one hit wonder startups

“Can you get us coverage in VentureBeat, TechCrunch, GigaOM, and all the other big tech blogs?” Startups ask us that question all the time, and while the short answer is “Yes...”, our longer answer is worth discussing here:

“Yes, if you’re doing something truly interesting and unique, you have the metrics and pitch to back that up, and the market timing is right. But launch coverage probably won’t help your company all that much.” Because if you want to avoid being a one-hit wonder, it’s just a start. Here’s what I mean:

In our experience, most startups don’t know how to talk about themselves, or their fundamental value proposition in relation to the broader ecosystem of their space. (For that matter, we meet a lot of CEOs who aren’t even sure how their company monetizes -- even though that’s one of the first topics any good tech reporter will talk about.) Despite all this, many CEOs still assume they’ll get coverage just by spending a few thousand dollars on a launch press release -- even if they can’t clearly explain to tech journalists why their product is worth writing about, or stand out from among a sea of hundreds more launch press releases which cross the wires every week.

Even more key, startup CEOs need to understand this: Launch coverage per se will do little to drive mass conversions to your site or your app, even if gets broad pick-up. While millions of readers may see a post about your launch, only a fraction of them will bother clicking through, let alone install your app/register for your service. In addition to your product needing successful execution and great design, mass market adoption requires far more outreach to many more verticals beyond tech blogs, so you can reach audiences who are not early adopters. All this must also happen while you maintain constant communication with your existing users. This requires a multi-targeted approach, with different conversations for different avenues, which is part of a broader, integrated social media and content strategy that should be in place from the very moment of launch, if not before.

This is why we place so much emphasis on content strategy (as we blogged about here), and targeted social media outreach and communication (as Zach discussed here and here). Launch coverage only opens the door to a much longer conversation that will take months or even years for the market to hear. And if you’re not ready to have it, that door will quickly close.

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