ABOUT NATALIE ANNE

MARKETING CONSULTANT AND PRACTITIONER, FREQUENT BLOGGER, INDUSTRY SPEAKER & STARTUP MENTOR. DRIVING BUSINESSES FORWARD WITH GROWTH CENTERED STRATEGIC PLANS.

GROWTH STRATEGY

Identifying key marketing channels and putting together a budget-minded, growth-oriented action plan - and seeing it through.

CONTENT MARKETING

Creating and executing plans around content that attracts new customers and engages existing ones.

MENTORING & SPEAKING

Consultations with businesses and talks with audiences around what needs to be done to stand out.

GROWTH RESULTS FROM CONSISTENT, HIGH-QUALITY EFFORT

It’s hard to stand out. Natalie Anne Ink will work closely with you to understand your business’s core value and communicate it successfully to your target market.

PORTFOLIO

Natalie Anne has a long history of ramping up brands with strategic, coordinated activities.

  • BUILDING BRAND AWARENESS FOR A NEW NICHE SMARTWATCH

    Coordinated efforts to build brand awareness for new racket sport smartwatch Pulse Play and sell pre-launch units included favorable mentions in dozens of sports and technology publications, creating and managing a content program that resulted in top rankings for multiple relevant keywords and increasing organic traffic to 10,000+ monthly visitors, and managing a social media and influencer program that led to a 20,000+ community across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, & Pinterest. Meanwhile developed and implemented a launch strategy that successfully raised over $80,000 in an early Indiegogo campaign.
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  • GETTING THE WORD OUT ABOUT A NEW CAREGIVING SERVICE

    In advance of a beta launch, coordinated a series of activities to bring awareness to a new caregiving service. Built and managed a content marketing program that involved original content, a series of impactful guest bloggers, an influencer campaign across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and regular email marketing. The result was traffic of 5K+ monthly high-intent visitors and hundreds of email sign-ups.
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TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS

Natalie Anne Ink was founded in October 2016, and already has a track record of success with a growing roster of clients.

  • 100,000S+

    Client Website Visits

  • 35

    CONSULTATIONS

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    HAPPY CLIENTS

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crowdfunding campaigns
Most crowdfunding campaigns fail. I’ve heard 60%. I’ve heard more. Last year, I led marketing for a crowdfunding campaign for a startup and, though we succeeded, the experience gave us a lot of insight into the challenges, and a pretty clear idea of why so many fail.

It’s all about the community

It boils down to one thing: a community with a real, quantifiable intent to purchase. In our experience, that excluded Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. In fact, there was only one type of community that ended up showing actual intent: email subscribers. And unfortunately for crowdfunders, a good email list takes a lot of time to build.

Why not social media

It’s important to think about the communities you build in terms of whether you “own” them or “rent” them. You rent your community on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but you own your email subscribers. The difference is that if you post something on your Facebook page, you’re not sure that your fans will see it, but if you send a newsletter you know it arrived in their inbox. Compare the 2-5% of Facebook’s organic reach with our email campaign open rates of 22.9% to 69.7%. Big difference. Even in my original research for our marketing strategy, I noticed that there was simply no correlation between Facebook likes and crowdfunding success. There were campaigns with mind-blowing success that had tiny Facebook footprints and there were campaigns with extraordinary performance that had a great Facebook community. This suggests that Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and Instagram followers don’t convert in reliable ways. So the lesson is not to rely on them. I’m not saying forgo social media completely. In fact, you can use your email subscribers to correctly harness the power of social media. Remember that your email subscribers have more intent, period. One went though a double opt-in process and another absent-mindedly clicked an ad. If your subscribers are more likely to pledge to your campaign, they’re even more likely to share your campaign. The benefits are twofold. Personal shares will be seen much more and friends of fans have a greater chance of being your target market. In fact, I recommend creating dedicated landing pages just for subscribers to share your campaign on social media. Social media has a place, but don’t get hung up on how many likes you have. Everything should start with your email list.

The problem with email

But there’s a problem with email too. It takes a lot of effort to gain one subscriber, and you might need 10,000. To start consistently gaining subscribers, you should build a landing page, create content, and drive traffic. Then, you continuously optimize. Maybe you get to 100 subscribers, or 500, or 1,000 before your campaign starts. That’s great. But, unfortunately, that’s probably not enough, not by a long shot. The reality of crowdfunding is that you do it to take advantage of the crowdfunding platform’s buzz but there’s just too many damn campaigns out there. You simply won’t succeed unless you’ve already raised a big enough community of people who are certain to back your product. It all comes down to math. As an example, my dad is an amazing photographer. He wants to do a crowdfunding campaign because his dream is to publish a photography book. The publishing world is notoriously fierce and crowdfunding, in theory, offers an alternative pathway. The question I would ask him is how many people are in his community who would buy his book? Let’s dig into the numbers. Say 1 out of every 5-10 email subscribers has purchased one of his photographs and would back a high-quality book for $75. Now say he wants to do a fairly standard run of 1000 books. That means he would need 5,000-10,000 email subscribers. 5,000 to 10,000. That’s a lot. My father would have to do a lot of marketing to make it happen and that’s why it’s no surprise that when you go to the Photography section of Kickstarter, you see A LOT of dead projects. He has a full-time job and takes photographs on the weekend. When does he have the time to do all that stuff I mentioned? These numbers get even more depressing when you’re trying to introduce something entirely new to the world. Take a campaign I ran for Pulse Play, a smartwatch for tennis and racket sport fans. The conversion rate is mostly untested. There’s tennis players out there, sure, but there’s also little precedent for technology in the sport besides Babolat Play. Doing that math, we would’ve needed 5,000-10,000 subscribers optimistically; realistically, the number could run higher than 25,000.

A little disclaimer

OK, OK, this is a little crazy, I admit. I’m talking about guaranteeing your crowdfunding campaign succeeds because you’ve lined up hundreds to thousands of real customers. Who can do that without a final product? The answer is you can, but not without time and dedicated marketing efforts. Yes, we’ve all read that before, but I’ve never heard anybody spell out the full extent of it. We’re talking several months of hard work. Don’t get me wrong, there really are some products that with the right messaging and support will sell themselves, and maybe that could be your campaign, but probably not. Better to start building that email list.

Friends and family matter

The other mostly unspoken truth is that most campaigns that do cross their crowdfunding goals succeed thanks to friends and family. They’ll buy from you no matter what. But there’s something important to remember here. Most of us aren’t connectors who have thousands of contacts who will help prop up a campaign. If there’s any indication you’ll be relying on friends and family, make sure you’re not trying to raise too much money. Doing some simple math applies here as well.

Conclusion

I believe in crowdfunding, I really do. I know some incredible products have emerged from it that would’ve struggled otherwise. The funding they received enabled the founders to find investors and take their budding startups to new levels. When crowdfunding works, it really works. But the effort that goes into it shouldn’t be discounted. Crowdfunding campaigns are a lot like startups, really. Most fail, but every runaway success hides the immense work it took to get there. Let’s stop pretending and start working to reverse the rate of failure.
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If you're excellent at what you do and the stars are in alignment, you will win. Of course, you may run out of time first, but, if you're excellent every day, you will have furthered your chances of beating the house as much as they ever can be.
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Startup Marketing
When should you start to market your startup? In my years doing startup marketing, I’ve come across two philosophies on timing. Both, it turns out, are right – it just depends on what you’re trying to build. The first philosophy comes from VCs. You’ll hear them say things like “Don’t start marketing until your startup has product-market fit.” What this means is that you have a product, even if it’s a working MVP, and customers are using it the way you intend them to without any major hiccups. A good indication of this is if your startup is growing, however slowly, without a big push from you or your marketing team. It could be that customers are finding your startup via organic search or that paid traffic to test your service is resulting in referrals or that marketing you’re doing without budget is getting a handful of conversions. Embedded in this advice is a reliance on the core technology. Product-market fit proves that the core technology speaks to a real need. Once you have this, you’ll have investors knocking on your door at a rate proportional to the size of your market and inversely related to its competitiveness– is it a blue or red ocean? The second approach comes from, you guessed it, marketers, especially of the technical variety. These marketers believe that you should be marketing from the get-go, and that marketing can be a way of testing channels and starting to build audiences with slower-to-grow strategies like content marketing. Take Mint or Buffer, whose CEOs committed to blogging extensively a year before launch and were able to see traction immediately afterwards The truth is that both approaches are correct – they just work for different types of startups. Startups that are more tech-driven and innovative, that will to some extent need to educate their market, are better served establishing product-market fit and saving their marketing for the post-round. They should only spend marketing dollars beforehand insofar as they need to test product or market demand. Partly, there’s an assumption here that these types of startups will be both more expensive to build and more expensive to market, requiring at least a year of development from a team of engineers and programmers and likely sales teams to bring it to market. Think sophisticated B2B SaaS, B2C hardware, and others. If funding is short, there are alternatives. First, they should test existing solutions and survey users, they should build apps instead of gadgets, they should craft MVPs around one core feature rather than commit upfront to feature soup. Coupled with marketing tests, these can be the startup’s first forays into product marketing. The key benefit is not just confidence – early traction around simple products can be validation enough for investors. Other startups, or more aptly, “the rest of them,” that have lower barriers to entry, are cheaper to build, and have established markets, will benefit from marketing earlier. This is true even if the startup does have a unique value proposition (“UVP”) but the core technology already exists and is largely available to engineers and programmers. In this case entrepreneurs should be confident about testing things on a smaller scale because the larger questions of customer need have already been answered in the industry as a whole. As well, there’s an assumption here that the ocean is more red than blue, or on its way, and there will be a bigger reliance on creative marketing to drive sales. What remains to be seen for these entrepreneurs is how to express the UVP and which marketing channels to focus on. For this I recommend books like “Traction” that ask entrepreneurs and marketers to review every marketing channel and not discount one or the other out of unfamiliarity or assumptions around what’s typically done. No startup should commit to any one strategy over another before testing messaging and channels. The conventional wisdom is that companies should write strategies–and I don’t disagree–but strategies at startups are usually out-of-date the day they’re written. Things change quickly on the ground in competitive or new markets. Instead, I suggest that strategies be developed around and expressed in terms of tests. KPIs should be tossed in favor of assumption validation. Marketers should be focused on 2-3 core activities that are agreed to likely be the highest performing – and they should see themselves and organize their time as if they’re programmers. Think “scrum.” If assumptions aren’t validated, there needs to be an analytical assessment on the reasons why not, and a decision to either iterate on or abandon the channel. This doesn’t mean market research shouldn’t be extensively conducted and prepared. Market research well done will be a permanent fixture of presentations and a continuous resource in developing tests and strategies. And this doesn’t mean you won’t need to write a strategy from the get-go – investors and partners will ask, after all. But, I am convinced of two things:
  1. Investors in this case will care most about the bigger questions around marketing that will result from your market research: target market, competition, business model, UVP, and more
  2. The results of manifold tests since the startup’s founding that speak to product-market fit, messaging, marketing channels, and more will speak volumes more than promises to spend X on digital marketing and Y on PR (just because you think so)
So when should startups start to market themselves? It depends on the startup and it depends on what you mean by “market.” While all startups should run product and market tests up until the day of launch (and forever afterwards), deeper-tech startups should wait until after product-market fit and everybody else should start as soon as they can make educated decisions about what will likely work based on those tests. Until your marketing across-the-board is stable enough to return predictable results, throw out the strategies with a capital S. They’re not for your startup team.
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FEATURED

Natalie has been featured in and interviewed by the following publications.

  • Jerusalem Post

  • Contently

  • Social Media Today

  • Times of Israel

CLIENTS

  • QantaQanta
  • Mobile ODTMobile ODT
  • Loom SystemsLoom Systems
  • Behar Int'l CounselBehar Int'l Counsel
  • Patrick McGinnisPatrick McGinnis
  • Motion AveMotion Ave
  • Pears ProgramPears Program
  • Content IsraelContent Israel
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CONTACT


natalie@natalieanne.ink

PH: +1 310 869 2507

FX: +1 858 456 6362

402 W. Broadway, San Diego, CA, 92101

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