Codeword just wrapped up three days at a buzzy TechCrunch Disrupt. After attending a variety of talks, celeb spotting (hey, Shaq!), chatting with founders, funders and friends, and fueling ourselves with ice cream courtesy of Google Cloud, we reflected on a few key takeaways for fellow marketers from one of the biggest and most trusted to-dos in the startup world.
- Brand differentiation is a big advantage — Panels focused on brand were overflowing (shout out to creative agency Koto’s presentation on brand myths and truths), and this supports our own experience that, while investing in branding is difficult for early-round startups, they also understand how important it is. It’s particularly true in this period of copycat culture where many startups look and sound the same — from logo colorways to what they are actually selling. In a tougher economy, being able to verbally and visually communicate how you’re different early on is absolutely vital for young companies to stand out and get people excited about your vision and product. Branding is a key part of that.
- Community is core for early growth — We heard several startups talk about their community and the success of their organic strategy from their customer network. The co-founder and CEO of Kraftful discussed how product managers promoting their solutions on blogs and in newsletters helped them grow significantly. These trusted advocates, or influencers, should be relationships that startups continue to nurture over time, engaging in an ongoing dialogue for feedback and ideally promotion of their products. But at some point, Friend Based Marketing should evolve to Account Based Marketing, actively building out a more formal program for long-term success.
- Pressure from the AI hype wave is real — AI was everything everywhere all at once. From panel discussions around ethical AI, to AI-driven startups dominating the Battlefield stage, to Otter.AI providing transcriptions for the entire event. The current innovation and potential around this technology is extremely exciting, and for some companies riding the hype wave has exploded sales. But on the down side, it feels as if everyone is finding a reason to apply it when it’s not really for everyone. Our advice to startups: don’t get sucked into the hype and stay focused on your mission.
Till next year! ✌️