How To Build a Successful Tech Company Without Any Sales Reps

Ran Avrahamy
CMO
AppsFlyer
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How To Build a Successful Tech Company Without Any Sales Reps
What follows is an article based on his appearance on the Techie Talkie podcast.

Solving The Marketing Paradox

So, what does AppsFlyer do? I’ll share a short quote I love to help explain.

"Half of your marketing is working, but the problem is that you don't know which half"

So we're helping to fix this problem, of understanding what your marketing is doing and how you’re doing it, and how to provide a good experience for your customers.

We call it attribution analytics, and that’s how we’re helping brands all over the world, marketing people and developers to understand exactly what is working, what’s not, and how to constantly improve.

Forget Mobile First. Mobile Only.

Mobile only, yes.

A cool story is that when I just started working at AppsFlyer, the first thing I did was to have a look at Google trends. I searched on Google about mobile attribution and there were zero people looking it up.

The first step was mainly educating people about what mobile attribution is.

So what is mobile attribution? It means to measure and to understand the funnel of your users, that means to understand from what channels did they come from, whether it's classic marketing, billboards, television, or any other of the endless marketing channels we have today, and what are they doing afterwards? That is, how can you bring more good users, how can you improve the users’ experience?

At the end of the day AppsFlyer provides infrastructure, we are a software company. We're working with most of the biggest companies in the world.

Solving the Challenge of Marketing to Marketers

Marketing is in our DNA. Not just a basic understanding of marketing, and not in the soft fluffy meaning. At the end we are marketing to marketing people, we are selling a product to marketing people.

I'm always saying that selling a product to marketing people is both a blessing and curse.

On one hand, every campaign we want to launch, or some creative idea we want to try, we try it on ourselves, on our marketing department.

If it doesn't work on us, it probably won't work on them.

I have a few insights about marketing people. First of all, they're very clever, cynical, they don't bite on stuff that is basic, and they love themselves, but we all know that. The difficult part of it is that you cannot bullshit them, so you can't do anything that is on the surface.

You have to dive deep and you have to bring interesting data and good stories. You have to bring good data to the level of content and research. Just give them an incredible experience.

Keep it About the Customer

That challenge is why I don't think we are truly marketing driven at the end of the day. We are customer driven first, it's something that is rooted in our culture. I think that the experience we give our customers, in the customer experience level, and even in the marketing level for customers, is seriously just incredible.

Our churn rate is zero. Which for a SaaS company is a remarkable place to be.

As a company, our framework for success is first to make the customers successful and happy, and only then bring in new customers, that's secondary. It's a mindset that trickles down.

That’s also why we are really not a sales driven company, up until three or four years ago we didn't have any sales people in the company. We had inbound, word of mouth.

Also our marketing steps are perceived as such that put the customer in first place. We have this project called MAMA boards, it's an educational project, we took some inspiration from Rand Fishkin.

We're creating a class with a white board at the back, there's a calligrapher that is quickly writing down the class, and for 10 minutes one of our customers which is an expert in the industry, teaches a class about a random subject. We held around 25 of these until now, it's incredible content that puts our marketers and customers at the front. We're not involved, we're only the facilitators. It's this way of thinking, of being the facilitator.

Don’t BS. Be Genuine.

Like I said, marketing people are incredible at detecting BS. They don't buy a pig in a poke, they smell bad promotion from kilometers away. You know, when you're watching a television commercial, you analyze it.

You're hearing the brief in your mind and so do they, our customers. So you need to be very sincere and very open.

Especially today. Because back in the day, the seller used to have all the power. You would sell only to the highest chief, the CMO, CIO, CTO. These days things are different, these days the buyer has the power.

Today we have 53 people on our team, probably 90% of them can buy, they're buyers. They can come to me or to their manager and say, "I need this software, it costs 20$ a month, I need it for these reasons" and they get it.

This buying cycle didn't exist a while ago.

In B2C, if let's say you're going now to a 7-Eleven, you open the fridge and you decide if you're taking a Coke or a Pepsi. It's the same with Google today. You go in and you write "AppsFlyer VS", the autocomplete gives you the rest of the tools in that category and you decide.

You have the power.

You go into GT2Crowd or TrustRadius and you do a quick RFP. Obviously it depends on how complicated the tool is, and how much implementation it needs, and development, and how expensive it is. But the procedure has changed completely.

That's why we invested in the concept of the brand almost from the beginning.

Injecting Life Into Your B2B Brand

We have a very strong brand, very human, that we are still nurturing. It really is based on the customers.

The mascot, for example, is a funny story. When I brought the original brief for the mascot, we have this guy who looks like a Geek-Chic.

So the brief was about out customers. In the world of marketing there was this kind of hype which is coming back today. It was called "From Mad-Men to Math-Men".

From the Mad-Man of Don Draper and the old days, which was all creative bravado, slick copy, good but full of facade and ego. It went to the extreme a few years ago, of the Math-Men, the geek that doesn't have anything but data. He isn't data driven, he's a bit data dependent. And now there's this returning, and going back because people understand that the Math-Man part can be automated, and the creative part can't be.

So this character we had which we called Ziv, because it looked a lot like a guy in the company that's called Ziv. I tried back then to conceptualize someone who is our customer. This Geek-Chic who is still cool, who likes that and the fine living, and on the other hand he's a data person. He's a geek.

That’s how we landed at Ziv.

And another funny story is how we landed on the acronym we use to refer to our category. It’s Mobile Attribution Marketing Analytics, but we just call it MAMA.

It started as a joke when we were listening to the song Bohemian Rhapsody about four and a half years ago, long before the movie that came out and all the buzz, a great song we all grew up with. And there came the chorus with "momma", and we took the word from there. We invented the initials back then and it became our educational brand. That is, the community brand, content brand and people brand, online and offline. And now it’s known all around the world.

Use Data, But Know True Creativity Breaks the Rules

In all these things I’ve spoken about, if there’s one message it’s this. You can’t follow the playbook. Obviously, you have to understand your data, to know which 50% of your marketing is working. And you can’t be purely creative, like the Mad-Men era.

But on the other hand, if you’re just following the playbook you’ll end up tied to the people who wrote the playbook and end up just doing what worked for them.

To truly break out of that and make your own success, you have to go with your instinct, to bend the rules, to fail quickly and learn from your mistakes, and to keep being true to your customers and yourself.

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Ran Avrahami is the CMO of AppsFlyer. After selling his company to Google, Ran Avrahami joined AppsFlyer, Mobile Attribution company as the first marketer.

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Techie Talkie,  the tech marketing podcast is a casual meeting place where the best tech marketers share their most impactful trade secrets and marketing hacks . Its objective is to inspire creativity within the tech marketing space and help marketers rise above the noise. It is hosted by Asaph Shulman, a serial marketer and CMO of Firebolt and our very own Carmel Yoeli.