A Corporate Perspective on Startup Growth

Nearly all my friends and family (from my generation) have chosen a white-collar profession. This weekend I was having a conversation with my bother-in-law and a close family friend about Purlem.  I look up to both of them as not only being outstanding husbands and fathers, but both are also extremely driven and have a brilliant business minds.  I love talking to them about Purlem as it always provides fresh feedback from outside my little startup world.

I was sharing with them that the traditional market for PURLs has been Print Providers.  However, because PURLs have become easier to use and more affordable, anybody that uses direct mail or email marketing can and should use PURLs.  The trick, I continued, is to figure out how to effectively introduce PURLs to those that use email marketing with a minimal budget.

Our conversation went something like this (from the best of my recollection):

THEM: If I were to introduce you to my marketing department, how would you sell Purlem?

ME : I would say…  Do you already use email marketing?

THEM: Yes

ME: Do you track your click through rates?

THEM: Yes

ME: What is your current click through rate?

THEM: Say… 2%

ME: If you give Personalized URLs a try, it will likely double that click through rate.

THEM: Prove it

ME: I can show you case studies and statics all day that prove the technology.

THEM: Well what about an ROI?  Do you have an ROI if I invest in your technology?

ME: No, because every campaign is different.  ROI is dependent not on the PURL, but on how you execute your marketing.  PURLs are only a marketing tactic that can help improve your current campaign.

THEM: We’ll without proving an ROI, it will be nearly impossible to sell

ME: It wouldn’t be enough to say – Hey, take a look at PURLs.  They will likely double your click through rates. Worse case scenario you loose a couple hundred dollars and figure out that PURLs are not a good tactic for your business.

THEM: Do you know how many times the boss is approached with ideas that only cost a couple hundred dollars.  If he took every one…  You need to prove that this will work in order to sell it

I thought about what they were saying, and took the conversation a couple of steps back…

ME: Well regardless, I actually don’t think it would be an effective approach for Purlem to sell on a one-to-one basis.  The price point (monthly fee) of using Purlem is to low to make that realistic.

THEM: Well increase the price

ME: Eghh… That makes me a little nervous.  The price points works fairly well right now.  You have to understand that Purlem is a do-it-yourself service.  I actually talk with very few of my users, and when I do it is about minor support issues.  Because of that I can keep the price low.  But if I started to increase the price, and sell on a one-to-one basis, I would be completely changing Purlem’s business model….  (I paused for a bit).  What I guess it really comes down to is that I don’t want to play the corporate game.

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If I had to take anything away from the conversation, it’s that if I’m going to effectively introduce PURLs to the corporate world of email marketers, I may have to reconsider my approach of marketing to this group.

Purlem is a classic Software as a Service (SaaS) business.  It is a very popular and proven business model in the startup world.  But in the corporate world it is largely unknown.  If I try to approach people with a corporate paradigm, with a startup type business model, it could be a mistake.

I think it is important for startups of all kinds to not ignore feedback that comes outside of our little startup world –  but rather figure out how you can use it to your advantage and attract new users.

  • http://twitter.com/purlem Martin Thomas

    Another good perspective from Charlie O’Donnell on accepting Startup Advice: http://www.thisisgoingtobebig.com/blog/2012/4/23/the-problem-with-startup-advice.html