TechCrunch is not a marketing plan

January 28, 2009

Earlier this month Saul and I had the fortune of attending The Crunchies while we were in San Francisco. Love or hate TechCrunch, they have shown an awesome level of commitment to building up startup culture both in Silicon Valley and in the wider world as well.

Today, Michael Arrington announced he is stepping back from TechCrunch after a nasty incident in Germany. A random person walked up to Arrington and literally spat in his face. That was the last straw for Michael, after a year of hostile experiences including a period in the summer where he felt the need to hire personal security to protect his family.

I sympathize with him, and I believe him. Amongst the people I know in the industry, TechCrunch’s reputation has changed over the years. They are no longer seen as the great chronicler and supporter of startup culture, but as the ultimate arbiter of success.

I met a woman at Gnomedex this year who was recently hired to be the head of marketing for a service with 5 million customers. She was charged with expanding that to 6 million. I asked her what her strategy was, and she was adamant that all she needed was a single post on TechCrunch. She was willing to spend a million dollars to razzle and dazzle TechCrunch. I asked her why not spend that money with your existing customers, and she looked at me like I was stupid.

TechCrunch is not a marketing plan. You need to be out in the world, going after your own customers, treating them well, earning their admiration and recommendations, and continuing to build your business for the future.

A post on TechCrunch will not make or break your company. It’s important to remember the audience there are entrepreneurs like you, not your customers. A post on TechCrunch is more like a high five from your fellow entrepreneurs. Very, very nice, but not the same as a new customer.

Yes, TechCrunch is important, and it’s there to support you. Be thankful for what they are doing every day to build up the industry to make your life easier, rather than bitter that today you’ll just have to pick up the phone and win a customer on your own.

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