Top Ten Tips for Startups– Prepping to Launch

As the year winds down to a close, countdowns and “year in review” lists can be found just about anywhere.  The Crowded Ocean blog is no exception, but this one just makes good business sense. We’ve gone back over some of our best received posts from this year and compiled a Top Ten list that any startup preparing to launch in the New Year must review.

  1. Know your audience and what it needs.  It’s not about what you made/can make, it’s solving a customer problem with a better solution.  We call that whiteboard marketing.
  2. Nail your value proposition.  Once you’ve identified those needs, make sure your various audiences (customers, analysts, influencers) can clearly understand the value (solutions, benefits, savings, etc) your technology brings to the market.  Positioning and messaging make up your secret sauce.
  3. Define your elevator pitch.  Everyone associated with your startup needs to be able to articulate your elevator pitch.  Make sure your entire ecosystem of employees, partners, friends of your startup, etc. hears the same consistent description of your company and product/service.  Remember that word-of-mouth can amplify your marketing.
  4. Sequence your marketing spend.  There are smart ways to prioritize your marketing spend to ensure that you’ve got the right stuff for launch (specifically in the areas of design, PR and your website).  And when it comes to your website, remember it takes time to build a clear, uncluttered site.
  5. Content is king.  We can’t say enough about the value of content.  Without it, you have no website and no sales tools.
  6. Establish a unique identity.  Choosing the right name and creating the right logo are top priorities for every startup.  Here we address some common questions regarding naming and logos with real world experience.
  7. Solidify your startup team.  You’ve tried to build the “A team” while founding your startup.  But if there were ever a moment to evaluate the strength and scalability of your team, it’s before launch.  And having the right team extends to your trusted vendors.  One of the “diseases” we caution startups about is something we call “insourcing”.
  8. Choose the right PR team.  PR is a critical component of almost every launch.  When hiring a PR agency, look for a team with domain expertise, capacity, availability, a relevant track record, no conflict of interest, and that all-important but sometimes elusive ingredient: chemistry, with you and your team.
  9. Plan your budget.  Your marketing plan and corresponding budget are as important to your startup as your product schedule and sales plan.  Here are important ways to think about how to structure your marketing budget.
  10. Legal:  Trademarks and Patents.  Our “going to launch” checklist would not be complete if we didn’t remind you to secure your company IP by making appropriate patent/trademark filings.
  11. We hope you’ve found value in these points and are able apply the learnings in your startup. We’ll continue to evaluate this list and update it as needed.  Is there anything you’ve experienced that belongs on this list?  Let us know!