How Much Should a Startup Spend on Ads? Tells Mohit Joshi of Havas

Which advertising strategies are most effective for startups at different stages of growth? How can they ensure a good return on investment? Check out this exclusive interview to know how startups can leverage advertising!

Shreshtha Verma
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Startups often grapple with several key questions regarding advertising: How much should they spend? Which advertising strategies are most effective at different stages of growth? How can they ensure a good return on investment? What role does technology and AI play in modern advertising? If you are also curious about these questions and have similar queries in mind, check out this interview with Mohit Joshi, CEO of Havas Media Network, who offers valuable insights and advice.

In this exclusive and insightful conversation we delve into the intricacies of advertising strategies for startups in India. Joshi shares his expert views on how startups can leverage advertising to build brands, attract investments, and achieve sustainable growth.

Startups and Advertising: A Symbiotic Relationship


Startups in India have shown a remarkable affinity for advertising, using it as a crucial tool to establish their brands and drive return on investment (ROI) through performance marketing and digital campaigns. Joshi highlights the diverse stages of startups, from well-established giants like Swiggy and Ola to bootstrapped ventures. He emphasizes that the advertising needs of these entities vary significantly based on their size and growth stage.

"For a bootstrapped startup, the focus is on increasing installs and demonstrating ROI to attract funding," Joshi explains. "In contrast, established startups like Swiggy and Ola aim to build their brand while ensuring every dollar spent yields a measurable return."

Budget-Friendly Advertising for Early-Stage Startups


Addressing advertising strategies for idea-stage startups, Joshi advises against heavy advertising investments before product readiness.

"At the idea stage, focus on PR and creating a buzz. Once the product is ready, lower funnel advertising becomes essential to acquire consumers and build numbers for investor presentations."

Determining the Advertising Budget of a Startup: No One-Size-Fits-All


When asked about the ideal percentage of overall expenses that established startups should allocate to advertising, Joshi clarifies that there's no universal formula.

"It depends on market conditions, past advertising ROI, and the startup’s marketing calendar. Big brand launches require significant advertising, while routine operations might prioritize performance marketing and always-on digital campaigns."

The Role of Technology and AI in Modern Advertising


Joshi acknowledges the transformative impact of technology and AI on advertising.

"AI enables rapid ad creation, reducing the need for traditional shoots. However, creative minds are still essential for brand positioning, which AI cannot replicate. The integration of AI is a positive change, enhancing efficiency and enabling advertisers to manage more clients and campaigns."

Havas Media Network offers specialized solutions for startups, catering to their unique needs. "We work with around 25-30 startups at various stages, from mature companies like Swiggy to completely bootstrapped ones. Our dedicated team understands the agility and speed required in the startup ecosystem," Joshi notes.


Advertising Tips for Budding Entrepreneurs

To wrap up the conversation, Joshi offers valuable advice for budding entrepreneurs on effective advertising strategies. "Never view your advertising budget as an expense; see it as an investment for the future. Demand a clear ROI from your advertising spend. If your current agency doesn’t deliver, find one that does—like us at ."

Mohit Joshi's insights provide a comprehensive guide for startups looking to optimize their advertising strategies. By understanding the different needs based on their growth stage, leveraging technology, and viewing advertising as a critical investment, startups can navigate the competitive landscape effectively and achieve sustained success.