'Spray and Pray' marketing is the most common challenge we see

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on April 30, 2020

Yohan Sudheer and Shobith John, co-founders of Fishhook, a Bengaluru-based consultancy, help start-ups with their growth marketing strategies and provide marketing education to empower them, as well as brand-building. Knowing marketing fundamentals is essential for start-ups to grow their brands digitally, they believe. Excerpts from an interaction:

During this lockdown phase, how are you engaging with start-ups?

We’re currently rolling out one intensive webinar a month titled “Marketing 101: How to Build an Unshakeable Brand”. This particular webinar focusses on marketing fundamentals that all founders and start-up teams need to know to grow their brand digitally.

What else are you doing from which start-ups can gain?

We launched The Startup Growth Hour with WeWork, which is basically a two-week programme for start-ups to get clear feedback on their marketing efforts and practical recommendations to move in the right direction. Thanks to the support from WeWork India, we've been able to launch this programme nationally and have had over 90 companies apply over the last 30 days.

Brands can apply by going to We select based on a variety of factors, including first-come-first-serve and have chosen to keep this programme pro-bono for now.

We’re launching The Startup Growth Hour in New York, starting May 2020, with the help of WeWork Labs — WeWork’s start-up mentorship programme.

Can you pick out three common challenges brands face when it comes to scaling up?

If we had to pick three areas we see brands struggle when it comes to growing and scaling, they would be:

1. Spray and pray marketing: This is probably the most common challenge we see where brands are constantly trying a variety of different marketing strategies to see what sticks. It’s almost like throwing darts on a board. The brand might try SEM, then SMM, sponsor an event, run a radio spot, jump to SEO, try a blog, put out a YouTube ad, and go back to SEM. This often results in the brand not getting the results it wants or not knowing where the results are coming from.

To help our teams break this chain, we spend a decent amount of time mapping out the milestones our clients want to hit, the budgets they want to invest and time lines they have in mind. We then build marketing strategies on the back of these three core pillars to ensure everything the brand does is driving actual business growth.

2. 100% Outsourced Marketing: We see so many brands struggle because they have outsourced their entire marketing to an agency. We understand that not all brands can afford a full-stack marketing team in-house, but if there isn’t a marketing anchor within the brand itself that understands what the agency is doing and is able to validate marketing efforts with actual numbers, you have a very disconnected brand-agency partnership that tends to go sour over time.

To help bridge this gap, we’ve built a model where we step in as a consultant CMO team to understand the brand, its vision and its goals, build a marketing strategy that actually drives the brand’s goals and then work closely with the various teams to see it through to growth. It’s a very deep collaboration model where we become like the marketing arm of the company.

3. Data-less decisions: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’’t know which half.” said John Wanamaker, known to be the father of modern advertising. Sadly, even though it was a century ago that John said this, we see brands struggle with the same problem. In an age where data is everything, it’s almost surprising to see how many brands have no effective data tracking and reporting system to help with decision making. To help combat this problem for our clients, we’re building in-house dashboarding capabilities to effectively track and report on almost all marketing efforts that the brand engages in.

You do marketing audits for companies. What does this involve?

For any company, we start by looking at these seven key areas

Brand foundation: We try to get a gauge on how well the brand is built. This would include looking into the brand vision, its offerings, and positioning in the market. It also includes looking into how well the brand identity and visuals have been built, whether the brand has a unified and effective message, and if it has a clear voice and tone.

Audience: We test the brand’s grasp on its audience based on how it segments and reaches out to its various target segments.

Website: We run a CRO (conversion rate optimisation) test on their website to see how well the website is primed to engage with the brand’s different and unique audience sets.

Paid Advertising: We take a dive into the brand’s outbound marketing i.e its paid marketing initiatives. We test to see how effective the marketing campaigns are, what platforms are working, what is not and how effectively these ads have been set up.

In-bound traffic: We look into the organic visits the brand gets, how the brand is performing on search engines, and on social media. We also look into referral traffic (digital or word-of-mouth) to see what can be scaled.

Email and marketing automation: We try to see if these brands have well-rounded lead nurture, re-marketing, and upsell strategy using email and marketing automation.

Data: We try to gauge how data-dependent the brand is, whether it effectively tracks, measures and reports data that leads to decision making.

Once we’ve done our due diligence, we walk the team through our recommendations. Additionally, we set up office hours where they can ask us any follow-up questions they may have as they begin making the necessary changes.

Published on May 01, 2020

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