Simple Digital Marketing Advice for Tech Founders

During the dot-com craze in the 2000s, I remember a photograph of an elderly nun peering into a computer screen with a beatific smile and an air of studied concentration. The caption with the image was, “But if we build it will they come?”

Tech Founders Brainstorming a cafe
Photo by Helena Lopes

It was rather prophetic as the world was internet obsessed but with not enough people willing to buy into what was on offer. When the dot-com bubble burst in 2003 it was a salutary lesson for all involved. No matter how much you believe in your invention or vision, you’ve still got to persuade others that they need it badly enough that they will pay hard-earned money for it.

The big challenge for any entrepreneur or founder, especially if it’s their first time setting up a business, is learning how to simplify their offer and to communicate it in a way that creates interest and demand.

It’s a big topic and there are plenty of experts with their own take on what to do, which is why the words of Maurice Saatchi, founder of Saatchi and Saatchi, are a great starting point.

It is easier to complicate than to simplify. Simple message enter the brain quicker and stay there longer. Brutal simplicity of thought is a painful necessity. The 21st Century requires us to be even more brutal. And even more simple.”

With that in mind heres some simple digital marketing advice to guide you on your way.

Make goals specific and measurable

Late at night you will have wonderful visions of the brave new world you are going to create, the excited interest on the face of investors and the good fortune that awaits you.

Goals are essential as they are what drive and motivate you. However they also need to be:

  • Specific – make them a factual as possible so they are easy to articulate and remember. Complex goals are easily forgotten.
  • Measurable – know the criteria that will determine when you have reached them. otherwise you’ll have no idea of if you’ve arrived
  • Time-bound – be clear if your goals are short or long-term and mindful that when starting out short-term goals are easier to manage and reach.

This may sound blindingly obvious but too often not enough time is given to this. The result is businesses with too many goals, a wooly description of what they are and a poor sense of by when they will achieve them.

Know thy audience

This is really a Commandment. How can you raise investment and then sell your product or service unless you have a good insight into who your audience is?

Start to create Buyer Personas, profiles of segments of your audience that are specific about:

  • Bio information – name, age, status and occupation
  • Personality – Extrovert or Introvert? Sensing or Thinking?
  • Goals, Frustrations and Motivations
  • Brands – what they like and use
  • Tech – Android or iOS?
  • Social Media – the channels they hang out on
  • Baby Boomer, Generation Z, Millennial or Generation Z?

This takes time. But it’s an invaluable exercise as well as a fun one. What you assume people will love about your product or service is not always the case.

An invaluable book to help you is Adele Revella’s Buyer Personnas

Be clear in your approach

Your approach is basically your strategy. However, as soon as anyone mentions the ‘strategy’ word it all becomes rather grandiose. Think of the approach as what is most likely to get you from A to B, even if it does include a deviation via X or Y.

The approach you take is often confused with your tactics. The tactics (see below) are what bring the approach to life.

The publication of authoritative white papers, working with influencers or the production of video content are examples of different approaches. The successful execution of any of these approaches will require a variety of different tactics.

Hannibal’s approach was to invade Italy by taking his army over the Alps in winter rather than going around them. His tactics involved the use of elephants.

Use simple digital tactics

Your tactics are a combination of content, channels, skills and resources.

  1. Content is what you create to make your audience aware of what it is you offer. Content is what keeps them engaged and it comes in a multitude of formats: website, blog articles, newsletters, video and podcast etc.
  2. Channels are where your audience become aware of your content and business. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube etc are channels at your disposal
  3. Resources are the people you need to create your content and to get it distributed across the channels. That means either you, your colleagues or contractors.
  4. Skills are what you require if you are going to deliver any of the above professionally and competently. Some you may already have, others you will need to acquire.

The problem here is that you are not superman. Most likely you don’t have the resources or skills to publish a regular supply of content to distribute across multiple channels.

Instead keep it simple. Focus on one type of content and decide to master one channel. If your target audience are young millennials who live on Instagram become an expert on Instagram.

It’s far more productive to manage one channel with excellence than several poorly.

Measure the results

As soon as you start to apply your approach get into the habit of measuring the results. Whatever platform you are using, it’s possible to get the details of how many people are visiting your page, reading, liking or sharing your content etc.

If you are consistent and frequent in your approach, over a period of time you’ll start to learn about what works and what doesn’t. You’ll also start to link this to revenue and customer engagement.

Amidst all the complexity of running a business, focus on the simplicity of your message and who it is aimed at. As Einstein correctly observed, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

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