It’s natural to build a product, then focus on marketing when it is ready. It is much wiser to incorporate marketing from the start. A great exercise for a new startup is to write your press release – the earlier, the better.
Writing a press release keeps you focused on building a marketable product, and ensures you can say what you want to say about your product at launch. Often, it will make you realize that a feature you don’t think is core to the product is actually core to the marketing of the product. Your startup needs a hook, and the last thing you want to do is realize you don’t have a good one when you’re ready to launch.
Startups that succeed don’t just produce a great product – they present the product in a way that easily attracts an audience. Don’t just deliver a product for users that arrive interested. Include features that will attract more users in the first place. Build marketing into your product through features that provide instant gratification and/or get people to talk.
Recently I saw Spencer Rascoff, the CEO of Zillow, speak at an NWEN event. He explained that they delayed the launch of Zillow to complete a feature that enabled any homeowner to claim and edit the details of their property. This feature made it so no one could critize their use of publicly available data. It also drove more users; according to Wikipedia, “over 10 million users have claimed and edited property information.”
Another example of a marketing feature is in the Kinect for Xbox. As if their PR wasn’t already easy enough – no controller! – they took the time to build a feature called KinectShare. It takes photos during the Kinect’s use, and lets you easily share them on facebook. This wasn’t required for the Kinect’s core offering of a no-controller experience. Gamers wouldn’t miss it if it wasn’t there. But because of this feature, I am reminded every time I use Facebook that I still haven’t bought my Kinect. And while it’s not in my budget, it’s only a matter of time before I break down and buy one thanks to this feature.