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Cue your favorite Daft Punk song and think of all the moms.
Marketing an Internet company to moms takes place over three stages. The first stage is a grassroots phase, the second phase is direct marketing, and the third phase is brand marketing. The user that you aim your marketing at will change based on which phase you are in.
The grassroots marketing phase is usually a year or less, where you prove out your model, typically within a city or two, to make sure the numbers all work out. Your target during this timeframe is any mom who will take a minute to listen to you. Your goal is to get as much as you can for zero dollars. So here’s the tactics you’ll be using: PR, online partnerships, SEO and social media. Also, if it can be afforded, a mobile app.
Why? Because a mobile app can be included in your product costs, and because social media, online partnerships and PR can be achieved for free. Let’s break each piece down. PR should include sending out your press release to all local news sources, talking for local moms groups, donating whatever your services or product are for PTA and group auctions, writing freelance articles, and a stunt, if you can manage it for low-cost or zero dollars. (Visit contactkarma.com for a list of the best PR firms Chicago entrepreneurs are using, and deals on them.) Online partnerships are similar to PR in that you’ll be trying to barter and trade space on their site for space on yours -- this is only marginally helpful in getting users, so only focus on it if it’s easy. SEO is relatively simple to get a handle on. Hire a firm to do three things for your web site: 1. Make sure that your metadata is in place, and as comprehensive as it can be within your site, 2. Submit your site directory to search engines, and 3. Do a general review of your site and URL to make sure that it’s optimized. This should not cost more than $2000. Social media is self-explanatory. Get yourself a great presence on Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, YouTube, Pinterest, and anywhere else on the web that’s applicable.
Regarding apps, use your app as an extension of your product—but it does not have to re-create that product wholesale, unless your product is extremely simple. I find it’s best to come out of the gate with a light app, that features just the most critical features of your business, and plan for a revision in phase two based on market adoption. I suggest that your first app be for iPhone, and that you follow that in phase two with Droid. Blackberry and Palm are optional. Make sure whatever you build is table-compatible -- Ruby on Rails is great for this.