Here are some highlights for those of you that are not “slide-y” kind of people.
1. Stop ignoring marketing. Yes, I know you’re going to build a killer product that people are going to love. Marketing can help you find people to love it. And yes, you can hire a PR agency and hope that you’re going to get all this “free” publicity in TechCrunch and what not. That’s fine — but what are you going to do the other 363 days? You need to invest in marketing.
2. Marketing doesn’t have to be sleazy. The best marketing is inbound which is basically doing what you do best (helping customers). It’s about creating content that is useful for your potential users/customers. You use that as a tool to bring people in.
3. Stealth mode is for fighter jets, not startups. If you’re worried about somebody stealing your idea, please stop. Right now. Worry about how you’re going to get customers. And team members. And funding. All of these things are really hard — if you don’t talk about your idea.
4. If you wait until after your product is out to start marketing, you waited to long. Ideally, your’e writing your first line of content the same day as you’re writing your first line of code. You need to start building brand, reach and credibility as early as possible.
5. Don’t get into an arms race for attention. You won’t win by shouting louder, getting bigger ads or buying a bigger booth at the tradeshow.
6. Don’t try to outspend the incumbent. They have more money than you and can spend money way more stupidly. As a startup, you need to find marketing that gives you leverage. Where you get disproportionate, long-term return given the investment.
7. Don’t just hire a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). In the early years, everybody in the company should be selling. Everybody in the company should also be marketing. You don’t need a high-falutin marketing executive from [whatever-company]. You need someone that cares passionately about what you are doing, wants to help people and teach them and can create content and build your brand and reach.
8. Learn the basics of SEO. There’s just too much traffic to ignore. The nice thing about organic traffic is a) there’s more of it. b) the marginal cost for those clicks is low. (Once you have content ranking, you’re not paying additional money for each additional click).
9. Use social media as an amplifier. It takes time, but if you build a following, social media is a great way to take that awesome content you’re producing and spreader it further and wider.
10. Don’t assemble your own platform. This is a bit self-serving (since my company HubSpot provides a marketing platform), but it’s still true. As a startup, you should be spending ALL available calories on making your product better and helping your customers. Don’t rationalize the time for wiring together a bunch of different apps, just because you’re smart enough to pick the right tool in each category, and smart enough to get them to talk. Use those brain cells on the product.
11. Definitely do not write your own CMS. I’m amazed at how entrepreneurs can get lured into this “but it’s not that hard” mindset. WordPress is an awesome product. HubSpot has a CMS and blogging app built in. In this day and age, there is no reason to write your own CMS — unless you’re selling your own CMS (in which case, may the force be with you).
…for the rest, you’ll have to check out the slide deck (it goes quickly, and I promise it’s fun).