Many entrepreneurs start the process of marketing their startup long after launch and then wonder why they’re struggling. The success of your startup depends not only on your product quality, but also on how many people know about it.
If you’re looking for the best results, it’s important to put in as much time marketing your startup as you do building it. The more awareness you generate about your product, the easier it will be to connect with audiences when you’re ready to ship. In this article, we discuss the key strategies that you can use to market your hardware startup:
1- Build a great product
This sounds like generic advice, but it’s one of the most crucial ingredients of a successful marketing plan. Why? Because marketing a great product is simple. The better your product is, the more people will love, the more they will stick with it, and the more they will recommend it.
Note that building a great product isn’t easy and there’s no set formula to it. You have to build several iterations of your product and constantly keep testing and improving it. One of the tools you can use to build virtual prototypes is engineering software simulation.
Designing and testing physical prototypes can be expensive and time consuming, but engineering simulation software can help you design your product virtually while testing it in real world conditions much quicker and for less of an investment. Remember, if your product is not high quality, no amount of marketing will help you sell it. In order to build the best version of your product, we recommend a tool such as ANSYS, who offers an affordable program for startups.
2- Pitch Tech Reporters
Getting your startup covered by coveted tech blogs, websites, and magazines is a great way to build initial momentum for your startup. It gives you validation you can show to customers – if a reporter at a top-notch publication thinks your product is worth writing about, potential buyers could think it is worth investing in.
There are some ground rules to pitching the press, though. Most of them you’re already aware of, but let’s quickly recap:
– Find reporters in your niche and closely follow topics they are interested in covering.
– In your pitch, talk about why they should cover your product (innovation factor, problems it helps solve) rather than giving them a list of product features.
– Think of a unique story angle. Instead of merely telling them your product’s features, give them a compelling story of how your product makes a difference to the world.
– Provide a few interesting quotes, images, and bios. Make it brief yet noteworthy.
3- Get Feedback
Once you develop a prototype, reach out to a few potential customers and get them to try out your product. Feedback is essential at all stages — while making your product and after you’ve released it. Take note of initial feedback on what you can improve and then make the appropriate changes to your prototype and retest.
Getting initial feedback is one of the most crucial steps in marketing your hardware startup. After all, you don’t want to end up with a product nobody wants, right?
4- Market to a specific niche
You may have heard over and over how important it is to develop a niche, but isn’t it tempting to just develop a product for “everyone?”.
For instance, hardware companies such as GoPro and Nest have carved a niche for themselves by developing cameras for adventure sports and by creating a smart thermostat.
5- Use Social Media and Content Marketing
While these may be seen as better sources of marketing software products, they can be used to market hardware products all the same. It’s smart to start marketing your product using content marketing even if you don’t yet have a completed product.
Why? Because this helps you build a loyal list of followers you can market to when your product is ready to ship. Start a blog that tracks the progress of your product, or covers innovations in your niche. Slowly but surely, you will attract readers interested in your content. Same goes for social media. Engage your followers with interesting links to hardware projects, track conversations in your niche and chime in with your own views.
Building a following through content may take time, but the rewards keep coming in long after you’ve started doing the work.
6- Build an email list
Expanding your blog and marketing on social media are only two places where you can build an email list, but there are many more.
Other ways you can build an email list include putting up a landing page, using welcome mats and hello bars on your website homepage, offering free content such as e-books, whitepapers, webinars, etc.
7- Test demand with pre-orders/crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a great way to validate your product and see if there is any demand for it. If there is, then the amount you collect is just the icing on the cake.
There are various crowdfunding platforms you can put your startup on, the most popular ones being IndieGogo and Kickstarter. If you’d rather not use any of these, you can also offer pre-orders on your own website. Before you go publishing your project, be sure to read up on how to host a successful crowdfunding campaign.
8- Set up an affiliate program
Affiliate programs are a win-win for both the company and affiliates. It works like this: the affiliate markets your product on their website/blog, and sends traffic to your product. If site visitors end up buying the product, the affiliate gets a commission.
You can reach out to bloggers in your niche and send them your product for testing. If they find it interesting, offer to make them a part of your affiliate program. There are various affiliate platforms that you can use to set this up such as Shareasale.com, Cake.com and Cj.com.
9- Make it easier for people to get the product
Unlike software that you can simply pay for and download, hardware products need specific sales and distribution channels. The better your distribution, the easier it will be for people to order. The easier it is for people to order, the more likely that they will buy your product.
Invest some time in setting up efficient distribution channels for your product. The best way to sell your product is listing it on Amazon. You can also set up other drop shipping channels. Drop shipping channels are similar to affiliates, except that instead of sending traffic to your product, drop shippers actively sell your product on their website. You can call them third-party sellers. Once they get an order, it is you who delivers the product to the customer. So while you’re the one actually delivering the product, the drop shipper is another way for you to sell it. Think of drop shipping as an additional channel to sell your product, just like retailers.
10- Research your prospects well
As with any product, it is imperative to research your audience before you sell to them. This becomes even more important if you’re a B2B hardware startup.
Identity prospects in your niche, figure out how you can pitch your product in an appealing way, and then close the sale. There are various tools you can use to find prospects, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, industry publications, and more.
11- Reach out to influencers
Influencer marketing is a great way to get in front of your target audience and convince them to buy your product.
You can use tools such as BuzzSumo to find influencers in your niche and then pitch them. Some influencers may be glad to try your product and give you a review in return, while others may offer promotion in return for compensation.
We hope this article provides you with enough ideas to market your product. Let us know your favorite marketing methods in the comments below!