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Inbound Marketing for Startups: How to Achieve Success

The term ‘startup’ often sounds exciting. You might imagine a hip culture of millennials sitting on bean bag chairs. But here’s the issue with startups – they’re everywhere.

And sorry to say, but nobody cares about yours. Yet.

This is why inbound marketing is crucial for startups. It helps with generating awareness and, hopefully, excitement.

Let's look at common startup challenges you're likely facing and learn how inbound marketing delivers results based on real case studies. 

The Challenges of Startup Marketing (And Where Inbound Marketing Makes a Difference)

A whopping 90% of new startups fail. Take that in for a minute. You're part of prestigious club of startup successes if your business survives early stages and grows to a substantial size.

How do you join those 10% of successful startups?

You learn how to market your products and services in a disruptive, forward thinking way. And inbound marketing is your best bet for accomplishing this.

Here are a few of the most common startup marketing challenges you likely face and how inbound marketing helps address them:

Staying Focused and Managing Tight Budget Constraints

Marketing budgets vary widely. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend millions to get noticed. 


But you also shouldn't overextend your limited team by chasing a bunch of marketing strategies at one time. Email. Social. Retargeting. Advertising.

There are so many marketing initiatives you can explore. But if you spread yourself too thin, you won't see many results and you might burn your team (and yourself) out. 

Takeaway: Depending on your budget restraints, current resources, and short- and long-term goals, identify what inbound marketing initiatives to prioritize. For instance, search presents plenty of opportunities for driving business results. 

Leverage organic growth through inbound marketing tactics like search engine optimization (SEO). Also, look into building and continually engaging communities through social media. 

But keep in mind – tactics like these take a lot of time. So start small and build just a few campaigns with clear goals to address the most pressing issues first. It's important to prioritize when starting out so your marketing team can hone on a clear plan of action.

If you don't have enough people to get your marketing off the ground, consider looking for outsourced help, like freelance marketing professionals or agencies. 

Balancing Roles With Your Team

Speaking of your team, as a startup, your entire team is probably wearing many hats and juggling a wide variety of responsibilities. This is a necessity for companies looking to scale, but it can lead to some bad habits. 

In terms of your culture, your staff might feel stretched too thin. This can lead to burnout. What's more, your team might treat your marketing efforts like an afterthought.

Takeaway: Simply put, you need to dedicate resources to marketing, either in house or outsourced. Otherwise, your half-efforts will produce insignificant results.

If you're keeping it in house, be clear with assigning responsibilities to each person. This way, everyone is on the same page and can efficiently execute various marketing projects at the same time. 

Honing Messaging

Your messaging strategy is vital to the growth of your company. For startups especially, the way you position your products or services can make or break your business.

You're the new kid in town, so your brand recognition is practically nonexistent. You can't afford to misrepresent your brand or miss the mark. 

Your target audience should feel excited about you. And when buyers come along, they deserve an experience that aligns with how you position yourself and remains consistent at every touchpoint.

This is why inbound organizations are the future of business. They operate in full alignment, ensuring that marketing messages are consistent with what sales is offering and how service is supporting buyers. 

Takeaway: Even with small teams, startups can suffer from silos. To effectively break those down, host team-wide meetings. 


During these meetings, brainstorm marketing ideas and keep everyone in the loop on what marketing is producing. This way, if sales, service, or leadership sees an issue with how the messaging is positioned, they can chime in. 

Ideally, you'll avoid producing misaligned marketing messages. These meetings can help your marketing team adjust their strategies. 

Inbound Success Stories for Startups

No matter your target market, every startup can drive success using inbound marketing.

HubSpot, the software company that introduced the inbound methodology to the world, shares some great success stories in the startup world:

Switching Target Markets

Startups often go through plenty of changes as they grow. A company that provides programs for women with fertility issues shifted their focus from B2B to B2C.

This is a big challenge for growing companies. They were accustomed to marketing to reproductive clinics, but then needed to shift their strategies to target women directly. 

When they signed up for HubSpot's growth stack, they rebooted their entire plan. The first priority was updating their website, which was essentially just a placeholder. 

After moving the entire site to the HubSpot CMS, they started using tools like calls to action (CTAs), smart forms, and workflows to fuel lead generation and nurturing campaigns. 

Despite the challenges of switching target markets, this company generated amazing results – a whopping 34X increase in leads and a 250% boost in traffic. 


Aligning Sales and Marketing

An artificial intelligence startup company focused on image recognition solutions hit a wall: They didn't have a marketing team in place, and their sales approach was outdated.

Plus, their marketing director struggled with juggling several different technologies and trying to integrate all of them. This is when they decided to switch to HubSpot to gather all their sales and marketing technologies in one place. 

The sales team is able to track and monitor all conversations they have with leads, and marketing can attribute business results to specific campaigns.

This alignment between sales and marketing continue fueling this startup's growth. 

Startup marketers can build a full inbound marketing plan when they have the right tools and fully embrace inbound marketing best practices. This sets them up to continue growing the business. 

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Jeff Previte

Jeff Previte

I am a Content Manager at Bluleadz. I enjoy spending time outdoors -- camping, hiking, hammocking, and everything in between. I also love reading, writing, and learning how to play guitar.