5 Marketing Lessons From Inside a Startup

by Guest Author on February 1, 2013

Marketing can help your startup achieve great things, or it can be a black hole for your hard-earned funding.  Rather than make a new set of startups continue to repeat the mistakes of the previous generations, I wanted to share my top 5 marketing lessons from inside the startup world.

1. You get what you give.  If you go about marketing half-heartedly, you’ll get half-hearted results.  To achieve quality results you need to spend time developing a strategy, plan of attack, and action items, all based on research.  If you approach marketing with the “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” strategy, you’re wasting time.  But if you approach it with a structured hypothesis and continually measure results, you’ll see progress.

An un-scientific but very compelling experiment by Tresnic Media is a great example of this lesson.  They wondered what would happen if they blogged twice a day for 5 straight weeks.  After laying out a strategy and creating a baseline of traffic, they got to work.  Five weeks later they saw a steady and strong 481% increase in traffic.  Because they approached this strategically, they were able to attribute this increase directly to their blogging and are now able to repeat this success.

2. Listen.  Marketing is a conversation.  It involves talking AND listening.  Listen to what your potential customers are saying and you will have a much more fulfilling conversation.  Check out these 8 ways to listen to your customers to get a few ideas on how to get started.

3. Get organized.  As with any conversation, it is easy for your marketing to go off on a tangent.  But if you are organized and have a structured plan, it is easier not to end up spending all of your time on a tangent that doesn’t help your bottom line.  Create a plan about what content you will cover, create a schedule and stick to it!  If you’ve never put together a plan before, this post from the content marketing institute will help you through the process.

4. PR isn’t a magic fix.  Too often startups assume that press=success.  It doesn’t.  What does provide is usually a spike in traffic to your site and a link.  That link can be helpful for SEO, so keep that in mind and make sure you get your link (sometimes journalists forget).  In fact, this link between press and SEO is so important, Search Engine Watch has broken it down into these 10 reasons why PR is a “must-do” for SEO in 2013.

5. You don’t know everything, and that’s OK.  Marketing is constantly evolving and changing.  Because it truly is all about communication, as the technology and ways that we communicate change, so does marketing.   It’s OK that you don’t know everything and if you’re a curious person (like me) then constantly learning about the newest technology or tactic is half the fun of marketing.  Embrace the learning and use a tool like Flipboard or an RSS feed reader to aggregate content and spend a few minutes every day learning something new.

At the end of the day, marketing is a lot like launching your own business, it is all about relationships and hard work.  Don’t assume there is an easy route to getting your name out there, it takes time and dedicated effort.  Be prepared to put in the time and you’ll see the rewards.

About the author
Cate Conroy is a marketer with a life-long love of media.  With a background in broadcasting and SMB marketing, Cate is currently Director of Marketing for AKTA and has spent the last 3 years helping Chicago startups establish and grow their marketing efforts.


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  • http://thxblog.com/ Tim Henningsen

    Great lessons Cate! Test, test, test. PR/link building…I also think marketers can do a better job with their internal link building strategies, just within their own content hubs. Helps customers and media find the best stuff. Thanks.