Loretta PrencipeMonday, November 4, 2019
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:
- 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
- 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 Reporters want news, unpublished case studies, or commentary on trends and the “what’s next”.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.
- 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.
- 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.