Team members reviewing a marketing strategy

Marketing insights to grow your startup 

In all the many different tasks, schedules, and challenges that a startup has to contend with, sometimes marketing takes a back seat. However, the core fact is that no matter how innovative, products don’t sell themselves. 

Management guru Peter Drucker believed business only had two primary functions: marketing and innovation. “Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs,” he wrote, “Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” 

For your startup, marketing cannot be an afterthought. Entrepreneurs are full of innovation, but the real competitive advantage comes with world-class marketing. It is too significant of a risk to have poor (or non-existent) marketing at the start. 

The most excellent commercial product will fail without one crucial thing: consumers. Poor, misplaced, or ill-timed marketing is like setting fire to a house while you’re trying to build it. By relegating marketing to an afterthought, you’re inviting these ghosts to haunt your startup, no matter where you are in the process. 

Missed Opportunities: You get one chance to make a first impression on a potential consumer. If that first one doesn’t connect, you’ll need multiple additional impressions to overcome it—and you’re highly unlikely to get those. In a world awash with messaging, your new product’s opportunity is very small. Every message and impression matters immensely. In the world of startups, there are no do-overs. 

Isolation: More than just purchasing an item for its usefulness, consumers today want to belong to something bigger, more meaningful, and more productive. There’s a larger narrative to the world, and your product could be the way people connect to it. But only if you’re targeting the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Otherwise, both your brand and your customers will be isolated.

Waste: The warehouse all filled up, and no place to move product. Even in on-demand or direct-to-consumer scenarios, marketing misfires can mean wasted products, resources, and hours. The adage “waste not, want not” certainly rings true—especially in the margin-thin world of startups. 

Failure: We don’t like to admit it, but it’s a real possibility. Ineffective marketing means low sales. Before long, that means more fundraising (complicated with low sales reports) or closing up shop for good. For startups, marketing can be the difference between thriving and failing.

So what does world-class marketing look like?

Innovation alone will never sustain a company. It must always be paired with effective, world-class marketing. A life-changing product that no one knows about can’t make a splash on its own merits. 

We all know that world-class marketing means far more than starting an Instagram page or running a few giveaways to some Facebook followers. But effective marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. You’ve probably bumped into it without even realizing it.

World-class marketing always does two things: builds relationships and elevates your brand.

World-class marketing won’t just inform the public of your new product or design; it will form a community of your audience (some may not even be customers yet). A marketing investment that creates a shared identity around your product or promise is always the best investment you can make. Customers will make a one-time purchase, while community members will come back time and time again, even becoming mini-marketers for your brand. 

Like human relationships, developing a community takes time. It means finding ways to interact with, give to, and engage with your audience. It’s a slow burn, but it’s the difference between trying to sell someone a product and getting them to join a movement. 

The world is drowning in promotion. Even with the best efforts, your brand can get lost in the crowd. World-class marketing will help elevate your brand above its competitors. There are so many brands and products today that solve the same problem through marginally different methods. To rise above the fray, you must ask yourself what sets your product above the competition. If you know the answer, that’s the angle you market. If you don’t, you need more time at the drawing board for an innovative idea.

Marketing from day one

As an entrepreneur, you must think about marketing from the beginning. If you wait until the product is perfected, funding is secured, or you’ve finished the accelerator, you could find yourself unable to make up for lost time and lost impressions. 

No matter where you are on the startup spectrum, the questions below can be a great starting point for necessary marketing conversations.

  • Does this product create a new market or expand an existing one? How so?
  • What do we know about our target customer base? How do they spend their time and resources? What are their values?
  • Does this product intersect with a specific need, want, value, or life stage?
  • Does this product provide an effective solution to a problem? How can it be better?
  • Is this product a complete customer solution, or is it only a step? Should that change?
  • What is the tangible value of this product (meaning, what does it do for a consumer)?
  • What is the intangible value of this product (meaning, what is the emotion or deeper-felt need it can address)?
  • What would a community built around this brand or product look like? How can we most effectively reach them?
  • Is this product customer-centric? How can it be more so?
  • Is this a product or a solution?

The secret sauce of P&G Ventures

At P&G Ventures, we’re an early-stage startup studio within Procter & Gamble, we know the advantage that world-class marketing brings. As we partner with entrepreneurs looking to solve consumer problems in surprising and delightful ways, marketing is always part of the conversation. 

Over our nearly 200-year history, we’ve learned a lot about reaching consumers and standing out from the crowd, creating a community, and showcasing a product’s viability—and we’re ready to make that expertise work for you.

We’ll work together to target, reach, and grow your audience, ensuring your innovative product doesn’t get lost in an already swollen marketplace. At P&G Ventures, we believe in your product, and while you keep innovating, we’ll keep marketing. We call that a win-win.

What’s the competitive advantage of world-class marketing? Building an audience that will not only consume but champion your business. Creating a solution in a world full of products. Standing above the crowd of your competitors. It means sales, a widening employee base, and scaling and growing your business. World-class marketing is the difference between barely getting by and overwhelming success. 

When innovation and marketing work in tandem in the business world, they can change everything. So, what can we change together?

For more information on P&G Ventures, visit