This is a blog about marketing for start-ups. It’s also an adventure story; about building a business from scratch.

The company I helped found was called Sonar6, and it started in Auckland, New Zealand. Over six years we grew our start-up until it had offices and clients around the world. Then we were acquired by one of our large US-based competitors.


There are two truths that, by definition, apply to all start-ups: they are small and they are new. When we started Sonar6 I thought “small” and “new” were negative things, because everything I had learned in marketing up to that point had said that big was good, that heritage had value. So our marketing tried to hide those two truths. Which is the opposite of what we should have done.

This blog is about how to use being small and new as a marketing advantage.

“Hack,” in the dictionary is a good illustration of how quickly language changes. As a verb its meanings range from chopping vegetation, through gaining illegal access to computer systems, to playing bad golf. But when I tell you that at Sonar6 we spent our days hacking marketing I mean none of those things. What I mean is that we broke and remade what we knew about marketing so that it worked in a start up. The marketing that came out of our little band at Sonar6 was resource constrained, sometimes ugly, but nearly always effective.

These days I work with a bunch of wonderful start-up businesses, and every day I see marketing rearranged in all sorts of rule-breaking ways, by people who, err, break rules.

If that sounds like you… well… welcome to Marketing Hacks for Start-Ups. You’re in the right place.