So you’ve just decided on the direction of your start-up. Maybe you’re providing a better, more efficient or cheaper version of a product or service already in existence; maybe you’re simply reinventing the wheel.

Yet an idea – or, indeed, a company – is useless if nobody knows about it. Thanks to the formidable powers of the online – and offline – marketing machine, it is arguably easier than ever to get your message, idea, product or service out there amongst its competitors.

Sure, marketing can be a very daunting task to a first-time entrepreneur embarking on their journey to world domination. Nevertheless, you need to be unique and captivating. Do you know what your potential customers want? Do these customers even know what they want?

The problem facing start-ups, in particular, is that money isn’t always in bountiful supply. This is especially true during the start-up’s birth and incubation period. A stateside study by the National Association of Small Business Professionals in 2013 observed that 25% of start-ups will fail in their first year of operation “largely due to marketing issues”.

Marketing is not the same as advertising

When one views the term ‘marketing’ as a synonym for ‘advertising’, it’s unsurprising that many view it as a costly option and not an essential. Yet marketing goes far beyond advertising.

Indeed, it addresses all growth-related activities through all ‘touch points’ with the consumer – such as generating awareness, demand and purchase to building ongoing.

Marketing is the overall experience

Too many start-ups focus only on creating their products (or website, app etc). To this end, any capital available is used to fund these projects; often little cash remains to help drive potential customers to these products. Sure, you can resort to begging capitalists to invest in your business, but most will be hesitant unless you have a decent proof-of-concept.

This could be, for example, in the form of rising website traffic or revenues which demonstrate a real demand. Investors’ money, after all, isn’t there to be experimented with! Help your business get the big spenders on board by saving some money to fund your own marketing campaign.

Be flexible

Unlike many big-budget companies, as a start-up, you will have the ability to react quickly to evolving circumstances. It makes sense, then, to have a marketing campaign that is flexible, too. Don’t be afraid to change tack. Just test and track different campaigns; if one doesn’t work, then you can always reallocate your budget.

Ultimately, though, growth is the defining characteristic of a start-up – and good marketing creates growth. In this respect, it’s never too early to start thinking about marketing – even if it’s just going to have a chat to get some serious perspective from an industry insider. So what are you waiting for?!