How to market a baby unicorn

We all know that there is no such thing as „the best way” to market your startup, there is no right or wrong marketing strategy, just strategies that fit your business. However... “If you never copy best practices, you’ll have to repeat all the mistakes yourself. If you only copy best practices, you’ll always be one step behind the leaders.” - Asaph Schulman, CMO FIREBOLT

We all know that there is no such thing as „the best way” to market your startup, there is no right or wrong marketing strategy, just strategies that fit your business. 


However there are a few ideas that change the usual perception of marketing, that can contribute to turning your startup into a unicorn. Hence there is always the great opportunity of learning from the best, from the ones that have been there before and succeeded.


Asaph Sculman is currently the Chief Marketing Officer of FIREBOLT, a big data analytics startup that aims to revolutionize the way businesses use data and he presented a few good marketing practices that they applied for FIREBOLT that brought the best results. One key thing in his approach was proposing activities that did not require a financial effort.


So here is how to market a baby unicorn on a budget:


1. Choose your people wisely!

The first step in any marketing strategy is to have the right person to create and deliver it. As an early stage startup the recommendation would be to get someone that knows a little bit of everything, a „Jane of all trades” as Asaph pointed out with a good understanding of all the main marketing processes. And your Jane needs to be both CREATIVE and ANALYTICAL. Data is really important, while thinking outside the box is too. The more senior you can get, the better, while you need someone that is ready for the hands-on work and also for working by themselves.

How soon do you need to make your first marketing hire? As soon as the product is getting ready to launch! Even better if one of the co-founders can fill in the role as he is much more involved in the startup creation and close to its essence.

If you choose complementary strategy to work together with agencies on specific projects or needs, they have more experience with a larger portfolio of clients and a pool of experts in different marketing areas. There are two important tips that Asaph recommends: make sure you are not the smallest and negligible client the agency has and make sure the person you work with inside the agency is familiar with your product/service and your team, create common working spaces.


2. The impact of webinars

We have all been to at least one webinar held by a fellow company or startup, whether it’s about gaining knowledge, understanding the product, networking purposes or sheer curiosity.

The impact Asaph talks about is a visible increase in the number of participants from webinar to webinar and even more, an increase in meetings set. Webinars are also useful for user generated content, meaning participants tend to share their thoughts and learnings on their social media.

Tips for before:

  • Add the question “What questions would you like us to cover?” in the registration form;
  • Offer a PRIVATE WEBINAR option for the hot leads that registered;
  • Recommend the webinar to the cold leads;
  • Dedicate a webpage to the webinar and exit intent pop-ups for registration;
  • Do email marketing and ads.

Tips for during:

  • Stream Live on social media platforms to engage more people;
  • Use poll questions for understanding the audience;
  • Make it short and simple (30 min session) so that people do not lose interest;
  • Have someone that is responding live to the questions;
  • Always have a Q&A at the end.

Tips for after:

  • Send all the participants a link with the recording of the webinar;
  • In the same email, you can ask them to subscribe to your newsletter;
  • Follow up with the participants that were more active in order to set meetings.

Asaph also recommends a different type of webinars → “LIVE PRODUCT DEMO”: talk about your product, what makes it unique, show how it works and answer all questions.


3. Thought leadership on LinkedIn

You might have noticed but in case you did not, Asaph confirms that personal posts on LinkedIn have a way better engagement that company page posts.

Thought leadership means that employees share on their personal profiles posts on different topics related to the company: observations of the market, experiences in the company and personal stories, entertaining posts. Important note: these posts should not explicitly promote the company!

How does this help? This strategy generates organic traffic and followers on the company’s page, private messages and even a constant stream of partnerships and candidates.

How to manage thought leadership on LinkedIn? Set regular meetings with the people involved. A good strategy might even be for the marketing team/manager to prepare the content beforehand and for employees only to share it.


4. What about a Podcast?

One way of starting your own Podcast would be to first participate in other podcasts to get a grip of how things should work. You can either offer to be a guest speaker or to actually financially support an existing podcast in your niche, some of them might be looking for new guests, topics or sponsors.

There is a general perception that hosting podcasts is hard, but actually they might be easier to make than expected, plus it’s worth the effort since the blog content market is already saturated, while podcasts as many as they might be are still a new trend and a more engaging one.

Inviting certain guests to your podcast can develop strong relationships especially if they are prospects for your business. The content created through these can be highly diverse and interesting to listen to, people might even share it and you can also use it many ways like social media posts.


5. The crazy corner

Ellen Sussman, an american journalist and author once said “Perhaps you’re not crazy, but you’re very creative.” and we definitely agree. Any marketing strategy needs some drops of crazy. Creativity will be the one that ultimately will make your business stand out.

Asaph tried a few “crazy” marketing activities that, in FIREBOLT’s case, brought crazy results: thousands of viewers, amazing feedback, social media and website visits; all these while bringing joy and fun into the team.

Their proposal?

  • A Spotify playlist dedicated to their customers, that they could listen to while waiting for specific queries;
  • Brand Videos: entertaining videos that are not specifically about the product (ex. The Big Data Dilemma)
  • Games: creating a game that tells the story of your brand, it can be cheaper than some might think, it’s about finding the right background story and the right person to deliver it, it can even be a freelancer.



TAKEAWAYS

It’s safe to say that FIREBOLT had some great marketing strategies, cheap and creative, that implemented and adapted in the right way sound like they could bring great results to any business.


“If you never copy best practices, you’ll have to repeat all the mistakes yourself. If you only copy best practices, you’ll always be one step behind the leaders.” - Asaph Schulman, CMO FIREBOLT


*Asaph Sculman presented the above strategies during an event powered by Angular Ventures. You can check out the entire recording of the event here: How to Market a Baby Unicorn

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