So you've got a startup. Great! Now what?
Your marketing efforts can make or break the company you're working tirelessly to build, so you've got to get it right, right out of the gate. There's no time to lose.
The good news is that your marketing program doesn't need a special team, at least not in the cash-strapped beginnings. Every employee should be equally focused on where the company is going. And with some budget-friendly outside help, you'll be off on the right foot.
Get Every Team Member on Board
When you're working on a shoestring budget, every person should have the same objective, regardless of their company role. That objective is identifying your target audience and converting them into leads and actual customers.
There's no need for a marketing specialist, not when you've already got people on board who are emotionally and perhaps also financially invested in the company's success. That's especially true when a bonafide expert would come with a hefty salary.
Steven G. Blank, the author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany and entrepreneurship lecturer at Berkeley and Stanford, says customer development should drive a startup's early-stage marketing philosophy. It's a holistic approach that includes all hands at the table instead of looking at marketing as a separate endeavor.
Find Each Person's Aptitudes
Startups can't typically afford individuals with proven marketing chops. But there are people without the on-paper qualifications (and salary requirements) who have the aptitudes that you need. Besides, the Startup Genome Report says hiring specialists before they are critical is part of the premature scaling that can account for as much as 90 percent of startup failures.
The Muse recommends hiring for potential or aptitudes, not just on a proven marketing track record. That means the people who do make the initial cut should have a wider set of proficiencies, such as these:
- Digital citizens
- Analytically driven
- Content creators, great writers
- Reach builders
Source Interns and Content Creators
Sometimes the best talent isn't a job seeker, but still a great candidate. Colleges and universities can yield a wealth of intern possibilities. Talk with professors, and tell them which aptitudes you're looking for. Chances are, there's a student who is more tuned-in to the digital world; someone who shines.
If you can score an intern, you'll get a great mind that's inexpensive or doesn't cost a thing, and they could get college credit. After graduating, or even before then, both you and the intern could find yourselves in yet another win/win situation. You could have a pre-trained new hire, and the student could have a job.
And about that content. With an inbound marketing strategy, where your target audience comes looking for you, the content that you produce regularly is critical. Think social media and blogging. The people you hire for any position should also understand content creation and promotion. Everyone on your team could contribute to this vital part of your marketing strategy, and you won't have to hire a single writer or marketing specialist.
Startups are big on dreams, but usually short on cash. And while that might seem like a downside, some of the most creative endeavors bloom when a small group of multi-talented people are tightly focused on the same goals.
You might want a team of expert-level marketing pros from Day One. But that really can wait. Instead, hire a few key people with aptitudes that reach far beyond any narrow-scope job. Great marketing doesn't have to cost a fortune. And in the beginning, what you see as a handicap could be your biggest asset.
Until next time,