A few weeks ago, we partnered with RRE to put on a customer acquisition event for some of their portfolio companies. Attendance was great - 15 or so companies attended, represented by founders, marketers and a few curious sales/biz dev/finance folks. RRE’s portfolio is a great representation of our target client base: early-stage (seed or Series A) New York-based internet companies.
Sure, events like these can be useful for short-term lead gen, but frankly we approach them with two other goals at the forefront:
- Community building: The majority of the clients we’ve worked with (now over 40) have come from either a referral, a prior relationship or an event. Helping companies understand some of their customer acquisition challenges in a group setting is a great way for us to build our reputation.
- Rapid feedback: Group events like these give us the opportunity to connect with our ideal customers at scale. Just as Eric Ries encourages startups to “get out of the building” and learn from customers, we do the same in these types of events. The startup landscape broadly and customer acquisition tactics specifically change every day, so it’s extremely valuable for us to hear real-time feedback from a cross-section of startups.
Here are a few themes that Jim spoke about at the RRE event:
Advertising exchanges are some of the most efficient marketplaces in the world. For startups, finding a temporary mismatch between keyword competitiveness, relevance and price might be a savvy way to get off the ground, but you need to be prepared for those windows to close. If you see even moderate success, 10 other startups will pop up and begin bidding for the same keywords and drive up the prices. Three ways to combat this are: a) split your resources (time and money) between paid and organic - great content that your customers care about remains the best way to stay competitive; b) constantly test new channels, platforms, targeting methods, etc - Adwords may be hyper-competitive, but maybe a newer platform has lots of eyeballs and limited marketing dollars right now; and c) change the math - if you can boost your LTV math in a way that your competitors can’t (for example, build a great referral program), then you may be able to outbid them on ad platforms.
Acquisition Methods Change at Scale:
We’ve written about this before but it’s worth repeating. Your early adopters may not be representative your billion dollar opportunity. It may be worth using some capital-efficient digital marketing tactics to test where you might find your next big segment of customers.
Customer Acquisition is Not Algebra:
We often hear people describe customer acquisition as a math problem or a puzzle- and once you crack the code, you can just throw more money in for the same predictable results. That’s just not how it works. In reality, the following things constantly change: product, customer preferences, trends, competitors, marketing channels and marketing tactics. In reality, digital marketing is an iterative process- the idea of “just turning on marketing” is a myth.
We'll be participating in a few more events like this over the coming weeks and months. If you'd like to join, drop us a line!