Aditya Vempaty joined on March 23rd for our weekly Marketing Coffee Talk.  Aditya is an investor, startup mentor, and marketing executive with an engineering background.  He’s built and scaled marketing teams for companies like Amplitude, which achieved 400% revenue growth in 16 months by focusing on customer problems.  Amplitude went on to achieve a $4.5B IPO - pretty decent evidence that Aitya’s tactics work!

Here are some top takeaways from Aditya’s talk:

1. Know your customers’ problems well.

Your customer doesn’t care about your product - they care about solving their problems.

If you’re a B2B startup founder, understanding the problem you aim to solve is one of your earliest priorities.  Before focusing on demand capture and creation, focus on problem discovery and customer discovery.  Harvard Business School defines customer discovery as "the initial and iterative process of understanding customers' situations, needs, and pain points."  Talk to potential customers to ensure you’ve learned all you can about their problems.

2. Focus on solving your customers’ problems.

What is a pain point that your customer is not willing to live with?  What’s a pain they’ll pay to solve instead of continuing to live with?  Money follows pain, not benefits.  Providing an enhancement or benefit is a much harder sell than solving a major problem.

3. Pursue dual tracks of demand capture and demand creation

Only 5% of your potential customers are ready to buy your B2B product right now.  For this category of leads, focus on demand capture. Do you have a system in place that can capture anyone who is currently ready to buy your product and push buyers through the sales funnel? These strategies are for sales-qualified leads, also known as SQL’s or “hand raisers.”

  • Demand capture strategies include the channels where buyers are before they get to your site, and the ways you convert on your site.  Free demos, free trials, discounts, clear CTA’s, and following up with leads that didn’t convert are all parts of demand capture.

95% of your customers are thinking about buying.  If you’re a B2B tech or Saas company, your customers may take years before they’re ready to buy.  Converting these leads will take longer than those ready to buy now.  For this category of leads, focus on demand creation.  This means creating long term content that gets you in front of people who may buy later on.

  • Demand creation strategies include content that educates your audience on a problem.  This can be done through whitepapers, free guides, downloadable ebooks, podcasts, events, webinars, and the like.

4. Lock in demand capture strategies before focusing on demand generation.

In the first year of a company’s life, when you’re getting your first ten customers, you’ll do more demand capture.  Later on, you can afford to focus more on demand creation.  SEO and content take about nine months to rank.

5. Pay it forward

Nothing builds trust like being willing to give something of value while expecting nothing in return.  This mentality is described in books like “The Go-Giver,” by Bob Burg and John David Mann and in philosophies like Techstars “Give First.”

Share where you’re at with your startup!

Which of these 3 are you working on?:

  1. Customer discovery - talking to potential customers about their problem so you understand it well.
  2. Demand capture - setting up systems that convert leads and close sales for the hand raisers who are ready to buy.
  3. Demand generation - creating longer term content that helps educate an audience that may one day become customers.