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Should Startups Invest In Inbound Marketing?

September 29th, 2015 | 3 min read

By Darin "Doc" Berntson

Should Startups Invest In Inbound Marketing?

If You Build It, They Will Come - Or Will They?

I bet you think my answer to this question will be yes. But, it’s a bit more complicated than that. So, at this point in this post, let’s start out with, it depends.

Over the last 2 years, I have been lucky enough to work with a couple of different startups. When people hear startups, generally they think of some sort of tech startup, and they indeed do fit the bill for this post, but so does any business that is in the startup phase.

So, let’s go over some points that will help answer the question... Should startups invest in inbound marketing?

Has Your Idea Been Validated?

You have this great idea for your business, or widget you want to sell, but is your service or product something people will really want? Have you done the research? Also, ask yourself:

  • Is your product a better version of what is already out there?
  • Or is it a brand new concept that you have to educate people about until they “get it”?

In either case, the content marketing side of inbound is essential in getting eyeballs on your product and educating your prospective clients. 

Do You Know Who You Serve?

Who is your best client? Who is it that will want to use your product, and how do we let them know? 

If your product is the better burrito than the other guy, you take one approach. But if your product is the next iPhone-type product, that no one knows they need, your approach is going to be completely different. 

With that being said, you need to know your target market and create content that speaks to them, answers their questions, and again, educates them about why your product or service is the bee's knees. 

One pitfall going into this as a startup is not having a clear and absolute plan for your product or service. One of the worst things that can happen after launch is having to pivot and move in a different direction (product or consumer-wise) after you build out and start your inbound marketing campaign. 

While pivoting can also be good by keeping you nimble, inbound marketing for startups can be a costly investment, and you should be as focused as possible before you begin, as to not waste resources. 

Goals For Your Startup

What is your immediate goal? Your 6 or 12-month goal? Do you need to just raise awareness, build a list, generate interest, or do you need hard sales, and hard sales fast?

If you are in the hard sales game as an immediate need, inbound marketing may not be your best bet, as it takes time to see the results. However, there are still many parts of the inbound methodology you can use, but you may choose to focus more on paid opportunities bringing people into your sales funnel, rather than relying on organic at the beginning.

Financial Resources

Are you completely bootstrapping this business, or do you have partners or investors? If you have partners or investors, it’s pretty easy or should be at least, to make the case for inbound marketing. You may be spending money on other types of marketing activities, so reallocating resources, or committing some budget to inbound is a no-brainer. 

If you are bootstrapping, it can be difficult to come up with the money to outsource your marketing efforts. But, that does not mean that you shouldn’t bust your ass, and make inbound marketing a priority. 

Internal Resources

Are you a one-man band, or do you have a small team? Heck, maybe your startup has been funded, and your team is growing like crazy. In either scenario, you will need help internally with your inbound marketing efforts. You know your business, or at least the idea of your business, better than anyone else. You can’t rely 100% on outside sources to create all of your content.

You have the passion for what you are doing, or you would not have started your company. Get yourself, and other employees in your startup, involved in your inbound marketing efforts right now.

Buy-In From Investors and or Partners

For inbound marketing to work best, not only must you execute the plan, but you need to have buy-in from the top. And honestly, this should be number one on your list before you begin. Buy-in is that important. “The top” could be:

  • You as the owner of the startup
  • Your business partners
  • Your investors

If the leaders of your business are not bought-in, and on board with the inbound process, they will not understand why things take time, and will just look at this inbound marketing thing as an expense, not an investment that will yield a return.

When everyone in the organization is bought-in, magic happens. Results happen.


Wrapping up this post I find myself with the answer still being… It depends. But, overall, I lean towards the answer being yes. 

If you are a startup that has a great product, the longer you wait to market your business, the longer it will take you to become successful online. Whether you work with an agency, or do some or most of the activities on your own, getting your inbound marketing plan moving now will only help you at the end of the day.

Just like you may consult with an attorney or CPA when starting your business, you should also invest some money in an inbound marketing strategy.

What say you? 

What do you think about startups investing in an inbound marketing strategy? Leave your comments below, and let’s chat.

Until next time,


Darin "Doc" Berntson

Owner/Head Coach @ Bernco Media. Digital sales & marketing since 1997. Passion for teaching companies to be the most trusted voice in their space. They Ask, You Answer Certified Coach & HubSpot Certified Partner & Trainer. Reversed Type 2 Diabetes doing KETO. Wears Mickey Mouse Daily. Daydreaming of next Disneyland Trip.