We’ve sat down Steffen Hedebrandt, the Head of Marketing at Airtame, the company that makes screen sharing devices for schools and businesses, to get his views on wireless technology and the business applications of it.
Steffen talks about the beginnings of Airtame, the (un)realistic expectations for it, and how the company constantly worked on improving the product. We also touch upon the marketing side of it all - how starting from scratch can help a business gain its focus, what a person in a similar situation should do, and the key role of education in future developments.
You’re the CMO of the company that started out as a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign. By your own admission, Airtame didn’t launch the best product initially. What were some of the challenges you faced in meeting high expectations set by the crowdfunding campaign?
The biggest challenge was trying to keep our backers happy. Our then young customer success team were thrown into the deep-end trying to respond to an unprecedented amount of feedback. In a lot of ways, we really learnt “on the job” just what impact our product would have, and the sink or swim experience we had from the crowdfunding success made us hungry to achieve bigger and better things.
Airtame is an enterprise-class product in a market that has a fair share of well-established solutions for sending content to another display. What’s the biggest challenge in promoting such a product as comparisons are inevitable?
Airtame is extremely intuitive and easy to use once you have the device but, when a customer might be in the research phase, it can be challenging for them to understand the pros and cons of the solution; what it can and cannot do.
That’s why we aim to be completely transparent in presenting our product features and stacking Airtame against the competition (you can see our comparison articles with 16 potential competitors here).
I think what sets Airtame apart is our competitive pricing for a B2B solution, tireless approach to good customer service, and our ability to quickly improve on and expand the opportunities of the Airtame solution - especially with the firmware and Airtame app.
Apart from the reduced amount of cabling and adapter interfaces, what are the main benefits of the cable-less environment in the business sense?
Firstly, the value of a cable-free solution cannot be underestimated: it significantly improves a workspace and makes a meeting room look more professional; thus people act more professionally.
Some people think cables are such a simple solution. That might be true, but what they are not is multi-faceted. What you see is what you get. However, a wireless hardware solution like Airtame can achieve so much more than simple end-to-end connectivity. It can help companies use screens better - to transform a blank or switched off TV screen into an opportunity to communicate - from company news in a presentation to beautiful photography and custom digital signage. All without cables and all managed from our Airtame Cloud environment.
Wi-Fi has been around for some 20 years, yet it’s still a demanding terrain to navigate. Why do you think wireless technology proves to be such a challenge?
That’s simple. The zeitgeist mode of working does not develop as rapidly as tech does. Therefore, it just takes a little bit of time and patience for a new approach - a new solution - to embed itself in a culture and reach significant market saturation. I think we are there now with wireless.
You’ve built Airtames' marketing from the bottom and now you’re in charge of a very dynamic marketing team. What’s the approach you used?
No one marketing approach works forever. The landscape is changing so rapidly, so you need to learn to be agile. We base our work on a mix of fluid strategizing, user data, and good old-fashioned experimentation. I am also encouraging the team to be extremely proactive in researching and discovering new approaches to help shake the habitual, and move the needle in the right direction. We need to look constantly how we can pay less for marketing but generate the largest impact.
What’s the one thing a person responsible for a marketing budget in a startup should know?
I think I will have to mention three things here:
- Simply put, you will need to know what you are willing to pay for a new customer. With this foundation, you can judge whether all your experiments are moving in the right direction or not.
- They should make sure that their whole data setup is tracking activities correctly. Without being able to trust your data, you can never scale anything. We have celebrated a bunch of none-successful tests as successful before finding out we were too optimistic. You would want to avoid that.
- Lastly, start experimenting. Test a bunch of different things. Scale what works. Stop what does not. And then repeat.
What do you think businesses should closely monitor as they continue to invest in wireless technology?
The key to any successful technology deployment is education. Here at Airtame, we are rigorous with our approach to training our team on the solution we provide, which we then pass down to our customers, who we hope pass the baton to their employee base.
Simply, technology doesn’t have to be difficult, it just has to be communicated effectively. I’d encourage IT admin teams to constantly user test and monitor how intuitive their team deems any technology, wireless or otherwise. Doing this, as an Airtame user, you then have an opportunity to relay the feedback to us, and we’ll factor the insights into our product development plans.
Steffen Hedebrandt, Head of Marketing, Airtame
Image Credit: Chris Oakley / Flickr