An immersion course in marketing for founders of product-based businesses.
This book’s premise is a simple one, but one that’s often overlooked: Success with a startup rests not only on a great product, but also on building a business around it. Debut authors Soley and Wilms, who have experience working for companies of various sizes, including Adobe and PayPal, offer entrepreneurs a marketing strategy that features an extra-heavy dose of prep work. The first three steps of their five-step plan comprise the “proof” process: proving the viability of the idea, product, and business, in that order, through repeated testing. Afterward, one develops and implements a marketing plan to grow the business (in step four), and finally, one exits a business after meeting success or failure (step five). The overall approach hinges as much on how to make hiring and marketing decisions as it does on when to make them. The short book was designed so that busy entrepreneurs could read it in a single sitting, and the authors’ breezy writing style makes it zip by. However, each chapter stands alone, so that readers may revisit it at each phase of a company’s growth. The book often exceeds the scope of standard marketing guides, largely because Soley and Wilms conducted their research as journalists might, interviewing more than 50 business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, marketers, and consultants. The sources are distinctive and sometimes amusing, which keeps things fresh. Analyst Rebecca Lieb, for example, brings a story of a Thanksgiving turkey into a discussion of repurposing website content. Some of the book’s assertions clash with conventional wisdom—and therein lies its deeper wisdom. For example, the authors devote an entire chapter to the idea of closing a company down, insisting that one should craft an exit strategy early on. As they observe, “Every beginning has an ending,” whether a business fails, goes public, or is acquired. The authors say that their advice may be particularly useful to entrepreneurs in technology-related fields, but others will surely benefit, as well.
A forward-thinking guide to startups.