Should you target CXO in the open-source space

Nevo David
Mar 02, 2024

A question I am being asked all the time: we are building our open-source around the community - mainly addressing contributors and small project owners. How are we going to get from that to a CXO (let’s call it a decision maker)

And when you have all these launches around your GitHub repository, and you see more and more contributors join your Discord - you start to think, am I on the right track to get the decision makers or, in other words - customers?

Let’s face it: The more sophisticated the persona is, the less they consume your blogs and social media content, so even if you launch something, they won’t see it.

Ok, let’s break that myth

1-year company is not the same as 2 or 3 years. If you have a big company with a Product Market Fit, yes, you might be able to turn directly to CXO, and we will talk about it in the following sections. However, companies without PMF would usually want to attract early adopters.

Early adopters are usually people who are not afraid to adopt new technologies. They can be in many big and large company sizes and are exposed to your launches.

I can tell you that Unity (the huge gaming company) has contacted us since year one to implement Novu in their systems.

Branding takes time

Keep launching your stuff every week, and keep talking about your product non-stop - let the community talk about your brand until it becomes a thing.

It’s a lot easier to sell directly to CXO when you have branding. Conversely, talking to CXO is super hard when they have never heard about you.

If you are a new company, and you try to sell your services to companies worth billions - think how much proof you need to show you are safe and will not close the company next year because of lack of money or inability to raise another round.

Choose the right strategy for you.

There are usually two go-to-market to attract customers

  • Marketing (bottom-up) - The same thing I am always working on, doing a bunch of stuff and then getting leads in the pipeline that can convert into customers.

  • Sales (top-down) - Make personal approaches to people and sell your stuff - this is usually the known way to attract CXO as it’s one of the main ways to get them to see your stuff. (This is usually not a scalable channel)

Both work and big companies typically combine them to attract customers
In Novu, for the first two years, we took the approach of avoiding top-down at all costs, as it will confuse us and take the company into places we don’t want to be, for example:

  • Start to work on some non-roadmap stuff.

  • Spend months on false POCs from a company that might not use us.

  • Perceive less information about your product.

** Please consider that’s not a rule. Novu is a funded company with more money than most Seed-Series A companies today. We didn’t play a 1-year game but a multiple-year game.

You decide to do top-down. What now?

I can say that the higher the persona gets, the less content they usually consume from blogs, YouTube, etc. It’s not that all of them don’t consume.

So you usually have a few options here:

  • Direct approach (cold outreach) - connect with the decision maker over Linkedin and sell your stuff. Outreach is an art. One of my best friends tried to his lists. If it’s a guy, they connect from a female account, and if it’s a female, from a guy account.
    You would usually try to schedule a meeting to introduce your product. Many people automate this approach with software like LinkedinHelper or customize their message with Hyperise.

  • Conferences - You can try to target CXO at conferences/meetings and turn to them directly. That’s usually proven to be very effective but also pretty costly.

  • LinkedIn ads - Ads on LinkedIn are the most expensive type of ads out there. You can target CXO. I heard it works better if you use LinkedIn Sponsored InMail. It’s a message sent to different personas with a “sponsored” title. I like this approach more because usually, people will not skip it.

The best approach

If you have a list of possible CXOs to be your ultimate customers, try to do more than send them a message.

  • Create a demo with them and your product and promote it on social media.

  • Create integrations with them.

  • Promote their product in your blog posts.

  • Send them gifts for their successful milestones.

Thank you for taking the time to read this piece of content.

See you next week!

blog note
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