base.”
— Founder of an e-commerce business
Launched in 2017


What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome?
“Finding customers who were willing to give my business a chance without having an impressive or extensive portfolio.”
— Founder of a real estate firm
Launched in 2018

Now what?
Conduct research to identify product/market fit and learn about your target audience.

# Talk to your potential customers.
Use surveys, interviews, or focus groups to
help you understand who your customers are,
what type of messaging resonates with them,
and how much they’re willing to spend.

# Perform beta tests.
As you’re getting started, invite potential
customers to test your product, share
feedback, and help you make sure everything
will work as expected when you’re ready
to launch.

# Keep an eye on your competition.
Try to find gaps in the marketplace. Determine
what sets your business apart from everyone
else, and then capitalize on it.

Now what?
Invest in tools that help you grow and scale your business.

# Streamline your marketing.
Find a marketing platform that fits your
budget and allows you to create personalized
content, automate your messaging and reach
customers across different channels.

# Start building your online presence.
Even if you’re not ready to create a full
website, you can buy a domain name and
publish a quick ‘Coming Soon’ page to start
collecting email addresses for your launch.

# Chapter 3: It’s never too early to start marketing your business

Many entrepreneurs who already launched admit they should have started promoting their business sooner. The most common thread connecting all of them is the uncertainty about which steps they should prioritize.

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Any advice for other small business owners?
“It’s all about marketing, advertising, and creating the right sales channels… Everything is time-consuming, but it all comes together in the end.”
— Founder of an e-commerce business
Launched in 2018

Now what?
Connect with your audience across multiple channels.

# Use social media to your advantage.
Claim social handles and set up profile pages
for your business. Use industry-specific
hashtags when you post, and consider setting
aside a portion of your budget for social
advertising, too.

# Start building an engaged audience.
Consider creating a landing page where people
can sign up to receive updates, pre-order your
products, or be among the first to find out
when you’re ready to open.

# Establish yourself as a source of helpful, unique content.
Create a website or blog for your business
and publish informative articles about your
area of expertise. It’s a great way to boost
your name recognition and reach more
potential customers.

Now what?
Use customer data to fine-tune your marketing strategy.

# Keep all your data in one place.
Use a customer relationship management
(CRM) tool to collect, organize, and analyze
everything you know about the people
who are important to your business in one
convenient location.

# Turn your customer data into customer insights.
Monitor your customer data for trends
and patterns. As you learn about the
preferences of your audience, you
can create more relevant content and
improve your marketing.

# Summary

When small businesses focus on marketing earlier in their business creation journey, they’ll be able to launch sooner—and will be poised for growth right away.

Our 3 key takeaways:
1. Don’t let uncertainty slow you down.
2. Find your people early and connect with them often.
3. Start marketing your business at the beginning.

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