startup marketing

When does a company embrace marketing?

It’s a complicated question given many start-ups and small businesses are afraid of marketing or they have other priorities such as product development and sales.

But here’s a lesson for any entrepreneur: don’t postpone marketing until your product is done. In my opinion, that’s just dumb.

So I was perplexed to read an article by George Deeb in Entrepreneur who suggests that companies shouldn’t start marketing until their product is ready:

Don’t invest marketing time and resources until you have a product you’re proud to announce to the public — a product you’re confident won’t break. Make certain you’ve taken it through a quality-control process. You get only one chance to make a favorable first impression. 

Seriously? 

You’re not going to flip the switch on a key part of your growth engine until the last minute? Would you take the same approach to sales? Absolutely not! Would you wait until the last minute to establish a customer support team? No way!

But this is a mistake made by too many startups. They shove marketing into a corner until it becomes a necessary evil. They believe that marketing doesn’t need to be part of the mix right away because there are better things to tackle.

Unfortunately, this is a flawed approach fueled by a lack of insight and experience. While marketing may appear to be a luxury, it’s a necessity. It is how companies establish a position in the marketplace to attract prospects and drive sales. Without marketing, there are no stories to tell, which means it is difficult to engage and nurture prospects.

The thing about entrepreneurs and marketing is it’s not an alien concept. Think about it: when an entrepreneur is thinking about developing a product or launching a business, they tell stories to attract employees, capital, etc.

That’s marketing. It’s how an entrepreneur gets people to rally around an idea or concept. So why do entrepreneurs abandon marketing or fail to embrace marketing after that? Maybe they become obsessed with developing or selling a product. Build a product + sell a product = survival.

Again, this is a mistake because marketing is an integral part of how a business operates. It propels product development, sales, partners, financing and customer services. Armed with collateral and stories, salespeople sell better, faster and easier. Marketing also drives customer loyalty, referrals, and evangelism.

Without marketing, companies are betting on the “build and they will come” approach to business. They’re placing a huge bet that a good product translates into lots of business. Unfortunately, this approach rarely works because the marketplace is too competitive and there are too many choices.

For startups looking to embrace marketing from the beginning, there are some key considerations:

Be clear about what your product does, how it delivers value and who it serves.

Identify your target audiences and ideal customers. What are their needs, pains, and interests? How do they make purchases? What are the triggers for a purchase? What makes them look like heroes? Develop three to four buyer personas to make customers seem tangible.

Create a buyer’s journey to understand how your customers move from awareness to consideration to decision. How can you effectively answer questions, educate, engage and move prospects down the funnel?

Take a customer-centric approach . Focus on what matters to your customers and how your product meets their needs. It’s about benefits and experiences, not features or price.

Always be thinking about marketing. Make it an essential part of how your business operates. Embrace marketing as an important pillar, not a luxury or a when-needed necessity.

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