Founders’ Triple Marketing Burden

Founders’ Triple Marketing Burden

The last thing a Phase 1 founder wants to hear is: ‘ you need to ramp up your paid marketing to build awareness.’


There’s no money! Are you kidding? 90% of Phase 1 P&Ls return negative pennies per unit on a net profit basis (after all expenses and debt payments). 

The first marketing burden founders experience is a lack of surplus cash to fund out-of-store marketing efforts. This is why I urge founders to focus on spending their ‘time’ in Phase 1 to build awareness. There are plenty of near-zero-cost ways to sample your product locally. It takes guts, that’s all.

The second marketing burden is that your creative has to be world-class if it wants to break through and persuade rapid trial (either online or offline). There is so much signal noise on multiple screens you can’t afford to have mediocre creative. Why? You are NOT Frito-Lay. Legacy, iconic brands can rely on high awareness and high levels of trust to simply remind fans to buy them with crappy ads. Even flashing the logo for 15 seconds would work. It would be ‘cool.’

The third marketing burden is that your team must execute superbly in the media channels they pick. This is primarily an act of restraint and focus but also an obsession with driving multiple impressions in front of a well-defined audience (with or without agency partners). 

This is my best explanation as to why the average early-stage company simply has weak marketing creativity when they start pushing it out. They don’t understand the triple burden.

Dr. James Richardson

[email protected]