Let’s admit it, as a startup you desire to compete with the big boys in your space. Let’s talk about how that applies to Internet assets. They have a 200 page website and so you think you should have a 200 page website. They are already positioned with online distribution partners and you feel the same need. The big boys do online seminars and great drip nurturing email marketing campaigns and you think you need to do the same. The problem is, they have a staff to handle all of this that includes C level management and legions of marketing folks. You have… yourself… and maybe a partner or two and a spouse who would prefer not to be involved, make that REALLY prefer not to be involved. How in the world can you compete? Truth is, you can’t. That is you can’t if you try to do combat with them head to head in web marketing or in other marketing and sales arenas where they have the advantages of cash and people.

So what alternatives can you apply to your approach that can come into play prior  to that big venture round? A place to start planning your online strategy may be by exposing your product or services to the masses thereby creating a loyal community of followers who will help you get the word out. How do you do that?

A good case study may be the launch Zhu Zhu Pets by Cepia LLC. This small firm cornered the “hot toy” market during Holiday sales for 2009 based upon some very fundamental execution of great marketing basics. I recently attended a presentation given by the Vice President of Marketing at Cepia, the company that makes the toy, 24-year-old Natalie Hornsby. She has been the driving force behind the marketing and branding of Zhu Zhu Pets. While she, too, is simply stunned by the meteoric rise of the toy, she has worked very hard over the last seven months to raise the visibility of the brand. While she led the campaign to market the toy by using traditional methods, she has also utilized more contemporary methods, like zeroing in on social media marketing, such as “mommy-bloggers” online to promote the brand.

Their product launch included house parties directed by mommy-bloggers who were then encouraged to write about the product. They set up display tables at baseball parks all around America and let the electronic hamsters do their thing. They broadcasted all of this through less expensive social media marketing using Facebook, optimized press releases and Twitter. They leveraged the resulting groundswell into testimonials and product tests with major retailers. Then came the TV commercials and other traditional marketing. Today their concerns are not focused as much on customer acceptance as they are product line extension and production. That’s what you call a success!

The big expensive website, the huge marketing staff and the large traditional media budget can all wait! If you have the “better idea” in the marketplace, maybe you can build a community! Let these social  recruits be your marketing staff. After the results start coming in, you will have the big boys in your industry thinking they need a little of your magic.

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