I have a disease. I am not quite sure what to call it. It happens when you start a business and build the product or service before you start marketing. This is the WRONG way to do it.
You should start your marketing BEFORE you build your product, or at least do it in parallel. If you are a creator of some sort (designer, developer, artist), it is easy to fall into this trap. Here are four reasons why you should start marketing now (or even yesterday).
Marketing starts with first identifying if a market for your product even exists. Can you find customers who are clamoring for your newfangled widget or online game idea? If you cannot, then there is no reason to build it. More importantly, maybe the customer wants something slightly different from what you had in mind. Now you know what you should build instead.
Startups usually go out of business when they run out of money. Why do they run out of money? Well, insufficient revenues. Why do they have insufficient revenues? Not enough of the right kind of customers. So Customer Development is a critical aspect of your developing business. You need to identify who your potential customers are and begin discussing their needs and wants with regard to your product. Steve Blank and Eric Reis go into much more detail on customer development on their websites and books.
One of the hardest thing to do in this world is get noticed. It is hard to get people to alter their daily routine and pay attention to you. You need to find a way to get the customer to care about you and what you are saying. Well, in order to do that, they need to be able to find you. It takes time to setup a website and get enough published content out there to be recognized by the search engines.
Plus, everything that we use to measure engagement with our customer takes time (e.g., blog subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook likes, YouTube views, etc.). Getting customers to notice, then to pay attention, then to become fans takes time. It is better to start sooner than later.
You may be different, but I have found it is taking me a while to find my voice. How should I write my blog posts? How should I send my tweets? With regard to our GAMEhud YouTube videos, how should we format them? Sure we have chosen one way, but it still feels we are making changes for each video.
Even Jason Cohen talks about how he found greater success blogging when he was "doing whatever I was most proud of; something that reflected my personality and perspective." However you intend to communicate with customers on an ongoing basis, take into consideration it will take time to find your own unique style. Better to get started on that now as opposed to later.
I know some of you are thinking: "But . . . but, they will copy my idea if I start talking about it!" No they won't. Most people and companies only copy an idea if it is successfully implemented. Look at Zynga. They only "copy" games they see having success. They are not going to copy an untested / unproven idea.
If someone does try to copy your idea, it is better to have an audience of fans on your side. Either to purchase your game first or defend you in the court of public opinion. It is better to recruit a fan base now.
I know it is hard, but my advice to you is to start your marketing today. Even if you have nothing to show, you can start talking about what you are working on. You can talk about what is going on in your niche. This should start the growth of your fan base.
Now get out their and start marketing!
As always, we welcome all comments and suggestions. If you liked this article, please share it with others.