Relationships can be hard.

Each person involved has different needs and desires. Individual visions for the future can vary widely. And don’t even get us started on how tricky communicating can be… 

So what do relationship dynamics have to do with marketing? Well, the same issues tend to hold true for the relationships between people in love as they do for marketers and founders within a company. Think that’s a stretch? Read on…

Adam invited his friend, Todd Wilms, Founder of and author of Beyond Product – How Exceptional Founders Embrace Marketing to Create and Capture Value for their Business, to talk about how important it is for founders and marketers to understand each others’ real needs and desires in order for the business to generate maximum success.

Sometimes We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Todd shared that there can sometimes be a disconnect between what founders think they need when it comes to marketing and what’s actually necessary for sustainable growth. Whether it’s because they see what everyone else in the market around them is doing, or they’re attempting to follow current trends, many founders make assumptions about what their marketing needs are – and sometimes incorrectly.

And ironically, Todd revealed that marketers tend to miss opportunities to help founders uncover what their true needs really are. Rather than exploring the deeper motivators underneath the founders’ stated desires, they instead let those perceptions dictate the path forward. So, for example, if a CEO tells their marketing support team that the company “needs more leads”, the marketing team may just get after it getting as many leads as possible, without stopping to understand why the CEO thinks more leads are necessary. 

“Marketing Doesn’t Need to Start Until You’re Ready to Drive Customers to Product, Right?” Think Again . . .

Also worth noting is that through his extensive research for his book, Todd learned that founders often aren’t clear on exactly when the process of “marketing” actually should begin. Many business owners believe that marketing doesn’t need to start until you’re ready to drive consumers to your product. In reality, however, marketing is embedded in the process of building a business from day one. R&D, market research, even team-building are all interwoven with the philosophy and execution of a strategic marketing plan. Now, that doesn’t mean your first hire should be a full-time CMO, Todd warns, but understanding that marketing is part of the equation from the beginning can certainly help founders create a more sustainable trajectory for growth.  

Not surprisingly, according to a CB Insights survey, three of the top ten reasons why startups fail are listed as “no market need”, “not the right team”, and “poor marketing”, all problems that could be solved by embedding marketing into the foundation of a business right from the start.


“If you build it they will not come. You may find (your people) and you may connect to them and you may draw them to you, but they’re not gonna come naturally.” – Todd Wilms, Founder –

If marketers and founders can get on the same page, speak the same language, and above all else, clearly understand what the real drivers and motivators are behind the company’s goals and desires, the way forward to success becomes exponentially more effective. Back to our “get more leads” example, rather than simply agreeing that the goal is binary and 100% necessary, uncovering why those leads are important is mission-critical.

Todd points out that “more leads” can be generated all day long in any number of ways. But whether the business is in a stage when “more leads” are actually necessary based on where they are now and where they’re headed in the future, is a question that requires deeper exploration between the founder and marketer to do the business vision the justice it deserves.

To hear more from Todd Wilms, listen to our interview with him: Founders are from Mars, Marketers are from Venus.