Founder and CEO of Squirrly UK. Seasoned Entrepreneur, Growth Hacker, Advisor to a few startups and Professional Blogger at Adevarul Media Holding. Co-Organizes Open Connect Cluj and Antreprenori Cluj.
let's see.. since my last post, when I announced being a mentor in the Startup Pirates program in #cluj, i also was a:
- Mentor on "How to Pitch Your Startup Idea" at Tandem - Judge at the Hackathon from Innovation Labs in Cluj - Presented Squirrly at the Transylvania Demo Day - Spoke at Cool-Jobs and presented my life, from animating stuff in Borland Pascal, to being the founder of a self-sustainable startup
We are so accustom to buying traffic that we sometimes forget the value of bartering. If you currently have a marketing asset of any kind that is valuable to someone else, and if they have a similar audience to your target market, then the ingredients for a mutually beneficial barter are present.
The first thing you must do is assess the marketing value that you have to offer. What is it that you have to give another company that would be beneficial to them in a marketing scenario? Here are some possible marketing assets you could barter with:
1) Do you have a mailing list that could be used to send out an email which highlights something for another company? 2) Do you have content that you could run ads on for another company (blog, video, photos)? 3) Do you have a social media following on Twitter, Facebook, or somewhere else, that you could use on behalf of another company? 4) Do you run an event at a physical location that you could use to promote another company? 5) Do you have a podcast that could be used to teach or educate about another company? 6) Or anything else you can think of. The possibilities are endless.
Once you've figured out what marketing value you could trade, now you need to find a target company to barter with. You are looking for a company that fits the following criteria:
1) They have a similar size marketing channel to the one you are offering. If you ask Amazon if they'll swap email blasts with you then they'll laugh at you. 2) Their audience must be filled with people that fit your target demographic (and vice versa). If you're not reaching the right people then the swap is in vain. 3) They must not consider themselves to be your competitor. Find someone with a similar audience to yourself, but not someone who is directly competing with you.
Once you have a short list of possibilities there are a few tricks to discover how good the match would be before you reach out to them. The first thing you can do is a keyword analysis on their Twitter profile to discover how targeted the swap would be for both parties. The simplest way to do this is to look at the list of followers they have on Twitter. Then scroll to the bottom of the page a few times so that quite of few of their followers have been loaded. Now do a search on the page (cmd+F) and search for a keyword that your target demographic would have in their bio. Now you can see what percentage of their followers fit your demographic. This is helpful knowledge even if you are trading something that has nothing to do with Twitter.
You can also do an audience overlap analysis to discover further insights about the match by using followerwonk (http://www.followerwonk.com). You simply type in the Twitter handle of yourself and someone that you are considering bartering with and you see how many people follow both of you. You are looking for overlapping circles, but not completely overlapped. If they are completely overlapped then you have already reached them. If they are not overlapped enough then their audience is not targeted enough for you.
Now you need to put together a barter package. You don't want to send your target company a vague email about how you could maybe work together. Instead, send a short concise email with a specific ask. For instance, ask them if you could tweet about each other since you have roughly the same number of followers and your demographics are aligned. People are too busy to brainstorm for you. Ask for what you want.
It is quite possible, using this recipe, to get thousands of dollars in free advertising with minimal effort. Growth Hacker TV once sponsored a conference alongside HubSpot due to a barter. HubSpot is obviously much larger than us, but we bartered our way to the top. We've also bartered for free distribution in newsletters, and much more. (Photo courtesy of Spencer Hickman)
Clarity (http://www.clarity.fm) is an amazing service that allows anyone to buy expert consulting, conducted over the phone, and you only have to buy a few minutes at a time. This means that consulting is now accessible to anyone with any budget, but it also means more than that. Think like a growth hacker. You are able to buy the time of influential business people. Do you see the hack yet? We're not using Clarity for consulting. We're going to use it for business development.
Search the Clarity.fm catalog for individuals who cannot only give you advice on your startup, but also people that could assist you in deeper ways. Maybe you can find people that work at companies which would be an ideal partnership for you. Maybe you can find someone who can cut a deal with you for his company's services. Maybe you can find someone who can grant you access to certain events in your industry. There are a million ways that you can benefit from consultants when you start thinking broader than just consulting.
Now that you have a short list of people that could propel your business forward, by doing more than just consulting, then go ahead and buy 30 minutes of their time, and setup calls with all of them. There is a reason we call this hack the Clarity Prison. Once you book their time and pay for it, then they can't exactly hang up on you. You now have a captive audience with an influential entrepreneur who can aide you.
Other people approach Clarity with a series of questions that they want answered. You are going to approach it will a deal that you want to close. Start the call doing the typical consulting stuff. Ask questions, nod your head, have some dialogue, but you are actually there to close a deal. Know what you are there to accomplish and nudge the conversation in that direction. This is where boldness comes in!
Here is how we used this hack at Growth Hacker TV. When we first started we knew it would be difficult to get A-level growth experts to come on the show, so we found the guests we wanted on Clarity and we paid for their consulting. Once we were on the phone with them we closed them on the idea of being one of our first guest. Talking on the phone gave them the ability to see that we were smart people building a real business and that their time on the show wouldn't be wasted. This is how we booked Andrei Marinescu (from Hulu) and Dan Martell (founder of Clarity).
Once we had a couple big names under our belt then we could name drop them in emails to other guests and the phone contact wasn't necessary. So, how are you going to use the Clarity Prison?