My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Wednesday, Nov 11, 2011
10

Marketing a Startup is hard. Here are some steps and inspiration.


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Startup Life is romaticized by many. Seems very glamourous and fun and I will be the first to say there are times when it’s pretty awesome, if you have a strong stomach and are ok with doing anything to get some attention.

As you may or may not know, I am an advisor for Urbandig.com, Urbandig is an iphone app that delivers off the beaten path guides right to your phone and lets you be a local or act like one in a slew of cities in the US and Canada.

Below are a few of the steps we took to get the word out about our app pre and post launch.

*Disclaimer* Nothing can replace having a great product so before you get all excited and try to copy any of this make sure your product or service is even worth looking at! Also I am only going to highlight the most interesting non-traditional steps we took to cause a spectacle. Like all good plans there was a good mix of traditional (Launch Rock pages, emails, back channel outreach, media outreach, social media etc) marketing with the following not so traditional ideas.

Pre Launch Head Scratching:  Teaser Campaigns can be interesting and fun but teaser stuff is only really effective if you can get people guessing…and if they have no idea who you are the guessing wont last too long. Unless you re-invent the idea of a teaser campaign.

Since Urbandig is about people finding places in their city (or a city they are traveling to) it seemed perfectly logical (to me at least) to start writing Missed Connections. As you can see from above each Missed Connection mentions a location on Urbandig as well as an interesting story to get lost in. These listings where free (may not be after this post) and while you are probably saying “Big Deal, One Missed Connection wont convert anyone”. To that I would say you are right but 300+ different MC’s is a different story :)

Another Pre-launch attention was to instigate an organization to try to stop our launch all together.

@Petaforrabbits is militantly against the use of Rabbits for testing, food or experiments. They took offence to Urbandig using a rabbit as their logo and tried their best to stop Urbandig from launching.

You are probably asking yourself how we got so lucky to get an organization to take such a shine to us, tweet about us and even physically protest our launch event causing a disturbance to everyone who tried to enter the building and resulting with the protesters getting physically removed from the property by security…well the answer is we made them up.

Yep. We created the twitter account. Sent out a slew of tweets days before, crazy tweets, engaged people in conversations and targeted a lot of the people attending the event with crazy banter and I am sure made more than a few people uncomfortable. Then hired people off craigslist to pretend to be protestors so that people would not forget attending this event because it is never fun to be yelled at as you enter an event.

The point was to stand out at a launch featuring 20+ other startup launching as well. Inside the building was going to be (and was) noisy so by creating the first touch, and a bad one at that we had people thinking about and scratching their heads about the whole protest/launch and that was time not spent thinking about the other 20 companies in the room.

Week One: Sprinkle a little traditional marketing with the still fresh memory of our launch and we found ourselves in the very fortunate and enviable position of being featured on the home page of the iTunes store as a Hot Pick, Staff Pick and New and Notable (see above about having a great product first and foremost)  and while we could have sat back with our feet up and soaked in our good fortune, we didn’t.

Why?

Because it is all about momentum.

So as a follow up to the Protests and the iTunes recognition we did the only other obvious thing to grab some attention.

We tried to sell a Grilled Cheese on eBay with a Spiritual Image on it. The image happened to be the Urbandig logo and not Jesus but that didn’t seem to matter to people since it was viewed over 2000 times in the first day resulting in the auction being made a “Hot Auction” and finishing with over 14,000 views on eBay and a big chunk of those people following the links to our site to investigate further.

Influencer Program –  I wish I could share this but it is kinda propriatary. I will say that chasing down Robert Scoble and other 2.0 darlings is the old way to do this. Sure I asked these folks to look at us but it was about 1 egg in a basket of 100. Who the influencers are has changed and if you can figure out how and why we did what we did you are probably thinking like us.

Create a Myth- A myth, in its simplest definition, is a story with a meaning attached to it other than it seems to have at first; and the fact that it has such a meaning is generally marked by some of its circumstances being extraordinary” I love to talk and tell stories. My stories are true and sometimes fantastical. An example that fits here involves the canceled TV show The PlayBoy Club and Urbandig. You see the day the PlayBoy Club show was canceled I asked some street art folks to do some work on a high profile billboard and give it a makeover if you will.

This is funny to me because of the bunny connection etc. Did it really happen? I have no idea. I asked someone to look after it but I never saw it first hand. I still tell lots of folks about it though cause its cool and when I do I say it “allegedly” happened…because it is never smart to admit to something like this. That is not only true but it allows the person hearing the story fill in the blanks and make it whatever they want it to be…hence a myth.

I could go on and on with more examples but I think this may be a good place to stop for now. Obviously this isn’t a plan or a roadmap but I do hope you will find some inspiration from the ideas here or at the very least realize I’m awesome.

I also invite you to check out and download the Urbandig App. (talk about burying the lead)

Response
  1. The biggest challenge for any startup marketing campaign is figuring out how to stand out from the crowd with a limited budget. This is an audacious example. Inspirational

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  3. I have realized that you’re awesome. Mind blown.

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  5. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Pingback: Marketing a Startup is hard. Here are some steps and inspiration. | Tech Start Hub

  7. I have created a app and providing free downloads but it has been becoming tough to get users. I think this will help me with my app promotion. Keep on posting more valuable info.

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