Mark Evans is a well-known name in the Canadian technology space. A four-time entrepreneur and former award-winning technology reporter, Evans now spends his days as a marketing consultant and startup mentor.
Evans has written a new book called Storytelling for Startups, which highlights the value of storytelling in an age when multitasking consumers can be distracted and overwhelmed with information. We sat down with Mark to discuss the book, of which you can read the first chapter below, and the struggles of startup marketing.
BetaKit readers interested in ordering a copy of Storytelling for Startups can do so here, and get a special 20% discount using the code “BETABOOK”.
You’ve been blogging about startup marketing for a few years. Why write a book now?
In working with startups, it became obvious that while many of them had innovative and/or appealing products, they didn’t have the stories to attract the spotlight in a competitive landscape. It was a matter of meeting a need. As well, I saw how many brands were pounding away with social media and content marketing, but not connecting with consumers. To me, storytelling is powerful because it is about meeting the needs and interests of target audiences in a way that is immersive and drives connections.
Startups generally have a removed view of marketing – they think they know what it is, but they often don’t know when or how to go about it. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s a lack of knowledge about the benefits of marketing and how it works. There is an under-appreciation of what’s involved to drive effective marketing. You have smart entrepreneurs but they are skilled in other areas. As a marketer, it can be frustrating to see startups not really get marketing but you have to keep working on them. 🙂
How does storytelling relate to marketing, and why is it so important for startups to utilize?
Storytelling is about connecting with target audiences in ways that are relevant, interesting and personal. It’s about crafting narratives that everything to do with what customers want or need, but the product may not play a starring role. For startups, storytelling is crucial because it’s the way they can compete and attract the spotlight with minimal marketing budgets.
In addition to blogging on the subject, you’ve also done quite a bit of marketing consulting. Are there any common pitfalls that you often see startups making when it comes to marketing?
First, I think startups look at marketing as a nice-to-do, rather than a have-to-do. It explains why many startups only embrace marketing when they run into problems or challenge – a Website that doesn’t work or convert, a lack of leads, competitors with better brand awareness, etc. As well, I think startups don’t know where to start with marketing. It why one of the initial moves is determining marketing priorities so startups can focus on things that drive ROI – be it sales, leads, brand awareness, etc.
There’s a current sexy trend where startups and entrepreneurs talk about what they’re able to achieve “without any marketing.” What do you think of this trend and what would you say to these entrepreneurs?
I think the “no marketing” trend is, ironically, a marketing ploy to capture the spotlight. Marketing comes in different shapes and sizes. It could be going to conferences, meeting people for coffee, commenting on blogs, getting listed on Product Hunt or being active on social media. Every startup is marketing in some way, shape or form, so the “no marketing” mantra strikes me as false advertising.