16th January 2015 Written by Geraint Clarke

Image: Gaeraint-Clarke.As we enter the digital age, it's becoming more and more prevalent to concentrate on 'start-up strategy'. This nomenclature encompasses the terms, tactics and methods of releasing a digital product or brand on a small budget, to a large audience.

The task is simple. Stick to your budget and make this successful...Sounds simple, right?

This need for efficient spending allows your creativity to run free. It's not just thinking outside of the box, it's thinking without a box entirely. The good news being, that there are no limits with the internet; a place where cat videos reign supreme.

Step 1 - Product

What are we working with here? Can it be improved or optimised? Why would customers use it, and want to recommend it to others? The great thing about working on a project that has received investment from the UKCES, on behalf of a registered charity, is that the initial concept, idea or message will always have the end-user/public as top priority. We're not making something for us, we're creating a service to give a solution to a problem within the industry.

With that in mind, optimising the sites functionality, making it as simple and easy to navigate as possible was the top priority. Ditch the jargon, the convoluted sentences and forget about pop-up adverts. The real secret to a success is product + energy. Make sure what you're offering is the best it can be. Even if that means causing a delay in release, which we did.

Step 2 – Place

Where does this fit within the industry? You can either be the first and the best, or the cheapest. If you're not the first to do this, your marketing strategy will always be informed by the current industry leader.

Personally, I spent a lot of time helping establish the message that this is the first of its kind, and the term 'sector-specific' was coined in the projects infancy to help provide distinction among potential competitors that may emerge over the coming months / years.

The Skills Platform is sector-specific. It currently serves the health, charity and social enterprise sectors. A family of sectors that have incredible similarities. Similarities close enough to provide a wide variety of courses from providers that serve all previously mentioned sectors with their learning provision and consultancy.

Step 3 - Promotion

How do I get this to the people I need? How can I convince them to use it? To love it? To spread the word? I had to concentrate on reach. Getting as many people to see it as possible in the shortest time. The wisdom of crowds idea suggests that people are more inclined to get involved if they can see lots of other people are too. For example, a celebrity with 1million followers will find it a lot easier to get to 2 million than a new brand starting from scratch. Fans flock.

With that in mind, I introduced Thunderclap (thunderclap.it) to the project. A social media ticking time-bomb that uses your brand message as the fuse. It works by asking fans or potential new users of the Skills Platform to retweet or share our message, but it delays that social share and stores it.

That means, on launch day, we were able to blast our message out across the internet at a pre-determined time. At 1pm everyone’s message automatically shared and increased our social reach to over 103,000.

Image: Thunderclap launch.

We stood on the shoulders of giants as our previously populated twitter page racked-up 200 new followers. All of whom had an automatic inbox message to thank them for their interest and to urge them to check out the Skills Platform. We saw our web visitors shoot up in real time as people were intrigued by our thunderclap, or seduced by our personal twitter message.

Image: Twitter followers.

Let’s not forget tradition!

The next stage of the plan was traditional marketing. Press and PR related to the new launch of a fantastic new service. It was important to cover all the features, benefits and solutions provided by this new service, and to introduce enthusiastic new users in the right way.

Image: Coming soon.

As a journalist, I imagine your desk is constantly bombarded with stories such as these every day. So I did the opposite. I withdrew all information and made the lack of information the story.

Image: Email.

I did this by creating a countdown timer to our launch event on the website, and it got some twitter and journalist interest, eliciting the exact reaction I was looking for.

As the press started to roll in, and journalists started to contact us for coverage, we followed up the snowball effect of the Skills Platform buzz with some SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and direct email marketing campaigns.

Everyone’s collective efforts resulted in the first sale/conversion within 24 hours of launch, which is incredibly impressive, as our initial marketing focus for launch was for providers, and not a consumer launch so to speak.

I have no doubt in my mind that this incredibly exciting project will continue to organically grow through the sectors and gain a loyal customer base of employers, providers and individuals.

My perspective and approach to the launch was entirely dependent on others in the team creating the best product possible, and hopefully we’ll continue to impress you on the Skills Platform with our ingenuity moving forward.

Let’s help up-skill the health & charity sectors, together!

Take a look and let me know what you think! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can also follow us on twitter here: @skillsplatform