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5 Things Startups Get Wrong {A Marketer's Perspective}

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This is a 'non-presentation' I gave at the Smart City Startups Festival in April 2015. It dispels the notion that growth hacking replaces marketing (although it is highly valuable for early stage startups). I lay out five mistakes I see startups make as they attempt to move beyond their early adopters. Each topic begins with the problem, presents an inspirational case study (of a tech startup that scaled beyond their hardcore early adopters), and offers a practical solution that aims to set startups down the right path. The presentation served as a prop as I dove into discussions with real startups at the event and helped them work through these problem areas.

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5 Things Startups Get Wrong {A Marketer's Perspective}

  1. FIVE THINGS 
 STARTUPS GET WRONG 
 {A MARKETER’S PERSPECTIVE} smart city startups | @saneel | finch15.com
  2. A BIT
 ABOUT ME _Held agency roles in strategy, creative, media and innovation _Currently run an incubator-for-hire called Finch15 _Think there’s a distinction between ‘growth hacking’ vs. ‘marketing’ I’M A FORMER MARKETER TURNED PRODUCT GUY
  3. ‘Just get up there and do a Saneel rant’-Shaun Abrahamson CEO, Urban.us
  4. Having slides doesn’t make this a presentation
  5. MISTAKE ONE
 OPTIMIZATION Over optimizing for your earliest customers makes your company smaller over the long-run. PROBLEM Quantify the future cost (in customers) of changes that improve today’s conversion rates. SOLUTION INSPIRATION _Started as a camera strap for surfers… but never ‘pivoted’ _Was about special moments from day one _Surf customers get one pitch, ski customers get another
  6. MISTAKE TWO
 LOYALTY Confusing loyalty, advocacy and referral underutilizes your existing customer base. PROBLEM Write three different customer emails asking them to: 1) buy something else 2) introduce new prospects 3) convert someone on fence Identify what data point lets you match note & customer. SOLUTION INSPIRATION _Loyalty: up-sold existing customers to Pebble Time via Kickstarter _Referral: generated $20 credit code upon preorder via Get Pebble _Advocacy: hijacked Apple Watch event with their fans via Twitter
  7. LOYALTY 
 & ADVOCACY of Pebble Time pre- orders were existing Pebble owners of “watch” tweets during the Apple event mentioned @pebble 50% 2% Loyalty vs Advocacy
  8. LOYALTY 
 & ADVOCACY of Pebble Time pre- orders were existing Pebble owners of “watch” tweets during the Apple event mentioned @pebble 50% 2% Loyalty vs Advocacy
  9. MISTAKE THREE
 FRENEMIES Letting investors convince you that partners are evil makes you ignore easy scaling options. PROBLEM Contact the company that has the most to lose if you’re successful. SOLUTION INSPIRATION _Partnered with Samsung who is launching competitive headset _Smoothed some early-adopter-to-common-customer friction _Potentially helps create a mainstream market for a nerd product
  10. MISTAKE FOUR
 VALUE PROPS Deciding you need a cool story when you really need a differentiated value proposition makes you much less competitive. PROBLEM Identify your category’s high ground. Don’t know it? Make a fake Kickstarter video. The second sentence is probably the high ground. SOLUTION INSPIRATION _Realized all spirit ads are the same (‘we’ve made it, cheers!’) _Identified the category high ground as progress _Changed the direction he’s walking without you noticing
  11. VALUE PROPS
 3 KEY PARTS RelevanceValue Difference
  12. VALUE PROPS
 3 KEY PARTS RelevanceValue Difference A really good value proposition aligns your point of difference with the category’s high ground
  13. MISTAKE FIVE
 PR Turning to PR early gets you to climb up the tree when there’s likely still a lot of low-hanging fruit. PROBLEM Type your customer’s problem into Google The first page of results is your media priority list {Notice TechCrunch isn’t one of the results} SOLUTION INSPIRATION _Press darling in an unproven market (without a PR agency) _Avoided the urge to talk ‘robots’ and ‘innovation’ _Today Show & Fast Company coverage led to installs and usage
  14. A PLUG
 GREATEST GOOD Access to industry thought leaders, including world-famous marketers WHAT $150 charity donation for a 30-minute video chat PRICE MT Carney Michael Conrad Emma Cookson Kash Shaikh Rishad Tobaccowala EXAMPLES
  15. GROWTH HACKING IS GOOD But focusing on short-term growth at the expense of building a foundation can hurt your company long-term CONFUSING LOYALTY VS ADVOCACY VS REFERRAL FAILING TO HAVE FRENEMIES NOT WRITING A VALUE PROPOSITION OVERVALUING ‘PR’ OVER OPTIMIZING FOR EARLY USERS STARTUP MARKETING MISTAKES
  16. GROWTH HACKING IS GOOD {BUT MARKETING’S IMPORTANT TOO}CONFUSING LOYALTY VS ADVOCACY VS REFERRAL FAILING TO HAVE FRENEMIES NOT WRITING A VALUE PROPOSITION OVERVALUING ‘PR’ {NOT USING GREATESTGOOD.ORG} OVER OPTIMIZING FOR EARLY USERS STARTUP MARKETING MISTAKES
  17. SHOW ME 
 YOURS
 {your scaling issues} smart city startups | april 2015 | #scs415 @saneel finch15.com greatestgood.org/saneel

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