Storytelling for startups, early-stage influencers, retail media spend – TechCrunch

by Joseph K. Clark

“I like to think of successful brand-building as creating a company that customers would be upset to separate from their identity,” growth marketing expert Julian Shapiro told us earlier this week. “For example, they’d cease to be the man with Slack stickers all over his laptop. Or the woman who no longer wears Nike shoes every day. And that bugs them.”

Shapiro comes from a technical background as a repeat startup founder and open-source web developer. But these days, as the co-founder of growth education company Demand Curve and startup growth agency Bell Curve, he advocates telling your story by speaking from the heart. We interviewed him earlier this week to hear more about how he sees marketing in 2021.

Elsewhere on TechCrunch and Extra Crunch this week, we published guest columns about using influencers in early-stage brands, the global retail media spending trend and talked to Growth Folks, a growth marketing organization in India.

But first, here are a couple of the most recent recommendations from founders in our startup growth marketer survey. (If there’s a growth marketer that you’ve enjoyed working with, please tell us here.)

Marketer: Bili Sule, algorithm
Recommended by: Femi Aiki, Footlocker
Testimonial: “Bili has a proven track record of driving growth, as the former vice president of Growth Marketing at Jumia Nigeria and a senior growth consultant for Founders Factory Africa. She can cut through the jargon/vanity metrics and has found a way to consistently and reliably engineer growth for us. What’s unique about Bili’s approach is that her strategy moves beyond just marketing. She is data-driven and takes an iterative experimental approach to unlock growth across various business pillars, from marketing to product and operations.”


Marketer: Jack Abramowitz
Recommended by: Marwen Refaat, GameFi
Testimonial: “Jack is incredibly talented at both growth hacking as well as building an automated growth engine. He has been tremendously helpful to our team.”

Building a growing community in India with Ayush Srivastava of Growth Folks: India is producing a vast, well-funded new generation of startups, and increasing sophistication in growth marketing is one reason. “Companies have started realizing the true importance of having a fully functional growth team, and they have started acknowledging their one metric that matters as well,” Srivastava told us in a recent interview. “The growth marketers have also started setting up a lot of experiments and have taken a data-driven approach to solve a problem. Now, I see many startups going out of the box and trying to find new ways of acquisition. They haven’t restricted them to acquiring users via the traditional ways, and that’s why you see so many ideas going viral so easily.”

(Extra Crunch) Early-stage brands should also unlock the power of influencers: Jonathan Martinez, an experienced growth marketer, breaks down influencer marketing. Martinez notes, “When reaching out to influencers, it’s a sheer numbers game in capturing their attention and pitching your brand, but there are myriad ways to increase response conversion.”

(Extra Crunch) What’s driving the global surge in retail media spending? Cynthia Luo, head of marketing at Epsilon, discusses what modern marketing is in 2021. Luo also talks about how businesses have had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Luo says, “As e-commerce turns into a dream marketing channel, reaping the benefits of retail marketing is only possible if the marketplace equips brands with the right tools and data sets.”

The art of startup storytelling with Julian Shapiro: Eric Eldon, Extra Crunch managing editor, spoke with Julian Shapiro about how companies communicate with the public. Shapiro offered insights from his experience as an angel investor, “I’m interested in businesses with product-led growth, brand affinity moats and who get harder to compete with the larger they get.”

(Extra Crunch) Growth tactics that will jump-start your customer base: Jenny Wang, principal investor at Neo, gives insights into the challenges startups now face to launch their customer base and provides tactics to help them do so. In this article, Wang discusses what the playbook was like five years ago and says, “ … it’s never been harder to corral eyeballs and hit a breakout adoption trajectory.”

Salesforce State of Marketing: Salesforce published a marketing report that uses a double-blind survey they conducted. The survey has five main chapters, “Marketers Embrace Change with Optimism,” “As Customers Go Digital, Marketing Steps Up,” “Collaboration Drives the Market-from-Anywhere Era,” “Marketing Is Spelled D-A-T-A,” and “Metrics and KPIs Continue to Evolve.” When looking at digital channels, they mentioned that “Even those digital channels that may have been classified as emerging in recent years are seeing mass adoption. Mobile messaging, for instance, is used by 69% of marketers, and nearly two-thirds of organizations use audio media like podcasts and streaming ads.” The report lists the five “Most Valuable Marketing Metrics/KPIs” and looks ahead at “Digital Marketing Tactics.” Is there a startup growth marketing expert that you want us to know about? Let us know by filling out our survey.

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