4 Marketing Tips for Startup Entrepreneurs

May 29th, 2014 / Comments Off on 4 Marketing Tips for Startup Entrepreneurs

Just last week we experienced an amazing milestone at our startup Everwise. One of our co-founders, Ian Gover, was in New York and met the president and COO of a leading analytics company, who asked what he did. Ian gave his pitch on our workforce mentoring service, and the COO replied, “So kind of like Everwise?”

“Not kind of, we are Everwise, Ian replied.

Truthfully, we were stunned with that kind of marketplace recognition. Of course, we realize that one mention doesn’t quite put us in the category of Band-Aid or Post-it, but it was exciting to have our brand used to describe our industry. His endorsement was greater than any marketing dollars can buy. That’s because the best way to market is when it is done word-of-mouth and when it goes viral.

Indiegogo has a great way of leveraging what is happening on its site and within its community to tell its story. In a similar approach, eBay also shared stories to show how what it was doing was special. One I’ll never forget involved a soldier who lost his dog tags in WWII. Someone found them on eBay, bought them, and returned them to this veteran, who now lived in a nursing home. It was an exemplary thing to do and it was more meaningful to talk about this special moment rather than just talk about the technology on the site. Celebrating these stories and creating an emotional connection is the way to win the hearts and minds of consumers.That’s the pinnacle of marketing wins, but where do people go wrong? Of course this is the nirvana of marketing wins and there is a lot of heavy lifting that is done in advance of this magical moment. The most important thing to do is to keep customers happy. That is the foundation for everything, but the best marketers find ways to amplify and extend that through telling great stories online.

I’ve listed the top four things I’ve learned here:

1. Timing matters.

Market at the right time. Do not market something that is not ready. Don’t invest in getting the word out before the product is perfected. It makes no sense; it’s like running a Super Bowl ad for something no one wants.

2. Spend as little as possible until you have something relevant.

Spend based on traction, and understand where your marketing dollars are going and what they are getting. Once the flywheel is spinning and you have customers who are happy you should spend more on sales and marketing to go faster. And do not be stingy at this point, competitors are right behind you.

3. Go to events.

Trade shows can be a great way to get the word out and launch a company and product. One of our portfolio companies, Badgeville came out after winning an award at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2010 — that recognition gave them a solid starting advantage.

4. Use everything you have.

One of the most popular trends in marketing is growth hacking, or using creative thinking and metrics, and everything in one’s arsenal — A/B price testing, social media, SEO, to market more efficiently. We now have more touch points and information on everybody than we ever have had before, and the best companies use every tool they have to make informed decisions.


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