Marketing Solutions For Start-Ups

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CEO of Biotech Start-Up:  We don't need any marketing, we're in our start up phase.

Principle Point:  We understand you have limited funds and are still developing your product. However...

We've heard it a million times.  But, Principle Point is in the business of marketing, so of course we think everybody needs marketing...right? On the contrary, we have also worked on the client side at start-ups, balancing sales and marketing budgets with incomplete or yet-to-be-approved products. We've managed marketing departments while a product is still in beta phase, and we've done so while the company is still in the fundraising phase. And yet, during those times we uncovered countless marketing needs within the company.  Needs that our colleagues simply didn't know to ask for. Why didn't they know to ask for our help?  We believe this is because of 3 fundamental misconceptions about marketing.

Three Fundamental Misconceptions About Marketing

1. "Marketing is just pretty ads."

A century ago, there was no such thing as 'sales' or 'marketing,' only business.  In general, demand far outweighed supply, so businessmen simply took orders from customers.  As markets have become more global, products and technologies have proliferated, and customers have become more discerning each year.  This trend led businesses first to focus on sales, the act of closing the transaction with potential customers.  Eventually, the need for consistent sales obviated the need for marketing, the process of identifying and creating value to a target customer audience.

I once had a boss literally say "We don't need any marketing, we just need to figure out what product features to offer and how to price them". By addressing his stated problems head-on, I was eventually able to convince him that what he had requested was truly marketing. Through market research, we were able to answer his questions, to segment and size the market and to create an actionable market launch plan. Once the new product gained traction, we engaged in lead generation in order to fill the sales pipeline and to ensure continued success. When the pipeline was consistently generating sales, we identified weaknesses in the sales process and helped to optimize lead conversion. And, eventually, we created pretty ads when they were appropriate, too.  

It turns out, what my boss needed was marketing, he just didn't know it.

2. "I don't need marketing, I need sales."

Marketing and sales are indeed different, but sales is the end result of effective marketing. In order to generate sustained sales, your product must meet a customer need, your messaging must effectively position and differentiate your product, and your outreach must be targeted to the appropriate audience.

A client hired us to dig deep into the core positioning of its product, and to engage in 'sales support' activities.  We revved the marketing engine and sent compelling email promotions to their database of ~2,000 unqualified leads.  Testing multiple promotions with each campaign, we were able to hone in on the most effective offer.  Using web tracking codes and landing pages, we were able to measure the success of each campaign.  New demographic data was gathered from these rejuvenated leads, allowing segmentation and pipeline planning. Prospects who became customers entered into an email cadence campaign to foster satisfaction, loyalty and evangelism of the product.  

The result of our 'sales support' (i.e., marketing) efforts was a better understanding of the client's positioning, better qualified leads, and increased sales.

3. "We are not ready to sell our product - we don't need marketing."

Since a medical device or pharmaceutical product must undergo years of development before it is approved for commercialization, it is easy to see why a company hesitates to spend money on marketing in the early stages.  In the mean time, however, a company must still message to its investors, its early partners and health care media.  A company's identity, including its logo, tag line, mission statement and overall positioning are all strategic marketing considerations important to its future.  While none of these activities involves sales of a product, they are foundational to a start-up company's early success.

We've helped a number of early start ups to begin telling their story, to message to their investors, to write technical articles and to create simple, elegant websites.  Even before a product is ready to sell.

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