Entrepreneurs keeping a close eye on budgets put every line item under the microscope. The marketing function is as closely scrutinized as any other, if not more. Not always clear, however, is when to pull the trigger — and on which kinds of projects. From our perspective as content creators, you’re ready to push marketing and create content from day one…if:
…You believe that customer feedback beginning at the concept stage can help you understand whether a market even exists or what solutions your market is looking for.
According to Renee Warren of Social Fresh, location-based marketing start-up Geotoko hadn’t written a line of code when it pitched TechCrunch Disrupt in 2010. CEO Adarsh Pallin credits his company’s exposure on tech blog Mashable for a big boost even before a prototype was ready. “Before we had a proper working prototype we were on Mashable mentioning we were giving out 500 beta invites. We got 2500 from that one post.” With the beta version still a work in progress, Pallin sent screen shots of product capabilities to the people who expressed interest.
…It’s important to get people talking about you and using your product.
Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress has compared customer usage to “oxygen of the real world” for ideas about how to improve products. The product dies if deprived of users. The real-world feedback is critical to key features, including which ones not to include. The benefits that may have seemed like great ideas in development may bear little connection to what people value and want to pay for.
…You want to hone your pitch AND improve the product.
Joel Gascoigne, co-founder of Buffer, a tool enabling users of Twitter and other social media to organize and time posts throughout the day, thinks of “marketing” the way a growing number of entrepreneurs do today — moreas more as a way to trigger conversations than as a broadcast channel. “We had to experiment a lot with our pitch and we had many things to fix in the product,” he said. “It was much easier to improve quickly due to the fact my co-founder Leo Widdrich was writing several articles per week about Buffer for a variety of blogs.”
The subsequent success of Buffer has convinced Gascoigne of the value of marketing early and often. “We should aim to be getting our products mentioned widely and frequently. People have a kind of tipping point where they decide ‘now I’ll give it a go’. But you have to work to get there.”