When we were in the Founder Institute at the beginning of the year, we had weekly milestones for customer development, market research, competitive analysis or product development to keep our business moving forward. The biggest aspiration we had at the time was to graduate. We worked our butts off to polish the pitch deck and get the 0.1 version of the Hand Things Down mobile app done during our last three-week sprint.
We naively thought, once we graduate we can get back to a normal life. Then as you hit each milestone, you take a breath, maybe catch up on a little sleep and start charging towards the next goal. Startups usually go into beta, then start scrambling to get press for their big launch. We were very lucky to receive our first mention in a Mashable article by Jolie O’Dell on the “5 Ambitious Social Good Startups Created in a Single Weekend” while we were busy with the private beta for Hand Things Down.
Before you begin tackling the tactics below to make a splash with your web startup, make sure you create a compelling story to make people want to share what your company’s story with their friends. Then give them a product they can’t live without so they keep telling their friends about it.
- Get a LaunchRock site or create a landing page from WordPress using the LaunchPad theme to collect email addresses.
- Make a blog.
- Make a YouTube video channel.
- Start Tweeting.
- Get a Facebook Page.
- List your company on Angel List (and StartupLi.st, CrunchBase, etc).
- Figure out the 10 journalists you want to have seen your product before you launch.
- Be lucky…added by me
If you are creating your startup team, the ideal combination is to have one person focused on business and marketing while the other founder focuses on development. My primary focus has been on creating content for the blog, writing guest blog posts on websites that our target customer regularly visits and of course social media. Social media includes tweeting regularly on the company Twitter account, posting questions and content on the Facebook page and commenting on Facebook pages our target customer might read AS THE BUSINESS FACEBOOK PAGE. Do all of these marketing activities even before your company releases the product to build your online brand. Social media marketing takes a long time to gain traction. If you don’t have time to create your blog, create a landing page where you can collect email addresses of interested customers that you can market to when you start your beta.
I added number 8 because luck will play a part in how hard or easy it will be to get your company in the news. Since we participated in Startup Weekend, Founder Institute – Seattle, and continue to be active in the startup community, we are sometimes listed on their websites under the Hand Things Down brand. Being listed in the Startup Weekend company directory got us included in the social good article on Mashable.
Lastly, guest blog and begin developing relationships with 10 journalists you would like to feature your company before you need press and establish yourself and your company as a thought leader in your space.