Tyler Brooks – StartUp FoCo Podcast

Tyler Brooks, founder of Analytive, wants you to make sure your marketing is converting. He believes until you know your customer and how your products fit in the market, you can’t scale up.

His talk at Startup week is How to Market to Your Dream Clients on Friday March 1st, 11:00am-12:00pm @ Cohere Coworking.

Tyler had a lot to say about digital marketing. Let’s check out the interview!

My name is Tyler and I founded a digital marketing company called Analytive about three years ago. We focus largely on the B2B space as a conversion-focused agency, meaning that when I work with clients, my goal is to always get them revenue, leads in the door, or sales.

Our focus is on revenue, we’re not a branding agency or a creative agency in the strictest sense. Obviously, there’s creativity in what we do, but I love working with clients who have a strong desire to build a marketing funnel that will provide resources and revenue over the long run.

What would you say to a startup that was just coming out of the gate?

To borrow startup lingo, find that product market fit. I’ve worked with a lot of startups, established agencies, and established companies, but one of the big challenges is always finding the product market fit.

Where it isn’t quite established yet, they think, “Oh, we can go out and we can outsource marketing,” so they come to us or they go to other agencies and say, “Well, you’re a marketing agency. Here’s our product. Figure out how to sell it. Figure out how to get it in front of the right people.”

We’ll usually ask them, “Who are the right people?” If you have this software as a service or you have this manufacturing or you have this consulting service, who are the right people for you? Until you know that and until you know your product’s a great fit for the market, you’re really fighting an uphill battle. Before you spend any money on marketing, one of the most valuable things is to make sure you have the right product reaching the right market. Then once you sort of get that traction, that’s when the scale up can really happen.

That’s where we love coming in with companies when they are just starting to get that product market fit and we can take what’s already working and we can help them scale it. We can spend money on ads knowing that we’re gonna get a return, we’re not just kind of shooting in the dark, but we’re actually trying to drive real revenue because we know that it’s the right product and we’re getting it in front of the right market so that those people begin to convert.

What percentage of businesses would you say start out with the wrong type of marketing?

Most companies aren’t quite as far along that journey as they think they are. If you think you’re at 70% or 80%, realistically maybe you’re at 50% or 60%. If you think you’re only 50% of the way there, you’re probably only at 20% or 30% of the way there. Until you’re pretty confident in your product market fit, don’t spend money on marketing and scaling.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for a startup that’s looking at doing marketing for the first time?

One of the things that they miss most often is the message. Because you are working in your company all the time, it’s easy to talk about the features of your product and instantly begin to nerd out on the features or the technical aspects of whatever it is that you are trying to sell. The problem is that nobody really cares about the technical aspects by and large. That comes later in the sales process. What they actually care about is the benefit that they’re going to gain if they use your product or service.

So I think that’s one of the things, even today I had a lunch meeting with a guy and he was talking all about the technical aspects, the features, how much you get, how much it’s gonna cost, but he didn’t talk about the benefit, the actual benefit to the end user and to the potential customer. So that’s the number one thing I see. Everyone likes to focus on the media, so they like to talk about oh, we’re doing Facebook ads or we’re doing Google ads, but until you have the right message and the right market, you’re actually getting in front of the right people, the decision makers, only then should you really look at the media and which channels you want to be on.

Yeah. I think Seth Godin made the point of whose it for is the most important question in marketing. It seems like that’s a common refrain with what you’re saying as well. When it comes to whose it for you also have to think about how they’re looking at the benefits or the problem itself that you’re trying to solve.

For sure, for sure. Actually, in my talk at Startup Week, I’m gonna break down … our topic is how to market to your dream customer, we’re gonna talk about how you start to define who that dream customer is, again, asking that and answering that question who is it for.

So about Startup Week, what are you most excited for?

Well, I love Startup Week. I have participated in the Fort Collins Startup Week, I spoke I think two or three years ago, I’ve attended many events there and I’ve also participated in even Denver’s Startup Week which is a little bigger than us, but we’re growing as well, and I’m really excited about that.

I love seeing the creativity and the opportunities to solve real problems that come out of Fort Collins. The other thing I love about Fort Collins is because it’s not a major tech hub, a lot of the companies are starting to be revenue positive right out of the gate, so you’re not necessarily funding these massive companies with millions of dollars in venture funding, but these are real startups that may or may not ever get to that billion dollar mark, but they’re actually gonna make a dent in the world if they can get their product traction and get it sort of off the ground. To me, that’s really exciting. I love what we do, especially in the health care and the biotech space, that isn’t necessarily happening as much in some of the bigger startup hubs where they’re focused perhaps on consumer products or consumer software services.

How do you change your approach when it comes to those different industries? Because Fort Collins is rife with all sorts of different businesses.

It’s a matter of first of all finding the right audience. Who are we actually trying to sell to? What are we trying to … who are we trying to reach? What is the message? What is the problem that they have that they’re trying to solve? Only then do we actually think about what we put in front of them as far as the messaging that we’re putting in front of them.

So for me, it’s a lot of research. It’s a lot of really deep understanding. We have clients in the manufacturing industry and myself and our team, we get the industry newsletters. We understand what is happening in that industry so then we can go out and say, “Oh, here’s the problems. Here’s what we’re seeing,” and we work with then the CEO or the division manager or the marketing manager, CMO, whoever we’re working with, to say, “Okay, let’s get in front of the right people.” We can now do just crazy level, individual level targeting on that so we’re not wasting ad spend or branding on people who won’t ever care about the product.

Marketing dollars are so hard to chase down when you’re in startup mode, it’s important to use every dollar to its last, that you can and squeeze every bit of value out of it.

Exactly, right. If you’re a software as a service marketing to Fortune 500, Instagram probably isn’t quite the right channel for you, maybe even Facebook isn’t. Maybe that’s more LinkedIn or high intense searches on Google. Where does SEO fit into all of this? We help them sort of sort through that, because it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of channels that are out there. There’s always a new channel, always a new social media network, always a new ad platform, but how do you come back and say, “Well, wait a minute. Let’s first figure out who our people are, then let’s figure out where they spend time.”

Yeah, not just channels but I would argue that the analytics have gotten overwhelming for an average small business owner as well.

And people don’t understand there’s a cost to analytics. Yeah, the software might be free, sometimes it’s not, if you want more advanced analytics, but the time it takes to actually go in and analyze the data that you’re gathering actually takes marketing time, it takes marketing dollars and analytics are really important, love them, they’re super valuable, but I see a lot of companies spend too much time and effort on analytics and not enough actually getting their message out and that’s a danger as well.

Who do you see in the B2B space that’s absolutely crushing it in terms of marketing in Northern Colorado?

The truth is, if they’re doing it well, I would probably never see it. Right? If I’m not in their target market. I think that is the other beautiful piece of this is that when you’re not marketing to everybody, John Smith on the side of the street doesn’t know who you are, but do the people who are going to buy know who you are? The answer should definitely be yes.

Beyond your panel, whose panels are you looking forward to most at Startup Week?

There’s a couple marketing ones, Nick. I want to actually come by your panel as well. I really have to dig into the schedule. This week I’ve started to map out some of them that I’m looking forward to. I always go to the marketing ones. I always go to the investor ones as well. I think the investor ones are really interesting because if you are a startup raising money, you are selling to your investors, and even though they’re not customer dollars, you’re getting your startup in front of them and you need to have actually a marketing plan in place to actually pay them back and grow and exit the business in whatever form that looks like. Those are usually the two tracks that I spend the most time on. I think there’s a lot of really talented marketing folks here in Northern Colorado and so I always want to learn from them and in the Rockies Venture Club and all the work that they’re doing. I’m super happy.

I actually was at a pitch event for them, a training, even though we’re not raising money and don’t have any plans to raise money, I still like the persuasive elements of it and I’m learning all I can from them. Those are kind of the two broad tracks that I’m looking to spend time on.

You want to tell us about your talk?

Okay. When I talk, and right now I’m speaking I believe on Friday at 11:00 a.m. at Cohere, I think, so I’d love to see you guys there. At my talk, I’m really gonna talk about how to market to your dream customers. Now, we’re gonna talk about putting a message together that really resonates with them. We’re gonna talk about actually using media and using some of the really detailed targeting available today to get in front of the right people, the people who can actually pay you money, and then we’re really gonna help people put together meaningful strategies and kind of have some checklists and some go-to guides so that they can actually start using these marketing and promotion strategies today.

My goal is that whenever they’re spending marketing dollars, they’re actually making money. Now that’s not easy. It’s very, very, very hard. I think everybody, especially if you work in the marketing industry like we do, people will tell you, “Oh, it’s just so easy. You throw out some Facebook ads,” but 90 plus percent of the time, it’s not that easy. But I do want to equip people so that they can start on the journey of discovering what their message is, what their market is, what media they should be using so that they can actually get in front of the customers that are gonna drive revenue for their business.

Any last words of advice for a newbie startup?

I guess what I would say first is I love Startup Week, but it will be like drinking from a fire hose, especially if you go to several of the sessions a day. I’d say one of the most valuable things is whether you come to my talk, hopefully you come to my talk, hopefully you go to a bunch of other talks as well, is at the end of it, you gotta prioritize. You’re a startup with limited resources, go back, make a list of the things that you need to do in the next week, even the next day, the next week, the next month, whatever those are. Because I’ve seen so many times, even with myself, I’ll go to Startup Week and I’ll get so excited about so many new opportunities that are out there but then reality hits, I gotta answer emails from clients and customers and you’re producing blog content, everything just kind of hits you and a lot of times it’s never put into action.

So the one thing I would recommend to people is throughout the week as you’re in these sessions, take notes but then as soon as Friday hits, Saturday, maybe the first thing that following Monday, make a list of what you want to get done and then follow through with it, because if you don’t, it’s just sort of gonna be honestly a waste of time. Not because the content wasn’t good, but because you’re probably … if you’re like me at least, you’re not gonna get much of it done.

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