Skip to main content

How startups can crack the marketing conundrum


Mapping the startup landscape can be an insightful exercise, one that throws up as many don’t’s as do’s. In hindsight, successful or failed startups would point to many defining factors and one that invariably stands out is the viability of a venture’s marketing strategy. We are living in times when stories are all that matter - narratives that are endorsed in a social media driven eco-system and which get translated into the right optics for your product or service. Controlling this narrative is a matter of investing in marketing resources efficiently.   

In a conversation with Forbes magazine, Kipp Bodnar, CMO of HubSpot, a business growth platform, has an interesting observation to make regarding startups and their marketing approach, “They have one marketer. They essentially have 30-50 hours of labour a week. The firm/marketer decides to do the following 1) Weekly email newsletter 2) Social media communication 3) Marketing automation 4) Monthly Blog. In addition, the marketer needs to understand what the company is doing and so they sit on a number of committees / teams / projects. They are essentially doing a little bit of everything. He further poses a question, “What is the cost of doing a little bit of everything and nothing well?

Even assuming that it’s a generalized observation, the question does capture the crux of the challenges that many startups face. For most of them, the marketing function could in fact turn out to be a double edged sword - one you can’t do without, but one so overwhelming that you would gladly resort to what is called the ‘Avoidance Psychology’ -- put off something because it’s too difficult/inconvenient/time-cost intensive, etc.

So what makes marketing such a challenging area to navigate for startups? Well, to start with, for many startups, marketing may be an alien function, one that’s far removed from their core expertise. Added to this is the fact that marketing today involves multiple metrics - consumer behaviour, brand awareness, conversions / sales, post sale feedback and so on. These metrics are defined by data mapped across interfaces and contexts - digital, physical, geographic, social, etc. Arriving at a marketing game plan involves prodding through a maze of this data.

Based on the data, a marketing plan is drawn up, taking into account the target audience and the business objective. Next comes the tricky part- translating a marketing strategy into a sustainable execution plan. This is tricky because it necessitates the integration of many specialist functions - communication, content creation, design, understanding of digital and other user interfaces, data analytics and so on. For a start-up grappling with fund mobilization, this can seem like stretching resources a bit too thin. 

There is also the question of on-boarding the right talent who can conceive of a robust marketing plan and effectively carry it through. This means hiring professionals with multidisciplinary skills sets, a tall order again for a startup focused on cost optimization. On one hand, it is challenging to find professionals who fit the bill - adept at communications, have solid track record, naturally skilled in sales, have good understanding of core product and business domain, creative, tech savvy and so on. On the other, training, developing and nurturing the marketing talent in-house is again a resource, cost and time intensive exercise that often does not deliver the desired results. So what is the way out?

Well, at a time when most businesses are forced to adopt smart, agile and lean practices, concepts like CoHiring, especially when it comes to hiring your own CMO, might just be the answer. CoHiring or Outsourced CMO is nothing but sharing your senior level marketing resource with another non-competing organization. So by CoHiring, you are not only saving costs incurred otherwise by employing a full time CMO, you are also leveraging the multi-industry exposure that such a ‘CoHired’ CMO comes with. Besides, the flexibility inherent in this work model implies that organizational resources such as space and utilities are utilized efficiently for multiple purposes. In effect, the model is similar to that of the Co-Working Space, where office / business space is shared for cost and other benefits . CoHiring essentially can result in gaining the best professional expertise without getting burdened by it. In fact, it won’t be surprising at all, if it becomes the new normal going forward.


Popular posts from this blog

Why is digital marketing important for Medium and Small Enterprises ?

One of the key differentiators of the success of a business is the number of customers that it can reach as more customers mean more sales volume.   One of the technological innovations that helps a business in this direction is digital marketing . It is indeed a boon for MSMEs as it lets you reach your target audience with ease, simplicity and at very low cost. Cost is always a concern for most MSMEs. Why would anyone not want to use the power of the internet with over 3 billion users to further the cause of their own business? But it is a fact that deploying digital marketing for their own benefit seems a herculean task for many MSMEs as they feel that they are not adept nor attuned for the digital world, they also tend to think that they will not reach their target market or they simply do not have adequate information, lack sufficient human resource and tools to manage the digital world. Here is where organisations like Outsourced CMO can help these MSMEs bridge the

One of India’s Largest TPA works with Outsourced CMO to launch their new Health App

Outsourced CMO is growing up fast! Started as a one-man army and on a simple concept of shared resources, we are now gaining popularity not only amongst SMEs but some well-known and well-established businesses and are close to 10 people strong team. The latest addition to the list is the association of OCMO with Vidal Healthcare, one of India’s top TPA companies offering services to health insurance policy holders. The firm is now expanding its wings in app-only holistic healthcare service provider category. For the launch of this vital app, Vidal’s management wanted nothing but the best in industry. That’s where Outsourced CMO and his team of experienced and strong marketeers were approached to sense the waters and create unique go-to market strategies for the new app launch. Another strong reason that convinced Vidal management that OCMO is the right choice was, within the last 4 years of its existence, Outsourced CMO has been a strong part of more than 11 success stories an

Marketing Control Processes to put in place for 2018 !

Models, Systems and Tools to improve your Marketing On behalf of Outsourced CMO ( OCMO), I wish all our readers and well wishers a very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2018. I believe beginning of year is a good time to Evaluate the Marketing performance of your Enterprise, Startup, Small /Medium sized business in the past year and put Marketing Processes in place to make sure that 2018 is going to be much better than 2017. As the old saying goes ‘If anything can go wrong, it will.’’ It is a well known fact derived from research across companies over the years that most companies have inadequate control procedures. Key aspects of the lack of marketing control processes are: ·        Small companies do poorer job of setting clear objectives and establishing systems to evaluate performance ·        About 1/3 rd of companies have no regular review procedures for understanding problems from their products ·        Almost half of companies fail to compare and an