When is the right moment to begin marketing your startup?
This Article has written by: Netta Doron | Sales and Marketing Expert for B2B and LinkedIn and assisting startups as GVI VP mentor.
When is the right time to start building an early user community, and tout your solution, although your product isn't complete, or maybe doesn't even exist yet?
The answer is: yesterday.
Digital and social media activity should start way before project launch. The goal is to arrive at launch day with a significant online presence, and a community of supporters, so you should start spreading the word ahead of time. How can you do this?
Savvy Promoters Build Credible Online Presence
Your team members are company assets, each with a valuable persona. The more robust their personal digital presence in the various social media channels – the better for your project. The public and the investors want to know about entrepreneurs no less than about their projects.
The promoter's personality and "story" is crucial. You don't need a finished product. You do need an interesting product promoter. Be thoughtful about your message to the world, and plan your online presence with precision. Your online image shapes your positioning and your personal branding, and will have considerable impact on your project's marketing success and eventual business success.
For practical purposes, thorough research is required before establishing the digital marketing infrastructures. You have to find out where to concentrate your best efforts to get the best results, how to engage people in your community, and what content to publish. You have to pinpoint the best media channel for your product, after which you would snag the right people and user groups in your chosen online environment.
First you need to conduct a marketing analysis to detect your competitors.
You should find out about their online activity, even if they are not direct competitors. This early survey will make sure you are forewarned and forearmed when planning your marketing strategy.
For example, you can identify high trending hashtags and their number of followers on various platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and collate the content that generates the most engagement. Incorporate this valuable information in your marketing strategy.
Before going public, we should have already formulated the messages we want to convey, our branding and positioning, and we should know our target audience. It is a bad idea to embark on a media journey before cementing all these details. There is certainly always room for dynamic and spontaneous changes, but careful prelaunch preparation is crucial.
Where to Start?
There's no need to seek afar. After your marketing base is in place – your site, blog, Twitter account, LinkedIn account – start connecting with your close circles: friends and family, relatives and acquaintances. You goal is to start drawing attention to your product on LinkedIn or Facebook, so that your pages don't remain empty and you gain feedback.
The second circle is the target audience defined in your market plan, after which you would broaden and enhance these contact bases.
An additional tool that could assist in content distribution is identifying the influencers that are relevant to your product and target audience. These influencers could be bloggers, and individuals with many followers on Twitter, Facebook, or even TikTok.
Influencers are an effective, and not necessarily costly, media strength. They can be found through Twitter and LinkedIn search engines, in pertinent online forum and communities, and professional sites. The beauty part is that there's no need to hire the expensive "top guns". For more reasonable prices you can also get nano-influencers with quality audiences.
You can sometimes even onboard influencers without spending a dime. You just need to know how to engage them, sharpen your pitch, and approach them in a wise, authentic way. In our current world, the whiff of dishonesty reeks from afar, and the self-interest radar is fine tuned. An intriguing story, close to an influencer's heart and field of interest, would make cooperation more likely.
The best angle to approach someone is to offer cooperation and information, and not try to sell them something. People dislike a sales pitch, but are willing to listen if the message is interesting and valuable. The ultimate goal is to gain cooperation on social media by generating inner motivation.
Never Underestimate the Power of Your Blog
Establishing your own digital asset would ensure your presence beyond social media channels. No social media platform can control your asset, or erase it, something that has actually happened in some worst-case scenarios. It is very good practice to set up your own blog, in addition to your website.
A blog is an important, even essential, tool. Your confidentiality constraints and strategic decision regarding content exposure are surely important factors. However, even if you're in stealth mode, this doesn't mean you should be idle. You can always create tangential content, relevant to your product and chosen community.
A blog is a new media tool that aids public relations, conveys content at eye-level, and is an effective way to drive traffic to your application or to create an initial distribution list. Google is always eager to advance blogs, as long as they are active. You can start creating content in line with your solution or product before you expose it, thus creating interest within your target audience and generating a list of interested parties.
Timely Content Distribution
So, you've completed your preparation and research, and decided on relevant social platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, or all channels). It's now time to publish content. It's best to prepare content at least a month in advance, and to establish a permanent distribution routine. When content is timely, both publisher and audience look forward to it, and your community will learn to eagerly anticipate your input.
Who hasn't been at a loss for original content? When this happens, you can use Google Alerts to search for free content. Simply enter your keywords, and request a daily or weekly digest of designated online news. Google will send it directly to your email! These online nuggets are just like theme-based exhibit collections. You can select the content that serves your purpose, add your say, and distribute tailored information – positioning yourself as an authority without writing any subject matter.
An added advantage is that your finger is always on the pulse regarding novel trends in your industry and project realm. This monitoring process is invaluable.
Content Types for Your Project's Social Channels
In the current environment of competitiveness and information overload, it's best to remain authentic. Tell a story that would help your audience understand why you do what you do, identify with your problems, admire your solutions, and jive with your drive. Most of all, get them to believe you. The best sales and marketing strategies don't struggle to sell.
I've met many entrepreneurs who blogged about their future plans. The journey is fascinating, and fosters curiosity and empathy, but consistent update is essential; you can't just stop after several posts. Blogging is storytelling at its best. This content type is not perceived as marketing, while this is precisely what it is.
What other content types to publish online? Content that inspires, and content that challenges and defies social constructs. Your content may not be earth shattering. It may seem trivial to you, but it can prove priceless to your audience (a book review or a podcast chapter with interesting insight).
You can also sometimes share amusing content. I once wrote a post about my encounter with chickens on the way to a business meeting in the heart of urban Tel Aviv. I didn't expect it to generate much interest, I just wanted to share an quaint experience. I was surprised by the immense response to the pictures.
Content That Algorithms Love
The preferable content for LinkedIn, and for all social media channels, is content that keeps people on the page longest, prolonging 'dwell time'. This is why it's advisable to post long articles on LinkedIn, for example. The content should grab readers' attention, and pique their curiosity, making them click on 'read more'.
Always start a post that arouses curiosity, causing a reader to halt the endless feed scrolling, and to pay deeper attention to your content. Every split second counts. Just be careful to avoid clickbait, and deliver on your promise to provide content worth the reader's time.
Add more than one image to your text, to ensure picture gallery appraisal and reader participation. Also be sure to tag people in your images. Tagged people naturally want to respond, and this creates content that optimally 'speaks' to the LinkedIn algorithm. An overload of posts and content is not necessary. It is more important that each and every posted item is intriguing, and that it encourages people to respond.
Videos are also great, and subtitles serve people who don't always want to listen to audio, but do consume the content in a visual manner.
Summary: Marketing Actions Before Product Launch
1. There is no need to await product readiness or even product existence.
2. The time to start marketing your product and yourself as promoter is now.
3. The stage before your product hits the market is the right time to gather a community of people interested in your business.
4. Investors and buyers don't buy products, they buy promoters – that's you!
5. It's best to plan marketing actions carefully, preparing the ground before the product exists. This streamlines the process, ensuring the existence of digital assets and distribution channels long before product readiness. You will reap the benefits of your efforts every day, and marketing your startup will be easier in real time.