Start selling before you even have a product

Will brings up an excellent point in his blog post: You Dont Need to Have a Product to Sell a Product. This is the problem that I have faced as a young CMO and I’m sure it is a problem that many of you are facing.

“How do I sell something that I don’t have?” It’s a tough question to answer and Will writes up a great strategy for it. I will tell you exactly how I’m doing it in order to give you a more concrete answer to your question.

Make sure your potential client understands your product

Our product is FD World, which is a virtual world that makes THIS world more productive. What does that even mean? Well, I have found that the first rule of marketing is to make sure that your target market is able to completely understand what it is that you are selling them. In this case, we are creating a virtual world. It is very easy for me to describe what I am doing to someone in the Y Gen. All I have to say is, “In essence, we are building a 3D Facebook where students can network with other students and professionals.” My generation is able to easily understand this. However, the company representatives that I am pitching this to are not in my generation and have never experiences virtual worlds. I solve this problem by describing my product in terms that they are able to understand. I have effectively used our visual concepts that we have developed in order to create a concrete image in the minds of our target market.

Start from the bottom and work your way up

Big corporations have a lot of bureaucracy. If I waited to start selling my product once we built it, it would take another 6 months to get past all of the red tape that most corporations have. This is why selling early is crucial. The easiest way I have found to do this is approach the people at the bottom who are eager to jump at the chance to start something new and contribute to their company. Our product is very relevant for recruiters, so I go to many career fairs in order to meet recruiters and to tell them about our product. Once I get their contact information, I immediately follow up and push to schedule a meeting where I can delivery my pitch.

Persistence pays off

How long does it take you to reply back to your friends’ emails? These are your friends and you still sometimes take a while. Don’t be discouraged if your contact at a company never gets back to you. The best thing for you to do is to stay positive and email them a follow up email. As a general rule, I usually send 3 emails before I give them a call. All your emails must give the feeling that you’ve been emailing back and forth already. Don’t write “hey I haven’t heard back from you”; instead, you should write, “hey how was your weekend? Mine was amazing because I had lots of fun and was productive.” Marketing is a numbers game; the more people that you reach out to, the higher the chance of converting a lead.

I want to thank Will for blogging on such a great topic and you should definitely check out his site.

Emotions > Logic

So yesterday I posted my first blog post on Brazen Careerist. The title of my blog post was “Flirt with the Interviewer.” You can read the post for yourself and comment about what you think of it.

The reason I wrote this blog post was that I wanted to demonstrate to people that it is possible to take risks during an interview and come out ahead. Yes, flirting during a professional setting can be dangerous, and that is why it’s completely up to you to gauge your interviewer and measure whether he or she is the type of person that would flirt back.

As I expected, some ladies took offense to my post and said that any type of flirting in a professional setting is completely inappropriate. This is a strong case of Emotions being greater than logic. First of all, a male has written a post about successfully flirting with a woman, so naturally women will have their guard up while reading the post. Logically it makes sense. Women use their sex appeal all the time to get what they want. Women use it at a lounge so that a guy will buy her a drink, they use it at school to get help with homework, and they use it during the recruitment season to get a job. Guys cannot help being attracted to a good looking woman with a great personality that has walked into the interview room (Just so you guys know, I fully respect woman and their intelligence. I’m not saying that the reason a girl gets a job is because of the way she looks. I know that women get jobs because of their qualification and their experience. I’m just pointing out that looks play a major role in the recruitment process)

My goal with this post was to show that men can do it as well. More importantly, I want people to understand that there are people out there flirting with the interviewer right now. I want you to be able to use every single weapon in your arsenal in order to achieve your dream job.

I am very thankful to all of the people who commented on my post. You guys offered great insight and also made some very valuable points come out. You showed how people naturally make decisions and react to things on an emotional level rather than on a logical level.

Remember fellow CMOs, people make decisions based on their emotions. Use this to your advantage when you are developing a marketing campaign.

The Startup CMO

Its not all creativity and glamour.

Most people have the misconception that being in marketing means that you do the creative work and develop catchy advertisements or develop a brand new marketing campaign to reach more people and generate more sells. Well, that is only but a small fraction of what I am doing as the CMO of Future Delivery.

Now that I have my own company, people often ask me what it is that I actually do. So, this is what the CMO of a startup company does:

1. Market Research

Thats right. A big part of what I do is research the entire market. And when I say entire market I mean everything from industry trends and competitors, to surveys and TAM analysis. Its a dirty job but someone has to do it. The CEO is out there building the business plan and the CTO is building the product. It is my responsibility to figure out what kind of product the market is ready for and will accept as a solution to their problems.

2. Business Development

If you hate to cold call or cold email, then this is not the job for you. A startup company has no name, no reputation, and no clients or customers. It is my job to go out there (even right now with no product), and sell our product. I am dead serious here. I am making phone calls and setting up meeting where I am literally walking in with nothing but a laptop and few concept drawings of what the world will look like. Do we actually get some clients? Of course we do! If I weren’t able to convert leads, then I would be in the wrong business.

You will receive a lot of “No’s”, a lot of canceled meetings, and a lot of unreturned calls; however, the CMO must be persistent and must always remain positive. In essence, this is a numbers game. The more people I contact and the larger my network grows, the higher the chance that I will meet someone from a company that will listen to my pitch and like it.

3. Branding

Here comes the fun part. Like I said, we have no name; therefore, it is my job to go out there and develop the brand. I must develop a strategy to stick our company brand in the mind of our target market. There are many ways to do this and the fun part is finding the right ones that work. Here are a few strategies that I’m working on right now: blogging, facebook, linkedin, thought leadership, squidoo, youtube, and career development mavens. I will blog about my experience with each one and which ones work and which ones don’t.

4. Public Relations

Like David Meerman Scott, I do not believe that we should pay a lot of money to get journalists and other media to write about us. If we develop the right content, build thought leadership in the career development field, and attract users, then journalists and the media will come to us. And believe me, when they come to us, we’ll be ready. I am developing the Press Kit and the Media Page so that when the time comes that someone is researching Future Delivery to write an article, they’ll know right where to look to get all of the information that they could possibly need about Future Delivery.

5. Team Leadership

I do have a team that is working with me: Shin Kadota, Peter Suberlak, and Michael Wang. All of them studied at UCLA with me and all of them are very eager and bright young minds. From my experiences, I have learned that the best way to lead a team is to empower them and make sure that they are the right person in the right seat of the bus. Each person on my team is leading a specific project. I give them the opportunity to accomplish task B, but I do not tell them exactly how to get from A to B. It is completely up to them to decide what steps they should take to get to B, which gives them the feeling of ownership and freedom that motivates them to do an amazing job.

What are your experiences with being a young CMO? I would love to hear your stories and hopefully we can learn and grow from each other.