by Ahmet Arslan
Before I start, I’d like to tell you a bit about our startup. We are an ad-tech company based in Istanbul, Turkey. Last month, I, along with two co-founders from media buying and planning and finance backgrounds, launched our startup to provide customers with an alternative in self-service advertising. Since then, we’ve added four dedicated members to our team, and we are looking forward to a bright future of prosperity and expansion.
I’ll take this opportunity to share some advice and strategies we’ve acquired through our own experiences that will help you expand your B2B startups to additional markets.
Step 1: Define the Market Size
With our startup, we were tasked with the duty of customer acquisition. We began by spending time defining and targeting customers and working to receive their feedback. A beta testing phase allowed us to improve our user interface and user experience, which provided us with information on early users’ actions while on the site. During this time, we also arranged meetings with local investors and venture capitalists to acquire the required financial backing.
Our business plan simply wasn’t complete without a clear forecast of our target market, including the market size. We don’t believe that market size is based on revenue. Our focus was on the potential capacity of individual customers. In order to discover our target markets, we needed to ask ourselves, “Who can benefit from the use of our platform?” The answer to that question is as follows:
- Websites who are already using the services of one of our competitors (We’ll come back to this!)
- SaaS (Software as a Service) Vendors
- Brand Marketers
- eCommerce Companies
Including these markets, we estimate that we have over 400,000 potential customers around the world!
Step 2: See the Big Picture
Our market is extremely competitive. Established competition has already acquired over 70,000 customers around the world, with nearly two-thirds of these companies based in the United States and Europe.
This leaves us with two options to grow our customer base:
- Convince existing customers to switch to our services from our competitors
- Locate new customers who aren’t using a similar service
We decided that our best option was to find new customers who have never tried the type of service we offer. When we introduce potential customers to our service, we have a great chance of keeping them away from our competitors. This method also requires less effort and cost than acquiring existing customers. The need for 1:1 calls, Skype meetings and expensive marketing makes obtaining existing users less practical for brand-new startups.
Step 3: Find the Right Local Market
For new B2B startups, choosing the correct region is imperative. Selecting the correct region to do business will allow for quick growth and a larger market share. For our case, U.S. and European regions were more attractive than others.
We created a list of our strengths and weaknesses based on geographic customer distribution as compared to our competitors.
Step 4: Meet with Local Influencers
After deciding upon our desired market, it was important to contact influential individuals to spread the word of our startup. We contacted individuals, including entrepreneurs, brand marketers and media buyers, to get additional feedback on the local market and improve our business strategy.
Step 5: Learn and Adapt
Each country has different ideas about working with third-party companies. We will continue to adapt our sales and customer support, along with our feature set, to fulfill the customers’ evolving needs.
Step 6: Provide Local Data and Resources
Customers enjoy viewing data and information, which will serve to improve their confidence in your brand. For example, Socialbakers provides local reports to customers. We plan to provide infographics and use cases about local markets from our blog and newsletter to convince our customers of our value.
Step 7: Try to Hire a Local Team Member
Believe me, people prefer to speak in their native language. For this reason, we will hire a remote team member in each target market for sales and support tasks. We have used this method in Turkey to generate qualified leads.
Ahmet ARSLAN has been working in the adtech area for the last 5 years. Right now, he is a co-founder of Adsuit, a data-driven adtech startup, based in Istanbul, Turkey. You can follow him on Twitter @ahmetarslan.