Startup Marketing: Tactical Tips From The Trenches

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Startup Marketing: Tactical Tips From The Trenches

 

I’m speaking at the Inbound Marketing Summit later this month in San Francisco.  There are some really great speakers lined up (David Meerman Scott, Chris Brogan, Charlene Li, Paul Gillin and others).  If you’re looking to learn more about inbound marketing and how to get found in Google, social media and blogs, this should be a great event.  If you decide to attend, use the code HUB200 for a special $200 discount.  Drop me a note if you’re going to be there, would love to meet-up.inbound marketing magnet

My session’s going to be called “Startup Marketing:  Tips From The Trenches”.  As I get my thoughts together for this, I started making a list of all of the things I’d advise a new startup to do to get things kicked off with a limited budget.  As it turns out, there are a lot of tactical steps that individually don’t do much, but in aggregate start laying the foundation for much bigger things.  So, I thought I’d share some of these things with you.  This list is not intended to be a comprehensive “here are all the things you should do”, but more of a “if I were starting a company today, here’s what I would do in the first 10 days…”  It’s written in a short, punchy style.  I’ll likely revise it in the future as I add more things, but I wanted to get “Version 1.0” out there for you and see what you think.

Tactical Tips for Startup Marketing

1.  Pick a name that works.  Needs to be simple, memorable and unambiguous.  The “.com” domain should be available without playing tricks with the name (like dropping vowels or adding dashes).  Also, just because there’s no website on a domain doesn’t mean it’s “available”.  Available means something you can register immediately, or that has a price that you’re willing to pay attached to it.  Don’t wander down the rabbit hole of finding the perfect name if you have no indication that it’s for sale.  This will waste a bunch of your time.

2.  Put a simple website up.  Doesn’t have to be fancy.  The goal is to put enough content on the site to start the Google sandbox clock.  Don’t worry about the site not saying much (nobody’s going to be looking at it anyways).  Make sure to use a decent content management system (CMS) and not Dreamweaver or (shudder) FrontPage.  Just because you can hand-craft HTML doesn’t mean you should for your startup website.  The structure and features of a CMS are going to be important someday.  Trust me.

3.  Get some links into the new startup website.  If you have a personal website, link to it from there.  If you have friends/associates/family with websites, cash in some favor chips and get them to link to it.  The goal is to get the Google crawler to start indexing your site.  You only need one decent link to get things going.  To check whether your site is being indexed by Google, do a search like site:yoursite.com (not perfect, but good enough).

4.  Setup a twitter account.  Name of the account should match your company/domain name.  Link to your twitter account from your main site and to your main site from your twitter account.  (Note:  If you have a natural skepticism of the value of twitter, you are welcome to this skepticism.  But, go ahead and grab your twitter account anyways.  You can resume your skepticism after you do that).

5.  Add e-mail subscription.  Let people sign-up to get an email when you’re ready to show them the product.  A simple email signup form is sufficient. 

6.  Get a nice logo.  Run a quick contest on CrowdSpring or 99Designs and you’ll wind up with something decent enough.  Make sure you get the vector file (Illustrator or EPS file) as part of the final deliverable.  If you've got design skills yourself, or know somebody really good that can do it, even better.

7.  Setup a Facebook business page (known as a “fan” page) for your startup.  You’re not going to get many fans in the early days.  That’s OK.  Just get something out there.  Add a simple description of your startup, link back to your main website.  The usual stuff.

8.  Create a clean Facebook URL.  Facebook doesn’t allow simple/vanity URLs (unless you're big and established).  So, to make things easier on yourself (and your users), setup a sub-domain and redirect it to your Facebook page.  For example, here’s what I did:  facebook.hubspot.com (notice that when you visit this link, it takes you automatically to the ugly Facebook URL).  Setting up this sub-domain is free and usually pretty easy (it’s done through whoever your registrar is for your domain).

9.  Kick off a blog.  You can use one of the free hosting tools (like WordPress.com), but don’t use their domain name.  Put your blog on blog.yourcompany.com — or if you’re proficient and can install WP locally, make it yourcompany.com/blog.  Do NOT make it yourcompany.wordpress.com.  The reason is that you want to control all the SEO authority for your blog and channel it towards your main website.  And, chances are, WordPress.com doesn’t need your help on the SEO front.

10.  Write a blog article that describes how you got to this point.  What problem you’re hoping to solve.  Why you picked this problem.  It should feel a little uncomfortable revealing what you’re revealing.  If you have tendencies towards being in “Stealth Mode”, read “Stealth Mode, Schmealth Mode”.  With inbound marketing, you’re going to need to get used to revealing things that might be uncomfortable.  Get over it.

11.  Setup Google Alerts for at least the following:  Your company name, link:yourdomain.com and “industry term”.  Try to find a good balance for your industry term so you don’t get flooded with alerts that you simply will start ignoring.  This may take some iteration and refining.  (Oh, and use the “As It Happens” option in Google Alerts so you’re not waiting around for new alerts to show up).

12.  Find three closest competitors.  Pretend like someone is paying you $10,000 for locating each competitor.  Really try hard.  Barely managed to find three?  Take a lot of effort?  Great.  Now find 3 more.  Of these 6, pick the two that you think are the most marketing savvy.  They should have a Website Grade > 90, a blog with some readers, a website that you can envision people using, a twitter account that they actually post to, etc.  These are the competitors that you’re going to start “tracking”.  Add their names and websites to your Google Alerts.

13.  Update your LinkedIn profile (you do have a LinkedIn profile, right)?  Mention your new startup, and add a link to your startup website to one of the three slots for this purpose.  Make sure you specify the anchor text.  Don’t go with the default of “My Website”.  The anchor text should be your startup name and maybe a couple of words of what it does.  You can look at my profile to get a sense: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dharmesh (note: I don't accept LinkedIn invites from people I don't know.  If you're looking to get to know me, follow me on twitter @dharmesh).

14.  Get business cards printed.  Don’t go overboard, but don’t use a “free” option (because it’s not really free, it’s just subsidized).  I don’t believe much in business cards, but you need them to simply avoid the 30 seconds of discussion as to why you don’t have a card when people ask you for one at conferences and meetings and such.  They’re worth the price to avoid that uncomfortableness.

15.  Use the Twitter Grader search feature to find high-impact twitter users in your industry.  Start following them.  You want to start forging relationships.  Start building your twitter network.  Resist the temptation to mass-follow a bunch of random people or play other games just to get your follower count up.  That’s not going to matter.  Get some high quality relationships going.  If you’re really serious, start using an app like TweetDeck so you can more easily monitor the needed conversations.

16.  Create a StumbleUpon account.  Specify your areas of interest (part of registration).  Spend 10 minutes a day (no more!) stumbling and voting things up/down.  Start befriending those that are submitting sites that are relevant and interesting for your startup.  Don’t submit your own stuff — just start contributing.

17.  Subscribe to the LinkedIn Answers category that best fits your area of interest.  Answer one question a day that you feel like you’ve got some expertise in.  Don’t self-promote.  You’re seeking to build credibility and trust — not sell anything.

18.  Find the bloggers that are writing about your topic area.  Subscribe to their feed, and read their stuff regularly.  Leave valuable comments and participate in the conversation.  (Do not spam them or write “fluff” comments.  If you don’t have something useful to add to the conversation, don’t comment).

19.  Start building some contacts on Facebook.  Organize your users into groups (one for your business and another for friends/family).  This will come in handy later.  Don’t spam people and ask them to visit your website.  At this point, your website is still probably not worth visiting. 

20.  Grade your website on Website Grader.  Fix the basic things.  You should be able to get a 50+ just by doing the simple things it suggests.  [Disclaimer:  I wrote Website Grader].

21.  Get Some Analytics:  Install some web analytics software and start watching your traffic.  Where is it coming from?  How is it growing?  What keywords are people using to find you?  What content are they looking at?  It's ok to get a bit maniacal and obssessed about it at first.  Many of us do that (and some of us never get over it).  

If you liked this article, you'll probably love the Inbound Marketing book that I co-authored.  It includes similar practical advice for getting found in Google, social media and blogs.

If you’re interested in startups, you can follow me on twitter @dharmesh.

What have I missed?  What ideas do you have on tactical things for startup marketing?  What do you do?

Update: Oh, and by the way, if you liked this article, you will love my recently released book, Inbound Marketing: Getting Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs. The book is a practical guide to marketing on the web and has been an Amazon Top 100 book since the day of it's release.     

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Tue, Apr 07, 2009

COMMENTS

Put in an analytics package. it is fun to see how the business grows online.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 11:17 AM by Sam Ruback


Great advice. In step 2, I suspect you meant 'shudder' rather than 'shutter'.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 11:48 AM by Denis Hennessy


Sam: I actually had analytics as #21 and for some reason, failed to include it. It's hugely important. Thanks for catching that. 
 
Denis: Yes, meant shudder. Fixed. Thanks.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 11:54 AM by Dharmesh Shah


Why do you think a sub-domain is better than a folder for the blog? I think in most cases a folder companyname.com/blog/ would be more suitable. 
 
Another thing you could add, get directory listings. At least Yahoo's directory, ODP, and whatever major niche directories are in your market.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 11:56 AM by Peter Davis


Hi Dharmesh! 
A KISS article:D 
 
However,i was wondering if having weekly newsletters can be used to drive interest towards the startup.There have been two sides of this story where ppl say that newsletters are a thing of the past and some who still like newsletter. 
What do you think?RSS or Newsletters

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 12:21 PM by @getinmoneywise


Peter: I don't think sub-domains are better than sub-folders. There are tradeoffs. Sub-folders have a slight SEO edge. But sub-domains are slightly simpler because it's easier to move a sub-domain around if you ever change your mind. Either is fine, I'm just against using a sub-domain on someone else's primary domain (ex: something.blogspot.com).

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 12:23 PM by Dharmesh Shah


I would add: monitor your 3 competitors via LinkedIn Company Buzz App which searches twitter

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 12:50 PM by Ido Ariel


Here's the quickest easiest way to investigate which niches you should target in search engines and other places. 
-Start an Adwords account. 
-Choose your top 10-20 niche possibilities. If you had a new type of rubber for tires you might try niches like "Bike Tires" "Tractor Tires" "Formula One Tires" etc. Get creative and think about all the niches your product could fit. 
-Take these niches and create ad groups with very specific keywords (every iteration of those keywords you can think of). For "Bike Tires" niche I would try "road bike tires" "road bicycle tires" "street racing bike tires" etc. 
-Build some various ads texts for those keywords. Get creative here too try out all your marketing angles. 
-Make your daily budget something you can afford reasonably and let it rip. 
Get this going right away, before you have anything to sell. Just point it to your email signup form for people to fill out if they are really interested. You'll get a good idea of what niches are good to target and the competition for those niches quickly.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 1:16 PM by Justin


This is a very useful article. It may be reserved for another article, one that I think would be an interesting read at some point if it has yet to be written here, but I do think entrepreneurs should be on the look out for a qualified intellectual property attorney as they begin to trot down a few of the paths noted above. While IP is not marketing per se, it is part and parcel of the company's value. Moreover, IP and marketing are often linked together at the hip, particularly at the nascent stages of a company's development.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 1:22 PM by Chris


For #5 I'd add a link to constant contact and aWeber so readers know where to get an email system. 
 
On #15 I'm curious about why you only chose TwitterGrader and didn't mention usingwww.search.twitter.com or http://twitterati.alltop.com/. 
 
This is a great thorough blueprint for someone new to the game. Thanks for laying it out so simply.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 1:36 PM by Brett Greene


great tips . I like the http://website.grader.com 
 
Analytis should be high in priority

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 2:02 PM by vinay


Working with large and small businesses as well as start-ups in diverse sectors, I see a common mistake: lack of target market profiles. The use of strategies and tactics (e.g. keywords, folders, newletters) should be determined by careful market and competitive analysis as well as vivid behavior profiles for the highest value prospects in each target segment. Design all communications from the audience backwards, not by convention or "best practices" promoted as general flavor-of-the-month favorites. This takes homework, no shortcuts. Best of luck to all entrepreneurs!  

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 2:10 PM by Ken Grimsley


Excellent tips and concisely written. I'm analyzing my site right now.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 2:14 PM by Darla


Hi Dharmesh. Very comprehensive. Business cards are important for the face to face meetings (you're not always on a computer). Depending upon your area, YouTube is another great way to get your story out. Thx for the tips.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 2:16 PM by Steve Yamaguma


Great article and comments. I would add a couple of excercises before getting started on numbers 2 - 21 to get the most bang for your buck. 
 
 
 
1. Define your value proposition. What value are you bringing people? Take the time to research and understand your target audience and understand what they value and what you really have to offer that solves their problem or pain point. 
 
 
 
2. Define an objective and measure of success for each action so you can evaluate the effectiveness of each strategy or action you take.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 2:17 PM by Gabrielle Guidero


Thanks Dharmesh for pretty comprehensive information on startup marketing. Most of it is applicable to personal marketing as well.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 2:35 PM by Manish Bansal


 
Can thoroughly recommend Moo for business cards - go for the eco versions - they are less shiny

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 2:47 PM by jon bradford


A question pertaining to Tip #3: 
 
 
 
If I enter links to my site in comments on blogs that are pertinent to my product, will that get the Google crawler to start indexing my site? 
 
 
 
Thank you!

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 2:56 PM by Charlie


Great article.....but if you want to take your market by storm, then scratch #3 and add an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Campaign to your website. The internet is a powerhouse and you can launch your start up very effectively with the proper strategy.  
 
Contact me for a FREE analysis and to be educated on SEO. Contact me at rebecca@nationalpositions.com 
 
Be passionate and purposeful with your business and you will be a huge success! 
 
Warmly, 
Rebecca

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 3:11 PM by Rebecca


Great post. I'm curious about a couple things. You say to create a twitter account with your company name, but you yourself use your personal name. Have you evolved past needing to do this? Or do you perhaps recommend both? 
 
And on a slightly unrelated note, if you go the Facebook direction, do you think it can (or should) replace a standard discussion forum on the company website? What about using emails to Facebook fans instead of a separate mailing list? I'm going to guess you're not in favor of the latter since you'd lose direct access to the email addresses, which can be a valuable commodity for a startup. But as a forum, a Facebook fan page might finally be better than phpBB or whatever else your webhost can slap on.  
 
We've had a hosted discussion almost since we started, but I'm considering switching to Facebook instead. 
 
Mark

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 5:41 PM by Mark Pundsack


I'm just getting started with my first start-up and this article's timing is perfect. I got answered questions I didn't know I had.  
Thanks. 
 
I perceive email newsletters as somewhat outdated, but it only takes five minutes to set-up anyways.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 6:15 PM by Slav Ivanov


Hi, 
Great tips. Got to your blog from Linked In. I am working on my own web start up and your tips were just what I was looking for. If you can add some links to some of the techniques that you described for implementing the tricks that would be helpful for a newbie like me. 
 
Thanks 
 
Ananth 
 

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 6:47 PM by Anantha Narayanan


Great article. Although, I'm going to start a startup anytime soon, I am planning to start a new personal blog. I think all the given tips in this article apply to a blog too. Thanks a lot.

posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 9:49 PM by Ganesh


Dharmesh, excellent tips, simplified and motivating to get going with the points laid out, right away.

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 2:32 AM by Priyaa


Hi Dharmesh, 
It was really an informative article, it actually gave me a direction for designing my campaign for an IT outsourcing company - where I am an Intern for my Summers. Thanks a lot. Please write more on Online Branding.

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 3:01 AM by Nitin


Dharmesh - great list. Looking forward to seeing you at IMS.  
 
I would add a 1A - make sure that the name you choose does not have a lot of clutter when you do a Google search on the name. That's why I use my middle name - I am the only David Meerman Scott in the world. And when I chose the names for my books "The New Rules of MArketing & PR" and "World Wide Rave" I could "own" the Google results for those phrases.  
 
Take care, 
David 
 

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 4:03 AM by David Meerman Scott


Excellent article, although it is clearly focused around web marketing (as opposed to general marketing) perhaps that should be qualified in the title -just a thought, keep it up the content is really good. 
I'm in Ireland and it all relevant here too.

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 4:24 AM by John Shanahan


Dharmesh, 
 
 
 
Nice summary, great tips. Question, plz: if not Dreamweaver or Frontline, what do-it-yourself-to-save-huge-developer-expense web design product do you recommend for the only moderately tehno-savvy entrepreneurs? 
 
 
 
Thanks for a steer. 
 
 
 
Colleen 
 
 
 

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 7:32 AM by Colleen Payne


You nailed it. I think we are actively perusing or have talked about doing 19 of the 21 things on your list. The other two we will be talking about today. Thanks for taking the time to pull this together.

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 12:25 PM by Joshua Aikens


Hi Dharmesh, 
 
Thanks for writing this fantastic article. It is great to read about tactics and not just strategy! 
 
For version 1.1 consider adding a point about Monitoring Twitter. If you want to know what people are saying about your company, product or service, Twitter is a great source.  
 
Visit http://search.twitter.com and do separate searches for your company, product and/or service names. Subscribe to the RSS feed of the search results via the "Feed for this query" link. You'll be notified whenever someone mentions one of your search terms. 
 
Also consider using Twitter to monitor what people are saying (the good and the bad) about your competition. 
 
-David 

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 12:30 PM by David J. MacKay


THANK YOU! This may just be what I need to reach my first million!

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 3:34 PM by Tina


great advice! I will most definatley be using these tips since I am startng up my own pr firm! I would like to know more about where this summit is going to take place, I live in the Bay Area and would love to hear you speak.  
 
thanks!

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 8:09 PM by Lisbeth


This was very useful, I will share with my colleagues- we're all enrolled in a 16wk small business program. 
 
 
 
Many Thanks  
 

posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 10:43 PM by Cherylann


These are very useful steps when you're trying to launch a startup these days when budgets are low (for most of us entrepreneurs). The real value here are all the 21 steps seen together as a list on how to get things running in a smart way. Nice of you to share this competence with others trying to do startup marketing. I will use this in marketing my own startup launched a month ago.

posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 1:59 AM by Terje Wold


Why 7 and 8? What use is Facebook for Business to Business? Seems valueless to me. 
 
I'd like you to expand on this please Dharmesh. 

posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 6:20 AM by Stephen Kellett


Very useful checklist. This is a keeper. Maybe it would have been better to split it into 'real world' and 'online' activities as the real world ones (like business cards) are only really useful (in my experience) if you are going to various networking meetings where you can engage with people about whatever you are doing. Most people don't do this and they should be.

posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 7:04 AM by Jason Grant


Very helpful. I was ahead on some of the list, but waay behind on many areas. AAAh, so much work to do. Thanks!

posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 7:55 AM by Dwight


Excellent blog posting! I will email it out to my business groups.. thank you! 
 
 
 
Cemanthe

posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 8:19 AM by Cemanthe


This is so good and helpful. I am on the verge of starting work in an online sector that is highly populated with competitors with fat wallets. One of my pain points is how I will compete with their marketing. Some of your tips are just the thing to help me get the word out through the social media.

posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 12:38 PM by chica


Great post and thank you. Even if I feel I've got things under control and went through your first 15 points or so thinking, Yes, I've done that, that too, I'm good, I suddenly realized I could have done things better and there are things I've not even considered. It's certainly useful even months after your first website and when you actually do have a site out there with real content. 
 
Thanks a lot. Cheers! 
Pia

posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 4:00 PM by Pia Poulsen


Great article ! Thanks. 
 
 
 
Website grader is really good to know few fixes as per standard online marketing.

posted on Saturday, April 11, 2009 at 5:29 AM by Rakesh


Very useful information for novice like myself. Thanks for that. 
 
I'm just wondering about the value of launching a simple website (point 2 on your list), when our product will be the website it self? Isn't there a (big) risk of bad will if you launch a site that doesn't solve the problem that we aim to solve?

posted on Saturday, April 11, 2009 at 4:37 PM by Thomas


Great post as always Dharmesh! Sorry I keep missing you when I come by Hubspot HQ (love the new offices btw). Hope to connect in San Francisco at the IMS, see you there! 
 
- Greg

posted on Sunday, April 12, 2009 at 10:58 AM by Greg Cangialosi


This is an exceptional article. I have little to no website design background, so I went through homestead. They gave me a way to pretty much cut and paste the content where I wanted on the site, but now I have the tools to actually drive business to the site.

posted on Monday, April 13, 2009 at 11:24 AM by Joseph Lockhart


check out

posted on Monday, April 13, 2009 at 12:37 PM by Sean


I came across this in the OnStartups LinkedIn Group. I am very glad I clicked over to read the full post.  
 
Though much of your advice to startups includes important items to make note of, it sounds a bit like a tactical laundry list. Most of the things you list have a bigger-picture function: joining the market conversation.  
 
Startups are unknown, so no one is looking for them and often people aren't even looking for their products because they don't know they exist. I would advise startups to look at what they offer and who needs what they offer? Then look at who are the Influencers driving the market conversation around fulfilling the wants and needs of those people. Finally, what does the startup need to do to accomplish building relationships with the Influencers and interacting with the market conversation at large through appropriate tools and conversation locations. The tools and locations you list (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc.) are not the necessary or applicable to every startup. Startups have few resources, usually human resources, to keep up all of those tools and locations.  
 
Determining 1st, who they're market conversation influencers are, and then the tools and the locations those conversations are happening in and what the best practices are for interacting with it is far more critical than just ad hoc tactics.

posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 7:06 PM by Christine Fife


Excellent article Dharmesh! 
 
I had to laugh at number 14 - but so true.

posted on Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 10:04 AM by Dean Cowart


Another should be to at least try to have a sense of originality..I'm so tired of crossing over the same sites with either the same content--or same biased opinions towards marketing..

posted on Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 7:12 PM by Melody


Another idea is to create a video about your product/service and upload it to YouTube, then re-embed in your Website. People like watching videos that explain what the stuff is that you're doing.

posted on Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 7:35 AM by Silvia


Hi! Great post and very good points. I think that another important "social tool" to use is friendfeed www.friendfeed.com): you can setup all your other feeds and build a network that can view all your update in one place. You can also setup a group about your business. 
 
Bye, 
Nicola.

posted on Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 11:41 AM by njvitto


A past client of mine just joined your LinkedIn group, and checking out your blog convinced me to join, too. This article's timing for me was serendipitous. 
 
I just launched one new venture and expect to start a second one in a few weeks -- when I am admitted to the State Bar of Texas. At that point would it better to have one twitter account with my name (as you have for your account), or the name of either of my new ventures, or create separate accounts for each?

posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 7:46 AM by Tariq Nisar Ahmed


@Tariq I suggest you to use your name and talk about your startups. On social media (especially Twitter) people want to talk with real people, not with "virtual" companies :) 
 
Good luck!

posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 7:55 AM by njvitto


@njvitto -- Thanks for the reply. I think using my own name would be an intuitive choice, too. But sometimes success hinges on being flexible enough to try something counter-intuitive. It occurs to me that just having my company/venture name as my twitter account name means the company name becomes more meaningful to potential clients. On the other hand, I just checked and my venture's full name is one character too long for twitter. :) So, I also wonder if the advice against mangling URLs applies to twitter account choices? Assuming so, I would be better off with my name... if that fits. ;)

posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 8:14 AM by Tariq Nisar Ahmed


Good stuff! Always nice to see a step-by-step process

posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 5:35 PM by Spencer Tyler


Hello Mr. Dharmesh;  
 
I am planning to launch a web service in few months and while going through tons of blogs and articles, I realized yours was one of the most articulated, concise and to the point blog I have read.  
 
Thanks for putting it no neatly.  
 
Rahul

posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 7:52 PM by Rahul


Some comments and things I would add: 
 
#2 - Your website, even if simple, should be good, interesting, different. Because if you spend all this time in Linkedin and other industry trying to build some credibility and people click to your website and find a useless website, however good your comment was your credibility is going to be tainted. 
 
Some things I would recommend to anyone trying to generate awareness for a website on a limited budget: 
 
- Contribute to Wiki Answers and Wikipedia and where approriate refer your site (if it is not appropriate or relevant it will be deleted very quickly) 
 
- If you are looking for a developer, designer, copywriter... I suggest you check elance.com 
 
- For email sends, as per another comment, I highly recommend constant contact (to benefit from a free 60days trial go to http://tiny.cc/AQ7XX) 
 
- To generate some more awareness and help your rankings check payperpost.com 
 
- To generate some revenues look into affiliate programs like commission junction 
 
- Buy a domain name (I love Go Daddy) and link it to a Blogger account 
 
Good luck

posted on Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 8:42 PM by Community Niche Marketing


just a point, the business plan is the most important part of funding for any business start. The other points you raised are brilliant however:)

posted on Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 8:34 AM by Nigel


Thank you. A very useful article, and apt, at a time I'm just starting to look into starting and marketing a business. 
 
 
 
Looking forward to an updated list (I'll work through this one in the meantime).

posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 5:39 AM by Rollasoc


This is a fantastic list, loads of fresh ideas and guidelines to follow. Kudos

posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 4:31 PM by Bethemiddleman


nahhh..its good simple advice, but its like too web 2.0 based, wat about going out and meeting stakeholders in real life?

posted on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 7:36 AM by umair


I felt this was all excellent advice and, being new to social networking and the start-up of my business, I will incorporate much of it. 
 
Thank you, 
Nancy Frye-Swope 
Nancy's Virtual Office

posted on Monday, May 04, 2009 at 2:21 PM by Nancy Frye-Swope


Thank you for sharing . It was a knowledge add .

posted on Monday, May 04, 2009 at 3:45 PM by Ambar Patil


WOW! Just found this article and it is great. I'm going to use it for myself as well as my clients. I think you hit everything I've ever read anywhere else. Thanks.

posted on Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 11:28 AM by Bob Burch


Where is the identifying and proving revenue? Nobody is interested in a non revenue generating or close to generating 'idea'

posted on Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 5:43 PM by Kevin


Hi Dharmesh 
 
Highly appreciate your article.  
 
To add more i suggest you should provide more details on setting up a company, incorporation, local registrations (India) Trademark & patent related information. 
 
Benefits that companies can avail by registering with SEZ, STPI & other regulatory authorities, etc 
 
Since my company does certain activities above, i thought it might be beneficial for people to know how easy or tough is it going to be for people to setup a proprietary concern, partnership, LLP, Pvt. Ltd., etc 

posted on Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 4:22 AM by Shankar Suresh


Very informative post. I am using some of them and now I learned some for me to do

posted on Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 5:45 AM by Hangelbel


Dharmesh,  
 
This is a super action item list, that, when put together, forms the foundation of a sound marketing strategy. 
 
I would add my three-legged stool of visibility, which revolves around establishing yourself as an expert and building your own "body of knowledge." 
 
You want to be known for what you know, not just for what you do, as what you know is more highly valued than what you do. 
 
This means that you should write and distribute articles and even white papers, for free, online, on topics about which you're an expert; speak on your topic of expertise at conferences and professional meetings; and get quoted in journalists' articles in your field. Even if you only do one of these, you'll be ahead. 
 
Other traditional forms of marketing haven't lost their cache: join an organization or two or three where your primary target buyers hang out -- be sure to get into leadership as soon as you can, because besides it being the right thing to do, your name will get around quickly. And get together with prospects where possible and feasible -- people still eat, and face to face contact is as relevant and powerful as ever. 
 
Roberta Guise 
Guise Marketing & PR 
www.guisemarketing.com 
 
 
 

posted on Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 11:23 PM by Roberta Guise


Hi Dharmesh, 
 
I'd add that even/especially a startup needs to do some multi-channel direct marketing. A combo of targeted direct mail, email, social networking outreach - but the key is to use all the channels (and watch your budget).  
 
If you're familiar with the Winterberry Group, they report that online channels demonstrate greater value when used as a complement to direct mail applications.  
 
Dharmesh, if you want to explore this idea more for your blog... (hint?) I've got more info. and also a company in mind for you to talk to (AmazingMail) that provides integrated successful campaigns for even the smallest startups. 
 
Just let me know, and I'd be interested in your thoughts. 
 
Best regards, 
Jill

posted on Friday, May 08, 2009 at 12:48 PM by Jill McCubbin


a really, REALLY great post - all the basics folk need in a nice condensed 2.0 package - I would have tho done a bit of a spiel on the value and ease of using Google Analytics - so worth it to see where ur heading and the fact it metrics overlays Adwords and SO MUCH more .. cheers 
 
Nick 
@foolkitlegal

posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 9:17 AM by nick


What do you guys think of puting product pictures in flickr.com with the address on the photo? 
 
 
 
Or videos on youtube.com? 
 
 
 
Kind regards..

posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 11:13 AM by Bernardo


Dharmesh - This a great article that (also works as a checklist). I would add two comments: 
 
0 - Even before you do any of the above, your company needs to have a story. What do you do? Why are you better? What problem are you solving? Others touched upon this point but no one mentioned it specifically. @Nigel mentioned having a business plan, which requires you to think (and write out) what the business IS. Writing the plan can be useful for developing the story. But you need to have a story you can tell people. 
 
1 - When you pick a name, don't allow yourself to be hamstrung by the .com convention. Yes, it's great if you can get a .com name (and even if the name you want is not available, you can sometimes pick them up for surprisingly cheap), but the use of alternate TLDs - like .de, .es, .io - opens up your creativity in ways you might not imagine and allows you to create names that you probably wouldn't be able to get when you're thinking 'it has to be a dot com.' Great examples, delicio.us (before they could afford delicious) and drop.io. 
 
Again, thanks for a great article/checklist. Look forward to meeting soon.  
 
Cheers.

posted on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 12:22 PM by Karl S


Good checklist of essentials in a concise way - thanks and congratulations.

posted on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 12:50 PM by Gopal


Interesting read. Some good tips!

posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 1:45 AM by Priyanka D


Great tactical list of things to do as a start up.  
 
The only things I'd add:  
market research so you can be in a position to tap into the existing demand from the onset of the new business. 
create unique value proposition that clearly explains the pain your company solves and who's feeling it.

posted on Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 7:05 PM by Vanessa Pagan


Great article, you took what takes most people years to figure out and laid it out in a clean and easy to understand format. Wish I had seen an article like this early on 
thanks 

posted on Friday, May 29, 2009 at 7:28 AM by Pat Shaughnessy


Dharmesh, I found this article to be very inspiring and have used this as my checklist to build my online presence. Thank you for writing this.

posted on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 at 1:40 PM by Carmelo


Thansk Dharmesh for this post. It's a comprehensive basic check-list. 
 
Some thoughts that came up to my mind: 
 
How about the usage of one's twitter account? What do you suggest to keep time-consumption low (still gaining importance / attention) 
 
What about:  
- register on CrunchBase 
- one's local online directory 
- Pin your location on Google Maps (instead of directory) 
- start writing white papers, if you have the knowledge in the area of your business and publish them (website, blog, forum, or best case on a page, where experts / clients meet)

posted on Monday, June 08, 2009 at 8:37 AM by Rico


What a really fantastic article...lots of practical advice. One thing I would add is have a go at doing your own public relations. Small businesses and start-ups are so much more suited to PR than big companies - they're more nimble, interesting, appealing to the media and the entrepreneur is more likely to 'shoot from the lip' something journalists love. Yet small companies rarely have the confidence to try PR. There's millions of free media exposure to be grabbed - go grab it!

posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at 12:31 PM by louise Findlay-Wilson


Malabar Partners has four branded programs for startup consulting. These is a really great list of common sense and relevant actions that any startup should follow.  
 
I believe that under the surface, any startup should also lay a foundation of ethics, culture and agreement. One of the things I have seen that has caused a great deal of stress for startups is the participants don't clearly, legally understand what their relationship and obligations are to the startup and each other. 
 
Then a point of success or failure comes, and the wheels on the bus come off. Hurt feelings, ethical conflicts, etc. 
 
We advise our startup to put agreements with the principles in place that cover things like what happens in the event that one person dies. What happens in the event that one person wants to quite. What happens in the event that one person gets arrested on a felony charge. Spell things out up front.

posted on Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 8:49 AM by Steve Day


Everything mentioned works well, but take sometime, you have to keep patience to get noticed. Startup are always take time to have good presence.

posted on Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 10:51 PM by Rakesh


Great article ! It makes me want to work even harder on my startup... 
 
I have a small question though : where do you find the awesome illustrations of your articles ? 
 
Thanks a lot

posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 12:49 PM by Bastien


Hello, 
Great Article written in a thoughtful way, useful to many people like me. 
Thanks a lot

posted on Friday, June 26, 2009 at 12:30 PM by Dr Deepa Patil


I'm sorry but this is not great advice. Just cutting every corner and doing these basic things sin't going to make your own business successful what so ever. A much better idea is to read about how people like you have started from scratch and built their own business. They have actually good advice. Like this guy i read about while looking for a job Rob Tuchman. He created a sport marketing company and I promise you he did it by doing a lot more then these basic steps. Young Guns is this book he wrote and I know from reading it that it'll be better advice then this.

posted on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 11:02 AM by Mitch


Fantastic Startup check list. I learn so much about how can I improve my website today and i wanted to say Thank you!  

posted on Wednesday, July 08, 2009 at 12:33 PM by Juan Luque


Malabar Partners has four branded programs for startup consulting. These is a really great list of common sense and relevant actions that any startup should follow.

posted on Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 11:35 AM by sohbet


We advise our startup to put agreements with the principles in place that cover things like what happens in the event that one person dies. What happens in the event that one person wants to quite. What happens in the event that one person gets arrested on a felony charge. Spell things out up front.

posted on Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 11:38 AM by yonja


We advise our startup to put agreements with the principles in place that cover things like what happens in the event that one person dies. What happens in the event that one person wants to quite. What happens in the event that one person gets arrested on a felony charge. Spell things out up front.

posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 3:56 PM by sohbet


Then a point of success or failure comes, and the wheels on the bus come off. Hurt feelings, ethical conflicts, etc

posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 3:57 PM by yonja


Thanks for this - great reminder list to have. Just starting off the 2nd company so fab timing!

posted on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 10:34 AM by sam collett


Thanks for this . this will be of great help.

posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 7:22 AM by Chandan Relan


Excellent list for new startups.

posted on Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 5:56 PM by Srinivas Kandikattu


Cool site, keep going, cause a lot of usefull info

posted on Tuesday, September 01, 2009 at 3:21 PM by tori



Nice article. It almost makes starting a startup sound.....easy!

posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:53 PM by Collaboration Cathy


With a few exceptions, this is the same list I use with the small business startups that I coach. The great thing about it is that, with only a couple of exceptions, everything is free! Just takes a little time and a startup can be off and running.

posted on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 4:04 PM by Susan


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