The Global VC

Marketing Hell Week January 2017 – Day 1 Recap

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500 Global Team

500 Global Team







What is Marketing Hell Week?

MHW is Growth Marketing 101 Bootcamp 500Startups puts together for every one of their seed stage cohorts. The event is also livestreamed free.

Join us for Sales Hell on March 1-2, 2017 here:

Below are notes on what’s in the talks and some key takeaways written by Tyler Tate, founder of Crema. If you found the talks useful we would appreciate it if you shared them with your friends!



Growth for Pre vs Post P/M w/ Chandini Ammineni

Chandini Ammineni, Distribution Partner at 500 Startups talks about:

– Pre vs Post P/M fit startups: differences in goals, process, type of data, important metrics

– The need for process to achieve scalable repeatable predictable growth

– What is a growth mindset and why it is needed

Pre Product-Market Fit

Chandini debunked the myth that every startup should be focused on growth, encouraging us to focus on finding product-market-fit through qualitative, learning-oriented, non-scalable hustling first, and only shifting to growth mode once we’ve found our first 1,000 rapid fans, at which point you’ve arrived at initial product-market fit, which she defined as:

A product that solves a problem “well enough” for a “big enough” market.

During this exploratory phase, it’s crucial to learn about your customers—who are they, where do they hangout, what is their problem. Ask them open-ended questions and keep an ear out not just for their pain points and aspirations, but the specific language they use, which can help you articulate your service.

At this phase, engagement and retention are your key metrics. Once your retention curve flattens out over time — say at least 40%-50% of your customers are sticking around after several months, you’re ready for growth.


Post Product-Market Fit

Once you’ve achieved product-market fit, the goal shifts to achieving scalable, repeatable growth. “Growth of what?” you may ask; growth of your OMTM, your One Metric That Matters. Your OMTM could be users, customers, revenue, gross margin, etc., but you should be strategic with the metric you choose to rally your team around and align it with your fundraising plan.

Chandini encouraged rapidly running experiments and then doubling down on what works, a bit like playing battleship. This should occur at all levels of the funnel — from lead generation, to conversion, to retention. It’s important, however, to have a high level goal in place and focus on what will have the highest impact towards that goal so you don’t “die of indigestion,” as Chandini put it.


Key takeaways

Focus on achieving product-market with qualitative methods first, then shift into a process of rapid experimentation to figure out what does and doesn’t work, and then double down on what does.


How To Get Your First 1337 Customers (Theory) with Chandini Ammineni


How To Get Your First 1337 Customers (Case Studies) with Bernard Huang

Bernard Huang, Distribution Hacker in Residence for 500 Startups talks about:

  • How to think about growth
  • War stories in the early (customer’s #1-10), mid (customer’s #11-100), and late (customer’s #101-1337) stages.

Bernard gave fast-paced account of unorthodox guerrilla marketing tactics that he’s experimented with in the past. What is guerrilla marketing? It could be broadly described as “Things that are morally questionable” that probably don’t scale… but they may still be really effective early on. Here’s the overall process:

How guerrilla works

  1. Objective. “I want more X.” It needs to be measurable.
  2. Hypothesis. “If we do X then we’ll get more Y.” You need a plan.
  3. Experiment. Assume nothing. Track your experiments. Gather feedback (both qualitative and quantitative).
  4. Conclusion. Did the experiment work? If so, can we scale it?
  5. Iterate, iterate, iterate. Failure is part of the process, and that’s ok.


Basics of guerrilla

Guerrilla marketing often uses tactics such as: * “Borrow” as much as possible * (Politely) spam people * “Hack” systems * Incentive people to help you * Think outside the box

“The #1 rule of Growth Club is that you don’t talk about what happens at Growth Club.”


Guerrilla war stories

Bernard sprinted through at least a dozen techniques he’s actually used on projects in the past. Some of them may not work anymore, but they’re sure to at least spark ideas. * Event hacking. Bernard created a “SXSW Food Crawl” event (unaffiliated with SXSW, mind you) and got 25,000 RSVPs before SXSW caught on and asked them to change their name. 16,000 people showed up on the day. * Hack internet communities. Somebody posted a $37 “VC-investment” incentive on Hacker News which generated a lot of discussion. Bernard applied and won the competition, and the press wrote articles about “How they might spend their $37 invemsntment.” * Manipulating Quora. While at 42floors (Zillow for commercial real estate), Bernard identified dozens/hundreds of Quora questions relevant to that business, scraped the data, figured out the most viewed/upvoted questions, wrote/generate answers for them, and then bought upvotes. It resulted in thousands of high-quality inbound visitors. * Buying backlinks. Basically, you’ve got to know someone who knows someone, because no one wants to be outed as either buying links or selling links. And if you do it, you have to be carefully that Google doesn’t detect it, because they can and will penalize you (as happened to Bernard), or even ban you from the Google index. * Buying trust / and social proof. Get people to write review for you on Google My Business and elsewhere. * Buying social signals. You can pay people to tweet you or like you on Facebook. Probably doesn’t impact SEO though, but may help in other ways. * Negative SEO attacks. This tactic has less impact now than it used to, but having spamming sites linking to a competitor can lower their ranking marginally. Bernard doesn’t recommend doing this. * Community-driven content. Bernard hired people to create content for a given audience, posted it on Reddit etc., and canned the writers whose content didn’t generate buzz, and kept hiring the writers whose content did get a strong social signal. * Buying karma. You can buy Reddit accounts with good karma to post from.

* Lead magnets / squeeze pages. Bernard made a cake-price-calculator for the baking community as a lead magnent that went viral and continually generates new leads. * Scientific content hacking. Look at posts that can strong social signal. And then do the same thing. Dollar Shave Club basically just stole the Old Spice formula for their insanely viral video. * Meetup Hacking. Creating meetups on can give you a strong PageRank source to drive to your links, as well as position you as an influencer.



How to Prepare For Growth with Hiten Shah

Hiten Shah, Founder, Quick Sprout & Kissmetrics talks about:

  • Everything you need to know and do about Product and Growth
  • Product: a simple 5 step formula for producing new ideas
  • Growth: Don’t focus on hacks, dark patterns, or a one size fits all solution. Growth is a company-wide mindset.
  • How to achieve Product/Market Fit



Copywriting 101 with Nemo Chu

Nemo Chu, Growth Hacker, Distribution Hacker in Residence for 500 Startups talks about:

  • The difference between salespeople and copywriters
  • The 4 Levels of Sophistication
  • The Ingredients of Every Ads



OMTM + Building a Pipeline of Experiments w/ Nemo Chu

Nemo Chu, Growth Hacker, Distribution Hacker in Residence for 500 Startups talks about:

  • How to choose your OMTM or your north star
  • How you should go about experimenting
  • How to optimize your customer journey


Nemo Chu, formerly at KISSmetrics and Bloomfire, led a great workshop on how to brainstorm and prioritise marketing ideas. As an example, we chose one of the batch members — an event management SaaS company — defined their One Metric That Matters (OMTM) as B2B sales, and split their funnel into four parts:

  1. Top of the funnel – getting people to the website
  2. Signup – getting people to claim an offer by signing up to a webinar
  3. Follow through – getting the people who signed up for the webinar to actually attend
  4. Conversion – getting webinar attendees to become customers


We then broke up into four teams, with each team tackling one section of the funnel. First, we individually brainstormed ideas for three minutes, writing each idea on a separate notecard. Nemo encouraged us not to judge the ideas at this point, but to simply focus on generating as many ideas as possible.


Really Simple Guessing

Once we’d each written down several ideas, we then came together as a team, talked about each card, and then scored it using a three-fold rubric:

  1. How few Resources required? 4 is few.
  2. How Scalable is this idea? 4 is very scalable.
  3. How does our Gut feel about this idea being a nom run? 4 is great!

We wrote the score for each of the three questions in three corners of the notecard, and wrote the total score in the bottom left corner. At the end of process, we had a prioritised list of things to do to improve the funnel.

So Resources, Scalability, and Gut — RSG. Playing off that acronym, Nemo coined this process as Really Simple Guessing.


1-Click Upsell

In addition to the exercise, Nemo also had some good tips for upselling. Rather than show a “thank you” page after a customer has purchased, why not use the opportunity to invite them to purchase something else as well. You could even chain these together sequentially and keep offering a number of different upsells (or downsells if they decline). This can be an easy way to increase the average order value.


Key Takeaways

Brainstorming and collaboratively judging ideas for each level of the funnel is a great method to generate ideas and prioritize them as a team.


Click here for Day 2’s recap! 


500 Global Team

500 Global Team