Last summer the DNSimple team met in Sheboygan for our annual family retreat. We met to speak about our initiatives covering the remainder of the year, including what is next for DNSimple's marketing efforts.
Around the same time I was reading an excellent book about marketing and the different channels available to the marketing team. I knew right away that this book could help us create a plan for our next actions. The book is called Traction: How any startup can achieve explosive customer growth, by Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of Duck Duck Go, and Justin Mares, the co-founder and CEO of Kettle & Fire.
Traction really spoke to me. It's an easy, clear read with examples in every chapter. The book is also a very systematic and structured approach to marketing—which is exactly what I felt I was missing. We were at a point where, as a team we needed to take a break and make an audit of our marketing activities; I figured Traction could be our blueprint. I took this opportunity to write down what channels we were already using, and define a plan on how to speak with the team about our upcoming marketing strategies. Traction helped me, and the entire team, take a polaroid picture of where we were.
In the book, there is a tool dubbed "Bullseye". It helps find the best traction channel for your company. It is a visual exercise, which is nice because you can see the creative aspects of Marketing Strategy. I remember taking a piece of paper and trying to figure out how I could apply the "Bullseye" to DNSimple right away.
I see Traction as a way to do a snapshot of our marketing actions at a given moment. This book inspired me to get our team together and start from point 1. First we went through our 19 channels one by one, together as a team, and discussed which ones we were already using and how we were using them. This exercise alone sparked a lot of discussion, we collected all of our existing marketing efforts into a single list. Initially, this took about two hours, during which we identified a marketing effort and tasked ourselves with rating its success. We also discussed whether each of those marketing efforts were acquiring new customers or not.
The Bullseye was immensely valuable, as in several cases not everyone on the team was aware of certain marketing efforts we make. The discussion was also helpful to demonstrate the impact on the development side to implement some of the efforts we wanted to implement hadn't yet begun. We talked a lot about what strategies were helpful to get new customers, also what we should do in order to continue talking to our existing customers.
Exchanges like these are very valuable when you have all the members of a company together because it helps everyone take a different view on the work they are doing. What came of this meeting, for example, is that everyone realized how important it is to write blog posts and support articles to show potential customers who we are, keep existing customers informed about what we are doing, and to provide marketing materials for the company. There is a real interdependence between the different team members, and it is important that everybody on the team understands this.
After the first session we decided it would be valuable to do the same exercise again, but this time to focus on the new marketing actions we wanted to start. Bringing different ideas in front of the entire team was a way to get feedback and also give other team members the opportunity to collaborate on new efforts. By discussing each of the new potential marketing efforts, we were again able to get feedback on how this would impact each of the team members, and what the level of effort would be to needed in order to implement each effort. One point to clarify: for this exercise I didn't use the mathematical approach of the book, but instead I kept it as simple as possible. This is the first time we tried this exercise, and thus we had to start from ground zero. I am looking forward our next team meetup and being able to do the same exercise with data this time, rather than simply our intuition for what may work and what may not work.
What I took away from this exercise was the moment we were all together and sharing our vision of each efforts. Operators, developers, and marketers work better together when we are all in sync with one another. Big plans have little value if you can't implement them.
We left Sheboygan with a clear strategy and precise goals for everyone on the team. This audit gave us a chance to collaborate, share, and as an added benefit: everyone on the team got a better sense of the importance of good marketing to promote our product and acquire new customers.
Finally, one other benefit that came out from those meetings was the realization that everybody on the team is an advocate of our product, and that we all play an important role in the diffusion of our image. By working together we can have a strong product as well as a good way of sharing it with others.