“You’re fired”. To me, they’re sweet words.

It means a startup or small business is ready to move forward with marketing. They understand their goals and have a well-defined plan to move forward with confidence. As important, they have a full-time marketing person to run day-to-day operations. firedWhen this happens, I have wrapped up a successful marketing project.

The next phase for the startup is tactical execution. It is marketing that is a game of inches, rather than miles. It involves working in the trenches to drive awareness and attracting and nurturing leads into the funnel. With some luck and a product that delivers value, a startup leverages marketing and sales to drive sales.

It is a straightforward formula but many startups stumble with marketing because there is no plan of attack. Instead, marketing is educated guesses and seeing what sticks to the wall. If something works, a startup considers themselves geniuses or lucky. If marketing doesn’t work, a startup spins its wheels while it looks for answers.

While I help startups in many ways, a lot of my work is focused on two things: fixing problems and building a rock-solid marketing foundation. It usually begins with putting out fires such as Websites that don’t drive conversions, the development of messaging to tell a better story or creating marketing and sales collateral to optimize the funnel.

Once that happens, a startup can focus on creating a strategic plan that meets the needs of target audiences and aligns with how much money it has in the bank. In many ways, it is a walk before you run approach. It takes time to figure out who matters and then develop stories to attract their attention. And then it comes down to tactical execution.

That, my friends, is the recipe for marketing success. By embracing each step, a startup can create a marketing engine. That is not to say everything will work well but there is a roadmap as opposed to a meandering path.

As a consultant working with early-stage startups, creating the marketing engine is a major goal. Then, you need someone to drive the machine forward. One of the keys is making sure a startup hires the right person with the right skills. It is someone who has experience and a willingness to work with limited budgets and minimal personnel.

By not hiring a full-time marketer out of the gate, a startup has the luxury of time to determine when it needs a full-time marketer and the marketing it wants to do. It is an easier task when the foundation is already established, rather than a full-time marketer build something from scratch.

When all the pieces fall into place, getting fired is gratifying. The startup moves forward with purpose and I tackle the next opportunity.

I’ve worked with dozens of startups and fast-growing companies looking to accelerate their marketing and storytelling. My services are driven by frameworks and processes to create messaging, strategic plans and content. If you want marketing that makes a difference, let’s talk. If you are looking for hand-picked startup content, subscribe to my weekly newsletter.