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The Five-Tool Marketer for Software Startups

In baseball, the rare athlete is called a five-tool player. This is the guy who can (1) hit for power, (2) hit for average, (3) plays great defense, (4) can throw the ball with speed and accuracy, and (5) has speed. When you have that guy on the field, things just seem to go well. Some of the famous ones are: Ken Griffey, Jr., Barry Bonds (pre-Balco), and Willy Mays.

For software startups, marketing resources are almost always handicapped in some way. Whether it’s lack of human capital or money or time, software startups are forced to limp to market without a full marketing component. Rightly so, since it’s probably going to take all your seed money and scrapings to come up with the product itself.

So it would benefit that startup to value the Five-Tool Marketer. After all, it’s like getting 2, 3, maybe 4 people in one.

What are the five-tools for marketing? It might not be what you think.

  1. Conceptualization – The ability to take complex engineering mumbo-jumbo and product spew and turn it into value messaging and storytelling. This manifests itself in concise copy, wicked presentations, and internalizing the company story to re-tell it to anyone.
  2. Design Sense – The ability to fire up Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator without blinking and turn out decent work or augment components from a full-blown designer. How it manifests itself: You suddenly need a graphic or a piece of collateral and all you have is some brand identity you got from 99designs or that $15000 website design.
  3. Self-Education – The ability to look at any tool, be it ad network, CMS, or Twitter and learn to use to promote the company. This shows up when a marketer is thrown some new tool, whether it’s Marketo or SlideRocket or Facebook Ads and finds a way to evaluate it, test it, and make it a part of or exclude it from the grand plan. No stress, just acceptance of a new opportunity.
  4. Motivation – The ability to want to excel either at their craft and/or help their company/clients reach their potential. Everyone should try to do well, right? That’s why we’re out there? So the Five-Tool Marketer want to push as hard as possible (while still remaining sane and reasonable) and hopefully cheer others on because motivation is like an infection.
  5. Scrappiness – The ability to know what to do when you have everything to do. God, there are tons and tons and tons of marketing ideas out there and you only have time for eight or so a day (until you’ve automated as much as you can). Being scrappy means understanding that marketing in a startup is an ongoing slugfest where every program and dollar you spend needs to be measured for it’s possible lift.

Incidentally, these tools are innate. It’s almost impossible to teach them. You can’t pick it up along with your MBA certificate. But it can be forged by experience. That said, five-toolers are out there and they range in scope from fresh out of school to seasoned individuals.

Are you a five-tool marketer (or think you know one)? Feel free to comment below.

Image: Tom Clifton via Compfight

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