why, what, who marketing

When startups finally decide to embrace marketing, they’re like kids in a candy store: they want to do everything right away.

It’s an exciting proposition but unwieldy, confusing and a recipe for disappointment. By madly running in all directions, a startup’s marketing is not focused or positioned for success.

Before a startup throws itself into marketing, it needs to ask three crucial questions:

Why does it want to do marketing? It seems like a straightforward question but the answer provides good insight into motivations. A startup may be looking to raise money, it could be spooked by the success of a competitor, it could the need to drive more leads and sales, or a vanity project by the CEO. What the reason, it is important to be clear about why and why now.

What does a startup want to achieve from marketing? What are its goals and objectives? How will success be defined? What metrics will be used to measure success? Without well-articulated goals, it’s simply marketing for the sake of marketing. A better approach is being crystal clear about expectations, including a timeline on results need to happen. This puts everyone on the same page strategically and tactically.

Who is going to make it happen? It’s one thing to embrace marketing but who’s actually going to drive it tactically? Will it be handled by internal resources? If so, who’s going to take the lead and who’s going to do the grunt work? Will freelancers or contractors be used? If so, who will supervise them, and what’s the budget?

This could be described as a walk before you run approach but it’s a smart and pragmatic way to operate. Too many startups are scattered and unclear about their marketing efforts. Their expectations are unrealistic so it is not surprising when they get discouraged when things don’t work out.

Like anything, marketing thrives when there is solid planning about strategy and tactics. It may be boring but it improves the prospects for success.


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. Here’s how you can explore the different ways we can work together.

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