One of the top reasons why businesses fail is because of poor marketing. Being able to effectively market and reach your target audience is one of the most crucial responsibilities of a company.

Just think about it.

Even if you have the best biz idea in the world, if no one knows about it, it'll be hard to make money and get customers to pay for your product, and without money in the bank, your business is dead.

If you're a new or an aspiring entrepreneur, we recently chatted with Kenny Mitchell, the CMO of Snap Inc. to help you out. Kenny recently joined the Snap team after leading marketing and consumer engagement strategies at top companies like McDonalds, Gatorade, and NASCAR.

Because marketing is one of the most crucial elements of any business, Kenny teaches us some marketing and leadership lessons for entrepreneurs.

Go ahead, and take some notes - you'll definitely want to put these tips to use later.

How playing college ball influenced him as business leader and CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)

Growing up, Kenny, who was raised in Philly and in Flint, Michigan, was a beast in both the classroom and on the court. As a point guard, Kenny learned a lot of skills that ultimately became central to his success as an executive.

"Participating in sports taught me a lot about discipline and how to work in teams. It truly influenced who I am today. When I played, I was a point guard on the basketball team. To me, a point guard can be thought of like the coach on the floor. Some of the things that they're responsible for are making sure the team knows the game plan, and that they are in the right positions to succeed. They are also responsible for getting the most out of the talents of each team member, and making sure that everybody is focused on the same goal - which is winning. That type of mindset has been very valuable now in how I approach business and my career."

On why companies should think about company culture early

One of the principles that guided Kenny throughout his career is a saying by Peter Drucker and it's, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

"How you create and communicate your company culture impacts the teams you build, manage, and are a part of so keep this in mind early on. As an entrepreneur, you have to make sure you’re very clear about the culture that you want your team to embody, and how your team interacts with each other. By not thinking about culture, it could affect your team and business. At Snap, one of the things about their culture that really attracted me is their value around this notion of being kind, creative, and smart. Those are all things that align with how I operate."

What Kenny has learned the most being a marketer

A lot of times, we overcomplicate what it means to market your company, but Kenny teaches us that it shouldn't be complicated at all.

"One of the things that I've learned pretty early on when it comes to marketing a brand is a lot of what you're trying to do is uncovering and highlighting what is the natural truth about that brand. It's not about creating some type of fantasy or some type of story. It's about helping people understand what it is about your business or brand at its core, and what value you deliver to your consumers. From there, your goal is to shine a light on that as creatively and as engaging as possible.
There's this one quote from Dolly Parton where she talks about figuring out who you are, and being that on purpose. It’s that idea of being very, very consistent, authentic, relentless, and focused on what your message is and who you are. When you think about some of the best brands in the world, they are very relentless and focused on what their message is. It's not like you have to strain your neck to understand it. When you market your brand effectively, it’s really tied to a truth about your product or your consumer."

On what the elements are of a successful marketing strategy

Online there is so much information about marketing a brand that's often confusing and extra for no reason. Kenny keeps it super simple and relatable so that anyone can understand how to accomplish your marketing goals.

"One of the keys to building smart and successful marketing strategies is understanding who you are, who your consumer is, and what value you deliver to them. From there, you need to find the most interesting ways to tell them about all of that. It doesn’t matter what industry, location, or category you’re in, if you do what I just mentioned, it’ll go a long way.
As a founder, you have to understand who you are, what you stand for, and what your business stands for at the very beginning. Oftentimes as founders, your startup is very connected to your personal identity, and the reason why you identified that opportunity to start your business. However, you have to walk in a way that is very consistent with whatever that truth is for you and for your target market. The hard part when you’re a founder is having the discipline to stick to who you say you are and what you value - especially when something trendy comes along. You have to ask yourself if it’s central to who you are, and what your business is about, or is it just something that’s popular right now to do. You have to remember that the best brands in the world are timeless, but they also know how to be timely in regards to their strategy, and the way they communicate and market to customers."

Kenny's tips for new CMOs leading startups

As you see, marketing should be at the front of your mind as a new entrepreneur. Whether you are the one leading the marketing strategies, or you have a CMO on your team, Kenny shares some tips that'll help you out.

"Early on, you have to figure out what your role in marketing is for your particular company. Based on the company’s goals and current state, is your role about growing the user base or growing the advertising clientele? Is it about creating and refining the messaging, or is it about driving specific types of engagement with an existing or new service?
In the very early days as the CMO, you have to have really good clarity on this. From there, you need to understand how distinct and how connected it’s with other parts of the organization. Simultaneously, you need to have a clear understanding of what your levers are to drive success. Next, early on, you need to identify and understand what's your brand’s message, essence, and story.
Once you have all of that, it’s now time to kick in that ruthless discipline around telling that story in a way that's really cohesive, creative, and consistent.
Lastly, you need to figure out if you have what you need to build out the strategy and to accomplish your marketing goals. If your company has the budget to hire, you need to determine which partners, resources, or team members you need to engage with in order to help get your tasks done."

For more marketing and startup tips from business and corporate leaders, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter to get all the new gems first.