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An awesome post by my good friend @christoy about the importance of thinking about marketing _before_ product/market fit.

It's really cool to hear some of the stories he's collected over the years from working with startups to define their marketing goals.

  • CT

    Chris Toy

    over 4 years ago #

    Thanks Jordan! :D

  • EB

    Erick Bzovi

    over 4 years ago #

    great article @jordanskole

  • DF

    Dan Fellars

    over 4 years ago #

    I'm a solo founder of a product[0]. I'm finding myself in this boat now realizing how important marketing is to reach P/M Fit (spoiler: I'm not there yet :) ).

    The flip side of this is article that good marketers, and I've read this on here as well, prefer to engage with a startup once they've found P/M fit because it's obviously a much easier job to ramp up and see results. I get that and don't blame anyone for taking that approach.

    But I'm wondering if anyone here actually prefers getting involved prior to that point and gets a kick out of the challenge of getting to P/M fit. If so, would love to talk :)

    [0] - https://trackacompany.com

    • SC

      Steven Chabot

      over 4 years ago #

      I'm a marketer who just started in a startup who is about half-way there. They have developed a product, but I don't know if they thought of a specific market and how to solve their pain point. Feels very much like they do technical things because they want to experiment and because other companies do them too.

      As a marketer and strategist, I absolutely would love to be on the founder team. I go to startup networking nights, and when you say you are a marketer people give you this look like you are a parasite. But then they pitch me their products, and I am like, who is this for, and what problem are you solving? What's your story.

    • CT

      Chris Toy

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Dan, article author here :D. Actually my agency that I mentioned (offsideinc.com) did exactly what you said. We were interested in providing marketing as a tool to get a product to its market, not just jumping on board a rocketship already taking off. Where's the fun/challenge in that? :D

    • PS

      Puranjay Singh

      over 4 years ago #

      After helping a few startups kickstart their content marketing initiatives, I've realized that startups led by technical founders with zero business experience tend to think very differently about marketing. The blocks just don't fall into place for them.

      I try to teach them about creating a cohesive narrative about their business, leverage copy, and heck, exaggerate and lie a little.

      You have to take a step back and take a holistic view of the entire business - how the parts fit together, rather than how every part works on its own.

    • AH

      Aaron Huang

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Dan. I'm at a pre-launch startup now. IMO it depends on the co-founders / head of product. If they have marketing on their minds then they are thinking about go-to-market holistically. Often times they need someone to be the POC for that to make sure the product gets built according to P/M fit. That "fit" for early stage startups is a combination of market research and user research. If founders are too busy hiring, building, etc. - they need a point person to take their initial assumptions and flesh them out. Definitely agreed with a few others on the board here that it is / should not be a FT position until the "fit" is there and a product roadmap provides non-tech roles a vision for execution and timeline to work backwards from.

    • TM

      Tom Maiaroto

      over 4 years ago #

      I enjoy challenges of all kinds. So naturally I'm loving the marketing before P/M fit. In fact my product is now targeted at a completely new audience and it was somewhat unexpected. It's really exciting. If you are jumping in after that, then it's less exciting because a course has been set and you have a rocketship on a launchpad.

      So it's not so much about hitching yourself up to a rocketship fueled up and ready to go as it is getting to see what kind of rocketship is being built =) Maybe even deciding how it's built. If that makes sense with Chris' analogy.

      • CT

        Chris Toy

        over 4 years ago #

        Exactly @tom_m , and, to beat this analogy to death - a rocketship can run into plenty of issues after take off. Getting proper marketing in early can prevent that. Another example we saw frequently across dozens of early stage clients was startups running A/B tests with tiny sample sizes (<10 conversions in each) and then deciding PM fit from the winner.

    • SH

      Stuart Hall

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Dan, I have been working with new food ordering app kravely to try to figure out the marketing before the P/M fit is sorted. Happy to chat on Skype with you :)

  • JW

    Jessie Wood

    over 4 years ago #

    Nice piece. I disagree with one thing, though — early stage startups pre PMF don't need a full-time marketer. As @sean said when he came to Tradecraft, startups do not need a full-time marketer before product/market fit. The founders should be doing the customer development on their own. Product iteration takes a long time, and there is only so much a marketer can do pre-launch.
    Now, Sean was saying this in the context of marketers deciding who to work for, but I think it still applies in this context. I think consulting is fine, as you said, but I just felt that the distinction needed to be noted.

    • SC

      Steven Chabot

      over 4 years ago #

      Agree, only to say that I think marketing and product development are two sides of the same process. The product manager is the marketer, because product development is at the core marketing.

      • JS

        Jordan Skole

        over 4 years ago #

        I second this. Analytics is a lot of my marketing. Market research is marketing.

        Look at Eric Reis, and his concept of MVP/Smoke & Mirrors. Same with Tim Ferriss. Build a landing page, find your value proposition, and get signups well before you have a product to sell. A marketer can do this much better than an engineer.

    • TM

      Tom Maiaroto

      over 4 years ago #

      I agree, you don't need to hire a full-time marketer (especially given likely limited funding)...Though you should be making a full-time effort with marketing related tasks. The founders should be perfectly capable of this. If they aren't, they need to get comfortable with it. Fast.

    • CT

      Chris Toy

      over 4 years ago #

      I actually agree, but would highlight the general stigma/feeling that a marketer can't do anything but marketing. Other than engineering, a marketer could learn other roles just as well other roles could 'learn' marketing. I frequently see 4-5 person teams at startups that include non-engineers and still no marketers.

      • TM

        Tom Maiaroto

        over 4 years ago #

        In a startup, there's five seats for every arse. You have to be willing to sit in each from time to time.

    • CT

      Chris Toy

      over 4 years ago #

      Also, the problem for a lot of startups is the market you can fit without scale is not the same market you can fit when you do - especially if media spend is involved. While you may not *need* a full time marketer to find pm fit, I'd bet the one you do find is a lot more stick through scale. People often forget that customer development is multiple phases, not just customer interviews. Finding a "repeatable and scalable" business model is in there too, and you'll need marketing to get to that.

  • TM

    Tom Maiaroto

    over 4 years ago #

    Best way to sum this MAJOR problem up with a quote from the article: "The problem is that many startups consider marketing something to be done after they’ve found product-market fit" -- so very important for people to understand.

  • LR

    Lynda Radosevich

    over 4 years ago #

    Great piece about using marketing techniques to check basic startup assumptions. It makes so much sense, but it's so still so rare!

  • RA

    Ryan Abrams

    over 4 years ago #

    Nice article @jordanskole

  • AM

    Andrew Micallef

    over 4 years ago #

    Great article! Thanks!

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