When it comes to startup marketing, you have to make a lot of assumptions. 

Some of your hunches are going to be wrong. That’s okay. You are creating a new product, after all. 

Too many incorrect assumptions, though, and you waste time and money on a product no one wants. Worse yet, you risk becoming another statistic, joining the staggering 70% of startups that fail.

If you want to succeed in the startup world, you’ve got to validate product/market fit and idea assumptions early on. 

I like the way Paul Graham puts it:

You want some good marketing advice, make stuff that people want.

It sounds simple, but you and I both know startup validation isn’t always so easy. So, how do you guarantee product/market fit during early-stage startup marketing? 

First, go talk to your customers and target personas. 

Next, start using paid ads. 

Why paid ads are always a good idea for early-stage startup marketing

Digital marketing for startups can be overwhelming and exhausting. You want to grow your business as efficiently as possible, but you’re also dealing with budget and personnel constraints. 

So, you do what most startups do: wait to invest in paid ads until you’ve reached the growth stage of your marketing.

There’s only one problem:

When it’s time to hit publish on your PPC ads for startups…

… you hear crickets. 

Apart from a few likes or clicks, nothing happens. You make a few adjustments to the ad copy or target audience, but there’s no notable difference in results. 

You’ve invested ample resources into your product, only to find you can’t streamline your sales and grow your startup via paid ads. Ouch

Here’s the thing: Even the most compelling, optimised ads won’t sell a product that nobody wants (at least not sustainably.)

The good news is that paid ads aren’t only for growing your business — they also make an excellent medium for idea validation.

Maybe you have a good understanding of your target audience. You’ve created a handful of buyer personas and conducted a few interviews. Now, paid ads with hyper-niche target audiences can further corroborate your customer base — and ensure you’re speaking directly to their pain points and desires. 

Plus, detailed data reporting helps you analyse how your customer base engages with your ads and landing page; use that knowledge to inform your product development and growth marketing strategy for streamlined success.

It’s hardly a secret you must intimately understand your customer and their needs if you want to grow your business. Paid ads are an intelligent vehicle for small-scale testing, so you ensure your market reacts positively from the get-go.

How to invest in paid ads during your early-stage startup marketing

Ready to include paid ads in your digital marketing for startups? Good. Let’s take a closer look at how to get the most out of paid ads in your early-stage marketing:

Build a solid landing page

Where you send paid traffic matters. If your landing page is confusing, unprofessional or otherwise lacking, people are unlikely to take the desired action step — and you won’t gain the product validation data you need. 

Make your first impression with potential customers a lasting one. These landing page guidelines will help:

  • Keep your landing page branding consistent with ad copy and design. Otherwise, you risk confusing your traffic.
  • Invest in captivating copywriting. You’ll speak directly to your audience and sell more, too. 
  • What action steps do you want your audience to take? Make it clear and compelling. 
  • Just because you’re using paid ads to validate product/market fit doesn’t mean you can’t ask for a purchase. Pre-sales are one of the strongest indicators of success. 

Test multiple paid ad channels and audiences

Where does your target audience already interact and engage? 

Generally speaking, platforms like Facebook and Google are smart places to start due to targeting and data reporting capabilities. However, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube could make more sense for your niche. 

I recommend targeting each of your possible target customer personas. Remember, this is about product validation. So, start broad then remove low converting audiences as you learn more about your market. 

Obsess over tracking and optimisation

You can’t “set and forget” paid ads — especially not during your early-stage startup marketing. Nor would you want to. Paid ads provide ample data, a bonafide gold mine of knowledge to inform your marketing strategy. 

Say your paid ads are showing low engagement and click-throughs. Don’t give up on your business idea overnight. Make tweaks to the ad creative and target audiences to see if the product aligns with a better market.

If traffic is navigating to your landing page but not taking the desired action step, it could be a sign you need to edit your website copy or design (or both.) 

Now, I’ll just put it right on the table: there’s a lot that goes into paid ads that get results. 

Negative keywords. Conversion tracking. Structuring efficient campaigns. Google ad auctions. 

You’re already a busy entrepreneur. Mastering paid ads across multiple channels sounds daunting, but you don’t want to waste your limited resources on under-optimised ads. And now you know forgoing paid ads altogether isn’t an option, either. 

It might be time to call in the experts. 

We obsess over optimising paid ads so you don’t have to — and we’re pretty darn good at it. Save your time and energy for what you love and do best (running your company) and let us assist with the nitty-gritty behind PPC ads.

To sum it up

There’s no better way to get targeted traffic to your website or sales page than digital ad campaigns — and ensure product/market fit while you do it. 

Get the insight you need now so you can grow your business with confidence when it matters. 

Contact us to learn how we can help you grow your business today.