Marketing common sense for hardware startups

MKCS
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Marketing your new hardware startup shouldn’t have to involve expensive advertising and PR campaigns if you do a few common sense things well and consistently.

Market with people in mind first not your product or service.

No matter how innovative and potentially game-changing your product, your startup, like all businesses, will centre on people, not your product. From your original backers who become your first loyal customers to users making contact via social media, they are the voice that steer your startup destiny. Stop listening to them and you’re doomed.

Take careful note of questions, comments, suggestions and complaints of users on social media and your website and use this to hone your marketing to them. On social media users and potential clients and customers are telling you what they want, why they want it, and how they want it. Make listening to them an integral part of your marketing and you’re bound to succeed.

Jason Falls of CafePress calls this technique proactive listening. “But strong social listening involves proactively listening for marketing and sales opportunities, stepping in front of demand, not just following it. Search for people mentioning the need for what you do, not just your brand name, and step in front of consumers looking to purchase.”

Thought leadership and networking

Don’t gear your marketing to your product or service without explaining its benefits to your users and industry. Use networking, public speaking, blogging and contributions to technology sites to communicate about your area of expertise. Deliver informative and useful content for your audience that underscores your business as a leader in its field. This approach show long-term vision as opposed to short-term gain intentions.

Tommy Landry, SEO and internet marketing expert and founder of Return On Now, says that a thought leadership approach drives many benefits, including SEO traffic, networking opportunities, referrals, and unexpected “blind” inquiries, with the understanding that social media, networking and in-person networking must be an integral part to generate interest and engagement.

An online marketing strategy that is well-integrated, aggressive, and consistent over time extends coverage about your product and service and helps to establish your brand.

Nurture all your contacts

Stay in touch with all your contacts via social media and personally, whether they are family, friends, school classmates, varsity pals or former colleagues: people you knew when the idea of a startup had not entered your mind yet. You never know where these connections might lead. Never think of anyone as inconsequential to your future.

Stay in touch as much as possible for coffee, drinks and dinner offline and online on your personal and company Facebook timelines. It’s an opportunity to be personal and authentic. Simply by sharing your current work situation and the projects you are working on, you’re sharing by extension the values and purpose of your startup. In this way you are gradually creating your brand.

Leverage the power of video

Hardware startups are notoriously short of time to market their products and services. One effective strategy is to create an online video, which can make your website much more likely to show up on the first page of search results in Google.

Video marketing is a practical use of your marketing time and budget: if you write an average of one web page an hour, it would take you 150 days of writing to achieve the impact of one minute of video, according to Forrester Research.

Website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product on a website after watching a video. In addition, visitors who view videos stay on the site an average of 2 minutes longer than those who don’t view videos, according to comScore, a company that measures online engagement.

Do yourself a favour and research the impact of video on online visitor engagement and it will convince you that videos are the future of online content and marketing. Once you realize the potential of video, you’ll come up with a cost-effective way to produce professional quality videos, which can also be hosted on YouTube at no cost.

Learn from others

Entrepreneurs are by nature creative and don’t only come up with innovative products and services; they also come up with unique marketing plans, creating never-before-seen marketing trends that are unique to startups. It’s in your interest to keep up to date on changing startup marketing trends. By watching and learning what has worked for other startups, you can adjust your marketing plan to include some of their tactics. Conversely, you can also learn from the marketing mistakes of other startups.