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19 Comments

Am I being lazy or should I look for a marketing-focused co-founder?

I love every stage of the product development process. I love idea generation, validation, prototype, design, MVP build, etc. But I do not love marketing and growth.

I currently have a fully built product (http://scopeconcierge.com/) and an agency that I run full time. I just don’t have the love, or a ton of free time, to dedicate to marketing and growth.

My question:

Should I suck it up and make the time and do it anyway? Because I’m fully capable and if that’s what it takes I’ll do it.

Or, would it be smarter to look for a partner to own the marketing?

Again, I have no problem doing the hard work myself, I just want to make sure I’m being wise and efficient with my time.

Thanks Hackers.

  1. 6

    They say getting a co-founder is like getting married. If you want a co-founder and you find the right person who is also good at marketing, then by all means go ahead. But I don't think you should get a co-founder because you don't like the marketing part of the business.

    Third option: hire a freelancer, consultant or agency to help you.

    Each of these options (DIY, co-founder, outsource) has its pros and cons. If you have the time, you can explore all three at the same time and see which you might prefer.

    Personally I would choose DIY. I used to dislike marketing, but over time I got better at it and eventually grew to like it – not as much as I like the code/build, but I like it nonetheless. I think it's human nature to dislike and avoid things we're not good at (it's not laziness), and it takes some grit and time to work at something until you are good at it.

    Good luck!

    1. 1

      That great advice and I think I'd likely be in the same boat. If I continued to buckle down I'd surely have a change of attitude. Im just trying to figure out if that's the smartest use of my time.

      Appreciate the thoughts.

  2. 3

    I feel the challenge. That’s why I’m building marketingoperator.com to connect marketers with product builders.

  3. 3

    If you hate marketing and don't have time for it, then partner up.

    It will be hard to get traction without any growth strategy (especially on a side project).

    But if you love "idea generation, validation, prototype, design, MVP build", then I'd also argue that those are all things that marketing is a great outlet for :) Maybe all you need is to re-frame it that way.

    1. 2

      Interesting, thanks for the thought. Can you expand a bit on what you mean by "are all things that marketing is a great outlet for"?

      1. 4

        Can you expand a bit on what you mean by

        "idea generation, validation, prototype, design, MVP build", then I'd also argue that those are all things that marketing is a great outlet for

        Those are all skills that make you successful in marketing.

        You generate new growth ideas (idea generation). Form hypotheses that you test (validation). Create solutions (prototype - this can be anything from a landing page, ads campaign to a new product feature), design (self-explanatory) and build MVP (extensions, plugins, complementary sites etc.).

        Check out the skills needed to become a T-Shaped Marketer. I think you will be pleasantly surprised :) Also, read up on Product-led Growth. That may be more up your alley.

        1. 2

          Amazing, thanks so much for these resources!!! Ive got some reading to do.

  4. 2

    Get first 10 customers yourself. You can then look for a Marketing partner/co-founder or just a consultant. You need to validate your product first. If you cannot sell it yourself to at least 10 people, you should not worry about a co founder (in my humble opinion). We are all good at one thing or another. I personally suck at marketing myself but I have a fully validated product and market for a few years and for first 2-3 years, I did everything myself. That is the best way to ensure you have a real product and market.

    1. 1

      Yeah you're right, that makes sense. I appreciate it!

  5. 1

    Hi Shane, I built marketingoperator.com, where we connect hands-on marketing experts with founders. Maybe you can use this (it's free) and find a marketing expert? Let me know if I can help! Jonas

  6. 1

    Do you already know what you need to do and it's just execution that you don't have the space / motivation for? Or are there some key questions around audience, type and frequency of messaging etc that you don't yet have answers to?

    I would say that once you've validated exactly who your audience is and started building a strategy for reaching them that you know is repeatable, that's the point to bring someone else in.

    However, this person absolutely doesn't have to be a 'partner'. There are so many ways you could split / delegate the work, for example you set the objectives and then have weekly or twice-weekly check ins to see what's working. You do almost everything but leave it to someone else to actually interact / write / engage on social media or create content. Or hire someone to do everything and you are just informed.

    Capable Of vs Capacity For are very different perspectives after all :)

    1. 1

      Yeah I believe I do know what to do, in other replies i've posted my overall marketing plan (high level), it's really just a matter of time, consistency, and motivation to work on executing this on a day to day basis.

      As I said, if it's what it takes, I'll do it. I just didn't know if it would be wiser to hire someone or partner with someone who can really own it so I can focus on other things.

      "However, this person absolutely doesn't have to be a 'partner'. "
      Great point, yes I think im starting to see that. Possibly someone on a part-time basis to execute the plan.

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful response.

  7. 1

    I just spent 100% of my time in the last two weeks marketing MyCheckins. I had similar questions before going into this. I thought it would make sense to hire someone to run the marketing engine, while I focus on the product.

    However, I had not validated these things yet:

    • What channels work best for my product?
    • What is the ideal customer persona(s)? (backed by a large enough sample set)
    • What is the best pitch to each customer segment?

    I did have my version of answers to these questions, but they were not validated with a significant sample size of real users.

    Working on marketing myself for the last two weeks has brought me closer to these answers than where I would be if I brought in someone else to do this.

    This is just my opinion, but I think you should make some time to do this yourself. Atleast for a few weeks. Once you have a better idea about the questions above, you can bring in someone to take it from there. It will make their job significantly easier, and you'll have a better time hiring because you know exactly what skill-sets they need to succeed.

    1. 2

      Yeah that's a great point. From the time I have dedicated to it (probably over the last 2 weeks), I have learned a lot. Not so much about those points you mentioned, because I think those were almost all-clear from the get go.

      For example, I have basically built out the blueprint for each of the channels and identified goals and things I'd like to test.

      Ex:

      Audience: My product serves design agencies and freelancers.

      Quick Pitch: ScopeConcierge helps take the pain out of scoping and pricing digital projects.

      Longer Pitch: As an agency owner, the worst part of my job was coping and pricing projects. Price yourself too high and you may lose the job, too low and you cut into profits. ScopeConcierge helps you find the sweet spot price for each project, and then does the heavy lifting of building out a Scope of Work document for you.

      Marketing Channels

      1. Cold email: I'll be sending cold email to design agencies (1-20 employees) pitching the product. I have 3 emails to split test and 3-5 follow up emails in the sequence.

      2. Influencer Partnerships: There are tons of youtubers in the design/freelance/web space. I was going to reach out to them about promoting the tool on their channels in exchange for some profit share

      3. Community posting: Consistently in the internet trenches answering questions related to "What should I charge for X". I have a list of 20 or so communities where agency people hang out. So just checking in on those a few times a week and adding value where I can.

      4. Podcasts: I have 2 podcasts lined up. Should probably find a few more

      5. Guest posting: I've written 2 articles so far, but need to start pitching those to the relevant publications.

      ------

      My point is, I think I have an idea of what needs to be done, but im not sure I feel up to driving and executing on this on a day to day basis.

  8. 1

    Hey,

    Well, that depends on the type of growth that you want to have and the expectations that you put on your project. A side project is not the same as maybe someone that wants to get to a valuation of 100M in 3 years.

    If you want to keep it small or more personal and don't look to scale or you don't look for an exit, then you better keep it on yourself. You can create a GTM that might take you one or 2 weeks to craft, break it down into small tasks and organize them over the week. An hour per day (is if a system/plan) will be enough.

    On the other hand, if you look to scale it, you definitely need someone to own growth while you focus on a top-notch product (which seems your speciality). Startups have creative, marketing, sales, development and product needs that change frequently over time. So you need someone to help to adapt, build and propel growth.

    Someone that help to identify and prioritize your markets and the market opportunities.
    And that articulates your unique value proposition and the problems you solve as you scale
    ____________________

    Btw, I checked your tool is cool. Have you thought about adding an "evaluation tool" for when the client receives the offer? Like a competitive tool, to see that the budget is quite competitive and a good trade and see overall market estimation for similar services.

    Or maybe create a free tool that estimates budgets as sometimes people don't understand services or are hiring for the first time. Actually, an embedded tool promoted on sites like product hunt or others can lead to people using the initial product.

    Hope this was helpfull :)

    1. 1

      Thanks for the response!

      "A side project is not the same as maybe someone that wants to get to a valuation of 100M in 3 years."

      • Good point. honestly I think ScopeConcierge is kind of a micro-tool and don't necessarily see it having a route to 100M. But maybe i'm wrong, I have no idea. I think it would fold in nicely to some other larger scale proposal softare tools I see out there.

      "You can create a GTM that might take you one or 2 weeks to craft, break it down into small tasks and organize them over the week. An hour per day (is if a system/plan) will be enough."

      • Thats a great point. I kind of started this already. But yeah, it needs to get converted into a daily/weekly system of tasks. I posted this in another comment but will drop here for reference:

      Marketing Channels

      1. Cold email: I'll be sending cold email to design agencies (1-20 employees) pitching the product. I have 3 emails to split test and 3-5 follow up emails in the sequence.

      2. Influencer Partnerships: There are tons of youtubers in the design/freelance/web space. I was going to reach out to them about promoting the tool on their channels in exchange for some profit share

      3. Community posting: Consistently in the internet trenches answering questions related to "What should I charge for X". I have a list of 20 or so communities where agency people hang out. So just checking in on those a few times a week and adding value where I can.

      4. Podcasts: I have 2 podcasts lined up. Should probably find a few more

      5. Guest posting: I've written 2 articles so far, but need to start pitching those to the relevant publications.

      "...evaluation tool for when the client receives the offer? Like a competitive tool, to see that the budget is quite competitive and a good trade and see overall market estimation for similar services."

      • Yeah that's a great idea, the issue is how one would practically/technically tackle that. The issue is getting that data for the market averages. The long-term plan was that as our user base grows we can use that data to convert into market averages and then do some sort of a "compare this price" feature. I suppose we could also do some data scrapping of the internet?

      Thanks for the thoughtful notes.

      1. 1

        Well, it seems like you really do the backend work. Most people just have an idea to build something and try to find customers without any plan, so far you are in a good direction ; )

        "Yeah that's a great idea, the issue is how one would practically/technically tackle that. The issue is getting that data for the market averages. The long-term plan was that as our user base grows we can use that data to convert int..."

        I was thinking about maybe:
        A) Allowing freelancers and agencies to add this type of tool to the interactive scoping brief. (https://belkins.io/pricing the ROI calculator) it must not be hard to develop actually there are "pre-coded" on Github or plugins depending on what language you used for the platform. So one they can send

        1. Customized themes and the like a popup calculator with pre-scheduled market rates.
        2. A calculator based on return or another metric that they want to track on that. So this makes it a better deal.

        I never see that in other tools for proposals like Clientjoy or betterproposals.io etc. And could be a great differentiator.

        Yet maybe what you have right now is not really much in terms of potential but it could be scalable. The product scale you can start adding:

        • Tracking project with clients with customized dashboard for each one to create a personalized experience.
        • Proven system for a referral. With so many agencies out there is really hard sometimes to see if their world is real. So an automated tool for feedback tracking like capterra for agencies. You know more detailed than clutch.co

        There are always new horizons to look for. If you are willing to scale that.
        ----

        "Marketing Channels:Cold email: I'll be sending a cold email to design agencies (1-20 employees) pitching the product. I have 3 emails to split test and 3-5 follow-up emails in the sequence...."

        Well, if I can give you my honest opinion based on my experience, I saw the landing page a bit white bread yet and the overall copy. I always talk about the importance of not building an MVP but building an MCP the most competitive product (is something that I am writing about in my book).

        The MVP should be just to see if is any interest if people like it... After that people should run into positioning and demand. I have some landing pages on Figma if you need them that can have a better "aesthetic" to at least fix that part. And give a hand with the copy.

        Because without that credibility and almost product standard not a lot of people will be willing to be influencers. Which definitely is a great channel, partner, and referral. Also bringing experts ( if looking to scale) as part of a brand ambassador program is a must.

        The cold email strategy is similar. I don't know how many do you receive but sometimes most of them look spammy and their website is untrustful. And with that, you may lose some opportunities and early interest. And actually, I wouldn't recommend automation yet, as you are starting start with hard personalization and being short. More like ABM rather than just a cold email. I mean if you are offering your SaaS for free to gather insights to improve it then might work.

        The podcast and social strategy (content, social media....) is a good and interesting path and definitely using the power of conventional and unconventional PR. This second one is with once-in-a-lifetime stories that are crafted for the media rather than just guest posts and "the new saas fro something..." on some media...

        Let me know your thoughts on this

  9. 1

    Sounds to me like you have a pretty great skill set. However, I'm often surprised by the contributions from other people who think differently than I do. Probably the best lesson I ever learned was that more brains means more mental horsepower. I've even found that sometimes one plus one equals three when synergy comes into play.

    1. 1

      Definitely, seeing how other people think is always an asset.

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