5 Realities of Startup Life that Apply to Tech Marketing

Entrepreneur contributor Craig Cincotta recently published a great article on the 5 realities of startup life. Interestingly, they apply to tech marketing pretty well, too.

1. Do more with less.

Face it. Marketers rarely have a big enough budget, whether we work for a scrappy startup or an established enterprise. There’s always the elusive next best thing that promises incredible results—if we can find the moolah. But the best strategy for tech marketers is do more with less.

Why? Tech isn’t static. (Isn’t that why we love it?) Great tech is responsive, timely, and iterative. That means your marketing plan needs to be just as flexible. And the less you have to create and manage, the more responsive, timely and iterative your marketing can be.

Start by identifying the tactics that work best for you. HubSpot recommends a streamlined marketing plan for SaaS startups in particular: content marketing, product marketing and evangelism. This is a great place to start for a lot of tech marketers because it corresponds to the three basic stages of a buying cycle: awareness, choice and referral.

As you add more tactics, think about how you can assess if they’re working hard enough for you and put that plan in place from the beginning. That way you can identify the 20% of tactics that get you 80% of your results.

2. Exit your comfort zone.

Most tech isn’t about being comfortable. It’s about shifting the status quo with a new way to get things done.

Exiting your comfort zone means trying new things. (Not all the new things. Ain’t nobody got time for that.) Instead, be selective. Your time is valuable. Look for opportunities that might align well with your marketing objectives. Or platforms that gives prospects a new way to engage with your content. Don’t overlook things that just spark your interest. You’re more likely to make a success of a new content marketing opportunity if you’re excited about exploring it.

Tried and true only gets you so far. The spirit of experimentation is at the heart of great tech—and great tech marketing.

3. Be prepared to fail fast.

Failing is the second half of exiting your comfort zone. Because, at some point, we all get spanked. It happens. Get comfortable with it. Because the more you fail, the closer you get to a breakthrough.

I’ve heard the arguments. “There’s no room to fail. We’ve got objectives we’re responsible for meeting. Everyone’s looking at us to drive ______ (growth, market share, bottom line, etc.).”

In tech marketing—just like tech itself—there’s always room to fail. The key is to create room for yourself to experiment. Capitalize on and optimize the things that are working hard for you so they work even harder. That’s your safety net. Once good things are great, experiment with something new. Be invested but objective. Give your efforts time to stick. But don’t be afraid to call if off if you feel it’s not working.

4. Fall in love with ambiguity.

Marketing is an ambiguous undertaking by nature. Results rarely come guaranteed. Success can just as easily be attributed to experimentation or persistence. Something that killed last quarter may fall flat tomorrow. Change is a constant. Complexity increases daily.

That’s the awesome challenge of marketing: the thrill of the chase. Many marketers love this—thrive on it, even. But if that’s not you, that’s okay. You can learn to get comfortable with ambiguity.

Blogger Colin Shaw’s tips for how to thrive in ambiguity give us a good road map, especially tech marketers. Suppress your urge to control. Get comfortable taking action without the complete picture. Work on flexibility and dealing with uncertainty. Learn that wrong decisions are better than no decisions. Listen to your gut. Listen to advice. Trust yourself.

5. Be patient.

Great marketing (especially content marketing) doesn’t happen overnight. According to HubSpot, takes anywhere from six to nine months to start seeing results on inbound marketing.

If you stick with it (always with an eye on optimization), things will happen. Stay motivated and positive. Negativity can cloud your ability to spot opportunities. Be consistent and invested. Show up. Shift perspectives. Change conversations. Celebrate small successes. Because, at the end of the day, great marketing is about delighting your prospect. And that takes time.