Marketing Workshop for Startups – Chennai – June 1 2011

Posted on June 3, 2011


The Startup Centre, Chennai, invited me to conduct a one day workshop on marketing specifically aimed at startups. Vijay Anand, who runs The Startup Centre, spoke to me in early May and we decided to schedule the workshop for June 1. I had great fun doing the workshop and here’s my report on the event.

The workshop was held in The Startup Centre’s office and we had 11 participants representing 9 companies. It was an interesting bunch of people representing companies of varying size, offerings and industries. Companies present ranged from pre revenue to $5 M+ in revenue. There were companies that developed apps and of these, some sold their apps as licensed software and others as a web-based service. There were companies that  offered outsourcing services and business process consulting and there was one company that organized treks.

The workshop began at 9:00 a.m. with a round of introductions and participants introduced themselves and the companies that they represented. The round of introductions was followed by sort of keynote presentation that set the theme for the day – How Marketing can Turbocharge your Sales. In this session, I articulated how Marketing and Sales were different yet connected and why understanding the difference and connectedness were critical to getting the most out of a company’s marketing spend. This presentation and the related discussions were critical and we kept coming back to them throughout the day as we worked through the rest of the workshop sessions.

The rest of the workshop was divided into 3 sessions and each session had a theory and a practical section. Each theory section was scheduled for 30 minutes and each practical section for 45 minutes. During the theory sections, I introduced the participants to relevant tools and techniques. For the practical sections, the participants divided themselves into working groups and each group chose one company amongst its members and, through the day, worked on applying their learning to develop the company’s marketing plan. During the practical sections, I was available to the groups for discussions and ideas if they hit a roadblock or needed help to think through their plans.

The first session focussed on how companies can discover a value proposition that resonates with its target customers. Most companies make the mistake of DECIDING why customers should buy their products instead of DISCOVERING why customers might consider buying their products.

In the second session participants explored how to translate their company’s business goals into corresponding marketing goals. Participants then explored the different metric that could be employed to assess progress towards meeting the marketing goals. Finally, participants were introduced to an approach to help determine the appropriate level of marketing investment to support the desired business goals.

The third session was all about translating strategy to execution. Participants were introduced to the various go-to-market tactics available and the advantages and challenges of using each of these tactics. Later, participants were introduced to a framework that allows them to build an integrated, multi modal marketing plan.

The workshop culminated with each working group presenting their day’s work and getting feedback from others. It was a two-way learning process; the presenting group got feedback on their work and the rest got to hear of different ideas and approaches employed by the different groups. I thought that the presentations made by the groups were substantive and reflected their thinking and application of tools and techniques they were introduced to.

The entire day was filled with content and activities. Though we had scheduled for a 90 minute lunch and catch-up-on-email-and-calls break, most teams worked through the break. It helped that Vijay had arranged for pizzas for lunch and I could see groups discussing animatedly over their working lunches.

I thoroughly enjoyed conducting the workshop. I cannot thank Vijay enough for taking care of all the logistics of arranging the workshop. It was a paid-for workshop and I do sincerely hope that the participants got their money’s worth. I did ask them at the end of the workshop if they did and all of them said yes. :-).

I am now working on bringing the workshop to other cities. If you have ideas how I can arrange for the workshop in your city, feel free to drop me a line.