As a small start-up with an even smaller marketing budget, it was difficult for StreamYard, the live streaming studio to compete with the Adobes and Salesforces of the tech world.

So what did the company’s then VP of Marketing Daniel Glickman do?

He built a community.

In this edition of Leadtail’s Spirited Conversations, Daniel shares some marketing secrets for how startups can compete with the big tech brands

Build a Community Around Your Brand

Most marketers at start-ups focus on unique features and brand values that set them apart from enormous tech giants like Google and Microsoft. Perhaps the offer has a unique pricing model. Or features that buyers won’t find with the market leaders

“That’s not enough,” says Daniel.

Conventional marketing is futile when you’re a small fish in a big pond because the competition, he says, will “outspend” you.  

So, build a community around your brand instead.

“One thing we have as a startup that the big tech companies don’t is the real passion customers have for our brand. Our earliest adopters love us and get excited when we bring something new to the table. Not only that, but they really connect to us as individuals.”

That engagement is something larger brands struggle to achieve. 

What Is Community Good For?

“You think of community as a by-product of marketing, not as an engine that drives growth,” says Daniel, now VP of Marketing at InEvent. “But, as social media shows, people strive for a sense of community.” 

It all came together for Daniel when he realized the way humans consume information has changed dramatically over the last decade. 

People used to trust authoritative organizations for information — newspapers, radio stations, and TV networks that checked, then double-checked their sources. Now, people view the original source as gospel — a Tweet from a friend, a Facebook post from a celebrity, a 10-second Snapchat.

“That implication was profound. If we went down the traditional brand marketing route, where we plow money into conventional media, I knew people wouldn’t trust us. Our customers want a 10-second testimonial from their peers. Nothing polished. No one sitting in a studio.”

Who are those peers? People like them. Friends, colleagues, family members, influencers. 

So Daniel built his community, one follower at a time. He started with word-of-mouth marketing on social media, then focused on events, and worked with influencers and “real” people along the way. 

The foundations of his community? Content marketing, performance marketing, product marketing, and good old-fashioned hype. His digital society soon spread across YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Final Word

Daniel’s most successful marketing campaign wasn’t a glossy commercial on prime time TV, but a testimonial from a customer sitting in his bedroom telling the internet how much he loves the company. It’s raw, and a little rough around the edges, but it’s all about community, the one thing the big brands don’t really have. 

“It’s his story, not ours, and that’s why it’s compelling,” says Daniel.

Watch Daniel Glickman’s full presentation here. If you’d like to attend the next Spirited Conversations virtual event, keep an eye on LinkedIn.