Start up marketing tips from someone who has been there done it - and got the Weswap T-shirt!
I’ve been asked to share some of my learnings in helping WeSwap scale from pre revenue to 300m turnover over a 5 year period. WeSwap is a peer to peer travel money digital travel money provider offering a cost-effective travel money alternative to more established travel money providers. I joined in 2014 with a handful of people a product nearly ready and a funding round secured
We’ve made our fair share of mistakes along the way, but the key is reacting quickly and pivoting of need be. Here’s 5 years of marketing learnings in 700 words.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the P’s of marketing (used to be 4 now it’s up to 10 I think!)
These are nothing to do with these but my own 5 P’s of start up marketing..
Positioning. Be VERY clear on your positioning. You may have an awesome product with fantastic functionality but unless you have a razor sharp focus on your positioning it won’t work. Positioning defines where your product stands in relation to others offering similar products and services in the marketplace as well as the mind of the consumer.
I’ve spoken to some start-ups recently and they have stated very confidently – “The product is amazing it does x y z and will appeal to everyone. Not sure we need to market as word of mouth will make it happen”
One thing we did at WeSwap really well was to very clearly define our ideal user – create a persona. Once you have that it can really help how you shape the product development, marketing channels, marketing creative used etc. We used it all the time – what would Sam think of this, how would Sam use this etc
PR – start-up PR isn’t for every agency. One of the key decisions you’ll need to make is how to generate PR – in trade and consumer press. In my experience working with an agency that can have a scrappy, roll your sleeves up approach is much better that a bigger agency. You may meet some amazing polished senior PR exec and they very quickly disappear into the background once the contract is signed. What worked for us was a smaller owner operated agency where we were a really important client to them. We were dealing with the owner consistently and she was really able to build an understanding of the business, challenges and what really makes us tick – and accordingly some very creative ideas to generate some amazing press coverage
Performance – build an in-house performance team. Easy to say, difficult to do. For WeSwap this meant a 2 key things - 1 Data getting to grips with the numbers and 2 moving away from agencies to build on inhouse team - covering digital acquisition and SEO. SEO is more of an art that a science and it can be easy to spend huge sums on this with agencies with little short-term reward, having inhouse expertise was a game changer for us.
Profit. Think early about getting to profit. Growth and revenue are great but ultimately in times of uncertainty what makes your business really appealing is ideally profit if not a very clear pathway to profitability
Partnerships. Building partnerships with some key travel industry players was a game changer for WeSwap. We partnered with hotels.com and Jet2 and many other smaller successful digital travel brands. It was a fantastic way of building credibility to a less established brand as well as driving users
With finite budgets and KPI’s related to costs of acquiring users, we had a very clear test and scale approach to any marketing channel. Test at small commitment and scale up accordingly
Marketing can often be unnecessarily complicated and confusing with buzz words and acronyms aplenty but if you have the right team and ability to look at the numbers, essentially marketing is about testing things – creative and channels. Do more of the things that work and less of the things that don’t and react quickly. This approach enabled us to grow, drive revenue and consistently drive down acquisition costs over a 5-year period