Unlike many of Israel’s startups who came from 8200, I served as an officer in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit as the IDF representative to North American Media. With a background in psychology and international relations, together with my experience in the field, I knew the power of a story. A good narrative can change perceptions; changed perceptions can change the world. So I went looking for a company that had a killer story. And I found Freightos, a B2B company created the Expedia for international freight. We don’t think about it...but everything in the world is shipped by plane, air and truck (check your shirt, underwear and laptop - they were probably shipped too). It’s an incredible product with a huge vision...and it needed its story told.
B2B sales are hard. Getting in the door, proving yourself in an industry packed with legacy software, garnering credibility and sticking out are all challenges that can kill a startup, especially in an old-school industry like freight. To get logistics companies attention, we ran mystery shopping experiments where, using a fake company, we tried to get multiple freight quotes from a target company. After ten attempts or so, we’d create a PDF report and cold-email decision makers. That got us in the door nearly every time - account-based marketing totally works. Once we had a couple of reports, we compiled it into a data-backed report, got some great PR to promote it and then used laser-focused targeting on LinkedIn. Got our name out in the industry, generated a ton of attention and put us in front of the right people.
My 3 top tips for startups to get traction:
- Vigorously develop, validate and nix channels. There are so many ways to get in front of people. Once you know who you’re targeting, where they are and what their pain points are, make sure you test different channels, collecting data to know what’s working, what can be improved and what needs to be taken out back and shot.
- Content is golden. If you’re sitting on unique information, get it to work for you. The right content will bring the right leads to you. Cinnabon puts its ovens in the front of the store so that the smell drifts out around the mall. When your nose leads you in there, you’re incredibly ready to buy.
- Don’t stop learning. It’s easy to get locked in an echo chamber where you keep on doing the same stuff, day in, day out. Find other marketers in your space, meet up with them and interrogate them on what they’re up to.
Being in the startup ecosystem, I've seen several mistakes startups make in their marketing work. One of these mistakes is keeping the digital marketing work behind a computer...that’s not what it’s all about. Get out there. Talk to your haters, talk to your fans, talk to your sales team, talk to your product team. Figure out who your customers are, what keeps them up at night and what they love to hear from your sales team. Data is great for optimizing; qualitative research will give you the aha! moment.
Another common mistake is vanity KPIs. I can’t tell you how long I spent chasing more site visitors, without caring about down-funnel activity. Top of funnel only matters if those leads are viable candidates for down-funnel.
A third mistake is thinking that PR requires a secret touch. Selling a story is just like selling a product. Journalists needs good stories and, in many cases, rely on people like you. If you have a good, unique angle, come up with a great pitch email, personalize it for a specific report and give it a shot.
Tools I use religiously for my marketing work:
I like to try to change by repertoire pretty often but I would say:
- Mixpanel: makes funnel and website activity tracking a cinch
- CMS (WordPress): breaking free from our R&D team and getting the ability to own Freightos’ digital activity was huge. I can build, measure and iterate to my heart’s content without being dependent on other people. Learning basic coding is critical to make this really work
- ActiveCampaign: content, combined with a good marketing automation software, is a gamechanger. Get a blog up, push out good content that educates, grab email addresses and grow.
Blogs and people I follow:
- Product Hunt is a great ecosystem that spoon feeds great tools and discussions
- Launch Ticker is a great way to stay up with the high-tech sector as a whole
- As is the Mattermark Daily, which usually has some great marketing content
- CoSchedule and Mailchimp blogs
- The regular superstars, like:
- Neil Patel
- Jay Baer
- Hubspot blog
- Hiten Shah
You can connect with Eytan on Twitter