Everything you need to market your product, and not a thing more.
It seems like a new marketing tool launches every day. We have tools for designing, writing, writing about design, publishing your writing in a well-designed way, turning your writing into a video, scheduling that video, pulling the data on that video, analyzing the data on that video, and then turning it into an infographic, and repeating the process. There are more tools than you could ever use. Let’s simplify this and focus only on the tools you should use. Keep in mind that this will vary from business to business. There will also most likely be multiple competitors in all of these spaces.
The center of your minimum viable marketing strategy will be your website. Your website serves as the salesperson who never sleeps. It should clearly state your value proposition and key features. It doesn’t need to be overly-complicated or difficult to maintain. I like to use a simple static HTML site which I can host for free on Forge . Static sites are fast and robust, meaning you can send a ton of traffic to it without the fear of seeing it crash.
When launching a new product, you really only need 3 to 5 pages on your website: the home page, about page, contact page, features page, and pricing page. A free Forge account is limited to 1 GB, which should be enough to host your site, but if you get in a jam or are a little savvier, you can host some assets like high-res images on GitHub.
I host my CSS & JS files on GitHub as well, freeing up a bit more space in my account.
Finally, you will need to pick up a domain — You can grab one at name.com for under $20.
Content is a key part of any marketing strategy. When done right, it can be one of the most powerful forms of marketing. For this, we will take advantage of Medium.com. Medium is great for startups because it has a built-in audience, giving you greater reach with lower effort.
Medium is free to use as an individual and an organization, but to get the most out of it, you will need to contact their customer support to get a branded page. Medium can create a sub-domain on your URL like blog.domain.com and link to your site in the header.
Focus on creating 3–4 great pieces of content each month. The content should be balanced between product features and non-product pieces that will appeal to the broader community.
The web is an extremely visual place. In fact, almost all web interaction is catalyzed by visual appeal. This means that you need great images. That can be tricky.
Cheap stock images are often overused and finding an image on a Google search can get you fined. This is where Pexels comes in. Pexels provides free stock photos that are surprisingly high-quality.
There is no need to create an account. Just head over there, search for your pic, download it, and you’re done.
More than likely, your goal is to do some basic user acquisition. This means that you need a form, a database, and a way to follow up with those leads. This is where MailChimp comes into play.
MailChimp lets you embed a form or even a pop-up into your static site and collect lead data. The data is then stored in their database that is free to use for up to 2,000 contacts.
You can then send your users product updates, new content you published on Medium, or anything else you want.
The Social Presence
One of the biggest traps I see startups fall into is feeling that they need to maintain a presence on every major social network. Having a presence on every network is a lot of work. In reality, there are probably one or two social networks that actually provide any real business value. Identify those networks and use them in an excellent way.
For managing those channels, I suggest using Hootsuite or Buffer. Both of those applications have great free tiers that allow you to schedule your posts ahead of time and track your engagements, interactions, and growth.
Modern marketing is all about data. It’s important to be able to find and track the right data — emphasis on the word right.
For your MVP marketing stack, start with Google Analytics. It has just enough to let you track conversions, top inbound channels, and some basic user behaviors. Eventually, you will need more data, and when you do, I suggest upgrading to Mixpanel.
The Task Work
The final piece to your minimum viable marketing strategy is task work. You have 24 hours in your day and not enough money to hire a marketing team. So what do you do?
Hire task workers.
For small tasks that you can’t do on your own like design work, check out Fiverr. There are thousands of fixed-rate task workers on Fiverr with rates starting at just $5. You won’t find anything exceptional, but for the right tasks, it’s a useful tool.
For more specialized tasks, check out UpWork, CloudPeeps, or Toptal. These sites offer access to premium freelancer talent. You can offload repetitive tasks or the management of ad platforms at a very affordable fixed rate.
The Early Adopters
Once you have a website and the ability to capture leads, it’s time to get in front of the early adopters.
For this, we turn to ProductHunt. ProductHunt is a community of early adopters who are on a never-ending hunt, finding new products and introducing them to the community. But don’t be naïve; it’s more complicated than you think.
First, the ProductHunt community knows quality. If your product is not ready, it will get trashed, and you only get one chance. Second, submitting your own product will blow your chances completely. I strongly suggest doing your homework before even thinking about going to ProductHunt.
Still, if you can get this right, you will have hundreds of visitors and potential customers.
The key to a successful minimum viable marketing strategy is the ability to find the right tools to augment your efforts and the talent to take little tasks off of your plate.
And remember: Resources always lose to hustle.