When Naveen Tewari set up Bangalore-based InMobi, then mKhoj – a mobile search tool, two business models and five years later, his company is exactly where he had envisioned it would be – a billion-dollar enterprise. Tracing modest beginnings, the company made its foray into mobile advertising to tap into a burgeoning mobile-owning population in India. Tewari can be considered the poster boy for most young Indian entrepreneurs who build products and applications increasingly focused on the ‘on-the-go’ crowd. However, there are several reasons why an initiative can fail to take off although the idea looks promising and airtight on the drawing board.
For an organisation to generate a product, transform it into a brand, and succeed in the long term, critical evaluations have to be made from the time of idea generation – identifying the product, market and target group for the product, differentiating factors from similar products, marketing channels to tap into, adoption of social media routes to leverage the product, scaling up operations or going back to the drawing board to reassess the slow uptake for a product, to go for funding or bootstrapped. Here are some pointers from experts in the field in respect to metrics that will enable an entrepreneur to build a brand that adds value in the long-term.
Building a product
“A great product will sell itself” – Naveen Tewari, Founder and CEO, InMobi
There are three secrets to building a great brand, scaling up and growing big as a business.
1. Think big: The Indian mindset is one of inhibitions and a fear of failure although capability, potential, and ambition are high. We gave up two business models (mobile search and SMS advertising) in just the first six-nine months of our inception. But, we refused to give up and went after an aggressive product strategy. In the first year, there were just three-five competitors around but that number went up to 25, with others replicating our strategy. We made several mistakes as we had no idea how to scale up, but our goal was always to be a billion-dollar company.
2. Go global: Scaling up and going global will bring in a culture of quality. The attitude of ‘anything goes’ will not work anymore since you have to build a product of the highest quality to cater to and compete in the international market.
3. Hire the best: If you want to create a world-class product/brand and succeed, hire the best talent available. This will prove 5X more expensive but 20X more productive and ultimately work out more economical.
Creating a marketing plan
“Your TG should know exactly what your product is about.” – Neil Patel, Founder, Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics
Five parameters will enable you to create a marketing plan for your startup.
1. Identify your audience: In this case, you have to evaluate who you are marketing to. An ambiguous target such as the US or Europe will not work. It has to be clear and very specific. Next, identify where you can find your TG. Then, assess if your market size is large enough for you to cater to a sizeable audience with deeper penetration, yet, small enough for you to serve successfully and productively.
2. Nail down messaging: A broad messaging strategy will not convert well as the target group will not understand or relate to it. The TG should know exactly what your product is about.
3. Set up tracking: Identify what metrics to track that will be important specifically to your business; they should be actionable.
4. Pick three marketing channels: List all the potential channels accessed and preferred by your TG. Pick three that have the quickest impact. Analyse the results and focus only on those that give positive results.
5. Testing: Test constantly, preferably every month, to maximise the desired outcome. Ideally, you should get at least 20,000 visitors a month before any successful testing can begin. Test one thing at a time considering both, qualitative and quantitative data. This will enable you to make positive changes resulting in drastic results.
Deciding to go global
“Understand the global context to succeed globally” – Tarkan Maner, President, CEO and Chief Customer Advocate, Dell WYSE
It is crucial to understand the global context to succeed globally. For this, you have to focus on:
1. The economic state: Market fluctuations coupled with political ups and downs are prevalent in most parts of the world. Evaluate your options and allocate resources accordingly.
2. Compliance of regulations: Understanding the regulatory mechanisms in different countries will help you identify where the business opportunities lie.
3. Awareness of emerging markets: Assess and tap into emerging markets as the opportunities are immense.
4. Corporate social responsibility: There is a great opportunity to connect with the community and create job avenues for them. Also, engage with the respective governments through PPP (Public Private Partnership), tap into the education sector. For an entrepreneur, every situation presents a business opportunity where he can also add value to the community.
5. Innovation: Technology is the locomotive of the innovation process – how you organise, hire, manage costs, etc.
6. Shareholder value: No entrepreneur can function in an ecosystem by himself. Therefore, it is important to choose the right investors and opt for ‘smart money’.
Apart from these considerations, it is important to connect socially, through mobile, and virtually with your entire customer base. This is not only a marketing tool but also an investment opportunity, an opportunity to innovate. These three aspects should converge in a contextual way. Also, focus on security, manageability, reliability, availability, flexibility, and scalability. Understand the geography, vertical, size, type of customers, and the channels of marketing. Spend less on operations; as you go global, start small and run a tight ship.
Influencers are very important if you go global. The only cost here is time that you spend on social media to reach a phenomenal customer base. Lastly, hire the best people, whom you can trust.
These experts shared their views during the NASSCOM Product Conclave held in Bangalore.