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unCon 2014 Session: Start-Up Marketing Best Practices

by Peter
, principal of Black Rocket Consulting. @petergorman
been involved in every form of corporate communications for the last twenty or
so years, I have experienced first-hand the pains that go into the marketing
process for companies in the early start-up phase through multi-billion dollar
corporations. Each type of company has its own specific needs and goals it
wants to accomplish. However, at the start-up phase, it is often those in more
of a technological position that are attempting to get a grasp on the
principles of how to market their products or services, often before they are
available to the marketplace.
goal of the well-attended session entitled, “Start-up Marketing Best
Practices,” was to help those with little to no marketing experience to
determine the basic steps necessary to get a solid marketing program off the
ground.  Steve Robbins, who hosted the
session, prodded the audience for their best practices for a pre-launched
product. While one entrepreneur spoke about how a priority should be to build
ones brand, others in the audience disagreed, stating that start-ups need to
first understand the target audience for the product before they should start
creating a brand. One audience member agreed with this, citing how his company
has developed three brands and still hasn’t figured out how to reach their
target customer.    
So how does a
start-up get feedback on the product or service it has developed?

ideas such as beta testing among friends and potential prospects; obtaining
feedback from industry analysts; and simply posting a photo or video of the
product to online were discussed, everyone agreed that the Internet has made
accessing this initial feedback much more easier and instantaneous than in the
attendee stated that too many developers are creating products without truly
understanding the problems it solves from the customer’s point of view. He
emphasized that if you are going to develop a new app for Android-based phones,
make sure to actually use an Android
phone for a few months to understand the pain points that your product may
Okay. You’ve received
great feedback on your pre-launched product… Now what?

the best practices discussed to start differentiating your company from others
included looking at the marketing efforts of your competition. Don’t
necessarily copy them, but learn from them and understand what is working for
them and what isn’t, and leverage this to your advantage. Other suggestions
included creating awareness in the marketplace by placing bylined articles on
the need for solutions that address the problems your product solves. By
generating awareness of these problems, you are setting the stage for the
arrival of your product to the marketplace while also generating thought
your product is close to being launched, the importance of running it by
industry analysts for feedback was also discussed. While new start-ups often do
not have the capital to purchase year-long contracts with key industry analysts,
such as Gartner, IDC or Forrester, many of these and other analyst firms would
be more than happy to have initial meetings with you to hear about your new
product, provide feedback, and often times give you tips based on what
competitors offer.
Congratulations! Your
product is now ready for prime time! What needs to be done from a marketing

you are ready to go public with your product, it is important to have a web
site that reflects your mission and explains the problems your product solves
in the simplest terms. “Make is so your grandmother understands it,” said one
attendee. In addition to keeping the language simple, keep the web site simple
and easy to navigate. “Too many companies are creating web sites that include
multiple pages that include way too much content. This shows that you are
trying too hard and often only leads to confusion.”
same principal about simplicity should be considered when drafting and issuing
a press release about your new product. Start-ups should keep press releases to
no more than two pages and integrate URL links within the releases, enabling
readers to access further information from your web site. One attendee
mentioned how there are some free services for issuing press releases that
start-ups could leverage. Services such as i-Newswire.com and PRBuzz.com may
not provide the widespread, global exposure that a service such as PRNewswire
or BusinessWire provides, these free press release sites are great for
start-ups on a budget.
there was consensus on the value of using videos to demonstrate new products,
some attendees disagreed on populating your web site with these videos versus
simply posting them to online services, such as YouTube or Vimeo. Depending on
your target audience, leveraging social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn and
Facebook to increase the awareness of your product and company is also key.
Integrating social media with video and other content, such as press releases
to cross-pollinate your marketing efforts and drive viewers to your web site
was also discussed as an important marketing strategy.
Keeping the drumbeat

that you’ve launched your product and web site, and have begun creating
awareness to your offering, it is important to keep developing new content that
can be leveraged for media pitches, social media posts and more. In addition,
it is important that employees at the executive level within your company
contribute to social media to further expand their thought leadership in the
market. While some C-level executives may claim not to have the time in their
day to pay attention to social media, an intelligent Tweet or blog post can go
a long way in building presence in your market. Getting those at the C-level
vested in regular social media posts is very important – even if it’s only a
Tweet or blog post every so often.
posting content to your web site, include registration pages to some of the
content – such as a whitepaper or webinar – to collect potential leads. At this
point, you can start integrating sales into your marketing efforts. And
finally, once you’ve landed a few customers, leverage these relationships to
tell the success they’ve achieved by using your product or service. This can be
accomplished through a written or what I personally find more credible…the
video case study. And going back to what I stated earlier, these pieces of content
should be used as an integral part of an integrated communications program.

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