I don’t usually follow startup stories, but I was intrigued by this one. With so much going for them – an interesting idea, interest from partners, interest from users, some PR, even some funding – they still had to fold.
And then I read Flowtab’s own account of how it went down. I am hardly qualified to criticize (but of course, I’m going to do so anyway), but some things leaped out at me. And these aren’t particular to this company (I don’t mean to pile on), but attitudes and activities I have seen in other startups as well.
Careless erosion of goodwill
Goodwill isn’t a trendy buzzword, but let’s talk about it anyway. Here are some of the tactics this company tried out.
Flowtab was an app that let you order drinks at bars. The founders spent months building the app, launched it on iTunes, and it was the #1 featured app for one week. But there was no service to back up the app. There’s no mention of how many people downloaded the app, but it must have been a good number. Many startups would be thrilled at having their app featured by Apple. But this one squandered their opportunity by letting users download an app they couldn’t use. That’s like having a big store launch, inviting customers, and then not showing up to open the store. If a thousand customers came to your door, that’s not a success. The fact that you couldn’t serve them is a failure.
Not much. Your marketing should be dictated by the preferences of your target customer segment anyway, and there is often less difference between marketing to small businesses and marketing to consumers than there is between marketing to small businesses and marketing to large businesses.
Is marketing less important for B2B?
One presumed difference between B2B and B2C is that B2B is driven more by sales and references, and B2C by advertising and marketing. But that difference is due more to the value of the product and the length of the sales cycle than to any inherent differences in marketing practice. For high-value products (like a large IT consulting contract), you have to hand-hold the customer through the process and (gently) nudging them towards the sale. Because a big amount of revenue hinges on every deal, there is a lot more resources spent on having each deal come through than it would if you were selling a SaaS product or an iPad app (even if they’re also business products).
But the differing value of products matters in B2C as well: if you’re selling apartments, reputation and word-of-mouth are critical: and you’d expect to have to nurture the customer and nudge her towards the sale.
Pricing’s something many of us struggle with, and is a really important part of marketing strategy. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about as we move closer to a paid plan for Markitty. So here are a few interesting posts that talk about how you should price your product.
Customers like options they can compare, even if they’re similar
If you want 1% of a market, you need to get everyone in that market to at least visit your website.
This ties in with the marketing funnel in our “measuring marketing” presentation. Start from the number of customers you want to meet your revenue targets and work backwards to the number of prospects you need to reach out to. You might be surprised.
The last of our three-session online marketing workshop with Pune OpenCoffee Club is on April 20. In this one, we will focus on using online marketing data to inform your business decisions. It will be an interactive session in which participants will share real-life challenges and the group will discuss solutions.
One of the groups in the last workshop in an energetic discussion
Which brings me to the question: is it wise to focus your marketing efforts primarily on social media?
I’m not advocating ignoring social media (of course). But realize this: you don’t control Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus. Your most important content should be on your own site, whether it’s in the form of blog posts, FAQs, a photo gallery, or video tutorials.
We’re offering free consulting services to start-ups in Pune. Every Thursday, we sit at a local cafe and meet at least one entrepreneur. We talk for a couple of hours about their business and help them map out a marketing strategy or suggest things they could improve.
We started last week and met two businesses – and we received so many inquiries that we’re booked up through December!
What is content marketing — and why should you care?
“Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”
This is the most important rule of content marketing marketing. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how do you know what to say?
Every week, I hear from entrepreneurs who want to know how to reach their audience. Of course, the first question I ask in return is: “Who is your audience?”
You’d be surprised at how many falter while trying to answer this.
You define your target audience through a mix of primary research (asking your customers or friends who might become customers), secondary research (look online for details, especially at research reports — I find census reports particularly useful — and first person accounts such as on blogs and social media posts), and fit with your business (Who do you want to focus on? Whose problems are you solving the best?). Continue reading →
Before you start off with content marketing, you need to put together your content strategy. Your content strategy depends on various factors: the industry you are in, the audience you are targeting and your strengths (both as a business and as a content creator/manager).