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  • Manfredi Sassoli

Strategy for long term Growth

This is how marketing in a startup usually evolves:

1. Saturate performance channels with limited resources

2. Team believes it's time to be a grown up company and build a brand 

3. Hire seasoned CMO

4. Over-invest in brand building 

5. Realisation that unit economics don't stack up 

6. Pull back on brand spend 

7. Back to square 1 with more doubts 

In my career I have seen this pattern at least 10 times. 

There are at least four fallacies in that course of action: 

1. Performance marketing done with limited resources can be at less than 50% it's full potential

2. There is often still a big gulf between a niche company and one that can invest in above the line brand advertising 

3. Brand advertising won't be very effective if the company hasn't built a strong "why" 

4. There are still significant gains to be made in organic channels

A brand is an absolute value add for any company, but building it has to be done cost effectively. 

Before a company engages in brand advertising it needs to work in building a brand personality and to deliver a branded customer experience at each touch point. 

Then it should explore other areas of investment such as content, PR, social media, influencers, referrals, virality and SEO. These channels will simultaneously deliver new customers and lower, build authority and lower the overall average CAC. 

Once the CAC has been lowered, investments in brand building through above the line advertising become economically sustainable. Sustaining brand effort over time is the only way to truly benefit from it: short burst of above the line activity will help in creating awareness, but won't be sufficient for building the kind of brand equity that can deliver a profit advantage over the competition.

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