Zero Dollar Budget for Startup Marketing: Myth or Real?

Zero dollar budget for startup marketing:


  1. Build a great product that creates buzz because of its huge benefits for customers and its great (product/UI/UX/web) design. Build social into your product so that it can provide its own virality.
  2. Brand wisely, with an emphasis on simplicity and focus, do the same in the creation of your communication units (PR messages, blog articles, inhouse product videos etc.).
  3. Get the word out by applying a pull strategy, concentrate on word-of-mouth, PR and inherent product marketing.

There are many more channels and ways to advertise without even touching your budget; I have chosen to keep it simple for this list.

Zero dollar cost for startup marketing:


The less budget you want to spend on marketing, the more it will cost you in terms of hard labor. A beneficial way therefore is to try an 'almost zero dollar cost' strategy, if your funds are very low. But realize this one fact: promotional pressure can be applied in the most easy way by strongly advertising for a lot of money, and sometimes (e.g. if you do not have a significant advantage over all of your competitors) it can be a necessity.

See the answer on Quora:

Zero Dollar Budget for Startup Marketing: Myth or Real?


What are some startups that had great products but failed because they didn’t market them (well)?

Scroll down for my list

This article…
suggests that poor marketing is the 4th most frequent reason why startups crash.

I personally believe that bad assumptions on markets and lousy execution of products are more typical reasons for startups to fail. Also, it is often hard to argue that a product fails just or mainly because it was poorly marketed. After all, it is always an easy way to write about such a situation by blaming it on the marketing, because strategic marketing hardly has a lot of hard data to defend itself.

I did, however, compile a short list of companies and products that I think were in one way or another poorly marketed.

Disclaimer: Please take into account, that startup failure never is a one-reason thing. Therefore, the question wether these startups defaulted mostly because of poor marketing, will remain disputable. Feel free to discuss about it with me in the comments.

I'll start this list now, let it simmer for a while and modify it every now and then.


Company: Color
Problem: great product, but market pioneer; failed (or 'is still failing') because of lack of users, has revamped into a 'live photo and video streaming' application
Marketing fail: failed to educate and wow people; when penetrating a market niche whose value proposition is something that most potential users are not familiar with, there is a lot of education, viral seeding and just overall demonstration and spreading of the value proposition to be done

Company: CrunchPad
Problem: The buzz created around the product was way too early and way too much. When difficulties between Arrington and Fusion Garage pinnacled, the project self-destructed, leaving a black hole of disappointment because of the huge brand recognition it got before. Yes, they might at some point have had a great product. Only that they produced so much vapor that it was hard to please the masses…
Marketing fail: disability to keep expectations low enough, openly discussing timing before it is safe that the production will make it, simply too much communication before anything substantial was in sight

Company: Joost
Problem: great Software, great founders, great backing ($40 million) – but not enough viral functionality built into the product, therefore it got trumped by what came after it – Hulu and the like.
Marketing fail: marketing not built into the product (social media/viral marketing in this case)

Problem: many of you must have heard this story: what started as an aspiring delivery service for pet supplies, largely pushed by an enormous and insightful marketing campaign (their sock puppet mascot was even interviewed by people magazine), later failed to deliver what the value propositions promised their customers.
Marketing fail: A lot of the ca. 80 Million Dollars went into marketing. Marketing worked great. The only problem was, again, that it was creating false expectations that the company later couldn't deliver on.

Other Industries
Company: Mitsubishi
This is just too funny, I had to add it:
Problem: Calls its SUV 'Pajero' differently in Spanish speaking countries ('Montero'), because pajero basically means 'wanker' in Spanish. Noticed that way too late.
Marketing fail: bad naming, bad branding/internationalization research

See the answer on Quora:

What are some startups that had great products but failed because they didn't market them (well)?

Why create an application inside Facebook?

There are multiple benefits. I'll give you two very good reasons for building an app for your site:

– You can integrate your website/web experience into the Facebook chrome, enabling your users to use your service without leaving the Facebook environment at all, which some might prefer.
– You can enable your users to directly interact with other unknown Facebook users, if your service is for example a game, without having to apply your own technology.
– You get ranked among the other apps, which will give you the possibility of reaching a higher visibility for your service.

Benefits that come with the Facebook API as well as Apps:
– You can let your customers 'x' something on your website/in your web service, for example you can let them 'wow' a piece of clothing in your online shop, resulting in posts like 'Miranda wows the D&G summer dress on Shoplife'. This gives you much greater flexibility in expressing brand experiences and helps you drive the effects of your marketing efforts further.

– You can integrate automatic sharing into your website/service, meaning that users automatically share their activities on your site to their timeline, like reading an article or listening to a song or buying a book. Take a look at Spotify and the Huffington post for two excellent examples on how to use this function. This, among others, means that friends of your customers will automatically discover your site and its content. The effects on the virality of your content can be enormous.

There is a great ZDNet news article detailing some of the best practices for social news sites (scroll to the bottom of the article for convenience). Some of them are applicable for other purposes, too:…

*Please excuse iPhone formatting. 

See the answer on Quora:

Why create an application inside Facebook?

If Coca-Cola stopped advertising while keeping the product in full supply, would people eventually stop drinking it?

The answer to your question is no, but…(read on to find out why it would be incredibly devastating for Coke still)

Advertising in the fast moving consumer goods area (FMCG), especially in the beverages market, is all about Mind Share and brand perception. To become and stay the dominant global brand, you have to be ubiquitously well-known. Of course, you also maneuver the consumer’s perception of your brand with advertising, but I’ll leave that aside for a second. The highest goal achievable when it comes to Mind Share is to achieve a state of conditioning (or preconditioning) of your potential customers. A level below that, you want to definitely be at least in their relevant set. Let me explain:

Think candy bars. There’s a relatively high chance that you have two to three or even up to five in mind immediately, and that none of them ranks miles above the others in your head. This is your relevant set. Everytime you feel the desire to have a candy bar, you will take these two to five into consideration. So, sometimes you might choose a Snickers bar, sometimes a Butterfinger might fit you more, but you will hardly leave your relevant set.
For an FMCG company, achieving the goal of being in the relevant set of their potential customers is already a huge success. Because this process is highly driven by Mind Share created through awareness created through exposure created through advertising pressure, your advertising budget plays a major role in achieving this goal.

If you one-up your advertising and influence carefully how your brand is perceived, you might be able to condition or precondition your customers. Think cola. Oops, I bet you didn’t think cola. I bet you thought Coke. And when you think about the color you had in mind, certain shapes of text or a bottle, Coke just might have cought you there, too. Advertisers call this habitualization. Picking Coke has become less of a choice (which it would be if it were only part of your relevant set) but a reflex. Now, this goal cannot be achieved through your product just standing around in stores. That is a major advertisement undertaking. You have to apply constant advertising pressure to make sure that no other brand trumps you in Mind Share. Because if so, that other brand will be the first coming up when the desire for a can of cold cola pops up, or might at least shift the situation in the consumer’s head from a habitualized one to one where the consumer has a relevant set. This is called de-habitualization, and for companies like Coca Cola it spells d-a-n-g-e-r.

So, in short terms: No, people wouldn’t stop drinking Coke if Coca Cola ceased advertising it. The Coke brand would face subtle extinction by becoming more and more irrelevant, though.

See the answer on Quora:

If Coca-Cola stopped advertising while keeping the product in full supply, would people eventually stop drinking it?