How to Prioritize Marketing Tasks as a Bootstrapped Solo Founder (Without a Huge Team)
If you’re a solo founder you’re probably tired of reading blog posts geared towards funded startups that have the budget to hire awesome distributed growth teams. Do you want to know how you prioritize your marketing tasks as a solo founder?
So many of the blog posts you’ll read on marketing are there to help marketing teams build and develop an audience.
This means they usually have someone to help with social media, someone to help with content, someone to help with paid advertisements, someone to help with promotion, and someone to help with strategy.
But when you’re a solo founder or a one-man marketing team, this advice isn’t always helpful.
How do you hope to do everything when you only have 24 hours in your day?
And how do you hope to do everything when marketing might not even be your only priority.
If you’re like most solo-marketers, you struggle to know which marketing tasks are going to provide you with the best ROI.
After all, no one wants to spend 60 hours working on a marketing campaign only for it to fail dramatically.
In this post, we’re going to provide you with an exact framework you can use as a solo founder or one-man marketing team to help you prioritize which marketing tasks will be right for your business.
Before you can think about your KPIs, you need to understand your audience. Without this understanding, you won’t be able to create content that resonates with them or promote your work where they typically hang out.
The best way to understand your audience is to talk to them.
If you already have customers, this is simple.
Your support staff tend to know the most about your customers simply because they spend their time speaking with them.
Find out which problems or issues are reoccurring and work to come up with marketing activities to support that.
When you do, you’ll also give your customer support team marketing arsenal to use when speaking with customers.
Prioritizing your marketing efforts in this way is effective because the issues that come up most often are evidently the most important ones and should be completed first.
It sounds so simple, but you’ll be surprised as to how many people don’t actually talk to their customers.
When someone signs up for GrowthMentor, they send out an email that requests people to reply with any questions they might have.
As you know, email is an effective marketing tool and encouraging people to get in touch with you is a great way to prioritize the issues and concerns they have.
What if you don’t have any customers yet?
But what if you don’t have any customers? Does this mean you can’t get to know your audience?
Not at all.
You just need to a bit more research.
You could use social media to find out what problems people face with their current solutions, or you can use Google.
People tend to very vocal on Twitter and a quick search of [your keyword] plus terms like [issue], [struggle], [concern] will provide you with results like these:
You’ll be able to ascertain how popular a particular issue is based on how many people are echoing their thoughts and sharing the ideas.
This will give you significant knowledge as to what your potential customers want from your marketing efforts.
As a solo founder, you have limited resources and you need to run your business. If you’re a developer, you also need to build your software.
So it goes without saying that you can’t take part in every single marketing task.
It’s frustrating though.
You look at your competitors (who are much larger than you) and they have social media campaigns, paid ads, they’re throwing out 3 blog posts a week and they have a podcast.
How can you possibly compete?
The answer is: you can’t on all fronts.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t win one channel. The trick is to prioritize.
The best way to prioritize is to flip marketing on its head and focus on your KPIs first.
Forget about which marketing activity is the coolest or most popular.
If you’re a solo founder – pick three KPIs you want to work on.
Maybe you want:
- More leads coming to you
- Improve customer retention
- Increase traffic
If you’re a solo marketer within a company, work with your leadership team to work out what company goals you want to achieve and then see how you can use marketing to support those goals.
When you’re evaluating marketing tasks, try to map the task in question to the KPI you’ve chosen to work on.
The diagram above shows you how this would look visually. The size of the shape represents the importance, as opposed to the number.
The KPI you choose to work on is much more important than the way you choose to get there.
Let’s look at how this would manifest in a real-life situation.
This is how the framework would look. Note the bottom box: the marketing task is effectively a hypothesis.
In the example above, we believe in order to increase customer retention for our company by 50% in the next six months, we need to work on creating personalized social media posts.
We also believe that in order to increase traffic in the next three months by 40% we need to work on creating more top of the funnel content.
The reason why this process works so well is that it helps you double down on a single task that directly supports your overall KPI and goal.
If you come to realize that your hypotheses aren’t working, you’re able to quickly choose a new marketing tactic to help get you closer to your goal.
So how do you match marketing tasks to your KPIs? At first, it might seem like the only way you could know which task would help you improve is some prior experience of doing it.
And if you’re a solo founder – this could be your first stab at marketing.
Your goals could be anything from:
- Increasing sales
- Entering a new market
- Expanding market share
- Increasing brand awareness
- Reach a new audience or demographic
- Raise a funding round
- Increase profits
- Increase number of people on email list
- Hire top talent
Keep in mind, however, that you can experiment with this.
If you think that you have a better solution that works for your company – go with that.
These are just examples that could work.
Let’s look at two examples.
So you’ve spoken with your boss and they’ve decided the two goals they’d like marketing to support are:
- Raise a funding round
- Increase number of people on your email list
So now you know your goals, it’s time to start planning what marketing activities you’ll do to support that.
Raising a funding round
If you’re tasked with raising a funding round, it’s important to understand what type of investors you’ll be looking to attract and what type of businesses they’ve already invested in.
This will give you some insight into the types of things they look for.
Now let’s say, for example, the investors you’re hoping to attract all like sharing original research – think whitepapers, reports.
You can use this to your advantage and spend your time creating the most epic long-form original research you can.
So instead of spending your time scheduling tweets, put all your efforts into creating the best resource you can.
That way, when it does well (which it will – I have faith in you), you’re able to provide the rest of your team with an asset that directly helps them achieve the overarching business goals.
Email is consistently one of the best revenue generating marketing tactics – but you know that already.
If you’re tasked with increasing the number of people on your email list, you have to think value.
Your audience is unlikely to give you their email list for no reason.
They need to know that in exchange for giving you their details, they’ll get something in return.
VideoFruit do this well on their blog and offer their readers something that’s hard to say no to.
So now, you know your focus should be on creating content (alongside additional assets) that encourage people to download and give your their details.
As you can see, you can attribute any marketing task to any goal.
It all depends on which ones you’re most comfortable with and which you think will have the biggest ROI for the investment you put in.
Being a solo founder wearing multiple hats trying to succeed at marketing is hard. Being the only marketing person in a company is tough, too.
In this post, we’ve looked at why you need to change your mindset from:
“What marketing activities should I do?”
“What marketing activities will help my company get to where I need it to?”
When you change your mindset in this way, it forces you to think carefully about the type of tasks you can do that will actually have a positive effect.
There’s no point blogging endlessly if your business would achieve its goals much more easily with a solid social strategy.
There is no point spending months pre-writing tweets if your audience doesn’t spend any of their time on Twitter.
Thinking about the results before you think about the marketing tasks is the first step to victory.
But, if you are struggling to work out which KPIs you want to improve for your business – why not enlist some help.
Getting a mentor is a great way to gather insight from someone else who has done it before.
They can look at your business model, your current marketing results and see where your efforts would be best spent.
That way, when it comes to doing marketing within your company – you get it right every time.
After all, just because you’re a solo marketer doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone.
Stop fishing in the dark, hoping to pick up some bait and instead, market your product with the right mindset.