Interviews, STARTUPS

Diana Akchurina: Promotion of startups is possible without a large marketing budget

In the world of startups, where competition is merciless and resources are limited, the issue of effective promotion remains one of the most pressing. Many entrepreneurs begin their journey with a limited marketing budget, and this raises the inevitable question: is it possible to achieve success without having large financial resources for advertising and promotion? It turns out that the answer to this question is comforting for those who believe in the power of creativity, strategy and the ability to use available resources most effectively. Invest-Foresight spoke with Diana Akchurina, founder of the marketing communications agency Easy Communications, a specialist in organic marketing tools, a member of the Guild of Marketers, a member of the jury of the National Brand of the Year Award in Russia.

Diana Akchurina, founder of the marketing communications agency Easy Communications

– Tell us how marketing for startups differs from working for a business with a history?

– Marketing strategy is influenced by various factors, including audience, budget, resources, and goals. Startups typically target small niche markets or specific customer segments with a focus on attracting customers quickly, testing hypotheses and strengthening their brand presence.

They tend to have limited budgets and resources compared to established companies and rely heavily on digital promotion channels such as social media, content marketing, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO). Startups often use bold and flashy messages to grab attention and stand out in the market, highlighting their unique value proposition and differentiation from competitors. They tend to have shorter sales cycles, which affects the strategy for communicating with potential buyers.

– What should the founder of a startup pay attention to when looking for a marketer?

– An ideal marketer for a startup adapts quickly, he is able to change quickly in response to changing market conditions. He is resourceful and inventive, achieving significant results with limited budgets and unconventional tactics.

His strength is data-driven decision-making: marketers in startups use metrics and KPIs to optimize campaigns and gain valuable insights. They have entrepreneurial thinking, treat the growth of the company as their own business, are active, autonomous and ready to take thoughtful risks. First of all, they give priority to understanding the target audience and establishing a connection with it, developing customer-oriented strategies to stimulate growth and success.

– Have you come across situations where company decision makers believe that marketing is not working? Why is this happening?

– Marketing may not produce the desired results in companies for various reasons. One common problem is the lack of consistency between marketing efforts and overall business goals. When marketing strategies and campaigns are not linked directly to company goals, they may not produce meaningful results.

Internal barriers such as organizational dispertion and resistance to change can hinder the effectiveness of marketing. When, for example, sales and marketing departments work in isolation or are unable to collaborate effectively, this can lead to a lack of desired results. Resistance to adopting new technologies or methodologies could also prevent companies from outpacing emerging market trends and consumer preferences.

– What are the first steps to implement a marketing strategy for a startup founder?

– First of all, it is important to understand that every business founder is involved in marketing almost always, even if he does not focus on it. Discussion of the project with investors, networking, which means eventual partner projects, communication with the media – this is all marketing, efforts aimed at increasing brand awareness, increasing sales, searching for leads.

The first steps for the founder of a startup in the implementation of a marketing strategy will be to determine the goals and target audience, study the market and competitors, develop a unique offer and choose marketing channels. These steps will help create the basis for an effective marketing strategy aimed at attracting the attention of the target audience and establishing a competitive advantage in the market.

– What are the features when entering international markets?

– There is an interesting feature that when entering the international market there are several free platforms for receiving feedback about the product, attracting attention to business and even for the first earnings.

Product Hunt, for example, lets place a company on its site with a large attendance without financial resources, which makes it possible to increase recognition, attract early users, find out what can be improved or changed.

When I was responsible for marketing in emerging markets, then, in fact, I also worked with a startup – for us, the territories of Eastern Europe, Turkey, Israel, South Africa were new. We tried to interact actively with the target audience, participated in events, for example, running marathons and festivals for gamers. Most importantly, I always came to all events to understand who is the buyer of the product with which I worked,  and should be done to better “reach” him.

I still think that “going out into the fields” is very important, it enables to achieve great results and reduce the amount of effort. I recently worked with SaaS for sales managers, I did not have the opportunity to travel to offline events. In this case, I searched and analyzed the target audience in thematic online communities.

– You are sure that we can spend a minimum of financial resources on marketing. How is this possible?

– As a rule, at the very beginning of the journey, startups do not have much money to promote their business. But you need to work to increase brand awareness, to attract the attention of investors. And yes, indeed, to make the company more notorious, you can attract the attention of users with minimal costs. It is worth using public relations, thinking about what informational reasons can attract the attention of the media. Content marketing plays an important role, it can be used both for effective sales in social networks (Social Selling), and for conducting social networks, as well as for email marketing.

Look at the PLG approach – product-led growth. PLG-based marketing strategy focuses on using the product as the primary tool to attract, retain and expand the customer base. Instead of relying, for example, on direct sales, PLG builds a strategy around the fact that the product itself is a key factor in attracting and retaining customers. This is achieved by creating a product that responds to customer needs, is easy to digest and provides value from the first minutes of use.

PLG’s marketing strategy also includes the use of free or freemium models, which allow users to try the product before purchasing, as well as stimulate growth through internal virality and scaling. An important aspect of PLG is the use of data for continuous product optimization and marketing efforts, which improves the user experience and ensures stable growth of the company.

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