Marketing isn’t valued by startups because it’s too often seen as the antithesis of “Product.” Startups are often engineering cultures — cults of product — and somewhere along the way engineers got the impression marketing was a coat of paint slapped onto a product after it rolled off the assembly line. VC Fred Wilson gave voice to this powerful mis-conception more artfully than most:

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This narrow view of marketing — that it’s something that happens to a product after it’s done, rather than something that bends a product toward the market as it develops — is the culprit here.

The phenomenon has advanced to the point where Steve Blank felt compelled to coin another term for the latter function: “Customer Development.”

Ask startup engineers if they think that’s important, and most will say sure. Just don’t call it marketing, and nobody will get hurt.

Venture storyteller, wartime consiglieri, lyrical gangsta. Partner, G20 Ventures, thoughts here are my own.

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