We’ve been there. For over 13 years, we’ve grown as a startup in Berlin to a global multimillion-dollar company under WPP, the world’s largest digital media holding. From limited budget and resources to building a structured internal foundation for our business operations, we know there’s a lot to tackle. Through the years, we’ve learned that a strong marketing strategy is an effective way to grow your business online. Since we’ve experienced this, we want to share five ways to you build your startup online and support you on your way with our plista Startup Program.

The story of plista: from startup to a multimillion-dollar company

It’s 2008, and with a small team of three co-founders and some developers, we started in the heart of Berlin’s tech startup scene. Originally, we pioneered as a simple recommendation engine that helped users discover interesting content. We then built a track record of technological success through our core Native Ad product. Since then, we’ve evolved into a fully programmatic platform for digital marketing solutions. Now, with over 100+ employees across four continents, we found success and continue to grow today.


5 Effective Steps to Build your Startup Marketing Strategy

Choosing your battles as a startup: where to focus?

There’s much to think about when establishing your startup. The common thread to all the open topics is answering the question- how are we going to strategically grow this company? Our Head of HR, Sarah Greiner-Miethe, a part of plista since its startup days, notes, “A startup means experiencing excitement and insecurity at the same time. Anything can happen from shutdown to big success, and this is not for everybody. It takes a certain entrepreneurial and adventurous mindset to run a startup.” But, as a startup, you have to choose your battles. When starting a business, besides having an entrepreneurial mindset, marketing is key and should be prioritized. From building your brand to promoting your message and securing new customers, there’s much to consider when marketing your product.

Why your digital marketing strategy is more important than ever

Our role as marketers is to effectively communicate the value of our products to the right prospective customer. With the continued digital rise, it’s more challenging to set yourself apart from competitors. Consumers have full control of their purchasing decision, thanks to the accessible Internet. Here’s five steps on which battles to choose for your marketing strategy to grow your startup business online while making the most out of your budget. Following this exciting experience, we want to offer ideas on which marketing initiatives to focus on first.

1. Define your customer base and build personas

Okay, so you’ve got your product or service that clearly solves a problem or market need. Build on this by defining who your customer base is and what personas you want to establish within your business. This helps you strengthen your marketing message and product positioning to clearly address the right target group. As a startup, although the world is your oyster, it’s also broad in the beginning. Take the time to define your potential customers. We tend to depend on friends and family to help promote our products and support the buzz. Consider thinking beyond your bubble of what type of person would actually buy your product or service. Who’ll become your future brand promoters making a long-term impact?

2. Grow via word of mouth by joining forces with your team

Once you’ve established your target customer, align within your organization. Advocate integrating your personas within your everyday business across all departments. Then, collectively promote your brand and engage your teammates focused on sales or client-centric roles to network and push your company via word of mouth. Take it from our Head of Business Development, Boris Sabel, who’s experienced this effective strategy. “In the beginning (at plista), we had limited resources for client acquisition. We didn’t have much budget to execute big marketing campaigns and make a presence in the well-known expos within our industry, so we had to be creative. To generate clients, we utilized our team’s existing connections and proactively searched for affordable opportunities to promote our business and products.” As simple as it sounds, networking your brand via word of mouth is effective and affordable. Now, let’s look at how to effectively build your brand.

3. Apply an inbound approach for your online marketing activities 

Although outbound marketing activities efficiently bring you customers, it’s also costly. Thus, consider applying inbound marketing within your strategy for two reasons: it’s affordable and very effective in enabling yours sales teams. With inbound, you’re pushing educational content about your industry and brand’s solution to prospects who may not even realize their need for your product. Through an effective content marketing strategy, communicating your brand’s message and value across your owned channels i.e., blog, website and organic social media already helps your SEO rank to be found by prospect customers. Through quality content, you’ll build loyal audiences and followers, thus growing your brand. Over time, accumulate and build a library of content profiling your brand and offering helpful tips to share. Once you’ve established your brand communication, it’s time to digitally promote your startup across the web and maximize your marketing budget.

4. Build your digital advertising strategy

From organic social media to paid Google ads, there’s plenty of options to promote your startup for growth. With over half the world population actively online, it’s important to reach the right target group without breaking the bank. Consider programmatic advertising within your digital strategy. This real-time ecosystem serves your ads on relevant publisher sites, enabling you to reach your prospect while increasing your brand awareness and reputation online. With the right tools, you’ll efficiently grow online while affordably executing your marketing strategy. We recently launched our Startup Program, where we support startups like yours grow your online presence. The key perk? We help you save time and money while giving you access to work closely with our digital advertising experts. Additionally, you get full control in booking your own campaigns on our Self Service platform with various and measurable ad formats, i.e. Native and Social Display. 

If you want to know more about our program, click here.

5 Effective Steps to Build your Startup Marketing Strategy

5. Measure your marketing activities and optimize!

After establishing and applying all four steps to your marketing strategy, it’s time to measure. Based on your business and online marketing goals, define your KPIs and see what initiatives work best for you. Like any traditional marketing foundation, funnelling your prospect through the customer journey starts from brand awareness to consideration and ultimately, purchase decision. Depending on your budget, resources, and goals, part of growing a startup business is through trial and error.

Want to learn more about growing your startup’s online business? We want to support you grow your startup’s online presence to reach new customers across the globe. Check out our Startup Program or enquire here.