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The right marketing

Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela both flabbergast me for more reasons than one. They scripted their nation’s history and influenced the fate of billions of humans like you and me. They also gave life, in a massive scale, to the word “UNITY” and showed the world the true meaning and the impact it could create. Delving into the DNA of how they brought about this change, we unearth a hoard of marketing strategies that they devised to engage, educate and evolve the people to their right to independence. What is even more fascinating is how they achieved this across the nation when communication was at its infancy. It is quite clear that these strategies struck the chord with the people, strategies I would call as the right marketing.

It has been slightly over a year that I decided to christen myself an Angel Investor. Having analysed close to 60 start-ups to date, I believe that start-ups can benefit more from doing the right marketing to strike the chord with their customers. More often than not I have witnessed start-ups “marketing it right”. This approach, as opposed to the right marketing appeared to prove results, but did not necessarily provide the accelerated and sustained customer acquisition/ retention required at a lower cost. You guessed it right - the management consultant in me sprang into action, whiteboards became graffiti, and the “the right marketing framework” was born.

The right marketing framework:

There are three broad buckets of customers in any start-up ecosystem – those who:

  1. Will – the definite set;
  2. Probably will – the potential set with varying likelihood of conversion; and
  3. Possibly will – the set that might get converted to customers, when luck is on the side of the start-ups.

It is important for start-ups to understand this distinction of customers to plan their course of action in progressively/ proactively marketing their products or services either through direct marketing or affiliate partnerships. However, understanding the customer type is only the tip of the iceberg.

In one of my recent conversations with a start-up, a key agenda item was “Growth-Behavioural change: best ways to educate client base, convince target customers to book and change their habits”. My immediate thoughts upon seeing this note took me to one of the programmes I watched on Discovery channel. I understood then that the DNA relics of dinosaur were found in the beaks and wings of regular chickens. Rekindling this DNA would help (let’s hope not) resurrect the beast. Similarly the behaviour of the customers to buy a product or service that any start-up provides rests within – It needs to be kindled (not changed) at the “right juncture”, that “moment” when the customer is more ready to try out the new product. It is this juncture that the framework suggests start-ups emphasise on.

Let me try and give it more colour by taking an example of a marketplace for beauty to home for women - a model that is increasingly gaining traction in the market. The success of this start-up, in a competitive market, revolves around going after both professionals and other end users within the “Will buy” bucket. The strategies that need to be adopted differs in each of the four customer moments.

1. Life events: Women choose to look their best when they are happy. One common instance is marriage. It makes absolute sense for the beauty start-up to partner with bridal firms.

On a similar note, women tend to spend on beauty treatments before going on a holiday. In a world where tour operators are looking for innovative ways to attract customers, a partnership with beauty start-ups appears to be a win-win-win strategy.

  • The start-up will instantly get a massive penetration in customer based/ brand eminence;
  • A £30-£50 free gift for a beauty treatment for woman tourists would not certainly hamper the margin of the tour operators; and
  • A free direct to home beauty treatment, just before the holiday – women are in all smiles!

2. Impulsive: I recently read an article on a super market using analytics to shelf baby nappies next to adult drinks. During weekend the sales of nappies shot up – notably parents buying alcohol naturally bought nappies.

One potential use case in translating this impulsive behaviour into our example is to partner with firms selling baby products to expectant/ new-born parents. This would appeal to both the sexes and both would want the woman to look at her best. Given the woman’s limited mobility just before or after birth what better than a direct to home beauty treatment?

3. Need: Moving on to the professional segment, there are sectors where beauty is given utmost importance e.g. fashion, media, hospitality, to name a few. There is a section of women in the hospitality industry who are highly mobile (like flight attendants) and will welcome a direct to home beauty treatment.

4. Want: Peer pressure, in some sectors, is considerably high and there is more onus on women to look their best.

In both the instances (3. & 4.) above, the start-up should explore the opportunities of partnering with the employers and providing their service as an on-demand benefits package for the women to rest comfortably in their couch without having to be bothered about a “must-do” task.

The “moments” and the corresponding “junctures” mentioned above will vary from one start-up to one another, but the underlying principles are exactly the same. Needless to say, the right marketing framework is not exhaustive in nature, but can certainly act as a good checklist to help start-ups effectively channelize their marketing efforts. It is recommended that start-ups profile their customer type and devise appropriate strategies to kindle the right behaviour, at the right time.

I/ we from Angels Unleashed wish all the start-ups out there a great success!

- Prem

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