In this new edition of our ‘Meet the re.alto team’ series, we’ve caught up with our Marketing Lead, Poppy Blautzik, about the challenges of building a marketing strategy from scratch, the valuable lessons she’s learned in re.alto’s first year and her sixth sense when it comes to consumer behaviour.
You’re Marketing Lead at re.alto. What does your role entail?
I head up the marketing function for re.alto, but as a start-up, this is very much a hands-on position so I’m both creating and implementing our marketing strategies. In the beginning it was only me, and, because in the first months the product was barely even POC (far from market ready), I had a unique opportunity to focus on brand development and brand growth, ultimately laying the groundwork for the go-to-market strategy, and planting the seeds for later success in our sales activation strategies. Following the product launch, first with the MVP and then with the MSP, I was able to grow marketing function to 2, and later to 3 team members.
Now with a product on the market, our primary strategy includes a solid mix of brand growth activity and online sales activation, and with such a tiny team in addition to overall strategy and planning my time is largely still spent shoulder deep in channel marketing where I plan, create, write and manage our online campaigns. Thank goodness for marketing guru number 2 whose focus is on content marketing and PR, and our number 3 who helps, well, everywhere!
Did you work in the energy sector previously, and if not, what experience have you brought with you to re.alto?
I had a two year stint working in the Innovation hub for one of the larger German energy companies, but I’ve also lived and worked in various places across the globe (UK, Germany, Hong Kong, and the Philippines) growing online businesses in various industries.
My background is digital marketing and I have experience both doing and leading departments building online marketing journeys for a myriad of companies, big and small. Without a doubt it is this global experience that gives me my competitive edge. In this line of work, especially when it comes to creating online customer journeys, understanding people behaviour is core. It has been fascinating over the years to discover how this can be quite different across different countries, and having also had the pleasure to lead diverse teams in these countries, I feel more in touch with the diverse nature of people in general. I don’t know how else to say it, but I have developed an almost sixth sense for ‘people’ and behaviour trends (specifically online) – it is a nuance that can only be explained by the results.
You’ve been with re.alto since the beginning – can you give us an idea of how far the company has come since you joined?
A long way! A year ago today we were huddled in one small team brainstorming pain-points, product fit, and potential markets. Today we have a brand, a website, a product, customers, a growing community of interested parties, and enough success under our belt to have a product roadmap spanning the next two years. To say I am proud to be part of re.alto really is an understatement.
Marketing a start-up can be challenging, particularly one which is breaking new ground in digital transformation in the energy sector. How did you go about putting together a marketing strategy from scratch and deciding your priorities for 2020?
As a new company on the market it was important in the beginning to gain a little brand recognition before going to market, so, as I’ve mentioned, we focussed initially on brand development and brand growth as part of the overall sales activation strategy. We have a 60/40 ratio of brand awareness versus sales activation. I wanted to go down this route to establish brand loyalty from the beginning.
It was also critical in the first months to get insight from our markets as to the level of interest in our product idea and value proposition. As such, we went public with the website and product idea before launching the actual product, and the insights from feedback we gained were invaluable. In fact it led to a rather organic go-to-market strategy simply because the interest in our offering was off the charts. Going public with the value proposition garnered so much interest, the marketplace grew before we had a chance to officially announce the product – not a bad problem to encounter.
As a digital product it was always clear that scaling would come from a volume-based online marketing approach. So, since officially launching the re.alto API marketplace in September, we’ve been testing our capability to scale with a full end-to-end digital journey for our users.
Almost everything you see online – articles, emails, videos, webinars, social media posts, advertisements, website landing pages – has been created by one or more of our tiny marketing team of three. It’s an awful lot of work, but we absolutely love it. In fact, thanks to the whole re.alto team and the strength of the product, the marketing strategy was never going to be hugely difficult. Made up of a bunch of incredibly intelligent people with a huge amount of knowledge across the board, it was obvious that they (and their knowledge) would be the focus of our brand growth strategy. The results really do speak for themselves!
What barriers have you come up against and what would you say are the three most important things you’ve learnt this year?
Covid has been quite a big one – not so much a barrier, but over the past months we’ve seen a shift in how people consume content. At the beginning we found to our advantage that any content we put out to the world was gobbled up with great gusto. This may have been for a number of reasons, from people working from home enjoying the novelty of lower firewalls and more freedom to consume interesting content during working hours, to the apprehension of companies losing revenue and re.alto offering a new revenue-generating channel for any business with energy data products and services.
However over time we’ve seen what looks to be a reverse effect. As the months have gone by and more and more companies have jumped on the online content wagon, consumers have become somewhat weary and less enticed to consume content. We haven’t necessarily seen a downturn in user activity, but we have seen lower conversion rates at the front of our funnel specifically when it comes to our whitepaper, e-book and webinar syndication.
So with that in mind, the biggest learnings have been:
1. Setting goals is great but being able to pivot those goals is even better. In a normal first year of a start-up planning often goes out of the window, but this year especially absolutely no amount of planning could have prepared us for the ebb and flow it has brought us.
2. Choose your battles wisely! With limited resource but BIG ambitions it has been important to prioritise effectively and efficiently. We’ve been in the trenches, and whilst we love our work, having a burned-out team serves no one well.
3. Our knowledge is our most valuable asset. The re.alto team is small but huge in industry knowledge. It is this knowledge that has underpinned our marketing efforts and held us strong.
What does 2021 look like for re.alto, from your point of view?
2021 will be the year to draw on our learnings from 2020 (year 1 of re.alto) and hit the floor running. With the API marketplace at the heart of re.alto, we have a robust product evolution roadmap in place for the year which we’re very excited to announce in due course … the marketplace has really just been the beginning.
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