Recently I was chatting with a Internet entrepreneur who was telling me about his consumer application, currently in beta. He proceeded to tell me about how there was nothing else like it, how it was truly revolutionary. As we talked he told me he planned to soon get coverage on Techcrunch, GigaOM, Valleywag and many of the other technology blogs, that have gained so much prominence and notiriety over the last couple of years.
After listening to him, I asked, “why do you want to get coverage, right now, on these blogs right now?” He responded, “because it will give me great exposure.”
While he’s right, that it may give him great exposure, he’s also potentially making a mistake. Most entrepreneurs have heard the term, flying under the radar. It simply means, keeping a low profile until you have gained some traction, enough to validate your product, strengthen your position and justify telling the world. In the ultra competitive Internet start-up space this is even more relevant. Like a guerrilla, who leverages his invisibility and stealth approach when fighting overpowering adversaries, a small net entrepreneur, with limited resources, has the ability to keep a low profile and sneak up on the market and competition.
Flying under the radar doesn’t mean being silent about what you’re doing, and it doesn’t mean shying away from exposure. It simply means being analytical, selective and purposeful with your outreach effort for exposure.
If you have a revolutionary consumer product, and you’re still in beta, do you promote it on TechCrunch, GigaOm and the likes — where all the Internet entrepreneurs and potential competitors are lurking? Or, do you look to promote it quietly on more focused consumer oriented blogs, and through more targeted outlets? If you do promote it through a channel where your competitors are sure to be watching, are you doing this for ego reasons, or because you truly feel it the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Weigh the pros and cons. There will come a time to use the TechCrunch’s, GigaOM’s and the likes, but it probably isn’t until you can walk, and are truly ready to let the cat out of the bag.
There is no fixed answer for how low (how selective you should be about exposure), or how long to fly under the radar. It depends on your product/service, your market, your size/resources, the current competitive landscape, what you want to achieve and other factors. The important thing to remember is… there can be great value in flying under the radar when you are a little guy and have to compete with others. Be strategic in the decisions you make regarding how and when you start to actively promote your venture through channels where your competitions is watching closely.
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