Want Your Startup To Appear in TechCrunch? Lean Marketing Hacks for Startups

Just back from a week of beer, black wardrobes and David Hoselhoff ads- yes, it was Web Week in Berlin. Again and again (after a few drinks, of course) my European friends confided the same perception about Israeli startups: wonderful technologies, horrendous marketing. Danish entrepreneur and Skype funder Morten Lund said it best “any cabdriver in LA is better at marketing (than Israeli founders). Before you reach the restaurant, they have sold you their screenplay and yoga lessons”. Israeli startups interested in more effective “lean marketing”, should learn from Ben Lang, the 20 year old Wunderkind and contributor at TechCrunch, Business Insider and Forbes. Below are five of his favorite Marketing Hacks.

Guest Posting

Proactively approach top tech publications with a finished article and a concise, one sentence email pitch.

pitch letter to TechCrunch

Short pitch letter to the TechCrunch Editor that resulted in a Guest Post

Email Your Targets Using Rapportive

Email is still a great way to reach potential targets. If you don’t have the address of the person you are trying to reach, install Rapportive (http://rapportive.com), a browser plugin for Gmail.

Rapportive Video:

Voting Websites

Many tech publications determine feature placement through community voting. In fact, the #1 spot at voting sites like Hacker News, Reddit, StumbleUpon, GrowthHackersProduct io  or Product Hunt could yield an additional 20,000-50,000 visitors in one day.

Some “Upvote” tactics:

Ask a few friends to vote for your post. This creates momentum for the algorithm to identify your post as “trending”. Be careful that your friends use an email address that is not your corporate URL, or the votes will not be recognized.

Long Term Traffic

Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.com) and Quora (www.quora.com) are efficient tools for long-term traffic, provided the message is on-topic. Use stats.grok.se to measure traffic. The contribution is gradual. If just twenty people visit your site each day, that still represents 7300 annual visitors.

Viral Projects

Some brands understand the value of building a viral project, unrelated to their core offering, with broad appeal. Below are two examples in which a very subtle promotion reaped broad exposure and wide coverage.


Oomf (http://www.cultofmac.com/188869/ooomf-might-become-the-neatest-way-to-discover-new-ios-apps) created a tool called “How Much To Make An App”, with a subtle link to the company at the bottom of the page


Flickr was able to increase awareness and media coverage for its recruiting efforts

Make it Fun

Even commoditized products, such as storage, can use games and fun in their branding activities. Check out this example from Dropbox.

great space race

Dropbox transformed a marketing campaign for an undifferentiated product (storage) into a worldwide competition among universities

For additional marketing hacks, try reading these blogs:

  • On Startups- http://onstartups.com
  • Quick Sprout- http://www.quicksprout.com
  • KissMetrics- https://www.kissmetrics.com
  • Distribution Hacks- http://distributionhacks.com
  • Grow Hack- http://www.growhack.com
  • Little Big Details- http://littlebigdetails.com
  • Okdork- http://okdork.com
  • Andrew Chen- http://andrewchen.co

For previous posts on Growth Hacking, check out Introduction to Growth Hacking for startups

Levi Shapiro

Levi Shapiro is the Managing Partner at the JIMMI Fund, a corporate venture investment fund, and concurrently Partner at TMT Strategic Advisors. He is also the organizer of Marketing & Ad:Tech Israel (www.adtechsummit.com), Israel's largest conference for digital advertising. During a 20 year career in media and technology, including 7 years in Asia, Levi launched new business units(IBM), new products (Toyota) and new startups (TwoMinute Television, Snack Mobile, etc). He teaches Entrepreneurship and Mobile Marketing as an Adjunct Professor at IDC Herzliya, serves as Mentor in Residence for The Hive accelerator and writes a bi-weekly column about digital media and technology in the Jerusalem Post called "Unleavened Media ". Mr. Shapiro is a graduate of Tulane (BA), Cornell (Asian Studies) and MIT (MBA)

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