My guess is – not really. I’m not going to tell you what marketing mix is right for you, but there are a few basic lessons that apply when it comes to marketing any start-up.
Embrace good is good enough
Somehow when a product is ready to market, folks freeze, and won’t ship until the ‘marketing’ is perfect. And, this will be the certain death of you. Believe me, you can and will eventually change everything: your app or website design, the messaging, even your name, but you won’t have a chance unless you get yourself out there.
Now, whatever you launch still needs to be good. I said good, not perfect. Don’t have a designer at hand? Check out sites such as 99 Designs, or Squarespace. And when it comes to your name and messaging, why not ask 20 people in your network, or even in the queue at Starbucks? You will always be evolving your marketing (it’s a living thing); but in the beginning you can get very far asking for advice from a small pool. The important thing is to get the ball rolling.
Don’t boil the ocean
Who is your customer? It can’t be everyone. You must choose. By focusing on a core audience you can focus your resource and energy. Ideally, it will be a group who are super-connectors and influencers who will love what you do – and then tell others.
Presumably when you started to build your product this was the audience you had in mind, the one whose problem you were solving. It’s tempting to want to market to (and build features for) several different audiences and widen your prospect pool, but doing that will actually dilute your appeal.
Start with a clear customer segment, and set out to own it. Then you can look to grow the pie.
Choose wisely and be fast
Whilst you are small, you can be: incredibly agile, react to the market and capitalize on trends. This is your advantage as a startup. But, you only have so much time – so you need to choose wisely. Resist the urge to do everything.
Social media is an area which I love to point out to start-ups. Why have a presence on five different social sites? Are you managing all of them (well)? Is that where your core audience are engaging (see point 2)? This is the trap of believing you need to do everything.
You can play where bigger brands cannot, and you can capitalize if you are fast. But you can only do that if you haven’t spread yourself too thin. Do a few key things really well.
Experiment, Test, Learn
Your product / service is new, and you don’t yet know what’s going to really work in terms of marketing. So you must try often. Test often. Learn, and then try again.
Growth hacking has become all the rage, and it’s easy to see why. Take your website for example, you can do a lot to optimize sign ups or your checkout process. That action might yield greater conversions than any social media / ad campaign.
Every company is different, and this is your journey, so you must be open to experiment with new ways of reaching and engaging your users. You have to find the best path for you, and that will take time and creativity. If there’s no room for experimentation, there will be no innovation.
You must follow the golden rule though: Don’t do it, if you can’t measure it. Your time and resources are limited, so don’t waste them.
As you’ve probably guessed marketing your start-up, sounds a lot like lean development. No surprises there. So don’t only apply it to building your product, start applying it to marketing today!
This post was featured on the Heretic (April 11, 2013)
These days it’s so taboo to talk about things we’ve bought: a new house, new car, clothes et al (yes, with the exception of gadgets my beloved geeky friends). It seems all the conversations I have with people these days are about experiences: things that happended to them, things they know, things they care about. Or experiences they want to have: places they want to travel to, things they want to see, read, take in, have happen.
Haven’t you noticed this?
So marketers when you market your products and services, please bear this in mind. Someone will talk about you when you made their life better, when it created a delightful experience, when they had fun! It won’t only be because they bought something new.
As a marketing person, I get asked a lot “So what ‘type’ of Marketing person are you? You know there are so many different kinds: brand people, growth hackers, the social media ones and creative ones…”. (Sigh). Are there really? Are we all not truly in the business of customers?
Regardless of what ‘type’ of marketing person you are though, there is one thing I can guarantee you are not doing enough.
> Are you testing your email subject header?
> What about the shade of blue on your buy button?
> How many people know what your brand promise is?
> Which campaign slogan works better?
If you are not a data junkie marketer (most aren’t), there can be a tendency to shy away from testing. A lot of marketers I know like to use there gut as an indication. Sometimes they are right, and mostly they have no idea how much success they had, and how much more there could have been.
Testing does not need to be complex and take weeks to find conclusions; it also does not have to cost the earth.
Ask yourself - what was the last thing I tested before implementing? How long ago was that? What am I afriad of?
You owe it to yourself and your organization to get better at testing. You might not always like the results, but it will always increase the quality of your work.
If there was ever a proof point that the age of participation is here – look no further than the Harlem Shake phenomena. Apart from the fact I think I’m getting too old for the Internet (!), it’s amazing to see how a bunch of folks dancing weirdly has become a global craze. Everyone from a college team on a Frontier Airline flight, the English National Ballet, to the Simpsons and every office, and swim team in the land have joined in. If you don’t yet know what the Harlem Shake is – go here (and if you don’t know - with respect, where have you been?)
Shake vs. PSY?
When I first saw the Harlem Shake, I thought my god – we’re heading back to the seventies and eighties when group dancing was cool. First it was Gangham Style and now this! Please no!
Then the Internet memes came pouring in, and I mean pouring – with torrent like force and speed. Unlike the Gangham Style copycats (my fav from Nasa Johnson) that took weeks to make up new lyrics, learn the pesky dance steps, curate and film - anyone can do the Harlem Shake. All you need is a smart phone, and a bunch of folks (i.e. more than two) willing to freakishly throw their arms around their heads. Alas, they are in plentiful supply.
The average Gangham Style meme must have took upward from two weeks to make, the Harlem Shake; less than an hour. Maximum.
I’m not making a judgment on whether one is better than the other; only that Gangham Style was about audiences (1.3 Billion YouTube views) versus Harlem Shake being about participation. YouTube claimed more than 4,000 Harlem Shake videos were being uploaded per day as of Feb 12 2013.
So what lessons shake out here for Marketers?
-> Lower the barrier to participation
If you make something complicated, only a few people will understand and be able to take part. When you make something simple, the whole world can join in.
-> Video is here – BIG time and it’s personal
Today almost everyone walks around with a video camera in their pocket, you see eyewitness videos on the news daily. And with the advent of Vine and other apps, video is now becoming part of personal communication. It’s time to start experimenting with what video means for your strategy.
-> Be Authentic
As crazy as the Harlem Shake memes are, they are authentic. Made fast, with little curation, the raw quality is visceral and refreshing. There are no scripts or stage. Communicating authentically is being seen, showing you are real. Make real connections.
-> Move Fast
Not only are the Harlem Shake memes easy and quick to make, and short to watch – they are a sign of how lightening fast ideas can now spread. It’s both a blessing and a curse. The infamous Oreo Cookie’s spontaneous ad regarding the Superbowl blackout made them the darling of marketers at a fraction of the cost. But, you have to act and be prepared to react rapidly. Risk being swept aside by the rising tide, or ride the ripcurl.
Yes, the pace is insanely fast, and there are new tactics to learn and embrace — and at the same time, we get ever closer to an environment where we can build authentic, real time, personal engagement. Let the Harlem Shake rattle your cage, whether you like it or not, it’s the poster child of more to come.
Empathetic Marketing - those are two words you don’t usually see expressed together.
But that’s exactly what you are practicing when you put your customer front and centre of your marketing strategy. Something I have to say is a rare beast. Many try - few succeed.
Companies who do this well:
+ Communicate authentically
+ Express and live by deep brand values
+ Know their customers and listen to them
+ Aim to delight
+ Are in it for the long haul
So, empathetic? Sound too sissy for you? It shouldn’t. Companies who deeply engage their customers have higher financial results than those who don’t. They build strong customer relationships, and inspire passionate advocates. You don’t get that from only buying keywords on Google.
Just consider, when was the last time you thought about how your next marketing campaign will make the lives of your customers (or potential customers) better? Does your website design communicate who you are and what you stand for authentically? What’s the time horizon for your customers? Have you thought that you might know them for the next 10 years? How would that change how you engage them?
I’d encourage you to think this through. Apply the ‘empathetic’ lens to your strategy, creative ideas and communication. Let me assure you, when you do this - you will reach out to a human being. A click, is just that. If you want more, you have to be prepared to give more.
It pains me that more brands don’t invest in customer advocacy. Did you know that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth, and only 18% trust bloggers?
But how do you motivate your loyal and happy customer base to go out and do your bidding?
First things first, if you don’t already have a kick-ass product serving a real need and have an emotional connection with your users - I can assure you finding (1) numerous, and (2) sustaining customer advocates will be hard.
Let’s say you already have the product piece though, how do you turn happy users into passionate advocates?
Know this for certain - your prospective customers are open to, and are seeking advice from your existing customers (their friends and acquaintances). So how can you make it attractive for your customers to share what they already know?
(Note - the following points are not new, they are just very rarely implemented or executed well)
#1 Provide multiple easy ways for customers to engage. From retweeting, or liking a Facebook post, to joining an Affiliate program or writing a review, there will be numerous ways someone can and wants to engage/share. You need to make it simple and right for them. Oh, and don’t forget to ask for their help, you’d be surprised how many companies simply expect customers to recommend, and never ask them to actually take a step.
#2 Give customers a way to demonstrate their skill / knowledge. Give kudos points, badges, make them Ambassadors / Representatives. Allow them to earn and display their reputation. If they have earned it, it should be acknowledged and celebrated.
#3 Allow customers to give advice and co-create your products with you. By creating advisory boards, listening posts and various user-councils, you are bringing in valuable outside knowledge - inside, and creating unique ways for customers to be closer to your core.
As mentioned, these ideas are certainly not new, but the lack of focus from marketing teams on empowering their own delighted and excited user base to share their passion is sacrilege. Furthermore, the incredible upside to retention and loyalty makes this – a virtuous circle.
How many marketing $$ do you have to spend? If I had to make a bet - you should spend it on customer advocacy. This is the new era of marketing, and this is what creates relevance.
Last night P and I booked flights for what is sure to be one of the most extraordinary travel experiences of our careers.
It is our greatest honor to have been invited to join the Unreasonable at Sea, where we will mentor 11 amazing ‘unreasonable’ companies who are bringing about real world change.
The Unreasonable at Sea is a radical experiment in global entrepreneurship, design-thinking, and education, designed to scale-up effective technological solutions to the greatest challenges of our time.
We will join the ship for the last leg of their around the world voyage on April 20 in Casablanca and disembark on the very last day of this amazing journey in Barcelona, Spain on April 25.
Alongside 20 other mentors such as the tremendous Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lesa Mitchell, Matt Mullenweg, Tom Chi and more, we’ll be working together with brilliant entrepreneurs from all over the world to advance:
- Artificial intelligence leveraged as a non-invasive cure for blindness
- Wind powered, shape shifting, open source sailing drones that clean oceans
- Providing clean water to 300,000 people w/out chemicals or energy (just plants)
- Harnesses the sun for cooking & energy. Ranked best solar cooker on earth
As mentioned, it is our greatest honor to be part of this incredible journey. I will for sure be blogging more about this phenomenal experience.
Follow the journey at http://unreasonable.is/atsea/
Mozilla were fabulous sponsors and hosts of the event in their San Francisco office where around 60 people came to listen to our speakers and network with other community managers and leaders.
Mary Colvig, Mozilla’s Director of Community Engagement gave a phenomenal talk about her 6 years+ of experience and lessons learning engaging Mozilla’s open source communtiy. And we were also very proud to have the event lived streamed via Air Mozilla to the Mozilla Global Community.
Next month we’ll be hosting again in the South Bay, do sign up to hear more news about our next events!
After the success of my first Community Hacks meetup event last month, it’s with great delight that we will be hosting another on Monday January 28th.
We are thrilled Mozilla has kindly agreed to sponsor the event that will be held at their Mozilla San Francisco office.
Anyone who currently leads, organizes and engages a community, or is interested in doing so, is welcome. The Community Hacks Meetup is for learning, discussion and making great connections. January 28th is also Community Manager Appreciation Day, so we’ll be toasting and celebrating that too!
We have two amazing keynote speakers:
— Mary Colvig, Director of Community Engagement at Mozilla will talk about Mozilla’s successful participatory community model, and give thoughts for those wanting to open up to community participation.
If your interested in attending, please do sign up whilst seats last!
Please do come, share, learn, network — and celebrate!
How are you getting the word out about your Community? How do people know what you stand for? About the good things you are building, creating, changing?
I’ll make a good guess that you have a website, you are on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ ( …insert multiple other social sites here).
And, what happens when you meet face to face?
I’ll make another good guess that at this point, this is when your story becomes 1,000 times more appealing. Why? Because, it’s *you* telling it with all the passion in your heart, your eyes blazing, your hands wildly gesticulating as you share why you are different.
This beautiful act is where the magic happens. This is the infectious way your community will grow as your story is told again and again.
When I worked at eBay it was the magic of how we got started: Pierre Omidyar building eBay so his wife could buy and sell her Pez dispenser collection (pretty much a myth, but we believed it at the time!). At Sothebys, we talked about the sale of the infamous Monet missing Haystack painting that we sold at auction for $16M in 2001. At Mozilla, a tiny rag-tag distributed team who dreamt (…and still do) of an open particpatory Web fought against Microsoft to create Firefox - and changed everything.
People need stories to tell, to repeat, to share.
So think about how you tell you story, and how you want others to tell your story (read *their* story).
The magic happens when people talk.
I’d be delighted to hear your stories! Please share them with me, and in person when we meet next. Would be super to feature yours’ on my blog another time.
Made with ♥ in Saratoga, CA.