I got to thinking a little more about what I learned by watching the Startup Success 2006 video and came across this post on the SportsLizard Entrepreneur Blog that says,

It also seems to me that you don’t need hardly any money at all to grow your business. That means that as a YE, you and I and everyone else can market our companies effectively with a telephone, a computer, an email account, some word processing software, and some business cards. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to promote your business.

While PARTLY true, I think people think this viral marketing thing is too easy. Getting free press and generating a buzz is not simple or cheap. Before anything, you need a great product for people to talk about. IMAGINE if Vonage had spent the millions of dollars they spend on online advertising every month on their product to avoid some of the customer complaints they have experienced. In my opinion, there is no point to trying to grow a business without a great product. Afterall, customers are not going to spread the word about a crappy product.

There are “hidden” costs associated with generating buzz, even if they are not the traditional advertising costs that many people think of. Those costs are often included in a companies Public Relations budget– that includes recruiting talented and connected PR employees and/or paying an established Public Relations Agency. For instance, I can only imagine Google’s head PR Director is making some serious cash. I’ve never seen a paid advertisement from them, yet everywhere you go, it seems someone is talking about Google. Someone has to speak to the press, engage bloggers, and satisfy disgruntled customers. Talented and passionate employees that fill those roles are extremely valuable to businesses. I’m no expert, but there is much more to growing a business than many think.