Creating a Startup Marketing Plan With No Marketing Background

You have an awesome product, but marketing isn’t your core expertise. You just want to tell people about your product in a non-sleezy way and not worry about all that marketing stuff.

But what if you could create a growth plan that aligned with your values and helped you sell more?

That’s what we’ll talk about today – creating a customized marketing plan for your startup, even if you have no marketing experience whatsoever. I’ll be drawing on information you developed in parts one and two of this series, so be sure to read those for the best outcome.

Start by generating a list of customer focused marketing activities

I believe every marketing plan should be personalized to the person and business executing it.

The ideal marketing plan for your startup is found at the intersection of your creative passion, and your customers passionate attention:

A Startup Marketing Plan Venn Diagram - The intersaection of what you love to build and your customers love to viewIn part two, developing a customer blueprint, we spent a lot of time developing the right side of this diagram, which is usually the harder one to come to grips with. You should have a nice list of places customers consume content, the kinds of content they like, and a good understanding of why they like the kinds of content they like.

Once you have customer understanding, it is much easier to look across that list and find things that you would enjoy creating – video’s, apps, blog posts, graphics, books… the possibilities are endless.

Next, align your marketing to customer engagement levels

Next up, you’ll want to understand the full funnel – how someone goes from being ignorant that you exist to becoming a buying customer to a raving fan.

This is known as your marketing funnel, and there are several distinct phases of the funnel: customer awareness, customer engagement, customer interest, paying customer, and raving fan.

Startup Marketing Funnel

Click to view the full size funnel

Customers start at the bottom, and work their way up. This is an inverted funnel, much like they show at marketing experiments , because gravity is always dragging your customers down and out of your funnel. (If you want another great marketing resource, I always recommend checking out marketing experiments)

Generally, the further down on this diagram you are, the more materials you may need to generate, which corresponds to the size of each section. The activities will generally not be the same for each segment however – a blog post that attracts thousands of viewers and gets them aware of your product is likely not the same post that convinces a newsletter subscriber to sign up for a free trial.

To do that, we must come up with a strategy for each stage of customer development up the funnel – from awareness to raving fan.

Finally, develop your full fledged startup marketing strategy

For each stage of the funnel, we will create a class of materials to drive customers to the next level and outline what those might be for your specific market.

Let’s create a chart diagramming what you will do to get your customers moving up each stage of the funnel. Each action you write down should come from that nice venn intersection of what you love to create and what your customers love to consume and do.

Here is an example chart outlining some common strategies seen today on the web, though your specific chart will and should look different – it will give you everything you need to start executing today.

The activities section is a list of things you will do or provide to try and move customers to the next stage of the funnel. The goals for each stage outline how you will know that a customer has moved from the current stage to the next stage (note that some strategies can overlap).

Funnel Stage






  • write blogs
  • post blogs to Reddit
  • guest post
  • google adwords
  • youtube videos
  • Get people to add my blog to their RSS reader
  • Newsletter signups

three times per week

$500/month (adwords)


  • Write specialized blogs
  • write newsletters
  • create webinars
  • view product pages
  • ask product questions
  • free trial sign up

2 x month



  • Product webinar
  • Product Demo
  • Free Trial
  • Lifecycle email
  • Productivity guide

customer purchases product

one time


Paying Customer

  • product itself
  • advanced user guide
  • social tools
  • lifecycle emails
  • get customer to share with 10 friends
  • customer testimonial
  • buy second product

ongoing product development


Raving Fan

  • thank you emails
  • special discounts
  • free guides
  • guest passes

Maintain raving fan status

2 x year

$100/raving fan

Now, create your plan – and go even deeper

Now it is up to you – put together your one page marketing plan in a diagram like the above. This will give you a clear list of every activity you need to do, the frequency to do it, and how to reach out to customers.

Over time you can tweak this plan in response to your actual users and how well they respond. There are many other things you can do to enhance this plan as well: Going deep into your customers head, combining strategies to maximize engagement, and capitalizing on competitor weaknesses. All tools and strategies I go through in much greater detail in my book, bootstrapping growth.

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