|Start Looking for a Marketing Co-Founder|
|Written by David Iwanow|
|Monday, 25 June 2012 12:44|
There have been a number rants about stop looking for a “technical co-founder” but what about a rant about start looking for a “marketing co-founder” so people will actually hear about you and your awesome product!
There are so many times that I hear about a new product and after a short trial I never go back either because it’s not ready for prime time or it’s so badly marketed it falls off your radar. Marketing should be one of the most important considerations as no company got successful without some type of marketing so it’s about time you made sure marketing staff are an early team member.
Don’t Wait for Perfect, Do Something Now!
I often hear entrepreneurs trying to sell in their product or idea but when questioned about marketing often it’s a footnote in the discussion that will be picked up a later point once you have the "perfect product" ready. The reason you need a marketing co-founder is they are the person who is able to answer the following questions from investors:
I feel that there are too many times products fail to launch successfully as the technical co-founders are focused on the perfect solution that will work across every platform and won’t accept the idea they can roll out a phased launch. It’s far better to get a digital presence and gradually roll out features as they are ready than wait for the perfect launch window.
It’s Not a One-Way Relationship
You are building your platform, website or business for the purpose of profit so I really think it’s time to start placing some more importance around paying people for the time they are really worth. If you have no real idea about how to leverage social media, track visitors by web analytics, build a digital strategy around SEO or get better results from a small PPC budget; you should not expect to get these for free.
There are far too many times people assume marketers have nothing better to do than help you make more money. There are way too many times I hear the response “I haven’t considered that” or “I wasn’t aware of that”, these are signs that you need a marketing co-founder!
Website Startups Often Fail!
I did some consulting around a large directory project several years ago, but the big red flag that was they were marketing the platform around a domain they had not yet secured.
I won't use their domain but as an example they were branding their platform Marketing.com but had only registeredMarketing.com.au which they had just assumed didn’t really matter as people would just Google their name and the TLD didn’t really matter much.
Part of the paid engagement involved competitive analysis which provided a detailed analysis of just how much time and effort they would need to be able to meet their business plan traffic goals.
There are far too many websites based on their ability to capture unrealistic traffic growth that just fade away and far too many directories, so any business involved in these types of projects I always advise to get paid upfront for these projects and be wary of accepting shares as payment if they haven’t even launched.
New Software Platforms Often Stall!
I have done some often exciting consulting on web 2.0 based platforms but there seems to be too much reliance on using traditional offline sales channels to drive sales/leads and SEO or social is just not seriously considered. The platform had developed an amazing API but had pushed that into the background to focus on the agency and direct business model which was highly competitive. The problem was that you could see that this model was still not working after 2 years and was only turned around recently when they flipped their business model to focus on their API.
Traditional Businesses going Digital
These are the type of businesses that I see with the biggest potential as they have a physical store location that benefits from branded online traffic, have existing email marketing databases or have enough capital to take an initial hit on much of the startup investment required to succeed.
While they can also succeed because they have a physical product they can ship which will often translate into bigger profit margins they still need a focus on marketing and not just technical. These are the types of businesses that you want to be getting involved with as they often have a very scalable model that works perfectly with digital marketing.
These businesses often go wrong when they produce websites or applications that are technical advanced but fail usability testing or offer a feature no-one cares or wants to use.
If you are working with a physical business that is going digital you could consider a revenue share to keep their digital expansion startup costs lower, but you need to be in a position of being able to make businesses decisions and not just answer phones and handle their “social media” channels.
What brought this post on?
I’ve got no issue with technical co-founders and sure they do a whole bunch of awesome stuff that I’ll struggle to replicate easily, but I do have an issue with these startups working with marketing consultants in casual matter for that quick little question.
I see that startups often turn to consultants because unlike marketing agencies we don’t push for paid engagements as hard as we should from day one!
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