The cost of Marketing and getting media coverage

I always love to see Apple launch new products (iPad) or new updates (iPhone 4.0 SDK) and the quality of their presentation, message and media coverage they are getting. I don’t know a single company that would not love to have such a marketing machine. Many Entrepreneurs will just assume that this is only possible once you have a gazillion of dollars to spend on Marketing. But then again, if it were the case, every other Fortune 500 company would be just as good, right? While money is key in doing things at a greater scale, there are some basic fundamentals that every company can apply to get an excellent Marketing foundation – that will get just more impressive once you have more money to spend on product launches and marketing campaigns.

Marketing takes time

That is perhaps the most important point. No matter how some people think that marketing can be done in a quickie, it is far from the truth. First, you need to build a team and that does not end once you have hired the staff. As a rule of thumb, I assume that building a team and getting all the contributors to be working as a unified group takes at LEAST 6 months. It does not mean that nothing can be done in the meantime, but you can’t expect a team to function and work cohesively in less time than this (no matter how much you pout, scream, put your foot down and lose patience). I have a similar rule for tracking the impact of Marketing. Getting market traction and media coverage takes time, you won’t get it from a single event or even worse – expecting that one press release or a snazzy re-designed web site will do the trick. Consumers are bombarded with news and information; it takes time to imprint brand value and media awareness into the cerebral cortex…

Spikes vs. marketing buildup

Entrepreneurs (and their CFO) do not often see the hidden cost of doing sporadic Marketing activities. The amount of energy and time that you need to put in order to get a single event to move the needle on media coverage is borderline insane. But I still see companies every day still hoping that this will work for them. What startups don’t seem to understand is that marketing is all about buildup. This is just like collecting wine. Every time someone asks me how I got to build my wine collection (I have about 600 bottles), I simply answer that I just buy a little more than what I drink. After time, this builds up to bigger numbers. Now if I was trying to build the same wine collection over a small amount of time – the effort, pain and cost would be much higher than what it took doing it the right way (if you just won the lottery disregard this comment…). Think of marketing as a long term buildup that after a while (and this is at least beyond a yearly cycle), you will be doing more and more Marketing activities that combined will have a real impact over your business.

Planning and process
In order to get marketing buildup, you need to plan ahead and have simple, yet effective processes. Activities such as blogging, tweeting, writing customer stories & eBooks, and doing press releases all need to fit in a marketing timeline that allows you to successfully spread your message. Each element needs to have it’s own process where things are done on a regular basis and ultimately effortlessly. If each time you write something on your blog, it eats too much of your time, it will be very hard to continue contributing on a regular basis. Without a due process and regularity, you cannot yield more output from your Marketing team. As an example, I rarely take more than 30 min to write each of my blogs. Writing a few times a week then only takes me an hour (two at the most) to support my blogging effort. If it was more than this, I would not be able to sustain such a frequency…

Bottom line is that marketing is more of a process and takes longer than most entrepreneurs are willing to accept. Never underestimate the cost of building a team, and getting this Marketing buildup. Without patience, you will just simply keep changing your team every 6 months to a year, continuously re-working the foundation (and web site) and never achieve any kind of Marketing momentum and media coverage you desire.

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