Marketing: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Fred Wilson

March 2, 2011

The internet split in half this week.

Ok not really, but based on a series of blog posts by Fred Wilson, Rand Fishkin and Brad Feld there has been a lot of discussion around when a tech start-up needs to focus on Marketing or if at all. Each of these posts focus on the early days of a technology start-up, when a product is focused on tech savvy early adopter. The bigger issue, which isn’t touched on, is whether or not early adopters (or as we call them, Shiny Thing Finders) are even the best target for a start-up. Sure they will try your product and talk about your service, but will also leave you as soon as the glimmer of something newer or shinier catches their eye. Seriously, it isn’t their fault, this is what the definition of an Early Adopter.

Two years ago we wrote a blog post called TechCrunch is not a marketing plan and the idea behind that post was that focusing all your energy on getting a TechCrunch article (or any major media outlet) isn’t the best strategy since accomplishing this may get your company 24 hours of attention and lots of new traffic but what do you do to follow up the next day, next week and next month?

Two years later that post still holds up. Marketing is a very sustained and entrenched effort, not a single media post.

Every company has different stages in it’s growth and one thing we do agree on is that your product has to be great or you are just wasting the time of your staff and the money of your investors. But even great products like Tripit, Instagram or Hashable (three products we love and use almost daily) know that to reach the next level (critical mass if you will) is to gain acceptance outside of the echo chamber and somehow catch the eye of those very desirable consumers who buy stuff to make their life easier. These beautiful folks can’t always be reached through Techcrunch or Twitter.


They’re probably too busy running their business than reading about the latest tech acquisition. They want the technology to be proven and may not know what Beta means. They usually need to have a number of impressions with your brand before they get to your website. So how do you reach them?

Bought media and Hyper Targeted Marketing.

Investing in things like banner ads and selected sponsorships can pay huge dividends. Be frugal. Test ruthlessly to make sure you’re getting results, as the money can always be spent elsewhere, such as constantly improving the service (FreshBooks always invests more in product than marketing).

…and most importantly, Remember, there is a HUGE difference between success and popularity.

(Disclaimer: there are a few swear words in the video below)

about the author

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