A mistake that many of the startup make is being heavily invested in the product development while completely ignoring marketing. Build a great product and customers will come — is a myth. The truth is that you could have the best, most innovative product on the market and still fail.
Early stage startups often hire a team of full-time developers, but not invest in marketing due to the budget constrains. Founders often look upon marketing as something that can be done until later after launch or as something that plays a small role in the success of the business. However, startups should allocate about a third of time and money to marketing to gain initial traction. Marketing is especially important for early-stage startups and here are the roles it plays during each stage:
Perhaps marketing is often seemed as something that should be done after raising a significant budget. The problem is that investors not only want to see a hypothetical potential for your idea, they want evidence of this too.
The product is only as good as how its evangelists say it is. Raising startup’s viability in the eyes of investors is often a key to raising funds. Conduct market research, talk to potential customers and identify the value proposition of the product. This will both make your product viable in the eyes of investors and might as well keep you from failing as a result of getting the market and consumer’s needs completely wrong.
Going an extra mile and putting together a brief marketing strategy to show to the potential investors will only make you look properly prepared to build the startup but is not essential at this stage.
This is where you definitely need to have a marketing strategy in place, including budget and timeline. During the pre-launch phase you would have to start building the startup’s image and attracting first fans. Starting building online presence through social media and digital communities is a cheaper way for a startup to drive organic traffic and build up a loyal fan base. Publicity is another high-value form of promotion for a startup. Focusing on a few channels pre-launch will allow your startup to slowly build a customer base even before you are ready to launch.
Perhaps the hardest phase for a startup and the one that may as well determine its future is a launch phase. Here the startup should start investing more in marketing and focusing on building its reputation and keeping customers happy. Customer service, media relations and paid advertising are just a few areas of focus for a marketing team at this time. That being said, outsourcing is a great way to supplement marketing efforts at this time, although you should have at least one person to coordinate this on the inside.