\u201cWe\u2019re just finishing up the alpha version of the product and then we\u2019ll get down to dealing with the marketing\u201d.\nStartup founders, self-appointed company CEOs, are often left scratching their heads whenever it comes to the topic of marketing. They know it\u2019s important to their business, but have no idea what they should be doing first, nor how it ties in with their business.\nWith this in mind, I\u2019d like to set the record straight: \nNo marketing strategy is the equivalent of driving to a new destination without a map or satellite navigation. You may get lucky and get wherever you are headed, but nobody knows how long it will take you, nor at what cost.\nBusiness strategy vs. marketing strategy\nA sound marketing strategy is required to enable the business to reach its goals.\nIn its highly simplistic form, the CEO will \u2018present\u2019 their CMO with the company goals for the next 12 months. S\/he is then tasked with creating a strategic marketing plan detailing how those will be met. This works when you are the CEO of an established company, with at least one product that is being sold in a given market and need to expand. Not in a startup.\nThere is no separation of business goals and marketing strategy in the world of startups. There is no business without marketing. There is no VC funding without marketing.\nEven if you are lucky enough to raise funds based on a brilliant idea, your investors are going to want answers to the following questions\u2026. And answers come directly from a deep understanding of your market and strategic market planning.\nThe questions every startup founder needs to answer: \u00a0\u00a0\n\nWhich immediate problem does the product solve? (Market need)\nFor whom? (Target audience, the low hanging fruit first)\nHow large is the target audience? (Large enough to generate a decent pipeline?)\nHow much would they be willing to pay? (Enough for the company to profit?)\nHow do we reach them quickly and effectively? (Do we have enough money to execute this?)\nHow can we make this scale? (Can we grow quickly enough?)\nHow does my product do what it does? (Is this appealing?)\nWhat makes it different? (Its Unique Selling Proposition?)\nWho is the competition? (What are they up to? How large? What are their strengths and weaknesses?)\nHow are we different? (Why would a customer choose us over them?)\nWhat internal resources do we need to get this off the ground? (Is the right team in place?)\nWhat external resources do we need to get this off the ground? (More funding? Partners? Sales team?)\n\nEach of the above are strategic and have a direct impact on the business\u2019s ability to reach its goals. None can be answered intelligently without marketing insight.\u00a0\nA strategic marketing plan also acknowledges this:\n\u00a0There are no quick wins, no silver bullets and no guaranteed growth hacks. It\u2019s all about the winning strategy and its execution.\nConfusing strategic marketing with marketing communication\nWhile getting your message right is essential, strategic marketing is far more fundamental. Many founders confuse the need for strategic marketing (answering the questions above) with getting to grips with the messaging and communicating it through the channels. The communication is the visual or physical execution of marketing strategy, and the right time and place for that to happen will vary with each company.\nSo how can you market without marketing communication? Well, actually you can\u2019t, but you can greatly limit the amount of exposure and the tools required. Here\u2019s an example based \u00a0on countless encounters with startups of all stages. All you really need for your first beta customers or to present to your investors:\n\nCompany name and logo: Often created on Fiverr and therefore replaced down the line.\nPowerpoint presentations: One for prospects and another for investors. These do need to be well designed and tell your story but do not need to be perfect.\nWeb site: A one-pager is all you need, often the less you say here will be better for you.\n\nYou will need far more communication tools, content and social media, PR and promotion in the build up to breaking out of stealth mode and when you need to generate leads. Not before, so save your money.\nI will leave the big task of market education to another post as this will also greatly influence communication decisions.