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Startups, Vitamins and Customer Research
The startup spirit was strong, the beer flowed and energy in the room was high at the latest HaTCH event, this time held at global co-working space provider WeWork on Beach Road.
Over 120 people gathered in the kitchen and common room to listen to a panel of assembled international experts talk about the need for product marketing and marketing in general at startups.
HaTCH and WeWork presented “Who needs product marketing anyway?” with panelists Bobby Guhasarkar, Senior Director Product Marketing, Cisco Security, Zhiying Tang, General Manager of Nessa and Jennifer Villalobos, VP & Head of Digital, Income. And the answer to the titular question seemed to be a resounding “Everyone does… and sooner in the development of a company than you might think.”
Lively moderation by Ben Munroe, Director Product Marketing, led the panel to discuss topics such as the difference in B2B/B2C marketing, the challenges of keeping up with the tech stack, and the different skills needed when messaging products versus managing brand campaigns and lead generation programs.
Zhiying, or “Zee”, GM of the hearing appliance startup Nessa, talked about the challenge of marketing something that people need but don’t want, in her case, the hearing aid. Listening to what customers really wanted from their products. They polled thousands of target consumers before bringing to market a hearing aid, and they found that one way to answer to a specific use case was to integrate the hearing aid with the TV so that the hearing impaired could listen to TV programs with their families without having to blast the volume.
Jennifer who has recently made the move from Google to Income was firm in the belief that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. She talked about the need for marketers to be able to pull the right kind of insights from marketing technology (martech), and she discussed the challenges of launching a new offering into an untested market, which includes having the conviction to be able to pull the plug if it does not work.
Bobby Guhasarkar, who has spent time in startups, most recently OpenDNS, and is now in multinational networking and security giant Cisco, talked about the necessity of deciding whether your product was first, best or “only”, meaning it’s the only one of its kind in the market. He also offered the piece of advice that it’s better to market aspirin (which people must have to solve a real problem) rather than vitamins, which people view as a “nice to have.”
The crowd – the biggest for a HaTCH event – stayed until way past the end, asking questions about when to hire a marketing leader in a startup, and how to learn more about product marketing. When the evening finally drew to a close in WeWork the final attendees moved into the pub downstairs where the beer, and the conversation, continued to flow. Aspirin hopefully not required.
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