Wanting to sell you startup wares to corporates? Learn from this panel event at MEC

As friends of MEC we popped down to their panel discussion event during London Tech Week to hear the debate on ‘How to win in adtech’. Whether you’re selling startup ad-tech (like those on this panel) or any other software or service to a large coporation the learnings are very consistent and discussed on this panel. Chairing the panel was MEC’s Innovation Director Hannah Blake and making up the panel was Tom‎ Bowman, VP of Ad Sales at BBC Worldwide, Jon Mundy MD at innovative mobile adtech platform Zapp360 and Tim Pearce the Digital Trading Director at MEC.
Ad-tech – defined by the panel as ‘tech that replaces the manual process of delivering, and controlling online ads’ – has exploded in the last few years – but as a result it has become fragmented and even confusing. So if you’re in the adtech game – what’s their advice for winning, and what is it that agencies and brands are looking for from providers?
Well the first consistent message from the panel was that it now doesn’t matter how big you are, you can still play with the big boys. Where once new businesses would struggle to ever get a meeting, it is now widely accepted that the entrepreneurial world has a lot to offer in this space (and others) and hence getting a meeting with global agencies like MEC, or the big brands that they represent, is possible. If you’re a new innovative business then this is obviously great news, but this should also act as a warning – there are plenty of others out there too. So here are their tips for how to stand out for all the right reasons:
Get clear on the problem you’re solving and articulate it brilliantly
The message was pretty clear – our panellists have seen or heard far too many ‘pitches’ where the founders / entrepreneurs / techies [delete as appropriate] turned up for a meeting without being able to explain their tech in a really clear, concise way, and in a way that positions it as a clear solution to an identifiable problem. Without you doing this they will not be able to quickly identify the role for you within their portfolio – so make sure you’ve done your ground work and got a crystal clear pain-solution focused proposition.
Know who you’re targeting and why
In agencies, Account Directors and Account Managers are inundated with new tech propositions and cool new tools – as are the Brand Managers and Digital Marketing Managers, client side. To stand out, you need to be talking to the right person. Admittedly this might require a more trial and error approach, but read up on the organisation and understand who you should be talking to specifically. The ideal scenario if you’re wanting to talk to an agency is if, like MEC, they have a team responsible for filtering the innovation, as that means you end up speaking to the right people but also protects the client-facing teams from you if you’re not ready or relevant (which saves everyone’s time!).
Make it relevant to them
Your product could be amazing, and the tech behind it could be mind-blowing. But if you can’t position it in a way that is relevant to your potential customer you’ve lost the battle and you’ve wasted your own time. I might sound a bit harsh here – but I’m pretty passionate about it and the panel discussed it at length. You need to frame the story to be relevant; do not just demo the tech – show how it could work for their brand (if you’re going direct to client) or for the clients in their portfolio (if you’re presenting to an agency). This takes time – you need to understand the brands and what activity they do, in order to come up with a couple of examples of how you would use your tool with their brand/client. But this makes all the difference to your pitch – and it is much more likely you’ll get a second meeting, or better still, a trial.
Image by Brad K. on Flickr