SproutUp Toronto: How to Avoid Common Startup Marketing Problems

Courtesy of www.mediaintoronto.com

On May 22nd, I attended my very first SproutUp event here in Toronto, held at The Courthouse. Sprout Up, hosted by Sprouter, is a monthly event for forward-thinking entrepreneurs to gather, share ideas, and network. The featured guest speaker at this exciting entrepreneur event was Sean Ellis (@SeanEllis), Founder and CEO of CatchFree. Sean addressed the topic of typical start-up marketing mistakes and offered clear, honest and easy to apply advice to help avoid these problems. Below are some of the key take away points that I wanted to share from Sean’s presentation for anyone who missed it:


It’s important to consider if it’s too early to tackle marketing. Without experience in marketing, start-ups may not be familiar with how or what to measure for their marketing efforts. In this scenario, precious data is being lost that may indicate how to improve marketing and help grow the business. Alternatively, some start-ups may become too focused on their numbers rather than the customer. It sounds like a simple notion to always remember the customer but Sean discussed the importance of not getting lost in the numbers when trying to build a relationship with your customers.

Balance between creativity and analysis is a strong combination.It is important to have a healthy balance between analysis and creativity for any company. While analysis can offer key decision making information and could be used to identify the need for change, a good balance of creativity will help to keep your company attractive to customers and set you apart from competitors. Sean pointed out that creativity can help any start-up compete against the big budget of big companies.

Finding product/market fit is a major component to success. A major point stressed by Sean was the absolute need to establish product/market fit to achieve substantial and rapid growth. He defined achieving product/market fit as obtaining a large group of people that must have your product. A failure to do so may result in the death of the business.

Seek to understand your key users to encourage and shape the growth of your business. Tied to product/market fit, you must understand the users who must have your product/service. It’s important to ask early users how they would feel if they could no longer use this product/service. The best ideas come from direct engagement with customers. This feedback will help you identify the key benefits of your product/service and allow you to better shape your value proposition.

Once you have achieved a marketing fit, continue to strive for efficiency. Growth in customers and cash flow will allow you to do more with your business than in the past.However, staying efficient in your operations will help to carry significant cost savings into the future as you grow and allow for an even healthier company.

Look to scale your growth. Sean encouraged experimenting with new channels over time in order to support continued growth but listed three key points to keep in mind. The activities taken to access the new channel should be scalable, repeatable, and offer return on investment. These considerationswill allow you to evaluate different channels for entry consideration and prevent wasting both time and effort on ill-fit channels.

Hearing from guest speaker Sean Ellis provided me the chance to gain valuable insight on how to better execute a start-up by avoiding some common mistakes. If you would like more helpful start-up or small business tips be sure to follow us on twitter.




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