For many startups, marketing is a necessary evil. It’s something they have to do, rather than want to do.
To convince startups to embrace marketing can be time-consuming and a challenge because there are financial, operational and cultural hurdles to overcome. Even then, startups can still be leery about the benefits.
So how can startups overcome their ambivalence about marketing? What can be done to get them excited about how marketing can drive brand awareness, leads and sales?
1. It begins with understanding that marketing has a lot to do with driving sales – sales being a concept that startups understand. It means startups need to see marketing as a lead generation tool, which helps to nurture and drive sales. At the end of the day, marketing is about attracting the spotlight to win over prospects and keep customers.
2. A startup has to do two things: concede it needs new expertise to move forward with marketing, and, as important, commit itself to having marketing as an integral part of the business. These are be big obstacles because it means working with people who think and act differently, as well as accepting that marketing, like anything, costs money.
3. Understand that marketing thrives by creating compelling and relevant stories, which can be used to fuel everything from Website content to videos, white papers, case studies, blog posts and sales sheets. These stories need to be customer-centric, focused on what a customer wants to know rather than what a startup wants to tell them.
4. Establish well-articulated goals and ways to assess success and return on investment. What are you trying to achieve? What are the wins and losses? While not everything can be measured, there are many metrics to determine how marketing is performing to drive the business. This is an important consideration to help startups get comfortable with marketing.
5. Hire good people, provide them with support and strategic and tactical guidance, and a budget aligned with goals and resources (people, money). A key part of hiring is getting the right kind of talent. If a startup wants to leverage social media, they need someone socially savvy. If they want to leverage content marketing, recruit a strong writer who has solid industry knowledge. Another key consideration is having the right tools to execute.
6. Integrate sales and marketing as a single operating entity, rather than separate silos. Get them to understand they need to work closely together and be aligned to be successful. Marketing needs to intimately understand what sales need to get prospects down the sales funnel, while sales has to understand what marketing is doing to drive awareness and lead generation.
7. Recognize that marketing is a dynamic and fluid activity that needs to reflect changes in product, technology, target audiences and the competitive landscape. Nothing can be written in stone or withstand changes because markets are never static. Simply because a startup embraces marketing doesn’t mean it can avoid or shy away from new or different approaches to generate better performances and results.
So, what do you think? What are the other things that startups need to do to embrace and leverage marketing?
For startups looking to jump-start their marketing, I provide strategic and tactical services – core messaging, brand positioning, marketing strategies and content creation.