Jay Neely is a startup founder & marketing consultant. He writes about Boston entrepreneurship, web strategy, and marketing at socialstrategist.com

Jay shares his thoughts on techniques startups use to initially draw attention to their products

  • Gathering email addresses of interested people pre-launch using a splash page, sending an email announcement to them upon launch.
  • Pitching startup news outlets like TechCrunch, Read/Write Web, Mashable, etc.
  • Offering A-lister tech commentators like Robert Scoble early access / in-person demos.
  • Pitching local news outlets (“Area Entrepreneurs Tackle Big Problem Shared by Many Locals”)
  • Writing personalized emails to bloggers within their industry, explaining why they think they’d like it and asking them to try it. Usually offering some kind of incentive (Two months free access, etc.).
  • Getting listed in as many startup directories as possible (Go2Web20, Crunchbase, Killer Startups, etc.)
  • Guest-blogging at sites serving a similar audience.
  • Creating & promoting content about their industry rather than just their specific product, drawing search traffic and links to how-tos, data roundups, infographics, interviews with industry notables, etc.
  • Being active members within community sites that serve their target market.
  • Attending / organizing events within their local area that serve their target market.
  • Google PPC advertising.
  • Reddit advertising. Gabriel Weinberg has a great write-up on this: http://www.gabrielweinberg.com/b…
  • Facebook interest-targeted PPC advertising.
  • Create & promote activities related to current events. A music startup might try and spread a “Kill Auld Lang Syne Playlist Contest” for New Years, a teen social network could spread an anonymous “Leak Your Parents’ Biggest Secrets” minisite during all the wikileaks attention.
  • Create controversy related to an industry topic.
  • Get double-sided business cards. One side with your contact info, the other side with 3 bullets (max), or a simple tagline that pitches your product succinctly. Cheaper & more useful than fliers, and more socially acceptable to hand out at networking events.
  • Get listed on services that roundup similar services, like SitesLike.com (warning: NSFW in many places). Create content and make sure you’re ranking for phrases like “Alternative to [competitor]”.
  • Setup Google alerts, twitter saved searches, and other monitoring tools for people asking questions about the type of service you provide.
  • Have a media kit on your site. Interesting stats, bullet points on why people should care, good graphics (preferably with URLs available for hotlinking), embeddable screencast demos, etc. Make it easy for anyone who wants to cover you to do so as interestingly as possible.
  • Monitor competitors for controversy / unpopular changes. Become the leading source of news about that topic. Offer incentives for people to switch. (SmugMug did a great job of this at some points in Flickr’s history.)
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