How to introduce marketing into your startup and make it successful
Marketing is an exciting and dynamic function with seemingly endless possibilities, which attracts smart, creative people who have a strong desire to try new things. This can be both a blessing and a curse if you are charged with overseeing marketing.
Having spent much of my career selling to marketers and managing marketing teams, I’ve met hundreds of marketers over the years but can count on one hand the number who didn’t want to go in ten directions at the same time. It’s hard not to.
I like to have guiding principles for solving problems and my guiding principle for marketing is simple: Marketing Amplifies Sales. Whether you are running a B2B or B2C business, you need to have your sales funnel working before you ramp up your marketing, otherwise you are just going to burn lots of money with nothing to show for it.
You can break down startup marketing into 5 core disciplines:
Product Marketing—reducing friction in the sales process.
Content Marketing—helping active shoppers enter your sales process.
Paid Marketing—creating a predictable flow of qualified opportunities.
Public Relations—establishing a consistent, credible story for the company.
Brand Marketing—telling your story to your addressable market.
They are listed in this order because each discipline builds on the discipline that precedes it and improves the yield from the discipline that follows it.
For example, the yield on paid marketing depends as much on the content being helpful and the sales process being smooth as it does on the targeting, creative and bids being optimized.
Here’s a rundown of the goal and strategy of each marketing discipline, the top tactics to get you started, what to measure, the common mistakes you see startups make and the signs you are ready to add it to your marketing function:
1. Product Marketing
Goal: Reduce friction in the sales process.
Strategy: Transition from a product-centric sales process to a customer-centric sales process. (This is a journey that all startups have to go through eventually).
Measurement: Higher win rates. Shorter sales cycles.
Common Mistakes: Skipping this discipline because it can’t be measured in isolation. You can only get so far selling a product. At some point you have to solve problems.
Signs you are ready: Low but predictable win rates, unclear product priorities (sales wants X, engineering ships Y), slow adoption of new products.