Hi - as a start-up directed at aiding other start-ups in the adverting/marketing space, would love to understand more what some of the biggest challenges are for other companies when it comes to promoting themselves/their products.
Cost definitely comes to mind upfront. Usually marketing/advertising will charge market rate for services. Some of which the agency does not have flexibility. Leads many startups to organically build, which of course takes much longer.
I know I sure do need the help.
Getting everyone to embrace that marketing is not advertising. Marketing is a strategy; advertising is a tactic.
A bit more context needed here to provide a more succinct answer but I'll try and give you a high level overview.
To start with what vertical is the customer based and what's the objective of their marketing & promotion? A mobile entertainment startup might just be looking for "eyeballs" and running 100% branding campaigns. Another might be a new social channel who is very direct response focused and looking for 100% downloads and registrations.
At the aggregate level I'd say the biggest challenge companies need to overcome when promoting themselves is having a well oiled objective at the onset to their business. If they are trying to sell too many products and are widespread or looking to "pivot" the business in 6 months you are in trouble. Start simple, crush whatever product/service you offer and the rest will fall into place. Pay particular attention to customer reviews from Yelp, app stores, Facebook, feedback on site etc. and make sure to LISTEN to their objectives and make product improvements based off that feedback. From a pure promotions perspective start out with a "beta group" of ~1K customers to fine tune the business. Once you feel confident in the product and bugs have been worked out then roll out small marketing test with FB, Google, etc. along with postings to influencers/bloggers in the space. Pay particular attention to your competition as well. Who's copying who? How do you differentiate your product or service?
Lots to unpack and many different roads startups can travel. Hope this helps
Gosh, perhaps it's the way you phrased your question, but it would be very difficult for me to buy services from you if you weren't already expert in answering this question. There are 8 divisions of Marketing. No marketer is typically masterful at more than 2. So by yourself you're going to have to decide which area of marketing skill is your expertise and promote that element. That's backhanded, because knowing what your customers need isn't going to make any difference if it's not the area in which you can provide expert service.
There are two philosophies that describe marketing. First is "marketing is everything," and second is "marketing is slave to everything." You will need to determine which of the two philosophies you believe and find customers that orient with that philosophy.
Generically, the challenge most startup companies face is that one person tries to be expert in everything, and we know that business owners rarely master more than two of the six basic business skills themselves. That means they need to hire the other experts to help them. Aside from that, the average level of communication skill is pretty low for Americans, and this puts them at a disadvantage when attempting to market effectively.
Your question is exceptionally difficult to answer with anything meaningful because it reveals an underlying problem you'll need to conquer before you can succeed yourself, let alone your future clients. Perhaps you can clarify and unplug the doubt your question brings up.
There is no one thing there are a 1,000 things.
The fact that, when you have only a small budget, the less expensive tactics of digital marketing (aka not spending money on ads or sponsorships)... like blogging, building organic followings on social media, etc, normally take a LONG time until you see meaningful results.