I’ve been involved with entrepreneurship since my senior year of college where I built and launched Bruin Consulting from the ground up. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to lead the marketing, branding, and acquisition campaigns for early-stage startups (where I was the founder) to the largest brands in the United States such as Sephora, Whole Foods Market, and the Los Angeles Clippers.
There is a clear distinction between early-stage marketing, growth-stage marketing, and big-brand marketing
Early-stage marketing: Early-stage startups must conserve cash at all costs. Their goal is not necessarily to bring in A LOT of traffic or generate a ton of revenue; rather, their goal is to find product-market fit. During the early-stages of RewardMe, I implemented the following grass-roots methods of marketing and user-acquisition:
- Door-to-door sales: Yup, I did it. I walked door-to-door to sell RewardMe to restaurants and retailers. Keep in mind, I did this without even having a finished product to show them — I basically sold them with nothing more than a vision and screen shots of what it will look like.
- Gift box drop-off: Because door-to-door sales was very time consuming, I developed a plan to reach more people at once and ensure that they’ll read our marketing materials. I created a RewardMe “Gift box” that I would drop-off at their restaurant location that was addressed to the General Manager or owner. I put on my courier hat, took a pen and clipboard with me to make it seem like I was a courier, and dropped off the gift boxes to about 100 brick-and-mortar stores in the Mountain View area. You can see what these gift boxes looked like here and here.
- Free food promotions: In order to get users to download and use our app, we partnered with our clients in Mountain View to create a “Free Lunch” campaign. A user who downloads our app receives a free lunch that day with our partnered restaurant. We successfully ran this campaign over 5 days.
Growth-stage marketing: Growth-stage marketing happens when you have found your product market fit, you have a finished product, paying customers, and capital to grow your company. For RewardMe, our growth-stage started during the Fall of 2011. We successfully raised $1,000,000 in Angel funding, had a fully functional product, and had paying clients. I utilized the following marketing and sales techniques for our growth-stage:
- Conferences and Trade shows: We sponsored several conferences and trade shows in the franchise vertical. Here I am at CETW 2012: watch video here. It was a great opportunity to meet with high-level executives from our target market: franchises with 50 locations or more.
- Company blog to build thought leadership: My goal from the beginning was to build though-leadership in the loyalty marketing industry. To accomplish this, I built the RewardMe blog, which posts expert content on how to utilize loyalty marketing. We rank well to this day for specific keywords and successfully launched posts that drove leads:
- Case Studies, Videos, and Guides: In addition to the blog, I wrote case studies, created videos, and published guides to further established ourselves as the absolute experts in the industry:
Big-brand marketing: Big brands generally hire agencies for a specific campaign. For example, Sephora approached me to help them build a social platform that acquires more users into their Very Importan Beauty Insider Program. You’ll notice that the marketing campaign is very very specific. I therefore built the Birthday Sephora App, which continues to drive users to this day.
What the CMO’s role should be at Voice123
Voice123 is in their growth stage: they’ve found a product-market fit, have users, have a product that people pay to use, and are profitable. They’re now ready to take their marketing to the next level and really focus on scaling out the business — this means establishing thought leadership and expertise in the industry, building out a content strategy for social marketing and SEO, creating a paid advertising campaign that measures ROI, and A/B testing elements to improve conversion rates.
This is what I would do as the CMO of Voice123.