Digital Marketing

Startup Savants Podcast: Marketing Strategy with Devon Copley of Avatour

Developing an impactful marketing strategy is a critical step in building a successful startup that starts with identifying the right strategy for your audience and company goals. Devon Copley, founder of Avatour, a VR startup transforming the capabilities of site visits across a variety of industries, spoke with Startup Savants about the company’s marketing strategy and their choice to move away from paid search. 

What Is the History Behind Avatour? 

“Avatour is the remote collaboration platform for site meetings. We’ve essentially created a new version of video conferencing that’s really optimized for the kinds of meetings that don’t happen in conference rooms; that happen on-site, where the context of the real-world location is part of the meeting. My co-founder Prasad and I had some experience with this technology at Nokia and admittedly, it was a hunch. I think that was the key insight is that we knew there was a set of new technologies that were creating new opportunities and we knew that communication was a valuable application.

So the question was how do we apply these technologies to a communication problem? From there, it was two years of trial and error and of trying a bunch of prototypes and going to random trade shows and trying to put things in people’s hands and trying to see who was interested.”

How Does Your Marketing Strategy Shift With an Evolving Target Market?

“One thing that we had been very heavily depending on paid search. I think we’re doing our best to move away from paid search. Not to say we’re not doing paid search anymore, but trying to develop longer-term strategies for developing leads.

We are also thinking about the broad brand and how we can continue to seed the core themes of the brand. We probably could stand to devote more time to that, but we haven’t ignored that in the hustle trying to get more leads this month and everything. I think we’ve come up with a kind of aspirational framing for the product that it’s not just about saving money. It’s about redefining your operations. It’s about bringing innovation to your firm. It’s about leading the way in your industry.”

Why Shift Away From Paid Search?

“What it really is is that there’s a certain amount of search volume that is directly related to our product. Virtual inspection, virtual tour, things like this. That volume spiked after the beginning months of COVID. We were able to benefit from that spike in volume, but it’s since receded. The baseline is higher than it was before. It wasn’t just a simple slope either. It reacted, as it turns out, to all the different variants and all the different… it was different by region and all this stuff. But overall, COVID was a tailwind of uncertain velocity and duration. Which made it very difficult.

But nonetheless, there was a limit to it. You could only spend so much money there was only so much volume to buy in the first place. … we’re shifting towards putting more of our budget, more of our efforts towards these top-of-funnel activities awareness. Doing more targeted social and LinkedIn against the industries that we want to hit. Doing more PR. We’re investing in PR and getting placements in industry magazines. Just talking about the problem and, oh, here’s a solution you might not have heard of. Those things take a while to pay off. You’re building this gradual increase and awareness that there is this new solution.”

What Is Inbound Thought Leadership?

“The idea is to build awareness by trying to expose people to a solution they didn’t know existed. You do that by creating content that speaks to their problem. So it has to be industry-specific. It has to use language they’re familiar with, whether it’s pharma or food or logistics. A lot of it’s not that big a difference. If it’s pharma you’re talking about, labs and if it’s logistics you’re talking about, warehouses and you’re just using that word. But it signifies that you have some idea of what they’re doing. You talk not about the product, but about the problem.”

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