By now you’ve read it over and over again: The latest mobile app, website or Web-based service that’s quickly gaining traction with the kiddos has no plans for monetization. It’s just focusing on offering the coolest, most user-friendly, most cleverly named digital thingamajig in the marketplace. Then the fledgling company, founded by a couple of college buds and funded generously by Dad, manages to attract early-stage capital from an East Coast VC firm. How the heck did that happen? Whether or not the founders label it as such, it’s called marketing. To get investors’ attention, especially in the absence of revenue, startups need two things—a readymade following and a brand that registers high on the hipness quotient—which means that marketing should rank high on their to-do lists from the start, even if it isn’t yet a line item in their budgets, experts say.Consumers in any category are attracted to brands that don’t seem to be all about the revenue. They want brands that focus on the products—and on customers’ experiences with those products—before profit or promotions. Recent tech startups seem to be taking that to heart.
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