Five Signs a Startup is Ready for Marketing

To many startups, marketing is a “necessary evil”. It is something they embrace after recognizing the time has come to tell their story to a wider audience, or do a better job of putting the spotlight on what they are doing and why more people should know about it.

But in many cases, the decision to do marketing – and I’m not talking about being on Twitter and Facebook – comes after a product has been developed and the sales pipeline is being ramped up or gaining traction.

So how does a startup know when they are ready for marketing? Here are five signs that it’s time to pull the trigger:

1. Your product is ready or about to be launched so it’s time to get out of stealth or low profile mode, and start getting the word out to target audiences: customers, partners, bloggers/media, investors. Keep in mind, you will need good stories to attract attention so work on creating them before turning on the marketing machine.

2. The company is ready for the spotlight. The founders/executives want to be out there spreading the word, the Website reflects what the company does and the benefits for users, and there’s a commitment to market on a consistent basis rather than just seeing as a one-off, let’s try to grab the spotlight activity.

3. There is an appreciation and understanding of what marketing can do and realistic expectations about the process, the goals and the resources required to make it happen.

4. There is budget for marketing. Whether it’s done internally or with external help, marketing requires money to account for the people, resources and content that needs to be part of the process. For startups, it means understanding marketing is more than having someone spend time on social media to publish tweets/updates and monitor activity.

5. Everyone’s on board. Marketing can be seen as a cost because it’s not about building product or having someone trying to make sales. It can be difficult to see the benefits and reasons to do it without seeing why it’s an integral part of a company’s development and evolution. As a result, everyone needs to get behind marketing and the people who will be driving it.

What do you think? What are the signals a startup is ready for marketing?

About Mark Evans

I'm the principle with ME Consulting, which provides strategic and marketing services to startups and entrepreneurs. This includes strategic and tactics plans, core messaging, brand positioning and content planning and creation.
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  • Douglas Crets

    Here’s where I think there is a general difference of opinion in startup world. By virtue of doing lean startup methodology and creating customers, per the way Steve Blank discusses in “Four Steps to the Epiphany,” and per the thinking of people like Eric Reis, the creation of the product is marketing. So you are always already ready. You don’t need to tack on marketing. That’s just a sales proposition that comes from old, traditional scale marketing and communications.

    • Mark Evans

      Douglas: You make a good point about the product being marketing. Thanks for the comment.

  • Alexander Norman

    Love the article but view marketing slightly different. There is go mainstream marketing (e.g., PR reach out as in point 1) with large paid campaigns which you should be pretty confident with your message/product and then there is small scale marketing (not necessarily facebook/twitter) which gets your early cohorts who can provide you with feedback on your product/service/messaging. As such, the second you have a message and/or product you should start marketing at some scale

    • Mark Evans

      Alexander: I’m a big advocate on the importance of startups telling great stories. It’s the foundation for lots of activities, including marketing and sales. Thanks for the comment.