dinners

For startups, marketing is a series of experiments that take into account target audiences, resources, and strategic goals.

It is often a challenge to discover the marketing channel that delivers in spades. But when you find it or it finds you, it’s a no-brainer to aggressively embrace it.

Case in point is an entrepreneur that I met at a recent startup event. He was talking about his challenges with cold-calling and inbound marketing, and how he wants to embrace blogging to drive thought leadership.

Then, he mentioned attending a conference where he scored a huge number of leads, a big deal for an early-stage startup. So what happened, I asked? His answer: “Before the conference started, I held a dinner for prospects, which cost me $5,000. It got a $100,000 deal from a customer who didn’t consider competitive alternatives. He said ‘I like your product and you know how to host a great dinner'”.

As a startup marketer, my immediate reaction was “go to more conferences and throw more dinners!”

This entrepreneur has stumbled upon a marketing goldmine. For him, hosting a nice dinner before a conference is a formula for marketing success. If it turns prospects into customers, nice dinners are – hands down – this startup’s number one marketing channel. This is not to suggest other channels are less interesting or valuable but they may not deliver the same ROI, or be as much fun!

Many startups only need one channel that works really well. For Groove and Buffer, it is blogging. For Freshbooks, it was hosting lunches and dinners while on a cross-country tour. For Dollar Shave Club, it was a video. It something works, do more of it until it is less effective or something better comes along.

It’s a simple formula for startup marketing success.


I’ve worked with dozens of startups and fast-growing companies looking to accelerate growth with marketing powered by storytelling and strategy. If you need marketing that makes an impact, let’s talk.

If you are looking for hand-picked startup content, subscribe to my weekly newsletter focused on marketing. operations, sales, raising money…and some Canadian startup news.

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