Friday, April 19, 2024
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What is Startup Marketing?

Many startup founders don’t fully understand what a startup marketer does or should be doing. When I talk to founders I find they often have a very narrow definition of what startup marketing is and only after they have found a great senior person to run their team do they really understand what a broad role it is.

I put together a presentation that I thought might be useful both for founders that are looking to understand the startup marketing role better as well as marketers that are struggling to explain to the other folks on the team what’s on their plate.

Here’s what startup marketing is NOT:

  • The Cure for a Lousy Product – There are a lot of things that marketers can do but if you have built something that nobody actually wants to buy or something so difficult to use that buyers give up on the product in disgust, well, marketing can’t really help you all that much.
  • Magic – Related to the previous point, we might be good at many things but I don’t believe the tooth fairy leaves money under your pillow and neither should you. Convincing people to part with their hard earned money is difficult to do and there is no simple magic wand that works when we need it to. Like everything else in your startup, it’s hard work.
  • Common Sense –  Just because you are on the receiving end of thousands of marketing messages a day and have an opinion about those, does not mean you understand what goes on behind the curtain.

So what is Startup Marketing?

Lead Generation

  • Inbound Marketing Programs
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Events
  • Sponsorships
  • Paid Advertising
  • SEO
  • Promotions/Contests
  • Email Maketing
  • Webinars
  • Outbound Marketing Programs

Content Production

  • Blogging
  • Case Studies
  • Video
  • Slideshare
  • Articles
  • Data Sheets
  • Feature Guides
  • Checklists
  • eBooks/Whitepapers
  • Newsletters
  • Graphics
  • Interactive Demos
  • Calculators
  • Photos
  • Website
  • Content Curation
  • Podcasts

Message & Brand

  • Messaging
  • Storytelling
  • Identity
  • Brand Guidelines


  • Data Capture
  • Dashboards
  • Key Metrics Tracking
  • Analytics

Media & Influencers

  • PR/Media Relations
  • Influencer Programs
  • Public Speaking
  • Analyst Relations

Customer Success

  • Onboarding
  • Cross/Upsell Programs
  • Customer Advisory Boards
  • Renewals
  • Customer Success Marketing
  • Customer Conferences
  • User Groups
  • Support Programs
  • References


  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Others
  • Forums
  • Blogs/Comments
  • Private Communities

Partners & Distribution

  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Distributor Programs
  • Reseller Programs
  • Affiliate Programs
  • App. Store Marketing
  • White Label and OEM Programs

Sales Strategy & Support

  • Sales Training
  • Sales Content Development
  • Call Scripts
  • Marketing/Sales Lead Flow
  • Target Account Programs
  • Lead Nurturing


  • Virality Features
  • In-Product Marketing
  • Pricing Strategy
  • Packages
  • Market Feedback

Market Insight

  • Personas
  • Market Tracking
  • Buying Process Insight
  • Competitive Intelligence

If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Even for products where some of these things can be removed (for example where you only sell direct, the “Partnerships and Distribution” things may not apply), it’s still a pretty long and diverse list of things.

Small wonder that great startup marketers are in short supply




  1. Great post! I think the lack of knowledge about what startup marketing or, for that matter, marketing involves scares many startup entrepreneurs. What they don’t realize is not only how much a startup marketer can bring to the table but the value they can provide to marketing, sales, product development, media outreach, etc. That said, I’m completely biased as someone who plays in the same sandbox as you but your post is bang on. cheers, Mark

  2. With a large team, this list can easily be divided up by departments, but with a small startup team, it can be a bit overwhelming. At, we created a very similar list with only a few people managing it all. Usually, they have enough time to work on one major project each day, then manage everything else. So for instance, Mondays can be used to generate content (blog posts, scheduling tweets, shares, etc.) It just makes it easier to tackle the list.

  3. OMG, almost TL,DR;
    also definitely need to consider the various “Stages” of a startup too. an early stage startup doing idea discovery would be overwhelmed and misdirected by looking at this list. this list is almost past the “Startup” stage and into a “growth” phase of a small business. nothing wrong with that, just think that most people would discount this as being too much to handle and walk away. prioritize and execute becomes an important skill of a “startup” marketer.

  4. Great explanation! Just stopped by and will stay for another notes, as this one was really awesome. Many founders should familiarize with it to avoid short-sightedness at the very beginning. I just thought that I’d be really great if you’d try to prepare a short, general list of some tools, SaaS products which help in setting up and/or maintaining exact activities. That would be very essential.


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