Many, many entrepreneurs I’ve talked to say things like, “Our product isn’t ready yet, so we haven’t started on marketing.” Or, “I’m launching next month, how should I start marketing?”
But the right time to start marketing isn’t when you’re launching, it’s… right now.
Get a domain name
The older your site is, the better for SEO. A new site takes a long time (and a lot of effort) to move up in search results. So get your domain name now and put up at least a few lines of keyword-rich copy.
We weren’t sure about the product name when we started, so we got started with a different domain name. Then we had to move when the product was ready for beta. We moved without taking much of a search engine hit, but the moving itself was a pain and could have been avoided if we’d just gone with the product name domain in the first place. Don’t make the same mistake.
Put up a landing page
So what do you put on your website before you have a product? Put a landing page that explains what you plan to do, and include a short form that asks people to sign up if they’re interested. When they sign up, send them an email thanking them for signing up and explaining when you expect the product to be ready.
If no one signs up, you haven’t lost much. But if you do get sign-ups that’s your first set of users/customers. Also, it helps you understand what kind of person is interested in your product and gets you closer to a product-market fit.
Start using Twitter
Twitter is a great way to do a little research and see what people are saying about the industry you’re in. It’s also good to start connecting with people – especially industry experts and influencers – as early as you can.
Build your network
Twitter not your thing? Try LinkedIn or Quora, or follow and comment on blogs. Or even go to physical events (not just startup events, but events in your industry).
The point is to a) start listening to what’s happening in your industry and especially what customers are complaining about, and b) to start building a network of your own even before you have a product to talk about. Otherwise you’ll find yourself with things to say and no one to listen to you.
If you’re planning to start a blog after you launch, start now. Blogs take some time to build up and start ranking in search results, so starting earlier is better. Another reason for starting early? You need the practice. Blogging is hard when you’re new to it, and becomes easier the more you write. (I cringe when I look at my old blog posts). So it’s better to start writing early and make your mistakes when you have a smaller audience, and polish your writing style by the time the audience comes along.
What did I miss? If you’re an entrepreneur, what do you wish you’d done earlier?
About the author
Unmana Datta is the Co-founder of Markitty, a tool that recommends actions to improve your online marketing. She writes about online marketing for small businesses on the Markitty blog and answers to @Unmana on Twitter.