The TownhallBusiness

The marketing needed to build a business

By John C. Baldwin 

Staring at the excel document, the cell was highlighted for what felt like days. There were an infinite number of cells urgently needing to be filled but here I was, guessing. 

Granted, I know the crash industry is more than a $200 billion-dollar addressable market, but how does FENDR penetrate the market? How does John convince investors to invest in not only the idea but hi, too? Through backwards planning – effectively. 

Warning: There will be a lot of questions in this article. 

There’s a common misconception that founders go into a space and wing it. Perhaps that does happen for those that earned their stripes having success at a venture backed unicorn. For first time founders, however, you have to prove you’ve thoroughly vetted your business model and marketing strategy. 

Next to software, marketing will become FENDR’s second biggest cost. We have to demonstrate our worthiness in the crash industry by creating a paradigm shift in the mindset of those recently involved in a crash. 

I’ve been asked, “Who should accident victims call first – FENDR or their insurance company?” For now, their insurance company because we’re building a product that will sync them with their insurance, but we will facilitate the call.  

I retraced my steps. How did you figure out your product/market fit? Through customer interviews. The customers are at the forefront of this business. So where do our customers learn about new options in the market? What factors drive their decisions in what products to use?  

While these may sound like simple questions, founders understand the demographics and the psychological attributes that aid in their decision making. Ironically, these are decisions I need to make myself. 

Which group of accident victims should we address first? The more than 1 million rear end collision victims or the 5 million accident victims whose car was totaled during an accident? What additional assistance would we be able to offer them? What is our competition doing that we could do both differently and better? The questions never stop. 

Word of mouth marketing will be one of our go-to market strategies. We’ll partner with clinics and tow truck companies throughout the city to alert crash victims that FENDR is around to disrupt the current ecosystem controlled by medical professionals, insurance companies and lobbyists. 

While these ideas are good, what would the cost be over the next three years? How many customers are we attempting to reach in that period? The hesitant John will not divulge too much information, but I will share that SEO or search engine optimization will provide that competitive advantage faster than word of mouth marketing.  

At the scene of my car accident in 2016, I literally searched for “things to do at scene of car accident.” There are certain words or phrases people search for after an accident. We need to make sure we’re one of the top results. 

SEO is underrated. I saw the ROI when I worked in sales at JPMorgan. Our team would receive an influx of quality leads in search of financial services. There were missteps though because customers were often confused about what we were selling. 

So, imagine if our SEO results not only led them to us but assisted us in qualifying the lead at the initial point of contact. 

While these tasks are possible it is expensive. SEO agencies can charge up to $10K a month but the results can take your business from the ground floor to millions in monthly revenue. A blend of SEO and ads running on social media platforms will introduce not only our services but our customers’ testimonials.  

When interviewing crash victims, we asked about their use of social media. The most popular platforms were Facebook and Instagram. 

The ads are based on your own parameters that you set. Then, for each result warranted, there’s a cost. They can charge based on unique page visits. Call me an overachiever but I want the visit to create an action on their part. Is it possible? How much more for that outcome? 

Driving throughout different parts of the Bay Area I see billboard signs for personal injury attorneys. Techies may laugh but again, you have to ask yourself – “who is my customer?” 

Push your ego aside and think about what drives them to do business with one person over the other. Often, we tell ourselves certain things are not chic for the space we’re trying to disrupt. However, it’s senseless to pay for an ad about car crashes in a Hearst publication when your target audience doesn’t read that publication.  

For founders, the financial roadmap forces you to plan a path for your business to thrive. While it’s a shot in the dark, you have to try to make that shot. Investors want to see you have begun thinking about your goals and your intention to get there.

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John C. Baldwin

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