Why digital marketing agencies can’t solve your startup’s problem?

Matt Mayfield
Sep 24, 2018 · 4 min read
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Founders come to D.Labs with an idea that will change a market. They sometimes have strong funding in place, but they almost always have two key missing ingredients:

An actual product (technology) and actual customers.

Building technology is what D.Labs is about. Acquiring users and building a user acquisition strategy is usually at least as difficult as building the initial technology. These two activities are actually interrelated. In fact, we notice that pre-Series-A clients that are getting great sustained value from D.Labs (and likely to reach Series A) tend to shift into a mode we sometimes call “marketing driven development” or “analytic-driven development”. Lean Product benefits really happen when these two activities are tightly coupled.

General engineering services/outsourcing companies almost never work effectively for startups, hence the reason D.Labs exists. Similarly, there are a number of reasons why traditional Digital Agencies also struggle to meet the needs of early-stage startups.

  1. Agencies traditionally make their money through optimizing and expanding a successful marketing idea. If Instagram influencers are working for you, a good agency in this field will be able to spend 10x the amount and keep the effectiveness of the spend the same. The main source of revenue in an agency is a fee on spending. This rewards them for finding more and more pockets of efficient spending, but it means they are less effective in activities where spend is necessarily low– like recipe discovery.

To date, we have not worked with a successful startup-focused Agency. Our current recommendations are:

  1. Hire internally a digital marketing team. Prioritize energy over experience — your magic strategy is quite possibly found where the successful/experienced ones are not trying.

Because of that D.Labs now offers Junior Marketing services to execute tests planned by our clients and coordinate with the development teams as needed. For now, this is the best we can do. All the rest seems to be the inevitable work of our clients.

Need help with finding the right channel for your product?Drop me an email at matt.mayfield@dlabs.si

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Observations from the Company building industry

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