Last year I attended one of the largest gatherings of media executives in the world, called Ad Week. Ad Week is a week-long event in NYC that brings CMO’s of Â most of Fortune 100 companies. It’s a gold mine if you are trying to land Pepsi, Skittles, AT&T or any other brand as your client. So it was my time to shine! (we promote videos for companies)
At the time, Virool was just 3 people (including me) and I was the only one representing my companyÂ at the event. When I got there, I wanted to look professional, so I put on a suit and went to the panels. As it turned out, pretty much everyone in the room was dressed in suits. Since I was in my early 20’s most CMO’s/agency reps that I met assumed that I was looking for a job. When I would tell them about my company, they would just follow up with dazed, “cool, here’s my business card” and leave. I realized that I needed to do something different.
Lesson: Standout by putting your company’s value proposition (not logo) on a t-shirt
Immediately, I went online on cafepress.com and instead of putting my company’s logo, I wrote in big white letters on a black shirt, “Need 1,000,000 Views?”, and put an order for next day delivery.
My 2nd day at Ad Week proved to be 10x more productive. People would approach me and tell me that they are in need of my company’s services. I went to a cocktail party and a media executive came up to me with, “My customer is AT&T and we just made an awesome viral video for them. Can you help us promote it?”
Lesson: Do your research on people/ start conversations early via LinkedIn
At Ad Week, there was a panel with Frank Cooper, CMO of PepsiCo. I looked him up on LinkedIn and realized that we had few friends in common. I shot him a direct message about connecting after the panel. When I went to see him the next day, right after his speech, he was swarmed with people. When I approached him, I introduced myself as, “Alex from Virool, we connected via LinkedIn” and he instantly recognized me. Right away he warmly asked, “How do you know so and so?”, “He’s a neighbor of mine!”.
Shortly after, Frank put me in touch with the right people at PepsiCo and they became a client. More so, other people who were approaching him began to approach me.
It’s odd, but very few people do their research and even less take simple actions as sending a message on LinkedIn. If a potential client is important to you, then spend some time learning who he/she is, who their friends are, what their interests might be. SuchÂ knowledgeÂ can make a huge impact in a short conversation.
Lesson: Crash your competitor’s panel
Towards the end of the week, one of our biggest competitors was having a panel. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on organizing it. We didn’t have that kind of money, so what did I do? Crash it. I was catching up with a friend at a lunch, 2 hours before the panel. I told him how I was dreading going to that panel, because what am I going to say to people? “Hi, we do the same thing as the guys presenting this panel”. And then it occurred to me. I grabbed my laptop and created a quick flyer. I found a nearby printing center, called them, sent them my file and payment information to print a few hundred copies. I rushed to the printing center, then to a store to buy some envelopes and then back to panel. Once I arrived, my friend and I spent 30 min stuffing the envelopes and with 30 min to go till the panel started, we were able to put envelopes on everyone’s seats.
When people arrived, they sat down, opened an envelope and read, “Don’t Have $100k to spend on seeding a viral video? Try Virool. We do the same thing as X company, but better, faster and cheaper!”
Our competitor was furious, but our potential clients loved the hustle. We got a bunch of agencies interested and I received around 15 e-mails following that panel requesting a meeting.
In short, remember agencies and marketing departments are run by creative people. If you are creative in your approach to them, you can get their attention. If you would like to share some other tactics that worked for your startup, please share them in comments.
Virool is a self-serve video distribution platform that seeds videos across its network of Facebook apps, mobile games and blogs. If you are interested in learning more about our company, please visit: www.virool.com. For job opportunities, Â please send us an e-mail to: jobs (at) virool.com