Marketing for the start-up company

The government’s budget last week attempted to coin the term ‘Aspiration Nation’ and was ostensibly about making the UK a great place to start and grow a business.

Having worked with start-ups over the last 10 years, this is no new ambition. It’s the means of doing it that is up for discussion, not the objective.

Here are my observations of the things that a start-up company should be aware of:

  1. Your needs are no more ‘simple’ just because your business is small. In fact, the decisions you make at the start are actually the most complex you will ever make! The implication is that, if you need professional advice, then … you need professional advice! What you don’t need is a lesser standard of advice aimed the start-up community.
  2. The fundamentals of how marketing works are the same for the small company as the large one. Sorry if this is inconvenient. You don’t have money to burn. Getting it right early is not just important – it might be the difference between surviving and not surviving.
  3. BEWARE of bad advice. There can be no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Any advice that predetermines particular techniques is not strategic. You need to behave strategically.
  4. Lots of people will tell you what decisions to make, but more important than this is HOW we make those decisions: On what basis? The quickest route to failure is to have what looks like a robust process but with all of the decisions based on perceived market knowledge, which is often nothing more than product knowledge or knowledge from a totally different business. You don’t have to spend a fortune on research, but you should know who you and what you are about, and then stick to it.

So, for those who proudly announce ‘I’ve been there, done that, made every mistake in the book’, I say – why copy that approach? Why not learn from the mistakes of others instead of having to repeat them yourself?

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