Brad Feld

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Why A New Startup Shouldn’t Have a Marketing Budget

Feb 25, 2011

As my partners at Foundry Group know, every time I hear the word “marketing” I throw up a little in my mouth. I hate traditional marketing and have always resisted it early in the life of a new company.

Fred Wilson has a phenomenal blog post up this morning titled Marketing. Among other things he demonstrates his mastery of marketing by sending me an email this morning pointing me to the post and saying that he’s channeling me knowing that it’ll likely inspire me to blog something about it and link to his post, increasing the chance that he’ll be the first Google result for the search “Marketing” (he’s already #6 for marketing VC).

When I think off all of the companies in our portfolio that are growing like crazy, they all spend money on marketing. However, it’s driven by an obsessive focus on the customer and the product, rather than a “marketing budget” or “marketing initiative.” And phrases like “social media marketing” and “marketing spend” rarely surface in discussions, and when they do I vomit a little in my mouth.

Of course marketing is a key part of the success of these companies. However, it’s wired into the DNA of the business, not an extra thing that is attached on, like it used to be in the 1980’s and 1990’s as “marketing”, “PR”, “marcomm”, etc. were a key part of every startup plan.

I’m currently in a world of conservation of words as I drive to finish the draft of “VC Financings: How To Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and VC” due to Wiley on Monday at 5:59am so I’m going to stop now, go brush my teeth again, and remind you to go read Fred’s post on Marketing right now.