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Ask Slashdot: I Just Need... Marketing?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the if-you-build-it-they-will-come-for-the-snacks dept.

Advertising 212

An anonymous reader writes "Over the years, Slashdot has had many stories of non-technical entrepreneurs in need of programmers. Now I found myself in an almost opposite situation: I am a programmer with a fledgling mass-market product that needs marketing. I know Slashdot's general sentiment towards marketing. Without being judgmental one way or the other, I must say that for a product to reach the widest possible audience in a given time period, marketing is a necessity. Short of doing everything myself, I see a couple of options: 1. Hire marketing people, or an outside marketing firm; 2. Take in willing partners who are good at marketing (currently there are no shortage of people who want in). With these options, my major concerns are how to quantify performance, as well as how to avoid getting trapped in a partnership with non-performing partners — I already have a tangible product with a huge amount of time, money, and effort invested. Budget is also limited. (Budget is always limited unless you are a Fortune 500 business, but for now that's more of a secondary concern.) So here is my question to Slashdot: how do you address these concerns, and in a more general sense, how would you handle the situation: technical people with a product in need of marketing?"

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Get (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923165)

Get a bong.

A jump to conclusions mat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923175)

will not survive, invent something else!

Find angel investors. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923183)

Find a so-called "angel investor". They'll want an equity share, which is good at this point: their pay is tied to their performance. They should come with business background, a big network, and hopefully a couple of battle scars.

Re:Find angel investors. (4, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923283)

why find an "angle" investor? that is just one more thing to go wrong. Whether you hire an outside marketing consultant or hire a marketing employee, they answer, with an investor, you answer to them. Worse, you give away part of your company. It is just one more thing to go wrong. Better to devise a marketing plan with a limited budget.

Re:Find angel investors. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923637)

You want your investor to have an angle.

Re:Find angel investors. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923757)

Noooo! Then his corporation will be all corporationally corporationist. He should get money on a crowdfunding site that isn't kickstarter and spend it on photovoltaics and food for africa.

Re:Find angel investors. (1)

nebosuke (1012041) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923389)

This can be a good step, but you'll want to sort out your vision of the market before you approach potential investors or marketing partners. The direction and priorities of future development will be influenced--if not dictated--by the marketing campaign. That is, after all, the entire point of marketing (as distinguished from sales--actually, first be sure you are in fact looking for marketing expertise as opposed to sales expertise!). In fact, a marketing effort cannot succeed without that kind of authority.

Before you form any kind of business relationship with a marketing partner, therefore, you must first ensure that their vision and your vision of the market are compatible or things will go south very quickly.

Re:Find angel investors. (1)

hutsell (1228828) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923475)

Find a so-called "angel investor". They'll want an equity share, which is good at this point: their pay is tied to their performance. They should come with business background, a big network, and hopefully a couple of battle scars.

Or ... learn how to Kickstart [kickstarter.com] your product? However, using it to "sell" a completed product makes it more of a project; marketing it might make it an issuue.

Re:Find angel investors. (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923651)

Make yourself a household name (to a small focus audience) by going on Dragon's Den! If it's good enough for the I.T. Crowd, then it's good enough for /.

Re:Find angel investors. (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923809)

Find a so-called "angel investor". They'll want an equity share, which is good at this point: their pay is tied to their performance. They should come with business background, a big network, and hopefully a couple of battle scars.

he's got a product, fledgling, sort of meaning it's already developed and viable - THE FUCK DOES HE NEED AN ANGEL INVESTOR FOR? he needs perhaps a partner marketing investor - a sales guy. he'd be better off with a sales guy with tied pay from sales.

ok, angel investors are sort of the same thing as a partner - but practically, no.
they're "angels" because you don't see them often and they don't do things often and he apparently needs a decent fulltime sales manager.

Marketing Product (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923185)

Don't underestimate the importance of marketing. A crappy product can succeed with good marketing, but a great product will fail without it.

(I'm including positive word-of-mouth as marketing - even this you should work at)

Just look at Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923541)

*ducks*

Re:Marketing Product (4, Insightful)

aitikin (909209) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923595)

I have mod points, but this is already going high enough, so I'm going to add my $0.02 to this. The company I work for has a great marketing department and they do a great job. That being said, they tell us every opportunity that they get that word of mouth is the best marketing that we have available.

We actually have people who check certain forums and do their best to make us aware of issues that crop up on these forums, and then we bend over backwards to make sure that the customer's issue gets resolved. Unless they're just bent out of shape because we couldn't do something that was basically impossible (although we're pretty good at that too...).

Re:Marketing Product (2)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923845)

I have seen amazing products crash and burn due to bad marketing. So equally key to getting good marketing is to avoid bad marketing. I'm half tempted to argue you should find "average marketing" by which I mean someone who isn't heavily invested in your company but can get the word out.

I would contact a PR company like RAZ or LiasonPR. (Or a PR company which specializes in your industry depending on what user group your software is targeting). They should know all of the media contacts to send demos to, they can walk your users through writing useful endorsements and they can push your product to the forefront in relevant magazines/websites. They'll also be able to write up press releases and push those out to the various press release distributors.

I believe they usually operate on a straight up contract rate so you aren't losing any equity to a third party. This will cover the most important aspect of your product launch which is to get the word out.

I would also contact an ad agency, it wouldn't need to be very large and again they operate on contract and they can handle your graphic design, copy writing and general promotional material as well as negotiate any ad buys for web banner ads or google keywords etc.

Lastly and by far most importantly you need a good business plan. I've seen development derailed and wasted because of bad pricing, complete ignorance of the market and terrible planning. This is something you can't contract out and will have to hire if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself. This largely comes down to knowing your customers and delivering a good product that's actually valuable to them. If you actually have developed a cost-effective product that does offer value to customers your PR company and Agency shouldn't have any trouble getting the word out.

Give a pro partner a interest in the profit (3)

module0000 (882745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923191)

Give an experienced marketing partner and interest in the net profit. That way you aren't losing any more cash than you generate. If your product is viable, there should be no shortages of these types of people.

Look at your friends first, do you have anyone in marketing? Do you know anyone who has succesfully self-promoted a mobile app or web service? You might know the right person already, or at least know someone who can point you to that person.

Shop your idea around, and make sure you get an NDA to prevent someone stealing your concept.

Re:Give a pro partner a interest in the profit (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923349)

Give an experienced marketing partner and interest in the net profit. That way you aren't losing any more cash than you generate. If your product is viable, there should be no shortages of these types of people.

Look at your friends first, do you have anyone in marketing? Do you know anyone who has succesfully self-promoted a mobile app or web service? You might know the right person already, or at least know someone who can point you to that person.

Shop your idea around, and make sure you get an NDA to prevent someone stealing your concept.

Only look to your friends if you don't want to have friends. You will have to fire them because they will expect a friend to look the other way when they screw up.

Only bring in partners if you want to give someone the ability to destroy your business with the inability to fire them.

Re:Give a pro partner a interest in the profit (3, Insightful)

fferreres (525414) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923437)

I work in marketing and find it more challenging than finding a good programmer. Everyone in their profession thinks that others are a commodity because one is so special and unique. My learning so far has been that if you are really talented, you never think like you have just done. You need a great marketing person, and a great team. If you can become a Fortune 500, the least of your worries will be the marketing dues. I'd recommend this: hire somebody that can educate you, and has the personally to be able to handle your ego. You'll thank that person later on.

Remember that IBM's turnaround in the 90's came from somebody that manufactured cookies, not technology.

Re:Give a pro partner a interest in the profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923729)

I think Gerstner had ample opportunity to suck off valuable intelligence from lots of major corporations while he was working for a consulting house. He definitely did more than just "cookies".

Here is one of my latest inventions:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/didipus/files/DiDiPuS.pdf/download

Plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923811)

According to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_V._Gerstner,_Jr.

and his carlyle bio, he was a big guy at AmEx before. If you think about the creditcard business - it is finance plus computers. So it was more like "customer taking over IBM CEO position". Very good fit.

Gerstner is now with Carlyle, so he has apparently reached the utmost elite level of American elite. Finance, biscuits, technology and once again finance/defense. Taking over a major part of Booze-Allen's business. This guy is actually a major player in the (informal) Government Of America. IBM was just a pitstop for him.

Re:Give a pro partner a interest in the profit (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923857)

"My learning so far has been that if you are really talented, you never think like you have just done."

GP did not state that such people are a dime a dozen, or disposable. GP stated that there is no shortage of such people. That is different, and it is a true statement.

To be honest, the one who comes across with the greater ego is you.

what is it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923199)

If it's a synthetic horse vagina, I'll buy one!

Re:what is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923291)

Why would you, if you can buy them for a dime a dozen at the butcher's?

Re:what is it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923353)

I hear they're popular in Europe at the moment.

Re:what is it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923453)

I live in a state that outlaws man-horse sex :( I asked a lawyer if it would be legal to have sex with a dead horse but he advised me not to.

Re:what is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923839)

How many attempts at a legal opinion before the lawyer told you to stop ****ing a dead horse?

Don't do it all yourself. (4, Insightful)

chemdream78 (2695323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923203)

I went through this same thing with my first start up. Plan on spending 2/3 of your money on marketing. Only 1/3rd should be used to actually build/test/etc your product. You should be worried about how the app or product actually works. Don't do the marketing yourself. If you know how you want to market it, that's fine. If that's the case, hire someone to just take orders from you. If you don't know how you want to market it, hire someone that can utilize personal connections in the field you are in. It is simply not possible to program, secure funding, bug test, bug fix, and market all yourself.

Re:Don't do it all yourself. (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923439)

I went through this same thing with my first start up.
You should be worried about how the app or product actually works. Don't do the marketing yourself. If you know how you want to market it, that's fine. If that's the case, hire someone to just take orders from you. If you don't know how you want to market it, hire someone that can utilize personal connections in the field you are in.

On the other hand, putting up a web page and selling it from there for a while won't hurt a thing.
You get the time to find all the bugs, address all the end-users issues of understanding, ease of use, desired features, all while dealing with a small user base that you can handle. Most developers vastly over estimate the completeness of their product.

There is such a thing as succeeding yourself to death. Taking in more business than you can possibly handle because some "marketing droids" push too hard, ensnare too many marginal customers, and end up giving a product a bad reputation for poor support.

A year of lower sales volume allows you to build in the quality. As you find yourself answering the same tech support questions over and over again you will find its easier to program around these issues. But none of that will happen when the phone rings non-stop with irate customers
because of an over-aggressive marketing campaign by some marking company working on commission.

Learn to walk before you try to run.

2/3 money on marketing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923753)

I thought we were supposed to hate drug companies for doing that?

Product for Whom? (3, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923205)

Do you know your demographic?
Who are you selling this mystery widget to?
ADVERTISE/HYPE/BLOG
Rinse and repeat

Not controversial enough? Add a nearly naked model with an assault rifle.
If you're not selling anything now, whatever it is, doesn't work.
Back to the drawing board.

Business plan (1)

SparrowOS (2792265) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923207)

Become the anti-christ, destroy the CIA and rule the world.

Partner (5, Insightful)

mpoulton (689851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923217)

As you have clearly discovered, a properly operating business needs a balanced team of managers and employees who can handle ALL aspects of the company's functions, not just engineering the product. Making the product is arguably no more or less important than selling it and collecting the money. You're the tech guy and visionary founder, and that's great. But you need a marketing and sales genius to handle the other functions. That person (and his or her subordinates) are critical to your success, so you want someone who is as invested as you are. That means a top-level executive with equity-based compensation. You need to pick someone with experience operating in a small startup environment (or if not, at least a business degree with a good understanding of small business operations), who has the personal assets to weather unprofitability, and who is comfortable staking his entire return (or close to it) on the success of the company. Guaranteed payments and large salaries for founding executives are inadvisable. Compensation should be tied 100% to profitability, or at least to rational business milestones if you don't anticipate profitability for awhile and you have the capital to support it.

Re:Partner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923547)

good marketing companies (with good marketing employees) DO NOT work on commission only - especially as they don't have any influence over the other aspects of your business.

Also initially expect to throw money at a wall and hope it sticks, expect the cost of the first sale to be huge, making your money further down the line.

Adapt, change & develop your strategy as you go.

One More Virgin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923871)

"throw money at a wall and hope it sticks,"

Yeah. Use the methods of the billion-dollar corpo in the startup world. Like "get my hot teacher into bed by showing her your playmobil collection".

The hardest part is to go from 0 dollar revenue to 100 dollar revenue. From "not known to the outside" to "being talked about in some circles". Getting the first few customers, pleasing them, fixing their issues is the hard part. As soon as something moderate is going, you have A) some cash, B) customer feedback and C) motivation to continue growing the business.
Still, be conservative. I have worked for a company who had a modest business then went Public only to do massively stupid things which were clearly immoral (paying out stock option bonuses while the company was deep in the red). Then they took over some unrelated competitors. They did NOT hone their products to the quality levels of a M$ or Oracle. Everything was in alpha or beta state. Needless to say they folded. But maybe that was the plan from day one - shaft unsuspecting stock buyers.

I'll use this message to drum up something unrelated (nothing commercial, no conspiracies !):

"Distributed Discussion And Publishing System"
http://sourceforge.net/projects/didipus/files/DiDiPuS.pdf/download

Re:Partner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923603)

You sound like a 10 year old discussing how to screw Ms Miller, the hot, 32-year old English teacher. You can do lots of rationalizing, but you obviously have zero experience.

I assume you work for a corporation and you don't understand that "booting" a company is typically done by two persons or less. You cannot start a company with "managers" and "executives". These are people who expect a cushy payment and perks from day one. If you can afford them with your money for three months, all they will achieve is pointless power-point slides, lots of useless phone calls and pointless meetings with their old contacts. And lots of complaints that they don't have millions to "run advertising campaigns".

No, startups work out of dorm rooms (Google) or Garages (HP) on surplus, crap computers (Google). Or by means of contacts to electronic warfare buddies in the Pentagon with very, very deep pockets (Bill Hewlett). Founders are people who have more than a business relationship.

Me ? I am the 19-year old who wants to screw Ms Miller. Business-wise, of course.

Wait? You didn't talk to marketing? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923219)

You designed and created a product without input from marketing? You realize that one of the key purposes of marketing is to determine if a product is even marketable right? Are you sure you will even have customers? What features in your product are they most concerned with? Why would they choose your product over a competitors? Are there even any competitors yet, or are you establishing a new market? Which companys could potentially become competitors?

A sales executive would probably be more useful at this point. Establish some channel partners, and get the product out there. Then hire a PR firm to get your name into the right industry rags. They will also work on some graphics you can do for print ads and websites. At this point, since you decided to go on your own vision rather than do marketing you're pretty much just need some PR consultants to send out whatever message you decided on already.

Re:Wait? You didn't talk to marketing? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923539)

Original poster here. Yes I did market research and I know there is a demand for the product. But there is a huge difference between market research and actually going out and marketing the thing.

Re:Wait? You didn't talk to marketing? (3, Informative)

morcego (260031) | about a year and a half ago | (#42924015)

Original poster here. Yes I did market research and I know there is a demand for the product. But there is a huge difference between market research and actually going out and marketing the thing.

If that is really the case, and you have quality research, including a complete business plan (market study and analysis, competitors study and analysis etc etc), then you need sales and advertising.

Marketing, real marketing, is the study and strategy part of business.

Lets keep in mind that "market research" is just a tiny part. Having a demand for a product is very different than a product being marketable. It is the difference between "I wish" and "I'm willing to pay for".

That being said, it is entirely possible you have the basics of marketing covered, including the knowledge, and you only want someone else because you want someone that is BETTER and dedicated to it. If that is the case, you should be able to do performance analysis.

I have to tell you, two things you said worry me. First is the "there is a demand for the product". The second is asking how you can measure performance. Those things lead me to believe that you have a flawed understanding of what marketing is, which can lead you to waste money and time while figuring it out.

If I'm correct on this assumption, you should spend some time reading a little bit on what marketing is, how it works, and what I can do to your company/product. That way, you will have better tools to analyse the marketing person/company you will be getting in bed with.

My first marketing book (and still my bedside marketing gospel) is one: http://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Warfare-Anniversary-Edition-Annotated/dp/0071460829 [amazon.com]

Re:Wait? You didn't talk to marketing? (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923585)

You realize that one of the key purposes of marketing is to determine if a product is even marketable right?

HELL no. In my experiences, marketing people have no idea whether a product is marketable. The best they can do is figure out if a product is similar to another already successful product, and then tell you whether your new product will fit into the known market. That's it. They're fundamentally incapable of judging new markets, or even under-served markets.

Are you sure you will even have customers?

That should hopefully be the impetus behind even creating the product in the first place. Relying on marketing afterwards is putting the cart before the horse.

What features in your product are they most concerned with?

Customers can't tell you what they need. At best, they'll tell you what they want. Good marketing shapes the want, and leaves the need to product management.

Why would they choose your product over a competitors?

That's the job of the sales team.

Are there even any competitors yet, or are you establishing a new market? Which companys could potentially become competitors?

That's all competitive analysis, and has little to nothing to do with marketing. Your sales team needs to be doing this.

A sales executive would probably be more useful at this point.

Pretty much. Get a good sales exec, and worry about marketing once you have your sales team in place.

Re:Wait? You didn't talk to marketing? (3, Informative)

morcego (260031) | about a year and a half ago | (#42924049)

You realize that one of the key purposes of marketing is to determine if a product is even marketable right?

HELL no. In my experiences, marketing people have no idea whether a product is marketable.

That leads me to believe that:

1) You know little about marketing
2) The marketing people you know know little about marketing

While I can't say #1 for certain, based on the little you wrote, I can say that #2 is true most of the time.

Having worked on companies of all sized (ranging from IBM all the way down to my current 7 people company I own), I have to say that it is easier to find good professionals on ANY field than to find competent marketing people. Marketing is not sales, it is not advertising and it is not product comparison. Marketing is strategy, pure and simple. Unfortunately, most marketing schools don't focus enough on strategy, or the mental part of marketing, leading to crappy professionals.

A good real marketing professional is worth his weight in stocks.

Re:Wait? You didn't talk to marketing? (0)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923823)

contrary to popular belief sales is marketing and marketing is sales. he needs a sales manager apparently, that's for sure. but why the fuck he would have needed to ask from someone who doesn't know what product can be in the first place what the product should be..

sell out, license or get a partner (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923221)

look at the drug companies. most drugs these days are made by small biotech and start up drug companies. Pfizer and others do marketing, manufacture and anything else that takes a lot of money.

same with tech. Flash IO licenses their products to HP and others who rebrand it, sell and support it.

or better yet, find a buyer and sell your company. google is always buying startups and integrating their products. some years google buys dozens of small companies

Is Yvonne Lee the anonymous reader? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923225)

just wondering

Beam (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923247)

My company would be willing to partner with you on this to help you get it to market.
Please email us if your interested. Beam.Galactic@gmail.com

Skin in the Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923249)

Whichever way you go, (hiring a marketing team vs. a marketing firm), you need to mix salary with commission. Perhaps start at 70% salary, 30% commission, and slowly transition to the opposite of that over a pre-specified amount of time. The marketing people need some skin in the game to really be motivated to go the extra mile for your product.

how to quantify performance (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923253)

Fill out a tax form. I believe somewhere near the last line you will find how well you performed.

Customer Development (3, Informative)

vbraga (228124) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923255)

Read about Customer Development [steveblank.com] at Steve Blank blog.

An Angel investor can also help you with business connections and hiring the right person to do it.

How is this the opposite situation? (3, Insightful)

Phibz (254992) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923263)

I've spent the last 7 years in marketing. The idea that the field is non-technical is just silly. Analytics drives the business. It's not enough to create interesting and compelling creative. You have to be able to be able to show a real lift from that test and use that data to drive future campaigns.

There are a lot of smart people in marketing. Both technical and non-technical. The argument that the field is largely non-technical and therefore some how foreign to you is both wrong and unimportant.

What you should focus on is hiring people who understand the field and can use, shape, and sell your mass marketing product. In other words this challenge is the same as any other business, learning how to successfully grow your business.

Re:How is this the opposite situation? (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923521)

Yeah... about that. I'm currently on the technical side of the marketing equation (I support software that is big in marketing and sales analytics). And the problem is forever the same: how do you know what marketing resulted in a sale? Yes, you can tie a lead to a specific campaign, and track that lead through to the sale, but the reality is that it is never that clear cut. That email campaign someone responded to? Might have just come at the right time, when they were looking to buy anyway. That web page someone landed on before buying a product? Again, it's hard to quantify how they actually made the decision. This is especially true for marketing that creates mindshare, but not a direct sale. Do Superbowl ads work? Based on how much money is spent on them, they better. But I don't think many things can be tracked to them, especially big budget items that don't have a good time correlation with marketing campaigns.

Marketing is still faced with the problem that 50% of it is effective, but no one knows which 50% it is.

The argument that the field is largely non-technical and therefore some how foreign to you is both wrong and unimportant.

Errm, what? Good marketing IS a very non-technical field. Look into what goes into a good marketing campaign, and none if it is tied to a technical field. And his realization is absolutely important, because it means that he knows his weaknesses.

What you should focus on is hiring people who understand the field

So far, so good....

and can use, shape, and sell your mass marketing product

Errm, again - what? Use? I've yet to see a marketing person understand how to use the product they sell. Same for Sales people. I would argue that it seems actually to be somewhat detrimental to their business. And you're also assuming that this is a mass-market product.

In other words this challenge is the same as any other business, learning how to successfully grow your business.

Marketing is a tool to grow business. It's not HOW you grow your business. You grow your business by convincing more people that they need your product. I hope you see the difference.

Re:How is this the opposite situation? (1)

rohan972 (880586) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923787)

Marketing is a tool to grow business. It's not HOW you grow your business. You grow your business by convincing more people that they need your product. I hope you see the difference.

Isn't "convincing more people that they need your product" called marketing? I'm not understanding the difference you're trying to point out.

Re:How is this the opposite situation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923571)

You're definitely into marketing - your post look relevant at first sight, but does not convey any single piece of information.

Re:How is this the opposite situation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923843)

You're definitely into marketing - your post look relevant at first sight, but does not convey any single piece of information.

mod up.
create lift! DATA!
"You have to be able to be able to show a real lift from that test and use that data to drive future campaigns."

umm yeah.. that horsemeat dna test I suppose, real lift right there.

Re:How is this the opposite situation? (1)

InfiniteZero (587028) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923825)

Come on now. Yes there are numbers involved in your analytics, but do you really think it even approaches the complexity of real technical fields, such as electronics, aerospace, bioengineering, nanotech etc.?

Not putting down marketing people, but don't try to be someone you are not.

Shark Tank is here to help (2)

locketine (1101453) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923277)

The lollacup episode on Shark Tank [go.com] had some interesting tidbits about contracts with marketing firms. To summarize, do not give your marketers exclusivity to profits for a market (asia for instance) and make sure they profit from their contributions to the market success of your product. The Lollacup creators had good business sense but still managed to make a contract with a marketing firm which took advantage of them.

Get a Firm/Contractor and Train Yourself Up (1)

W. Justice Black (11445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923281)

If marketing isn't one of your firm's core competencies, outsource. Either hire an outside agency or get a hired gun in as a contractor.

If someone is really motivated to become a partner, let him/her go through a trial period where they're essentially in that contractor role and you can evaluate results. But you're right--if you're worried about possibly underperforming partners (and don't have enough mojo to figure it out without hard numbers), then get some hard numbers first.

As you correctly surmised, you can't completely ignore marketing if you're a business owner. Get some training on the subject (even if just an online class or something, though no need to go completely nuts). This is, unfortunately, one blind spot you can't have forever--marketing can be expensive and you must know and maintain what works.

If you take on a partner, always include... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923293)

... a shotgun clause [wikipedia.org] in the agreement. That is the only guaranteed way to avoid being stuck with any partner while avoiding lengthy court battles that could cripple the company.

You get what you pay for... (1)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923297)

Consider the thousands (and sometimes millions) of spending on movies, software development and drugs.

Then consider how much MORE gets spent on marketing. If big companies are willing to more money at marketing a product (good or not) because they know it'll increase sales, why would you think about doing it on the cheap?

I'm not suggesting that it can't be done inexpensively, but I am suggesting that you will get exactly what you pay for... if you're lucky. And the chances of getting lucky go up quite a bit when you start paying someone - and the more experience they have, the better it will be.

Oh, and contracts. They're nice to have, and easier to enforce when you go 3rd party.

No marketing (0)

DogDude (805747) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923307)

If a product or service needs marketing, it's usually because there's little to no demand for that product or service. The most successful businesses grow with no marketing at all. If people want the product or service, they will find it.

NOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923411)

I've developed a solution for the problem of insecure C and C++ programs. Guess what ? Software engineers are the most ignorant people on earth. They will continue to use the tool they have invested massive learning efforts, even though it is clearly defective. Even though contemporary software is insecure as hell.

The only guy who looked at and send minor, substantial feedback it was an unemployed developer from Israel. I also communicated with the Apple CTO, but he told me they were interested in Objective C and nothing related to C++ (which my solution generates). Samsung wrote that they are a "Korean business" and "have their own R&D". All the other CTOs did not respond at all.

This is it: http://sourceforge.net/projects/sappeurcompiler/

Earlier I built a text-messaging system for J2ME phones. At that time (pre-iphone), people sometimes had very shitty data cost plans. Everybody was scared to hell to run up big telecom bills just to transmit something like 100k per month. Nobody used my app (to reiterate, much before the iphone !)

Developing something innovative is actually the easy part. The hard part is selling.

A tech guy and a sales guy need to collaborate - I think that's the secret to success. Look at Quark and how they did it.

Maybe I am wrong, as I did not have success. I can only write about my failure in bringing something innovative to the market. I don't know how success works. What I know is that you can have a great idea which somehow works and nobody will use it. I guess sometimes people are 10 or more years ahead of time.

Am I bitter ? Yeah, a tiny dose. But that's life - don't be a pussy and move on.

Re:No marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923429)

While some of that may be true, I incline to believe that marketing is a necessity, but not _after_ the product is there, but rather beforehand. I am not sure that the parent poster is completely familiar with what marketing really is. A large part of marketing is dedicated to finding markets and customer segments that have a specific need. With that need in mind a product is developed. Tech guys (myself included) tend to believe that it is somehow the other way around - the Apple way - where a "brilliant idea" is turned into the product and brought on the market with a large publicity stunt, never mind what people say. This sadly only works for people like Steve Jobs.... what _may_ just work with respect to tech startups is an approach similar to agile development, call it agile business building. A prof at Berkeley U came up with the idea and wrote some books about it (and some video material(, look up Steve G. Blank if you're interested, I think it may at least give you a few ideas of the mental process of how to go about product and market. Just my 2 eurocents (yes, I'm european and no, we will not be using dollars or yuan any time soon....)

NOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923999)

If you really think that "marketing drives product design", I think then you will fail miserably.

By analysing the founding stories of many companies it appears to me that success is tied to some sort of Generalist Capability. The founders need to understand both technology and selling. If you seriously think that there is a kind of "mechanical" method of determining product features (called "marketing" or "market analysis", then look at Nokia. And how they worked themselves into the crapper.

Strong companies have people with strong opinions and deep knowledge at the top, not people who have a hard-science-envy and apply it to social-science. Of course the MBA types (and similar ones) will dispute this and claim that there are more or less systematic and guaranteed ways to achieve "product excellence". They basically claim that cynical people can achieve everything by "scientific" application of cynicism. You can have "product excellence" when you are only interested in the money made by the product. Which is thankfully proven wrong again and again. Not just by Apple. Great products are achieved by people who devote their life to some kind of product. That does not answer how these products are sold, though.

meritocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923471)

For companies that have prospered on the merits of their product alone are few and far between. Might as well say, "hey, drop out of school and you'll be like Bill Gates or Google guys."

No need for marketing? Are you naive?

I'll just keep my response short, simplistic, and vague, just like yours.

Re:No marketing (1)

techhead79 (1517299) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923503)

Right, because they'll know about your product, where to find it, and why they really really need one through what exactly? Do you honestly believe any company got to where they are today without marketing? Maybe you're referring to the first steam engine, light bulb, airplane, or slice of bread? Well actually all of those had their own marketing through news stories published....so tell me again what product is so perfect and wonderful that it markets itself? Maybe a robot that goes around and tells people how wonderful it would be to own it?

Re:No marketing (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923829)

My company's been on the Inc. 5000 for 3 years running with no marketing. It doesn't do anything particularly unique.

Re:No marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42924019)

and what's your company exactly? Does it have a website? Does it have a brick and mortar presence? Or does it just have a warehouse and people magically write-in their mail-orders to you? Or google you?

I think there's a discrepancy on how everyone here on /. is defining "marketing."

Back to original point and I'm being sincere. How do you sell without *any* marketing?

Market Mavens Dime A Dozen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923309)

1. You don't have a marketing team.
2. You need to market your (world changing) product.
3. You will be taken to the cleaners by Mavens regardless of your savvy.
4. YOU are your best sales tool.
5. If you've attracted a following already make THEM pay you to get in and watch them very closely.
6. As always ( successful entrepeneur ) be prepared to fail once if not several times before things get really exciting.

You don't need marketing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923319)

Marketing isn't the problem, the problem is you need someone to run the business while you work on product development. I suggest you put together a business plan and find an investor. That plan, if done properly, will include how to market this product, its sweet spot, how customers will learn about it, the size of the target market, etc. The investor will review the plan and if he/she thinks it's viable you'll give them part of your company in exchange for capital. Now they have skin in the game and will help you find the right people to go to market. And now you have the resources to work on marketing and other things.

Branding Too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923337)

I suggest you look for someone who is experienced not only in marketing, but branding and if necessary, business decisions as well. They don't have to be the same people, but you do need them to be on the same page.

Remember, you're this far because you're doing something right. That's where your success base already is. You want to refine it, not necessarily throw it away, and you need a smooth transition if you do throw it away.

Keep up the great work!

Testing the waters (0)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923341)

1) Make up a quick website to sell your product - three pages or so: a front page, an "about" page, a "FAQ" page, and so on.

2) Make a page that purports to purchase the product, but doesn't actually make the sale. Have them enter their CC number, but don't actually "capture" the number; ie - don't store the number and don't make the purchase. (*)

3) When they hit "submit" present a page that says "we're having difficulties and can't do the purchase right now, we haven't charged (or stored) your CC number. We'll send an E-mail when we're back on line. (You'll only get 1 E-mail from us, and we don't put people on spam lists.)

4) Purchase some Google ad-words which relate to your product and link to the site.

5) Let this steep for a period of time (4 weeks, say) and count the potential purchases.

After the 4-week period, evaluate the response and see if it's worthwhile to go into business with this product.

(*) I'm told that this is legal, so long as you don't record the CC number.

Re:Testing the waters (1)

GravityStar (1209738) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923459)

Cheeky, but clever.

Re:Testing the waters (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923537)

I first read about this in the book "The Four Hour Work Week" [fourhourworkweek.com] by Tim Ferriss.

He's got lots of time-saving suggestions for tiny businesses; for example, contracting out the order-taking/boxing/mailing part of the business. There are companies that do this - send them the product, and they handle inventory and shipping.

Re:Testing the waters (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923685)

"we're having difficulties and can't do the purchase right now, we haven't charged (or stored) your CC number. We'll send an E-mail when we're back on line. (You'll only get 1 E-mail from us, and we don't put people on spam lists.)"

I somehow don't think that a technical failure is a smart way to start out your relationship with your customers if you are a tech company, especially not if you are a company that makes software as part or all of your business.

At the risk of stating the obvious (2)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923357)

Find someone who understands and loves your industry. Marketers work best under an incentive system. If you hire an outside marketing company expect to pay an initial retainer, and obviously, get references. Be clear as to what you expect them to do for you and get a detailed proposal from them. If you hire someone to work for you, offer a sufficient salary that demonstrates some confidence in your product. As a marketing/sales pro, if someone offers me a commission only position, that tells me they have zero confidence in their product and will offer zero marketing support. If someone offers me a decent salary, plus indicates a willingness to fund at least a modest advertising effort, that tells me that they have confidence in the product's appeal. I would expect to be mostly dependent upon commission, but I need to see some confidence in the product and some willingness to support marketing's efforts.

Perhaps DIY? (4, Interesting)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923367)

Without knowing anything about the product or market, it is difficult for anyone to give meaningful advice. So here's a few books to consider that might bring you up to speed. Your job will be to find these on Amazon, etc. You might not DIY, but it will give you insights into marketing and help you identify someone who will help. Think of it like a businessman who takes a programming course to better understand programmers and work effectively with them. There are lots of bad marketing people, and you need to know enough to be able to identify the good ones from the bad one.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout - Start here.

Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson, Houghton Mifflin. - a how-to book on marking with a tiny budget. More local than national.

Advertising is a Waste of Money by Robert Ranson, HRD Press. Before you spend a dime advertising, read this.

Marketing Without Advertising, by Michael Phillips & Salli Rasberry, Nolo Press.

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy, Vintage Books. In short - all marketing needs a feedback system so you can measure results. Yeah - web sites are great for this. Based on this book, I had a bunch of 1-800 toll-free phone numbers and every mailer had a different number. I could look at the phone bill and know which mailer was generating results. It is more important to know that something worked than to know why.

Re:Perhaps DIY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923407)

I must concur with you. One can do a lot of promotion with a little effort. Main goal would be to find your potential audience and let them know about your product. Mass-marketing is quite expensive and reaches to a lot of people, but only very few would be interested in what you're selling. However, part of the issue is what the poster is trying to sell. If one has a unique product with interest, then some simple advertising and letting people know about the product is all one really needs. If the poster is simply trying to sell a re-branded version ffmpeg or an app that does the same thing about 100 others do, then the poster just wasted a lot of time for nothing. All the marketing won't change the fact they're trying to sell something nobody really needs or wants.

My Experience with the Same Problem (4, Insightful)

bradorsomething (527297) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923373)

I have experience in another industry with the same scenario; I provide the operational expertise and oversight, and have marketing side opposite me. This was a very tough issue for me, as I know marketing is crucial for me from an operational standpoint, but I don't have the time or the drive to smile all day and shake hands.

I initially partnered with some marketing folks, where we were going to go halves on the costs, they were the marketing side, and I was the operational side. Their funding backed out after I had a lot of sunk costs (naturally), so I used whatever support they could still give me based on the good-will of our intended relationship, while I worked with people familiar to the market.

The most important advice I can give you is to work with people that already know the customers in your strongest base. As you appear to have experience in the area you're working in, the people who market for you should optimally know many of the same customers you do, know more about them, and know many more people you don't.

The second most important advice I can give you, is incentives for your salespeople. My initial partners had a strong incentive (if we did poorly, they lost money too). My new folks are rewarded for the increased business, and I feel that marketing folks you employ should make very low salaries in set income, with the ability to make more than you make in bonuses if they are wildly successful. Structures on this vary, but always do a reality check when you negotiate them; a smart salesperson is one that makes a small fortune making you a bigger one. A smart con artist makes themselves a small fortunes while you make about the same you would have without them.

You've got it backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923855)

You are confusing sales with marketing. They are two completely independent activities. Marketing = finding people with $$$ and a problem, then defining a product to solve their problem.

Hire out (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923381)

Since this is your first time dealing with marketing, hire out. 1. if you don't like them, fire them, and recalculate. 2. if you do like what they do, now you know what to look for in a partner. 3. if you develop another product, you'll know that marketing should be involved before prototypes.

You have already failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923397)

You built a product, yet have no customers?

You post to a very tech/dweeb centic site and don't even mention what you are selling or what your application does? Come on, be honest, you've done nothing other than knock up some trivial iOS/Android shovel-ware. Any business orientated application would already have a set of target clients based on previous experience lined up.

The first thing you should have done is point to your website, durrr.

Sell the idea, not the product (0)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923413)

Like so many "I can't do this, how do I do this?" questions, the best answer is "don't". If you bring in a partner/investor, you just sold half your company and got nothing for it. If you just sell the product and all, you get cash up front.

Marketing isn't hard or expensive, but it takes some skill. If I were in that situation, I'd try to be creative. I'd try to find marketing classes at a local college and turn marketing my product into a class project. Or other things like that which are low-touch and low-cost.

Before Marketing (1)

Dracos (107777) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923419)

Before you tackle marketing, have you established a brand identity for your product? Name, tag line, logo, and color palette are the core elements of a brand identity. Without one, the marketing... um, people... won't have a foundation to build on.

Many may think branding and marketing are the same, or that branding is part of marketing, but they're really separate processes.

tell marketing to hire graphic designer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923485)

why not work alongside each other? Instead of having branding in place before marketing? His business sounds small enough to accomodate this type of parallel sales/marketing/branding strategy.

What you need is (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923455)

A bong

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923457)

You could start by TELLING PEOPLE YOU HAVE A PRODUCT... Doesn't even have to be an over the top slashvertisement....

Submitted this without even a hint of what you're tryin to sell... Wasted opportunity.

Instead you're gonna goto the marketing assholes who will piss everyone off and make them not want your product or to do business with you. Brilliant...

Marketing people are scum. Be careful how far you wade into that shit.... You'll get screwed over... that's what they do. screw everyone involved.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923545)

People who practice bad marketing are scum; But then again, what do you know of Marketing? Let me put it this way:

  - You don't need to tell people you have a product; you need to make people realize that there is value in a product/service;
  - Marketing isn't about selling, it's about delivering value; Whoever told you that is probably one of the people which you labeled 'scum'. My suggestion is for you to read Philip Kotler 'Marketing Management' so you know at least what the fuck you are talking about.
  - You didn't meant 'marketing assholes'; you most likely wanted to say 'sales person', but then again, what does sales have to do with Marketing?

Now, does the Pope shit in the woods or what ? (- good marketing)

marketing... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923487)

First of all there are a few misconceptions about your post... First of all, Marketing was born around ~150 years ago after the industrial revolution; The reason why Marketing exists is quite simple, because the offer is far superior to the demand, otherwise you wouldn't need marketing at all.

Another common mistake is that Software is a product, that's bullshit and that comes from Engineers (specially in FOSS environments) thinking they know everything; Software is a SERVICE, full stop; THE END. This happens because it's untangible and any organization which sees software as a 'product' lives in the 80's. Marketing has evolved from 4 P's (Product, Price, Place, Promotion - Those are the ones of a PRODUCT) to 15 P's on SERVICES, which contemplate things like: PEOPLE, PHYSICAL SUPPORT, etc. So the best approach is actually to make sure that whoever you are hiring if they defend the 4P model, they suck and should be hanged, poisoned, shot, mamed and only then really get them into REAL PAIN.

While I have my academical degree on Marketing Management, I've never really went the Marketing way, and my degree was obviously interesting to learn how to defend myself from the 'bad' marketing practices around. Finding a good Marketing professional is not easy.

Also another thing you might want to have attention is that Marketing is actually too broad and wide and as I see it, Marketing isn't really a science, instead a blob of several other sciences; For example one person working on Neuro Marketing is most likely more proficient in Neurology than in Behavior Sciences; A person which works on Data Mining and Market Studies is probably more proficient in Statistics and Maths. A person who is a Product Manager is probably more concerned about Economy, while a person who works at sales is most likely proficient at social sciences and behavior sciences (ex: sociology and psychology).

This to say, find someone of your trust which understands Marketing academically and that person can point you to what you are looking for or help triaging the offer. For the most Marketing sucks and it's splitted into two main branches, one in America and another in Europe, both schools are quite different and the only thing shared are parts of the ethical code. In case I have to follow ESOMAR (Europe).

My suggestion is quite simple... Recruit at the Universities and get green people who want to put up a fight, they are your best hope! :)

Advertising or marketing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923509)

Marketing (and marketers) should not just be involved in finding customers for an existing product. They will want to be involved in defining the product. This may be a challenge to your team who will (rightly) be proud of your achievements to date. But to get the most out of this person, you will need to allow them to take it in new directions...

Techies only hate incompetent marketeers (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923549)

We hate the guys who seem like they have no idea whatsoever how the product works and just want to sell something..anything..then come back to engineering and tell us to make it work

A great marketer or salesman understands the product and the limitations of the underlying technology

They also understand who the customers might be, and how to find them

As for advice, finding good people is a skill that few technical people have

The really great managers have a near-magical ability to find good people

Good luck on your quest. It will be hard. Many of the people you interview will be well-practiced professional liars

And regular people hate techies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923669)

Most people who aren't techies are intimidated or hates things with thick manuals. Just look at a run-of-the-mill remote control - it's over-engineered with functions most people don't use or won't care to spend the time to learn to use. Next up: computers. Why are Macs successful while other PCs faltered in the home market? Because Macs are simple and they just work. Apple designs and markets products that will work with the *average* person, instead of having the owner give up an afternoon learning how to use the machine. In short, a machine that will work for the people, instead of the other way around.

Anyways, my point is that your assumption goes both ways. Techies don't want a salesperson lying about a product. Fine. But a salesperson/ marketer knows what their audience wants (unless of course, the audience are other techies).

I would go as far as to say a great marketer/ salesperson understands *both* the technology *and* the end-user. Sorry, but the engineers creating the gadgets will have to find a solution. Jobs was an asshole but ruled over his engineers to make sure the screen on the iphone was made out of glass; that the battery would last longer; that there would only have one button on its face.

The best engineers solved the problem of getting the Apollo 13 folks back to earth instead of saying, "Oh, it doesn't work? Tough luck for those guys. JFK should've never sold the stupid idea of a space program in the first place."

Tip #1 (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923597)

Mention your product.

Unless of course it's trivial to implement with no innovation and you just want to fleece non-tech people.

This guy clearly doesn't know marketing (1)

InfiniteZero (587028) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923607)

Or he would have mentioned the product's name front and center.

Re:This guy clearly doesn't know marketing (1)

Diss Champ (934796) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923709)

Of course the guy doesn't know marketing, that's why he is asking about it.

But to not mention the product in the question is not a problem- if he had, everyone and their brother would be complaining about slashvertising and critiquing the product. That's not what he's looking for. He chose to include only the relevant information- it's aimed at the mass-market and is a software product, and he wants to know about how to get marketing expertise involved without screwing up.

Unfortunately, I haven't been in his position so I can't give much help. I work with some great technical marketing people, but AFAIK they are all happy and I'd prefer to keep working with them. I can say that for each person out there who can do good technical marketing, there seem to be many that suck at it, and many more who think that they are in sales. Until you have a start at a good marketing group it will be difficult to get started, because interviewing people out of your area of expertise is very difficult.

Re:This guy clearly doesn't know marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923717)

Or that he genuinely wants advice instead of risking being punted by the editors and /. crowd for slashvertisement. Is it wrong to value advice more than trying to shoehorn your product during a conversation? I'd be really annoyed if all the waiters in Hollywood suddenly started to pass out their resume and headshots during my dinner.

A bit of common sense (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923633)

I don't know much about marketing but I know that there are many pitfalls, some of which could be potentially fatal to your business, which means you have to take the major decisions yourself.

Since you're a tech person you have to approach marketing the way you approach technology and perhaps economy, which means you're probably going to have to rely on your techie common sense. Be tentative at at first and investigate the solution space and don't go all in on anything until you feel sure know it's the right way forward for you. (Don't just talk to one marketing expert or two, talk to many and get many second opinions.) Always be iterative, always base your decisions on data and feedback.

Given your stage.... (1)

biggerboy (512438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923657)

...your marketing needs will differ.

Sounds like you are still in product development and in need of really defining who your customers really are. (Actually, in an ideal world, you should know who your customers are before you build, but anyway). Some people call it Customer Development. Basically, you're in the area of defining the real product-market fit.

I know it sounds obvious, but I have many clients that aren't aware that their product doesn't fit the market and just think they need to hire PR people to "get more buzz."

Tech marketing is also different in many ways from traditional brand-focused marketing that consumer products have. Run screaming away from people who will focus on your brand and PR at this stage. What you need to focus on is your positioning, which includes understanding your differentiation, category and competitive situation.

Marketing is great at amplifying success. Hoping that outbound marketing will cover up flaws in strategy and product will always result in failure.

What would RMS do? (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923695)

I wonder what RMS would do?

If your product... (1)

Hymer (856453) | about a year and a half ago | (#42923723)

...is as good and innovative as you think it is marketing will not be needed until you've got about 30% of the available market.

Useful stuff, string. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923725)

Everybody loves string.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qNj-QFZbew

you had your chance to market on slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42923913)

Where is the link to your product?

You aren't an entrepreneur, you are a programmer (2)

tlambert (566799) | about a year and a half ago | (#42924037)

You aren't an entrepreneur, you are a programmer. This isn't a right or wrong thing, it's just an observation.

A programmer takes an idea, and builds a product.

An entrepreneur takes an idea, and builds a business.

The difference is that product ideas are a dime a dozen, and programmers to implement product ideas can be hired. It's really hard to go out and hire someone to be an entrepreneur for your product idea.

The major thing an angel investor looks at is the entrepreneur: can they build the initial business? Do they have the drive to mortgage their cat, sell their car and lease one instead, work 80 hour weeks, and, in short do everything in their power to create a business?

The main thing a VC looks at is your team -- or more importantly, the machine: has the original entrepreneur built a machine that can operate to successfully generate a product, market the product, meet accounts payable, collect accounts receivable, and so forth.

Typically, a business goes through four phases:

(1) Get the idea (for the business, NOT the product); generally, this is one or two people This stage is self-funded by the founders (including family contributions), or unfunded (Google started in a dorm room using Stanford networking resources and crappy hardware).

(2) Entrepreneur; generally, this means growing to 1-15 employees, who can handle being micromanaged. Some entrepreneurs are capable of micromanaging up to 20 employees, but a lot of them, especially first, second, and third timers, can reach their limit at about 8 employees. This stage is usually self-funded (in the case of a serial entrepreneur), or angel-funded. The entrepreneur may or may not be the founder(s) at this point.

(3) Company; generally, this means going from 8+ employees to 100+ employees. This stage is usually VC funded. The VCs will typically want to replace certain cogs in the machine that is your business in order to build a better machine capable of reaching the fourth and final stage. A founder should expect to be kicked out at some point in this stage, unless they have an executive track record, or are in a bolt-on position that can't actually negatively impact day-to-day operations. The typical bolt-on for a technical type is CTO, and the CTO may be asked to stay away from the office; nice VCs will give them "new product development make-work to keep them away from the office.

(4) Exit; if VCs are involved, this almost exclusively means either IPO or acquisition: this is where they get their money + profit back. It's almost unheard of for a VC to remain involved, except perhaps on the board of directors following an IPO, or as part of the acquisition/merger deal that permitted them to exit.

It is an incredibly rare person that can take a company through all four stages, and even among them, it's even more incredibly rare for the people along the way to permit them to do so. If you look at Steve Jobs, he wasn't really capable of step 4 for a very long time, since he was stuck at step 3. He would have been stuck at step 2, but he was willing to micromanage his direct reports and a couple of people on pet projects, rather than everyone in the company. He only became able to go to stage 4 when he matured, and that only happened after two more startups: NeXT, and Pixar, and it took him being thrown out of Apple to get to that point.

The point is, you need to find an actual entrepreneur; I'd suggest finding a mentor, but if you are focussing on a tiny piece of the machine that a true entrepreneur would need to build (a business is a machine; an organization requires design and systems engineering to build said machine), and doing it via an "Ask Slashdot", then you are probably not cut out to be your own entrepreneur.

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