Seven Canadian Experts Share Their Best Marketing Tips for Startups

by Knowlton Thomas | Startups

What should be the number one marketing priority for a new startup and why?

That is the question asked by Mike Abasov over at Marketing Before Funding. But he didn't ask just anyone: he asked a group of top startup founders, leaders, investors and marketers.

Half his list of these leaders were Canadians. Below we highlight some of their advice. You can check out the full list here.

Vancouver's Brian Wong, the famously young founder and CEO of Kiip, suggests startups "understand the 'why'" behind their business. "It’s much more important than just the 'what.' People need to understand the reasons behind your existence to believe in it as much as you—the more you can 'inceptionize' folks that are around you the more they’ll be into believing the vision you’re tackling and helping you do that.”

Dario Melo, co-CEO of Vancouver's Invoke Media, keeps it blunt: "create the most amazing product, service, or experience. PR, social, ads, all come second."

Boris Wertz, an award-winning angel investor in Canadian internet startups, affirms that new companies must figure out a communication strategy for the brand and product—and that this message "must be simple, clear, and differentiated. Users must understand right away what problem the product solves and why they should use it."


 Canadian angel investor Boris Wertz at the GROW Conference in 2010.


A co-founder of Canadian startup, Jon Cartwright advises startups to "find people who are screaming for help solving their pain and then target your product and messaging to them.”

Ryan Holmes, CEO of the tremendously popular HootSuite, emphasizes building a marketing channel. "You need a way to communicate with your customers," he says. "Whether that’s an email list, a Twitter account, or a fan page, you need a way to distribute information down the road to the people who can help share your story.”

Montreal's Ben Yoskovitz, a vice president with GoInstant, offers the idea that marketing does not play a huge role for a startup until they know they've found a problem and are delivering an appropriate solution. At that point, Ben says it's a good idea to set up analytics and learn to understand them. Then experiment. "Try a blog, try social media marketing, etc.," he says. "Try anything and everything, but do so with a goal in mind. 'If I do X, it will result in Y.' And make sure you can measure that properly, so you know what’s working and what’s not.”

Last but not least, for Perch's Ian Walker, "storytelling is the most essential and critical part of building your audience." He admits that you can't build an audience overnight, but building it out the right away allows some of the most effective marketing to occur automatically.

Hootsuite Media, Inc.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Hootsuite is the world’s most widely used social media relationship platform. More than 10 million users, including 744 of the Fortune 1000 companies, trust Hootsuite to manage their social media programs across multiple social networks from one integrated dashboard. Learn more about how Hootsuite is revolutionizing communication at more

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

GoInstant brings you, your customer and your product together within seconds, so you can focus on what's really important.For sales, GoInstant lets you put the prospect in front of your product faster than anything else. For Customer support, it means you can solve problems faster and make customers happier by turning a bad situation in to a positive one. GoInstant allows you to engage your... more

Version One Ventures
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Above everything else we invest in entrepreneurs, not businesses. We love passionate entrepreneurs with deep domain knowledge. Entrepreneurs with great product and design instincts. Entrepreneurs who want to change the world but know that in order to do so, they need help. And yes, we love to help, when and where ever we can. Besides the founder team we look for a few more things when... more

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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