John Friess (founder of wired.MD) has ideas on how a startup should be doing marketing as it grows:
Welcome — not only to a company’s second stage, but also to its year-after-the-launch marketing campaign. That’s the time in the life of an entrepreneurial concern when you know you’ve moved past the startup to another level. You learn quickly that emerging companies and their products age as animals do, with one year being equal to seven in human terms. However, unlike 7-year-old children who get placed in a development refinement system — aka school — products don’t come with a manual of instruction. That’s where I hope this article comes in handy. For entrepreneurs dealing with marketing concerns as their companies grow up, my experience could be a guide.
It’s essential that companies which have moved beyond the startup phase progress quickly from macro to micro thinking. By that I mean making sure the right message is getting to the right prospects through the right channels. Indeed, focus for Year Two must be on marketing and sales of existing product lines.
So define the market (as we did when spotting the enthusiasm in the health-resource center), tailor the product appropriately (as we did when we shifted to the marketing capabilities of our software package), and adjust the marketing strategy so that it is both effective and cost-effective. Run the numbers, and excise the excess.
Finally, keep in mind that an adolescent company still has a key advantage: the entrepreneurial spirit. Founders who are agile, resilient, passionate, and ignorant about the impossible are able to meet the Year Two changes that the market imposes.