As I talk to more and more of our clients, one thing is clear: they’re facing more challenges than ever, and they’re struggling to find the best places to start to tackle them.

As we began to think of content for our upcoming Marketing Conference in May, we brainstormed ways we could inspire, teach and equip marketing leaders to help guide them on their various journeys. That exercise led to the decision to recruit a panel of successful start-up marketing executives from companies like Lyft and Etsy to share the common patterns and principals that made them successful.

Why start-up CMOs? Well, the role of a start-up marketing executive is an important early hire. They have a high-level of visibility, set the vision and make magic happen. They are hyper-focused on their customer, are responsive to change and failure, and are insight-driven and experimental. Best of all, they have exciting stories to share during their high-growth phases. My mission as a facilitator is to inspire our clients and spark new ideas from areas outside of their companies and industries.

I am crowdsourcing questions to use to guide the discussion and, as a marketing leader, I’d like to ask for your help. I’d love to hear from you: What questions would you ask a start-upĀ CMO?

  1. April 8, 2017 at 6:52 am
    Shiho Hashimoto says:

    How can we make our solution (which is much better than the competitors) stand out in all the noise in the market? How to increase the brand awareness quickly when you are a start-up and no one knows about you?

  2. April 10, 2017 at 7:41 am
    michelle green says:

    What are the use cases for the solution you are marketing – can you clearly articulate them?

  3. April 10, 2017 at 4:27 pm
    Fed says:

    What are the things Start-up CEOs are doing differently that allow CMOs drive exponential growth? how can more established companies replicate that?
    Are there clear lessons in budget assignment and decision making that CMO have witnessed and that less dynamic companies should learn from?

  4. April 20, 2017 at 8:07 am
    Steve de Mint says:

    What was your quantitative impact –
    How did you grow sales and by what % were they increased?

  5. April 20, 2017 at 2:57 pm
    Michele Hudnall says:

    What do you look for in choosing a start-up to work with or for? What qualities do you look for as good potential and those you’d run away from.

    Marketing is a key role, as you point out, and the largest component of a business plan. Start-up Marketing isn’t a job for the faint of heart and I would be interested in your perspective on what keys you look for as good potential start-ups.

  6. April 20, 2017 at 4:04 pm
    Susan Cole says:

    What’s the exit strategy? What’s the timeframe for reaching key milestones? A company that hopes to be acquired takes a different approach than one that hopes to IPO or is in it for the long haul. What are the investor’s expectations?

  7. April 21, 2017 at 4:59 pm
    Fredrik Ronnlund says:

    I run a startup’s marketing department and our main goals have less than tactics always been on the basics: knowing the product’s key values and knowing the customers. Doing the based work really well has paid off in a huge community of users and growing revenue.

    I even wrote a blogpost about the basics at

  8. April 21, 2017 at 8:54 pm
    Luciana says:

    How vital is marketing in the early days of a start-up as opposed to a strictly sales-driven approach? Many start-ups don’t bring in a formal marketing function/CMO for a few years, while others see the value from the start. What’s your perspective?

    As the marketing lead at a start-up – are there foundational priorities the CMO should have that cut across industry/target/offering focus?

    How valuable is social media in building the “perception” of critical mass early on for a start-up? What would be your platform of choice?

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