Under the guise of providing some practical examples of how they got the attention of big brands like Pepsi or AT&T while running a 3-person startup, Alex Debelov of Virool presents a great philosophy for getting early attention:
When I got there, I wanted to look professional, so I put on a suit and went to the panels. As it turned out, pretty much everyone in the room was dressed in suits. Since I was in my early 20′s most CMO’s/agency reps that I met assumed that I was looking for a job. When I would tell them about my company, they would just follow up with dazed, “cool, here’s my business card” and leave. I realized that I needed to do something different.
Good strategy is about pitting your strengths against their weaknesses. As a new startup, you are definitely not stronger at the traditional networking/marketing game than established players with a lot of resources. You don't even have time as an advantage.
Alex went on to trade his suit for a t-shirt asking "Need 1,000,000 views?" He boldly approached the CMO of PepsiCo on LinkedIn before meeting him in person. He irreverently placed letter flyers advertising his tiny company on every seat at a panel organised by one of his competitors.
What is Virool's relative strength? Nothing to lose. Some of Virool's approaches may infuriate competitors, but there's no chance they'll copy them any time soon. If Virool had done this at a startup event, they would have gone unnoticed, because everyone is in that position. But at a big industry event, it stood out.
The take away here is not to do things that will potentially piss off people in your industry, but to figure out what it is that you're willing to do to grab attention that will be effective and that no one else at the event you're going to is going to do.
That said, the techniques outlined in the article are all pretty cool and worth noting for future use...
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