[Continuing with our fortnightly theme on Free Marketing Tips for Startups/Small Businesses, here is a case study from Mint.com, which managed to create waiting list of 20,000 before the product launch].
Defining GTM (Go-To-Market) strategy ain’t so easy (there are no rules!) and if you are a startup, you have a big constraint of resources (i.e. money and people). Having said that, there are smart ways to achieve the same and a company that really is an inspiration in this regard is Mint.com.
To throw certain perspective, Mint created waiting list of 20,000+ before the launch(!) and while they were blessed with all the media coverage (Digg/TC etc), focusing on target audience helped them create momentum for the product.
Here are a few things that Mint got it right:
- Clear Objective – The company focused on building tool for people looking for personal finance.
- Target location – Mint realized that most of these users are reading personal finance blogs and started sponsoring these blogs. Helped them build relationship with the targeted audience.
- Blog – The team started personal finance blog and genuinely focused on building great/compelling content. They focused on a content rich site targeted towards young professionals.
And the result? Within few months, they were number 1 blog in personal finance space and search referrals drove interest on the main site.
- Landing Pages : They had an extensive SEO strategy, and it scaled pretty well.
We had a lot of landing pages, content on the blog and marketing sites, and had a very metrics driven approach to all of it. For every popular finance query on Google, we had a page and content for it, and iterated landing pages to optimize conversion.- source
- Backlinks : Before the launch, they asked people to put the mint widget on their blogs (I want Mint), and collected numerous backlinks.
- Email (Marketing Channel)– The team ensured that the latest information on personal finance were relayed to email subscribers. “People loved the consumer advocacy of the email notifications (we told people when interest rates went up, etc.).” [via]
Contests at Facebook and Twitter also helped them build the momentum, but what matters is that the company did not rely on media/bloggers for the traction (hope can never be a strategy). Instead, they went out and out, reached the target segment and delivered value.
Infact I remember subscribing to Noah’s blog in the early days of Pluggd.in, just because he used to write interesting stuff on product/marketing. To me, that’s the GTM (Go-To-Market) strategy a lot of entrepreneurs miss on. They remain isolated, do not reach out to market and wait for customers to pour in.
In the past, I have asked many startups to blog, create thought leadership, start interacting with the right target segment but I believe many of the entrepreneurs find that part difficult, since it is ‘completely deviating’ from what they are best at, i.e. coding.
Outsourcing that to Social Media Marketers does not help. Get this, before you shell out money for no reason. Though you will see value in the short run, long term benefits are lost once you outsource such important function to a third party.
What’s your opinion?