Posts Tagged ‘ basics ’

Stop. Watch this video if you run a start-up.

Donna Novitzky, CEO of Big Tent

This is a quick video that sums up the basics of marketing a start-up. The key points:

  1. Don’t hire sales people if you can’t sell your own product or service.
  2. Understand your marketing strategy before blasting marketing messages.
  3. Get your first lead customer references
  4. Partner for mutual benefit

The Top 5 Twits who cried ‘Awesome’ too often.

No. I’m not going to list the Top 5 Twits who cried ‘Awesome’ too many times. This post is about time. My time. Your time. My time is very important to me. I assume your time is important to you as well. Regardless of what you do, most people understand the value of time.

Lately, I’ve been noticing an increase in social media traffic with links to articles I “have to check out” or are “must reads for [insert random profession here.]” Let’s not forget the “Top 5 [blanks] for [blanking]” Often the tweet or post is nothing more than a link to their own blog which then links to the article or video. In many cases, the status update or tweet is self promoting their latest blog entry, which is a great way to get a little bump in traffic for your blog. Unless it is coming from a prolific tweeter/updater/blogger who focusses more on volume than value.

I follow people on Twitter because I am interested in their perspective or ideas. I follow people from whom I can learn. Sometimes, I connect with people to engage them in discussion and develop a relationship. But my time is important and so is yours. I don’t post everything I read, or even everything I find interesting. If I did, people would ignore everything I said.

I pay more attention to people who post less, yet still manage to say more. Live blogging an event is the exception to this rule. I love a  good live blog from a good live blogger. (Follow @dweinberger Author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined and c0-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto for some good live event blogging.)

If you are fortunate enough to have a voice online, have something worthwhile to say and don’t say it too often.

Design Matters. Seriously.

Design matters. You may have the best product, technology or service but if the packaging sucks, it’s a reflection on the product, technology or service. and you. By packaging I don’t mean the physical packaging, although if you sell a product that is going to be on a shelf or shipped, consider the packaging very carefully.
twlevesouth packaging

Twelve South Bass Jump Packaging

Packaging is not just an expense line item that can be marginalized and reduced to the lowest cost alternative…like plastic clamshell packages* – if you ship a product in plastic clamshell packaging, you are evil. Maybe you aren’t evil, but you are causing endless frustration to your customers at a time when they should be excited to have your product in hand and relish the “un-boxing”**

When you are selling something to someone, the design matters. Regardless of who you are selling to.
“….uh, Pete, you must be mad! Engineers and accountants don’t care about design of the packaging or pretty logos.”
You might be right person reading this blog, but ask a CTO if they care about the design of your architecture, ask a CFO if well designed revenue models are important. The importance of design is not limited to the marketing department and must be considered throughout your organization. That is true of services business as well. If you run a consulting firm, methodology is designed. It’s even branded (six sigma). Certifications are a part of the design of your business as well.
How well is your funnel designed?

Have your designed your sales funnel? or has it defined the way you do business?

This brings me to designing for revenue. Everything from your brand, messaging, sales team, methodologies and everything else related to how customers become customers, needs to be designed. As in a good architecture, design starts with purpose. What is the purpose of what you are trying to design? In the case of a revenue model or sales and marketing machine, that purpose better be revenue, customers or market share. Before you venture and migrate current processes to the cloud…consider the opportunity presented for a re-design.

Just as good graphic designers know how to mix various design elements to be effective, you should consider how you design your revenue model and sales engine. Some things just don’t make for good design. Investing heavily in search engine optimization before your website is effective. Hiring sales reps before you know your go-to-market strategy and can provide valid leads. Training reps before you know your sales cycle, process or methodology. Hopefully you won’t make these surprisingly common mistakes. It’s a mark of bad design.
I’m always interested in talking to people about how they view the importance of design in their business. More often than not all the pieces of the sales, marketing and business development plans don’t come together under a well executed design. -Peter
Larry David - Curb your Enthusiasm

Larry attempts to open a vacuum sealed 'clamshell' package.

* evil, lazy and environmentally irresponsible packaging that 90% of the time frustrates the customer and in some cases harms them. I have literally cut myself opening a plastic clamshell package. Larry David had a whole bit dedicated to plastic clamshell packaging on Curb Your Enthusiasm

**very strange social phenomenon that says a lot about our society. thousands of people actually post videos of themselves ‘un-boxing’ recent purchases as if it is a religious experience. I haven’t figured out why, to be honest, I haven’t tried. If you are sell a product that is heavily featured in ‘unboxing’ videos, then congratulations. You have created a product that people feel passionately about. Here’s an Apple iPad unboxing video if you have no idea what I am talking about.

Sales, marketing and cloud…audit your processes first!

I don't want an audit.

Hear no evil!

Every business owner loves being audited. (no they don’t) Financial audits are necessary for compliance reasons and help protect your business from undue risk. Some would say they are a necessary evil, but my wife spent her early career as an auditor for Earnst & Young and I don’t associate her with evil. (Happy wife, happy life is my motto!)
So, when was the last time you audited your business practices? Not your books, your business.
  • Why do you do things the way you do them?
  • Are you selling to the right audience?
  • Are your sales and marketing efforts working?
  • Are you spending too much for too little return?
  • Do you have the right mix of talent to meet your goals?
  • Why do your customers buy from you? Why won’t they buy more?
  • Are the things you are doing working?

Are you are satisfied with your results and see a history and a future of steadily increasing profits? Then you are golden. Don’t change a thing. If not, you need an audit. Here are a few more audit questions to ask yourself:

  • who are your partners? why are they your partners? What value do they add?
  • who specifically is your target market? why?
  • how much do you spend trying to get new business?
  • where do you spend the most of your money? why? what’s the ROI?
  • what activities, expenses or programs are helping to sell more? how are they doing it?
  • what activities, expenses or programs are pure overhead? can they be eliminated?
If you can’t answer these basic questions, you are running your business at less than potential profitability. There is a reason companies get audited by impartial third parties. Objectivity & purpose. Ask the tough questions and look for things you didn’t think about that can help your business. You can turn to your management consulting or accounting firm for some questions.
When it comes to asking tough sales, marketing and business development questions to help you sell more, who can you turn to?
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