From tech to marketing in 365 days as a startup founder
I’m currently the founder of Smooper, we connect you for 1 on 1 consultation with digital marketing experts around the globe. This isn’t yet another blog where a startup founder motivates you to become one. Here, I would like to share my journey as a technical founder, the mistakes I made and how I ended up in marketing.
Problem = Opportunity ?
While working for Sprinklr as a Software Developer, I understood the impact social was making on the world. I also understood how enterprises were using the power of social to get more customers. Enterprises were becoming more human, getting feedback and improving. Being in the social media industry, quite often, some friend or the other used to call me up for some help with Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Very frequently, I was also contacted by friends suggest marketing agencies or freelancers. These calls made me understand that small businesses and startups were basically clueless about marketing in 2019. A lot of marketers were just beating around the bush, sometimes beating their own head when it came to ROI. No one was helping them, there were thousands of agencies in every city with thousands of plans to choose from. Freelancers on places like Fiverr were managing accounts for as low as $100/month and agencies were charging as high as $5000/month with almost the same service quotes. Obviously, the $5000/month would be better than the $100/month freelancer, but where do you draw the line whom to choose? Should such a simple task like finding the right marketer be so difficult?
Jump off a cliff, then try to build a parachute
Without any market analysis or research, I quit my job and started out to solve this problem. Quite literally with a laptop on my back and a domain to my name. Six months later, I was on my way to make the most common mistake almost every failed technical founder makes. I was building an awesome product which no one wants. I’ll dive down into that product some other day, but while working on that product I came in contact with some amazing digital marketers and some not-so-amazing ones. I learned some great marketing strategies and also fell into some typical marketing potholes. Because my searches on Google always revolved around things like “How to market your SaaS product”, “How to target customers on Facebook Ads” or “How to sell”, I always saw ads from marketing agencies, SEO specialists, content writers, and social media managers.
When you’re falling in mid-air, and they call you to sell insurance
There was something really wrong with all the ads I saw. I understand that all my searches and clicks are being tracked and the recommendations are great. But I’m absolutely not ready to put money in marketing right now. I’m just trying to figure out if my product works. Can’t someone just help me a little? Point me to the right direction? Then, maybe when I have more faith in my product I’ll hire an agency. While struggling to market my product, I stumbled upon many seminars and consultation sessions with some really good marketers. Those seminars really helped me, I started following the coaches and even bought some services on their recommendation. As I learned more, I understood the amazing concept of soft-selling or the “farmer” approach to marketing and how it was so evolved from the “hunter” approach.
All social media channels, freelancing websites, advertising platforms earn money by showing you ads. These ads mostly work on the “hunting” approach to marketing. Companies “target” you when you’re in need, “follow” you everywhere by retargeting and “convert” you into a customer. It has worked for years, but just how we evolved from hunters to farmers, marketing should also move towards an evolved, humane approach. There are so many websites offering you to increase followers to 100k, buy hundreds of likes for not even a dollar, or target ads with the best content ever. Agencies themselves are spending so much money on the “hunting” approach to get clients that it’s just disappointing.
Can we farm without tractors, canals, and fences? Similarly, if as an industry we need to move to a better approach of marketing, we need to start with our front runners and experts. Digital Marketers and Agencies need to stop “hunting” for their clients and start helping them. Being a startup, if a professional social media expert comes to me and gives me some honest feedback on my tweets - wouldn’t that be great?
With that simple thought, I’ve launched Smooper where experts come to help one another and small business owners. They don’t advertise, they don’t “target” you and they are not looking to “hunt” you down. Experts want to help you with your problems, build a relationship and let you know that they’re here for minor issues even if you don’t have the money and that you can, if you want, hire them later!
Are you looking for some help with digital marketing? Book the right consultation session today.
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