These days there is so much data and power in online marketing. We see many companies having a fantastic success acquiring customers on Instagram & Facebook. We see it in the metrics, CAC is going down and LTV is going up.
And with each success story, we see new startups following this path. Rounds are being raised with a healthy allocation for FB/IG ads. I get it.
To be sure, todays age of performance marketing has a tremendous amount of benefit and insight that was unavailable to startups from an earlier era.
But I’m a little concerned the pendulum has swung too far on performance marketing and not enough attention to the brand being built and what the company stands for.
Before blogs became content marketing machines, complete with ghost writers and listicles, they were ways to connect creatives with their community. Joel On Software was legendary and I felt like I understood Joel’s values and principles long before we ended up investing in Stack Overflow and Trello.
Same with Twitter. Go back and read the archives of Jack, Biz, Ev, Dick and Amac’s posts and you get a real sense of the foundation of the company and what Twitter stands for. Far more than some do no evil line in Google’s S-1.
Same with Nike. The recent campaign supporting Colin Kaepernick was met with massive controversy and blowback. Some state governments even lashed out, with political forces distracting from the real issues behind Kapernick’s work (hint: it’s not about the flag).
Same with Apple and their push back on the FBI’s over reach. They could have caved like AT&T, Verizon, etc. But they took a stand on privacy and told us all what they believe.
So while I’m encouraged that startups are hyper attentive to their performance marketing efforts, I would submit that there is more to building and growing a company than metrics and data. Building a company on an authentic set of principles is make good on the mission and build an world changing brand.