Last week, April Dunford had a great post, “What is Startup Marketing?” that spelled out how startup marketing encompasses so many angles – everything from lead generation and partnerships to product strategy.
Here’s another way to think about it: startup marketing is like the Denny’s menu. There are lots of choices, which is a good thing, so it’s a matter of deciding what meets your specific needs and interests.
As a startup marketer, I was happy to see April’s post because it should give entrepreneurs a better idea of what a startup marketer does and, as important, how marketing can drive a startup’s growth.
One of the biggest challenges facing startup entrepreneurs is many of them aren’t marketers or even that familiar with what marketing involves. As a result, marketing is regarded as a mystery and more art/magic than science.
The other thing about marketing is it often costs money, which is a difficult pill to swallow when you’re not even sure what’s involved. It’s not like hiring a salesperson who is going to bring money in the door by selling your product.
For startups, however, marketing is an important pillar of their growth, along with product development and sales. Truth be told, marketing touches so many areas it shouldn’t be ignored or brushed aside until a startup has enough traction. It needs to be part of the strategic and tactical mix from the beginning.
Entrepreneurs need to understand that startup marketing is not evil, expensive or not as important as product or sales. Simply because marketing is not something they know doesn’t mean it’s dangerous or a waste of time and money.
So how should a startup entrepreneur approach marketing?
Probably the most important consideration is determining what you want marketing to achieve. What are the goals and objectives? Is it creating messaging and brand? It is media outreach? It is community building or product development? Given marketing can help with so many areas, having a focus is crucial.
Once a startup knows what it wants to do, it needs a strategic and tactical plan. As my business has evolved, I have learned strategy-lite and tactical heavy is the right mix. Given many startups want to move quickly, strategy often involves getting a solid roadmap so the tactical work is focused.
Third, a startup should establish benchmarks for its marketing efforts. Whether it’s brand building, Website traffic or sales, a startup has to measure how well its marketing efforts are doing to determine ROI and whether strategic or tactical changes are needed.
Truth be told, startup marketing should not be a scary or intimidating proposition. Like any business activity, marketing should be embraced with the right approach, expectations and plan of attack.
If you’re a startup, you need to do marketing because it can deliver many positive benefits, as well as support and drive growth. Once marketing is accepted a good thing, it comes down to being in control and having a strong grasp on what you want to do.
If you’re interested in learning more about how I do strategy and tactical marketing for startups, drop me a line.