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6 Steps to Kickstart your Startup Marketing Strategy in 2023

Marketing is a crucial aspect of any new business, as it helps to establish a brand, generate leads, and attract customers. Without effective marketing, it can be difficult for a startup to gain traction and…

Marketing is a crucial aspect of any new business, as it helps to establish a brand, generate leads, and attract customers. Without effective marketing, it can be difficult for a startup to gain traction and succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.

One of the biggest pain points we see of companies that enter our startup accelerator program is knowing where to start when developing a marketing strategy from the ground up (and with very limited resources!)

Have no fear… we’ve summarized the 6 main steps to consider when marketing your startup:

1. Identify your target audience

Before doing anything else, a founder’s top priority must be to nail down exactly who their target audience is.  Both the user and the buyer. It’s important to have a clear understanding of who is making the purchase decision as well as who is using your product on a daily basis, so you can tailor your marketing efforts to appeal to both of these groups.

Additionally, identifying who you believe are the potential “early adopters” of your product and/or services is crucial as you begin to build out and launch your strategy; each distinct group in the product adoption curve requires a unique and targeted message.

2. Nail down keywords

The aim here is to build a list of terms that is highly specific and relevant to your brand, you will use these in your website messaging, social media, blogs… ultimately for SEO purposes.

SEO keyword research is the process of identifying the words, phrases, and questions that people use when searching for products, services, and information on the internet. These keywords are then used to optimize web content in order to rank higher in search engine results.

When we talk about SEO, the most important thing to keep in mind when getting started is the buyer’s journey. This maps out the four stages from first contact all the way through to purchase. The buyer’s journey is what will drive your keyword research and help you come up with keywords you want to rank for. The trick is to select a few keywords for each stage of the buyer’s journey.

4 Stages of the Buyer’s Journey


This is the first stage of the buyer’s journey that makes people aware of what your business is selling. In this stage, the buyer is typically experiencing a problem or an unmet need and begins a search for products or services that provide a solution. Keywords in this stage should focus more broadly on the actual questions that potential customers are typing into a search engine.


In the interest stage, the buyer is interested in the product and is aware of its existence, but wants a little bit more information by comparing different products or services to determine which one is the best fit. This is a crucial stage in the buyer’s journey – keywords in this stage should focus on educating the customer and helping them understand how the product or service can meet their needs.


When the customer has developed a desire to explore your specific product and learn about how it can benefit them, they move into the desire stage. Keyword efforts in this stage should focus on highlighting the features and benefits specific to your product or service, and demonstrating how it’s the best solution for the buyer’s needs. It’s also important to address any objections or concerns the buyer may have by providing  additional resources that can help guide them.


At this stage, the buyer is ready to make a purchase – they’ve identified a problem or need, researched countless solutions, and chosen a clear winner. Keyword efforts at this stage should focus on facilitating the purchase process and helping the buyer complete the transaction. This may involve providing detailed product or pricing information, offering promos or discounts, and ultimately making it easy for the customer to complete the purchase.

There are several tools and techniques that can be used for SEO keyword research, including keyword planning tools like Google AdWords, as well as analysis of search engine results pages (SERPs) and online discussions.

When conducting keyword research, it is important to consider the relevance of the keywords to your business and the search intent of the user. Long-tail keywords, which are more specific and targeted, tend to have a higher conversion rate than shorter, more general keywords.

It is also important to regularly review and update your keyword list, as search trends and user behavior can change over time. By staying up-to-date on the latest trends and using relevant keywords in your web content, you can improve your search engine ranking and drive more qualified traffic to your website.

3. Figure out your value proposition

People don’t buy products, they buy solutions to their problems.

Your value proposition is how you solve your customers’ problems. As you move through the exercise of building out your value prop, ask yourself: What makes your startup different from the competition? What value do you offer to your customers that others don’t?

Be specific! Your value prop should not be something super generic like “our product will save you time” … how will your product save your customers time?

Clearly communicating your unique value proposition is crucial for attracting and retaining customers.

4. Determine how you will measure success

No matter what success looks like to your startup, define it early and define it clearly (notice how being clear is a trend throughout this entire process?!)

Be sure your measures of success are tied to real growth and that you are consistent in how you measure.

Measuring the success of a marketing campaign is crucial for understanding what works and what doesn’t, and making data-driven decisions about future campaigns. There are several key metrics that can be used to gauge the success of a marketing campaign:

  • Reach: This metric measures how many people were exposed to the campaign. It can be useful for understanding the overall impact of the campaign and how many people it reached.
  • Engagement: Engagement metrics measure how much interaction a campaign received, such as likes, comments, and shares on social media, or clicks on an email. High engagement is a good indication that the campaign resonated with its audience.
  • Conversion rate: The conversion rate measures the percentage of people who took a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form, as a result of the campaign. This metric is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of the campaign in driving results.
  • Return on investment (ROI): ROI measures the financial return on a campaign, and is calculated by dividing the revenue generated by the campaign by the cost of the campaign. A high ROI indicates that the campaign was successful in terms of generating revenue.

There are many other metrics that can be used to measure the success of a marketing campaign, depending on the specific goals of the campaign. It’s important to choose the right metrics to track, and to regularly analyze and assess the results in order to make data-driven decisions and improve future campaigns.

Communicate what success looks like to your team so that everyone can rally together to achieve it. Before leaving the gate, make note of your baseline so you can understand growth and identify weak spots as they happen.

5. Solidify what you want to spend

In order to roll out any strategy, it all comes down to budget, and working within the limitations you set out.

One key factor to consider when developing a marketing budget is the current state of the market and the competition. In highly competitive markets, companies may need to allocate more money towards marketing in order to stand out and attract customers.

Additionally, the specific marketing goals of a company can also impact the marketing budget. For example, if a company is launching a new product and needs to generate buzz around it, they may need to allocate more money towards marketing efforts to achieve their goals.

6. Ask yourself what you’re really good at… and do that

Experiment and analyze: Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s important to experiment with different tactics and see what works best for your startup.

Once you determine what works best, focus on this as your growth lever.

Emails? Blogs? Social? Paid Channels? The objective here is to “land and expand” within your target market using your growth lever(s).

This means that you don’t have to be everywhere, but should focus your time and energy on the marketing channels where you excel and where you are seeing return on your efforts.

Startup marketing is all about finding creative ways to get the word out about your business, attracting and retaining customers, and continuously analyzing and improving your marketing efforts. By following these tips, you can set your startup up for success in the new year!


L-SPARK is the destination for Canada’s startup and tech ecosystem to learn, share, plan, execute, measure, adjust, scale and succeed. L-SPARK startup and corporate acceleration programs give companies exclusive access to leading edge technology and help build the foundation and metrics to raise capital, grow revenues, and reach global markets and partners. To date, L-SPARK alumni network of 100+ startups has raised funding totaling over $150M.

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