Startups: Here’s why you should insist on a 360° approach from your marketing agency

About G2M team

We offer full stack marketing execution for Israeli tech companies going global. Our services include PR, content marketing, social, paid media and more. Learn more

“The whole is more than the sum of its parts” – Aristotle

The 360° approach to marketing

The 360° approach to marketing is becoming popular due to its exceptional results. It means managing and executing multiple marketing activities in complete, parallel, synchronization: Online and offline campaigns, qualitative and quantitative activities. The important thing is that these activities accompany prospects in each step of their buying journey.

Remember the integrated marketing communication hype quite a few years back? The 360° approach is similar in concept, but different in that it’s leveraging technological advancements and tools that enable us to respond and fine-tune our activities in real-time, which was not possible before.

Multiple tactics are employed together: Content marketing, paid campaigns, PR, growth hacking, marketing automation, acquisition, email marketing, social media marketing, offline campaigns, thought leadership, events, tracking and analytics etc.

Results are driven by multiple touch points with potential prospects, each employed at the right time with the optimal content or message, until the event that marketers wish for, happens: a viewer becomes a prospect, a qualified lead, a business opportunity… you know the metrics.  

But, for this to happen, coordination needs to be seamless, and that’s a huge challenge. Also  when significant activities are missing from the blend, the results can be dramatically impacted.

Corporations manage these challenges by aligning endless resources and hiring the most experienced marketers in their industry to achieve this 360° marketing mission. They also use advanced and expensive martech solutions to support them.

Startups, on the other hand, don’t have these luxuries. They are limited in so many ways. But in order to survive and excel, they too should follow the 360° approach, even more so than corporates if you ask me. So, they need to find other ways to embrace this approach and get their hands on “full stack startup marketing services”.

In this post, I would like to share my 2 cents as to why this 360° model is the only one that lean startups should follow when working with marketing agencies (or marketing internally), and how 360° marketing agencies offer a completely different service, when compared to “traditional marketing agencies”; a model that is much more relevant to startup needs.

Startup marketing and the 360° approach

The word “startup” means different things to different people. Some entrepreneurs insist that their company is no longer a “startup” as it already sells its products and is in the process of scaling up their operation. Others describe their company as a “grossing startup” though they already employ hundreds of people and run sales at scale.

Before we continue, I think it’s important to explain exactly what I mean when I say startup, so we’re all on the same page. For this discussion, let’s agree that a startup is an innovative, disruptive organization that is characterised by a small team where each team member has several responsibilities (you know… the CEO is also running global sales and HR, VP product is also the CMO, etc.), and the organization is working with a relatively small and limited budget. It is still in guerilla mode and runs things on an opportunistic rather than methodic basis, and is not yet focused on profitability but rather on looking for proven and stable benchmarks for revenues / sales potential / market fit. The way to achieve these proof points is usually via several pilots / POC projects, strategic partnerships and more.

A startup is usually backed by investors and has probably completed a seed or round A / B funding. Our startup is not profitable at this stage and investors expect it to show a “hockey stick” growth trend (as that’s a strong indication for a successful disruption, or a good market fit).   

You see, if you compare startups to corporations, there are endless differences, in the level of resources, budgets, type of KPIs, way of operation, expectations, work methods, stability, and the list goes on. Naturally, the way they operate their marketing should also be completely different.

Going 360° with a startup marketing agency

Like in almost every walk of life, outsourcing is becoming an acceptable, and in many cases, expected, standard. It has specific benefits that in today’s world just make sense.

Outsourcing services are completely aligned with the economical principles of the relative advantage and the idea that time is money, so you better spend it doing what you do best.. As for the rest… well, outsource it.

This is of course extremely applicable to the lean startup world, where resources are limited and the operation must be kept lean. When it comes to marketing, the startups-world has some unique challenges and needs. While I believe that outsourcing some or all of the marketing operation is beneficial to all, I think it is especially true for startups. But, the big question mark is around who you outsource it to…

Why is working with a 360° startup marketing agency so much better for startups?

 

  1. Tabula Rasa! The DNA of early stage startups is a blank page

Startup companies don’t have established and proven marketing tactics and knowledge to rely on. These companies are relatively new, and they haven’t yet manage to go through the critical trial-and-error phase in marketing, a phase that helps more established companies gain valuable experience.  

They don’t enjoy a firm marketing DNA that they can leverage in deciding which marketing activities to engage in, what is working and what isn’t. That’s why, many times, when it’s time to start marketing outreach, startup exces (usually the founders) are confused and not sure where and how to start.

So they can either start learning slowly (hmmmm… is it really a valid option? Will they survive to tell?) or they can look to work with someone who is proficient in multi-area startup marketing.

A 360° startup marketing agency (or a marketer) is by definition a source of endless multi-area marketing knowledge. When you have hands-on experience with 360° marketing, you have valuable insights regarding the tactics that are more likely to work and the right sequence of things. Whether you are working on a niche market, disrupting an industry, or educating a market, a specialized 360° (startup) marketing agency, probably at some point, has helped some other company with similar challenges, managing and executing on their behalf multiple activities in a specific manner.  

 

  1. Startups must try out a bit of everything – but traditional agencies work differently  

Startups need a little bit of everything, when it comes to marketing. They need to build the basic marketing infrastructure and then start piloting different activities. How else would they know what’s working and what’s not? They need to run some social media activities, make noise in communities, run different content marketing initiatives, work on their sales tool kit, run PR activities, PPC campaigns, SEO optimization and the list goes on.

Corporations can afford to neglect some activities. After all, they already know what’s working for them and what’s not. They can even stop running selected activities just because their brand is already known out there.

Startups face a different situation. But who will help them? How can they afford running “oh so many” activities in an optimal manner?

Most marketing agencies today will offer to work with you on specific chunks of your marketing activity: PPC campaigns OR PR OR branding and visual identity, etc.

Some will offer support on several areas, but you will always stay with some missing elements.

But for a startup, this kind of offering is not sufficient. While some activities aren’t supported at all, others are overpriced. The high price is due to a minimal project capacity that the agency requires per client. Quite rightfully by the way. While this capacity (and pricing) can work for corporations, for a startup it’s overkill.

On the other hand, in most cases, it is not justifiable for many young startups to work with numerous agencies, nor is it feasible. Not in terms of the available budget per activity, the internal resource needed to supervise the agency,  or the actual agency fees.

Let’s take PR services for example. Startups don’t have enough news to share that will justify thousands of dollars in a monthly retainer. Corporations, on the other hand, are a different story.

Another example comes from PPC agencies – Startups, who many times allocate very small budgets to paid media campaigns, are rejected by agencies that are working under a 15-20% commission model. For such media agencies it’s just not worth it and they set minimum spend per project. Again, rightfully so.

Also, the operation is different and much more challenging. The most logical thing to do in the trial and error phase is to utilize micro budgets to learn what’s working and what isn’t (history is a blank page, remember?). What you want is to avoid spending too much during this stage and learn as much as you can. But media agencies (with a commission based business model) are looking to spend large amounts of money in a short time frame. Do you see a bit of a conflict here?  

And do you really need a specialized branding and design house to work on your logo and visual identity at this stage, spending tens of thousands of dollars on the project, before there’s any evidence or final decision on the high level direction (or concept or value)? I am not so sure.

That’s why “traditional” agencies, offering the same service to startups and corporations are hard for startups to “digest”. It’s just not working.

So, traditional agencies are not right for startups, we’ve established that. What now? Well, a 360° marketing resource that can offer a mix of activities for a feasible, fixed budget makes so much more sense. A 360° marketing agency has all the required expertise and knowledge, hence can toggle between different activities (each conducted in the timing and volume that’s right for a startup).

Besides, a smart 360° marketing agency would offer a business model that does not create any conflict of interests. Similarly to an internal CMO who shares the exact same interests as the company.

I know it works better as I founded and co-manage a 360° startup marketing agency. I am sure that more similar agencies will emerge as necessity is the mother of all  inventions.

  1. Startups need to build a marketing infrastructure from scratch, and that’s a skill

Think about it for a minute. When a new marketing person comes on board to an existing operation, she faces a very specific set of challenges, usually around fine-tuning and improving existing activities and launching new ones based on learning from the past.

But that’s not the situation in a young startup.

Many times, when we onboard a startup (via our agency), there is nothing there. The brand and visual identity are something that was done along the way, without too much attention. The website is usually a mini-site landing page with very basic (and not very clear) information (and no lead capture elements). The company story is not well articulated and exists mostly in the founders’ minds. The marketing materials are non-existent or need a major overhaul, let alone work methods and processes, and the list goes on.

Establishing a marketing infrastructure is a different skill than coming into something that’s already there. You need to envision a clear direction of where you want to take your marketing to. Then you need to build things in a smart way that will give you the flexibility and freedom to launch more and more activities later on, without too many surprises along the way.

On top of that, you must always keep in mind that you work for a lean (and limited) startup and use feasible tactics, solutions, technologies and resources.

Examples include building the website in phases, making sure that important technical aspects are implemented (analytics, pixels, funnel design, connection to the marketing automation system, landing page mechanisms, etc.) and more.

You will probably not leverage all of these tools right from the start, but you will save a lot of time and resources thinking of them ahead of time.

When it comes to specialized agencies, many can support you with specific campaigns and initiatives, but how many of them will get involved in the setup of your marketing infrastructure? How many will be willing to start from scratch? And if some will, how many will know how to run their activities without overloading your team? After all, it is a startup…everybody is swamped already.  

Most traditional agencies will expect and assume that you have everything ready for them.

A 360° startup marketing agency will offer a different service. It will accompany you along these initial stages and be smart and forward looking about your marketing right from the start.

Summary and some final tips

We know that more and more startups today find the option of outsourcing their marketing operation appealing. But they are still looking for their unique and specific marketing needs to be answered and they are looking for someone to run with, long term. Evolving together, growing together. As mentioned before, it’s critical to select the right type of agency to work with.

We also talked quite a bit about other solutions out there that are just not good enough.

Today, different marketing disciplines have to be connected. They have to support and leverage each other to generate satisfactory results. This means that alignment and coordination is no less important than execution.

Startups must look for partners that will help them see the whole picture, plan accordingly and execute everything, for a feasible price, with minimum overload on their internal teams.

Here are my final tips for evaluating a 360° marketing agency for your startup:

  1. Global startup marketing experience – Look for specific experience and expertise in startup marketing.
  2. Stay true to your KPIs – Make sure there is a match between the agency offering and your actual needs.
  3. Look at the business model –  Ask about the agency business model (hour bank, monthly retainer) and make sure everything you need is covered. Make sure that they not only track work capacity but deliverables as well.
  4. Consider the alternative – Compare the cost of the agency to the cost and skills of an internal marketer + external agencies on top (an internal marketer simply doesn’t know how to run many complex marketing activities and doesn’t have time to deal with everything).
  5. Examine the level of flexibility the agency is able to offer You are a startup, and it’s very likely new priorities will come up, focus may shift and what you need from the agency will change. You want to work with a partner who can evolve with you in the long term.
  6. The proof is in the pudding – Ask to hear about case studies and talk to existing customers to fully understand the agency’s ability to deliver.
  7. Consider work methods – Ask about their work methodologies: What’s included and what isn’t, how the work is managed and measured, how do you stay on top of what’s going on (weekly sync, access to documents, review of materials), etc.

 

Good luck!

Tsipi Joseph
Tsipi Joseph is a co-founder of G2M and Appgo2market.com. Tsipi has been in the marketing business for oh so many years, dealing with techy products and services in almost any industry you can think of, including mobile apps, augmented reality, telecommunications, finance, medical, cyber and more. Tech marketing isn’t Tsipi’s last name, but it should be!
Tsipi Joseph
Tsipi Joseph
hello [at] g2mteam.com
About The Author

Tsipi Joseph

Tsipi Joseph is a co-founder of G2M and Appgo2market.com. Tsipi has been in the marketing business for oh so many years, dealing with techy products and services in almost any industry you can think of, including mobile apps, augmented reality, telecommunications, finance, medical, cyber and more. Tech marketing isn’t Tsipi’s last name, but it should be!

Lumos Global

With G2M we managed to achieve great results in a short time. They deeply understand the start-up spirit and pace, and demonstrate exceptional professionalism with digital and social marketing best practices.

Hila Bitton
Marketing Communications Manager / Lumos Global

Ginger Software

It's great to have someone who keeps asking the hard questions, and searching for better solutions.

Maoz Shacht

drupe

G2M is the optimal solution for a mobile app startup taking its first steps in the B2C industry

Barak Witkowski
Co-Founder & CEO / drupe

Spikko

G2M is our focal point to all app marketing needs. They just know all there is to know

Shai Benarzi
Founder and CEO / spikko

Infinity AR

G2M is a priceless extension of our team, for both strategy and execution, all in one. They are our genie in a bottle!

Motti Kushnir
CEO / Infinity AR

SafeDK

G2M manages all our marketing activities. Starting with our strategy and branding, setting KPIs, through infrastructure automation and our customer management system, running our social channels, blogging / messaging and every other marketing related activity. Flawless execution, admirable dedication, great results. Highly recommended team.  

Orly Shoavi
Founder and CEO / SafeDK

Exampal

G2M practically established our marketing operation, taking the lead and executing around all the marketing buckets that were critical for our KPIs: Content marketing, email marketing, lead generation campaigns, SEO, conversion optimization and more. The results were immediate.

Oren Jackman
Co-Founder and CEO / Exampal

Intuition Robotics

G2M planned and created all the marketing materials we needed for a successful launch, faster than we could ever imagine and without compromising the quality. G2M’s umbrella of services is exactly what startups need!

Dor Skuler

Ibex Medical Analytics

G2M Team is the ultimate partner for a company like us, looking to establish and develop our marketing DNA

Joseph Mossel

Netafim

G2M Team was the ideal partner and handled all moving parts perfectly. They had a critical role in our success at Agritech

Helene Gordon
Senior PR & Marcom Manager / Netafim