At the discovery stage of the startup development, marketing is a peripheral service. The main bulk of work rests on the shoulders of a product manager rather than marketers. So the task of product managers is to generate hypotheses and direct their team members towards resolving their current questions.
During this phase, the marketing team only needs to
- take part in developing a hypothesis,
- create an appealing package for it,
- ensure its verification.
But as a startup begins to grow, marketing becomes increasingly important. The closer the funding round, the more significant the contribution of marketers.
Marketing: Discovery stage vs delivery stage
Any business starts with discovery. It’s the time of intensive research. During this period, a team conducts CustDev interviews and looks for a problem-solution fit.
But when a startup gets funding, it reaches the delivery stage, also known as the growth stage. Growth largely depends on marketing and sales, so by this moment, a startup’s team needs to have a savvy product marketer with a solid strategy.
Product marketer is a multifunctional specialist working at the intersection of marketing, product development, customer success, and sales.
At the delivery stage, businesses typically have some financial goal that can be converted into a marketing goal — for example, a certain number of leads. Whereas at the discovery stage, a startup simply can’t have financial goals. In this phase, the team’s task is not to make a profit on the product but to find a product that they will be making a profit on in the scaling stage.
Then, startups at these two stages treat buyer’s persona in different ways. Namely, a new business only has a vague idea of what its leads are like, so interviews and surveys help with confirming characteristics of the target audience. However, at the stage of growth, a startup already knows its buyer persona and has a corresponding offer. So its task is to:
- Formulate the USP.
- Come up with a name for the offer.
- Design a logo for it.
- Create an appealing package (landing page, slide deck, visuals).
- Draft a targeting strategy and tactics.
To sum it up, the discovery stage is more labor-intensive because too many factors remain unknown. That’s why the marketing specialist can’t guarantee any results yet. Their mission is to support the startup’s team with ideas and validation.
On the other hand, companies on the stage of growth have more responsibility because money is involved. Marketers work predominantly with hard facts and numbers, so they are supposed to be proactive, assertive, and able to guarantee the results of their work.
Duties of a marketing professional at the delivery stage
As a product gets launched, new features are added to it. This impacts the developers’ communication with users. Marketing is synonymous with comprehensive communication — basically, marketers act as the mouthpiece of the product.
But there’s more to that: at the delivery stage, the marketing specialist determines the direction of team efforts. It’s because they have a deep understanding of which goals a startup needs to achieve. So marketers keep testing hypotheses and running HADI cycles, but with one crucial difference: along with developing customers as it was during the scoping stage, they are looking for ways to increase sales. Customer development comes second here.
Organizing the work of a marketer
Below, I’ll share with you how the work of product marketers is organized at Admitad Startups incubator.
- The product marketer and the product manager work hand in hand, collecting the information about the product and its target audience.
- After processing and adapting this data to the marketing needs, marketers forward it to the traffic and content managers, helping them decide on what copy to write, where to place ads, etc.
- Together with traffic and content managers, marketers describe characteristics and preferences of the target audience to the sales department. Plus, they explain how sales reps should talk with leads.
- Feedback from all these professionals gets back to the product manager. It means that they share what features of the product the audience didn’t like and suggest how to fix it.
I personally see this process as a busy junction where vehicles go back and forth between the marketing, sales, customer success, and product departments. But instead of traffic lights, product manager is the one regulating the whole junction.
When team members approach our marketers to get advice on a certain issue, their mission is to provide a step-by-step guide and keep an eye on how these instructions are followed. So the older the project, the more issues arise, and the more responsibility a product marketer has.
How many marketing specialists a startup needs
The scope of work that the marketing department needs to handle might vary considerably throughout a startup’s lifecycle. At the discovery stage, a startup normally needs to have a team that consists of at least two specialists:
- Product marketer
- Traffic manager
Traffic managers set up ads. Additionally, a content manager and a designer might also get involved. These professionals are continuously included in the work of the marketing department. Sometimes, they also attend all the discovery team meetings.
At the delivery stage, the department will be scaling in proportion to the allocated budget. The business will hire or outsource any number of professionals that is relevant to its current goals.
Why one professional can’t substitute the whole team
To cut down costs at the discovery stage, founders might want to ask one person to complete all the marketing tasks. But it would be unreasonable to do so.
Sure, a Jack of all trades might be able to set up a landing page using website builders, create advertising campaigns for social networks, and google anything they don’t know in between. Yet it would take them too much time to tick all the boxes. Also, the outcomes of their efforts will turn out substandard at best.
If needed, a startup can outsource nearly all the specialists it requires. Sometimes, it might be reasonable to outsource managers that will take care of targeting, content, and SMM. Even though the quality of their work might be not mind-blowing, it should be acceptable nevertheless. But you should never outsource a product marketer. This person is deeply involved in everything that goes on within the project. If the startup outsources this professional, they risk missing out on meaningful insider details. They might fail to properly convey the USP to the target audience.
At the discovery stage, the marketing department acts as a supporting structure and helps develop and validate hypotheses about the product. Whereas at the growth stage, marketers set quantitative goals for the sales team and overall play a much greater role.
Product marketers need to think and act strategically to ensure the consistent growth of the startup. They act as the mouthpiece of the product, establishing comprehensive communication with users.
At the discovery stage, the minimum marketing team consists of a product marketer and a traffic manager If the budget permits, a content manager and a designer might join them full-time — otherwise, these two professionals can be outsourced. Whereas at the growth stage, the marketing team begins to scale together with the startup, and its size depends on the company’s needs.