Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Startup Marketing: A Systems Approach

I gave a talk last week at The International Startup Festival on startup marketing. I’ve been thinking a lot about how many startups I see that are extremely tactics-oriented in their approach to marketing. My worry with many of them is that rather than starting with an exploration of their target customers (who they are, how they view offerings, how they buy), many marketers are jumping straight into tactics (i.e. choosing to focus heavily on social media or inbound marketing and excluding other potential tactics).

It’s not a bad approach per se, particularly if you are measuring results and culling out the bad tactics and doubling down on the good ones. That approach does however lead to a few bigger problems in the longer term. First, the tactics tend to run independently and as a result lack consistency. Secondly assumptions are often not tracked across tactics and when they are, the measured results of the tactics are rarely used to re-asses those assumptions. Thirdly, because tactics were somewhat randomly chosen rather than chosen based on where the friction or best potential accelerators are in the buying cycle, any new tactic suggested is just as good as any other until you test it.

Here are the slides

I had an amazing time at the conference. The speakers were great and I literally lost my voice chatting with startup folks in various tents including the speaker tent, the FounderFeul Mentor tent and the Women in Tech tent. If you didn’t go this year and get a chance to next year, you should.

Lastly if any of you reading this saw my talk and has some feedback on it – I would love to hear what you think.





  1. April, I have always enjoyed your blog and share it often. If you are ever in Chicago, we would love to have you speak at our lean startup circle.

  2. April, Timely and spot-on as always (and no, I’m not trying to suck up). Thanks for putting the slides up as I’m working through this with not one, but two start-ups. This helps get the point across of what we need to do.



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