„What is the key to success? What is the one thing we need to do to finally break through?”
These are typical questions to ask if you are trying to grow your company. However most of the time there is no „one thing”, but a smart amalgam of many.
We did expect a lot from our referral program and we also thought that having an affiliate program would be a key ingredient to success. Well, they weren’t. (Read more about our failures, it’s instructive, trust me.)
In this post I am detailing 5 strategies that eventually worked for us.
They brought us visibility, recognition and real, measurable traction.
I can’t say that one was better than the other; and in fact we needed all of them to be where we are now. Go on, and read more about them. They might work for you too.
Win #1. Content marketing
We blog, write case studies and build our knowledge base. With content done seriously, we experienced significant website traffic accompanied by nice conversion rates.
Is content scalable? Well, not really. But for start-ups like us it is something great to start with. Play around with it. When we devoted less resource to it to favour the rebuild of our contest platform, we saw an immediate drop in signups and revenue.
KissMetrics, one of most successful tech companies I follow, receives 90% of their customers through inbound marketing.
And here is a quote I love from Richard Jones, CEO of EngageSciences.
“IF YOU WANT TO SELL ME SOMETHING:
Cold calling won’t work. Use inbound marketing tactics well and I will find you when I am interested in exploring what it is you do. Connect on social channels and warm me up, build a rapport, educate me on why I have a problem that you can solve through content and social interaction. But don’t spam my email inbox, send me junk mail I won’t open or leave endless messages on my voicemail. I will just hate you for it.”
Win #2. Talk to customers
Do you meet your customers in person? Perfect!
Or do you sell online just as we do? If so, then you still have a lot in your toolkit.
We started out targeting small businesses paying less than $100 a month. Therefore we didn’t build a sales team to engage in cold calling and emailing. If you are aiming for clients under $299/MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) you just don’t need one.
However we reached out to each signup who we thought might fit our ideal customer profile.
And actually we still do that, even though we have switched focus to brands and agencies, which may require a different sales strategy.
Here is an email you might receive if you sign up to Antavo. I ask questions, because I’d love to understand your needs and also offer to talk to you over the phone or Skype. (The latter is a great way to do a live demo, our clients simply love it.)
Win #3. Strategic partnerships and integrations
There are companies out there who target the same customers as you do, but you are not competitors as you sell different, ideally complementary products.
Actively reach out to these companies, because it may turn out to be “a beginning of a beautiful friendship” (my favourite quote from the Serbian movie, Black Cat, White Cat).
Let’s take a look. Antavo helps you to grow your email list, hence we are a natural fit for newsletter providers, like MadMimi, Mailchimp, Benchmark Email or ActiveCampaign, among others.
The right strategy here is to give value to your partners’ customers, and at the same time try to acquire new ones.
In our partnership deals we have a mutual action plan lined out (opens in Google Docs) where we detail the objectives and tasks for both parties. We adopted this from Ben Sardella’s post (believe me, he is one of the best living VP of Sales on Earth (ex-KissMetrics, now Datanyze)).
Win #4. Licensing
Think about licensing as an upgraded version of strategic partnerships.
Partners who are happy with your relationship may want to internalize your product, but keep the product development within your team.
Since 2014 we are able to white-label our platform and bundle Antavo in the product offerings of our partners.
If a deep partnership deal works well, the reward may be enormous.
Let’s stick to our friends, the newsletter providers. Their clients can boost their email lists by 20-100% in less than 6 months. I know you are a smart guy, so you can work out the financial rewards for both parties from here:
Out of experience, executing a partnership deal is not easy, but the potential upside and synergies worth giving it a go.
Win #5. Connect with industry influencers
You should learn a lot from fashion companies.
They reach out to the top fashion bloggers, send them their latest garments as a gift in the hope to be reviewed. Bloggers then upload photos to Instagram or Facebook and start commenting on the pros and cons.
You can do the same. But be warned, connections are not formed in a day or two.
Like all good things in life, it takes time. It may take months, even years to build up real connections.
To help influencers in our industry we typically give our product away for free, and/or involve them in product launches. We also regularly ask for their opinion to write quality blog posts like this one about a recent Facebook-change affecting the Like-Gate feature.
There is a lot of useful content online that could help you to make friends in the industry. (Use the keywords „blogger outreach” or „influencer outreach”.)
The concept is simple, but difficult to execute.
- First, find the right influencers. Tools like FollowerWonk or Klout can help if you don’t know who they are.
- Second, build a relationship. (We never tried it, but Neil Patel has a unique strategy when it comes to influencers. He hits where it hurts.)
The silver bullet
I’ve asked many successful companies what their path to success was. They’ve always said there is no straight strategy; it’s always a lot of experimenting, and a combination of things they’ve tried.
I always thought you could achieve anything with a great team.
And my ex-bosses told me that you don’t need sales or marketing people, because a product that fits its market sells itself.
As you see, opinions are different. Because each company is different.
Helping others worked for us so far: serving our customers with useful content, our partners’ customers with a smart tool, and industry influencers with a free plan and visibility.
The silver bullet is that there is no silver bullet.
Measure your efforts.
And move out of your comfort zone.
Did you like this post? Then you will love my previous one: 7 Tactics We Tried to Grow Our Company With and FailedWhat’s the Silver Bullet? - 5 Tactics We Tried to Grow Our Company With and Succeeded by Andy Nemes
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- What’s the Silver Bullet? – 5 Tactics We Tried to Grow Our Company With and Succeeded - October 3, 2014
- 7 Tactics We Tried to Grow Our Company With and Failed - September 16, 2014