“If you’re thinking about hiring DemandMaven, you should obviously do it. A weight is going to lift off your shoulders, and you’re going to do some amazing work together. Your business won’t be the same.”Luke Beard
A stunning visual storytelling platform
Exposure is the leanest content management system in the world, enabling over 300,000 users to tell context-rich stories with stunning photographs. It caters to both businesses and photographers — including the serious travel bloggers to the occasional photo-taker.
Exposure has a single founder, took on a small amount of funding to get the product started, and has remained a lean team for the past 5 years.
Too many markets, too little resources
Despite the odds being stacked against them, Exposure was winning.
Without millions of dollars in funding or a full-scale marketing team behind them, the burgeoning CMS was taking on huge competitors like SquareSpace and Wix — and stealing market share.
But with over 300,000 users and counting, Luke Beard, CEO and Founder of Exposure, was finally finding it overwhelming to try and keep revenue growth on track.
Monthly recurring revenue was at a standstill, and Luke felt buried.
Buried by the product and growth possibilities, buried by the sheer volume of data available to him, and paralyzed by what he didn’t know about taking his product to any of the markets before him.
“I never expected Exposure to get nearly as much traction as it did, but here we are,” Luke joked. “It’s an amazing, beautiful platform, but I didn’t have a plan for marketing or go-to-market. I really didn’t even know where to begin.”
From identifying best-fit customers to collecting and assessing the right data points, Luke struggled to find a clear path forward.
“We didn’t have a north star for who our best customers were or what we needed to do to keep them and attract more of them.”
Luke knew he needed a partner who could help him define Exposure’s value proposition, bring clarity to their product road map, and then take the platform to a buy-ready market.
“Exposure never really tried anything by way of marketing. We never implemented or did anything past developing the product. When you’re a product person, you never really think about marketing or sales for the most part. It’s very reactionary. But deep down, I’ve always known it’s something I should be tackling.”
A customer-driven go-to-market strategy
Luke found a capable and empathetic partner in DemandMaven — a local consultancy specializing in helping early-stage startups define their growth strategy and take their product to market.
To help Exposure carve its go-to-market strategy, DemandMaven created a research plan for customer interviews and started the customer journey mapping process.
By interviewing Exposure’s broad range of customers, patterns began to emerge in the way certain personas and markets found and leveraged Exposure; including the features they valued most, and their associated churn risks.
DemandMaven helped Exposure identify the personas and markets who were getting the most value out of the product. Together, they explored the growth possibilities and evaluated them through a series of campaign experiments — starting with the un-earthed qualitative and quantitative data about best-fit customers.
After completing the customer journey mapping process, it was clear that Exposure needed to optimize a few key landing pages, update new user onboarding, and the overall website — including refreshing the home page and the B2B case studies.
Luke was relieved to finally have clarity on how to take his product to market:
“Working with DemandMaven was the biggest sense of relief. I finally had a better picture of what it was going to take to really get momentum in a specific direction. I got the clarity and confidence that I and my business needed.”
Perhaps most importantly, it became clear how Exposure’s product roadmap would need to be adjusted to focus on a specific market and therefore persona.
“It’s super intimidating to do this stuff by yourself, and you want to believe you can get away from doing this kind of work. Having someone walk me through the process of figuring out the overall strategy and marketing side to the business was insanely valuable.”
From hunches to truth
Luke doesn’t have to guess anymore.
After evaluating each market opportunity, Exposure and DemandMaven worked together to define and focus on just one key market. DemandMaven helped Luke align the brand’s positioning, messaging, copy, marketing activities, website, landing pages, upcoming product features, and in-app analytics to enable that one core audience.
Plus, he received all of the strategic, actionable insight he needed to execute immediately.
“Having informed customer information is way better than hunches. You can go from making assumptions, but having actionable data is way more valuable than pretending you know. Especially with a solo founder like myself. Intrinsically, it was a lot of education and insight into what it would take to scale and really get momentum with it. I have a much better picture with what it would take.”
DemandMaven also worked with Luke to enhance and redesign the home page.
As a result, the visitor-to-free-trial conversion rate of the home page increased by 68% — a remarkable improvement that directly translated into a 2% lift in monthly recurring revenue in less than 30 days.
Best of all, Luke feels confident, focused, and validated in who Exposure serves and the pain the platform solves for its best-fit customers. Because of DemandMaven, he and his team can prioritize the work they’re doing.
“There’s so much education that happens by working with DemandMaven — which is awesome. I think and I speak differently now.”Luke Beard