"Marketing is too complicated to be left to management people who have little experience in marketing and who don't understand its principles." wrote Al Ries.
Rated by Advertising Age as one of the Top Ten living legends of marketing, Ries's findings and related implications in the book "War in the Boardroom" are spot on with a Big Deal Problem that confronts first-time entrepreneurs.
In a nutshell, startups lead by marketing-thinking, marketing-driven founders too often become quickly ensued in a battle with investors on the board of directors. Why? Because the investors think more like management, not like marketing, but insist they understand marketing and insist their marketing is superior to that of the founders'.
Also, hiring "managers" into your startup can become a similar source of unnecessary conflict. Leaders reporting to the startup CEO mainly come from great public corporations driven by great managers. When they join a new enterprise they find themselves up their ears in marketing and its complexities. Everyone is surrounded by marketing decisions, tasks and events. Unfortunately few managers have learned much about what makes startup marketing succeed or fail.
"Management deals in reality."
"Marketing deals in perception."
Serial entrepreneurs agree with Ries and see the conflict all too often.
An example can make the point clearer: A startup's growth slows and people are gathered to decide what to do to boost revenue. Management's response is to grow more, get larger, spread out, expand the business. Marketing's response is to narrow the focus more. Why? So the brand can be built that stands for something. So the brand can isolate a single service the startup can dominate or an attribute it can own. Management leaps to cut costs. Marketing leaps to focus the customer's mind to perceive the startup's brand and identify it with a word or two.
BOTTOM LINE: Become ready to pick your people for their understanding of startup marketing rather than management. Sure, everyone needs people to manage people and execute a plan brilliantly. But the plan must be a marketing-driven plan, lead by people who understand marketing and its complexities. Great startups are lead by a company of leaders who understand that. It's your job to find those people, starting with your initial core team and extending it to investors and employees. They can have expertise in accounting, engineering, human relations, customer service and so on, you need such skills and experience, but you have to have a group of leaders near and at the top who respect marketing and let you lead as you perceive best. When you get that, you'll get a vital core concept that will keep you out of most of the wasted conflicts between marketing and management. Then you'll swiftly launch your new enterprise with the speed and efficiency needed to build an every more unfair advantage.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!