“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.” – George Patton
In the past four months, I have been caught in the middle of a startup marketing hurricane.
I’ve been working for two clients – fast-growing startups with ambitious mandates and gung-ho CEOs – that are looking to hit the accelerator. The projects have involved everything from refreshed Websites and infographics to eBooks, one-pagers, videos and press releases.
These startups are looking to move aggressively, with agility and decisively. I’ve always liked this approach because it keeps the ball rolling within a ultra-competitive landscape.
While you attempt to create marketing that resonates with potential customers and drives leads and sales, it is challenging to know what will work and what will fail to make an impression. By being aggressive and agile, startups will launch experiments and make mistakes – something that Steve Blank describes as “fearless decision-making”.
And that’s fine, just fine.
Just as startups are, in many ways, based on a hypothesis, startup marketing is chock-a-block with experiments. Startups don’t have the time or budgets to have all the answers about their customers or markets. Sometimes, marketing is based on educated guesses; sometimes, it’s akin to throwing a Hail Mary (let’s hope they have the same success as the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rogers!)
In experimenting and making mistakes, startups are being pro-active. They are looking to seize opportunities, create momentum and build a brand presence. Sure, it won’t be flawless exercise but it’s better than the alternative: doing nothing or hesitating because they’re not convinced that marketing will work – a scenario that I have sadly seen too often by startup that talk the talk but can’t walk the walk.
An important part of startup marketing success is sometimes throwing caution to the wind. It’s a willingness and ability to seize a window of opportunity to tell their story and outflank the competition. As important, it’s about having faith in the potential of marketing to make an impact and create a difference.
In looking at the that I have done with the two startups, most of the marketing has been good. Some of it is excellent, some of it is solid and some of it is good enough. All of it has launched and being used to drive leads and sales – a major accomplishment.
When it comes to marketing, startups can’t be afraid of making mistakes or doing things that don’t work well or don’t work at well. The only way to be successful is doing it, rather than sitting on the sidelines. It’s a matter of deciding on target audiences, and then doing what you think will establish a connection and get them to do something – e.g. visit your Website, download an ebook, ask for a demo or make a purchase.
For startups that want to embrace marketing but afraid to blow their brains out, here’s a pragmatic approach: prioritize your marketing options by selecting a handful that you think will generate the biggest ROI. It could be two or three things – e.g. refreshed Website, video and one-pager. Then, it’s just a matter of trying the best you can to do marketing that will achieve your goals.
You never know what’s going to work but it’s a much better option than doing nothing.
If you’re looking to jump-start your startup marketing, I can help you make it happen – everything from messaging and brand positioning to strategic planning and content development. I published a book, Storytelling for Startups, that provides strategic and tactical guidance to entrepreneurs looking to embrace the power of story-driven marketing.