Marketers should tap start-ups

14 May 2013

LONDON: Young digital entrepreneurs are looking to marketers to help scale their business, assist with branding and test their technology on new problems, a survey of London's tech cluster has found.

Mother, the advertising agency, polled 114 technology-led businesses operating in the Silicon Roundabout area of Shoreditch in east London and discovered that there was a generally positive view of the marketing community and what it could do for them.

When asked their opinion of marketers, one third of respondents saw them as "the people who help companies better understand and relate with consumers".

Another third replied that they were "potentially powerful allies for entrepreneurs".

A cynical 17% regarded them as "corporate drones without the balls to back their own business ideas", while 8% had no opinion.

In terms of the marketing community's growing interest in tech clusters, 32% of businesses were open-minded, 25% were keen to strike up mutually beneficial relationships and 7% thought it could become a "defining strength of the London tech scene".

Again, not everyone was convinced, with 21% advising marketers to "jump on another bandwagon" and 15% concerned about possible negative effects such as rent rises or the poaching of ideas.

The final question asked respondents what single form of assistance from a marketer would best help them.

Assistance in understanding branding and helping achieve scale were the two most common choices, with 37% opting for each of these.

A further 13% cited the "opportunity to stretch our technology by applying to their problems".

Writing in Marketing, Dylan Williams, chief strategy officer at Mother, noted: "Marketers are looking to learn how to rededicate to tangible innovation. Start-ups are looking to better create and harness intangible assets."

"It is not outlandish to suggest," he concluded, "that both parties might identify a better tangible:intangible asset ratio together. And therein achieve a win–win for both parties."

A Warc Trends snapshot, Brands & Incubators, last year highlighted the growing number of companies developing incubator business models to source new ideas and apply them to specific brands.

Earlier this year, Campbell Soup Company offered a cash prize and a contract to the developer who could come up with a game or app that best answered the question: "What's for dinner?"

"For us this isn't a stunt or a promotion; it's part of the evolution of how we think about marketing," said Adam Kmiec, Campbell's director of global digital marketing and social media.

Data sourced from Marketing; additional content by Warc staff