On a regular basis, there are stories about startups claiming to spend no money on marketing or not investing a dime on advertising. It comes across as a point of pride, but it’s a misguided and often inaccurate depiction.
Then again, this cavalier attitude about marketing is not a surprise. Too many startups don’t understand or fully appreciate the benefits, tactics and realities of marketing. They believe marketing is an evil necessity, rather than a solid investment in the business.
As a result, they get a kick from suggesting that they don’t spend money on marketing. They’re declaring, “We’re not marketers, but we know what we’re doing anyway so there.”
But here’s the thing: startups may, in fact, spend no money on marketing, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t investing in marketing. While startups aren’t spending money, they are spending time, energy and resources on marketing. Whether it’s social media, blog posts, handling questions on Quora or offering discounts, they are investing in marketing.
And the reality is startups need to invest in marketing if their businesses are going to succeed. Marketing is as important as sales and product development. You can have an innovative or valuable product, but it doesn’t matter if no one knows about it or the competition has a much higher profile.
Many startup entrepreneurs struggle with marketing because it is not part of their DNA or professional toolbox. Marketing is an alien concept that requires them to invest time, energy and money. And, as important, they need to think and behave differently. This isn’t easy for startups who are focused on developing and selling products, rather than telling stories (aka marketing)
But marketing helps to establish the foundation for a startup’s sales and product development. One of the key elements of marketing is understanding the needs of your target audiences. It’s about knowing who they are, their interests, goals, motivations, points of pain and fears.
When you have this much insight into your target audiences, it is so much easier to develop and sell your product. You are operating with lots insight, rather than within an information void. You are telling stories that connect and resonate with target audiences, which is a powerful proposition.
Investing in marketing – whether it’s money, time and people – is a key ingredient in running a business. When a startup claims to spend nothing on marketing, it suggests that marketing has no value, which far from the truth.
More: For additional insight into how startups think about marketing, Profoundry asked 55 startups about their digital marketing plans. Among the survey’s results is that startups are interested in investing the time and money in digital marketing, but lack documented strategy or planning.
As well, only 8% used an agency or consultant for marketing – a quarter said they had marketing expertise in-house, while 37% said they did most of their marketing themselves, even though they weren’t marketers.
To learn more about how startups and fast-growing companies can embrace the power of storytelling to drive their marketing and sales, buy my new book: “Storytelling for Startups” at www.storytellingforstartups.ca.