A total of 212 startups across Southeast Asia participated in the research for Marketing in Asia’s report. An astounding 90% of startups fail, with 56% of startups failing due to marketing issues. Missing out on the proper marketing can cost a startup its future in terms of growth, potential customers, and ROI. Every startup markets its product, but what sets the successful ones aside is the key marketing moves they execute without fail.
A B2B firm usually allocates 6–8% of the firm’s revenue and 9–11% of the firm’s budget as the marketing budget. A B2C company allocates around 8–14% of its revenue and approximately 20% of the total firm’s budget for the same. This makes it even more essential to pick out a sustainable marketing strategy that is needed and will deliver the best results. In this research, Marketing in Asia (MIA) talks about the five key moves that every startup should capitalise on to set their ship sailing.
- The significance of a marketing team and an effective marketing strategy
- Executing and reviewing in accordance with their plans.
- Identifying and capturing the appropriate marketing and automation channels.
- Branding of the founder
- Insightful leadership
Many startups don’t have enough funding, so they can’t afford a dedicated marketing team or experts. Our research revealed that only 54% of startups had a dedicated marketing team, and about 25% relied on a one-man army. 82% of the bootstrapped startups did not have any full-time designated marketing heads with experience and hence relied on founders, junior staff, and partners for their marketing work. 18% had marketing teams. Amongst the funded startups, 32% had a full-time marketing team, while 48% claimed to be building a team in-house or with partners, while 20% depended on partner marketing companies.
The startup marketing strategy should be different from that of established companies because startups need to work on a leaner budget. 66% of startups claimed that their current marketing strategy was not giving them the desired results. Of this, bootstrapped startups were 51%, and funded startups were 15%. When asked about the type of marketing strategy they had adopted, 72% of bootstrapped startups said they used ad-hoc marketing as their marketing strategy. 28% claimed they had structured marketing or were starting to structure it, but 75% of these also claimed that their current marketing strategy was not working well for them. 45% of funded startups also made a similar claim, with only 16% getting the desired marketing outcome. 44% claimed to be working to create and implement an effective marketing strategy by 2022.
When it comes to marketing strategy, just building it is not enough. The results are defined by the frequency with which they are reviewed, validated, and revised. According to our research, 60% of startups claimed they reviewed their marketing strategy regularly, but unfortunately, not as frequently as needed. Only 20% of these startups review them at least once a month.
Amongst the different channels available, social media was the most common and go-to choice for 100% of the startups. In comparison, less than 2% had started looking at the events and awards as a branding medium, primarily due to COVID. 27% of the startup companies had a PR agency to help them with their marketing needs. Email marketing was also popular with 32% of startups.
Despite allocating a whopping 45% of the marketing budget for campaign and content creation, most startups (72%) mentioned that they were unable to create engaging content for customers, with 42% saying their organisation is not capable enough to do the task and 30% saying they are unable to identify the type of content needed. Content marketing emerged as an untapped opportunity for startups to engage the target audience regularly, and a lack of engaging content creation came out as a challenge, forcing most startups to let go of this fantastic marketing technique.
The data indicates that 58% of startups were reasonably automated, and 20% had highly automated marketing techniques, with all the highly automated startups coming from the funded group. Automation gives a startup the liberty to be more creative with their time and resources.
It is essential that before delving into the choice of marketing channel, the business is clear about its target audience. For instance, a startup that wishes to market itself on Instagram should know that 90% of the people on Instagram are under the age of 35. Therefore, before freezing on any one marketing channel, clarity of thought on the target audience and the desired outcome can go a long way towards saving a startup both time and money, the two most crucial assets of any startup.
It is a personal brand that defines how the public views that individual, separate from their entity. Founder branding can bring to the table credibility, the right set of team members, clients, investors, and, more importantly, new opportunities. Our research found that while more than 70% of founders wished to brand themselves, only 6% were making efforts to do that. Almost 30% of them had no or low understanding of founder branding and therefore had never given it a thought.
A personal brand is like a mini-startup within a startup. All the efforts that go into branding a startup will be replicated here, just on a smaller scale. A founder should have a personal website, establish their presence on social media, have a clearly defined mission and vision that also entails the business’s brand, and Startup Founders should be consistent on social media, create a visual brand that is coherent with the original brand, and consistently create high-quality content.
Data indicates that, amongst the small percentage of founders who are making efforts in this direction, social media (65%) is the most sought-after channel that founders are using to brand themselves, followed by articles and blogs (45%) and only a few have their own websites (25%).
Thought leadership is a type of content marketing in which you tap into the talent, experience, and passion within your company or community to consistently answer the most pressing questions on your target audience’s minds about a specific topic. Our data indicates that just 8% of the startup founders seemed to be doing the right marketing in establishing their company’s thought leadership through marketing. In comparison, an astounding 30% claimed they were willing to do so but did not know how to proceed with it and needed expert advice. 45% of startups used authored articles as the most popular mode of establishing thought leadership, followed by participation in events and awards (35%), and consistency on social media.
It is seen that, other than social media and authored articles, startups are missing out on leveraging the other powerhouses to establish themselves as thought leaders in the industry. For instance, just 2% of startups are investing in research content. Publishing research in the domain of expertise puts a startup on a higher pedestal. LinkedIn research shows that 58% of decision-makers read thought leadership content each week, at least for an hour. Further, such content persuaded 60% of them to buy the product or service offered.