Martech Conversations: Episode 2
Tools for Marketing
Dorai Thodla: Hi, Pravin.
Pravin Shekar: Good. So, Dorai, top of mind when we talk about technology for marketing or tools for marketing, what comes to your mind?
Dorai Thodla: Oh, I think, it lot depends on the stage in which the company is in. For example, here, you know, just a start up, don't even have a customer just have an idea or a prototype, right? We're talking about a different set of tools. And you found your first 10, 15, 100 customers, then now you want to scale, you know what our product market fit, and you know, you want to start increasing it, then it's a different set of tools. Some of the original tools will also apply, but I think you will start needing more and more tools. And then you want to scale, you know, then there is a whole class of things called growth hacking, okay. Stuff like that. So let's think about it as three stages. And then we'll proceed.
Pravin Shekar: Absolutely. Let's start with a startup.
Dorai Thodla: Yeah. So when I say startup, I meant, you know, something, it could even be a larger company, but it says, as far as the product is concerned, this is the first day, just stepping out with the product into the market. And the second thing is also that I think small groups, product groups initially do not have a lot of funding allocated to them till the product is proven to some extent. So startup is a good proxy for doing that. So, you're strapped for money. You know, you don't have any marketing team, you don't have people. So in a real startup, it's normally founder and maybe one other person analysis, one is marketing, one is tech, in which case, there is marketing knowledge, but there is not a lot of money to spend on marketing. So we take out a whole class of things like advertisement, PR, all these traditional things that you associate with marketing. So you need to, and also that some of those things don't work anymore, with content marketing and inbound marketing and all these kinds of things, you know, people, you know, you have to do to pull right, you know, you have to attract people to this. So, let us talk about some simple tools, how do you attract people? Some time back, it is the age of 37 signals or somebody else who mentioned that, you out educate and out market, right. And the first thing is that we all start with the assumption that people know, when they see a product, they're going to jump up and say, “Wow!”
Pravin Shekar: Absolutely, absolutely.
Dorai Thodla: So that's, you know, that maybe to the founder, that may be true, and maybe a small group of very sympathetic friend service. Even that time, not very sure. It's not so obvious as to why what is this product? And where is it going to fit in, how is? So the education is very important, some people may not even be aware of the problems, you know, that. So, first thing is you educate me. How do you educate and previously what used to do is used to, you know, get articles, implement journals, yes, you know, and then describe it, so you actually start out with a slightly bigger picture of the space and say, Hey, this is the space, there are lot of these products that are there in this space, and but there are these gaps and, you know, if you listen to Girish from Freshworks, he was combing through a list of discussions in a forum, then he found everybody like, yelling about some feature not being there, or some gap or some, you know, either something was too expensive. So you start finding by following the discussions going on, if you are already in a space where other products exist, you're trying to figure out, hey, why do I put my thing in there, you know, what is the positioning, and start eating all around, you know, like, space. So, so the tools that you require, at that point in time is something that alerts you to the problems that people if people are asking lots of questions in a certain space. You know, that is one clue, right? And we say, Hey, you know, this seemed to be the problem. So you collect. So you start with a bunch of hypothesis because you start with a product. And then you need to validate the hypothesis for yourself. I'm not even talking about investors and others that.
Pravin Shekar: Right, absolutely.
Dorai Thodla: Do you want to know that, Hey, is this the right problem? And then, the next thing you want to validate is, is this solution the right for the problem? And since the world existed so far without my solution, what is it that is going to, what my solution going to do, that's going to be different than, you know, what solution that you’re currently using. Either that solution is too expensive, or that solution is too clunky, You know, the solution is like, you know, not optimal, because it may solve a general problem, but you may not follow a specific problem. For example, if you take salesforce.com, that may be a great tool, but it may not be for, you know, like a small shop owner, you know, who has like three people in Salesforce the solution because his customers are not where it sells, you know, you expect them to read, so what are the places so, so let me go back and start thinking about all the things that you do as a beginning entrepreneur.
The first thing they jump in is Google Forms. Now, it used to be Survey Monkey earlier but just to put it through and send it to a bunch, which is my biggest grouse, when they try to validate the idea is they just send it to a bunch of friends and friends and friends and try to rely on that data, even though we are still on tools. But the tool has to work towards a purpose. But back to you. I just wanted to put my grouse up there, Dorai.
That's super, I mean, in fact, this basically what you do, you don't talk about solution and all that. Hey, you know, it may be as simple as you know, hey, do you use Twitter, for getting news about your marketplace? And what are the three ways in which you use Twitter? Or what are the three problems in finding your customers? So speak to their problem and tell us a little bit about your industry, you know, which industry are you in? You know, what exactly is the problem? In fact, this is the first thing that HubSpot was doing, they gave away this product called website grader. Now, I think it's called market grader, about what almost 8 to 10 years ago, they had this thing that you will type a URL, it will just grade your website, give you a rank, and then you can type in your competitors website and it will give you a rank. And so you can get a report, all that kind of stuff. But the question is that, then they will say, okay, you subscribe to my newsletter, and I will give you more information on inbound marketing. And the question they ask is, what is your single most, you know, biggest, what is your biggest pain in marketing? And just one question survey, and besides your, you know, name and email address, and all that kind of stuff, then makes and you can do that today, because you don't even have to, you know, if let's say you have a circle of friends in LinkedIn, or Facebook or Twitter, you simply say, Hey, you know, I'm trying to find a problem, let's say pick an industry Pravin, maybe we can make it, you know, more specific to that industry, because I always talk about tech, which is, ah,
Pravin Shekar: I would talk about healthcare. Okay.
Dorai Thodla: Take healthcare, right? Take probably medical devices, all right, something like that. A lot of people, I think after COVID they started focusing a little bit more, you know, on all this, like the limelight is a little bit on these devices, right? So let say that, what is a device that you think would really help you, keep you mentally free? And, and there was this entrepreneur I met about four or five years ago through one of our mutual connections, Mani, and he said, you know, continuous monitoring of temperature. And I said, why would anybody monitor temperature continuously isn’t it? I have a fever
I checked the fever, is it above 100? Then I guess, you know, do I take any action, it is below 100, I don't even pay attention. And if it is 102-103, immediately dial up a doctor. So why do I need a continuous? There are two or three very special niche kids. Okay, you can't really constantly be waking them up and taking temperature and all this other stuff, right. So, you take this device and he had like the something that looked like a one rupee coin or a, you know, like a quarter, you know, US quarter, you put it under the armpit or something like that. And then it continuously monitors and sense it and then it sends you the fluctuations and all that. The second thing is cancer patients. Okay, so I said sometimes it can be as simple as like, I go into a niche kind of thing and then say, okay, you know, so we now you can ask us questions that is very specific to a niche, in which case you will not get many answers, but at least you'll receive a few answers. You can create a form as what is your problem? The more generic ones will not be that useful, in my opinion because I tried that. When you ask anybody what is your marketing problem? It's “not enough leads.” It’s a universal problem. Doesn't matter what stage of business you are in not enough leads, not enough qualifying leads, but at least, you know, at what stage if somebody says, not enough traffic to my website could be one problem. Let's say you are web based marketing, not enough qualified leads, people come and visit and bounce off and go away is the second kind of problem. They have not engaged and they're not, you know, then the third problem is that they don't keep coming back to find out more information, there is nothing wrong with that. Because, you know, they would have typed some keyword in Google, you would have had that keyword and for some reason, you would have ranked it in the front page in you might have tried a few things, it would have come up and then they come to your site and said, Oh, this is not what I want and the bounce off, they go away kind of stuff. So and then taking this website visitor and into your prospect in you know, somebody who's actually serious, which has an intent to buy, whether they have the budget to buy or not is a different story, but they have an intent to buy. Getting them to that stage, what are the things that you're going to do? Today, I think the technology in the marketing industry is so good at doing all these things.
Pravin Shekar: This is a topic we're gonna be talking on extensively. But I have one question for our discussion. When I interact with the traditional entrepreneurs who are pretty much in a growth stage, they've already got their first couple of millions in non tech entrepreneurs. There is this hesitation, or an aversion to using technology for marketing, or using tech tools for marketing. When you are interacting with entrepreneurs faced this kind of an issue?
Dorai Thodla: Yeah, I do. But I face it in a slightly different way. One way is that they're not sure what these tools do. See the tools solve it, for example, take a tool like SEO, you know, optimization and Search Engine Optimization tool. First, a business guy has to figure out that his search engines, what is search engine optimization, you know, why is this tool important? Why should the backlink checker be important? You know, we have these huge gaps in knowledge that we don't bridge very well. Right. So I will go back to the infominder question, right. You know, I was sitting in a, you know, I went to one of the TiE visits in Santa Clara. And I was sitting there in a table, and then some other dude came in, you know, sat next to me, and they said, What do you do? And I asked him before I answered the question in a minute, but let me tell you one thing, he said that, how many competitors do you have in your business? And he said, I assumed that he was one of the startups or something like that, which has turned out Right, right. Yeah, about maybe seven or eight primary competitors, maybe 10, 20 secondary competitors. So how do you know what they're doing every day?
Every day? I don't have to know that. But, I occasionally go to their websites, and look at them. And I said, Oh, great. Okay, you look at the websites. What do you find? You know, you saw the website one month ago, now you go and look at it. What difference do you find? He just looked at me and said, is that your product? And I said, Yeah, I mean, like, basically what you do is you want to the connection, you know, immediately. Yes. So yes, you lead them saying you start from their problem side. And this is almost like one on one, I had the luxury of meeting this person face to face, interacting with him, asking him questions. And he didn't ask me to shut up and go move to another table. He was patient in answering because I'm in a very like a friendly group of every entrepreneur helping other entrepreneurs connecting and everybody's curious about what the others are doing and all that. And he said, Oh, you must be making billions of dollars. And I said, I wish. So that's a different story. So basically, what happens is when you frame the questions in a way in which they can relate to it, then they don't worry about the tools, just thing what the tool does. My tool has 10 other features and none of them are useful to him, if I simply say.
So if I ask the same question to a guy who's like, barely got even the first customer, this would not be relevant to him at all. And he'll say, ok, so to him, the question is very different. How do you get your leads? What do you do? Is it Oh, government contracts? Okay. In US government has requests for proposals. RFPs? How do you track RFPs? He said, I have a girl who goes and looks at them every day. I said, Really? What happens if she misses two or three RFPs? And he says, Yeah, that's a real problem. Is that do you want a tool that will just check and whenever a new RFP is posted, sends you an alert email. So the, what happens is that you as the builder of the product, know much more about how it can be used. Initially, you have some, right, that's what I mean by hypothesis, right? You need to validate. But after some time, you start learning it from people, you know, so they'll say, Hey, you know, you try a different stamp, nice, hey, what do you do? That's how I build two legs, and it makes your website, you know, more visible or more engaging. You said, oh, by the way, that's not my tool. But you know, there is a whole bunch of tools that do that. But I don't understand why should I make website more engaging? Because I have these existing customers. And those customers referred me to other customers, you know, I said, Yeah, fine. Are you happy with that? This process where you have no control that, you know, you're hoping that these customers will refer you to other customers? Do explicitly? So do you want a tool that will make it very interesting for your customers to refer you to other customers? Will they go and put an output in a like, in a forum or in like there is this product hunter beta list or some one of those kinds of things? Will they help you make your product more visible? Do you need a tool for that? And some in some cases, tools may not exist for doing this kind of thing. But there, you can cobble together a bunch of tools to do something like this, I think the problem is the framing of, you know, taking their need, or a kind of anticipating a few of their needs. Kind of telling them, do you know that, you know, this can be done manually. But do you know that you can actually scale it by automating some portions of it?
And then they'll say, Wow, kya hai! But how much is it going to cost me? What happens if it costs you a cup of coffee, or whatever you pay in Starbucks per day? It costs you like $3 a day, for example, that's quite a bit $90 a month, you know, right? And a monthly $90 revenue for a SaaS product is decent and you know, all it does is just keeps getting in leads, keep these visitors engaged.
Pravin Shekar: Lovely. Dorai, we are going to continue this conversation. Listeners and viewers Martech conversations between Dorai and myself Pravin, and a whole bunch of you can join in sending your questions, anything related to marketing technology and the marriage there-in. So lovely Dorai.