“They did a really good job of staying relevant and selling their story to private backers during the period before they could get institutional investors to back them..." (John Flynn, Act Venture Capital, quoted in the Irish Times about DecaWave, Ireland's biggest ever tech exit).
As a tech start-up, it is always going to be hard to get noticed in your market, and still harder to gain and maintain momentum and traction. Yet by following a simple and consistent path in a number of areas, it is possible to build and maintain a qualified audience to bring you through to the next level of your development, sometimes even before you have launched your first product.
In the case of DecaWave above, we built traction over time through a program of communications activities, and used them to build a list of qualified and genuinely interested parties, using access to key collateral – product specs, use cases, white papers, application notes, presentations etc. – as a carrot.
We achieved this by putting all our valuable collateral behind a registration/subscription process – never giving these documents away ‘for free’ - without getting a name, email address, organisation and web address in return.
Using this simple method, we were able to build an identifiable - and qualified - audience of at first tens, then hundreds, and then thousands of individuals, organisations, educational institutes. Used in conjunction with other marcom activities like press announcements etc., which drew our audience to us, we were quickly able to boast “500 active subscribers with a declared interest in hearing more about our company/technology” to prospective customers, investors and partners long before DecaWave had taped out its first product, helping to create sufficient momentum and buzz to carry the company through a number of vital smaller fundraising rounds.
Sure, we got our share of “email@example.com” subscribers, but so what? We just erased them - in the process making sure they would have to re-register when they returned. And as for those who were supposedly ‘put off’ by the subscription process? Tyre kickers, and no loss.
‘Real’ subscribers are always happy to sign up and receive updates, newsletters, press releases etc. Once you have winnowed out the tyre kickers, what you are left with is genuinely interested parties, who will go on to become customers, investors, partners - and even journalists and editors - all people with a real interest in your company's progress.
And remember, qualified visitors to your website might well be looking for a simple way to engage - and offering the ‘subscribe’ option is an informal way of opening that relationship.
If you wish to build and keep an audience of qualified individuals and firms to support your enterprise, please feel free to contact me here.