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9 Startup Marketing Tips from This Week’s Here’s How Conference


HeresHowConferenceIt’s been a busy week at Propllr headquarters, in part because we had our eighth Here’s How Startup Marketing Conference on Wednesday. In the coming weeks, we’ll post video of each presentation here, but I heard some stuff yesterday that was too good not to share right away.

Here are nine gems from Wednesday’s talks that will inspire any startup marketer.

Tip 1: Make inclusivity a must

In a world where brand recognition is high but customer loyalty is low, Ariana Gibson, senior director of brand and creative at car insurance startup Clearcover, emphasized the importance of inclusivity.

She defined that to mean not only showing visual representations of all kinds of potential customers and employees on company materials but also listening to customers’ thoughts and taking them into consideration as you iterate on your product. When people feel heard, they’re more likely to stick around.

Tip 2: If you’re in an emerging market, focus on educating your audience without pushing them to buy

Griffin Caprio, founder of business podcasting platform Dante32, explained that in emerging markets, customers aren’t evaluating solutions – they’re struggling with a problem they don’t know how to solve. Educate them about possible solutions (including yours).

Do that well, and you may even see referrals from people you never converted.

Tip 3: In some situations, you actually can buy people's trust

Annie Asai, operations manager at 2ndKitchen, a startup that lets breweries, hotels, and bars serve food from local restaurants, explained how her team paid to email a small but extremely targeted email list – and saw great results. It worked in part because the recipients completely trusted the organization that managed the list and knew it would only send them valuable information.

Tip 4: Make sure you’re not leaving money on the table

What if I told you that by reaching out a few more times to every prospect in your pipeline, you could increase your conversion rate by a hefty percentage? That’s exactly what Mike Ryan, senior director of demand generation at supply chain visibility platform project44 discovered when he set about moving the company upmarket.

Did I jot down this “hefty percentage” during his talk? I did not. But trust me, it was impressive. Anyway, if you’re trying to increase revenue, make sure you’re nurturing existing prospects enough before you start filling the pipeline with new ones.

Tip 5: Almost everything you do is fixable

Worried about messing up? Don’t be, says Marc Uible, VP of marketing at product visualization company Threekit. He went on to say that a fear of failure can prevent people from taking action, but in reality almost everything you could mess up on a marketing team can be fixed with relative ease, and even if it can’t be fixed (Dear <Firstname>), it’s not the end of the world.

(This message resonated with me, a person who once accidentally de-indexed the homepage of the online insurance agency she worked for.)

Tip 6: Don’t be afraid to try really wacky stuff

Jessie Atchison, VP of marketing at farmland rental startup Tillable, did exactly that and not only won an internal competition but also discovered important flaws in the data source they were using. Because they’d made space for a small-scale, creative test, they were able to fix the mistake and save themselves thousands on the larger campaign they later launched.

Tip 7: Sometimes your product details are the LEAST interesting thing about what you're selling

Leatt Rothschild, founder of Packed with Purpose, a specialty gifting startup with a social mission, noted that her customers care a lot less about the products in her gift boxes than they do about the story behind who made those products and how their creation was changing lives.

Tip 8: If you're a company for long enough, you're going to change

Aana Leech, VP of marketing and customers at influencer marketing platform Popular Pays, laid this one out during her talk on testing a pivot in real time. That’s important to remember if you feel like you’ve lost your footing – maybe you have. But maybe you’re on your way to new footing that better suits your startup’s current phase and growth goals.

Tip 9: Only try to get prospects to the next stage of your funnel

Marty Pesis, director of marketing at celebrity shout-out startup Cameo, broke down his firm’s customer funnel. One key takeaway: as you market to customers in each part of the funnel, only focus on moving them forward one step. In other words, be patient.

More Startup Marketing Tips

Want more hot tips from Chicago’s top startup marketers? Check out our Here’s How archive for videos from the last seven events. Want to make sure you get notified when we publish videos from this week’s event? Subscribe to our blog when you see the popup, and you’ll be among the first to know.