brand advocacy, Brand Experience, branding, Business, startup

The Role of Marketing in The New Age Startup Ecosystem

‘Startup’ is no more just a cute, fancy word. It defines hustle, pain, grind, resolve, commitment, to name a few euphemistic synonyms. Enter the Startupland and you get to greet so many like-minded and disruptive entrepreneurs, college dropouts, ex-McKinsey/ Bain/ BCG consultants joining the fray, among others.

There is a cutting-edge competition, even for the prospective hires, who are so eager to join startups even before there is a product/ market fit established in their business ecosystem. Part of the reasons: competitive equity compensation, more freedom to put your skills to work, more collaborative feel, chances of working with the founders from the scratch (most of the times), and developing your entrepreneurial skills by the side.

One of the most definitive roles that founders are vying to fill is that of a marketer. Naturally, when they are A/B testing their product fit in the market – and beyond – they would need some newness in the way it is presented in front of their customers. Per the seminal book ‘Entering StartupLand’ written by Jeffrey Bussgang, there are 3 stages where this startups’ growth graph fits in: Jungle (pre-product/ market fit), Dirt Road (post-product/ market fit, pre-scaling sales and marketing), and Highway (post-scaling sales and marketing). And all these three stages/ profiles namely – build it, sell it, scale it – necessitate great marketing and growth champs – people who can take the startup to the next level of customer obsession, business success and people growth.

In order to maximize your startup’s evolution, here are 5 ways your marketing hire plays a crucial role to establish your startup’s presence in the market.

A startup marketer:

  • Creates your brand’s manifesto. Your marketing person is also the chief brand officer of your startup. He helps in building, developing and defining your company’s brand persona, values and culture that best resonates with your internal and external stakeholders. The foundational principles and brand philosophies are created by this person after seeking the management/ founders buy-in. And this brand manifesto is an independent staple, regardless of how your marketing complex evolves over a period of time but is as relevant as the founders think and act as per what is outlined in this branding manual/ document.


  • Identifies your buyer persona(s). Subsequent to the first point, your startup brand marketer determines the relevant buyer persona(s) – semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers based on market research and real data – as per HubSpot. Naturally, a brand is created and marketed to a specific set of audience aka your potential customers – and their (positive) brand perception adds a layer of confidence to the marketer’s branding approach. Plus: the marketer further validates the brand effectiveness by identifying what kind of customers are going to be using your product/ solution in the market.


  • Steers you clear with the product roadmap and adoption for different stakeholders. The marketing person plays a crucial role in planning and strategizing the product roadmap. [It] is created to cater to different stakeholders in/ of your startup – be it for engineers, sales, customers, prospects. Your product roadmap communicates the strategic direction for your product. And so, in the first few stages of your startup’s evolution, your startup marketing person/ team aligns your internal stakeholders towards common growth KPIs for product performance based on your audience.


  • Elevates your customer experience journey. Every customer counts. Every customer experience brings value, which, then, is engineered to improve the buyer’s journey. That’s where marketing is constantly analyzing what customers are saying about your product/ solution. By studying the details/ nuances of how your brand’s emotions and functional benefits are communicated to your customers and how they feel about your offering, the marketer strives to improve the overall customer experience. Further, once the customer experience enhances, your few customer success stories – a repertoire of customers who help you in cross-selling and upselling, thereby making a business case of retention – come to fruition.


  • Hires and develops your startup’s first few brand custodians – and content. The first product ninja, growth hacker, brand specialist, content marketer – all these new roles are key to build brand advocacy for your startup. And all of the hiring responsibilities rest upon the marketer- especially when the marketing budgets are not that pronounced, new ways of showcasing your startup’s product/ solution capabilities fall under the aegis of the marketer’s work. Which is why, creating content is the most [cost] effective way of meeting customer acquisition and customer retention goals, especially when you are a new-hatched startup.


Over to you.

Hello founder(s), what does the role of marketing mean to you and your startup(s)?


Brand Experience, branding

Don’t Always Differentiate; Be Better

You have been hearing a lot of business-speak on product differentiation – to stand out from the competition and being able to serve your customers via leveraging your key product/ business differentiators.

While I am not going to suppress any of the ‘differentiation proposition bit of marketing’ – and it holds weight by a large margin even in today’s marketing realm. But with every company bringing in the nearly same set of value proposition, how do you match up to what your customers are expecting from your brand?

The book – Simply Better – communicates the message clearly: focus on being better than always being able to differentiate. Your customers are not looking for your USPs; they are looking for category benefits – a reel of benefits that fit in with their overall general expectations of making you their autopilot choice.

And although differentiation never dies – you, your product and your market have only ‘your’ kind of business impact on your customers. However, the better way to transition broadly in the minds of your customers from mere difference to value impact is to be simply better than your competitors.

And so, how do you get better?

  • Focus on your customers’ experience – their buying journey to ultimate advocacy for the brand they’d like to be associated with
  • Bring in the consummate set of benefits that your customers implicitly look out for
  • Work on your business marketing fundamentals – for the better use of the word, basic – that provide you with your customers’ purchase intent and psychology, and then target their moments of maximum emotional impact (as mentioned in the book, The Growth Director’s Secret)
  • Understand your competition – what are they doing better than you – and get intense with your set of basic benefits that you can offer to your customer
  • Showcase your category benefits with exceptionally useful content that your audience like to consume, to help them make the right decision. Your customer journey should be your content journey: that eventually builds a ‘better’ perception of your brand as compared to your competitors

Try being better; it will help!


Business, Entrepreneur, Personal Brand, Personal Branding: You and more, Public relations, Self marketing

4 Ways You Can Thrive In Your Marketing Job As A Personal Branding Expert


This is the best mix – marketing and personal branding. Many of you [and me, of course] would love this title and the very perks that come along with this badge of honor.

Some ready benefits: you love the level-playing creativity that gradually unfolds with time; there is a certain mandate – be it PR, digital or social – that you are responsible for, which is pleasantly challenging; and you love the results part even more. (Who wouldn’t want to get business for the company when the stakes – both financial and personnel – are so high?)

While the positives are fairly more, let’s not overlook the challenges that come along with it that need a thorough attention, too. Let alone other countries, if you look at the number of marketing jobs in the Big Apple (NY) – there are an ample number there, already. The competition is only toughening to hire the best candidate who has a heady mix of knowledge, learning agility, branding, and excellent communication skills. (Well, other skills may vary based on the role and its set of requirements; these are the essentials, however.)

So if you have this job, savor it, totally!

With the changing marketing landscape, marketing veterans have to not only grow their company’s brand but also leverage the platforms and tools that best amplify their respective personal brand, too. After all, having your own well-established personal brand matters even more – given the online cacophony of zillion voices waiting to be attended to. You have to play your A game every day to stand out from the pack in your realm – and give tons and tons of value packed information/ content to able to differentiate yourself. (That’s hard work, I know – but worth every shot.)

Both the roles [your marketing job and being a personal branding expert] are equally important to have a more social impact, better visibility, and get more customers for the company – and for yourself, too.

And so, here are a few ways you can grow in your marketing role whilst also having a likable personal brand. Let’s dig in.


  • Synthesize your branding efforts. While it’s sometimes agreeable to keep your personal brand separate from your professional brand, but somewhere you need to reach an anchor point where you would have to align your branding efforts with your overarching business goal. So let’s say you have a marketing or a branding blog, you can start putting the links of your personal blog wherever you write professionally – be it for the company blog or other relevant publications. Your professional brand equity grows when you marry both the roles and use them interchangeably.


  • Speak at your company’s events. The best part of growing a personal brand? You have your own set of followers who believe in your purpose. Why not indulge in occasions where you would have to introduce yourself as a marketing head and also chime in with your own branding spiel? Events get the best version of you, as you know the best of both worlds and have a stellar brand narrative (from the company brand and personal brand standpoint). Once people notice that you are participative in such events, potential customers reach out to you for your openness, understanding of your role, and eloquence.


  • Keep learning. When you are in marketing (especially), you need to have a voracious reading appetite. Lay your eyes on the latest marketing books and read it; if not cover to cover, then absorb the chapters that are more informative and rich in content and value. Also, read books from other genres: that way it will make you more creative and help you connect the dots when you are trying to come up with a marketing strategy presentation for your coworkers. Reading helps you co-relate things in general and helps you in coming up with brilliant ideas for campaigns, creative, and business writing as well. That way, you can be a part of many seminars, webinars and brainstorming sessions where your opinion might just be the one what people are looking for. By keeping up with the latest marketing trends, you can apply that knowledge to growing your personal brand, too.


  • Brand your company holistically. Being a branding expert can help you build thought leadership for the company you are working for. The founders and CEO can benefit from your blogging, vlogging, and social media activities. This, in turn, builds their personal brand and gives them the industry recognition, too. What’s more? Branding the company’s employees fosters a participative culture where each employee’s brand is contributing towards the greater brand purpose of the company. For example, each employee from a said division can contribute his/ her ideas for the company blog or other intellectual properties, opine on the new trends that the company can leverage to grow its brand, holistically.

While these points may sound way too common, but they define your brand in its entirety; helping you leverage the best possible platforms to connect with your customers and coworkers.

How is your marketing job coming along together with growing your personal brand?

What challenges are you facing in this context?