Disruptive Marketing 101
OK, you are the VP of Sales and Marketing at a raw startup and you have massively disruptive technology. You are not stupid so you chose to go it alone with no VC money. Well, how are you going to fund your marketing efforts with not a whole lot of dough? Try some disruptive marketing!
There are few things more absolute fun in a startup than solving this problem.
It makes you think, it makes you encounter your emotions, it makes you fundamentally determine if you are really good at marketing or if you just do the same crap steps the big guys did.
It makes you understand that selling disruptive technology is a contact sport.
And if you want to successfully market there, you need to see getting to market as a strategy where you take your competitor’s strength and power and find a way to harness it for your benefit.
First issue is “disruptive.” Does your technology fundamentally alter the landscape for the market leader in your space. Check!
OK, then let’s go on a startup marketing excellent adventure.
Disruptive Marketing Case Study
We have a portfolio company that takes apps, legacy apps, that are really ugly, some with no source code, and enables them to be rewritten in 60 days or less, delivered in containers, run on minimal hardware, and operate 1,000 times faster than they did before.
It sounds like magic but when they are 30 minutes into their pitch, everyone gets it as and one hears “of course, that is how it should be done” said over and over.
At a major telco last year, the CTO said: “we have known for 30 years this is how we should build apps but we have never been able to quite get it right.”
One company (prospect) has a forecasting app (you know the company, they are really, really big) that runs in 13 hours in a massive data center. This app forecasts their consumption of a raw material based on all kinds of variables. They needed to get the forecast into an 11 hour window.
As a PoC, our portfolio company took the app, rewrote it as a container-based app, then went back to the customer and asked them what else they wanted it to do. The customer said they wanted to see it run but our team demurred. So the customer said they were only using sample data because they could not run every line item through the forecast as it would take days to run.
So they gave our portfolio company the data for all line items, (millions and millions) and that data was added that to the project.
Our friends then showed the customer its forecasting system.
It used 90% less storage. It did not need Oracle or VMware. It ran on AWS, Azure, internal cloud and several other places.
And it did not run in 12 hours, it ran in less than 3 seconds.
OK, get the picture? 12 hours in a massive data center. 3 seconds on one server.
And that was not with sample data, it was with all the data they had which was way too much for them to run in their large, really large data center.
OK, check for disruptive.
Disruptive Marketing Next Step
A couple of months ago, our raw startup friends had the discussion about how to take the next steps in getting deeper into the market. While the discussions started with traditional concepts, the result was hardly so.
They cannot quite fit their offering into a category. It is a database? No, not really. Is it an app development framework? No, maybe partly. Is it a cloud solution? It can be used for that but so what? Is it a cross-compiler? Certainly not.
In essence, they have a fish, with wings and feet. So how does one take this to market where there is no other fish with such appendages?
That’s where our concept of “confrontational marketing” took hold. The way to get this baby into the market is to go after someone who is already there and make a “compare and contrast” in every one of their large accounts.
The way to get into the market is to find an over-funded marketing foil.
And one quickly presented itself. This company does half a billion dollars in app development for the cloud. They have CIOs on their analyst calls. They are public. Their analysts ask questions at analyst calls. (more on that later). They spend a ton on marketing. They are public. Did I already say that? Always pick a public company.
And they have a major Achilles Heel. When they “digitally transform” an app, it operates on the cloud just the same way it did in the data center from which it was rewritten. Of course it does. Their PaaS platform, whatever that means, offers all the same legacy tools that are out there today.
Since nobody can run faster than their infrastructure, this public company vendor cannot make apps run a lot faster, or differently, or enable new business models. They do not think they have to.
When a Fortune 100 firm uses their stuff, they:
–still need Oracle and VMware–apps do not run appreciably faster–storage about the same–new features in months, not hours—
I attended the AWS Conference in November in Las Vegas. I had the chance to meet over 100 execs, consultants and vendors who are in the cloud migration space. I asked literally every one the same question:
“So, when the app gets to the cloud, it operates pretty much the same way it did in the data center, right? You still need Oracle and VMware right?”
And in my entire life this is the only survey which had a 100% response rate pretty much saying “…yeah, I know that sucks but it is how it is.”
That is the Achilles Heel of the cloud migration industry (digital transformation) and it just stood up and shouted at this AWS event.
So now the fun starts. Our friends at the disruptive startup have gone through the public company’s web site and its public mutterings. They collected the names of Fortune 100 firms who tout their software. And they have already set up CIO and other C-level calls with two of its most prominent customers at the CIO and other C-level. One is a former investor.
Disruptive Marketing Pitch
Their pitch is simple:
With Incumbent Vendor Public Company Market Leader, you get to the cloud, things are better, but it is very expensive, takes months and your apps run the same as in your data center. You still need Oracle and VMware.
Let us do a PoC. We will show you the following:
–apps moved to the cloud in 30-60 days, fully containerized, with security beyond anything available on the cloud today
–apps will use 90% less storage
–apps will run over 1,000 times faster without any new hardware
–no need for Oracle, VMware or other artifact licenses
–convert your oldest legacy apps, even without source code
So the PoCs are lining up. There are 3 in January and a very big one in February.
Well, they do not want the proverbial tree to fall in the forest and nobody hears or sees it.
After the PoCs, come the analyst calls. Wouldn’t it be great fun to call the public company’s analysts and have them have a chat with some of the firms who were in the PoC?
And then our friends at the disruptor call every tech writer who did an article on Big Over Funded Obsolete Vendor and see if they may want to interview the PoC users. Bet they get through to all of them.
And as this company’s PR team is living on Excedrin and their very over-paid marketing department is trying to put out the fires, we recommend our pals at the disruptive startup challenge them to a public “benchmark.” Ok, big guys, put up or shut up!
Let’s both do the same app, under the same circumstances and see who gets there fastest.
Now they won’t do it because they know they cannot do what our portfolio company can do. But the press will have a field day.
You want publicity, you want to understand how a fish with wings and feet gets to market?
Well, use the marketing power of a competitor who is essentially obsolete but has tons of money to fight it out. Get to their customers and show a massive differential. Then go to their investors and show them what obsolete looks like.
Nothing focuses the marketing efforts of an obsolete vendor like having their analysts continually ask why they lost in a deal or the tech press write stories about things they cannot do. Light them up!
The rest takes care of itself.
Welcome to confrontational marketing. Works every time its tried.