Thought Leadership

By Loretta Prencipe, Director, Makovsky Washington DC Office

Let’s be blunt: start-ups without a strategic marketing and communications plan are wasting their time, money, and potential. Having been there in the trenches with enviro-tech and clean energy
start-ups, I have more than a few war stories to share about what does – and doesn’t – work.

Ultimately, these stories all boil down to one thing: Start-ups run lean; run fast and run hard. And that means (all too often) the CEO won’t commit the time to invest in developing a plan.

Without a plan, many start-ups move from one great marketing idea to the next, in pursuit of the best position. I’ve seen many promising companies flounder here, leaving behind a trail of unfinished communications campaigns that show no measurable results and that won’t fill the sales pipeline.

The CEO pressures the team for more results, then changes direction again – a decision usually based upon a whim and not data-driven insights. The supporting team, often understandably frustrated, also shifts gears. It’s a vicious and time-consuming little cycle with a negative impact on company morale and its bottom line.

The successful start-up takes a different approach.

At a successful start-up, the team invests in building a strategic marketing and communications plan designed to layer over a well-defined sales road map. That road map is built upon solid data-driven research on some fundamental elements: (1) a defined sales target persona and (2) deep understanding of how their competition goes to market. All of this takes time and resources – something that is in short supply inside a start-up.

The basics of every strategic communications plan include the following: messaging, brand persona, the designation of key spokespeople, and setting measurable goals.These basics are
crucial to ensuring that your voice is heard and recognized.

Without a communications strategy in place, the start-up is guessing about what will work. Without a plan, you’re wasting resources. Here’s the how and why:

  1. Prospects: You’re not reaching your sales targets and stakeholders. Or, if you are, you’re spot on with the right messaging or communications cadence and they see you as wasting
    their time.
  2. Media: You’re wasting opportunities with media. Reporters want news, unpublished case studies, or commentary on trends and the “what’s next”. They’re not going to waste more than one call with a company that doesn’t have a clear vision on how its industry and customers are changing. I can’t say enough about this. I’ve seen case studies published in trade media prompt hundreds of in-bound queries from prospects.
  3. Investors: KPIs matter. Among other things, current and potential investors want to see that you know how to deliver marcom results. It’s a hard pass for companies that churn
    funds and can’t deliver on marcom KPIs.
  4. Talent: Your employees and prospects want to be excited to come to work. They want their friends and families to understand that they’re pouring their time, energy and emotions in a place that has potential and is worth all their time and efforts. A big part of that will come through presence – both in earned media and social media.

Before the decision is made to change strategy and tactics again, take a step back and ask: is my company taking the smartest approach to self-promotion?

If not, let’s get started.

thought leadership



228 East 45th Street
New York, NY 10017
[email protected]


1101 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 450
Washington, DC 20036
[email protected]