“Now I have to think in terms of scale and process, not just marketing, which is a new paradigm for me. What are your best learning resources (book, webinars, podcasts, etc.) to start thinking in terms of scale and process?”
Great question, but one that also left me with a weight of concern, disappointment, and curiosity.
“…to start thinking in terms of scale and process“?
What are people in agencies being trained to believe Marketing means? How are founders, advisors, mentors, and others, guiding startups to think Marketing is simply a matter of scale? Or process??
While I was prompted with a great question to advise and guide, I found myself more frustrated that such a question even exists.
My first thought, from a question asking how to rethink scale from this context, is that work from within an agency misleads and misinforms many people about what it means to be doing Marketing. Unfortunately, this is a common experience in agencies, and in particular, we find that most people can’t transition well from agencies to companies, let alone startups. Don’t misunderstand that as criticism of people in agencies because likewise, people who have worked in companies or startups tend not to fit in well with how agencies operate.
And before you go thinking any of this is saying that I think *everyone* at agencies is the same, come on. I’m generalizing here, trying to help the economy and startup ecosystem accelerate even more by helping people appreciate that such experiences in Marketing are very different.
We’re in an era of great job change, the Great Resignation, and this is a frequent change made or desired: from agency to startup. Can we help people make that change more effectively?
Agencies work to serve their customers’ expectations and to retain those customers. As a result, what you do is always driven a bit by what the client AND provider want. Yes, both.
I worked at Yahoo a long time ago and we, in the role of the publisher of content where ads run (a provider), work with agencies by recognizing that agencies want their clients happy, and to do that, they’ll work with/for us to keep us happy, so their client is happy. Doing that work isn’t “Marketing,” not really in the sense that Marketing is taught and practiced. It’s a slice of Marketing wrapped up into more customer service, with planning, design, creative thinking, and delivery thrown in.
Those skills are only valuable in a startup if you’re also doing all the market research, customer development, product direction, and work in growth, that the startup needs. Creative thinking and design are nearly critical in a startup, what I’m saying is that without what more a startup needs of Marketing, it’s going to fail, and your contribution is futile. If that’s your experience and what you think Marketing in a startup means, you’re completely missing the mark of what needs to be done.
Your job, in Marketing is to know, tell, and do.
Marketing is the work of the market. Your customer is not a client and the company for which you are working isn’t *really* even your employer (though technically they are), because they work for you (technically, for what you determine, in Marketing, they should be doing for the market).
At least, in successful startups that’s how it works.
EVERYTHING a startup does is a reaction to the market. Fundraising, product plan, messaging, the investments they make in decisions… All of that, MUST be because of the market and what Marketing knows and tells them, or they’re f’d
Your job is competitive analysis, SWOT, knowing investors, partners, stakeholders, government policy, journalists, influencers, and customers. Your job is messaging, branding, design, and promotion. Your job is getting things sold, funded, and in demand. Your job is DOING it: change the site, run the ads, send the email, set up the CRM. Your job is telling the company what to do, when, and why.
Sound impossible? It nearly is. Marketing is the MOST IMPORTANT work a startup or company does.
Research about startups has shown time and again that if the startup fails, it’s because Marketing failed.
Don’t misunderstand me, do you DO it all? No, of course not. The founders raise the money, but your job is making sure you all have a fundable startup because that’s determined by the market. Do you do the development and delivery of the product? No, of course not, but what, when, and how such things are delivered is largely based on the market – which is whose job?
Marketing is a HUGE job. You’re here asking how to change your mindset from experience in an agency to what it takes to work in a startup, when the job is that mindset: figure it out – What does the startup need to do to be successful??
If you think people will tell you, should tell you, or that you’re just there to do what others want or tell you to do, you are not ready nor cut out for Marketing in this capacity. Your job #1 is to figure out what is needed for the venture to be successful, do it and/or tell the others what they need to do. They may not agree with you, they might decide otherwise as is their responsibility, but “Marketing” is the job of knowing the Market so that you can inform the rest of the team as to what the market is demanding of you all.
And what might that be? Here is a very incomplete list of possibilities:
- Release something to get a competitive advantage
- Seek an acquisition
- We need a different team
- Sell more stuff
- Reduce prices
- Raise prices
- Host some events
- Change the model
- Fix our customer support
- Ignore those bugs, fix those others instead
- Change the logo to blue
- Add FAQs
- Run billboards
- Use a chat bot
- Tweet more
- Use Facebook less
- Relocate to another place
- Spend money on Google
- Get a better CRM
- Produce better ads
- Write more content
- Start a podcast
- Don’t go to that conference anymore
That’s the job. There is no client telling you what they want, no one directing you to their expectations, and no publisher providing you with what you might offer the advertiser. Your job is figuring it out.