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5 Rules for successful startup marketing advisory

After about 15 years as a B2B startup CMO I decided to launch One20 to provide value-driven startup advisory services to startups. So let me explain why I see a need for a new approach and how I define the rules for value-driven startup advisory services:

  1. Startups need to see value, quickly

  2. Startups don't care about gift-wrapping

  3. Make sure you're relevant

  4. Understand the startup's audience and value proposition

  5. No real-life experience, no value for startups


Startups need to see value, quickly

I usually tell suppliers (web agencies, design agencies, freelancers, event organizers, analysts, etc) that they're wrong in thinking that the difference between working for startups and larger companies is simply that startups have less money. That's straight out false. Startups can spend good money, very fast. The real difference between working for startups and working for larger groups is rather that startups need to be reassured that their investment will provide value for money. In other words: you need to build trust.

If you want to work for startups, then focus on what you can do to quickly show the value of what you provide. As long as you truly provide value, you're fine. Think about your plan for then scaling that afterwards.


Startups don't care about gift-wrapping

Many suppliers put great effort into the way they sell and deliver their services. In many cases they are right to do so, but man have I seen counter examples of it going way too far.

If there's one thing a startup cares more about than money and market traction, it's time. You cannot buy time, but you can waste it. Don't waste a startup's time - it's a deadly sin.

So when you engage with a startup, be straight-forward. Cut the crap and talk straight and honest.


Make sure you're relevant

It's better to honestly present your limitations than trying to oversell your value and then fail. This will lead to the before mentioned sin of wasting time as well as wasting resources.

If you do want to have a broad offer, then find partners you can work with or provide intros to.

It builds confidence when you honestly define your limitations.


Understand the startup's audience and value proposition

It's cool that you're a super content editor, but if you've only written about beauty products, then you probably wont be a super content editor for a computer vision machine learning PaaS startup and vice versa.

If you're an expert in demand gen and you've only worked for well known B2C brands, then you might not be an expert in demand gen for a B2B IoT startup running strict account based marketing.

So understand the business you're selling to and ensure that you can deliver the value you offer.


No real-life experience, no value for startups

You just don't get startup marketing experience from books, podcasts or Clubhouse.

Startup experience comes from blood sweat and tears and doing the job. If you've never worked in startup marketing then you'll never understand the mechanics. Some things just work differently in real life than in blog articles.




Want to have an honest, informed conversation with One20?

So many suppliers are doing the job wrong, which was the biggest obstacle for me starting One20. I don't want the company to be yet another agency or consultancy. I want it to truly provide value and not waste time. I want to see companies and its teams succeed.

I would love to learn about your project and give you my honest opinion on what your marketing strategy should be, whether it includes me or not. Drop me a message here and we'll have an honest and informed conversation that wont waste your time!

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