Start ups, when do you need to consider marketing?
We have done a few blogs now around different marketing activities, Choosing your brand colours, developing you marketing plan and use of LinkedIn, but when is best to carry out these different activities. As a founder you have a lot on your plate we know. In this blog we will try to simplify this for you.
The dictionary definition of marketing is; the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
So it's easy to see why people think they don't need to consider marketing until you have a product or service ready for sale. Remember you have to sell your company and yourself as a founder to all sorts of people, investors, and new employees are just a couple of examples so you need to start thinking about marketing from the very start.
With this in mind what marketing do you need to consider at such an early stage?
Initially, you are probably focussed on raising awareness of your company to investors and potential employees rather than customers so think about what they want to know.
Employees will want to know about what the company is like to work for and what your ambitions are. This can easily be covered in Mission Vision and Values. Consider the scenario, you are interviewing a potential candidate and they ask " what 3 words sum up what it's like to work here" can you answer this question off the top of your head? If you have company values this becomes an easy question to answer.
Investors will want to know you have a plan for what to do now and what to do as the company expands. This can be covered in your mission and vision. We wrote a blog on this which you can read here
What materials are you going to use to talk to these investors?
You will need to increase the awareness of your company and start building relationships with your potential investors. Show potential employees what it's like to work as part of your company, the things you get up to, and the results you achieve. You can use your social channels to great effect for this, sharing articles on what you are doing as well as insightful articles related to your sector showing you understand the market you are operating in.
These need to truly reflect your company so if you have beer and pizza together every night then show this but if you don't make sure your social feed doesn't look like this is the case.
Remember for potential employees you want the right fit so showing a facade that doesn't match the company's values won't work in the long run.
Equally for investors if you are at an early stage in the company's journey they will largely be investing in the founder and the team so remember to use your own LinkedIn profile to show your expertise and knowledge as well as your connections.
You will no doubt have or need a presentation laying out what you are all about for investors this should include the following
vision and value proposition
The issue you are solving
The target market
Your solution and why it's different to what's available at the moment
Planned revenue and business model
Any traction or a validation roadmap
Marketing and sales strategy
Your team and the experience they bring
Financials inc sales forecast, cash flow for 3 yrs min and P%L as top line
competition and how you beat them
Investment what you are asking for and how you will use this cash
We will cover these in more detail in a future blog but this gives you and idea of what to include. If you want to make sure you don't miss out on the future blog please sign up
your website is another place people will go to do due diligence on the company so make sure it's clear what you do and keep it updated. There is nothing worse than having a news section on a website that isn't updated, it looks like you are a stagnant company to make a plan to update this once a month as a minimum or don't have this section. Review your website monthly to make sure it's correct, does it have the right staff if listed, and does it reflect the stage you are at with any evaluations or clinical trials?
As your company develops
You need to show you know what problem you are solving, how you do this differently, and know your customer to know what they need.
Having a compelling story as to why you do what you do will make all the difference to potential investors and early customers. Make sure having identified your customer group (blog here on this if you are unsure) you have talked to them. Don't assume you know what they want, test your theories with more than one potential customer to ensure you really are meeting a need.
Companies that develop a product and then try and find a need it meets never survive so make sure you get this right in the early days. You will want to ensure you represent the company well in doing this activity so having your brand organised and materials that show you in a professional light will go a long way. Remember if you have chosen well, in the near future, these are your potential customers so make a good first impression.
All these areas will need marketing input and while you might not be ready for a full-time marketeer if this isn't your area of expertise it can be daunting. Consider using a contractor to help you with this, set you on the right track, and show you how to maintain this until you are ready for the next step. We would love to help out if this describes you.