Three Most Underutilized Marketing Strategies for Early-Stage Startups


Disclosure: We have a  one-day workshop coming up with Sean Percival at Coloft that focuses on these three marketing tactics. Regardless of whether you join us for the workshop, I think you’ll benefit from knowing these strategies exist.

I had the chance to chat with Sean Percival, who recently joined the Distribution Team at 500 Startups where he also blogs for them about marketing. He shared some insight he gained from assisting their portfolio companies with marketing. The most exciting insight to me was that after helping dozens of companies, he’s been able to identify three things that early-stage startups often need help with: drip marketing, retargeting, and SEO tune-up.

Since early-stage companies lack the bandwidth to try every marketing strategy available, it’s important that they quickly identify strategies most likely to be both effective and cost-efficient. Why not learn from the experience of others and focus on what’s working for them?

Drip Marketing

Drip Marketing is where you send multiple pre-written emails to customers over time. Unlike traditional email campaigns where you send an email to everyone at the same time, these messages are usually timed to be sent X, Y, and Z number of days after the user provides their email address.

For example, Neil Patel on his personal blog sets up a series of seven emails where the first six are educational and the seventh is his pitch. There are plenty of things to think about when implementing a drip marketing strategy, so check out this infographic before you start.


Retargeting is where you run ads that only show to people who’ve already visited your site. You can take it a step further and, for example, target a specific ad to people who’ve abandoned their shopping cart. Services like AdRoll make this possible, check out their article: How Retargeting Works.

Though a few years old, this survey amongst marketers suggested Retargeting as the most underutilized marketing strategy.

SEO Tune-Up

If you don’t know what SEO is, it stands for Search Engine Optimization and this breaks down into a lot of smaller strategies that basically help people find your site through search engines. If you want to know all that goes into SEO, two great resources are The Beginner’s Guide to SEO ( or The 2013 SEO Checklist (

Some Final Words…

Every business is unique, so every company has the responsibility to analyze which marketing strategies work best for them. If you want a broader understanding of marketing a tech startup, you should probably check out The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking by Neil Patel & Bronson Taylor.

If you want to master these three strategies and happen to live in Los Angeles, check out the one-day workshop with Sean Percival on September 28th: Drip Marketing, Retargeting, and SEO Tune-Up (only $299 for early-bird pricing!).


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Publishing a Website Using Google Spreadsheets

Since spreadsheets and databases are pretty much the same thing, I thought it would make sense to have a web publishing platform built on Google Spreadsheet. After taking a look around, I’m having difficulty finding anything.

I checked out the Google Spreadsheet API, and they seem to have all the functionality you need to build such an app. The only solutions I could find, however, were written for developers:

There’s even Tabletop, which takes Google Spreadsheets and converts content to Javascript for you. Still, no simple solution for publishing a widget or webpage yourself.

This slideshow, Google Spreadsheet as a Web Application Data Prototyping  highlights some of the pros and cons of using Google Spreadsheet as your database, and how the author implemented it himself.

Pros – Spreadsheet architecture is similar to relational database, changing cell/column data is easy, clients understand spreadsheet, importing data is easy, quick prototyping.

Cons – Time consuming, not an end solution.

What if you could publish websites quickly from a Google Spreadsheet so it wasn’t time consuming? And what if anyone could use Google Spreadsheet, or a similar spreadsheet app, to act as the primary database that runs a simple website?

That would be cool.

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LA Tech/Startup Event Calendars

Are you organizing an event for the LA tech/startup community? The best way to get the word out about your event is partnering with people/organizations that have a reach to your community, ideally those with large and engaged mailing lists. That being said, you should get your event listed on all the tech/startup focused event calendars. Here’s the list: Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 86,509/18,308 (global/US)
How to get listed: Submit event through site.
Event listings: Curated.

Built In LA Events
Alexa Rank: 187,070/29,837 (global/US)
How to get listed: Submit events through site.
Event listings: All submitted events are listed.

Startup Digest Los Angeles Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 67,329/30,088 (global/US).
How to get listed: Submit through site.
Event listings: Curated.

SiliconBeachLA Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 613,014/139,141 (global/US).
How to get listed: Email
Event listings: Most submitted events are listed.

TechZulu Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 334,263/166,764 (global/US)
How to get listed: Email
Event listing: Curated.

QStreetStartup Events Calendar
Alexa Rank: 3,422,053/NA (global/US)
How to get listed: Submit through site.
Event listings: Not sure.

WeAreLATech Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 8,596,302/NA (global/US).
How to get listed: Submit through site.
Event listings: Most submitted events are listed.

LA Tech Events
Alexa Rank: No Data.
How to get listed: Submit through site.
Event listings: All submitted events.

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Celebration Nation

We are the citizens of celebration nation,
we walk this world with an attitude of gratitude,
our friends and foes,
from their head to their toes,
every single mood,
every type of food,
every day of the year,
both love and fear,
both sun and rain,
both pain and gain,
we thank them all,
’cause it makes us whole,
but watch out there’s a trap,
and it’s not on the map,
there’s one thing to remember,
from january through december,
and it’s to remember to “be you”,
’cause no one can do that like you!

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What Is “The American Dream”?


Guy Kawasaki suggests that startups ditch the mission statement and instead have a mantra, a phrase with three or four words. It’s purpose is to help employees truly understand why the organization exists. A mantra creates a cohesive context for discussion, helps drive decision-making, and is a constant reminder of a shared goal.

The United States of America has a mantra, and it’s “The American Dream.” The definition of The American Dream has changed over time. It was initially about fleeing hierarchical or aristocratic societies. During the gold rush, it became about the potential for instant wealth. It’s since then been about home ownership and upward mobility. Most recently, it has been about equal opportunity and access to education and career.

It’s completely normal for the mantra to change over time; it should reflect the state of the world and the mind of the people in it. What’s important, however, is that the meaning of the mantra be discussed regularly. Without a shared vision, all debates will be inefficient and ineffective, laws put in place will be ephemeral, and dissatisfaction becomes inevitable.

Education isn’t producing the results it used to, so access to education clearly isn’t enough. Many are unemployed, and even those who have careers that can support their family are unhappy, either from work dissatisfaction or not having enough time to spend with family.

What is today’s American Dream?


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Streamlining Process – How Long Should You Spend?

Trying to decide if you should spend time making a process you repeatedly do more efficient? Think about how often you do the task and how much time you can shave off if you make it more efficient. Then, look inside the table to see how long you’re allowed to work on the initial workload you put in before you’ve streamlined your process and start saving time.

is_it_worth_the_timeSource: XKCD


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Brushing Up On Coding Chops

I just built a log-in, sign-up functionality from scratch using PHP/MySQL this past week. There’s so much logic built into something that’s seemingly so simple!

– What to do if people sign-up with a non-valid email address or password.
– Checking to see if a new sign-up isn’t using an email address already registered.
– Seeing if a user signing-in has used the right password/email combo.
– Giving them the right notification based on any errors they’ve made.

I haven’t even touched letting people stay logged-in if they leave the browser, or letting people log-out once they’ve logged-in. No wonder the best practice these days is not building everything from scratch.

So I’m turning this into a framework I can use for any web product that requires login/signup functionality.

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The 7 Questions That Tell You Who You Are

I like the 7 questions posed on this Thought Catalogue article titled The 7 Questions That Tell You Who You Are. I know my answers to these questions may have been different a year ago, and may be different a year from now. That doesn’t mean that answering these questions isn’t a good exercise. It’s all part of a process…


1. What would you do with your life if you didn’t have to pay the bills?

I would make and entertain friends. I would host travelers at my house. I would create experiences where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. I would dance, like all the time. I would let my friends stay at my house for free. I would cook lots, and invite friends over for dinner all the time. I would read & write more. I would help friends achieve their dreams.

2. What cuts you the deepest?

Realizing I’ve hurt someone. Whether the reason be miscommunication or carelessness, there’s nothing that bothers me more than finding out after the fact that I’ve hurt someone. It’s impossible please everyone all the time, but I’d like to make sure I know if I’m hurting someone. They often won’t tell you, so you kind of have to keep an eye out remembering that it’s a possibility.

3. If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

I would spend all day writing down the best things about all the people I know. The kind of things you only remember to bring up drunk, late-night on a stoop having a heart-to-heart – I would write all of them down, for all the people I could think of.

4. Who do you love and why do you love them?

I love the people who love me. The people I can share silence with. The people that don’t question why I’m inviting them to grab a lunch or dinner. The people I would run errands with. The people that keep me from feeling lonely, and the people I can help keep from feeling lonely.

5. What do you quote?

Quotes about being true to yourself, about how everyone deserves happiness, on the work it takes to achieve happiness, and reminders on why it’s okay not to be happy all the time. Why? Because I want everyone to always be working towards happiness, without stressing about whether or not they’re good at it.

6. In those rare life-changing moments, how do you act?

I close my eyes, do a gut check, and dive-in feet first. Not head first, in case the water’s shallow. But feet first, without checking my pockets – so sometimes, I’ll ruin my phone (metaphorically speaking). I make these mistakes because I need to jump quick before I convince myself to do otherwise. I’m instinctively risk-taking, but consciously risk-averse.

7. What do you think about most?

How to be happy. How to take what I learn and help others be happy. How I can help others achieve happiness by being an example – discovering and admiring things & people that make me happy, removing stress & worry, and smiling all the time.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi

The change I want to see in the world in which people are kind, happy, and grateful.

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In & Over My Head

I’m about to sit in on a Coloft Academy class called Elasticsearch, An Introduction. As it’s title suggests, it’s a class that introduces you to Elasticsearch, a “flexible and powerful open source, distributed real-time search and analytics engine for the cloud.” Long story short, I’m pretty lost already.

Other students of this class include the CTO of DocStoc, and devs from Science and Demand Media. Definitely going to be lost…

In my experience though, pushing your limits is a great way to speed up learning. I assume I’ll be completely lost during this class, and perhaps a few years later I’ll remember this class and notice how far I’ve come along.

Mostly, I’m writing this blog post so I can type up all the words I don’t understand:

  • “Clustered” database
  • Dynamo
  • Riak
  • Cassandra
  • Lucene – a set of Java libraries to perform search
  • NFS
  • top-level namespace
  • “clustering”
  • boolean filters

Huh, surprisingly I was able to follow most of the class. Baller.

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