I once worked for a B2B start-up in the retailing industry back in Germany. This was almost two decades ago. The company was already on the market for a few years, but they hadn’t had any breakthrough yet. The internet actually enabled them to change their business model and to replace their data and product CD’s with a B2B marketplace. Later on, they connected from SAP systems to ERP systems and vice versa.
As a marketer, working for a start-up is an amazing experience. It’s marketing heaven, because you really get to understand, how communication works and how you get noticed. You can experiment with instruments, but you are also forced creativity, because you usually run on a small budget.
In my case the name of the company and the logo already existed. However, I was able to negotiate a new, more modern look & feel that I applied to all stationary such as letters, business cards, to presentations and almost to my colleagues. I created a corporate design handbook for prints and digital media and made sure, no one skipped a pixel anymore.
But that wasn’t enough. The Internet business was new to the industry, no one had a clue about the Internet and I had nothing to present or to explain to people. I was a “naked marketer”.
I could convince the management to hire a skilled graphic designer, and we became a twin team in communication and visualization. We created a small handbook on how to use and navigate the online market place with screen shots and clear explanations. We did the same online on the starting page of the marketplace. Don’t forget! This was in 2001! You. had. to. point. out. EVERY. click.
The next big thing was, how to make our prospects return to the market place. To make them familiar with it, until they would finally become loyal customers. We started an online magazine, called the “Café” and published articles regularly in three languages. There was no other online magazine for the industry. Just two printed magazines that mainly consisted of retailer profiles and product press releases. So I could go crazy on content about business subjects such as loyalty cards for retailers or brand management for suppliers. We sent out e-mail newsletters regularly, which resulted in inquiries about advertising in the newsletter and café. Something that – unfortunately – didn’t match with our business model.
Fundamentally, I had two roles. I was a journalist as well as the Marketing Manager. I prepared our booth and activities at the exhibitions, was present for prospects and customers or went to interview important people or attended press conferences. I think, I was hardly ever so close to the market and became an influencer myself. So believe me, it wasn’t for long that I felt “naked”.