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You might be a seasoned marketing leader or entrepreneur, but each launch experience always teaches you new lessons. Because of that, we can recognize some imperishable truths and success myths embracing this niche. After advising dozens of startups in AI, smart home electronics, fintech, software development, product design and Web 3.0 industries all over the world, I would like to share some lessons that startup life taught me. In this article, I’ll uncover four of the biggest lies about what makes tech startups successful, as well as a few marketing management tips.
Lie #1: More employees can handle more work
Although this statement seems absolutely logical, it’s not always true. One of the biggest startup mistakes is trying to save money by hiring more but “cheaper” specialists. Most of these startups end up with a big, yet unprofessional and nonautonomous team that can’t even handle essential tasks. This decision leads to losing two vital resources — time and money.
From my experience, more professional employees can handle more work. Prioritize quality over quantity. With a few pros on board, you can manage more work, build stronger marketing and grow a startup faster so that it can afford to scale the team. To build a powerful marketing team from scratch, it’s better to hire a strong marketing leader first. Even within a minimal budget, this person will help you hire the right people, recognizing true professionals from the crowd.
Lie #2: Create the hype, and the rest will follow
Creating the hype before the product launch seems like an obvious and necessary step for every startup. What can be wrong here? The hype itself is not bad. The bad is not being able to sustain it over time. Most startups work on the edge of superhuman abilities to deliver the best before the first important milestones, such as a product launch or crowdfunding raise.
It’s a stage of the “promise” when the hype is based on the belief of the users and investors that the startup will grow up into an industry leader. Passing this stage, many startups sigh with relief thinking that the hardest part is over. However, the promise is nothing without implementation. Instead of strengthening marketing, focusing on product development and building relationships with the audience, teams start slowing down. Losing the hype is not as big of a problem as losing customer trust. You can start the hype up again, but rebuilding the trust is a more complicated process. Try to commit to your promises.
Lie #3: Product promotion is the top marketing priority
Investors usually pay particular attention to the startup’s team when reviewing pitch decks. Even if the product concept feels raw and imperfect, the potential of the team can play a crucial role in convincing. A regular user has a similar way of thinking. People are more understanding of startups’ mistakes if they trust the team behind the brand.
But are you sure your audience knows you? Although product marketing is undoubtedly important, there are other things you may want to market simultaneously. Many startup founders ignore the significance of building a personal brand. Unless you prefer to remain unpublic intentionally, working on positioning yourself as a thought leader can significantly contribute to the overall brand reputation. The same refers to the promotion of professional achievements and the track record of your team members. Make sure your audience hears about you from media outlets, podcasts, conferences, online events and social media.
Lie #4: In startups, marketing sprints work only on paper
Young startup founders often don’t take the concept of “marketing management sprints” seriously unless it comes to software development. Of course, the startup life is way more dynamic than the life of established businesses and requires a lot more flexibility from marketing teams. However, it shouldn’t harm the marketing strategy execution — which means strict alignment with the weekly sprints and monthly plan. Without proper planning of the teamwork, building workflow pipelines and step-by-step implementation of sprints, the startup will continue to manage processes in the uncontrollable chaos that will quickly exhaust the team and make it irresistible to even the slightest amount of stress and challenges.
If you want to develop a powerful marketing team, gain customer trust, build a strong brand reputation and successfully manage the whole marketing process, don’t fall into the trap of believing the four lies above.