High-growth technology companies share the ambition to create something unprecedented. When creating something new, there is a great deal of confusion at first. You gather lots of information and ideas and then you discover that you don’t have enough resources to follow many of them through, said Pihlainen and pointed out four practical rules to follow.
First you need to find your focus. To get the focus right, you need to think through the basics, which haven't changed over time. “Don’t trust your idea,” Pihlainen said. Testing your ideas and concepts was important a hundred years ago and it still is, only the tools have changed. When you're trying to build something then before you start test your idea on at least ten people. If they don't like it, it's probably not going to work.
The second rule that Pihlainen pointed out is to keep in mind the diversity of different characters on your team - designers and copywriters and the very different things that motivate them.
The third rule of Pihlainen is to use humor, not just because you’ll have fun, but it's actually cost-efficient. A cool example is how Helsinki City was trying to attract global tech talent to relocate to the city, so they packaged the city as a software as a service product with a premium package that included a demo of the city that you could apply for. Out of the 7000 people that signed up, 15 won a visit to the city, after which one family moved to Helsinki. This was a cost-efficient way to drive traction and engagement, Pihlainen said.
Another good example of humor well used, according to Pihlainen, was the welcome banner of Slush a few years back that said “Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in November. Except you, you badass. Welcome.” The banner was so funny that it got all over media and it turned out to be a good branding effort, the message gets spread year after year during Slush.
The fourth rule Pihlainen pointed out was about brand. You need to thoroughly elaborate on your value proposition and avoid growth hacks or elaborate advertising. If it doesn't work, then you need to work on it until it works.
Alexander Pihlainen is one of the most recognized young marketing experts in Scandinavia and a member of the board of Helsinki Marketing. He is known for being the president of the Finnish tech conference Slush. In 2019 he founded Bou, an agency that focuses on marketing tech companies in the Northern countries.