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Branding Marketing

Four Startup Marketing Myths

By: Robert Wallace

Myth #1: You need a PR firm or ad agency to launch your startup.

This myth comes from the common misconception that PR and advertising are marketing, and that marketing is solely about awareness. This isn’t true, and don’t let an agency tell you otherwise. Marketing is about driving revenue, and is far more complex than getting a press mention or running advertisements for your startup. Marketing is about defining your product’s brand, positioning and messaging, and expressing those in a tangible way that can drive revenue.

I’ve seen this happen many times- an eager entrepreneur doesn’t know the difference between PR/advertising and marketing, becomes captivated by the sexiness and promises of an impressive agency, and the next thing you know they’ve spent $100k on advertising and PR efforts. The worst part is they usually don’t have much to show for that $100k because the marketing strategy wasn’t built on a strong foundation. It doesn’t matter how good the agency or campaign is, if the plan doesn’t come from a strong marketing foundation, it won’t move the needle or yield meaningful results.

Along with spending too much money, there are a couple other pitfalls when it comes to PR. The first one is receiving too much media attention, too soon. It might sound like a great problem to have, but this can be a real problem for an early-stage startup. It’s much better, especially for B2B companies, to get media attention after you accomplish something. An accomplishment and progress gives you credibility, and gives customers and media a reason to pay attention. Sending a bunch of press releases prematurely gives the impression you are all talk and no action, and eventually people will stop paying attention. The second pitfall of PR is the fallacy that it leads to instant conversions. While this can sometimes be the case, like when a consumer app hits TechCrunch and goes viral, it isn’t the norm. In most cases PR is more passive than advertising. For example, if your product is featured on TV, the viewer has to see the ad, like your product, remember your product and finally take action to download or purchase.

Here’s the truth: Don’t get caught up in trying to boost advertising and PR right off the bat. You can achieve impressive marketing results by focusing on your marketing foundation and strategy. Your ability to focus and crystallize these areas will be your biggest asset as you launch.

Check out Tallwave’s Webinar “Myths and Truths About Marketing Your Startup” to get exclusive tips on avoiding these marketing myths and increasing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Myth #2: You should focus on product and sales before thinking about marketing.

Or the similar myth, a great product will solve all your marketing problems.

This myth comes from the sentiment that marketing is less important than product and sales. I’m not sure how marketing earned this reputation, but I am here to tell you marketing is just as important, if not more, as product and sales, because marketing allows you to tell a story about your product. These three areas of the company cannot be separated, they are inherently tied to one another. The most successful companies do all three in concert, developing a product, marketing and sales simultaneously. A strong product translates to something users love and want to be associated with, strong marketing tells the story of those products to fill the sales funnel or drive consumer action, and strong sales gets the product in front of and in the hands of customers.

This might sound familiar: “Uber is such a cool experience it markets itself.”

Well...sort of. It is true that great products garner evangelists, which drive word of mouth, awareness and adoption. However, Uber’s rise was not the result of merely creating a great product. They worked hard early-on to get their product into people’s hands (literally) by constantly distributing Uber free ride cards. They still use Uber free ride cards today and there’s a reason they are so effective- they create instant awareness and get the app immediately on new users’ phones.

Here’s the truth: Marketing cannot take a backseat to product and sales. Focusing on these three areas in tandem will improve all areas of the business. And, you can’t rely on creating a great product as your marketing strategy. A great product will be shared more, but you first have to focus on getting the product in the hands of customers.

Check out Tallwave’s Webinar “Myths and Truths About Marketing Your Startup” to get exclusive tips on avoiding these marketing myths and increasing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Myth #3: Investors don’t care about branding and marketing.

You may think investors are only looking at user acquisition, or business model or revenues or technology. And while all of these are important to an investor, that line of thinking presents a fairly narrow-minded approach. Ultimately, investors are looking for companies that can win in the marketplace, because winning the marketplace means maximum returns. Branding and marketing are critical facets to doing just that. Investors don’t see marketing as just colors and logos, they see marketing as a way to connect with customers, differentiate from competitors and plan for future products.

The core components to your positioning statement are at the root of what investors are looking for, because they demonstrate you have command over:

  • Category
  • Target customer
  • Unique benefit
  • Competition
  • Differentiators

Awareness of these aspects of the business are crucial for long-term success, and winning investment.

Good marketing also allows a startup to look bigger and more established than they are. This is advantageous in the marketplace and provides credibility to customers, potential investors and even competitors. Plus, let’s face it, well thought-out and well-designed marketing is more aesthetically and emotionally appealing.

Here’s the truth: Your startup’s brand, positioning, and messaging matter...a lot.

Myth #4: You need a CMO or VP of Marketing to market your Startup.

Maybe you aren’t a marketing “person,” or maybe you think you have too many other things to worry about to focus on marketing, or maybe you think hiring a CMO is what you’re supposed to do. All of these are understandable reasons for arriving at our fourth, and final, startup marketing myth.

I’ll cut right to the chase.

Here’s the truth: The core components of your marketing strategy - namely your differentiation, positioning statement, and unique benefits - are too important for the CEO not to own him/herself. Furthermore, a CMO requires a big salary, and will only need more money to spend to get things done. A better route is owning the strategic marketing as the CEO and hiring strong, more junior, marketers to execute.

Check out Tallwave’s Webinar “Myths and Truths About Marketing Your Startup” to get exclusive tips on avoiding these marketing myths and increasing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Written by Robert Wallace

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