Beyond the Obvious in Startup Marketing
Sometimes, business concepts rise in popularity such that their mindshare becomes mind boggling, and we quickly start to believe they are the only things that matter.
This happens all the time in the field of management. Looking back a few years ago, every large company was implementing The Balanced Scorecard as a panacea for good management. In the mid-90’s, we saw the Re-engineering craze (my last position at Hewlett-Packard was to head-up re-engineering). A decade prior, it was all about Total Quality Control. That’s as far as I can remember, but you get the point.
In the meantime, others things didn’t stop to become important, just because these trendy ones were occupying our time.
I’m seeing a few of these micro-trends in Marketing, especially with Startups who are sticking with what’s piercing through the noise walls of the Internet, so I’d like to point out what they are, and the fact there is another life beyond these activities that you should also pay attention to.
1. Beyond Lean Startup, There is Leap Startup
Lean Startup is essential in the early stages of a startup. You can’t be successful without it. However, there comes a point, where you need to Leap forward and accelerate your growth non-linearly. If you let go of Lean and Growth Hacking, you can set your sight on crossing the chasm of early growth. If you have market acceptance based on your early product/market fit trials, and your market is large, then you owe it to yourself to leap, and stop looking at what’s under your nose just by following user metrics. Every spectacular growth phase included a Leap period where you set a non-linear goal, and say to yourself I want to be there.
2. Beyond Marketing Automation, There is Marketing Objectives
We are bewildered by the “marketing suites”, “marketing tools”, “marketing technology”, “marketing solutions”, and the list goes on. This can result in the tail wagging the dog, and the cliché syndrome of “I gotta” instead of “I need to”. Step back and don’t be sold by the master marketers of these marketing tools. Go back to and revisit, or craft some marketing objectives and let anything you do fit these objectives, instead of being lured by the next shiny marketing solution object just because the shouting is loud, or because your competition or peers are doing it. At least, find out why they were doing it, and if what kind of results were achieved before embarking on copying others.
3. Beyond the Dashboard, There is Optimization
We’re mesmerized by Metrics, Trends, Dials, Ratings, Alerts, Rankings, Analytics, Small Numbers and Big Data, and we like to see them on colorful, blinking and beautiful Dashboards with nice fonts, whether it’s for reporting, monitoring or accounting purposes. But Dashboards are static. They tell what is happening, or what just happened, but they don’t tell how to improve something. We need more Optimization tools and levers inside those Dashboards that are pinpointing the cause and effects, scenarios and with some predictive intelligence. If this, then that, or if I’ve done this and got 2X, now let me tweak it by X5 and get 10X. Give me causality I can optimize. If your Dashboard gives you tools, they are typically buried somewhere in the bowels of the features, dig them up and use them earlier.
4. Beyond Conversion Optimization, There is Market Positioning
Instrumenting your Conversation Rates for the online channel is hard, and takes a lot of optimization, A/B testing, trials, tribulations, re-takes, and constant new ideas. Soon, you become like a detective perched on top of data, trying to link the numbers to user behavior, product performance, blaming this or that feature, as you go by trial and errors, and sometimes your progress advances at drip speed. You will get there eventually, and that’s perfectly fine. But at some point, you need to take a leap in Customer Acquisition and go work on a powerful Market Positioning that will win the hearts of your prospects and lodge you permanently in their minds. That will lubricate your Customer Acquisition and make your previous Conversion Rates look like they are now on steroids. Kill your customers by making them Love your Brand, like Apple does. It’s a “bend it like Beckham” analogy.
5. Beyond Inbound Marketing, There is Holistic Marketing
Inbound Marketing has become very effective, and coupled with great Content Marketing, it is an enabler of awareness, preference, trials, conversions, purchase, loyalty and advocacy of your product. Digital Marketing has gained a big footprint, and much respect, but we shouldn’t ignore other parts of marketing that are also essential and in most cases ADDITIVE to your digital marketing efforts. Digital is not the only kind of Marketing there is, no matter how brainwashed we have become about it. Other aspects of Marketing will interplay and impact your Digital Marketing, and if you do them well holistically, then you’re being more complete with your marketing. So, start looking at your Marketing Strategy from Day 1, and don’t be lead solely by the tactics. Think about the “relationship” of Digital Marketing with: Branding, Positioning, Messaging, Segmentation, Partner Marketing, Product Marketing, Events, Referrals, Advocacies, and Customers Communities. Read Seth Godin’s post on What Works for Websites today?
Trends are your friends, but don’t forget that business is a blend.
Rarely do we see fundamental shifts or ever-lasting practices, although they do exist.
Every new “management thing” or “technical trend” doesn’t live in a vacuum, but rather is part of an organism of sorts. Maybe it’s a new branch, or a new type of tree, but the forest is still a forest.