I traveled to Las Vegas recently for business and observed a few things fledgling startups can learn from sin city I want to share. If you’re working on a startup it’s no doubt you’ve been faced with tremendous obstacles that at first seem nearly impossible to overcome; and if you haven’t yet you’re in for a wild ride. More often than not it’s the marketing aspect of launching an online business that most entrepreneurs can never effectively execute; here are three things you or the dude who does marketing on your team can do to bring a killer product to market.
3 Things I Learned In Vegas That Every Tech Startup Marketer Should Know
Start where your customers already are.
It’s no secret that casinos know what they’re doing, there’s a reason why these places are so huge and extravagant. There’s also a reason why they’re all crammed together – customers with cash, hungry at their chance to win big. Do yourself and your startup a favor and find out where your customers really are. Don’t stop with just “they’re online”, dig deeper. Where online? When are they online? How often? Who exactly is ‘they’? What are they interested in? Where do they spend the most time? When you answer questions like these, and the more that you do, the closer you’ll be to pushing through the mess and reaching more of your customers. After you’ve pinpointed the sweet spot, prepare to do battle because I’m sure someone else got there before you. This is why planting your feet exactly where your customers already spend their time is so important.
Stand out by sending the right message.
When you think of being in Las Vegas do you think of bright lights and poker chips? Of course you do, and every casino sings the same tune – “Win big!”, it’s the message they know their customers want to see. The point is, somebody’s figured it out. If you can tap into a place where your customers already are (see #1) you can be specific with your message. This is advertising 101 – find your customer and send the right message. It’s the difference between trying to sell a man tampons and selling a boat load of tampons to women. So after you’ve found where those customers are hiding, hit them hard with your message. Tailor it to their interests by leveraging the reasons they’re where you found them. So let’s say you were starting a service to help young men and women learn the long-term benefits of regular exercise and your research found that this particular demographic spends the majority of their time online (excluding social activity) looking up nutritional facts on related forums. I might recommend that your message through both regular engagement and advertising convey something like “21 Things Nutrition Charts Lie About” or “Nutrition Means Nothing Without Exercise: Here’s Why”. In the form of an ad tied to a specific content offering and in the right place, you’re odds of success are greatly improved. (Bonus: Read “Writing Search Ads in Context” on SearchEngineWatch.com; there’s a lot of great ideas on how to correctly compose a relevant message.)
Experience matters, your product is everything.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? One might agree that this suggests visiting Vegas yields unbelievable (the good and the bad) experiences, we all know to expect it. Vegas is built entirely on delivering an experience you’ll never forget and despite the popular saying, it’s an experience you will end up sharing with others. For new ventures it’s important to know exactly how to quickly reach the most customers and for the least amount of money; experts say this is a job for the modern growth hacker. While I strongly disagree that a growth hacker can or should replace a CMO, I do agree that the role is imperative for early startup success. The very cause for the movement was the realization that building great experiences into your product that scale and coding creative methods to reach more customers are both foundational for rapid and continued customer acquisition (see: How AirBNB Became A Billion Dollar Company). With that being said, you need to identify exactly how your customers interact with your product, what they’re saying about the experience, and if they’re in a position to share it with their networks. This doesn’t necessarily require a GH, but the task is very time consuming. Las Vegas has the entire experience covered, from the time you land at the airport to the time you’re getting back in the plane to fly home – how can you leverage your customer’s experience to drive more growth?
Launching a business is insanely hard, especially online. The market is saturated, customers have been trained to be protagonists, and experiences are getting watered down. The internet is the only thing man has created that could be considered infinite, so standing out and sticking around are the only ways to ensure your success. I hope these three things will help you do just that.
Have fun and good luck. Have a question? Disagree? Want to exchanges pleasentries? Leave a comment below. As always, you can reach me on Twitter @joshuahays or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org