Most startups face a similar dilemma. They need to attract attention but the right sort of attention. Back in the care free days of the last internet boom a few dot coms attacked this problem by purchasing ads for the one television broadcast they could be sure their customer was watching – the Super Bowl. During Super Bowl XXXIV, over a dozen startups including Computer.com, Epidemic.com and OurBeginning.com spent at total of $40 million for ads like this:
Ads like the one for Computers.com attracted attention alright, but mostly in the form of ridicule. One company, Pets.com, promoted a sock puppet in an expensive spot during the 2000 Super Bowl which, after millions more dollars of advertising later, was sold for $125,000 in bankruptcy court (and can still seen today as the Bar None loan spoke sock).
Today in 2012, with the rack rate for 30 seconds over Lucas Oil Stadium listing at $3.5 million this approach would seem an extensive luxury for even the most well backed new venture and in my estimation would just be another tremendous waste of money.
Social media, which is often free, and on-line media which is often next to free would seem the answer. The dilemma is to be successful requires both patience and diligence. Feast or famine, with all the things on the entrepreneurial plate getting around to creating a blog post, tweeting, or Facebooking is often the last thing that gets done. This is unfortunate since most new ventures and especially ones with solve new or complex business problems this is their most effective go-to-market strategy and dollar-for-dollar their best marketing spend.