Top 10 Tips To Get Your Startup Noticed.

by Nathan W. Burke on December 5, 2008

Getting your startup noticed is one of the most essential steps in building a successful online brand. You can have the coolest app/site in the world, but if no one knows about it, well, you’re out of luck. Luckily, promoting your startup isn’t the mysterious and magical process some marketers will have you think. When it comes to online promotion, there are several easy, yet time-consuming steps you can take to get noticed online.

  1. Submit Your Site To Relevant Resources– This is a no-brainer, but it is absolutely essential. Find sites that cover what you do, and submit your site there. Some easy ones:
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  3. Blog– This one is easy in theory, not so easy in practice. It should be a no-brainer by now, but so many people think of this as the last step. Rather than using a blog as an ongoing chronicle of the evolution of a startup, they think of a blog as a nice-to-have. 5 years ago that was true. Not now.I won’t get into the specific advantages of blogging, but let’s list a few: a) starting a conversation about your offering, b) adding search engine content c) creating a place for customer feedback
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  5. Comment On Other Blogs– This is one of the most crucial yet most ignored steps. It’s one thing to write your own blog. It’s another to go out and give your thoughts and appreciation to other bloggers. It builds relationships. It adds link love. It ups your google juice. It makes people think you’re an actual human being with opinions. Spend an hour a day doing this and you won’t believe the return you’ll get. I promise.
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  7. Your Logo– I cannot stress the importance of having your logo available in an easy-to-embed format. If I’m checking out a startup, I always want to include their logo in the post. If I can simply right click on your logo and paste it into my post as an image reference, I will do it in a heartbeat. And as a startup, isn’t that what you want?
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  9. Your Text– Have text available. I know how simple this sounds, but it’s not. There are so many new sites out there that are completely flash-based, and it is impossible to copy and paste text embedded in flash. I like being able to go to a site’s “About” section and paste that text into a post. But even the most eloquently worded about text is worthless if it’s all in flash. If it can’t be copied, it won’t be pasted.
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  11. Twitter– Get a twitter account for your startup immediately. Use it to create a human voice behind your brand, and use it to monitor what people are saying about your startup. If you hear positive comments, be thankful. If you hear something negative, respond and try to fix the problem.
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  13. GetSatisfactionGetSatisfaction is basically a central place for customer service feedback for startups. It’s a great resource. Sign up for an account there and people will find you.
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  15. Go To Events– Another easy one. Go to tweetups, conferences, podcamps, etc. You’ll meet people, you’ll get to talk about your startup, and you’ll get the chance to hone your message each time you meet someone new. This one should be a post in-itself (and will be soon), so I’ll keep it short.
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  17. Create offsite resources- Create a lens at Squidoo about your startup category (not your specific startup, but the category it belongs to) and list your site as one of the players in that category. This way your lens will be seen as a resource rather than a piece of marketing collateral, yet your site will still be listed. Note: don’t be fake here. Definitely make a note of who you are, the fact that you work for a startup being listed there, etc. Be completely transparent and you’ll benefit.Additionally, you might want to have your own blog apart from your startup. Sure, you can and should talk about your startup there, but having yet another domain referencing the startup can only help your inbound links. There are so many opportunities to create offsite resources that reference your startup that I can’t list them here. This also warrants a full post.
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  19. Videos- Make videos. Make a 2 minute video that talks about what you do and put it on your site. Additionally, you should have it on vimeo, blip.tv, youtube, metacafe, and any other video sharing site you can think of.
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Obviously there are hundreds of techniques to promote your startup online and get noticed, but if you start with these ten, you’ll be off to a great start. And of course, if you are looking for help in promoting your startup, let me know. I know a guy. He’s me.

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  • Great post, Nathan. I’ll try some of these things out. As owner of a small design and development studio, we’re not exactly a start-up (we’ve been around for over five years now), but we still operate like one. We do some of the items listed above, but I’m always game to continue onward and upward. Thanks again! -DS

  • Nathan W. Burke

    Dave, thanks for the comment.

    The items definitely apply to businesses that aren’t exactly startups (I’m just focusing on them here since that’s what the site is about). I’d love to hear what works for you or what doesn’t see to fit.

    Thanks again!

  • Nice Article Nathan. At first I was skeptical about reading the full article but I think your points were valid and can be a very valuable reference.

  • Nathan W. Burke

    Thanks, Juan. I am usually skeptical on reading “Top 10” lists too. I usually write more longwinded posts, but I’m trying to only post usable, practical advice on this blog. I’d like to do pieces here that can be immediately used by startups rather than talking theory or just giving big picture advice.

    Thanks so much for reading!

  • So far, I’d always recommend the basic. Comment everywhere, all day, everyday. Link, blog, twitter and communicate as much as possible. Then, from a local standpoint, I try to network as much as possible. I find there is never a short of actual business available, it’s just finding the right clients at the right time.

  • Great list!

    I would add a few more things:

    Contact us: Create an email address just for queries coming in through your site. Sites with an easy to find Contact Us section, with email addresses as well as other ways to reach you present a more customer friendly feel on your site

    Create a page about your advertising opportunities – make it easy for people to find out how to give you revenue.

    Seed your site on other highly optimized sites (Free): Upload any and all business documents, marketing pieces, white papers, blog posts etc, into a site like http://www.docstoc.com. The natural SEO of these document repositories is enormous and each document you upload will be indexed within search engines. A great way to help you build your natural SERP.

    Lastly: Free webinars. Sign up for free webinars from Business Wire and PR Newswire geared towards optimizing corporate information. You can even check out some of these sites now and view their archived webinars.

    Thanks again for the list, it is so great!

    Serena

  • Awesome post Nathan!
    Let me add that startups can get notice in forums. The startup can target a specific forum community that is related to its product. However, as a startup, they shouldn’t sell to the community at the get go. They should listen and engage the community members first to build trust or social equity. Once that’s established, the startup can ask the community for help.

  • Great tips, Nathan.

    I wasn’t even aware of KillerStartups.com until one of my sites was featured there yesterday and traffic quadrupled. Shows what a great resource that is. People seem to have alot of time to surf for new sites these days.

    I’m about to apply these tips one-by-one to my graphical shopping engine, SavvyGraph.com and see how it goes.

  • Thanks for including CN in your resource part. One more I’d add is “spend time learning how to speak about your startup”

  • Nathan W. Burke

    Allen- I’ve loved CN for a long time and it’s a daily must read. I totally agree that learning to speak about your startup is critical. I’ve heard too many people say “well, it’s flickr minus this plus twitter….etc”. While it helps to associate your startup with a service people already are familiar with, it’s not a great way to sound unique.

    Additionally, I’ve seen a lot of startup presentations that look like the presenter was completely unprepared and flustered. That’s always tough to watch because you just know how much hard work has gone into the startup, but without being able to effectively present, all that hard work does nothing.

    Excellent point, Allen. Sounds like a great post topic as well. Thanks!

  • This is perfect timing for me! I just started spreading a press release for my new startup ForeverSMS.

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  • I would definitely make sure someone puts a video out about you. I am looking for good startups at http://www.fastcompany.tv

    You should also have several famous Twitterers talk about you. That’s often how I find cool startups lately. Even better if they also start a good FriendFeed item about you.

    Other ideas? Do a “TwitterPitch.” Post something like “we just launched our killer new live search service at xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.”

    Ask for feedback.

    Participate on FriendFeed. CEOs who show up there, like SmugMug’s CEO, get noticed and get reviewed more often.

  • Bob

    This site gives us the good information.
    The content is very good.
    ========================================
    Bob
    Social Bookmarking Service

  • Nicely compiled. I would like to suggest,
    -Utilize social networks. Post on Facebook
    Like, posting on Facebook, joining relevant groups etc.
    -Put profiles of team on site. Present them to the users so they could feel more comfortable on your site

    PS: I guess my comment falls in (3) :p

  • Great tips! As the co-founder of a company that produces web video & screencasts, I whole-heartedly agree with the last point – Make a video! (though I’m pretty biased). It’s a relatively easy way to reach lots of people. With a great video, uploaded to all the viral sites & keyworded right, the traffic will come.

  • Great, practical tips 🙂

  • This is a great post and wonderful information! I just bookmarked this blog! As a sales and profit evangelist, I love your information! Keep up the good work!
    Twitter ID :@KenE3C

  • Sander

    This will get you noticed, but only in the “startup-scene” consisting of other startups, investors and marketeers. If you want attention from consumers and make some money I recommend to do some traditional marketing and advertising. Use AdWords, partner with other websites, set-up affiliate programs, and do some print advertising. You need to have a mix of a lot of promotion tools, online and offline, but it depends on your business of-course.

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  • Nathan W. Burke

    Serena,
    You’re absolutely right about the Contact Us email address and section (and that’s on my list for another post entirely). There’s an entire science (or perhaps art) behind the call to action, and it’s amazing how much effort companies put into attracting clients to their sites, yet when it comes to the call to action, they often make it difficult to get in touch!

    Thanks again!

  • Nathan W. Burke

    Nick
    Great point. Forums are great in that they have members that form around shared interests. They’re great resources for startups when done correctly. You’re exactly right in that startups shouldn’t just show up, register, and immediately start hawking their offering. To use forums effectively, just think of how you’d act at a party. You wouldn’t show up at a party and immediately start yelling “Come check out my Startup!!!!!” Instead, you’d talk like a normal human being, engage in conversation, and if an opportunity presents itself, you’d talk about what you do. Same deal in forums.

  • Nathan W. Burke

    Gary,
    I wasn’t either until I started seeing traffic trickle in from KillerStartups.com. Eventually KillerStartups.com was in our top 5 sources of traffic, and it was a steady stream of residual traffic week to week.

  • Nathan W. Burke

    Robert,
    I’m with you. Videos are great for a couple of reasons. First, it’s nice to have something visual rather than just text on a page. Second, when you have a video describing your startup, it’s easy to distribute it to multiple video sharing sites. Instead of solely trying to attract people to your own site, having your video on vimeo, youtube, etc lets you put your message in front of an audience you wouldn’t be able to reach through your site alone.

    The twitter ideas are also great….as long as you’re ready. If I were to put this post on a timeline, I’d probably put the “having famous twitterers” toward the end. Once famous folks are talking about you on twitter, the cat is out of the bag, and if you’re not ready, you’re sunk.

    Thanks!

  • Additional tip for start-ups and others: partner with other firms and organization that also serve your kind of customer and SmartPartner: co-create a Top 10 list or portal or product, cross-refer … see more profitable partnering ideas here:
    http://www.movingfrommetowe.com/category/partnering/

  • Wow! It seems you’ve hit on a very topical subject, as I had to scroll down quit a bit to leave my comment. Seriously though, you are so right. There are a millions different ways to market a startup online, and many of them are free. Thanks for providing the helpful links.

    http://www.datexmedia.wordpress.com

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  • Crunch base is the best for new startups

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  • Hi Nathan, Great post! Absolutely a few tools and tips I forgot or did not know about. I will refer to this blogpost when I put it on http://www.tripess.com. Trip Essentials. Plan and Go! is our new start-up we are working on and can certainly use all the help and tips we can get our hands on. Thanks again and good luck! Greetz, Gino Goossens, CEO Trip Essentials (www.tripess.com)

  • Nathan,

    Great list. I found your site via a post on Small Business CEO. Regarding tip #10. How about sending out a video email message that is in sync with rest of your graphical profile with logotype, color scheme, a nice frame around the message, etc. I am using a video email message tool called Talk Fusion.

    I am interested in getting help with my startup venture in America in the future…

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  • Great list. I liked your site which is full of information.

    I am personally trying afew of these tips. I think to become successful in your own hobe-based business, you need to approach it in a different way and need more such tips to get your own startup noticed.

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  • Great suggestions! It boils down to being proactive, getting word out there creatively so that it stands out, building meaningful and mutually-beneficial relationships, and making it easy for people to talk about, share, and connect with you and your startup. Gino

  • Another good place to submit your startup to is BigStartups (http://bigstartups.com) It’s a community/directory for startup companies.

  • thanks for sharing wonderful list for startup people. I think this will help many people to boost their online stuff.

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  • Hello, first I want to say that I try to follow your blog. Great post, I totally agree with you. Have a good day matey.

  • Absolutely an useful post, great key-points to be thought of.

    Thank you, Nathan.

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