“If You Build It, They Will Come” Is Horrible Advice

Startup founders are the adventurous heroes of the business world. The men and women like you who create the world’s constantly growing array of life-changing products and services deserve to be commended for their vision, hard work, and ability to take action on something as simple as an idea. Entrepreneurs are well known for their strengths in those areas, but many have one great weakness: enamored with the beautiful thing they’re creating for mankind, they assume that their target audience will beat the tar out of one another racing to get to it first. Marketing? It’s an afterthought. This product, this technology, this software is so great, we won’t even need to market it, they assume. And even if we do have to run some ads, it won’t be a big deal. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

One of the most fundamental and common mistakes made by startup founders is to fall into hubris regarding the saleability and inherent virality of their product. We’ve talked to, worked with, and read about a number of startups which designed something valuable to their target audience but laid no plans to effectively market it. Even worse, many founders don’t save much or any of their initial capital for marketing purposes, assuming that every bit of cash needs to go toward product development. 

This is a truly unfortunate error! Too many founders are just plain wrong in their assumption that sales will be a breeze, and are disappointed and frustrated to find that generating even moderate interest is actually quite challenging. This doesn’t necessarily say anything bad about the product or service either; it’s simply a reality of our highly competitive marketplace. Founders who neglect marketing in the early stages are in most cases making things harder for themselves and slowing down their growth cycle to save a little money.

There’s a better way: marketing and product development should in fact go hand in hand, and each one should inform the other. Get your marketing moving as soon as you’re in production. Even if you’re just informing potential customers about something new in development, start putting it out there. Social media, blog posts, and PR opportunities are a great place to start. Test small amounts of capital on affordable channels to see where the interest lies, but don’t neglect to tell your audience about what you’re building. When it’s time to release your first iteration, you’ll already have some name recognition in your niche, and quite possibly your first round of customers. 

Doing this gives you an immediate edge over competitors. Your first customers, already excited about your product, can try what you’ve created and provide feedback quickly. As your company develops the next iteration, you’ll be able to factor in those comments from your growing audience and continue to strengthen your marketing strategies as well. By planning your marketing strategies and product in tandem, you’re avoiding one ugly and common problem: a “finished”, ready-to-go product with no customers lined up. Startups in this position struggle with early sales, and have to pause further production to launch marketing campaigns so they can build further. That doesn’t have to be you! Prioritize marketing early, and you’ll set yourself up for success. 

Are you a startup founder who wants to get your digital marketing in gear but you’re not sure where to begin? The Trajex team can help you put together a winning plan. Schedule a free consultation below!

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Tyler Smith
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