Creating a successful tech startup is inarguably a huge challenge. According to research, 60% close up shop within their first three years.
This shouldn’t be surprising to any founders, former founders, or anyone that’s ever come within ten metres of a founder.
Generally speaking, startup dreams come crumbling down for one of three main reasons: lack of funding (or poor financial control), poor product-market fit (it just being a bad idea to begin with) or poor go-to-market execution (basically, a poor job at getting the word out to the right people, in the right way, before the money runs out).
Whilst I can’t speak for your control of your purse strings, or your founding idea, we can give you three solid tips when it comes to marketing.
Think past your launch day
First of all, you have to accept the fact that marketing is very rarely a one-off thing that can be set up, and then left to one side. Of course, an initial launch period (with additional activity and spending) is often par for the course, but many customers will only be convinced by longer-term players that have some momentum and consistency.
Also, don’t be disheartened if your start-up doesn’t set Instagram alight overnight. Whilst seeing those follows, likes and comments come in undoubtedly gives you a buzz, they don’t necessarily translate directly into marketing impact (aka your bottom line).
Arguably it’s nowhere near as fun as getting creative on Social Media but unless you’re a direct B2C brand with a brand and story that translates to those platforms, investing your time early on in a solid website with great SEO frameworks and a thoughtful, iterative approach to online advertising can often be a much more fruitful approach in the medium to long term.
By approaching marketing as a holistic endeavour and accepting that there is no ‘marketing on/off tap’, you’ll be much more likely to see the genuine fruits of your labour, and not be disheartened early on.
Realise that it’s not about you
In our experience, founders can be prone to making assumptions about what an audience will find appealing. That’s not to say that founders don’t understand their market. But rather, their specialism (or specific edge) can lead to a slight lack of focus on a product’s customer benefits.
Thankfully, there are various ways this can be remedied. Most obviously, founders should actively pursue alternative views. The easiest way to do this consistently is the Pub Test; every time you’re in a Social setting, tell people about your product or brand. Do they immediately see the benefit? Are there recurring exclamations, or questions? What do other people think is the best part of what you’re doing? Being brave and exposing yourself to realtime, in-person feedback will give you invaluable insight into what your potential customers actually desire, rather than what you want to sell them.
After you have nailed your proposition and identified your primary demographic, considering - quite frankly - people that aren’t like you, can help tech firms further expand their market. A recent survey we conducted found that 60% of tech employees think the sector is insufficiently diverse. Of course, any marketing you do will only be improved by having a diverse range of voices around the table, so make sure you keep that in mind when building your dream team.
Pick your platforms pragmatically
Is it just us, or does everyone want to be an influencer these days? Instagram is undoubtedly a fantastic platform for a lot of brands and products but, and there was always going to be a but coming, it might not be right for you, or for your audience, or at this stage of your journey.
If you’re a millennial-focussed travel guide app - of course! - get onto Instagram straight away. If you’re the founder of a functional software platform with a limited budget (even if it is B2C), maybe you’d be better off spending your time and budget somewhere else, like Google Ads. They’re not as glamorous, but they may well serve your business better…
Ultimately, our advice here isn’t ground-breaking;
Accept that things very rarely happen overnight
Accept that maybe you aren’t right about what’s best, all the time
Accept that maybe a drier marketing channel, or strategy, could be better for business than a shiny, sexy one.