My marketing woes (Part 1?)
Earlier I wrote that about realization that I should be my own technical co-founder on the basis of my project management skills came the realization that I should also stay on the technical/ product side of things because frankly I neither like nor am good at the other kinds of businessy work I need to do.
To clarify, business is super broad, and there are things I love — strategy, organizational development, etc. But in an early stage venture, the business co-founder’s role is to get money, either via funding or via marketing to grow customers or grow share of wallet. For opportunity cost reasons, I don’t believe Last Minute Gear is the kind of endeavor that lends itself to fundraising, so therefore I’m hesitant to spend a bunch of time on funding with minimal results. Which leaves me with marketing.
My honest conclusion is that I neither like nor am particularly good at marketing. I keep really rigorous track of where my time goes, partially to ensure I’m not wasting swaths of it on YouTube (ha!), but also because it helps me better understand my own personal passions. I can hit “flow” while writing code, thinking about UX design. And for that reason, it’s where more than 50% of my time is spent. But I view many marketing activities — the constant monitoring of customer conversations or social media, guerrilla marketing like flyering or just reaching out to people en masse, thinking of new copy for ads, finding 10+ ways to remarket content, etc. as just not very enjoyable. This is an important realization because previously, I thought that I just disliked social media, but it turns out, it kind of extends to many other marketing activities.
Now, if that weren’t bad enough, further compounding this problem is the fact that marketing and product/ technical work need to be fundamentally structured differently. In other words, marketing and product; early stage business & technical work are usually separate not only because of skill set, but also because of how you do them. When you write code or work on product, almost everyone I’ve talked to says there needs to be large chunks of time with intense focus on the topic at hand. You need to wrap up a chunk of code before moving on and consistent distraction is your worst enemy. But when you’re marketing, you’re monitoring and responding constantly to people across a number of different channels. There’s a veritable storm of new ideas from your mind, from customers, clashing in the cloud of cyberspace and your own brain that you have to sort through. Perhaps while you’re Tweeting a potential customer about special offers, you’re thinking about how that conversation should be incorporated into an already-running ad campaign. And it all comes full circle, because my first realization that I should be a technical person was on the basis of personality, and the fact that certain personalities may lend themselves more toward one profession or the other. Well, just reading this paragraph about how marketing and product work are structured, I can certainly see why I might be more inclined toward the latter!
All of this is a terrible reality for a solopreneur. So what am I going to do about it? Well, it’s a little up in the air…
Obviously I will be more efficient, productive, and happier focusing on product because I like it more… but then again, hiring someone in my situation — with more purpose to offer than money won’t be easy, especially given that the marketing is a direct representation of the brand. Not to mention as one wise start-up advisor said to me: you just have to “eat the suck” as being a [good] leader means being willing to be the first to do the work no one else likes…
Yeah… still very much up in the air, this is kind of an inconclusive post, but this realization has been pushing at the edges of my mind begging to be affirmed in writing. Here it is world!
These are the things I muse about while building an on-demand rental & delivery service for outdoors recreational equipment. Check it out at www.lastmingear.com.