Why StartUps Suck At Marketing

If you're at least somewhat familiar with digital marketing or SEO, I'm sure you've come across one of Moz's Whiteboard Friday tutorial videos at some point. From strategic online consumer behavior videos to more technical keyword targeting tutorials, Moz's weekly video series has been providing undeniable value to the beginner-to-intermediate digital marketing practitioner that's looking for easy-to-understand information on just about any SEO-related topic.

Rand Fishkin

In front of the camera during his tenure at Moz has been Rand Fishkin. Co-Founder and previous CEO of Moz, Founder of SparkToro, Author of the recently published "Lost And Founder", speaker, & blogger - the man has achieved monumental success in the SEO business and is today one of the leading authorities in digital marketing.

Last week, the IE Marketing Club had the pleasure of hosting the SEO Wizard himself, who gave an enlightening presentation on "Why Startups Suck at Marketing". The event at IE was a couple months in the planning, so we were pretty excited for the day to come and have Rand share his wealth of experience and knowledge with us.

According to Rand, the 8 ways startups suck at marketing are:

  1. Terrible names
  2. Overvaluing 1st exposure
  3. Chasing growth hacks
  4. Saving marketing until launch
  5. Relying on paid ads
  6. Not prioritizing an easy-to-reach audience
  7. Failing at funnel fundamentals
  8. Ignoring brand

I'm sure the presentation served as a precursor to what I'm going to find in his book (just ordered my copy a few days ago). Being a Marketer and having previously launched a few businesses of my own, I'm certain I'll find Rand's book just as valuable as his Whiteboard Friday videos. For some marketing wisdom (and a sneak peak at Rand's book), swing by Moz's blog post in which Rand shares his best advice from a decade and a half of marketing Moz or listen to the audio version below.



It's quite fascinating to reflect on how irrational people can be.

And it's perfectly normal to be irrational. We can't be completely rational all the time right? 

This irrationality is part of our bounded rationality. According to Herbert Simon, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1975, people have cognitive limitations and because of that, we go about making sub-optimal decisions in our everyday lives. Through this lens, people unconsciously act as "satisficers" in their decision-making, seeking to make a satisfactory decision instead than an optimal one. In order to facilitate the decision-making process, we act on instincts, habits, heuristics, cognitive illusions, and biases - leading us to "satisficing" decisions.

This is innate within all people. During this unconscious part of the decision-making process, we formulate stories - stories that support our beliefs.

Thomas Gilovich, Author and Professor of Psychology at Cornell University who has contributed to the behavioral economics field, describes these stories as a result of "Patternicity", the tendency to create meaning from events. While this evolved trait (think hunter-gatherers hearing rustling in the grass and believing it might be a predator) greatly served our ancestors, "patternicity" leads to irrationality, poor decision-making & bias.

While the topic of ethics relating to behavioral economics makes for another blog post, marketers have been using the underlying biases in "satisficers" to create effective marketing campaigns advantage for decades. From loss aversion to anchoring, there are plenty of biases for marketers to utilize. With that being said, potential consumers can offset this targeting by being "intuitive scientists" - a nice little secret from Thomas in the video above.

 Image Credit:  Behavioral Scientist

Image Credit: Behavioral Scientist

Snapchat & A Mid-Term Surprise

It goes without saying - time has a tendency to fly by.

Snapchat Presentation

We wrapped up our second term in the Masters program last week, which felt surprisingly shorter than the first term. Both terms were both the same length of time, but I think there was a handful of reasons why this term felt so much shorter. Beside the fact that I've been keeping a bit busy with juggling school, my work with Inside ETFs, being an IE Marketing Club Officer, in addition to keeping a social life and sustaining a steady weekend workout regimen, I felt better prepared for this term than the first. Time management has always been a personal forté, but this time around I felt like I had a better grasp of how the program courses were going to be run, the potential workload, and my classmates (which whom I was going to be working with in our assigned team for the classes for the duration of the term).

Nevertheless, it was still a demanding couple of months.

One class in particular - Managing the Customer, taught by stock market investor, entrepreneur & activist, Pedro David Sañudo - was a bit brutal to get through (it was an intense. week-long crash course), but enlightening. Our team project consisted of implementing a Customer Management Framework to a company of our choosing. Being that Snapchat was undergoing a backlash from users because of its latest app redesign, we thought it'd be the perfect chance to work on a current customer-related issue.

Funny enough, I had coincidently opened up my Snapchat app at a concert a few days prior to our selection of the company for the project, and had absolutely no idea what was going on. You could say that, along with the 1.25 million users that petitioned for Snapchat to revert back to its old design, I wasn't intially very enthusiastic about the new app design. Our team used the CMF to dive into all customer phases: development, creation, growth and retention. With a focus on retention, we provided suggestions for Snapchat to retain their core users. Being that I had previously worked on the initial stages of an entrepreneurial project based the Snapchat advertising platform, this was an enjoyable project.

Kantar Millward Brown Business Challenge

All in all, it was an extremely insightful term.

A plus - my first term group and I received a little surprise from the Kantar Business Challenge we won last December. Receiving the plaque was quite an honor. It's a nice to receive a little recognition for hard work.

Now that I'm on spring break, I've been looking over syllabi for the upcoming third term and I gotta say, I'm pretty excited. We're going to be covering Behavioral Economics (big Dan Ariely fanboy here), Neuromarketing, Anthropology, and Customer Experience to name a couple of topics. The third term is also going to consist of the term-long Telefonica Integration Challenge, the capstone project for the Master in Market Research & Consumer Behavior where we'll be examining business needs, translate them into desired research methodologies, conduct research, analyze research results, and propose effective/viable business solutions for Telefonica. Couldn't feel more ready to tackle this!

Anyway, I'm off to Morocco to enjoy some home-cooked couscous in a few days.

Here's to crushing the next term.

MRCB-01 Group Photo

Stream On

Spotify: One of the handful of monthly subscriptions I don't mind dishing out a few bucks for. While most on-demand video-streaming services rely on new content to draw viewership, the consumption of music on the Spotify platform relies on its back catalog, hence its significant marginal costs - the royalties it pays the music industry.

The music-streaming company filed to go public last week. With competition like Amazon Music and Apple that have an overwhelming amount of financial backing, in addition to the cost of revenue that Spotify has to pay to record labels, it's going to be interesting how Spotify navigates the music-streaming seas. At the same time, there's potential to leverage the data acquired from their platform (I recently saw a tweet that mentioned that Metallica was adjusting their concert playlist in particular cities based on local Spotify listening data) and for the company to launch its own record label. Whatever the case, Spotify's expected to make a big splash when its shares begin trading.

In light of the upcoming IPO, I thought it was worthwhile to share a bit about the business.

Skittles & The Solution To Cognitive Overload

Firstly, happy holidays! I'm visiting family here in Stockholm, and I'm sitting here early xmas morning, reflecting on the last couple of months. As mentioned previously, I'm currently working towards getting my Masters in Market Research and Consumer Behavior and I just wrapped up my first term last Friday.

The program has a heavy focus on group projects, one of those being the Millward Brown Business Challenge this last term. The case, which involved the evaluation of a Skittles advertisement, was given to us, along with the case prompt & real supplemental primary and secondary research from Kantar Millward Brown, on a Friday. We had to present our conclusions and next steps to a panel of market research experts the following Monday. Saying that it was an intense weekend would be an understatement. Anywho, looks like christmas came a bit early (we found out that we won the challenge last week).

One of the supplemental research documents given to us for the challenge was an eye-tracker analysis for the advertisement. The technology's quite fascinating. According to Jaime Veiga, marketing professor at IE, we come across 4,000 to 10,000 brand impressions a day. At a supermarket, we have 30,000 to 50,000 products to choose from. Due to the cognitive overload we come across in our everyday lives, brands are failing to connect with potential customers. How are brands supposed to connect with their customers when it seems like every brand is trying to yell over the other in a crowded room? The solution - optimization via biometrics.

During the term, I had the chance to sit in on a talk led by Thomas Ramsoy, Founder and CEO of Neurons Inc, a Neuroscience consultancy company, where I first saw the eye-tracking technology in action.

Eye-tracking technology

Purchasing decisions happen in fractions of a second. To capture the attention of customers, brands have to understand how consumers think. Although traditional market research methods help gather consumer information to provide insight, new technologies like EEG scanners or eye-tracking devices provide measurements to how the brain and/or the body reacts to marketing stimuli. According to Thomas, these technologies can predict an accuracy of about 80%. With that being said, I can't wait for my neuromarketing class in the third term.

Overall, it was a great first term. Lots of ups and downs, but a learning experience nonetheless. In 2 weeks, I'll be starting up my second term. Some of the classes include:

  • Consumer Decision Making
  • Managing The Customer
  • Marketing Products & Brands
  • Observational Methods
  • Product Launch Simulation
  • Understanding Consumer Behavior II

I'm going to take the next two weeks to get some much needed R&R to get ready to crush this next term. See you guys in 2018!

Building Trust in a Digital World

I had the chance to attend an American Marketing Association event last night. Leveraging digital tools, Paolo Parigi (Lead Trust Scientist at Uber and Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University) gave a presentation on the topic of trust - an important psychological factor in business, specifically within the sharing economy. His methodology, referred to as an online field experiment (ofe), in assessing how interactions and user experience creates, increases, or decreases trust and how to discover which is happening and what might be causing it, involved the usage of investment games. Below are a few snapshots I managed to capture during the presentation. Parigi addressed certain scenarios when it would be best to use ofe's and, taking into consideration how varied trust can build across different cultures, acknowledged that ofe results would vary across countries. All in all, an insightful presentation.