Friday, May 18, 2007

Beef of the Week: Marketing in Stealth Mode

Despite numerous attempts to end overuse of the phrase "in stealth mode", the epidemic continues. On a recent tour of the web, I counted at least 25 Canadian startups who are out there marketing themselves as being "in stealth mode." None of them are in the defense industry, so I have to assume they aren't being literal.

I have no issue with startups actually operating in stealth mode. There are good reasons to build in silence, and I look forward to hearing about them when you deactivate your cloaking device.

But using "in stealth mode" as your first message to market? Jesus Murphy, no. For one, it's a dated phrase; "under the radar" would give you so much more street cred. Also, it's not clear what you mean. A recent Vancouver angels forum featured 30 companies "in stealth mode", complete with business descriptions. Shhhh.

Perhaps most importantly, it's a ticking marketing time bomb. How long can you be in stealth mode before people conclude you are never leaving it? I have been "losing baby weight" since my last child was born. He's 9 now. Pilates instructors don't take me seriously anymore. I don't think the outcome would be different if I had announced my abs and gluts were in stealth mode.

My view? The only good time to market yourself as in stealth mode is when you are emerging from it.

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