Startup Marketing Dilemma

Startup Marketing Dilemma of Ready to Eat food Business
A Real Life Case study

  Startup Marketing Dilemma of Maya a homemaker who wants to be financially independent in her ready to eat food business.

 “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful." Jeff Bezos

Startup Marketing Dilemma

Marketing is necessary evil! And, it should be handled simultaneously. The argument here is – what if startups focus more on improving the product, making it more user-friendly, intuitive, and engaging - allowing it to grow naturally with minimal effort on marketing and sales activities.

I believe that ‘Word of Mouth’ publicity is more valuable in the early iterations; it attracts new customers to the platform and retains them for a longer period. In this highly competitive and quick evolving landscape; Customer engagement and retention is the key to success. 


An Idea

Maya is a home maker. -An excellent cook. She loves to experiment with recipes, adding a pinch that-a dash of this and so on. When she decided to become financially independent  her thoughts naturally turned to what she is good at- cooking. She launched a ready-to eat-food business with the help of a relative.


:Maya is in a bustling metro town. People have little time on week days to prepare meals and are opting for healthy ready to eat foods.


Time   24 hours / week (12 hours for marketing)

Money:  $ 500  

Since her time is critical she evaluated all the alternatives to select one which will get her more customers per hour of work. The Cash resources cannot be stretched

Startup Marketing Dilemma

Maya had less than 500$ as cash resources. Her tight budget did not allow her to engage a full time marketing person. She could devote only 4 hours/ day on her business and of that she spent 2 hours on marketing. She tried various approaches but yet find the right fishing hole which would give her more customers per hour of her limited time.

Three alternative lead generations

She listed three lead generation approaches which will help her to meet her potential clients with limited time available.

1.    Supply to retail market 

2.    Sell only at food exhibitions(Twice a month) and retail Store at home

3.    Tie up with Supermarkets

She estimated the resources and return for each marketing alternative so that she can plot the Resources- Return matrix to discover her diamond.


Time   24 hours / week (12 hours for marketing)

Money:  $ 500  

Since her time is critical she evaluated all the alternatives to select one which will get her more customers per hour of work. The Cash resources cannot be stretched.

Resources and return estimates for each alternative


Resource: Time

Stocking in retail market, Telephone Lines, cost of delivery

Total time for marketing: 10 hours/ week    (10/12=80%)

Booking Orders, visit to retailers and payments follow up.

Cash Resources:  Communication Costs & cost of delivery to replenish stock

Return: Lead Generation

More Visibility in the market, Motive to make profits by retailers


60% success rate for the time invested.

2X2 Matrix (Resource: Return) : (8,6)


Resource: Two full days of 8 hours each -16 hours /month on marketing alone.

Further pre arrangements will require another 12 hours / month.

A total of 28 hours/ month- 1 hour/ day on marketing

Return:  Meeting 70% potential Customers

Participating in exhibitions will require

•      Resource: Hiring space, Inventory cost is less, Promotion Medium

•      Return; Target audience, Better Margins , No intermediary

2X2 Matrix (Resource: Return) : (5,7 )

 Alternative 3:

Maya is required to visit supermarket once a week. She has to spend 3 hours per week.

•      Resources: Annual Contracts- onetime effort

•      Replenishment

•      Return: Brand Visibility, Higher footfalls, Buyers Bargaining Power-Lower Margins

Resources: Time 3/12 (2)

Return: She has achieved 80% success rate.

Thus the score is 8 out of 10

2X2 Matrix (Resource: Return) : (2,8 )

Expected Expenses: $ 300

The cash requirements for all alternatives are below the budget of $ 500.

 Startup Marketing Dilemma-Discover the Diamond

Discover Diamond by plotting in the resources score (X axis) and Return score (Y Axis) and discover the diamond.

Alternative 3 is the diamond as Maya invests less time but  gets higher return by way of  right fishing hole.


Luck favors the brave. Maya’s products were gaining acceptance. The supermarket chain was rapidly expanding. This tailwind helped Maya in getting higher revenue

Her aunt offered to look after manufacturing. Now Maya is planning to expand capacity, hire a sales person and also an assistant to help her in selling at exhibitions.