Co-Founder & CEO - Vidyard (YC S11) - Raised ~$85MM USD General Partner - Garage Capital - ~$50MM AUM, 85 companies (and counting)
I personally built our beta community when launching Vidyard (YC - Summer 2011).
Our model was built around signups on the Vidyard landing page that we'd nurture via e-mail campaigns and eventually add to the product (when we were ready) to stage growth.
I followed and engaged with everyone on Twitter that breathed a word about B2B Video and Video based marketing campaigns. My bio was designed to draw people to our landing page, where a portion of them would sign up for the "beta list".
The metrics worked out (ish) as follows:
100 follows a day --> 20 conversations on twitter --> 1 signup to our "beta list".
I then personally engaged with each signup to validate their need against the product we wanted to build. When ready to launch, we had ~1500 people on the list ready to try the product.
I spent ~6 hours a day focused on this.
Happy to jump on a call to discuss further!
At Vidyard, I focused on brand at Day 1/ground Zero. Depending on your market, it's likely true that (in large part) people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
You're organization's brand is the only way to reveal culture to potential customers and recruits. A solid brand (logo, colours, style, method of communication) will help you close deals (both customers and employees).
That said, depending on your role (assuming you're the "business guy") your brand should be built by you (you are the brand).
Time to think about it = always
Money to spend on it = Logo (99 Designs - this should also dictate your colour scheme) Everything else (sales collateral, website design, decks, etc.) should be built by you.