Startup Marketing Plan Essentials

Inbound marketing works well for startups for many reasons: lower customer acquisition costs compared to traditional advertising, wider audience reach, shortened sales cycle and more. Grow a startup business and edge out the competition with these inbound essentials for a startup marketing plan.

Inbound marketing

The basics of Inbound

Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content. Inbound marketing strikes a contrast to outbound and disruptive “attention getters,” such as cold calling, spam email and intrusive advertising.

Inbound marketing focuses heavily on creating content designed specifically for the target market. This strategy focuses on being helpful and relevant over being disruptive and invasive. Once leads arrive at the startup’s website, content, digital communications, demos and free trials turn them into paying customers and brand advocates.

Related reading: 7 Common Startup marketing mistakes 

Essentials for a startup marketing plan

Know your value proposition

A value proposition clearly states how your enterprise stands out in the market. A strong value proposition describes your offering, why your solution is best and how you will deliver on your promise. The value proposition rests on four elements:

  1. Distinguishing your value compared to competitors
  2. Delivering measurable benefits providing a reason for buyer to act
  3. Providing evidence to support its claims
  4. Enduring the test of time

Related reading: Fundamentals of a Strong Value Proposition 

Outline the marketing tactical plan for your startup:

  1. Personas (who are your key targets)
  2. Organic search plan
  3. Website plan for continuous improvements and optimizations to the website
  4. Content strategy: blogs, landing pages, messaging, premium content, videos, etc.
  5. Conversion optimization efforts (website, landing pages, lead acquisition efforts)
  6. Paid campaigns
  7. Other inbound efforts
  8. Key metrics, measurement and reporting
  9. Lead management
  10. Sales nurturing strategy
Full funnel marketing plan

Image source: MOZ.com from their YouMoz blog.

Below: As an example from a retailer, marketing plans must consider the intersection of digital efforts, as well as offline channels–in this case retail stores.

Marketing strategy - tactics that influence lead generation

8 Landing Page Mistakes that Hurt Lead Generation

Audience targeting requires research

Startup marketers have already had to work to examine the buyers’ wants — that awareness is driving the business plan. The marketing team can now use that research to build a marketing persona — a fictional profile of the targeted buyer — for each segment of the startup’s audience.

Buyer persona

Other tips:

  • Build the persona off past, current and prospective client insights.
  • Audit social media interactions, review LinkedIn profiles, read blog comments, and revisit other prospect and client interactions.
  • The best buyer personas specifically examine or explore the conditions under which a purchase is made.

Related reading: Six Steps to Better Buyer Personas 

Provide original content for new and existing customers

Planning for B2B content marketing

Effective inbound marketing strategy is founded on original content. New customers often respond to success stories, case studies, and genuinely helpful articles that offer solutions to the challenges the target market faces. Retain and upsell existing customers with more in-depth resources with best practices, new features, and tips to get the most out of your product offering.

How To Improve Lead Generation Using Gated Content

Lifecycle Content Map Action

Image source: Hubspot

Other tips:

  • Research keywords your audience is searching for using a tool such as Adwords or SEM Rush.
  • Build content around those topics and aim to publish a minimum of three times a week to accumulate a substantial amount of qualified traffic over time.
  • Test and improve topics covered and article titles to build the right visibility.

Generate qualified leads with gated content

Gated content is a piece of premium content that visitors can only access if they fill out a form and provide information. The startup can use the provided information to further nurture the lead with targeted communications.

Marketing funnel using content marketing

Other tips:

  • Follow-up communications can aim to solve customer problems, overcome sales objections, and provide value.
  • Nurturing focuses on providing helpful, educational resources — not sales.
  • Every field on a form can help capture important persona information.
  • Progressive profiling using a marketing automation system can drive leads further into the qualification funnel.

Related reading: What is Progressive Profiling? 

Exploit social opportunities

Many companies believe that their target audience isn’t active on social media. But some 88,000 IT leaders and C-level executives are active each month on LinkedIn alone. The reality is that social media offers a terrific opportunity for startup companies to engage with prospects.

Influencer Marketing in the B2B Arena

Other tips:

  • Focus on the social media sites your audience uses.
  • Optimize social media pages to position your startup as a new industry leader
  • Share useful — not promotional — content.
  • Track social actions within your marketing automation system
  • Match social actions with existing leads to identify heightened interest

Related reading: The marketing potential of crowdfunding 

Kickstarter top campaigns chart

Source: Kickstarter

Essentially, the inbound essentials for a startup marketing plan boil down to sharing high-quality content to a targeted buyer. Strive to be useful and interesting — buyers will engage.

Startup valuations

Improve lead generation efforts. B2B lead generation agency.



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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.