QUICK IDEA: You don’t need a huge marketing budget to launch a new brand today. Social media offers start-ups a wealth of opportunities to reach new audiences and sell your product(s).
Too many product start-ups are in a rush to “go big” so that venture capitalists can recoup their investments but many are spending too much money on marketing.
Casper is the latest brand to disappoint in the IPO area. With high returns, that can’t be resold, and a marketing budget that relies too much on influencers they have become an IPO unicorn.
There are all kinds of success stories from small brands that don’t have the luxury of having a huge marketing budget. Five years ago, Zak Normandin started selling a sleek, pricey, low-calorie beverage called Dirty Lemon via text message. Now he is going to be selling the drink via Wal*Mart.
With its chic messaging and premium price point, Dirty Lemon is marketing to a niche demographic. Launching in Walmart could be a huge opportunity for Dirty Lemon to broaden that audience. But it could also take away some of the startup’s charm and muddy its brand identity not to mention that their customer probably is not a Wal*Mart shopper.
Today a number of other brands in everything from skincare to bike parts are launching brands via social media an Amazon. They’re doing it with savvy marketing and laser targeting.
Can this apply to all brands? It depends but smaller brands that have invested in their product packaging, logo and messaging have a unique opportunity. Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram offer a great tool to reach prospects but you still need to fulfill the brand promise. If, for example, you’re marketing a great brand targeted at millennial women you need to ensure that not only your product is great but that the package it comes in and shipping exceed expectations.
There are still some marketing basics that need to go into niche marketing though. You need to test your message, packaging, and brand with your audience to ensure it’s positioned as you had planned. I’ve seen a lot of brands who thought they were “cool and hip” crash and burn because their marketing message was off target.
The other challenge is growth versus profits. Facebook is raking in billions of dollars in sales every quarter but their stock has taken a hit because Wall Street wants growth. If you can earn great profits every quarter you need to ask yourself “is growth at the expense of profits worth it?”.
My guess is that Dirty Lemon is making a huge mistake in selling to Wal*Mart. Wrong audience, wrong price point. Too many start-up brands have money-hungry VC’s who want their money despite what it strategically may do to the brand.
Starting and growing a brand can be difficult if you use the same old marketing formula but smart brands can still cut through the clutter and reach eager buyers with street smart savvy marketing.