Your startup is the awesome of awesomest. You’ve conceptualized and built a product that’s going to turn the world on
its axis. You’ve found a way to monetize the un-monetizable, and you’re going to help groups make bajillions of dollars. You help businesses make money in ways that they’d never have imagined. You’ve built the best predictive model out there. It knows the predicted probability of what you’re eating for dinner before you get hungry. In your mind, your startup is the mothership of all startups.
In all your greatness; however, nobody knows about what you do. Even if they find out about your company, they might not remember it or understand its unbelievable value. You speak in a language so technical that nobody gets it. Augmented/virtualized/enhanced/buzzword/what?
Sometimes, you just have to step back and humanize what you’re doing. Embrace the technical, but captivate peoples’ eyes, needs, and hearts. Inspire audiences by interjecting personality in absolutely everything that you do. Pick a goal or two or three and structure your efforts around them in a language that simultaneously appeals to your most niche and general audiences.
Today’s blog post comes from a very real question on Quora: “How Do I Market my Startup?”
Rather than jumping blindly into ad networks and social media platforms, you should step back and return to an old-timey concept that everybody knows and loves: networking. Here are 20+ concrete ways to network through the biz dev abyss:
1. Attend meetups, conferences, tradeshows, and networking events.
If you’re cash strapped and don’t want to drop a bunch of money on an event (which is reasonable), look for casual meetup groups or free after-hours events. Eventbrite has done an amazing job aggregating some of these. Meetup (company) is another excellent one. Troll Quora to find shenanigans. Ask you colleagues, peers, and friends what’s going on. Get on the phone and talk to people. Skype. No matter what you do, get your product out in the open. Talk about it, but don’t look like a narcissist. Be humble where it matters and assertive where it counts.
2. Develop a content marketing strategy that revolves around a pull mechanism.
Consider hosting a visually engaging and substantive blog on your site. StartupStats, Unbounce, KISSmetrics do this elegantly. Rather than talk about themselves, these blogs focus on topics that their readers genuinely care about. StartupStats, for instance, will feature one little-known startup per day. KISSmetrics features amazingly in-depth quantitative blog posts with substantive value. I wouldn’t be surprised if their return-visit traffic is over the top. In fact, I’m on these sites every few days. While StartupStats is up-and-coming, Unbounce and KISSmetrics each sell products. And I’m there every day, engaging with companies that presumably want to sell me something. I’m a skeptical business person with a finite budget, but they’ve already won me over, especially if their products are half as good as the content.
3. When it comes to social media, weigh your time.
With so many free social media options, you likely want to jump into anything and everything. Do yourself a favor by exercising restraint. Above all, robust social strategies require constant care and attention. When you’re at the ground level of a startup, you need to invest as much time into your product as possible, and you need to be extra-strategic about your marketing channels. Focus on the ones that align closest with your audience for quantity + quality in your lead generation efforts. For instance, a Facebook page may not be worth your time if you’re hoping to build a B2B audience. In that situation, your best bets are Quora, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which all have value as professionally-focused platforms.
4. Lead your audiences through discussions and problem-solving sessions.
As an example, you could host a LinkedIn discussion group. You could also make an effort to answer several Quora questions a day.
With respect to paid advertising, make sure that you focus on your niche. For instance, I wouldn’t recommend that B2B marketers invest heavily in Facebook advertising. There are exceptions to this generalization; however. As an example, I recently saw a Facebook ad for a pretty cool business event. I clicked on that ad and paid for it. If you’re using an advertising platform like this to reach professionals, make sure that you’re targeting niche keywords and even zip codes. If you’re audience includes startups and entrepreneurs, for instance, look into targeting a zip code with a high-concentration of people who might use your product… like the Silicon Valley or San Francisco Zip codes. As an alternative, consider LinkedIn display ads.
6. Humanize your presence in everyday language.
When you build a company website, tell your customers who you are. Create a really creative about page in addition to staff profiles. Whenever I research a company, I look to those first, and I’m always shocked by how often I don’t understand what the heck I’m reading or who the heck I’m talking to. Quite frankly, I’m usually pretty sketched out if I can’t put a human to the name.