I have a whole category in the Startup Iceland blog about Marketing and Selling for a reason and that is Entrepreneurs and Startups just suck at telling a story about their value proposition. Not because they don’t want to but because they don’t prioritize how important of a task Marketing is. Fred Wilson wrote a blog post not long about Marketing and his initial post started like this

I believe that marketing is what you do when your product or service sucks or when you make so much profit on every marginal customer that it would be crazy to not spend a bit of that profit acquiring more of them (coke, zynga, bud, viagra).

me and everyone in the avc.com community thought that it was wrong and we let him know about that. Fred being fred, wrote a follow up post with the following title “Marketing Post – The Bug Report“, I would encourage everyone to go and read the entire comments section of both those posts. The value in avc.com is the quality of people actually commenting in the blog. I believe Marketing, Selling and Public Relations for a Startup are very important strategies, almost as important as product development if not more. Obviously, being a startup you don’t have a lot of resource at your disposal to spend time, money or effort into telling the story, but that is the challenge of being a startup or an entrepreneur. You have to jump off a cliff and build your parachute on the way down and make sure that the entire world knows about how wonderful your parachute is so you can sell them while you are making it.

Image Source: newmarketinglighthouse.com

Coming back to the topic of Marketing, today, we have some of the best tools to tell a story about the value created by companies. As an entrepreneur and a startup, you have a responsibility to ensure that your value proposition and story is told in all the relevant channels. I believe the best stories are told by others about your product or service. If you can convince an influencer to write about you and your company, it is by far the best way to get noticed. I believe taking part in competitions and contests also help you to showcase what you are building, of course you need to win to get the media and story covered.

What are the 3 magic tricks in Marketing, PR and Selling? well, it is actually quite simple, you need to get out there in the world meet people and talk about what you are doing. It is as simple as that. It takes time and it takes a lot of effort but there is no other way. If you believe just buying Google Adwords or Facebook Ads is going to get you coverage you are wrong. You need to do all the channels, ie. you need to CONSISTENTLY

  1. Blog about what you are doing and share it with your network and your extended network
  2. Tweet about things happening in your startup/industry and things related to your startup/industry
  3. Participate in meetups, conferences and trade shows

How do you do this when you are bootstrapping and trying to build a product? I did mention this was a magic trick right? The first 2 tricks are not that hard to do because it is you as an entrepreneur putting your time and effort into words and spending time learning about what is going on in your industry. You cannot afford not to do this. The third one is a little harder given it takes money to participate in Conferences and when you live in an Island you need to spend money on travel, lodging etc but you can always prioritize and pick the most appropriate conferences and budget for it and participate in it. A much easier way is to do local meetup, if there is not one in your neighborhood organize one. Brad Feld wrote about Just Get A Group Together for Coffee, it is not that hard to do.

I see that some of the startup are shy about talking about what they are doing and what value they are creating, this is a BIG FAIL. If you are not passionate about what you are doing that you cannot wait to tell everyone about it then you are doing something wrong. Just stop the pain and go do something else.