How much time do you spend on marketing?


I recently saw a video with Jeff Bezos saying (to paraphrase) "with the internet you should spend much more time on making a great product that can market itself.".

I have spent (an unbalanced) 99% of my time developing and I need to step it up on marketing efforts a bit.

How much time should a single man shop spend on marketing?



asked Feb 7 '10 at 04:07
Jon Kragh
185 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

5 Answers


You know the saying "If you build it they will come"?

Well it's not true.

The true saying is "If you build it and it solves their problem well they will use it" I wrote a blog post about this exact problem.

It has to do with giving value rather than communicating it.

What Bezos is referring to is that you can't control criticism as you used to be able to (with marketing). If you don't focus on making your product something people talk good about then they either wont talk about it or if they do will talk bad about it.

This model:

Wont work anymore.

From the post I set up the five following principles for brands who want to make it in a world where criticism can be channeled.

  1. It’s not what you say you are, but how you are. Turn the Brand Pyramid upside down. And now that you are at it, remove the three sections that used to be at the top. Good products communicate by being good products. If people are exited about it they will tell everyone else. If they don’t, focus all your time and effort on making products that they will rave about. That is going to be the first very simple but crucial principle to accept. Bad products will not survive, you won’t have the marketing power or control of the public mind anymore. Just look at what happened to Vodafone 360 despite their clever and expensive branding strategy.
  2. Expect to make mistakes and be honest about them. You are bound to make mistakes. If you are honest about them, people will trust you and engage with your brand. What you will get back is honesty in return. Do you realize how much an honest customer is worth? They will choose your products or services for the right reason and you will know why. That is what long lasting friendships is all about. Trust, history and honesty.
  3. Make everything matter In every situation where people interact with any part of your company you’re de-facto exposing your brand values. Whether off-line or online this is what branding is all about. If you have a kick ass customer service then it will be reflected in how people perceive your brand and how they talk about you. Every piece of copy you write for customers. Every sign-up or payment process. Don’t just treat it as a necessary addendum to your company. It’s as much a part of your product as the product itself. Make everything matter you cannot not communicate.
  4. Listen As the web is transforming into a giant ecosystem of conversations, the single most important ability besides creating great products and services must be the ability to listen. There is no excuse and the benefits are huge. I am not talking about being reactionary and only reacting to bad publicity (although that is certainly also something that needs to be done) I am talking about actively engaging in the conversations around your industry openly showing that you listen and that you have ideas. The better listener you become the better a lover you become and who don’t want to be a great lover?
  5. Interface is brand Just ask Google. Don’t waste valuable time or money trying to wordsmith the experience you want people to have with your product. Instead provide them with the actual experience. The best call to action is the actual product or service not a description of it.

You can read the entire post here

answered Feb 7 '10 at 04:39
Thom Pete
1,296 points


The amount of time varies with need.

At first you're right to be heads-down in dev -- nothing to market yet!

Once you have a v1.0, marketing becomes more important; specifically you're looking for early adopters to use, buy, and help you tune the features.

Five years later, dev might become 25% of your time because the product is set; you can't change too much because of retraining customers.

answered Feb 7 '10 at 09:18
16,231 points


There are three critical parts to a business:

  • Sales/Marketing
  • Research/Development
  • Operations/Management
Ideally, you would spend a third on each. They are all equally important.

ThomPete nailed it that the old mantra "build it and they will come" just does not work. As an entrepreneur, you need to ensure that the business will survive. If you neglect any area, your business will suffer. Maybe not right away but sooner or later.

answered Feb 7 '10 at 09:06
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points


I spend 50% in marketing and marketing research. Mostly when I am not in a mood to code.

answered Feb 7 '10 at 23:27
2,288 points


Graham fooled me :) Paul Graham says good products never go out of business (can't remember the essay's likn ), so in my startup my original plan was building something really good so it'd sell itself.

Well, what Paul said was right "you won't go out of business if you have a good product " but not going out of business doesn't mean you'll have a successful business.

There are two things:

  • Having a great product in v1.0 is insanely hard
  • In some markets you'll have many people suggesting products to each other but that's not the case for all markets. Especially if you are trying to sell something to business and sell something expensive, that's mostly not the case.

As soon as we realized this, we switched our effort from development to marketing, in our case change the roadmap to focus on feature that affect marketing. We are still spending most of our times %80 on development but %40 of this development is more focused on marketing features of the product. This might not work in many products, in our product there are some features not core features, but good for marketing.

As Jason wrote Marketing vs. Development time will change rapidly in every step of the product. Sometimes working on new features can be considered as marketing, sometimes you'll say "no more feature will effect our sales, we gotta go there and sell it now."

Some companies sell features (i.e. FogBugz), every new release means marketing. Even if their software does all required things good enough, they'll still put more on top of it. (i.e. Office Word). It's an infinite process and all about marketing.

Some companies got a fixed product in a solid state, all they need to do is marketing.

But if you've released your product, %1 marketing sounds like a terrible idea, you need at least %15 of your time spend on it unless you got a huge fan base who does the marketing for you.

As shipping is a feature, marketing is a feature as well.

answered Feb 8 '10 at 00:20
The Dictator
2,305 points

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