It’s a major challenge for any technologist: attracting capital and customers. It all boils down to marketing. The best ideas and the best products just won’t move unless investors and customers know about them.
Marketing presents special challenges to technical offerings; not only do you have to get the word out, but you also have to explain complex ideas to folks who may not have the technical expertise to understand them. Technologists often ask me for help in getting their ideas in front of investors such as the US government, and in getting the word out about their work to the general public. But there’s more to good marketing than that.
“The most important thing is to have a plan,” Rebecca Geier, principal and co-founder of TREW Marketing tells me. Her company, which specializes in marketing for organizations in the science and engineering fields, was recently named one of the most innovative small businesses in America by the Wall Street Journal. “Engineers and scientists are so busy, and not having a plan will cause even more inefficiency, wasted time, and frustration. The more thought that goes in up front, the more time is saved later.”
That means defining business goals and then putting together a plan to support those goals, says Geier.
“After a plan is in place, the next most important marketing investment is a well-branded, SEO-optimized, professional company website with quality content, quality content, quality content!”
Stands to reason. Your website is your most visible face in the world, and the first place contacts, prospects, and media folks will likely go for more information about you and your work.
As for getting publicity—that is, mentions in the media—Geier has this to say:
“What we recommend for companies just starting out is to find the 1-2 technical editors in the space they serve and patiently build a relationship with them. Email them to introduce yourself and your company, comment on their articles and blog posts, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn if you have a presence on these sites, let them know when your company has news, etc. Over time, they may begin to seek your opinion for articles they’re working on.”
As a journalist, I can certainly attest to the effectiveness of that approach. Keep in mind, though, that there’s a fine line between being a pest and being helpful!
You can find more good marketing ideas from Geier and her partner at Trew Marketing, Wendy Covey, in their free epub Smart Marketing for Engineers.