Hi, I'm Ryan. I sold one of my previous companies in 2012 (got an exit woo!). Since then I've worked with a number of accelerators to help startups with growth marketing.
I can help you with:
- SEO & Content Marketing
- Paid channels (AdWords, Facebook Ads, Display)
- Email Marketing
- Conversion Optimization
- PR & Getting Attention From Journalists
I'm happy to share some sneaky marketing tactics with you, but I ask that you keep them to yourself and DON'T disclose them publicly.
Figure out who your best customers are. The ones that order the most and complain the least. Figure out how they found you, and why they picked you over you competitors.
Then all you need to do is focus on the channels that allow you to reach more of those good customers.
Eg, you might find that your best customers come from YouTube videos you created and the worst customers are local small businesses who never pay on time. Or vice versa.
I'm an introvert. I've also been a CEO. And taught classes on public speaking. Introversion and talking to strangers are not mutually exclusive.
For me though, every interaction is always a race to getting them to laugh, or even just grin. Once you do that, all the tension just drains away.
Watch lots of standup comedians on YouTube. See how the speak and copy their body language.
Also, try asking real questions as soon into an interaction as possible. What do you do? What do you enjoy most about it? What do you need more of at the moment?
Suddenly in the space of 30 seconds they're telling you what their biggest pain points are. Just because you asked.
+1 to Dan Martell's answer. Ideally, get yourself a tech cofounder ASAP. Finding the right one is incredibly difficult and frustrating, but critical to your success. You may also need to pre-sell or pay some odeskers to build the MVP in order to convince a tech cofounder to join.
After that, the next person should either be a second engineer (if you're b2b and/or have a complex product) or a designer (if you're b2c). You get more chances to convert a b2b customer if the functionality is there, not so b2c.
As CEO, you should be the one selling it. Don't even think about hiring salespeople or marketers until you have product market fit.
Some good answers here already. Mostly it comes down to practice. If you know your material and know that your presentation is interesting and engaging, you'll feel a lot more confident.
I teach public speaking classes at General Assembly. Couple of quick tips.
1 - Always open with a joke, story or question. It helps build rapport with your audience (whether it's a live presentation, a webinar or a recorded video). Of the three a joke is best, provided it's actually funny and relevant.
2 - Watch other presentations/webinars/teleseminars. Find ones you think are good, then figure out WHY you think they're good. Pick out words and phrases that you like and use them in your own webinars.
3 - Practice. do lots of webinars. Try doing a few public speaking classes. Volunteer to speak at events or debates - the more time you have getting your point across to an audience, the better you'll get.
+1 to Tom Williams answer.
As with anything, there are pros and cons. The pros are obvious:
- access to a lot more money to help you scale, hire and acquire more customers
- someone who can open doors and make key introductions for you (smart money). Who you raise from is often a lot more important than how much you raise.
- more credibility when dealing with journalists, potential customers or partners, and in convincing rockstar employees to join your company
- Loss of control (although this isn't usually as bad as it's made out if your interests are aligned - ie an exit in 3-5 years)
- Raising money is time-consuming and distracting. It can often take 6 months, and it's a full-time job the whole time. What is the opportunity cost of those 6 months? Would you be better off spending that time finding more customers?
Without knowing the specifics of your business it's hard to offer any tailored advice. Some businesses have a long path to revenue because they have to build massive scale before they can monetise. Other businesses are in a new industry, where it's a landgrab situation, and they need to raise money to dominate the space before their competitors do.
On the other hand, if you're in a mature market with lots of competitors and already have enough paying customers to be cash flow positive, sometimes raising investment is not that helpful at all.
I advised Collusion on their $158K Kickstarter raise and know the LIFX ($1m) guys well, so I know what I'm talking about.
You don't need an expert or a consultant to project manage it for you - it's not rocket science. There's a whole industry of self-serving "crowdfunding experts" who charge for their services; they are a complete waste of money in my view. Just like "social media gurus" of a few years ago.
1 - Use Kickstarter. If you can't get onto Kickstarter, then your product isn't good enough to be crowdfunded. Kickstarter won't bring you a whole lot of traffic per se, but it does have credibility and brand-awareness with journalists.
2 - Remember that crowdfunding for a business is about pre-sales. Don't believe any of that crap you read about "telling a story" - show your product, show how people are using it, tell people what they get for their pledge. That simple.
3 - Make sure the video is professionally shot and treat it as a product demo. If you can, make it funny.
4 - Create a list of journalists you want to write about you. Crowdfunding is all about press. Reach out to them and ideally meet them face-to-face to build a relationship before you tell them about your kickstarter campaign.
5 - Before you launch your campaign, go and spread the word. Collusion spent months demoing their product at Silicon Beach, the main tech meetup in Sydney. Considering your typical Kickstarter backer is usually a tech-savvy early adopter, this is a good place to start. They gave these guys business cards with a special password written on it that gave early access to the kickstarter page (that is, they didn't announce anything publicly until day 2 of their campaign)
6 - Structure rewards properly. Some good ideas are to offer a limited quantity of discounted products as your lowest tier - this encourages people to pledge immediately, rather than waiting to see what other people do. Fear of missing out is crucial. Don't do T-shirts - that's pretty mundane and boring now. At the upper-end, get creative - invite to launch party, lunch with founders/advisors/investors/celebrity evangelist, get the product or part of it named after you (especially a character or item in a game), limited-edition versions that are a different colour or have better functionality, early access to beta etc.
7 - Exclusivity and fear of missing out are your friends. Make the lower reward tiers limited in quantity. Make the very top tiers only available to one or two people. It will help build momentum and get press if some of your reward tiers sell out early.
8 - If day 1 is about giving people you know the opportunity to jump in and grab the discounted rewards, day 2 onwards is about press. Don't waste money on Adwords or Facebook ads, it's all about getting press coverage.
9 - Learn how to write a press release properly. I can run you through this, and how to deal with journalists if you want.
10 - Make sure you have a plan for what to do after your project ends. I've seen some companies run their own follow-on crowdfunding campaign on their own website successfully; I've also seen a lot of companies set up an online store and then stick a link in their Kickstarter page saying "Our Kickstarter campaign has ended - if you want to buy a [name of product] head over to our online store."