Startups STOP Focusing on Customers at the Expense of Good Marketing

Remember the old adage, “The Customer is Always Right.”?

Do you also remember the follow up to that? That the idea there is a customer service technique that appreciates that the customer is often actually very wrong.

As a startup, it’s fair to say that the customer is generally always wrong, as are advisors, as is your team, and certainly it should be kept in mind that investors are usually wrong.

Yet we take their advice as though it’s the answer we’re seeking.

Help me understand that.

There are a couple fundamental facts about today’s world that aren’t being conveyed sufficiently to startups… perhaps it’s our traditionally non-tech, enterprise software/hardware, or corporate backgrounds throughout the world… perhaps it’s because most of our advisors and investors haven’t had much experience with this… the fundamental fact about the new economy is that it’s called the “information age” for a reason.

About a decade ago, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff noted, “ “Finally, The End of Software is here.” Yet throughout the world startups still refer to the work they’re doing online, inventing new web based products and services, as software. The end of software WAS here, it’s long since dead. Everything changed because of the internet and yet advisors and investors with no experience working in it still preach direction as though we’re selling software.

I work to move VC and there is one fatal flaw that I see consistently in local startups: they think Marketing is about lead gen and growth. Customer acquisition. And why wouldn’t we…? We talk to VC who doesn’t understand our business and their advice is “get more customers and maybe we’ll invest.” I’ve spent a lot of time with startups on both coasts where money moves more substantially and there are a few fundamentals that are so commonplace there that one doesn’t even realize that they may not be practiced elsewhere until we see it.

What are those fundamentals?

1. Google
2. Analytics
3. A/B testing
4. Social Media 
5. Moble

Small businesses and companies can hire, outsource, and use tools to do those things. Generally speaking, startups can’t — at least not competitively. Being a startup, you are doing something distinctly different (if you’re not, you’re just a business and you can/should learn from competitors). As a startup, whether or not and how various marketing channels are going to work for you can NOT be answered by anyone — no one knows. Know one can know; if they did, they’d start your company

We talk to VC who doesn’t understand our business and their advice is “get more customers and maybe we’ll invest.” Yet they’re not….

Point being, with your new IoT Wearable Food Delivery Mobile App, you should listen to absolutely NO ONE about what you should do to grow. I’m being blunt on purpose — too many startups here seem to be taking marketing channel advice from too many people who don’t know what they’re doing, and then they can’t figure out why 2 years in to their venture they’re not getting anywhere.

Customers will come when you’re the definitive solution for what they need/want.

So, how do YOU know what works?? Those fundamentals and a team that knows how those fundamentals work.

You can’t pigeon hole tools and channels into your business — you determine the tools and channels based on what you’re doing and what you need to accomplish.

That starts with knowing what will work for your startup.

These fundamentals, in my experiences on the coasts, are ALWAYS demanded of the entire team in-house. EVERYONE knows how SEO works from the CTO to the customer service rep. Analytics are used Monday meeting / Friday meeting / and throughout the week — no one just talks about what they think. EVERYTHING is always tested; no one is right, no designer, no CTO, no CMO, no one in Sales — let the data and results tell you. No one can be the social media for a startup but the startup — it’s your brand and personality — if it’s not, you’re faking it and not learning anything from your audience. Everyone is mobile.

These fundamentals are the things you should be doing in-house SO that you can figure out where to budget, how/who to hire, when to outsource, and what tools you might use.

Always ask first in considering tools/team/channels: what are we doing? Why? And what is our goal?

If you’re a local mobile app seeking beta testers the answers to all these questions are VASTLY different than if you’re a Smart Oven that connects to Alexa. But EVERY startup no matter what they’re doing is still largely impacted by these 5 things because of the internet.

1. Google
2. Analytics
3. A/B testing
4. Social Media 
5. Moble