In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about the value of hype in your marketing campaign.

In the startup world, it is common for a business to try to build some hype around a product that they are about to launch. However, this can leave a sour taste in the mouth of users, if the product doesn’t meet expectations, and it can hurt a brand

In today’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about how some companies are really good at being out there, the good and the bad kind of hype, how to separate hype from the quality of a product, and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

00:24 Why this topic was created.

02:00 Hiten’s thoughts on hyping your product.

02:40 How some companies are really good at being out there.

02:54 The bad kind of hype.

03:46 How to separate hype from the quality of a product.

03:59 How a great product will sell itself.

04:54 How there’s no perfect product.

05:40 There’s no such thing as a product that everybody loves.

06:39 How hyping is a balancing act.

3 Key Points:

  • I think there’s good hype and bad hype.
  • There are many reasons why a product might not work for your company.
  • If people are sharing things about a product, unsolicited, you’ll see it


Hiten Shah: Ask me. This is when it started.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.


Steli Efti: Today on The Startup Chat we’re going to talk about the value of hype in your marketing, or for your company. Here’s what I want to talk about Hiten. Hyping things. I think maybe the tech industry this has been a discipline that’s been practiced quite a lot. Some companies had mastered that. Some companies were really, really great at hyping the next big thing they’re launching. The thing they’re launching, why it’s the most amazing thing and will change everything forever, and then there was, I think, a counter trend to that where companies became much more, or startups specifically became much more engineering driven, so much closer to being truthful. The truthiness factor went up a lot and it was just like, “Let’s just tell people what the product does and what the features are and functionalities.” We’re going back and forth, I feel like between how much tech companies and startups are hyping what they’re doing, versus how much they’re understated, but I recently in B2B SaaS I recently see a resurgence. There’s a bunch of companies out there that, to me, seem to be particularly good at hyping. Creating hype around their brand. Creating hype around their product launches, and then when you look under the hood, they’re shit is not that exceptional. Their technology is not that crazy. Their things break. A lot of when you dig a bit deeper, there’s a lot of disappointment for people that look really deep, but what I realize is that the vast market doesn’t look that deep. They just buy into the hype. I wanted to ask your opinion on is hype good or bad? Should hype be a thing that you excel at as a company or not? What are the dangers? Let’s just digest this, or dissect this a tiny bit.


Hiten Shah: I think there’s good hype and bad hype. Immediately when you started asking about this topic and wanting to talk about it, which I think is a really important topic. My first thought was, “Well, what is hype? Do we need to worry about that? I don’t know.” Because in a way, hype implies smoke and mirrors or something that has no substance. It implies that maybe. I want to get away from that though. I want to talk about the fact that I think what you were really getting at is some companies are really good at being out there, and basically building out a brand for themselves. We can call that hype. They’re hyped up. They have hype, and things like that. I think that there’s a bad version of that and there’s a good version of that if we were to really wanting to get practical. Then there’s the other aspect of it, which I think could be separate which is, we see all this hype for the company, then you end up actually going deeper in. You, I don’t know, you sign up for their product. Then it doesn’t work for you, or it’s buggy, or something like that. There are many reasons why a product might not work for you as an individual or as a company and it’s working for other people. I think that it’s very easy to say, “Oh, that company just hypes themselves up, and their stuff sucks because it didn’t work for me.” Right?


Steli Efti: Right.


Hiten Shah: I have a hard time with this, because I’m as you know, and probably everyone who’s listening, even you, we’re just very critical, in general, because that’s just how we are. We’re critical and we want to understand things, and we want to dig deep in and say, “Oh, is that crappy or not?” We both have our different ways of doing that, and that makes us slightly judgemental too. Myself, I had to divide this up and think about it more objectively and say, “There’s good hype and bad hype and let’s separate that from whether the product works or not.” The reason for that is, if people are sharing good things about a product out there unsolicited, you’ll see it. It’ll be in conversations you’re having with people. It’ll be on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. People will just be talking about this company in one way or another, and if they’re talking about the company in reference to their product, you will see it. What you want to think about is, “Is that product right for me or not.” Based on the people that are sharing it. I think that’s really important. I’m going to do my best not to name any companies on this.


Steli Efti: Same here.


Hiten Shah: You’re doing the same.


Steli Efti: Yeah, same here.


Hiten Shah: That’s judgemental, critical and I think defeats the purpose of anybody listening learning from this. That’s one aspect, and then I’ll say one more thing, and then I know you’ve got thoughts on this. I would like to cut that out of it. I’d like to cut the idea that people are talking about the company and the product. Specifically the product, not the company, out of the equation because I that there’s a lot of judgment we can have about a product regardless of how good or bad it is. There is no perfect product. There’s only a perfect product for you maybe.


Steli Efti: I love that. I love that and there’s the other part of that that is … You could check out a product from any number of company, no matter how successful it is, and you’ll find buyers, or people that will be like, “This is bullshit. Why is this buggy? Why is this broken? This is dumb.” Which goes to show you, there is no such thing as not being criticized. There’s no such thing as being the type of company, or building a product that everybody loves. Even when we say, this is a product that everybody loves, we mean many people.


Hiten Shah: Yeah, not everybody.


Steli Efti: Well, not everybody. There’s not a product or company out there, that doesn’t have people that think it sucks and it’s [crosstalk].


Hiten Shah: Right.


Steli Efti: Right? Especially for the strengths. Some companies we admire for their brand, or we admire for one thing that we all agree that done incredibly well at, and then people will look at that one thing that’s even their strength and go, “This sucks. I hate particularly this thing about the company.” There’s no such thing. I think my one point on the hype thing, on the topic of hype, I think it’s a question about a balancing act. I think that typically companies and people, and companies are just a collection or startups are collection of the few people that are involved with it, we tend to be on one end or the other of the spectrum typically. I find that most people, the majority is not somewhere in the middle. By default, we’re on the edges of something, and so we’re even on the end of the spectrum that is, “I’m not comfortable with hype or with promoting what I do, or what my company does or selling it, or being overly enthusiastic about what I’m doing, because that enthusiasm puts me out there for more criticism because that enthusiasm means that if somebody disagrees it’s going to really hurt me. It might make me seem a certain way that I don’t like to have in terms of my appearance in the market, so I’m always going to be really understated. Never talk about what I do. Never pitch what I do. Never sell what I do and just let the magic of the value of my product acquire all this attention and get all these customers.” That’s one end. The other end, there are more people on this end in the startup world, in my opinion, and then there’s the other end, which is a smaller group that is just naturally comfortable with bullshitting, lets say. Stretching the truth. Maybe slightly over confident and over excited about everything they’re personally involved in, and some of that can be inexperience and youthfulness, and sometimes it’s just a personality trait. I find that on both of these ends, you are creating problem and troubles, in one way or another. I find that wherever you are on the spectrum, what you need to do as a company, and as a startup, is just working towards moving further to one side or the other. Getting more to the middle. If you’re not comfortable with hype, get more comfortable thinking about it as putting yourself out there more, and get outside your comfort zone and push yourself to get better at that. Because there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there. There’s nothing wrong with actually … This is something I have trouble with. We should talk about this one day. I’m pretty sure you have the same trouble. It’s speaking well about yourself. Saying something like, “I’m really amazing at blah.” That just feels wrong to me. I have a visceral reaction to like, “I don’t want to say anything nice about myself out loud.” There’s a problem with that. Getting comfortable with that I think is one big part, and pushing your company and promoting it and putting it out there, and then for people that are doing a bit too much of that, maybe it makes sense to think about when to use it, and when not to over use it, and try to make sure that what you promise and what you deliver are not just black and white, completely different worlds. I think that’s it for this topic. We’ll wrap this up and ribbon it up, and we shall hear you and see you very soon.


Hiten Shah: Hype it up.