It’s normal for a startup founder’s first sale to be within his or her personal network. This makes perfect sense since it can create the feedback loop needed to test the ideas behind the product or service. The problem is that this feedback can be tainted by the fact that a founder’s friends probably like him or her and might not be blunt with their feedback. Regardless, in the early life of a startup the question often becomes when do we start marketing? When to start marketing a startup, is a question that every startup founder will debate and face. The short answer is “much sooner than you think”.
Why should you start marketing a startup early on?
What Message Are You Sending?
When to start Marketing: Marketing Allows You to Test Messages
As I mentioned above, the problem with asking your friends and professional network to give you feedback is that they might be too nice to you and not blunt enough. Also, when you as the founder, deliver a message to test it out, they could be reacting to your charisma and not to the message.
Launching a small digital marketing campaign early on lets you test your assumptions about your target market (who you’re targeting etc) and see what messages resonate with them.
Startup Marketing Stops You Making Expensive Mistakes
If you follow the approach referenced above, and run small test campaigns to test your message, positioning and value proposition, you will find what works and doesn’t quickly before you go “all in” on something that might be an expensive mistake.
When to Start Marketing: Recruitment
Recruitment is a perennial challenge for startups. You need the best and brightest but why would they work with you when every other startup wants them too? Marketing positions you as a thought leader, and makes you a more interesting employer. Everyone wants to work for the thought leader!
Marketing Helps with Investment
I’ve heard companies say, “we will start marketing after we raise money”, this is completely the wrong approach. Marketing helps you get customers, refine your message and become a thought leader. This makes you more appealing to VCs since you are clearer on what you want to do and in this COVID era where VC funding is harder to come by, this is critical.
So when to start marketing a startup? The answer is as soon as possible to help you craft your positioning, get test users on board, and raise your profile.