Dave McClure: Startups & Investors Are Incredibly Bad At Internet Marketing

By

 

dave mcclure

 

Earlier today, in a surprisingly expletive-free rant, Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups, kicked Monday off in full throttle sharing his thoughts on internet marketing, and why he thinks many startups and investors are failing. Mainly, distribution is important. We agree with many of his sentiments, especially not focusing on customers acquisition channels early on.

 

Dave's tweets are below, along with some of his retweets throughout and notable replies from other extremely well-respected people in the startup world (I'm expanding his tweets as I have quite a bit more than 140 charactores to work with):

 

"Most startups & investors are incredibly bad at marketing & customers acquisition. This is a systemic Silicon Valley fail that must be corrected." - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"Startups focus too much on building product with limited attention to customer interaction, usability, and marketing. This is also a big fail." - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"Inability to scale customer acquisition is the single greatest factor in not getting Series A and ultimately the cause of the 'Series A Crunch.'" - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"If the Valley had more sensible and knowledgeable internet marketing education taught at business schools or by investors, we'd waste a lot less money." - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"It's laughable we worship Silicon Valley as some kind of Mecca for startups given how functionally illiterate the Valley is at marketing." - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"Traditional business schools and most investors are quite vulnerable to competition in this area (marketing and customer acquisition). This is an opportunity." - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"I'm appalled at the number of startups who say 'we've spent nothing on marketing; our customer acquisition is entire organic' - aka 'I'm a marketing retard.'" - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"If you aren't doing multi-channel testing on paid and organic marketing, you have no idea what customers cost and shouldn't get any funding until you do." - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"The Valley skill set that should be in highest demand and greatest scarcity is neither engineering nor design, but rather internet marketing." - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"'Product/market fit' is rarely a static state of being; competition and changing needs make it a moving target. Also, fashion and trend." - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

"By the way, the 'marketing' skills I'm talking about aren't traditional ones - they are critically joined at the hip to product development and usability." - Dave McClure [TWEET THIS]

 

Here are some great responses and links from others agreeing with Dave.

 

Semil Shah shared his post on "The Valley's Best Investor's on 'Distribution'" with insight by Dave, Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, and Marc Andreessen. Whether you agree with them or not, you have to listen to what all four of them say. [TWEET THIS]

 

"Many think it's cool to be organic, not realizing that most should get smart ASAP on 'how to market' as core competency." - Michael Yavonditte, CEO of YieldMo [TWEET THIS]

 

"Talented marketers with passion are difficult to come by." - Adam Singer, Google Analytics Team [TWEET THIS]

 

"Good internet marketing hires may be too late. It really should be built into the core of the product from inception." - Austen Allred [TWEET THIS]

 

"In many companies, traditional marketing practices and techniques are the exact opposite of good user experience and usability." - Jeff Gothelf, Author of Lean UX [TWEET THIS]

 

"Consistent and defensible customer acquisition model is beyond under-rated and most startups overlook." - Jason Baptiste, CEO of Onswipe [TWEET THIS]

 

"Always surprises me when I talk to smart founder that test, learn, iterate in other ways, but just throw cash at marketing." - Sean Smith [TWEET THIS]

 

Danielle Morrill, CEO of Mattermark, shared an old, but still relevant post of hers: "Startup Marketing: 2nd Class Citizen, 2nd Rate Results" [TWEET THIS]

 

In typical Twitter fashion, and with all healthy debates, people we coming out to refute Dave's statements:

 

Former Square COO, early PayPal (where Dave also worked) and LinkedIn employee, Keith Rabois mentioned that LinkedIn spent zero on marketing and Square didn't spent a cent until after their Series B, at which point they had raised over $37M. [TWEET THIS]

 

Benedict Evans jumped in on how Whatsapp doesn't even give interviews and they have over 250M MAUs with 10B (yes, with a B) messages sent everyday. [TWEET THIS]

 

###

 

What are your thoughts on internet marketing with startups and investors? Do you think marketing, customer acquisition, and distribution are overlooked? Shouldn't they be taken into consideration early on with customer development and the building of the product? Should startups focus on strictly organic traffic and content marketing, or do intelligent, small tests with paid advertising to increase knowledge and validation cycles in conjunction?