EDITORIAL: Marketing for Startups

Marketing for Startups

Excerpt from: Marketing Tips for Early-Stage Startups, Forbes, Feb. 26, 2021:

Every business needs a way to tell its customers about its products and services. Those marketing channels differ from one business to another and can change as the business grows. And just like everything else in business, marketing needs an investment. In the earliest stages of a startup, this investment is usually best spent developing a product customers need…

Investments in marketing activities are a growth amplifier, while the real growth driver is product-market fit. If there is no product-market fit, there is simply nothing to amplify. Trying to market a business without product-market fit is like trying to build a house without a foundation.

In fact, investing in marketing too early in your startup’s life cycle is a way to scale prematurely, which according to the Startup Genome project is the biggest startup killer…

In summary, while marketing is essential for every business, it is important for early-stage startups to validate their ideas and to make sure they have good indications for product-market fit and a working business model where investments in marketing can be used to boost a needed solution, not push an undesired product into people’s hands.”


Here’s our take on the topic of marketing for startups:

The Forbes article is highlighting something that companies don’t often assess carefully enough: marketing for startups is a process. It’s certainly natural for a startup to want to spread the word about itself as soon as it’s products or services look promising, but most startups are working with a finite–a very finite–budget. They often tackle marketing measures that would better serve them later, after they’ve performed comprehensive marketing research for their new products or services. 

The writer of the Forbes piece suggests investing those early-stage marketing dollars in testing / evaluating for product-market fit. He suggests that no amount of marketing prowess can save a startup if its product is undesirable for consumers. For a product to be successful, it must satisfy customers’ needs better than existing products. How many customers are we talking about? Some experts estimate that if 40% of a company’s target audience would be disappointed at the loss of a particular product, there’s a good chance that said product is a hit. 

So, startups could avoid wasting their marketing dollars on product promotion if they first invest in evaluating product-market fit and testing to determine how desirable their product actually is for consumers. Too often, a startup takes the greatness of their product for granted. They believe their product is a great idea and they may think it solves a problem for consumers and fulfills a genuine marketplace need. But that’s an expensive guess–and an unnecessary risk given the opportunities that exist for performing a robust level of market research to determine product-market fit. 

At Blue Interactive Agency, we work closely with startups to help them navigate the marketing process. Rather than skipping the preliminaries like product-market fit research, we help them build a strong foundation for their company based on sound data so that they don’t invest in a ship that’s never going to sail. Contact Blue if you have a product that you’re developing. We can help you assess its likely value for the marketplace.