Finding your Founder-Marketing fit, or how to stop worrying and get excited about your next sales meeting

“I would pay someone a million dollars to take this CISO to breakfast tomorrow instead of me.” 🥐

You’ve definitely heard this sentiment before. In fact, you’ve probably heard the more “positive” spin on it:

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Every influencer ever

Let’s talk about Founder-Marketing fit.

For early stage founders, choosing a GTM motion that aligns with your superpowers and past experience will give you a significant edge over competition, especially in the early days.

We’ve written before about the importance of choosing the right ICP and how it will set you up for success in the long-term. Determining Founder-Marketing fit is about putting your best foot forward, and getting excited about who you’re marketing to and how you’re marketing to them.
When you’re focused on securing your first 10 customers, you want to stick to prospects and channels you can get excited about. This will make your short-term goals that much easier to achieve (and, ideally, your long-term goals as well).

Examples of a good Founder-Marketing fit:

  1. Technical founders who love contributing to open source, forums, and dev communities selling a PLG dev tool.
  2. Founders who are uber-networked in the tech ecosystem, selling a product to tech companies (replacing “tech” with “healthcare” or “French,” or other qualifiers, also works).
  3. A CEO who ran channel sales and partnerships, selling a product through channels and partners.
  4. A CEO with a strong network from business school, selling an enterprise product.

You get the idea. A good Founder-Marketing fit is a win-win; you’ll be more excited to market to folks you like and in channels you frequent, and your prospects will speak your language, making it easier to educate them about your product.

Examples of mismatches

  1. Two technical founders who hate “marketing fluff,” targeting Fortune 500 executives.
  2. A founder selling a $10 / seat / month dev tool who isn’t an active contributor to dev forums and communities.
  3. A CEO who doesn’t want to travel, selling an enterprise product.
  4. An Israeli CEO targeting US enterprises who doesn’t want to do evening meetings.
  5. A CEO who simply despises “wining & dining,” selling an enterprise product (see quote above).

We’re not saying to never market outside of your comfort zone – certainly not as you scale, and your marketing team consists of more than just the CEO. But early on, a bad Founder-Marketing fit will make you dread your sales meetings – and reduce your chances of connecting with your prospects.

The bottom line

Later on in your startup’s lifecycle, when you have a full-blown marketing and sales team, finding the right Founder-Marketing fit matters less. But in the early days, when you’re hustling to close your first 10 customers? Doing something you’re good at and like doing makes a huge difference in your chances of success… and also in your quality of life.

Where a gourmet breakfast meets executive despair. Don’t be that CEO.

Further reading

Netta is the founder and CEO of Blue Seedling. She loves third wave coffee, thin crust pizza, and B2B marketing.

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