One of the biggest mistakes made about a decade ago — and that I regret to this day — is a poor marketing hire at a startup based on a limited understanding of marketing by the founders. I was more of an “order taker” in those days because while I had great hunches, I didn’t have enough confidence to give push back — and honestly hadn’t yet built a platform from which to draw credibility.
The company’s pain point was retail so while I presented candidates with a proven track record in building brands, the person who most sparked the founders’ interest was a channel marketer. In the end, they lost traction as companies with stronger branding efforts entered the space that this company’s innovative — actually game-changing — consumer tech product offerings for a short while dominated. Coming out of software, the founders weren’t prepared for a more heavily brand-dominated industry.
Shortly after that I worked with another startup founder who was a marketing genius and rapidly led his company to the top of his industry — based primarily on branding and community-building. I watched and learned.