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BMA Marketing Innovators: Startups share success stories

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Chicago—Established b-to-b marketers looking for inspiration can learn from the risk-taking entrepreneurial spirit and nontraditional marketing efforts of small startups, according to a panel of experts who spoke Thursday at a Business Marketing Association luncheon seminar here. “The startup world is important,” said panel moderator Kevin Willer, president-CEO of Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and startup co-working center 1871. “There is a groundswell of entrepreneurship.” Startups have much to share about marketing under resource and budget constraints, he said. According to the panelists, not being afraid to try new things, moving ideas quickly from ideation to execution and being purposeful with campaigns are tactics that can be useful for b-to-b marketers. Panelists Gauri Sharma, CEO of market research startup Lab42, and Jack Philbin, CEO of mobile marketing company Vibes, focused on the importance of content marketing. Lab 42 has been successful in generating interest with viral marketing, using its market research expertise to create infographics that were picked up by national media outlets. Similarly, Vibes strives to be a thought leader in the mobile marketing industry, especially on new technologies. When Apple's Passbook app debuted last September, Vibes produced a webinar on the opportunities the technology presented to businesses. Establishing thought leadership and providing content that caught the interest of target businesses provided leads for both companies. Other panelists Amish Tolia, co-CEO of Apparel Media Group, which offers a sponsorship platform, and Mike McGee, co-founder of coding and programming school the Starter League, suggested trying out different marketing tactics, performing vigorous testing and creating a companywide culture of innovation. “Don't be afraid to learn,” McGee said. “Four of [your marketing ideas] might not work; but one of them might, and that's all you need.”
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