Tech Start-Ups Struggle With Marketing

July 11, 2012 by Dave Haynes

I belong to a local technology networking organization called Silicon Halton, which has monthly meet-ups at pubs (which partially, but not entirely, explains my involvement). I’ve not attended many sessions because for some reason I’m usually out of town on business those nights.

But … I did finally get out to one last night. First, because I was overdue. Second, because the organizers do a meet the members thing and they asked me to blabber on for a few minutes about The Preset Group and the digital signage sector.

The events always have structure to them, and last night they did a thing that allowed attendees to propose and then vote on what they were going to talk about. What struck me was how of the 10 or so discussion topics floated, almost all of them had to do with marketing.

A room full of nerds, and people like me who plug into that culture, but the burning issues were not about databases and Ruby on Rails, hiring and firing, or how to keep the lights on. They were predominantly about social media, how to use it and how to define and drive some ROI from it.

It makes sense. In a huge sea of tech companies, how do you get found when the row in the business plan spreadsheet for marketing probably had little or nothing allocated for trade marketing? Social, done well, starts to level the playing field with the big companies who have numbers with lotsa zeroes in the Marketing row.

What I heard from some sharp folks who eat, sleep and breathe social is that no one thing – no particular platform – is a magic bullet. Having a Twitter account, or Facebook page, or LinkedIn profile or YouTube channel is maybe a start, but largely meaningless. It’s about what you want to do with that tool, and what and how you communicate with it.

My experience working with start-ups – as well as very large companies – is they struggle mightily to define what they do and what sets them apart. If you can’t concisely define and pitch your product or service, and make people care, no social media platform will help.

The meet-up was a good reminder that I need to make the effort to get out to these things. I met some great companies and it might lead to some collaboration. There’s probably something similar happening in your community, and worth checking out.


Leave a comment