Here we are! A new year, with new budgets (hopefully) and yet most likely the same goal: Growth! In our world, growth should always be the goal right? Well, the truth is most startups fizzle out over growth issues long before ever making a splash and I don’t want that to happen to your project so I’ve outlined some things you need to focus on to make sure you win this year.
First, let me confirm that you’re in the right place. Over the past 12 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 100 startups from Dubai to the Czech Republic and back to Silicon Valley. In that time, I’ve seen dozens of founders I work with raise money successfully, and three of my full-time marketing projects have exited under my growth guidance for millions of dollars. Through it all, I’ve noticed that time and time again the companies that succeed have a shared focus that I now call “The Startup Growth Mentality”. This focus, with every decision, is one that breeds success through what I’ve narrowed down to 5 core principles.
Now, before I dive into them though, let me explain how startup marketing differs from marketing a traditional, later-stage company, in two main reasons. One, in startups, you don’t have the longstanding brand value to worry about damaging with every campaign, thus enabling you to launch crazy ideas, move quickly and be quite aggressive (read: risky) with what you put out. The second reason is that you often don’t have the resources that later stage companies have, be it financial or otherwise. This lack of resources causes startup marketers to need to be “scrappy”. Being scrappy is all about making sh*t happen regardless of the obstacles and finally, successful startups prioritize growth over other “wants” like branding, community, social media engagement and possibly even user experience (temporarily, chill, don’t bite my head off, keep reading).Which brings me to my first principle you should master this year.
Principle #1: The art of the Grind. To be successful in marketing your startup you have to grind, put your social life on hold, and be ready to hustle 24/7 for your wins. There’s no such thing as a successful part-time startup marketer. If you don’t do it, then no one else will. If you’re a founder reading this, you MUST be the last person to leave the office or sign out of Slack every single day, no excuses. You set the standard. Grind is when you are at an incredible concert or party and everyone is having a ball, and all you want to do is get back to work. That’s a grinder. If you don’t eat, sleep and breathe your project with every waking minute you have, you may be working on the wrong thing. Put the time in this year and trust it will pay off.
Principle #2: There’s no such thing as targetted spam. I’ll say it again for those in the back, there is no such thing as spam. When you’re targeting the right people with enough value in your message, then the message will almost always be positively received. Startup marketers need to be aggressive and this often means identifying channels and targeting people with messages without their consent. Now I’m not talking about anything illegal, but an example is cold-emailing potential partners or messaging potential users at scale on an existing platform. The bottom line is if you have a product or service that is valuable to me and you send me an unsolicited message, I’m not going to be mad because it’s valuable. Remember that in your marketing this year. If your project helps people, spread the word everywhere. Don’t hesitate to test another spammy sounding idea, as long as you have a ton of value in your message.
Principle #3 Hustle. Ok enough with the buzzwords Andrew. No, seriously, everyone throws around this term in our industry, but for the companies I see win the most, it’s truly a way of life. Now, Hustle isn’t to be confused with Grind. Grind is putting in the time and Hustle is moving fast and making things happen. Companies that are more established have marketing people that can relax in their chill 9 to 5. They can watch YouTube for a couple hours and not have to worry about whether or not something’s going to get done because the company is going to grow regardless. Us Startup Marketers, however, especially an early-stage startup marketer have to be dedicated to our cause like no one else. There’s a reason why 50–70% of all the tech investment globally is in one area, Silicon Valley. It’s because the culture there is to hustle. It’s known, it’s understood and it’s lauded. Have Hustle this year. Get it done!
Principle #4 Being data-driven. Many of the unsuccessful projects I have worked with over the years have been helmed by founders who think they are “know-it-alls” and make a lot of decisions based off their experience and/or their gut and I am here to tell you this is a big no-no.
The best Startup Marketers are always referring to data before making decisions. This year, try your hardest to remove emotion from your marketing decisions. Think of startup growth like investing (because after all, you are investing your time) and instead, base your decisions off the facts and I promise you’ll grow a lot more steadily. Being data-driven enables you to quickly test things and identify the channels that are working and move your time investment over towards that. As a Startup Marketer, you only have 24 hours in a day and you can only spend so much of it on each initiative. Make every decision in 2019 based on data and not your “gut” or what your experience tells you.
Principle #5: Fake it till you make it. Successful startup marketers make their projects seem further along and larger than they currently are (disclaimer: I am not advocating for lying at all). You may only have a landing page up but you need to truly feel that you are already bigger than you really are the to be a proper startup marketer because you have to convince others to work with you. If you’re not convinced, then no one will be, not partners, not coworkers, not even potential suppliers. Don’t be a liar, and again, always be data driven but focus on your goals, not your numbers if you don’t have the data yet and speak about your vision to get people involved.
Don’t be scared to fake it a bit, because you know in your heart that eventually, you will make it!
Here’s to a wildly successful 2019 for all and if you’re interested in learning more about my tips for marketing your startup check me out via the links below.
About AndrewStartups: Andrew Lee Miller, also known as @andrewstartups, is a Startup Marketer who’s been traveling the world working with early-stage companies for the past 12 years. After his 3rd multimillion dollar exit as Head of Marketing, he created his startup marketing consultancy AndrewStartups that focuses on helping young companies scale efficiently either before or after raising their first round. Andrew is also a prolific #DigitalNomad who in the last decade has visited, lived and worked from over 50 countries. His first book The Startup Marketing Mentality comes out later this year. He also writes at www.andrewstartups.com/blog