Monday, July 06, 2009

How much is experience worth?

Today I was told by a VC that his portfolio companies operate extremely lean and that as an advisor he doesn't encourage any spending on marketing.

In fact, those that do anything just do some blogging, and he encourages them to hire a recent college grad--"they're available dirt cheap," he said--to do the writing work. For about $1000 a month you can direct them to write some posts then take what you want and discard the rest. Content for short money.

Another startup told me that they hired a woman who had been with an agency for a year to do their PR. One year out of college, one agency job under he belt and she was in charge of getting them coverage. To their credit, they know that eventually they'll outgrow her experience and they will need to invest more in PR.*

If you're a startup exec, the numbers person in you is probably saying "wow, that seems to make complete sense!"

But let me ask you this: could your college self do the job you do today? My college self certainly coudn't, though he thought he could. Why would you trust your company's image to someone with no worldly experience?

Last week I met with someone how commented that he liked reading my blog because my punctuation and grammar are on target. That's a pretty low bar. Though, having had recent college grads writing for me, it's one that is apparently pretty high.

Back when I taught a news production class at Emerson College I had to teach the juniors, seniors and master's students the difference between present tense and active voice. Many simply did not know.

So, are you now willing to trust your brand to someone with no worldly experience? Someone who doesn't know the players, doesn't know the language and doesn't know how to market?

Maybe it's me, but seems like a waste of $12,000 annually.

* Added 7/7/09

Just to clarify, I think this is a smart strategy on their part because of their situation. They need a launch right now, it's all they need. They are focued on a tight market and there are just a few blogs and publications that will get them off the ground. Also, as a very small company they have the time to focus on these details. They do understand, however, that this is not a long-term strategy and won't help them to sustain exposure, nor will it help them as their business focus expands.

1 comment:

Holly said...

That's very disappointing to hear. One would think that companies are investing in marketing during this downturn in order to gain market share...especially with a solid lead generation strategy, social media community building, and SEO tactics. Now is the time to invest in sales and marketing alignment, CRM best practices, and working hard and smart with the press. It's too, too bad that so many VCs associate marketing with wasting money. Just the opposite is the case: investing in marketing affords such a huge payback for other departments. If you can't prove an ROI, you shouldn't be doing marketing.