This article was originally posted on the Tech City UK website.

The UK tech sector has a very busy event calendar, which is getting busier as the tech scene grows and more scaling companies are built. We hear from Andy Davis, Head of Growth at Upscale company Touch Surgery, on lean marketing


3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, California, 90401 is where I got my Startup education. Never has there been a better place for inspiration and creative thought; eccentric beautiful people from all over the world, sunshine with views over the Pacific Ocean, the storied Santa Monica Pier is home to the Pacific Park amusement park and the beach isn’t bad either. If you’re not already green with envy at this point, it’s about to get worse as I don’t consider the lifestyle to be my luckiest encounter. No, my luckiest encounter was having incredibly talented people who are experts at fundamentally understanding startups and how to build lean. And they were my mentors, everyday.


I was taught many principles that I carry with me everyday from my time in California and many came from Chris Thompson of TruBrain, a friend and mentor who lived and died by… building lean. Eric Ries ‘Lean Startup Methodology’ brought minimum viable product (MVP) and minimum viable test  (MVT) as absolute best practice before rolling out a product or test. Unlike a prototype or concept test, an MVP is designed not just to answer product design or technical questions. Its goal is to test fundamental business hypotheses. Consequently, startup marketers felt offline testing was inefficient, expensive and too slow on feedback. However, as any good startup marketer knows, it’s all about testing the world and seeing what sticks.


Be disciplined with your process:


My general process consists of; seeking out comparable companies, commonly known as (comps) for inspiration, applying that inspiration to an MVT, adjust according to data and results. Score out results against benchmarks and relevant KPI’s, assess breakevens. Funnel more $ into the successors.


As I have limited words for this blog I just listed some of the channels I have tested below, sorry I didn’t have time to share case studies. Next time!


Referral programs, Affiliate programs, funnel optimization, Youtube, guest blogging, guest podcasting. Paid influencers on Instagram and youtube, built own podcast, campaign giveaways via landing page, Ad words, PPC & remarketing, Website A/B test changes to CTA, email marketing, Getting Olark for live customer support, Spotify Playlist for members, email drip system for distribution partners, e-commerce profit shares, in App advertisements, content ads via Outbrain, SlideShare’s, animated explainer video, Facebook, Linkedin & twitter ads, influencer mentions, backlinking, SEO, ASO, press blasts and more…

Is content still king?


Something I get asked all the time and I believe the answer to be, absolutely yes. I have felt for a long time that people who have been educated in startup fall into a habit of spending so much time digging to find hacks that they forget what it is that actually engages the desired audience, content.


It’s never best practice to internally think about your own behavioural habits when considering strategy or positioning but for the sake of this point, do it now… How do you digest content? There is 2 ways to digest content online: audio and visual. Since we’re limited by senses. The point being, something that’s audio or visual actually needs to be produced and distributed in order for an interaction to occur.


First things, first. Content Team, assemble!


Hubspot, generally considered the thought leader for inbound marketing, believe the following to be the most optimised way to build a marketing team: 2-3 writers/editors (based on volume needs) 1 designer, 1 content team manager (the generalist). Essentially, a team of creative people and 1 generalist who manages the process, the SEO and optimisation work.


For a few years now I have avoided events like the plague…


I have always felt they are a huge waste of time. Networking and musing on ideas that will never happen, very bearish on the whole concept. However, I realised that my emotion was starting to get in the way and thinking about events from an internal perspective which again, is a horrible habit for a startup marketer. So, I started to think where the real value add was with events, I was still convinced that attending was generally a fail so where was the value…  


It made sense when I started to think about whom is getting the value, not what is the value. Then I realised that the big winners are the event hosts, if done successfully and efficiently can bring a huge value add.


So, let’s consider some of the value add:


Influencer engagement – Unfortunately for those outside of the major tech hubs this will be much harder to do lean. However, if you happen to be in Tech City for example, your chances dramatically increase. To be blunt about it, people love talking about themselves and announced as the honourable speaker. So, getting influencers involved in events can be much easier than you would think and once they agree and attend you have a new mate.


Press – Getting exclusives on the latest and greatest in tech is irresistible to the press so when approaching the press make sure you offer it as an exclusive. The hard part about this is making an event that actually involves some newsworthy content. Perhaps consider this before the event, as having an event without a purpose is an over saturated marketplace.


Content Creation – There is an opportunity to get lots of different assets from an event; interviews, buzz footage, speeches, product endorsements, blog content, image content, etc. I like to look at films promotions as a great example, chat shows, interviews, multiple trailers, blooper reels, deleted scenes, these are all ways of promoting the film. I’ll let you draw the parallels.


Distribution – You get more bang for your buck with events, think bigger than real time. Push the content from the event in incremental bit’s therefore, you get continued engagement, the internet is like an investment portfolio. For example, if you put all your money in commodities your risk is much higher, so by diversification, you’re limiting your risk of no return. Try promoting on different owned media for a whole week, as a layman example –  Facebook for week 1, Twitter for week 2, etc and make the most out of your content. With events, you also have the opportunity to distribute through your guests, make sure you get all attendees owned media handles so as you distribute you can backlink, tag etc and since they attended and probably have their picture on display, people will generally be happy to share.   


My Next Test


I think that is goes with saying, my next test is an event, a ‘Hackathon’ to be more specific. The event that I’m running is for Touch Surgery, one of Upscale’s first 30 companies. The event is a Hackathon in partnership with BAPRAS: The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive & Anaesthetic Surgeons. The goal is to find solutions to problems in the medical field, identified by the leading Surgeons at BAPRAS, that can realistically be pursued as a viable product or service such as; hardware, software, app, tools/ instruments, consumables.


My results are TBD but as long as I follow the lean process, remain competitively curious and stay on my toes ready for adjustments (based on results), I will have given myself the best chance for success.    


Shameless Plug – I’m still searching for talented; business, marketing, engineers and designers to participate in the event, June 4th & 5th @ Balderton Capital. Sign up page:

Andy Davis

Twitter @andymkdavis

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