How To Get a Job in Marketing And Impress A Startup: Always Be Prepared

So what exactly marks out going for a marketing job in a startup from generic job scrambling? Having conquered the challenge himself,  DTCW Communications founder and author Dominic Tarn wants to give you the inside scoop…


Are you looking for that dream marketing job in a startup? Want to be able to have something really impressive on your CV: something along the lines of “I was responsible for launching [insert cool  new web product] as [insert job title] for [insert awesome startup], which went onto exit for [eye watering figure] to [big company with very deep pockets].” Sure beats being one of thirty in some junior position in the corporate world for three years.

When you are marketing new products and services in the startup world you are responsible for marketing everything. Let me repeat – Everything. You will likely be answering direct to the Founder & CEO. If you, or they, don’t come up with a good idea, guess what – no one else will. The Marketing department won’t have dropped the ball. You will have. You are responsible. Feeling daunted by the responsibility? You should. You should also be highly motivated by the potential.

How then do you land this sweet gig marketing a startup?

I can tell you. I’ve not only been there, done that, got the T-shirt, but now I am launching my own startup, DTCW Communications – a digital media agency for high-growth startups – and we’ve just hired three interns for marketing and sales positions.

1. Research First, Email Second

A simple ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ generic email will just get ignored. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got marketing experience at WPP (a world leader in advertising and marketing services), if you don’t have 5 to 15 minutes to research the company, find out who the founder(s) are, and what the company does, then it either suggests arrogance or laziness. Neither trait will get you anywhere in a startup.

2. Understand Their Customers

Underwriting everything you do in a marketing role for a startup is sales. It’s your job to sell their products or services to their intended customers. If you put yourself in the customers mindset you’ll understand more about what problem the startup is solving. Once you understand that you can begin thinking about what they should be saying, how to frame the message, and therefore what strategy to craft and deploy.

3. Be Prepared

Earlier this year I was working in a marketing capacity for two startups (part-time each). After two weeks I had got one covered in TechCrunch, and the other, I completely reorganized their entire marketing and message strategy. I got the green light on key projects which brought their marketing back from the dead. How? I was prepared. I knew exactly what they needed and how to deliver the strategy. You won’t be expected to do that in your first week. More like your second (kidding … sort of).

But if you want the gig, and you get invited to interview, then really look at their current marketing strategy, the language used on their website, blogs, and anything else you can find. If you think you can do better then say so. Better yet, put a plan together explaining what you would do, and how. Believe me, that will get the attention of the founder(s). And finally, be prepared for a steep learning curve when you do get the job. It will be steep, but here’s the other thing – you will enjoy it.

Good Luck!

Dominic Tarn is Founding Partner & CEO of DTCW Communications: A digital media agency for high-growth startups. DTCW accelerates startups’ communications, globally. You can read more about his tips for start-ups in his upcoming book, The New Goldrush.

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Natasha Hodgson is the Content and Community Manager over at Enternships. She loves writing about inspiring things, and Nicolas Cage. Luckily, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

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