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Who are the best marketing companies?

I am running a successful Kickstarter campaign for Sabertron -->https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/levelup/sabertron-foam-swords-with-electronic-scoring

Due to that, I am getting a lot of emails from people who say that they can help me with marketing. I absolutely do need more marketing help. I have searched (in vain) for a marketing founder on FounderDating. I have reached out to a lot of potential people. But now I must pay for marketing. How can I find legitimate professionals that work for hire?

I need help with creation of advertising materials, placement of those ads, and then monitoring and analyzing those for effectiveness. Can all of that be handled by the same company? I want a better web presence, my Twitter account and Facebook looking really good and active. How do I figure out how much to spend on these services? Sigh...A marketing co-founder would have known all of these answers.

10 Replies

Kate Hiscox
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Kate Hiscox Entrepreneur • Advisor
Boss at Venzee
I hear you David - my discussion just got booted but I am looking for the same and there are few on FD. The best of luck with your search!
Mark Fidelman
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Mark Fidelman Entrepreneur
Managing Partner at Evolve!, Forbes Contributor, Socialized! Author, Sports Marketer
I also run www.evolvesinc.com a Digital Agency.

The issue with most startups is budget. Most are not willing to spend the amount of money necessary to make their product or service well known in the industry - yet it's critical for success.

Happy to answer any questions you might have around this.
John Duffield
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John Duffield Entrepreneur
Sr. Manager, Interactive Program Management at SapientNitro
Hi David, I'm the founder of Departure3 Digital, we are digital agency. More than happy to discuss your needs and see how I can help. I totally understand your position. John Duffield (310) 866-7856 Sent from my iPhone
Eoin Matthews
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Eoin Matthews Entrepreneur
Cofounder at Point
Hi David,
Given the product (social, tied to existing real-world communities), I don't know that you want to go the route of buying online ads -- it's really hard to make online ads work for unbranded products but here's what you could do....

  1. start building your own community -- put up a forum on your site that serves as both a customer service hub and also as a community hub (transition some of the Kickstarters over to your own forum to make them lifelong aficionados)
  2. start building your own email list and get your email content/tone in line with your general vision (the kickstart page has a great tone -- the fun personality needs to be central to everything for the team and the customers -- it makes it worthwhile for everyone)
  3. start take preorders outside of kickstarter if that's part of your plans
  4. do some retargeting (that's pretty the much the only ad buying you should do for now and it should be low-cost)
  5. now, to grow your base:
  • approach the real-world communities that will use your swords (the larp crowd to start with)
  • give away products to larp community leaders (folks who have a following in real-world or online)
  • organize some larp events that use your gear (or have showcases at events)
  • take lots of photos
  • social can be a waste of time for most but your product is REALLY social -- go big on Instagram by getting a steady stream of fun photos up (same with FB and maybe Twitter too -- but really do Instagram well)
  • hit the online forums where you members are hanging out -- approach the moderators and get some dialogue going -- you MIGHT want to try some ad tests with forums but it's much better if the forum moderators or power-user just get behind you when you love the product

The cool thing (and good news for you) is that your product is also really friendly for illustration vs a clean design aesthetic and there are LOTS of great illustrators out there. I think you should go down that route with your marketing too -- illustration + larp + sci-fi all jazz pretty well.

Judging from your Kickstarter page, you guys know how to market even if you don't think you do. You have the message down pat and it feels really fun. Marketing is a lot of fun when you keep it about building a community that shares your values.

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Entrepreneur
These guys do some great work and manage all aspects of digital marketing: http://www.gearylsf.com/

I know a few executives there if you need an introduction.

Colin
David Rekuc
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David Rekuc Entrepreneur
Marketing Director at Ripen eCommerce
David, great question, I'll try to give as unbiased advice as I can.

For your company, I would consider this first question when thinking about whether you should employ a 3rd party or acquire the knowledge in-house. Does this knowledge need to be a core competency of my company? For instance, if the backbone of your company is based on content marketing, then I would highly recommend you make sure you employ that in-house. Possibly seeking support from a 3rd party for consultation or on projects that exceed your staff's understanding or capabilities.

Regarding analyzing ads, placements, and campaigns for effectiveness, I would recommend creating an analytical framework for how you hold advertising accountable for it's ROI. It's easier then it sounds, you'll want to create the right KPI's to push anyone handling your marketing to report to you and be accountable for. There are metrics that are used in the day-to-day of campaigns that will vary by preference and channel, but typically a lot of the KPI's that are at the core of your business are quite similar. Cost per acquired customer, estimated lifetime value of an acquired customer, etc. Once you have a really solid analytical framework in place, you're less likely to fall for a smoke & mirrors type deal, whether it's in-house or agency.

A lot of what you mentioned definitely bridges a few marketing disciplines. Ad creation is typically more creative, digital advertising has it's own disciplines (PPC, SEO, etc), offline advertising follows another specific skill set. You can find good marketers that span a few disciplines, but I'd only trust them with a mix like that if they really got to know your company very well (so, in house or an agency you work very closely with).

Recruiting real professionals in a short time span is always a challenge. Personally, the biggest pit-fall I've found with this is finding people that take credit for ideas that were passed to them from above. Someone has a nice title, has the experience, etc, but didn't really conceive the ideas he's taking credit for. So, to counter this, make sure you get hypothetical and make them brainstorm on their feet in the interview. I would run a LinkedIn paid job posting first before going to a recruiter. I've used smartrecruiters.com to push out job postings in the past and it makes the hunt a little easier. If you're going to use a recruiter, negotiate a good rate beforehand, then start your hunt. If you'd like, I have a couple that I've connected with in my network that I think are decent, I can refer you.

Disclaimer: I do work for an eCommerce agency that provides most of the services you've listed, I run the marketing department. If you'd like to connect & chat further, I'd be open to offering whatever advice I can.
Eric Sullivan
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Eric Sullivan Entrepreneur
CEO at FoundationLab
Hands down stringcaninteractive.com I can make an intro for you to Jay the CEO if you would like.
DJ Francis
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DJ Francis Entrepreneur • Advisor
Strategy Director at Kapost
Great advice from Eoin and David, especially. I second basically everything that they say. David is right about considering whether this is an on-going need; you may be better off in the long run paying for the help now and not being beholden to anyone later.

If you need help with the content marketing side of things, I'm happy to chat pro bono.
Shobhit Verma
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Shobhit Verma Entrepreneur • Advisor
building an adaptive recommendation engine
Are there any companies which do the marketing for you and make money only if you do ? For example they charge for the actual spends on google + facebook + PR + video+ creative but are willing to take a % of the money raised via the crowdfunding websites?
Bill Trevor
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Bill Trevor Entrepreneur
Digital Marketing | Social Media | Professional Networking | Websites | SEO | Helping Veterans :: CEO Web Smart Advisors
Our company has worked with clients on this type of model - the client pays for the ad spends and we only get paid based on resulting sales. Great model that can be a win-win!
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