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Top 11 lessons to learn from startups marketing (Part 1).

With over 500,000 startups launching in the last four months in the UK alone and helping achieve 80% growth in nearly every marketplace, it is about time that corporates look to their younger and smaller counterparts on how to react and compete effectively.

Here is Part 1 (Part 2 found here) of the top 11 key learnings from the panel discussion hosted by Sky Sports TV presenter Alex Payne at our startup launch marketing-focused event that we recently ran in London.

Our panel:

  • Jeremy Basset – ex-Head of Unilever Foundry and Founder of CO:CUBED
  • Lydia Davis, Co-Founder of Toffee Dating
  • Colin Clark, Head of Planning & Strategy of Five by Five

1. Cost of acquisition (Jeremy).

“Cost of acquisition is a key number for most startups. It’s the difference between startup and scaleup, from focussing on a pilot market to taking your product mainstream. As the VC-funded growth model comes under challenge, many investors are demanding that startups demonstrate that their cost of acquisition is lower than the customer lifetime value.”

2. Have you answered a problem? (Colin).

“Many a time, you’ll be going through your day-to-day lives, new products will launch yet you are never aware of them. Fundamentally if you don’t see it as relevant to you, you ignore it. In order to get cut-through, you just have to remember that it’s all about the problem rather than the product. You look at the audience, the problem they are facing and then how your product solves that problem. Do not think product first, otherwise, you’ll continue to be perceived as irrelevant.”

3. Customer Service is key (Lydia).

“We’ve made quite a few mistakes as we’ve gone along but we’re thrilled with where we have reached in the last six months. We probably should have tested our app a little more before we launched it. We had a few issues at the beginning but customer relations saved us. We replied to emails as soon as we got anything in. People loved our response speed. In turn, they actually remained loyal to us despite the issues. It humanised our brand and underlined the importance of customer service.”

4. Role of innovation teams (Jeremy).

“Most corporates don’t need to invent the future. The future has already been invented, it just hasn’t been scaled. Once a corporate innovation team realises this humbling fact, it’s a game-changer for how they move forward. They move from building the future, to partnering with pioneers to help them scale faster. They also move from having to own and scale everything, to enabling everyone from across their corporate to engage in ‘collaborative growth’ opportunities.”

“The big challenge for corporate innovation teams is how you become the conduit of innovation and enable many relationships across the corporate for the corporates to engage with innovation outside, rather than only focussing internally. Time and time again corporate innovation teams are set up, they have a specific remit, a specific budget and feel like they can do their own thing.”

5. Gaining cut through (Colin).

“Startups can take risks in the market, much like new challenger brands, by saying something different. It’s a great position to be in when you can shake up the market. When we’re talking to new clients about launching a new product or service, we tell them to make sure that is loud and that it is clear so that it really stands out in the marketplace. It creates disruption – the key thing. All of us live very busy lives, we have lots going on. We did some research to see if some consumers could actually recall a launch from the last year. The percentages were incredibly low. Brands were just not getting into the consumer’s headspace.”

6. Countries should no longer be your target (Jeremy).

“What we’re seeing is that our world is now segmented by audiences, rather than by geography. Startups seek to win markets. Corporates are still organised around ‘countries’. So when a large corporate launches something, it generally focuses on one country. It will try and get as big a market share as possible across that country and then think about other countries it can expand into. Startups, however, typically look at a very narrowly defined target audience and in our globalised world, those ‘niche’ markets can be quite large, and global. If startups do embrace ‘geofencing’ of some sort, they’ll often do it by cities. Ultimately corporates are not really set up yet to embrace either of those changes, but would benefit hugely if they did.”

Image Credits
  • Mark Hunter - Art Director of Five by Five

By Alexis Eyre

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