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3 steps to market to startups

Tech startups are a very specific audience and community, and it’s important to be conscious that the last thing that they’ll respond to is being overtly ‘marketed’ to.

Therefore, there are 3 key components to building engagement, acceptance and resonance in this space:

1. Add value upfront

Start by looking at how you can create value for the startups upfront, for free, and with no expectations of gaining anything in return.

Show what you can do and how you’re going to help tip the balance to making those startups a success.

This could be through providing online content, running workshops or acting as a mentor for example.

Try to help as many people and teams as possible in a meaningful way as a precursor to providing your core offerings.

But critically, what you deliver needs to be quality; don’t think that because it’s free that there’s a lower threshold – you have to gain their trust and permission to carry on the relationship.

2. Combine online and offline networking

It’s important for you to play an active role in this community and the starting point for this is to get out there and meet startups in the real world – go to events, meetups, hang out at Campus or any of the workspaces. Build relationships but again, don’t be seen to be networking for the sake of it; look at what value you’re bringing to the party first – what’s in it for them?

Tap into the existing startup communities, identify the influencers and build networks of allegiances that will help you to spread the word once you’ve earned their endorsement.

When ‘marketing’ many people forget about the offline component. You need to create demand upfront, and the unison of offline activities with online is a powerful mix in this respect.

3. Create partnerships

In order to amplify your efforts to wider audiences you need to develop partnerships with key ecosystem players including incubators, pre-accelerators, accelerators, investors, associations, education establishments, media, bloggers and meetup / community facilitators.

By using the strategies in points 1 and 2 above, you can develop partnerships that will give you direct access to startups, proactively push your brand and services, and help you to refine your value proposition over time.

Ultimately, the key to successfully engaging with the startup audience is to do what’s best for them and the community as a whole. It’s not a case of 4 ‘P’s but 4 ‘C’s: create value, connect, collaborate, contribute.