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Marketing for early stage startups



This was a three-hour lecture presented to participants in the BizTec technology entrepreneurship competition, held at the Haifa Technion in December 2010. ...

This was a three-hour lecture presented to participants in the BizTec technology entrepreneurship competition, held at the Haifa Technion in December 2010.

When participants were invited to the lecture, they were directed to a survey about their marketing knowledge, and what they hoped to gain from the lecture. This served as the market research that was analyzed throughout the lecture.



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  • if the product is only sold to you (and people 100% exactly like you) there will be a very small market.
  • 1928 – Otto Rohwedder There were objections from skeptic bakers that pre-sliced bread would quickly dry out. Objections from end-customers as well.
  • The better you can define this, the easier it will be to market your solutions
  • Competes – not going to get into detail – Mei Aden vs. Tami 4 – sometimes your competitor is not who you define it asWhale – there was a company called “SpearHead” which marketed “Air Gap” – in the beginning we focused almost exclusively on them & how they were “copying us.” well – they made all the same mistakes we did. They ended up disappearing. This is an iterative process – you’re not going to necessarily know all this on the first go.

Marketing for early stage startups Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Marketing for Early Stage Start-ups Rebecca Steinberg Herson1 Copyright © 2010 Rebecca Steinberg Herson
  • 2. A bit about me2
  • 3. So this is marketing…3
  • 4. Promotion – just one of the 4 Ps  TV ads  Magazine ads  Public Relations (“PR”)  Web sites  Catalogs  Telemarketing  Billboards  Point of purchase  Trade Shows4
  • 5. 5
  • 6. 4Ps6
  • 7. Promotion Price Place Product7
  • 8. Product  Yay! The part you know best, right?  This P is not about knowing the product. It’s about knowing your CUSTOMER  Your target customer is not YOU8
  • 9. The greatest thing since…. Adapted from Seth Godin’s presentation at The Business of9 Software, 2008, “Why Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department”
  • 10. Adapted from Seth Godin’s presentation at The Business of10 Software, 2008, “Why Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department”
  • 11. Adapted from Seth Godin’s presentation at The Business of11 Software, 2008, “Why Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department”
  • 12. What is the PAIN? Customers don’t always speak “engineer-ese” – you may need to translate Customer says: Engineer must translate into: Must clean my dishes well Surfactants, bubbles Need a quick response Number of rings, time on phone Should be easy to read Pixels, refresh rate, size12 Adapted from MIT Sloane School Marketing Manaement Course Lecture
  • 13. Who suffers from this pain? Build your marketing personas  Customer company size / end-user demographic  Vertical industry – finance, medical, retail, automotive, etc.  Geographic location  Who is my potential buyer? What is his/her job title?  Who are my influencers? What are their job titles?  What is the total addressable market?  Who competes in this market already?13
  • 14. Today’s Product: The Lecture Who is the Market? You 14
  • 15. Knowledge of Marketing Slightly more than half have zero to intro course level marketing15
  • 16. # Startups Involved In The majority have been involved in at least 1 startup (24 vs. 13)16
  • 17. Student Status (not all answered) •Evenly divided between undergrad/graduate •Surprisingly we have 4 humanities participants17
  • 18. Methods to Get to Know Customers18
  • 19. How to get to know your customer  Old days  Focus Groups  Phone surveys  Analyst Reports  Trade Shows  Today19
  • 20. Market Surveys  Use surveys to  test product ideas  confirm your instincts  refine your message  discover new potential customers  Google docs - its completely free  Can be edited collaboratively (whoever you allow)  Lots of available designs, or embed in your own web page or blog  LinkedIn Polls  Survey your own network for free  Survey specific demographics for a fee (~$1/response)  Other tools  Industry analysts – more costly  TechTarget (and similar)– pay per response, min. number of responses – this is great if they have your demographic20
  • 21. Learning @ LinkedIn21
  • 22. 22 Copyright (c) 2010 Rebecca Steinberg Herson
  • 23. 23 Copyright (c) 2010 Rebecca Steinberg Herson
  • 24. Our Survey Assessed Your Pain24
  • 25. Survey Says Your Pain Is… In other words, everyone wants everything25 Ideal product: a lecture series, an e-book with multiple chapters
  • 26. More customer pain Tachlis on a budget  General idea of key issues  How to use minimum of marketing  The basic approach - how to think and resources for a maximum effect what to look for  Techniques to maximize marketing  What is effective marketing results with a reasonable budget  Doing the right marketing  Management • New aspects regarding marketing  How to build marketing strategy? • How to market through Facebook • How to understand potential customers. • I want to learn who is a marketer? • How to design the product with customer am I a non-marketer? Philosophy in mind. Know the customer • How to breathe marketing • The gold way to saxses (?????) • Tips of "good" and "bad“ • Case Studies/Examples • Get more customers • Practical tools Tachlis • Learn from mistakes • Marketing ideas for my Startup • Get ideas for marketing in my current company26
  • 27. Get Business Social  Set up profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter in your real name, or something that makes sense  not “surferdude” unless you are selling surf equipment  Get a “real” email address – (Gmail has lots of add’l benefits besides email)  Clean up your act - untag incriminating Facebook photos, delete offensive wall posts, etc.  Set your privacy policy – no need for a potential customer to see anything you forgot to delete27
  • 28. Then jump in28
  • 29. Identify key people in your industry  Search Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook for relevant people, groups, comments, companies  Follow, read their tweets, check their blogs  Retweet relevant content – people appreciate it and it builds your credibility  Tweet your own thoughts – be authentic  Join relevant groups on LinkedIn, Facebook  “Lurk” for a while before you jump in – think cocktail party  Then, start discussions (LinkedIn)  Correspond with people who enter the discussion  DM influencers (Twitter)  Reach out to people – they are people, and most want to help29 Become part of the conversation
  • 30. Trade Shows – a concentrated learning tool  If you attend, do your homework  Check on twitter what people are saying about the event, tweetups planned  Review all the exhibitors and speakers – who do you want to talk to? Do you want to meet the exhibitors or the attendees?  Most of the people in the booths are sales reps – is that who will be most useful for you? Some companies also send executives, but they don’t hang around waiting for visitors; you need to book an appointment  The Press are also there. Don’t bother with them unless you already have a customer they can talk to  Lots of analysts attend trade shows, too – they are looking for the big trends – try to get a meeting; the big ones won’t take you seriously until you have a customer, although the little ones may wish to be hired by you to write your first white paper  Look up the people you want to meet on LinkedIn and memorize what they look like – you just might run into them in a hotel lobby30
  • 31. Increasing Your Influence31
  • 32. Why you need a blog (or FB Page, or…)  It’s the second thing people will look at when they want to understand you and your company  (the first is your LinkedIn profile)  Great for SEO  It becomes your own media channel - who needs ComputerWorld anymore?  Gives you more credibility with the mainstream media – you can become a source for them  Gives you something to tweet, for people to retweet, and for them to comment on – gets you into the conversation  Of course, you need to have something to say32
  • 33. Start your blog (or FB page)  Blog can be your own personal blog, that is, if you have enough to say on your own  If you open a company blog, you will have more options for contributors  Facebook pages have lots of blog-ish options; main drawback: not searchable  Be authentic  Talk about issues in the industry  Comment on newsworthy items  Offer advice  Blog at least 6 months before you want to publicize it  This ensures you know what you’re getting into and can maintain it  You will have archived content from day 133
  • 34. Industry Analysts  Identify which analysts cover your space  Paid services like Tekrati exist, or simply search on key analyst sites (Gartner, Forrester, IDC, etc.)  Read relevant reports  Many are available for free on covered company’s sites  Israel Export Institute has great discounted / joint subscriptions  Startups get significant discounts when going direct to the analyst firms (most have reps in Israel)  Sometimes you have to bite the bullet & just buy the research  Follow relevant analysts on Twitter, LinkedIn  Start briefing the analysts when you have something to say – ideally you will have a customer they can talk to  Use the briefing as much for listening as for telling  Brief them every 6 months moving forward  Update them on key customer wins or other important news34
  • 35. More on Industry Analysts  Some analysts will cover you if you subscribe (most don’t connect this however)  It’s a myth that people pay to get into Gartner’s Magic Quadrant  Some will write white papers for a (large) fee – if it’s exactly what will help tip your prospects into customers, then go for it  You don’t need to be a subscriber to brief the analysts  If you do subscribe, you can also have “inquiries” with them on subjects related to your industry35
  • 36. Getting the First Customers36
  • 37. Segmenting the market  Different segments will require different marketing strategies  May require slightly different product features  Try to limit yourself to the quickest acting segment at first – for first customers  Later, focus on the most profitable segment37
  • 38. The secret to getting the first customers  There is no secret  It’s all the hard work you did in getting to know your customers in the first section  You probably are already linked to them in LinkedIn  Or they are following you on Twitter  Or they are a colleague of a friend of your uncle’s sister. Seriously. Use all your personal connections.  Word of mouth and personal connections are usually key to landing your first accounts  Try to get an influencer and/or well-connected person onto your advisory board who can evangelize and make introductions38
  • 39. That first (second or third) customer  Revenue is important, but in the early stage these are even more important:  Feedback that can help improve the product  Testimonial - a customer approves a quote for your web site or other marketing materials  “This product is great because it solves such & such problem…”  Case study – customer goes on the record with before/ after data and quotes  Reference – customer agrees to talk to other potential customers, journalists or analysts about how great you are39
  • 40. Marketing Promotion40
  • 41. Promotion41 MIT Sloane School Marketing Management Course Lecture
  • 42. Value Proposition, Elevator Pitch  The unique value you offer to your customers  Boil it down into a very short, medium and long statement  Literally try saying it in the elevator – it’s hard  Test it out on others, especially outside your company  Polish this before you start officially promoting, to maintain consistency42
  • 43. Public Relations  Keep track of articles that cover your industry – these are most likely the journalists you will want to contact when the time comes  Journalists look for newsworthy stories:  Timely  Conflict  Unexpected  Meaningful  Craft your “pitch” based on what you’ve learned about the journalist – what kinds of stories does s/he write?  You should have at least one customer willing to talk before you ever talk to the press  Try for the less obvious publications – you may find coverage easier to achieve43
  • 44. Product Reviews  Once your product is stabilized, try for a formal review  Try for a standalone review for the first time  Pursue a “friendly” reviewer, a “friendly” publication  Over-prepare  Write a detailed reviewers guide, walking the reviewer through exactly what you expect them to do, and what they should see as a result  Stay in constant contact with the reviewer throughout the process44
  • 45. Trade Shows/ Conferences  You don’t necessarily have to exhibit (expensive!!) – try visiting the first time, and making appointments – great research tool  Apply for speaking engagements even if you don’t exhibit  If you do decide to exhibit, go minimalistic  Basics you will need:  “Backwall” type booth – summarizes how you solve the pain in big letters  Small amount of brochures (most people will prefer that you email them)  Short demo or presentation on laptop  Check with the organizers if they have any matching-type services to bring relevant people to you  Request the press list in advance and reach out to relevant journalists before you get there  Tweet that you’re going; update your LinkedIn profile; Facebook  Don’t expect the relevant leads to show up just because you are there. You need to bring them to your booth45
  • 46. Qualifying Show Visitors  Majority of visitors will be tire-kickers  Come up with 3 questions that immediately lets you know if the visitor is qualified  Track the answers with the visitor’s business card (badge scanner or staple the card to a lead sheet with the 3 questions pre-printed)  Send a follow up email to everyone who attended, highlighting your key positioning statements46
  • 47. 47
  • 48. How to Know What’s Working (ROI)48
  • 49. How to Measure What’s Working?  SALES (of course)  Divide your pipeline into specific stages, and track opportunities throughout  For example:  1-Qualified suspect – meets our criteria  2-Initiated contact  3-Interest expressed – potential opportunity identified  …  9-Verbal commitment to purchase  Closed Won  Closed Lost  Stalled/Postponed49
  • 50. Sample Pipeline by Lead Source 14 Trade Show London 12 10 Twitter 8 Google Ads 6 Webinar on Security 4 Articles 2 email ad - 0 Computerworld Stage 6 Stage 7 Stage 8 Stage 9 Sold50
  • 51. Interim Results, Prior to Sales For each lead source calculate: adjusted revenue = ∑ (Expected deal size x % likelihood to close) Temporary ROI (until deal closes)= [(adj. revenue - cost)/cost]*100  For cost, include your time – if you spend 3 days at a trade show this adds to the cost of the show  Likelihood to close is (typically) based on sales stage – stage 6 = 60%; stage 7 = 70%, etc.  For us, a lead doesn’t even become an “opportunity” until it hits stage 4  You can start by tracking in a spreadsheet  Once you are dealing with over 20 opportunities simultaneously (at all stages) you will need a CRM system  Bear in mind that each account will probably have multiple contacts, further complicating your record keeping51
  • 52. How did you hear? 2.8%52
  • 53. Measuring Conversion Rate 4700 Invitations Sent ? Invitations Opened 94 Unique page views 2% of invited 41 Respondents 44% page conversion Attendees53
  • 54. Iterate, Iterate and Iterate Again  Build in feedback models  A-B testing  Track opens, clicks, event attendance, registrations, etc.  Do it better the next time  Adjust your message  Adjust your demo  Adjust your home page  Adjust your marketing channel  Try to improve the # of leads coming into the funnel  Track and improve your conversion rate at every step in the funnel54
  • 55. Typical Marketing Mistakes  Identifying your target market as YOU (and people just like you)  Not segmenting the market  Not including a measurable call to action  Not tracking “how did you hear” – on the Web this can often be done automatically (referrer URL)  Showing up at a trade show & expecting qualified visitors to show up at the booth without doing any prior outreach  Focusing too much on the competition, and not enough on the customer  Listening too much to the customer and getting confused, instead of leading  Believing your own hype55
  • 56. 56
  • 57. Our Lecture “Product”  What next? Let’s take this on the road  Can gather feedback (another survey) for product improvements  Testimonials (part of feedback survey; request reactions on Facebook, recommendations on LinkedIn)  Gather attendees’ contact info to invite to the next lecture; invite to download an e-book, etc.  Why didn’t I collect email address on the first survey? too “valuable” to request up front – now you’ve had a taste of the “product” & in order to get the slides (something of value) you may be willing to give up your address  This is a way of filtering the “important” leads from the more ambivalent ones – you don’t necessarily want every single lead if they’re not qualified  Alternatively, I can rely on my distribution channel (i.e. BizTEC) to send out the feedback survey, the slides, etc. But I lose the direct access to the customer Note: this is all theoretical – I’m not taking this on the road 57
  • 58. What would I have done differently?  Drop the complicated grid question (I fell in love with the technical capability – it was overkill for what I needed), OR  Force people to choose ONE important item from the grid, rather than enabling multiple choices for “important” or “must have”  Indicate “First and Last name” for the name field (what happens if there are two Yakovs?)  For fun - set up separate URLs (or tracking parameters) for each email blast, Facebook & LinkedIn to track each marketing channel’s effectiveness58
  • 59. Useful Marketing Resources http://bit.ly/marketing-resources59
  • 60. Thank You! Rebecca Steinberg Herson rherson@gmail.com rebecca.herson@commtouch.com60
  • 61. Price  “Freemium” model? (AVG Antivirus)  Free trial? Pay for the full version?  Service model? (e.g. LiveU)61
  • 62. Place (aka distribution)  Channel strategy  Direct  What other pieces to this puzzle? Is there an ecosystem? (e.g. SAP Business One users; Salesforce.com users, etc.)62