The goal for any early stage company is, of course, to build a product that people want. There is no point in building a company if you have any other plans outside of that!
But, an important ingredient to understanding what people want (so that you can build something valuable for them) is to let them know that you do, in fact, exist. This is why we started “marketing” and leaving nothing to chance, so to speak.
Although we’ve done this very tactically over the past year there has been an over-arching strategy that we’ve been trying to deploy which can be loosely described as storytelling.
Now, I don’t profess to be an incredible storyteller myself nor am I necessarily or overtly gifted communicator in regards to story, but, what I do know a thing or two is about distribution. Namely, how to distribute a story on the internet at large.
And, the better a story is the more potential it has to circulate and the more it circulates the more eyeballs you earn and the more that you earn the more opportunity you have to get them to interface with you product.
In a perfect world you’d have an incredible story with an equally as impressive distribution channel with an impossibly-amazing product at the end of the experience.
But, we know that that’s generally impossible in the beginning as you and your team are still very much discovering what works, what doesn’t, what resonates with early customers and what really doesn’t.
You’re in gross experimentation mode with the hope that a decent product and a referencing story combine to build something compelling. And our job is to continue to build, to continue to create particles (i.e. pollen) that can be distributed into the world with the hope of pollination (if we are to continue this operating metaphor).
How do you and I do that? You continue to build the story as it builds itself. You continue to share the discovery process with your small community or even your soon-to-be community. You share a little here and there and then more as you feel need and are able.
You don’t have to do this comprehensively and you don’t need a “robust” or in-depth “go-to market strategy”; you just need to commit to sharing, in whatever form that might be (e.g. Twitter, Blog, a Newsletter) and don’t stop.
You see, just like pollen, you never really know where it’ll land and that’s a little bit of the magic and serendipity that every startup needs. And, every so often, you get rewarded.
A great and recent example of this is one of our posts about design, UI and UX: Familiar is Good. It clearly resonated with a large crowd and we’re very happy to have encouraged a ton of folks that would never have originally encountered our product and company.
The magic is that we’ve continued to do what we’ve been doing for months (and we’re coming up on a year now…)! We’re building a product that we believe people want and we began sharing our story as soon as we had something to say, even if it wasn’t much at first.
And, some of this “internet pollen” has spread and some of it has given us returns that we can be proud of.
Explicitly and tactically, it’s opened up conversations with new organizations who want to test-drive our product, conversations with angel investors and venture capitalists who want to “inquire” into what we’re doing, and also excited others who have, in no-uncertain terms, expressed excited interest in joining our company to work with and for us.
All because we started building, started sharing in the ways that we felt appropriate and capable of doing decently well, and haven’t quit. I encourage you to do the same.
Is our story principally “great” yet? Probably not, but just like our early-stage product, we’re in the process of making it great. Just like you.
Also published on Medium.