Bill: Ted, while I agree that, in time, our band will be most triumphant. The truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar.
Ted: Yes, Bill. But I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video.
Bill: Ted, it’s pointless to have a triumphant video before we even have decent instruments.
Ted: Well, how can we have decent instruments when we don’t really even know how to play?
Bill: That is why we NEED Eddie Van Halen!
Sound familiar? Or maybe this is more applicable to my fellow entrepreneurs:
Bill: The truth is, we cannot raise money until we can prove we have revenue.
Ted: Yes, Bill. But I do not believe we will get revenue until we’ve got a great marketing plan and the supporting collateral to pitch investors.
Bill: Ted, it’s pointless to try and pitch investors if we do not yet have enough money to build the product.
Ted: Well, how do we build a product when we don’t have the engineers to do it?
Bill: That is why we NEED funding!
Many entrepreneurs struggle with raising capital, finding themselves with limited resources to keep up with over-funded competitors, while trying to maintain a positive public image. Some of these startups come to me for marketing help, and it’s no wonder. Marketing is often the least funded department in the organization. Sometimes there’s no marketing effort at all. I totally get it. These are the kind of people who will occasionally forgo their own paychecks and fund their organizations from their credit cards. But the good news is that marketing doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.
Here are a few tips on how to better use your limited resources to organically grow your brand awareness.
- Stay away from “simply too many notes” (Amadeus)
Don’t try to be the master of everything. Choose what you want to be known for and do it well. You have limited resources, so keep your eye on the ball. Remember, you can always expand the product offerings and services later. You should be able to explain your brand in just a few words.
- Pick a target audience
It’s good to know that your product is versatile and expandable. Resist the urge to be everything to everyone. If you seem to lack focus, it will be difficult to acquire investment and hard to keep the company team members and message on target. Remember, you can always expand to other demographics later. Stick to one, and do it well.
- You can’t buy me love
It’s difficult to even buy attention these days. Don’t waste your money on paid advertising campaigns. Most likely, a paid TV campaign won’t answer all of your revenue needs. And throwing dollars into paid advertisements won’t be helpful at all if you haven’t first honed your message and positioning. Instead, I recommend spending money on a good, hard-working person willing to get his/her hands dirty and do the grunt work of evangelizing, social media and guerilla marketing.
- Your team is everything!
A startup means that everyone needs to be good at a variety of things, as everyone must wear several hats. “That’s not my job” is rarely heard at a successful startup. Avoid hiring too many specialists. Instead hire hardworking and smart generalists who can do whatever needs to be done. You will be glad when your customer service person can also do some social media, answer tech support calls or do training. Once you start to grow, that’s when departments get honed in.
- One for all, all for one
In a startup environment, everyone must work equally hard. Avoid becoming a top heavy organization, or risk an unhealthy work environment. Everyone needs to operate as a cohesive team, all employees working toward the same, defined goals.
- Know your weaknesses and OUTSOURCE
If you do find yourself in need of specialized work, outsource. If you don’t have someone who is good at graphic design, hire an outside party to create your brochure or website. Make sure to shop around. You shouldn’t be spending all of your dollars on fancy marketing pieces. Get something that is good enough for your needs and know you can improve later with increased funding. Most importantly, stick to what you can do well and ask for help when you need it.
Laura Mitchell is the founder of Laura Mitchell Consulting, a strike team of marketing and growth strategy experts in the aging and technology industry. To find out more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.