Skip to main content

Are you the chief marketing officer (CMO) — formal or de facto — of a tech start-up going from seed to series A? If you are, then you need to switch your marketing up a gear and get more structured.

You have a serious marketing challenge on your hands. Typically, at this seed-to-series-A stage, start-ups face two common marketing pitfalls: 

  1. The first is simple: they don’t know how to market, so they just don’t do marketing and hope things will simply work out. They won’t.
  2. The second usually happens when you meet the wrong marketing agency. Rather than light touch, flexible marketing, the start-up is oversold an approach that’s too structured, too cumbersome and too expensive for its seed-to-series-A needs. 

Ok, if you’re not doing marketing at all, that’s fairly obvious. In which case, contact some specialist who can help today (hint: scroll down to the bottom of this article).  

But what about the second? Isn’t it good to go all in, for a belt-and-braces approach? In short: no. At best, investing right now in fully structured corporate branding and marketing is an expensive waste. At worst, marketing that isn’t optimised for start-ups can weigh your company down, hold it back, and make it harder for you to hit your targets. 

How can you recognise if you’re about to fall into this trap — and step back from the brink?

Is your start-up doing too much marketing, too young?

The marketing challenge for seed-to-series-A startups is doing the right things, and enough, to convince clients and investors, while also leaving your company room to evolve.  

For instance, let’s consider brand identity. For an established company, brand identity should consist of a highly structured visual brand identity; product positioning (based on price, benefit, customer persona etc.); audience segmentation — and more. 

But does an early-stage tech start-up need all this? No. At this stage, in almost every case, the company is still turning its idea and its technology into products and services. It’s still finding its audience and its market. And because of this, its identity is still evolving. 

If you spend a lot of money defining a brand identity too formally at this stage, you can absolutely end up with something that looks great, but… 

  • Most of the people you work with won’t know how to use it. 
  • Your company will outgrow the new brand identity quickly. 
  • You’ll waste a lot of money on something you can’t use for long. 

The same principle applies not just to brand identity, but to other elements of marketing: tone of voice, messaging guidelines, product marketing, sales enablement, thought leadership —and so on. 

For all these things, the needs of an early-stage tech start-up are very different to those of a more mature company.  

To find out more about the marketing investment maturity path, and the challenges associated with convincing investors, securing funding and hitting growth targets at each stage, check out our infographic.

How to avoid series-A marketing hell

So how do you avoid spending too much money on branding, marketing and communications that tie your company down, rather than helping it soar? 

The key is to ask yourself, is this — whether it’s brand identity, product positioning, partner marketing or something else — whatever you’re creating, right for your start-up at its current stage of maturity? And will it still be right in six months’ time? 

If the answer to the first question is ‘yes’ but the answer to the second is “no” or “not sure”, then you need to take real care crafting that element of your start-up marketing and communications. 

Identify those elements of branding, marketing and communications your start-up needs right now, to achieve its growth marketing, revenue and investment goals. 

Taking this lightweight, targeted approach to series-A marketing will: 

  • Give you the marketing tools and credibility you need to win over your series A investors.  
  • Equip you with the positioning, sales enablement, demand/marketing ops and other growth-marketing tools you need to win early adopters and hit revenue goals.  
  • Still leave you the room to grow and evolve, without forcing you to go back to the marketing drawing board. 

An agency with the right technology market expertise will work with you to identify exactly the marketing tools you do — and don’t — need for your stage in the start-up journey. It will help you develop exactly the mix of branding, marketing and communications your company needs to achieve its current goals and to give it a platform fit for future growth and evolution. 

The Rubicon Agency has three decades of b2b tech marketing experience working with both start-ups and some of the world’s leading established technology brands.

Get proposal

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.