Sunday, June 24, 2012

Entrepreneurial Marketing

Many students have been asking where to start with marketing for their startup.

Marketing in a startup begins and ends with knowing the customer well.

If you've been following the process for this class, you've been talking to a lot of potential customers and users. In the process of getting to know them, you should begin your marketing efforts by just simply asking the customer what the best way to reach them or other customers like them would be? What blogs do they read? What websites do they frequent and spend the most time on? Where do they like to hang out? What other hobbies do they have? What do they find humorous or funny?

In the marketing video for this course I pointed out that there are 2 ways to think of marketing, which I learned from my colleagues Tom Kosnik and Tom Byers. In the first, you work on understanding and segmenting your market (remember the pet food example?). Once you've understood your customer and market segment extremely well, then you begin marketing in the 2nd sense of (go-to-market) and the methods for marketing to them will begin to become obvious and almost suggest themselves. 

You start by using your customers to help you brainstorm a list of potential marketing strategies. You then prioritize that list according to the cheapest and most effective methods. Typically facebook and twitter (social media) will be your first channel (it's cheap and fairly effective). This list is your list of experiments to run. You then start implementing them at a small scale. Perhaps you try a viral YouTube video. Perhaps you offer a lottery and give away an iPad to the first person to forward to 10 of their friends. This is where you can get creative. Maybe you buy $50 in Google Adwords and track what happens. Maybe you post comments on the blogs your customers read or get a few famous bloggers to write about your product. Maybe you can get a journalist to cover you in a story?

The key thing is to then use metrics to track which of your campaigns are working better/worse. In this way you can then gradually start to do more of the effective tactics and fewer of the less effective tactics.

For a great example, check out the Dollar Shave Club's very effective YouTube video.

For more, see the ECorner Videos on Marketing.

Steve Blank had an excellent career in entrepreneurial marketing and has some great blog posts.