Allegedly, 90% of startups fail. Running out of cash, creating a product with no market need, not having the right team – you might have heard or even experienced one or more of these reasons. One another problem has been identified in the analysis of 101 startup post-mortems which showed that 14% of startups sank because of poor marketing. Marketing for startups has its peculiarities. From optimising your CRO to utilising traditional marketing channels, in this part of the interview Matthew Eisner, Global Marketing Manager at Startupbootcamp gives some practical advice.
What’s your ultimate guide to a successful startup marketing strategy? What’s the role of technical marketing in it?
The biggest thing I could say would be to follow the data and don’t push it into your assumptions. Every company I’ve worked for has at one point told me that “we don’t think X channel is going to be beneficial for us, don’t focus on it.” Almost all of those companies have at one point or another mentioned a high-growth channel (Instagram a few years ago, for example) that seemed a bit odd to say that about, and almost always that channel has eventually turned into one of our highest growth channels.
Never assume in digital marketing. The landscape can rapidly change. But having data on your marketing will let you see how it’s changing, and how you adapt to it. Then you can decide what to focus on. It’s also important not to pigeonhole what marketing is when you’re doing this. Marketing is embedded into your product, it is every interaction you have with your customers and investors, it’s the space you work in, and it’s how you manage your team to participate in external facing efforts (a little can go a long way here) – among many other things.
We often hear to make it successful you have to embed marketing into your product. How do you see it working?
Well, I’m glad you touched on this! There’s a saying in startups that goes “eat your own dog food,” which means you should use your platform in a way that benefits your company internally. You could think about embedded marketing as almost the opposite. It’s incorporating into your product features that enable users to evangelise your business and facilitate growth for you.
Converting visitors into customers (optimising CRO) is one of the main struggles every startup has. What are your three tips to make it work?
First of all, have clean, usable, and scalable data (noticing a theme?). Having that data is not enough, you gotta know how to read it. Finally, make necessary changes when the data leads you to a strong insight.
“Culture is what allows a team to be motivated, productive, and able to work well together.”
Optimisation improves traditional marketing approaches. Do you dis/agree?
I’m pretty sure by definition optimisation means improvement. However, I could see a scenario of over-optimisation, where obsessive optimisation of a company’s marketing efforts cause it to ignore opportunities, both inside or outside of marketing, that they could be engaging in with a higher return on investment in terms of growing their business.
What are some of the key questions you should be constantly asking yourself as a startup marketer?
I’ll try to capture some of the questions that have helped me along the way. Ask yourself: would someone who doesn’t know me read this? Would someone who doesn’t know me want to use this? What are the problems with this particular execution or campaign? It’s particularly important to ask “what could go wrong?” Define assumptions you are operating under and constantly check on what patterns or habits have you fallen into. Does it make sense to break one? As mentioned without proper feedback you won’t move forward, thus, ask yourself “what could have made my last execution better?” Learn from it to know how to make it better in future.
Photos courtesy of Startupbootcamp
Any tool recommendations for the aspiring startup marketers?
For me personally, Google Sheets is my most valuable tool. Ones that marketers should be looking at and probably use are Google Search Console and Analytics, Canva, Stack Overflow, Hemingway, Audiense, Buffer, App Annie, various WordPress plugins, Exponea – I could go on and on. At the end of the day, it’s about your workflow. And Alfred is a great tool for workflows! I would also check out The Marketing Stack, it’s a good aggregation of marketing tools.
How to scale up and retain your culture? Do you think culture is important for a startup?
That’s a really tricky question that’s been getting talked about a lot recently. A company culture is really not constant – it’s highly dependent on how and where the company has grown (or shrunk), how it is performing, the values of management, and their ability to enable their employees to drive their business goals having a degree of self-determination in terms of the work they do. But if you don’t have a truly sincere focus on creating a positive culture for everyone in your company, it definitely won’t happen. So that’s what not to do.
I certainly think it’s important. Culture is what separates the startups that work 50 hours per week and are moderately happy with the ones that work 80 hours per week and love their jobs. That’s an extreme example, but ultimately culture is what allows a team to be motivated, productive, and able to work well together. If your company culture doesn’t allow for those three things, you need to fix something very quickly.
How to best allocate your budget and optimise your marketing:
expert hacks from Matthew Eisner
How to ensure you have the right team: hiring tips for startups