As a startup, cashflow is usually at a premium.
Even if Herman Miller Aeron office chairs, Jura coffee machines and maxed-out MacBook Pros for all were on the shopping list at the beginning, the reality of any business model is that you need to minimize costs and outgoings in the short term while you focus on generating revenue.
Since cashflow is yet to really flow, there’s a real temptation to take on things that you really should be giving to other people. Marketing strategy, and the associated tactics, is often one of those things.
A word of advice for anyone thinking that they can get away with starting a company without having professional marketing resources on board: don’t do it. DIY-marketing a startup business is a recipe for disaster.
Unless you’re a marketing professional starting-up a marketing company, please trust me when I tell you that you haven’t got a clue what you’re about to let yourself in for.
Drowning in a DIY Marketing Nightmare
Within a very short space of time you’re going to find yourself buried in a multitude of self-marketing tasks that will consume your time and energy like a pack of ravenous wolves. Once you’ve formulated your strategy (you know how you put together a marketing strategy, right?) you’re going to draw-up a list of tactical marketing initiatives that bring the fastest, most efficient results for the company.
You’re going to draw-up a positioning statement (as much for everyone you’re working with, as anyone else) in order to help you define your why, as much as your “what”.
You’re going to have to choose, and most likely prioritize, your market focus. Even if it’s true that The World And His Wife will love your product or service, it would make the most sense to target a particular customer profile first and focus marketing budgets accordingly. Spread yourself too thinly and you’ll end up not being noticed – no matter how awesome your value proposition.
Unless your target market is the Amish or some lost tribe living in the Peruvian rainforest, your target markets are using the internet for mining information. That means that you’re probably going to want to be using inbound marketing strategy and tactics such as blogs, social media channels and so on.
You’re going to have to draw-up a content strategy – what you’re going to say, when you’re going to say it, and where you’re going to push it. Do you plan to send out a newsletter? What about a webinar, eBook or video?
Then there are metrics and measurement, influencer lists, public relations, content management, handling internationalization, dealing with the media – the list goes on.
Still want to handle this marketing stuff internally?
You Wouldn’t Fix Your Own Plumbing: Get An Expert In.
Business marketing is a complex animal. Marketing for startups even more so, as you’re starting from scratch. Having a great idea and business model isn’t enough to assure success, and there are plenty of companies that have crashed and burned as a result of a lack of media attention, poor market awareness, or myopic strategy. Being “the best kept secret in the industry” might seem cute – but it isn’t going to pay the bills. Self-marketing is not the best use of resources.
Your job in your startup isn’t to do everything. It’s to get the right people on the bus, and give them the wherewithal to do what they’re good at doing. Could you do your startup’s marketing, just to get things off the ground? Sure. Just like I could write a web application using Ruby on Rails. It’d take me forever and it wouldn’t be very good. But I could do it.
Minimizing outgoings is an important consideration when you’re starting out. But skimping on your company marketing when you’ve just left the starting blocks is going to make things a lot harder for everyone.
Trust me, you’ll thank me later.