Founders should do Content – iSPIRT content marketing roundtable

It has been one of the wettest April for Delhi in years. 5th April 2015 was no different. An overnight downpour had created a surreal Saturday setting for “Content marketing your way to multi-million dollars in revenue” at the 46th iSPIRT Playbook Roundtable. It was the 7th Roundtable in Delhi. The venue – the playful Wingify office at Pitampura in New Delhi.

View from the Wingify Office

Participants came from far and wide – Gurgaon, Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Mumbai, Bangalore – braving the rain, the puddle and the traffic.

The stage was set at the Wingify cafeteria. Interestingly, all the participating product companies were actually seated in a roundtable. A few table tennis bats uncharacteristically placed in the corner indicated that a TT table had made way for the roundtable.

Love all. Play !!!

Paras Chopra – CEO Wingify – opened the roundtable sharing that Wingify was now working with 4000 companies across the World helping marketing guys do technical experiments without writing code. He shared the iSPIRT vision of making India the place for software products.

After calling for a quick round of introductions, Paras initiated the roundtable sesion with the question, “What is content?”

Siddharth, Paras’ teammate and the marketer at Wingify also teamed in to lead the session.

What is content?

Even if you do not read the rest of the post, the following lines should be good enough.

Before inviting the forum to give their definition of “Content”, Paras set the tone for the roundtable.

He said, “Founders should do content”.

“I love writing. I have been writing since 14.”

“A founder is well placed to articulate insights. And it matters.”

Paras emphasised that content should not be one-off. Content – he says – should have rhythm. A collection of outdoor hoardings create better impact than just one isolated bilboard. He mentions the work of to illustrate his example, before opening up the discussion to the forum.

The forum was quick to put out a list – emails, landing pages, shareable content (viral), blogs, smart forms, CTA’s, e-books (gated and non-gated) and videos – at which the discussion came to an interim halt, thanks to Vidooly.

Vidooly – part of the TLABS batch – helps YouTube channel owners grow their organic reach and traffic using analytics. Subrat (CEO – Vidooly) mentioned about an impending VC round, but denied YouTube wanted to acquire them. He was quick to point out that DailyMotion was around.

On using videos for content, Paras pointed out the trade-off between a high quality video and the effort. Sub-par videos could compromise the brand.

On the other hand, the forum communicated its excitement about videos rattling out names like goanimate and powtoon that allow for creating quality videos, quickly. Ankit (MyPoolin) shared that they have attracted quality audience with videos, especially in the B2C context. Vijay (ZapStitch) seemed to agree. Subrat was agile to point out corresponding vidooly features e.g. meta optimization features that will help grow organic audience.

Is your business using Videos for content marketing?

Content ROI

Siddharth led this leg of the roundtable on Content ROI.

As the key marketer at Wingify, ROI is his daily job and he did not lose time to mention mixpanel to measure metrics, simultaneously dishing out the following:

  • TOFU
  • MOFU
  • BOFU

Though lunch was an hour way, there was now some food for thought.


Siddharth was describing the marketing funnel. Wingify was using marketing automation tools like Infer, HubSpot and Fliptop to measure how prospects move from TOFU ( top of funnel) to BOFU (bottom of funnel). It helps gauge how business is doing with respect to marketing and business goals. Siddharth built confidence by indicating that users appreciate the funnel and demonstrate desired behaviours.

Did you figure out MOFU?

Sudhakar (RippleHire), who was patiently listening to all this gyaan (knowledge) invoked his consultant avatar and pressed with a terse question, “What to post?”

The question resonated.

What to post? – A quick look at Buyer Personas

Paras and Siddharth teamed up to take this question.

Paras said, “The problem with us entrepreneurs is that we think that all are like us. When it comes to our audience, implicit segmentation is mostly not accurate. At Wingify, we have been scientifically studying our users and customers for the last six months – Who are they? What do they do daily? It all comes down to buyer personas. Your content has to resonate with them.”

“At Wingify, we have created posters (at times whimsical) to communicate to our team about Buyer Personas”.

Siddharth closed this question emphasizing how they did persona surveys, got on support calls, identified problems users were facing, studied linkedin profiles and established KPI’s to scientifically determine what content to post.

Outsource Vs Inhouse

Needless to mention, all were ears on this discussion point. Would this be black and white? Or would it be gray? Siddharth made it clear that each team member at Wingify had to write. Period. It was even integral to their recruitment process. (More on that later)

Ashish from Posist was very forthcoming about their outsourcing attempts. He even admitted that even though outsourced content was good, ironically it wasn’t exciting. It required Vaibhav’s (RankWatch) quote of “1$ per word” comment for a well-known content writer to bring back the fun in the discussion.

Have you experimented with outsourcing content?

Siddharth stressed on the importance of quality compared to quantity. He went on to share that at Wingify, they make a lot of effort to produce one quality post everyday. It is always quality that is priority.

Getting content noticed

If you thought doing content was hard, let us talk about distributing and promoting it. It is hard too.

Guest Posting

We began with guest posting and co-marketing. Siddharth began counting his fingers.

  1. Email influencers rather than commenting on their blog.
  2. Short and longer posts are both OK, but some publishers discourage longer posts.
  3. Important to communicate to publisher how your post is relevant to their audience.
  4. Always stick to guidelines for guest posts.
  5. It is effective to send a TOC first to publishers, instead of a final draft.
  6. Seek out high DA sites with relevant keywords.
  7. When sending in the final post to the publisher, always include 5 to 6 links within the post to increase odds of drawing traffic.

Being opinionated

Paras strongly recommended putting out opinionated pieces of content. Siddharth testified that for Wingify, opinionated blogs drew comments in numbers compared to simple blogs that would not get any. At this juncture, the forum could not help but discuss the Freshdesk Vs Zendesk episode.


The discussion was quick to move to click baiting. Surprisingly, most of us present in the room, admitted falling for it.

Have you?

Siddharth added that Wingify has consciously played trends to attract traffic. It had also done fun stuff like the A/B testing for the Savita Bhabhi website. (please search for the link on your own)

Organization Structure

This track saw everyone pick up their writing pads. While Paras spoke, a few founders were looking only at Siddharth. It seemed they had found the persona for their new content team member – Mumbaikar Dilliwala who gestures to emphasize his point; slighly overbuilt with a Che Guevara moustache.

Paras began by sharing how in the early days of Wingify he used to look at each content piece with a hawk eye. Over a period of time, Wingify has divided its marketing team into two – product marketing and demand generation. And it is looking good. Wingify has also hired a business analyst for content strategy where they are doing really detailed analysis like “what is the worth of a tweet?”. Wingify also has a marketing engineer as part of the marketing team.

How does Wingify hire?

Siddharth sounded sanguine about journalists with 1 – 2 years of experience saying that by that time the editors have chiseled them to write well within constraints. Siddharth adds, “Communicating clearly is fundamental to our hiring process. As part of the recruitment process, candidates are asked to write on a real topic”. Most candidates disappear at this stage.

Growth Hacks

Time was up. It was already quarter past 4 PM. Everyone was given a minute each to share their growth hacks.

  • Vaibhav (Rankwatch) did facebooks ads comparing themselves to competition targeted only to the fans of the competition. They also sent tweets to conference speakers with some topic suggestions and inputs.
  • Ashish (Posist) shared how they gave the impression of a local company to Bangalore restaurant owners by using native language on the visiting cards of their sales team.
  • Shashwat (iflylabs) used the plugin directory list to gain traction.
  • Saurabh (Airwoot) tagged brands in its tweets telling them how poorly they were doing and with respect to competition.
  • Kanika (SquadRun) shared how text emails helped them hit inbox rather than the promotions tab.
  • Vijay (ZapStitch) made a list of top 100 saas companies on its website and promoted it.
  • Anand (Exclusife) ran a missed call for free recharges campaign.
  • Sudarsan (Ripplehire) sent cold emails to the intended contact’s colleague to get a response.
  • Vikram (RateGain) shared how they use ebooks around tent-pole travel events to generate interest.

With that it was a wrap.

The customary iSPIRT roundtable photo followed at the Wingify reception.

content marketing iSPIRT roundtable

Thank you Wingify for your initiative and enthusiasm.

I would also like to highlight the participation from Avinash Agrawal (Eko Financials), Mohit Bhakuni (Contify), Mrigank Tripathi (Qustn) and couple of more participants. I apologize I did not record your inputs in the proper context. Could I request you to add your comments to this post?

India as a Product Nation is in good hands – Insights from the Lean Sales Roundtable

The fate of the future of India as a product nation is in the hands of 20 somethings and 30 somethings.  Whether it is sheer luck or sheer brilliance or sheet hard work, or all three I don’t know, but what I do know is that the future of India as a product nation is in good hands.

I attended a Lean Sales Playbook for about 3 and a half hours.  I had no idea how the time flew as  Pallav Nadhani (, Varun Shoor (, Paras Chopra ( shared from their companies’ experiences.  The attendees got a great insight from these three founders on how to make sales and marketing efforts pay.  Every talk was littered with “what works and gets customers in the door” versus just some sales and marketing theory.

The team intensely discussed generating MQL, SQLs, role of marketing, role of sales, organization setup, hiring, compensation, etc..

The insights below are from Pallav, Varun and Paras – however, for purposes of confidentiality it does not state which company has done what specifically.  The below insights could have worked at one or multiple of these start up organization:


  • The founder is the first sales person
  • “Founders must obsess about things that they want their teams to obsess about”.  One of the founders believes in Content Marketing and has written 180 articles himself.  Another founder is a strong believer in leading sales, and the third in building quality software himself.

Getting your first few customers

  • “Marketing is about finding channels that give volumes / returns relative to cost of the channel.”
  • What worked for initial sales was to work on “influencers”.  Identifying experts on various in-depth forums and working on them as initial customers.
  • Product is not different from “sales”.  The problem of sales comes only when the products’ value is not known – when the team doesn’t even know if the product should exist or not on this planet.  Do customers really require it?


Managing the Sales Funnel

  • The start-ups give a lot of focus to containing “churn”.
  • Converting site hits is monitored in a very rigorous manner by all founders.
  • Once the free trial starts, the impression formed in the first 2 minutes is critical.  Customers should not get a whole lot of options.  Its  a minimal set of 1 or 2 options so that making decisions on how to proceed is a no-brainer.
  • Its difficult for the customer to give large commitment at once – so try to get their commitment in small steps … and then get them truly engaged with the product.
  • Sales and trial requests are managed rigorously.  There are both automated and manual communications that go to potential customers.


  • The marketing team has used among other initiatives –   SEO, Content Marketing and word of mouth.  Content Marketing has been used very effectively.  The articles have to be well written and the product has to be pitched subtly so that its value is understood and appreciated.
  • For SaaS software, the sales person is more of a “sales enabler” rather than an outright “sales” person.  Marketing and the Product do most of the work.  “Sales enablers” need to describe product features and not really sell.
  • One of the organization’s target market is the CMO organization, even though the person reached most times is an executive or a manager in that organization.  A lot of importance is given to reaching the users who will actually use the products – and not just the IT organization.
  • Drip marketing is also used effectively.  Information of a customer is collected in many ways.  E.g., you don’t ask the customer which industry they are from, but collect information on which demos they want to see and try to figure out the industry.
  • Offline conferences are more expensive.  One of these startups went for it only in their 7th year.

Building a Brand

  • Building trust and credibility with customers is crucial.  Its critical to have a website that speaks in the language of target customers (in the US and in UK).  Websites targeted at Indian customers and those targeted at US customers can be very different.  A lot of time is spent in identifying these differences and ensuring the website is culturally accurate.
  • All success stories are tracked and converted to case studies.  Potential customers are able to view success stories that are relevant to them and are from their industry.
  • Ensuring top class support, ensures that the brand continues to grow and strengthen.
  • Execution Excellence builds a brand.  Even though these are start ups, what really works for them is creation of internal Knowledge Banks.  EVERY mistake or gap a customer reports goes back into the Knowledge Bank and everyone gets trained.

Talent and Hiring

  • Ensure you are hiring good people, especially in Sales and Marketing.  When hiring at senior levels, e.g., a VP of Sales its important to know if he is working out or not right at the word start.  Taking 6 months to a year to figure out that he is “not working out” is a huge loss to a start up.
  • Get creative about hiring the talent needed.  One of these startups have used expats that have returned to India from various countries and do not want to leave their home state.    So, the recruitment team ensures that they hire Australian expats to support the Australia customers and UK expats to support the UK customers, etc.

It was enthralling to see the energy and wisdom in this young team.

Even as I left, a list of topics went up on the board.  Sales compensation was the top one and there were a few others.  Am sure the active discussion lasted for another couple of hours.

I left invigorated and excited.  Is there a way for these young, smart product companies and their founders to inspire and spawn a product culture in India?  Yes, I think there is and I for one am a believer.