Today I spoke with a tech startup CEO and although their product is just a week old, he brought up the challenges his company was faced with on the marketing front. While they knew something about social and content, they did not have a marketing department yet.
Focussing on the product and development teams that contributed directly to the business itself was seen as key. The CEO himself wore the sales and marketing hat. And without thinking about how it could potentially work, my first thought was, how could he ever have the time for strategic marketing?
This situation is not limited to tech startups but is industry agnostic. We tend to think about creating new products, the perfect consumer experience and marketing is often an after thought. Sadly, social media marketing is an after thought even for startups with established marketing channels. The key reason being that usually social- and content-based channels do not come with quick results. Even more importantly, people often do not see hard results. On the surface level, paid likes have far worse conversion metrics compared to paid adverts.
Three social principles for startups
1. Social marketing will drive trust: Recent stats from Distimo reveal that 52 per cent of app downloads are driven by word-of-mouth. In Contagious, Jonah Berger mentions that an average person ends up having dozens of brand conversation in a day. Research has also shown that about 90 per cent consumers tend to choose brands and make purchase decisions based on the recommendations from friends and family. Firms with no social presence are seen with a questioning eye by the millennials who represent the new target segment and the next set of consumers. A startup has no choice but to take to social. After all, without creating the right trust triggers, how can a new company ever dream of being seen in today’s digitally wired world?
2. Social marketing will create a unique assets: Many companies including AirBnB, WhatsApp, etc. have had very strong valuations reaching double digit billions. Many messengers are free, however a subscription-based WhatsApp users manage to send 500 million photos each day. Organic engagement created by these brands is an asset. Consumers are acting as brand advocates, constantly sharing content and information about the brand enhancing discoverability and creating a unique ecosystem of digital co-creation. Brands spend large chunks of their marketing spends to create such impact. Startups often tend to see value creation from a product only view. Many believe that the value their product creates will enable them to generate pull. However, in the digital world, value is often co-created. Consumers want to be a part of the brand in a unique way and have a tangible feel of the brands. Startups need to embrace new possibilities of value-creation.
3. Social marketing will help differentiate: The digital world has made the barriers to entry really low, so even if you think you just launched a first-to-world product, chances are you won’t be in that position for too long. An oft quoted example of Blendtec comes to mind. The Blender market is not necessarily special and the differentiation they created by their will it blend campaign immediately brought them into public eye. Not that we will ever blend our iPhones, but why not get a blender that is as powerful (on YouTube at least). Needless to say, a strong increase in consumer awareness and brand recall had an equally good impact on direct sales.
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Whether it is about selecting the right tactics or understanding the consumer behaviour on each social platform, marketers need to be prepared and be where the consumer is. As Google famously declared, consumers go through what they call a Zero Moment of Truth before making a purchase. Engagement is a two-way process and compared to the lean back traditional media exposure most marketing CMOs grew up with, social marketing is always-on and constantly challenging us to come up with the new. It comes with its own challenges but creates equally exciting value propositions.
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