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Startup Marketing Advice from Balsamiq Studio

In August 2008 Balsamiq was starting to gain traction in the marketplace, just 2 months after launch. People asked me how I got noticed, so I wrote a blog post about it. Most of that advice is still valid today, so here's the post, with some edits. Enjoy!

Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

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Comments (53)

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  2. Thank you Peldi for this great post, which is still relevant 6 years later. I think a great way to get traffic and feedback today is using communities. Reddit is good for that, as well as our communities network, Talksparks. You can easily go to TalkSparks.com/internet and instantly share it with the community.

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  7. Hi Nils, the website was open but I didn’t tell anyone about it. I wouldn’t worry about buzz much. Buzz is short-lived, it could help for a week but the quality of the product and of your company will matter much more in the long run.

    Peldi Guilizzoni
  8. Did you make your website open to the world before you marketed it or had customers? We’re mulling over launch strategy for a b2b product, and wondering if opening the website before we have real marketing behind it would hurt our ability to get buzz later. Thoughts?

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  11. Thank you! I’m the CEO of a boot-strap start-up, aka need to make organic marketing work and while my business is B to C and quite different from Balsamiq there are invaluable lessons in the systematic process you describe above.

    Also checked out your site – brilliant product which I hope we’ll be able to use in future!

  12. Great strategy, We are trying similar approach for our newly launched SEO Platform (http://www.searchenabler.com/). So far successful in creating some buzz with news sites, next level we will try with blogs in SEO domain.

  13. I have been directed here because I was trying to look for materials on how to launch a bootstrapped startup (What are the chances! lol) The line between freemium and getting users to pay is a fine one. You have clearly separated who should get it for free and it’s for an honorable cause.

    Well done! But I am not sure if it applies to all softwares/applications out there.

  14. Lots of 404s in your links. The web is slipping away beneath us 😉

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  17. Hi Peldi,

    Awesome post. Thank you! We’ve used Balsamiq (free and paid), and we love it =D.

    I’m going through this right now for my startup. Creating a plan, compiling lists, and I am ready to give the product away to bloggers. That’s no biggie and I think bloggers these days get free stuff handed to them all the time. You mention you only do it when it’s truly relevant to the writers and I’m going to hold ourselves to that as well.

    I was wondering, do you do anything to maintain the relationship AFTER they have written about you?

    – Ricky
    Co-Founder, Crowdbooster

    [Peldi: re: maintaining relationship after they wrote…I don’t do anything special, I just try to maintain a good relationship in the same way I do with customers or friends who live remotely]

  18. Thank you Peldi, for sharing your pearls of wisdom. You have a kind heart, sir. Awesome!

    Lawrence Barris
  19. Thanks, Eugene. Fixed.

    Peldi Guilizzoni
  20. Great Article. I actually read about your product in Do More Faster which I was reading on my Ipad. We created a lead management tool for doctors that is giving excellent results but getting the word out to a niche market has been difficult. This certainly helped and yes Adwords is no longer an cost-effective way to reach customers.

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  22. I thought I was the only nut who listed out each and every expense and step as it pertained to the launch of my startup on a blog. I knew about Balsamiq but wasn’t aware of your blog Peldi… now that I’ve found it I think I’m going to turn into a regular reader. Glad to have found a kindred spirit. Thanks for sharing… this post pretty much hits the spot regarding what I need to be thinking of for marketing!!

  23. So much value in this post…I wish I had found this back when you did the article. You probably mentionned it elsewhere, but in addition to the rss feed for a twitter search Google alerts can be pretty neat

  24. Many people tend to underestimate the impact of blogging. But as illustrated in your graph, there is a direct correlation between a new blog post and the number of visitors. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  25. Absolutely useful information for startups as well as for many others who had very little idea about how to use the marketing potential of the blogs and social media. Thank you very much for this information!

  26. Hello, I just stumbled upon this site from Yahoo and just wanted to take a moment to say thanks for the information that you’ve written about.

  27. Hi Peldi,

    Great post. I used it as an example in my blog post: If you can’t beat them… Teach! I hope you don’t mind 😉

    Regards,

    Vincent

  28. Thanks for these tips. My friend and I just launched our bootstrap project today and we’re really anxious to get our name out there. I feel a lot more comfortable about it now that I have a nice marketing TODO list in front of me. On your suggestion, I’ve started by sending emails to niche bloggers, but I’m taking extra time to personalize each of them. Anyway, this post really helped me out today. Thanks!

  29. Buona notte, Giacomo.

    Really great post and actionable tips. I have done most of this before but it’s great to learn some new parts and to have it all in one place.

    BTW about the slight Hacker News backlash, as you may know by know “VC” and “angel” (and “seed” and etc.) are fairly different. All are good/bad depending on the stage you are at and goals, but yes, a lot of the newer angels have a big following 🙂 I just started a blog (how2startup) and will be doing an upcoming post on the topic of funding, sources etc. And congrats on bootstrapping it!

    P.S. amo il aceto 🙂

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  31. I have some blogs but really wondering about to how to get traffic on them and your post was very helpful for me. I think I can beat the traffic now.

  32. Thanks for the post, i enjoyed reading it. blogging is not as easy as many think it is, it’s hardwork. any how thanks.

  33. I recently quit my job to start business on my own and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found this awesome post. Thanks for all the advice, I’m sure it’ll come in handy.

  34. This is what I was looking for after 3 weeks of fighting with the adwords system and those high priced keywords!.

    Thanks and God bless you and your family…

    Thanks again… I am so happy.!!!

  35. Wow this article is chock full of useful content. Thank you so much, I will be reviewing these links for my own projects!

  36. Lots of good points for beginners. Thanks a lot for very useful tips about startup marketing techniques.
    Thanks,
    Roy Peter – Marketing

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  40. Fantastic post! I think this (and your other posts) are a good example of generating interest by ‘turning your business inside out’, in a sense, ie blogging about the behind-the-scenes stuff. 37s are masters of it. It’s a great way of getting the attention of people who are doing something similar *and* are interested in your app.

    I guess the bottom line is no one has a magic formula for this kind of stuff, so we all learn from everyone else, which makes other people’s experiences incredibly useful.

    Hats off to you for doing the research, *doing* the marketing (tweets from the dev are a thousand times better than tweets from a PR company I’d think), and sharing your experiences! 🙂

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  45. This article was super helpful! I’m helping a client create a new company name. We decided to take a new approach so we are reaching outside of the company for inspiration. I’m hoping reaching out to bloggers will get the word out. Check out the site, http://www.projectnoname.com. The winning company name will go down in history and the creator will be rewarded with $1,000. Spread the word!

  46. Great article, and thanks! I’m entering PR mode with my parenting-related startup (http://tumblon.com) and it is great to hear your first-hand experience.

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  48. Thanks for the write up Peldi, your advice is clear. I work for a startup just coming out of stealth mode right now, and you brought up some sound, logical points that we can start applying straight away. Very, very useful!

  49. Very interesting guide, Peldi.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    – Vasudev

  50. Thanks for the nice comment and link love Peldi! And incredible article. Just added it to delicious. Thanks. -Mike

  51. Great tips… I think I am doing most of these in the lead up to our public beta launch of Regator.com this thursday, but it is nice to know that we are on the right-ish track. We are bootstrapping as well, but miraculously got onto TechCrunch when we launched our private beta about 4 weeks ago. These days I am finding FriendFeed to be the best thing for connecting and learning from bloggers and other startups. I found this post on FF!
    Cheers!

  52. How did you set up that Twitter search RSS feed? I couldn’t find a way to search for message content, only usernames and locations.

    [just go to http://search.twitter.com/ and enter your search terms. The results page has an RSS feed – Peldi]