A conversation with Yuval Yatskan about Marketing for startups
Updated: Nov 10
Starting a business is exhilarating. Unfortunately, the “build it and they will come” theory doesn’t hold much weight and those overnight success stories you hear about are often the result of behind the scenes years of hard work. Simply put, startup marketing is a unique challenge oftentimes because of the limited resources, whether it’s time, money, or talent.
One of the mistakes startup companies typically make in the early stages of development is overlooking the importance of marketing and branding their company image.
With us today is Yuval Yatskan, VP of Marketing at GoodTime.io, to discuss his experience working with startups in Silicon Valley focusing on growth challenges and how marketing is evolving into the future.
Please tell us about yourself. My name is Yuval Yatskan and I lead marketing at GoodTime. I have worked at both large and smaller companies and love learning new things. I am not your typical marketing leader and have done almost everything from engineering, product management, strategy, finance, and now....marketing.
Do you have any favorite marketing leader that you admire? I think there are a lot of talented marketers here in the Bay Area: Udi Ledergor from Gong, Omer Cnaani from Yotpo, Etai Beck from Folloze, Lisa Ames from LucidWorks, to name a few. However, I really like the awesome work of many others as well.
You’ve been working in Silicon Valley for over 10 years, what are some of the most important lessons you learned? - Embrace change and nurture your curiosity. I think my curiosity has led me to learning new things and has allowed me to explore different areas, enrich my viewpoint, and become a much more well-rounded person and leader. - Embrace and learn on your mistakes and seek to work with others who do the same. Most people focus on their success, which is natural. I enjoyed working the most with people who are risk-takers and would readily admit where they were wrong and allow others to learn from their mistakes. - Being at the right company matters more than what you do there.
You advise early-stage startups, how did you get into that? The straightforward answer is to build a personal brand and use your network. I have been approached for advice on pricing, GTM, and specific marketing tactics. However, just as entrepreneurs find their own path I think if you really want to be an advisor take an initiative. Ask yourself, where do you think you can add value? Why? Be humble and ask to learn more about a company or a team before you assume you could help.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do as a VP of Marketing at GoodTime? I lead Marketing at GoodTime. We’re a small but focused team and I am honored to be part of and lead the team.
How has the team at GoodTime.io adapted to working remotely? What challenges did you face and overcome? Any advice for other businesses making the transition? We simply had to, like many other companies. I am glad we had the opportunity to do so and recognize that not all companies can work remotely. For us, it was about overcoming the challenges of working remotely effectively and this goes back to the basic question of what makes a group of individuals a team. My leadership philosophy is leading through goals and allowing maximum flexibility and freedom to my team to find their own ways to do so. This requires foundational trust and carefully selecting the right people to be part of such a team. I wrote a short blog on LinkedIn a few months ago about my take and advice on working remotely but the gist of it is: - Manage yourself by taking breaks and setting limits - Over-communicate + use video where you can - Manage goals and not activities
What are some of the challenges you have seen most startups are facing in terms of marketing? I really think there are a few fundamental challenges many startups face: - Prioritization - which direction to take the product - Lack of focus in marketing - many great ideas but poor execution: - Which segment to prioritize - A coherent story - Tactics to prioritize and **what not to do** / Saying "No" - Marketing basics: - Who is your buyer persona and ICP? - How would they find out about you and what would trigger them to engage?
Do you feel like a shared marketing teams model could help early-stage startups to advance their growth? Under certain circumstances, absolutely. I outsource some of our capabilities and rely on experienced and dedicated teams that need very little training and oversight. There are two main challenges to consider though: - Team culture - The overhead of managing many different outsourced teams
Do you think automating marketing processes will take away from the creativity that is usually associated with the marketing industry?
On the contrary, I think automating some activities would allow marketers to dedicate more time to be creative and develop new and creative high-touch approaches. Automation is a means to an end, not the end itself. If I gave you a better car, you would still need to decide where to drive it, and how fast you would like to go.
How will marketing evolve as a result of the pandemic? We are forced to focus on fewer channels and try to invent new ones within these new constraints. For example, physical conferences and industry events are all put on hold and the efficacy of virtual ones is still being tested. That forces you to take a closer look at your value proposition, your story, and think empathetically about your audience and sometimes rethink your ICP.
What advice would you like to share with young entrepreneurs who are interested in MarTech? While it is very crowded, I think there is always room for good ideas. Talk to as many marketers as you can and come with an open mind. A great idea is not that great if the marketing team would not be willing to pay for it. It must solve a real and significant problem and not be a mere, nice to have improvement.