Omri Shabi

Find the Unique Way to Promote your Brand

I started my career as an Economist and 7 years ago, I had a daily column about currencies and commodities in one of the largest finance newspapers in Israel.
My entrepreneurial journey started back in 2009, when I co-founded an economic portal that generated hundreds of thousands of engaged readers.
In 2011, my partners and I worked on two additional ventures that eventually failed, but led us to build TrustMe, an online recommendation engine for service providers, which merged last year with a dominant SMB vendor in South Africa.

I joined Viewly in my current role as its CMO mainly because of the founders' crazy vision of building a platform that will help people do more good things. I was excited about building the infrastructure and help make this vision a reality.

There are many projects I am proud of, such as recruiting over 9000 SMBs to Trustme’s platform in the pre-launch stage, on a $0 budget, or reaching the Top 10 apps on the App Store with MyLeisure app by using sophisticated community nurturing techniques and on a very low budget. But the absolute top project I am proud of, is the recent campaign I led on Viewly, #MyKiss4Peace, which was on Sep. 21, 2016 - Peace Day.


Keep Your Product in Mind When Looking for Ways to Promote It

Viewly is a platform that helps charities and activists raise awareness and donations through social campaigns, with each campaign created on the platform having its own hashtag. Viewly also makes it easy for supporters to track the progress of the campaign through analytics and insights that measure engagement, demographics, location and network buzz.

To launch our platform officially, we decided to run a campaign on the platform itself. We could have launched the platform like most startups, bringing awareness through PR and sharing the product's added value and functionalities. However, we preferred to launch it by creating our own successful case study on the same budget an "official" launch would have cost us - and it worked out tremendously, reaching over 20M people worldwide!

By using our own product, my goal was to expose the platform to our audience as part of a successful case study, in order to psychologically link between success and Viewly, and allow our potential audience feel that they’re the heroes in this success story.

I wanted to let them feel they are not just bystanders watching a campaign but are fully participating in it. This, I feel, increases brand loyalty and engagement.

My team and I worked on the campaign for 3 months, creating relationships with key influencers who we thought would help leverage the campaign.
We built a solid infrastructure and presence on relevant social media groups and delivered pinpoint content that made our potential supporters fall in love with the platform.

Thanks to the amazing Gil Eyal and HYPR team, we even succeeded in having Avril Lavigne on board pushing the campaign to her audience.

With the assistance of (influencers recruitment company), we managed to connect with the Jalal Brothers, top influencers in the industry, and pushed them to clean their ‘terror image" by doing something for the Peace Day campaign on Viewly.

Subsequently after we received the support from Avril Lavigne and the Jalal Brothers, dozens of social media influencers (with 0.5M-3M followers each) participated in the campaign and challenged their communities to do the same.

The most important work was taking those achievements and continuing to leverage them as long as the campaign was hot. We did this by sending small tokens to hundreds of entities, organizations, hostels, bands, bloggers etc. that were already contacted by us prior, to help us push the campaign further in their communities.

We also backed these efforts with posting in groups we were already engaged with, and got a boost of users from that activity as well.

On top of all the work we did with various communities, we used Facebook and Twitter and contacted any person who was in contact with or showed interest in the campaign and tried to convince them to become a campaign ambassador.

After reaching a point of virality, we turned to our secret weapon, a big screen ad in Times Square.

viral campaign times square

When I initially thought of the idea, many people told me I'm crazy to buy such an ad in Times Square and that it would exceed my budget.

Overall, they may be have been right as the regular price for such an ad is between thousands to dozens of thousands of dollars per day. However, thanks to my partner, Elik Kazav who managed a sophisticated negotiation and nurtured a relationship with the owner of the billboard, we paid less than 1000$ for 5 days!

Looking back at the campaign, we managed 18 different marketing channels that perfectly complemented each other, with thousands of tasks during the launch days. The outcome was tripling our expected KPIs.

The cherry on top was that our final budget was 10% of the expected one, all due to creativity and fundamental planning enough time in advance. We reached over 22M people who were actively exposed to our brand, had over 250K shares to our content and over 33K new ambassadors who will help us kick off Viewly’s next campaigns.


This is What I Would Do if I Had To Get Traction Again:

1. User Feedback as part of a focus group/closed beta - most founders think the way to get traction is based on finding the right marketing channels first. I believe it’s wrong. Any startup will get traction if its founders will focus first on the core added value of their product and match it to the right audience who wish to get this added value.

The way to find this added value is by starting to build a process of ‘user feedback’. Prepare a detailed table that describes and documents everything about the first hundred users (B2C) or dozen users (B2B) you approach and make your mistakes with the smallest number of users. That will help you to understand earlier in the process where your obstacles are and how to solve them, so it'll be easier to scale later on.

Moreover, by focusing on a small number of users, you can see which users are the most engaged, define them thoroughly, how they react, know what they want etc.
This way, at a very early stage you can reach a product that has been optimized by your users, based on their feedback. You already know who they are so you only need to find similar ones and only then pick the right marketing channels to reach them.

2. Find Your Ambassadors - you must find those users/partners/etc who are super passionate about your product, listen, manage and nurture them. Let them know that they are your first loyal users (ambassadors) and they will return the love. Another tip to increase your traction is not only to partner with loyal users but with other companies that share your values or have complimentary products. This will enable to you to reach a wider audience.

3. Patience and Belief - I like to call it ‘The Failure-Success Cycle": In order to get valuable traction, you must be patient and understand it’s a trial and error process that includes A/B testing, measuring, willingness to learn and optimize. In order to draw real conclusions, I highly recommend using a tool that would allow you to see trends and developments, and understand the data you review.

Patience is a virtue. Continue to learn and analyze, and even if you don’t see results while you’re doing your job, know that if you’re focusing on delivering the right value to the right audience they will come!




Please Do Not Make The Mistakes Others Do:

Startup Marketing Mistakes:

  1. They don’t know their audience (they think they know, but they don’t). Think like your user. Dive deep, understand their habits, how they talk, what motivates them, who their influencers are, what type of content they like to share etc.
  2. They don’t know who their competitors are - every startup must honor its competitors and learn how it can perform better. One of the best ways to do that is to create a dynamic competitive analysis table and track your competitors regularly.
  3. They are not patient nor do they understand it's a process. They want to see results here and now.
  4. They don’t invest enough efforts in the psychological aspect of their products. Marketing is all about psychology, if you understand your user, you will find the right ways to deliver your uniqueness to them.
  5. They measure incorrectly, leading to wrong conclusions.
  6. They don’t understand that their best marketing channel is their product.
  7. They talk about their product, but don’t talk about the experience or value a user can gain from it.


Entrepreneurial Mistakes:

  1. They did not set a clear strategic milestone and waste their time on tasks that are not crucial.
  2. They love to say the word KPI but don’t really understand it and how to make it work for their growth.
  3. They try to be good managers but don’t understand the importance of leadership and taking brave decisions in an uncertain ecosystem.
  4. They treat themselves like they are slaves, working 16 hours per day, wasting their time since they’re in a ‘work mood’ and don’t know when their day is ending. For example, this ‘work mode’ leads some to draft an email in 1 hour instead of 7 minutes, had they knew their day ends at a certain time. They work under urgent mode, not filtering the wheat from the chaff and not understanding that the ROI for the last 2 hours of the day is zero in the long run, leading them to feel drained, exhausted, and unhappy. Everything startups do in 16 hours, they can do in 10 hours while working with an hourly gantt, detailed KPIs, measure themselves everyday and setting a daily deadline to their workday without being attempted to perform tasks that don’t advance them.
  5. Assuming wrong assumptions, which leads to making wrong decisions.
  6. Don’t advise enough with external people who can add value.
  7. Don’t invest enough energy on internal communication.

Tools I Use Religiously For My Marketing Work

  • Buffer
  • Buzzsumo
  • Mention
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Moz's Open Site Explorer
  • Similar Web
  • Google Analytics
  • Streak - CRM in your inbox
  • Asana - for tracking group work
  • Instagantt - Gantt charts for ☝️


Blogs I Follow:

  • (Chrome extension for marketers)
  • Neil Patel's blog
  • Social Media Examiner
  • Content Marketing Institute
  • Hubspot's blog
  • Conversionxl
  • SumoMe
  • Buzzsumo
  • Moz
  • Kissmetrics
  • Growthhackers
  • Coschedule (they also have a kick-a$$ tool to check how good your headline is)
  • Sproutsocial
  • Smartinsights
  • Marketingthink

People I Follow:

  • Nir Eyal
  • Neil Patel
  • Tim Ferris
  • Larry Kim
  • Rand Fishkin
  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Josh Elman
  • Yam regev
  • Dan-ya Shwartz
  • Yael Kochman
  • Iris Shoor
  • Farhana Rahman
  • Hillel Fuld
  • Roy Povarchik

You can connect with Omri on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

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  • lior faivel

    Great article and insights!!

Omri Shabi

Omri is the CMO @ Viewly, a platform for charities to raise awareness and donations. He also a full-stack marketer and mentoring startups in Google Launchpad and IDC