The importance of sustainable and repeatable distribution channels for startups

By Shaun Symm, June 17, 2019
Startup founders pointing at a laptop screen

We’ve just launched the new Launch Lab website and through the process of developing it I realised that it’s nearly 1 year since our last blog post and nearly a year since our last post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

It had been nearly 18 months since we reviewed the content on our website and hadn’t updated our portfolio in that time either. In fact it was 4.5 years since we last gave our website a facelift.

That’s a pretty poor effort from a web development company (our excuse is that we’ve been really really busy building startups and other tech products).

However, there is something we put a lot of effort into in the early days of the business more than 4 years ago … finding a sustainable and repeatable marketing channel.

Thank goodness we found one and so in the past 18 months of almost zero communication, we have relied on 2 things to bring in new business:

  • word of mouth / referrals
  • a paid marketing channel that gives us proven and reliable results at an acquisition cost that makes business sense

We could always do more, and we shouldn't have ignored our own plumbing for so long, but the lesson here for startups is to work hard trying to find distribution channels that reliably deliver results at an affordable acquisition cost.

It isn’t easy to do this but your life is going to be much easier and your business more successful, and more stable, when you do.

Free (excluding the cost of the founders time) distribution channels include:

  • Partnerships
  • Affiliates
  • Word of mouth / referrals
  • Content marketing (e.g.: all the things we haven’t been doing lately like blogging, guest blogging, social media, podcasting etc)
  • SEO

Paid distribution channels include:

  • Adverts on social media channels (Facebook ads, Twitter ads, LinkedIn ads etc)
  • Search engine marketing (Adwords)
  • Advertising on podcasts
  • Influencer marketing
  • Retargeting

Not all channels will deliver results, and the ones that do might not be sustainable from a CPA (cost per acquisition) point view, so you will have to ‘kiss a few frogs’ before finding channels that work for your startup.

The effort is worth it as finding a repeatable marketing channel that you can rely on is the cornerstone of every business.

Keep in mind that even before finding the right marketing channels for your startup you need to build a product that people love.

If you are new to startup marketing you might also want to read digital marketing resources for first time founders and marketing hacks for new founders.

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