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Getting Started With Marketing [Start Up Your Startup]

Getting Started With Marketing [Start Up Your Startup]

by Brad MerrillJune 11, 2013

Investors today are not interested in funding startups that don’t know how, where, and to whom to sell. You need to be competent in marketing.

What is marketing? Marketing is not sales. Marketing tells people about your product and company early and often. It aims to spark demand and sales leads.

Marketing and business development must start before any sales efforts. Business development identifies new markets and develops partnerships. Sales teams reach out to those leads and convert them into paying customers.

Marketing is neither free nor cheap. A good marketing plan should be a significant part of the budget for any startup and should be included in any discussion about funding and revenue. It’s rare for companies to fail because they couldn’t develop the technology—investors often consider marketing and sales to be the first big stumbling-point.

In a startup, there should be two different marketing efforts happening. The first is focused on the product or service, while the second is focused on investors and funding, where the company itself is being marketed. The two efforts are separate but also tied together. Every promotion builds awareness in the marketplace and the investment community. Many funding decisions are made largely based on how well the startup markets its products.

Early marketing strategies are centered on creating awareness and lead generation. Creating product and company awareness before, during, and after the development process ensures that sales and revenue plans can be attained. These relationships and leads enable the sales team to make deals and capture revenue when the product becomes available. People buy what’s familiar.

All products solve problems. The first step in marketing is to identify those who must have the product. The second step is to find as many places as possible to access the customers and build awareness.

Your marketing plan doesn’t have to be a novel, but there does need to be some idea of what needs to be done and when. You need to identify customers, then learn how to translate that customer base into a viable business. How do you promote the company and product to those customers? How do you price the product and create value for the customer?

The marketing plan, like all other aspects of the business plan, is based on assumptions. It’s vital to reach out to customers as soon as possible because you need to test those assumptions. Before jumping into a full-blown marketing effort, you need to know that the problem is real and that customers are urgently seeking a solution.

Marketing cannot be an afterthought. Investors want a founding startup team to include both technical development and marketing. What the customer needs and is willing to pay for rules a startup; marketing is a look into the customer’s perspective.

About The Author
Brad Merrill
Brad Merrill is the founder and former editor of VentureBreak.