Our deputy editor, Francois Badenhorst, is languishing in the bagel houses of New York, so I’ve hijacked his weekly What we’ve been reading column to wax lyrical about customer acquisition costs, pitch decks and the alt-right fanboy we love to hate.
In short, we’ve read dozens of blogs, long-form features and leaked pitch decks to look at the most incisive content for the founders of scale-ups and startups (that’s not already on BusinessZone, of course).
I discovered marketing expert Sean Ellis through the term ‘growth hacking’ and have remained cynical ever since. It was easy to dismiss the tactics on his flagship site as a set of low-value shortcuts, but in this podcast he offers a fantastic insight into the importance of the role of marketing in early-stage startups.
Ellis also helped build Dropbox and Eventbrite as well selling his own million-dollar company Qualaroo by developing new approaches to marketing, so it’s worth taking him seriously.
His main maxim’s “if you don’t have experimentation across the full customer journey, you’re going to have a hard time growing any business” and he suggests founders work closely with marketing at startup stage:
“Another piece of advice is about founders that think they can go out and hire someone to figure it out for them. The success and failure of all early-stage companies is; ‘can I acquire and retain customers?’
“The upside of figuring that out is held by the founders of the business. They took founders’ risk to start it and they get founders’ reward if they figure it out. But they can’t expect not to be super hands on. It’s hard to hire a marketer that’s really talented enough to go through the pain of figuring it out without super aligned hand-holding with the CEO,” says Ellis.
Society’s current infatuation with startup land has led the tropes of entrepreneurship into the mainstream. Do you have value statements written on the wall of your business? Have you been asked what your personal values are?
Then follow me, “come see, for searching is the foundation of fortune”. Right?
That particular line is from the hilarious deck behind the now infamous Fyre Festival fiasco. A look through the 15 slides is a cliche bingo of today’s heady, over-funded, dumpster fire startups.
The first slide says “Fyre removes the friction to securing talent” (emphasis mine) and mentions it’s a global marketplace, with a slightly leading statement that they have “thousands of offers representing tens of millions of dollars,” so far. Then there’s some more guff...
- Integrated payments platform
- Enhance efficiency on both sides of the deal
- Interactive real-time platform
…before we get to this doozie.
Do you really know what’s in your customer acquisition funnel? Digital advertising brought with it tools like cookies and tracking pixels that were supposed to solve advertising’s age-old issue; what caused a consumer to buy something.
In this explainer, Depesh Mandalia, CMO of ToucanBox and an advisor at Seedcamp, talks about the difficulty of tracking a customer’s online journey and how to build “multi-data points for indirect attribution analysis”.
One of the simple solutions he suggests is asking customers how they heard about your business at point of purchase:
“Don't underestimate the importance of this simple question. Although we have the ability online to track the channel from which a visitor landed on a website (eg. search engine, Facebook, YouTube, affiliate etc. through web analytics), this question gives us a valuable first-touch data source for channels which we can’t track so well such as TV and print media.
“In the case of ecommerce companies, many rely on promotion codes in order to track the marketing source, but in this scenario where a customer has seen an ad in one source and purchased via another source, you’ve lost the originator marketing channel.”
Milo is one of the most vivacious internet trolls of the modern era. Setting his abhorrent beliefs aside, it’s hard not to respect the consistency of his brand, which’s seen him build a huge following and recently raise $12m for what Vanity Fair dubbed “a new, ugly, for-profit troll circus”. A media company, basically:
"This isn't some vanity nameplate on a personal blog. This is a fully tooled-up talent factory and management company dedicated to the destruction of political correctness and the progressive left.
"I will spend every waking moment of the rest of my life making the lives of journalists, professors, politicians, feminists, Black Lives Matter activists and other professional victims a living hell.
"Free speech is back - and it is fabulous."
The first time I heard of Milo was on a Charlie Brooker show where he argued with Boy George about the right of gay people to get married (both Milo and George are gay and catholic, according to the show). Back in 2012, a wet behind the ears Milo admitted he was unhappy being gay, and had a well-read, underdressed demeanor that made it a little easier to take him seriously.
Fast forward five years and he’s enough of a cultural icon to demand post-career-fallout coverage in Rolling Stone, and a bucket load of cash to start a new business.