“Build it and they’ll come…” This is the biggest lie startup founders tell themselves. A quote that is only true in movies. The real world is different. Raise your hand if you’re guilty of this façade.☝️

It is almost impossible to dream of startup success without stellar marketing (and sales). And in today’s world, digital marketing is arguably the cheapest and fastest way to market to millions of people from anywhere in the world.

“Ignoring online marketing is like opening a business but not telling anyone.” — KB Marketing Agency.

Think about it…

You’ve started a startup business that no one knows about and you’re busy telling NO one that it exists. And by some miracle, you expect customers to stumble on your heavenly product and go… “Oh, Heavens this is God’s sent.” 😇

Unfortunately, folks, the startup business doesn’t work that way. Of course, a great product is crucial for customer retention. But you need to attract paying customers in the first place, otherwise, who are you retaining?

The key to startup success: If you Build it they'll come. Truth or myth?

This article opens up about why Marketing (and sales) are so important for startup success, and why you must dedicate time and effort to market your startup every day.

Why are Marketing (and sales) so important, particularly for Startups?

Here are 3 major reasons why marketing and sales are indispensable for startup success.

1. You’re NEW. We don’t know you exist.

Even if you have the best product or service on earth, nobody knows you exist. Even if your delivery method or customer service is from another planet, nobody knows and cares that you exist.

The only way to get yourself some visibility and recognition is through strategic marketing. Focus on “strategic.”

The newest (pretty) girl in school gets all the attention. Everyone wants to be her friend and hang around with her. I wish this was the case with Startups. Sorry, it isn’t!

When you’re new, no one cares about you. No one cares about your product, no matter how super fantastic it is. No one cares.

People only care about themselves & their problems. That’s it. If your product really solves a genuine problem, which it should, then your job as a founder is to find these hurting people and put your product in front of them.

“It’s important to be where your audience of potential customers is today, and where they might be tomorrow.” — Andrew Delaney, Senior Manager of Social Media, HubSpot.

 2. Nobody Trusts You.

Why is trust an essential secret to startup success especially in Africa?

Trust is to me the most essential ingredient to startup success in today’s world, especially in Africa. The startup ecosystem in Africa is still nurturing, one would even say virgin, and most people prefer their old solutions. It’s hard to new ventures to make a statement to touch the hearts of African users.

This is why heart-touching marketing messages are more than vital for startup success in Africa. Some people would say it’s the power of a brand (brand marketing).

Let’s say you’ve developed the smartest solution to help farmers sell their products. Would you expect farmers to somehow trust you and your solution? They’re supposed to trust that you’re not a fraud and hope that you’ll actually help them make more money from their work?

Not a chance.

You HAVE to build trust with your target customers (in this case, farmers). Your work is even 10x harder here in Cameroon.

Think about how hard it can be to get a local Cocoa farmer from Kumba to trust your ‘mobile app’ for their money transactions.

Now although the growth of startups in Africa especially in the tech industry is staggering, the response of the African people to technology is still to catch up.

Trust is the foundation of every successful sale.” (Adam Rogers, Shopify).

Brand marketing is the best way to build trust (besides having a great product).

3. You Have Fierce competition.

how to strategic marketing can help startups stand out from the competition in Africa

A huge part of Startup success is about knowing and respecting your competition. Competition means your idea, product, service, or business model actually makes sense. If someone else is doing it, it probably works.

So it’s good to have competition because you can learn from them. But, your competition is working hard to keep your clients in their pockets. That’s why your marketing must stand out from the crowd, grab your prospect’s attention and convert them into loyal customers over time.

Here’s an interesting scenario for you:

You get all your food from one particular store at the market. Why? Trust? Yes, trust. But not just that… You have a relationship with this business — as a customer. Now, why should customers choose you over your competition?

The answer is simple, you have a relationship with them. To build a sustainable startup business, you must first build solid relationships with customers. Loyal customers play a pillar role in startup success.

A loyal customer not only chooses you over your competition every day of the week, but they’ll also convince their friends to come to you.

That’s what great marketing can do!

Final Thoughts

Failing to focus on marketing is one of the most common reasons why 9/10 startups fail in Africa, or abroad. You cannot build a scalable, sustainable startup without well-thought marketing. Not in Africa, not in America, not in this world. If you’re a first-time startup founder, please learn marketing and sales today.

The TiC Learning Management Platform has some of the best-curated courses on marketing and sales that you can take today, to level up your skillset and increase your chances of startup success.

“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” — Walter Landor, Founder, Landor.

Build. Market. Repeat 🔁 This is the basic lifecycle of successful startups.

In the next article, we’ll look at the 2 major types of marketing: direct response marketing and brand marketing — and which is better for a startup.