Marketing for Hackers: a 5-min intro, 97% BS-free

1) Marketing is not necessarily evil.

If you come from the hard and logical side of coding, the word marketing has an aura of evil. It conjures images of blabbering corporate droids that make you want to play buzzword-bingo during all-hand meetings. On Hacker News I see comments such as:

Barf. Sad, to see Hacker News being used as a marketing channel.

The parent post of that link talks about how to use channels such as HN to maximize the launch of your startup. It’s a start, but marketing for a startup is about much more than just the launch. Is an ongoing tactical and strategic process. I’ll share a few quick things that have worked well for IndexTank so far. Disclaimer: I’m not a marketing expert, although I play one as the C*O of IndexTank. What I describe here is the result of trial/error plus valuable help from some experts (hi Martina).

2) You are already doing marketing. Might as well do it right.

First off, you are already doing marketing whether you like it or not. Are you trying to get page views? Do you talk about your product online? Do you go to meetups? Do you tweet/blog? All those are marketing activities. As the logical being you are, you do all that for a reason. Why not roll it all into a focused strategy that you can measure?

Ok, so you want to have a strategy. Before you have a strategy you need goals. I assume you know what you want: become the leading social network for Nepalese zombies, sell for one hundred billion dollars, whatever. You have assumptions about where you need to be in order to declare victory: you want to be making X dollars per month, have Y users, Z visitors to your site, etc. Let me introduce you to AARRR: Dave McClure’s startup metrics for pirates. Check it out and come back.

3) Measure, learn, iterate.

So you’ve been doing a lot of [A]cquisition activities. Are you measuring the results in terms of cost/effectiveness? How does writing a blog post compare to a tweet, running a contest, etc? For us, contests and some posts that did well on HN have been very cost-effective ways to increase the funnel. IRC/chat is not that cost/effective but I do it anyways because I enjoy it. Same with going to events. There are lots of other ways (ping me if you want ideas). I’m a big fan of guerrilla marketing, but in some cases you need the big guns of professional PR. Essentially experiment, measure, and go deep when you find out what works.

Other activities/metrics we use: for activation, we set specific goals on Google Analytics. For retention, we see what percentage of our users have made api calls in the past X days. For referrals, we measure tweets, blog posts and ask people how they heard about us. I’ll stop here because this is just a brief intro, but this is just the beginning.

TLDR version: don’t be afraid of marketing, it’s just a tool that you can use efficiently to your advantage. Also, it’s only as evil as you want it to be. If you truly believe your product is great, you are doing a good thing by making the world know about it. Have a strategy and use tactics that work.

This is the part where I ask you to follow me on Twitter for the hell of it. It’s free :)

10 thoughts on “Marketing for Hackers: a 5-min intro, 97% BS-free

  1. Hey mate, I’m afraid your “follow me on Twitter” link leads to twitter homepage :)Speaking about the IRC.. can you please share some nice seo/marketing/startup channels that I can join? I’d really appreciate that :)

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