Marketing Strategy for Marketplace Startups : Our plan for BountyHunter

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My co-founder Roxman is finally here, we went to Facebook, loved the ice cream!

After stumbling along with investors and seeing Thanksgiving’s coming, I decided to do some real business. Fundraising somehow made me a little emotional and I’d like to calm down a little to avoid being too hyped or down.

For real business, I mean real ones. We are on the right track of making money on the way to our vision, we should work hard to grow now. Days in 500 Startups taught me a lot on how to pitch and it totally helps clear up the vision. I’m so much more convinced now and I can basically answer all questions related to my startups. This is so far the biggest achievement.

For marketplace like BountyHunter, it’s a challenge to handle two sides of customers. Our creative professionals just reach 155K and we need to engage more new ones, on the other hand, we need more competition organizers to use our platform so to benefit those professionals.

Thanks to Sean Percival, Matthew Berman and many other #500STRONG’s help, I nailed down the strategy for both sides.

Creative Professionals

We are feeding 155K creative professionals (we call them “hunters”) with $8M cash prize at all time. To make the prize even higher, we need more hunters. They are like our gold mine. So we are going to have an ambassador program.

Ambassador/Evangelist program

On BountyHunter, you can register as a Spectator, once you enter a contest and submit your artwork, you will officially become a Hunter. If you are an experienced Hunter, says you enter many contests or contribute many content, your level will be higher.

It’s a game with a class system, if you want to be the hero, you will have to work really hard.

But if you are picked to be our ambassador, you become a hero too. You will be on the billboard or front page sharing your artworks and chat with other professionals, you get more permission on the website and can moderate some part of the content.

Partnership with schools or student clubs

In Taiwan we cooperate with more than 80 universities and colleges, on their school websites, they embed our contest information on their school page, this is really powerful in the sense of SEO, as school own .edu domain name, hence our Page Rank being 6, also in the sense that all students AKA potential professionals will all see the contest information.

We will try to replicate this process. The culture and convention might be slightly different but the key point is to get to the student community. I’m sure students will like our game concept.

Test on Google AdWords

US is big, and we are small, we have to figure out where we should start so we will test out which state got the richest creative professionals by running Google Adwords and Facebook Ads, it’s not common to put budget on non-paying customers (professionals are not our revenue source) but it’s a great way to TEST the market.

Social media

It’s really common to have Facebook page and Twitter account to communicate with users, common but must-have. We launched our BountyHunter Facebook page for 2 week already and we got almost 1,000 fans. Key point is to continually sharing valuable content. We will start doing BountyHunter Twitter account too. Also Pinterest in a potential social media to use.

Competition organizers

It’s so important to reach out to the organizers so they know they have a great solution for their high-quality competition events. There are some way to do it.

Email marketing

I know it sounds boring but it’s really powerful in our case. We crawl the ongoing competition events on the web, we found that all organizers are trying the put their event everywhere to get more participants. So when we aggregate their events on our Contest Wall, we automatically send email to them, just to kindly let them know that we think their events are great and would like to make the word out. Most of them happily reply and the lead generation process finish in this simple process.

Once the connection built, it’s easier to let them know our other features on the platform and figure out the best solution for them.

Google Adwords campaigns with landing page

Google Adwords is not easy to master but there’s a clear way to do it. The strategy is: One keyword matches one landing page. Sean mentioned a good tool to do landing page with split test feature “Unbounce“, I use that to built 3 pages:

http://unbouncepages.com/bounty-hunter-online-contest/

http://unbouncepages.com/bounty-hunter-contest-template/

http://unbouncepages.com/bounty-hunter-contest-marketing/

These three pages are for different keywords so to make sure people search for what they want.

Partnership

This needs BD person to do it. Currently I’m doing it and I’m still learning the way in the US market. I basically do some research about which companies run the most competition events, mostly marketing agencies, if they don’t have some partner like us who can help them running contest/competition events they will probably be happy to partner with us. The key point is to make both of our lives easy instead of bringing more revenue from them, it’s like a leverage to the next achievement.

The way I do is to use LinkedIn/Dashboard to find the right person, a lot of research involved and it’s useful. Also I’d recommend Streak, a gmail plugin that helps you organize pipelines.