Startup founders understand the importance of marketing, but the life of a startup founder is a changing landscape of measuring the needs of the product you’re building or raising the funds to build it. With all of the things they have to think about daily, startup founders simply don’t have the time to focus on their target audiences, marketing niches, marketing campaigns or a marketing strategy. So how does a startup company market its product? With an outsourced marketing department! Outsourcing your marketing not only takes that burden off of your shoulders, but it also ensures that your marketing efforts are given the attention and care they need from the beginning.
Unless you are in your 40's.
Primarily, the companies that would be ideal clients were one's that were entrepreneur-led, like me, and who had a dream to significantly grow their businesses and mostly be industry game-changers - although the latter wasn't exactly necessary.
In the early days, we had hurdles. The first was our own mind-set of being use to working with funded startups or medium to large corporations and shifting the way we interacted, engaged and nurtured our clients to success to cater for burgeoning SMB market.
It took time. More time than I ever imagined.
It wasn't until more than 5 years later that things took real shape and my original business plan came into play. There wasn't an obstacle that I didn't face and no amount of hours in the office seemed to help get Marketing Eye to the level that it needed to be to fulfil our business plan.
Then, somehow it became easier, and I had more time up my sleeve to get back to doing the things I should have done in the start and that is "working on the business, not in the business".
This is where my life became very exciting and every single time I achieved one more piece of my business plan, I had a real sense of accomplishment. Suddenly everything became easier and there was enough money in the coffers to do what we needed to do. No more watching cashflow to the level that we needed to do in the early stages, and more investment placed in areas of the business where it needed it most.
We had a lot of changes that we needed to do in the business. I had made a lot of mistakes particularly in the recruitment stakes and had senior management who were not well-suited to marketing, let alone a senior management position, that were steering the ship.
Hard decisions needed to be made and I was making them - with confidence.
Now it's a different story. I can safely say we are well on our way to realising our business goals and achieving everything that I set out to achieve in that very first business plan.
We are smarter, faster and better than any of our competitors, and on top of that, we do everything in-house with no outsourcing and have our own proprietary technology to back it up. Then of course, we have a company magazine which is really taking shape, and I love the fact that we are able to give our clients a voice.
Expanding to the US market has been very hard both personally and professionally. I have lost the last few years on planes, living in hotels and putting myself out there in very uncomfortable situations.
One of the big changes for Marketing Eye right now is to forget that we are a small business, and to act global. If you want to be global, you have to behave like a global company. That means business structures, management structures, planning sessions, meetings, reporting and so on.
The knowledge that you need to have to expand globally is exhausting. I still cannot get my head around all the different tax laws and government regulations of the US, preferring to hire it in rather than invest the time in expanding my knowledge in this area. Somehow I took for granted the fact that in Australia I seem to know more about tax and business structures than some of the outsourced companies I employ. Likewise, with law, it feels like I am telling the lawyers what to put in contracts and they are just taking orders. Both of which may mean that there needs to be a change, but nevertheless, this is how I feel.
Finding the right partners in overseas markets is imperative, but remember, the partner you have today may not be the same as the one that takes you to where you want to go. Make sure you learn as much as possible and give them every opportunity to be successful in what they do, powering your company to the next level.
Get across foreign exchange because currency can make or break you - and you just have to ask Billabong about that one.
Marketing in the US is different to Australia. It is far more aggressive, technology savvy and immediate, whereas in Australia, it is more relaxed.
This journey continues to be exciting, but it is important that if you are a global startup, beware that you don't act like one. Fake it until you make it and treat your company like an entrepreneurial corporation that is fast tracking global expansion.
Marketing Eye Atlanta has gone from startup to multi-million dollar company in over a year of operations. The company provides SMB's with an ability to have a qualified outsourced marketing department for an investment that any business that has opened their doors can afford.
The goal post has changed from the original business plan of 1,000 clients over 5 years. Our sales targets have been moved by 2 years and now the entire team is in a spin working out how they will achieve this goal in 3 years.
It's an ambitious task, but one that is doable and if something is too easy, then it won't be as rewarding. Stretching ourselves and pushing limits, dreaming big and opening doors, is something that will keep everyone in the game.
Many entrepreneurs can attest to having a dream or maybe just something on their bucket list that needs to be crossed off. I am one of those people. I have a dream but most importantly for me, an item on my bucket list that needs to be crossed off by a given time frame.
What once was a dirty word to me, the position of entrepreneur in a fast growing, dynamic company is the most exhilarating career choice I could have every made.
What other job has you jumping out of bed at 5am each morning, dressing in a matter of minutes and rushing off to the office to start your day? For that matter, what other job gives you the highs of an entrepreneur and the flexibility to be exactly who you are?
Today, I am reminded yet again why start-ups fail.
I met with a lovely couple a few weeks ago who wanted to open a retail store. They have a dream to work for themselves and the wife wanted to be in fashion.
They are new to the market and have never owned a fashion outlet, but they both have passion and are determined to do it.
I asked all the normal questions;