Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It’s too late to start marketing your product when it’s ready to ship.

By Mark Helfen

It’s too late to start marketing your product when it’s ready to ship. You should develop a trusted relationship as a domain expert long before then.

“Build trust before you sell,” said Steve Farnsworth, by regularly communicating useful and valuable information to your market. When your product is released “your future customer already sees you as trustworthy.”

Farnsworth will be the speaker at the next SVForum MarketingSIG meeting on June 11. The topic will be Lean Startup Marketing, Social Media, and PR. He promises that the evening will be less about theory, and instead focused on practical steps to let a startup or small business develop the market for their products.

Farnsworth is the Chief Blogger at the @Steveology blog, and is included in Forbes recent listing of the Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers. He frequently advises Silicon Valley Technology companies on their marketing strategy, but he told me that there is nothing they do that a motivated startup entrepreneur can’t also do. It’s not about money, but it does take time to communicate a marketing message.

The idea is to build trust with your audience, and establish yourself as a domain expert. Farnsworth doesn’t focus on any specific method for doing this – he didn’t mention Facebook (clearly the word of the hour) until I had asked him. His model is to develop the message first, and then decide on the most appropriate tool to communicate with your target market. It could be Facebook, a blog, or even an email newsletter. Your audience should be able to choose the path to get this information that they prefer.

Facebook, Twitter, are all “just tools.” First develop the message, compelling content. Then figure out the platform.

The hard part? “There is no short, easy way to do this,” he said. Communication and developing trust takes time.

Monday’s presentation will be short on theory and focus on the practical, promising “step-by-step actionable ideas.”

 Drawing on ideas from his client base, you should walk out of the room with specific steps to get started. The tools he will recommend are either free or at least cheap, leaving time as the most expensive resource required. Large companies divide these activities across several departments, but a little company can still be effective.

Farnsworth says he tells his clients that they can’t wait until the end of the product cycle to start marketing - it takes longer than they expect. They agree, say they believe him, but then “de-prioritize” the work and just never get started. Perhaps after Monday night your startup won’t make the same mistake.

PLEASE REGISTER IN ADVANCE for Lean Startup Marketing, Social Media, and PR.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

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