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Marketing and Lousy First Dates

May 5, 2010

High-tech marketing is often like a bad first date, where the person across from you goes on and on about himself. Then finally he pauses: “But enough about me. Let’s talk about things I like to do.”

That’s often the case with high-tech companies, startups especially. They go on and on about their technology and how it works. Then they pause: “But enough about features. Let’s talk specifications.”

This blog will help you avoid the mistakes high-tech companies—and specifically startups—make. More importantly, it will be about how to bypass these mistakes in the first place. My Crowded Ocean co-founder, Lisa Busby, and I will share ideas and best practices learned during our careers in high tech – from the 20+ startups we’ve launched to our experience working at or with the Big Boys (Oracle, Lucent, Cisco, Siebel, Salesforce).

Our agency, Crowded Ocean, is based on a simple premise: Most startups are founded by technologists who don’t know how to bring their products to market. They’re great at features and specs, not so strong on solutions and benefits. That’s why the VCs bring us in.

Back to that bad first date. It would have been better if the guy had stopped himself and said, “But enough about me. Let’s talk about you.” Better yet if he’d started with: “Tell me about yourself.”

If you’re a startup, don’t listen to your older high-tech brother but rather from his consumer marketing friends, they can tell you everything about your target audience. Consumer companies must connect with their target audiences better (and by ‘connect’ I mean interview, go to their place of work, find out not only what keeps them up at night but what can get them fired). A little background homework before your first date can do wonders.

The Marketing Best Practice is: Connect to your audience before writing a single line of code. The result will be solutions, not products. You’ll have a much greater chance at success!

If you are a startup company or venture capital investor and you’d like to know how Crowded Ocean can be implemented to help startups take those first critical steps in the right direction, just drop us a line.

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