Setting a marketing budget before defining a marketing plan is like putting the cart before the horse. Although there are plenty of online resources that can help you get a general idea of how much your marketing budget should be, preparing a marketing road map should come first. Before creating a detailed marketing plan including budget allocation to the various channels, deadlines, owner and more, there are 5 things to consider:
I’m a news junkie. I have IFTTT recipes sending headlines to my inbox all day long, AP and SmartNews alerts continuously buzzing my phone and a steady stream of newsletters and forwarded links from friends. If you want to know your industry and fully understand how your brand strategy fits in the business landscape, then you need to know what’s going on.
From M&A announcements to memes that point toward Millennial trends, it all matters on some level… and half the time your job is to sort through the fluff to get to some meaning.
A quick way to cut through the noise is to find your trusted sources. I discovered early on that following reporters on Twitter (not necessarily news outlets) has three great benefits: 1) they surface the news that matters, 2) they offer personal, critical opinions you won’t find in the news story itself, and 3) they start discussions with other reporters and readers, providing really valuable insight.
It’s obvious why you should care about what they have to say, but over time you’ll get to know them as people, too. Their personalities, senses of humor, editorial interests and opinions - these will all come into play when you finally have a strong startup story to pitch. Reaching out to a reporter with a succinct, relevant story that shows you understand their work and have given considerable thought to how your own company fits into the larger landscape is the only way to do it. That’s especially true if you’re if you’re in tech.
Here’s a starter list to help get you going. Make sure to check out the bonus newsletters at the end as well. I highly recommend subscribing to those.
Erin Griffith, Fortune (@eringriffith)
A stream of consciousness by one of the best minds in tech journalism. You will laugh, you will contemplate, you will steal her business jokes and repeat them at parties. P.S. She has an awesome newsletter called Erin Griffith's Tribute to the Heroes of Business and I usually keep it in my inbox for weeks so I can go back and click on every article she references.
Farhad Manjoo, New York Times (@fmanjoo)
Farhad's analysis is unparalleled and he often shares important stories written by non-NYT writers, which I always find valuable. Plus he has a great sense of humor, both about business and personal life.
Jeremy Kahn, Bloomberg (@jeremyakahn)
Jeremy is a London based technology writer for Bloomberg and his twitter feed is a solid stream of European and US tech news worth reading. While every tech writer has an international perspective, Jeremy has a close eye on the foreign news you should be paying attention to.
Seth Fiegerman, CNN (@sfiegerman)
Seth covers the big stories, but often with a cultural angle. Like many on this list, his personal sense of humor makes it easy to tie everything together.
Harry McCracken, Fast Company (@harrymccracken)
Over the years, Harry has been an instrumental voice at a number of major tech publications. Now as Technology Editor for Fast Company, he offers a wealth of insight wrapped in lighthearted humor.
BONUS: Four awesome newsletters I always open
If you want to have a good understanding of the VC landscape, the tech startup world and what VCs are thinking about in general, sign up for these.
I heart Anand Sanwal (@asanwal). He’s CEO and Co-founder of CB Insights, and every one of his newsletters is illuminating, as well as entertaining. You’ll get macro/ micro views on a wide range of industries delivered in plain language, along with commentary on rumors, news and trends.
When a big deal goes down, I check Dan Primack’s analysis first (@danprimack). He asks (and answers) the same questions you have, and he digs deep. What I like most about him is that despite being so embedded in the VC community, he’s incredibly objective. It’s not uncommon for him to point out systemic issues in the space, and I trust his opinion.
Easily one of the best VC blogs I’ve ever read. Every post features a founder, expert or topic that goes beyond the superficial. These are longform pieces that uncover truths about culture, pricing strategy, management design and fundraising. First Round truly uses their blog to reinvest knowledge in the startup community.
An obvious inclusion in the list, but what I like about this one is that they share what they’re reading themselves - and it’s not the obvious articles or publications.
One More Thing
Check out Best Pitch I Ever Got. This is my own blog, and it’s my love letter to the startup community. We basically interview prominent journalists and ask them how they like to be pitched. That way you can learn how to do your own PR and put your limited money toward sales or product development instead.
Sure, one day when you’re big enough a PR agency will be able to add value, but for all you seed stage folks, see if you can’t do it in-house first. Your brand story is the most important message you will ever have to convey, so you might as well perfect it now.