An Insider’s “Guide” to Recruiting the Right Clients
My job is awesome. I get to give away engaging technologies that boost website KPIs, keep users focused on the right stuff, and generate a few bucks along the way. And while there are harder ways to bring home a paycheck, I assure you it hasn't always been a walk in the park. There are challenges aplenty in finding the right storefronts for our goods.
Selling a free solution is not as simple as it may sound. First of all, even the best decisions carry opportunity costs, and there's a ton of shiny new products out there promising to deliver the goods. Let's also not forget that people have a variety of buying motives, only a few of which are rational. Just think of Freud's irreverent truth, “Patients won't value therapy unless they pay for it.”
So as a Conduit veteran tasked with growing the business, it was clear early on that we would face a marketing conundrum: Who are the best customers for our products and how do we recruit them to our family?
We started to tackle these questions by dividing the world into four camps based on their top business goals: publishers that wanted to maximize revenue, those driven to reduce costs, the folks looking to enhance communication, and those seeking operational improvements, such as security and efficiency. Of course, most publishers draw water from each of these buckets. But our mission was to probe deeper and uncover the values that resonated most with our own business principles.
We realized very quickly that publishers who focused more on long-term sustainability issues like boosting interaction, communication, and loyalty were a good fit for our product offerings. And those who talked about brand relevance and user engagement were even better. Ultimately, everyone wants to make more money. But the strategy or the priorities you have in place to reach that goal vary greatly from one company to another.
From a business angle, the guys on our team were more inclined to drive revenue through increased interactions – more repeat traffic, more time spent on site, and increased page views, as opposed to higher RPMs or better ad modules. So we had to scope out the customers who were most interested in the long term – building relationships, boosting user engagement, and strengthening their brand. (The ones that fall into the top right quadrant in the figure below.) Those who simply wanted an immediate solution for maximizing revenue just didn’t make the cut.
After we honed in on the right psychological cues, we developed an extremely disciplined sales methodology. (At least we thought we did at the time.) We talked to absolutely everyone. We didn’t restrict our efforts to working closely with publishers of a specific size, geography, or even vertical. Granted, it was somewhat inefficient, highly fragmented, and often chaotic. But after a while, patterns started to emerge.
I frequently asked happy customers to introduce me to other publishers in their industry. Word began to filter out to friends and acquaintances in the same vicinity. I didn’t think it would really get me anywhere, but somehow it all gelled together. It was great for me because it allowed us to build presence in specific geographic markets, despite the fact that our original go-to market was vertical-based.
When I think back to Conduit’s early stages and where we are now, it’s tempting to say that we followed a brilliantly-planned strategy to explain the tremendous growth of our publisher base. I mean, it did start that way. But the irony is that despite a ton of thought and analysis behind execution, it only appears that way now. In retrospect, it was all very intuitive…
Next time, I’ll tell you about how we close deals the Conduit way.