The Path to Profitability Starts Here

I have a good one for you this week. In fact, it’s one of the areas readers most want covered…

Most startups fall way short on marketing. Entrepreneurs or investors need to allocate at least 20–30% of their business’s initial budget to marketing and advertising.

Companies also need a huge launch event for new business, and they’ll need plenty of money in the marketing and advertising budget if they want to see real results.

Seth Godin — a well-known and well-respected author, entrepreneur and marketer — once said marketing is a contest for the consumer’s attention…

I say: Don’t sell the product — sell the story.

To draw attention to products or services, it’s important that startup ventures embrace the first principles of marketing: brand definition and consistent storytelling.

So What Is Marketing?

Consider this: Marketing involves activities aimed at getting a client to buy a product or service. It includes advertising, selling and delivering products to people.

As an entrepreneur or investor, you could try to get the attention of target audiences with the following:

  • Slogans
  • Clever packaging
  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Earned media
  • The “four P’s of marketing” — product, place, price and promotion.

Successful startups at the stage of creating a marketing campaign have already identified, selected and developed a product. They’ll also have determined their price point.

What’s left to do is selection of a distribution channel (or channels) to reach potential customers and development/implementation of a promotional strategy.

Marketing isn’t simply about advertising or sales. It’s everything your startup does to acquire customers and maintain relationships with them.

This includes everything from returning calls promptly to meeting with a past client for coffee to writing thank-you letters to hitting the greens for a game of golf with a prospective client.

The ultimate goal should be to match products and services to the people who need and want them.

That, of course, is the path to profitability…

Marketing vs. Selling

“Selling concerns itself with the tricks and techniques of getting people to exchange their cash for your product.”

– Retired Harvard Business School professor of marketing Theodore C. Levitt

How to market effectively is one of the biggest challenges. Choosing the right approach is not always a simple matter.

But a good marketing strategy is critical to a startup company’s success — whether it’s just starting out or has been in business for years.

Here are a few easy-to-execute ideas:

  • Go online: Shoot for a big presence on the internet. An amazing number of businesses still lack a website! It takes some time but only a little money to create a website and take orders online. More than four out of five consumers consider a website (and social media) important when they’re considering a product or service
  • Talk the talk: Remember to stay in touch with customers so they won’t forget about your startup when they’re in the market for what you offer. A robust email list is a great way to notify your customers about special offers or to simply inform them about the great benefits offered
    [NOTE: Keep your messages consistent, concise and professional.]</strong
  • Get personal: Provide plenty of personal interaction and convenience — and treat the consumer the way you’d like to be treated! And always follow up after a purchase. It’s important that your employees understand the value that comes from talking to customers and tracking feedback.

Go Forth and Sell Your Story!

Once you as an investor or entrepreneur have what you feel is the right strategy in place, have patience and roll out the strategy in stages. Rather than expecting instant conversions, set your sights on achieving smaller successes over time.

Part of what makes me tick is that I am never on cruise control. I always keep my eye open for the next home run. And I am always working to hone the marketing message.

So stay tuned, because the story doesn’t end here! No, not even close… Today I gave you the basics in marketing. On Thursday I’m going to put it into perspective through one key startup principle — venture marketing — all part of our Startup Profits Daily marketing series.

And I can’t emphasize it enough — there’s always more to the story…

Keep sending your comments, questions and suggestions my way! Email me at and I’ll try to cover every angle of the modern way people are investing.

Sent from a shark,

Kevin Harrington