Is there a right time for startups to jump on the marketing bandwagon?
Do they wait until the product is ready to launch? Do they spark up the marketing engine before product launch to get customers engaged?
In a recent post, Buffer’s Joel Gascoigne suggests the sooner startups get into marketing, the better. “I believe that what feels like “too early” is, in fact, a great time to start marketing,” he wrote. “Most people have probably delayed much longer than they should.”
Gascoigne says Buffer attracted attention and received valuable feedback by publicly talking about its social media sharing product. (Note: For startups looking for insight into how to create a marketing machine, do some digging into Buffer’s activities.)
It is not a surprise that I agree with Gascoigne. In an ideal world, marketing is a core part of how a startup develops and grows. From the beginning, it is important for storytelling (aka marketing) to be created and nurtured. It doesn’t mean a startup throws itself into marketing. But marketing is being integrated into the corporate DNA.
Notice I said “in an ideal world” because most startups see marketing as a necessary evil. It is something to be done when there is a point of pain (aka few leads and sales) or strategic urgency such as the need to raise money. Marketing is not something happily embraced by most startups because they are excited.
The fear of marketing ranges from not really understanding what is involved to seeing other areas such as product development as more important. These are legitimate reasons but they leave startups wondering why they have no brand awareness or traction. In simple terms, they fail to see how marketing drives the sales funnel.
Even startups that show interest in marketing often stumble when it’s time to pull the trigger tactically. In theory, marketing sounds great until you ask them to approve marketing activities and write checks.
Unfortunately, startups unable to embrace marketing are setting themselves up for failure. They are trying to compete with one hand tied behind their backs, while their rivals are furiously sprinting ahead. And by the time they realize the value of marketing, it’s often too late.
A better, smart approach is thinking about marketing from day one. When deciding to do a start, an entrepreneurs is often creating a story in their heads to win over family, employees, partners and investors.
Here’s the thing: They are marketing but don’t realize it. The trick is to keep the marketing mojo going. Instead of just focusing on product, entrepreneurs must develop a a narrative around it.
Truth be told, it is not difficult or complicated. I truly believe most people are storytellers if they let themselves stumble and experiment while trying.
The most important reason to get into marketing from the beginning is it lets a startup evolve its story over time. It is a natural and logical approach because stories are polished based on a series of events rather than building something from scratch.
Maybe the best advice for startups about marketing is not to think about marketing. Instead, they are telling a story about their history, product and story.
For startups looking to jump-start their marketing, I provide strategic and tactical services – core messaging, brand positioning, marketing strategies and content creation.