Startup- Here’s how to spend your investors money wisely

Startup- Here’s how to spend your investors money wisely

Marketing. Really great marketing.

Because it doesn’t matter how great your management is or how brilliant your content or how ingenius your business idea. If people don’t know about it, if people know about it but don’t understand how it improves their lives, your work is for nothing.

Invest in Market Research

It is so easy to start a business. Most fail. This is crucial to succeeding. You can’t just launch a business and say, Here we are! Give us your business! That’s not going to work. You have to first get in front of them and second persuade them with your pitch. Whether that pitch is a video or landing page or tweet, you don’t have much time to convince them, which is why knowing your audience is everything.

Who is your ideal customer? What do they read? Where do they hangout? Why do they need your product? What do they do in their freetime? What words are going to resonate with them, compel them to be interested? How will you solve their problem? How will you help them understand how you will solve their problem? You’ve got to answer these questions so you can craft effective marketing campaigns.

Launch a Killer Campaign

Because you’ve done your research, you know what sort of visuals, colors, words to use, and you know where to put your ads and where to guest blog, which social media platforms to leverage and which influencers to partner with. When all is accounted for, running a good campaign costs a pretty penny. You take all the information you gathered to craft a campaign that elevates your brand, brings traffic, and ends up in sales.

Rack Up 7-13+ Touches But, you’re doing more than looking for sales. You’re actually cultivating relationships. This is the fun part of building a business in 2017, and it’s also going to help your business build long-term success. Your campaigns need to be well-crafted and fresh to get eyes, and they have to establish a connection to keep those eyes on your channels. Whatever form of content you’re producing, tell a story that connects to your audience.

Don’t Do It Alone

It’s so time intensive to do marketing right. It’s complex, involved, and always shifting. Few startups have the capacity to do it well, and that’s part of why so many fail. Entrepreneurs work really hard to make excellent products, they pay for beautiful websites, they get investors and hire great people—and then they fail because the people who would have been happily loyal to them didn’t know about their product, or didn’t see its value.

You worked so hard to make your idea a reality. You worked so hard to build a good company. Don’t do all that work just to see it all collapse. Market market market. Market smart. Market often. Market well. And as your business grows and changes, shift your strategy along with it.

If You Market, They Will come

If You Market, They Will come

In 2014, the number of websites on the internet crossed 1 billion. It was a milestone in internet history. It had barely been around 20 years and it hit its first billion. Today, which is 8/26/17, websites are popping up at a rate of 100 per 17 seconds.

I haven a little trouble understanding numbers, so let’s get visual with it:

troubleThe difference between $1M and $1B is the difference between sitting down for dinner and sitting down for a fresh juice in the world’s tallest tower–more than 1000 chairs up.

All of which is to say: there is a lot of damn noise on the internet. A lot of places for people to visit. A lot of competition to face. It’s like shouting on the side of a freeway yelling into traffic. You’re drowned out by the traffic and the sheer speed of the cars.

How to Get Noticed In a Loud, Fast, Crowded World

Strategy. That’s how you do it. You’re going to market differently in a nightclub than on a freeway than on a YouTube video. But, what will those differences look like? How can you be sure you’re being effective?

HIRE OUT. I know I’m saying that as a marketing agency, but seriously. We live and breathe internet marketing. We know about getting eyes on your site and traffic to your pages. We know about growing social media audiences and engagement. We know how to design your site so that people want to hang out on it (man, there are few things worse than ugly, clunky websites), and can use it to buy your products.

Marketing Builds Your Brand’s Awareness, Loyalty, and Competitive Edge

Social media. Being a channel that people love to follow and share takes lots of work. Not only do you (we) make unique content, but it has to be fresh, engaging, and frequent. It goes further when there’s a human there to cultivate relationships. Influencer marketing is said to explode this year. You have to know how the influencers are, then they have to want to work with you. There is so much more to say about the significance of social media to your company’s security and growth, but we’ll just leave you with this piece of advice: leave it to the professionals.

Search engines. In 2015, The Atlantic reported that people visit 96 websites a month. When you account for the email, social media and shopping websites we typically visits, plus a few random google searches here and there–there aren’t that many opportunities for discovering your site. A marketing agency builds your site with search engine optimization in mind so that it’s ready to rank the second it goes live. It’s beautifully, carefully designed with the ideal customer–based on in-depth market research–in mind.

It’s virtually impossible for people to stumble onto your website. It has to be plugged into the information superhighway, and positioning it at the right stop on the way (so to speak) takes skill, planning, and flawless execution.

User design, user experience, advertising, email lists, landing pages and so on and so forth. Marketing is big in terms of all that it encompasses and in terms of its importance to your success. In this day and age, brand is everything. That’s how you build your customer base and get referrals and, ultimately, succeed.

Everyday, new websites are born and die (yes, new websites die). Marketing your website and your company is complex, long-term, and energy intensive–and crucial to your success. Market it right. Your customers will come.

In This  Zero-sum Game, Call in the Marketers.

In This Zero-sum Game, Call in the Marketers.

You can’t do everything. FIrst of all, you don’t have the time, and second of all, you’re not that good. But you can do one thing and I bet you can do one thing better than anyone else. It’s the reason you’re here, starting your business and working round the clock everyday to get it off the ground. You’ve got something to share, something that only you can offer. As an entrepreneur, then, your most important job is getting that thing into the world. As the leader, you set the vision and guide your team to achieve it.

That’s it.

But. If you don’t get the word out, and if you don’t get to your target market, not even your best work is going to matter. How can it if the very people it’s designed to benefit never hear of it?

To do that, you need a top search engine ranking which means a great SEO strategy. You’ll need excellent content on a consistent basis; great user interface and user design; a good social media strategy that will include separate content and daily maintenance; and succeeding at the online marketing game (not to mention the ground marketing game) is not easy. It takes lots of time and energy, and great execution. It should be a sustained priority.

Which means: you can’t do it yourself. Don’t put it on your team, either. Optimizing a website takes at least an experienced developer, a great writer, and a dedicated social media manager. Outsource it so you and your team can focus on building the best company.

You Have One Job

Look, your business is your baby. I get it. It depends on you for its very survival. It needs to be held and changed and fed every three hours, and there isn’t anyone else who can—oh, sorry. I thought we were talking about an actual baby.

No, your business is not an actual baby. It’s a business. You’re its leader. If you’re in all of the details and you’re not letting your people–that presumably you hired–do their job, then you’re failing at two jobs.

1. You’re providing lousy leadership.

2. You’re not doing the thing that only you can do!

With startups, especially in the early days, there will be fires and meetings and learning curves, and they will take your time, energy, and attention away from your most important job. That’s just reality. Don’t make it worse by giving yourself more jobs.

Focus Only on High Impact Activities

“If you service low-impact activities, therefore, you’re taking away time you could be spending on higher-impact activities. It’s a zero-sum game.”  Cal Newport

Perhaps the most important aspect of your company is your marketing.

Remember that.

Everything feels important in your new company. It seems you’re indispensable to its success. Do not make the mistake of getting involved in every little thing, especially something as complex and time-consuming as marketing. Like Cal Newport says, it’s a zero-sum game and diverting your attention is costly.

Focus on being great. Let your marketing focus on getting your great work seen by the world.

This how you Build a Business That Matters

This how you Build a Business That Matters

We all want to be the Richard Bransons of the world, hosting the Obamas on our private island. But honestly, what a boring goal. I mean, sure, the Obamas are badass, and the photos look amazing, and the dinner conversations are unbeatable, no doubt. But the most amazing companies are amazing for what they’ve become, not their earnings reports or achievements. It’s always in the building.

Build Something Awesome

For example, Zappos pioneered a no-boss policy. What? Who does that? How awesome is it to be the company that not only dominates the two 2-day shoe market (and now much more), but also piloted a brand new approach to workplace culture and operations, one well-suited for the 21st century? Like, super awesome.

I’m not getting paid to say this but: Zappos rocks. They have a 365-day return policy! Great customer service! A kajillion shoes to choose from (including cute heels in wide sizes–very hard to find) AND two-day shipping. #goals amiright?

^^This is the kind of enthusiasm and excitement you want for your company. Sorry, but screw profit. Be remembered for something. Don’t just be a business. Transform the way business is done.

Or Ruthlessly, Rampantly Successful

I don’t really want you to be another ruthless, rampant Amazon because I experience all kinds of cognitive dissonance about it. 2-day shipping! Free movies! Free TV shows! Everything I could ever want to buy sent right to my door stop in a single click! Like, Amazon is the best.

But, ugh. At what cost? To people, to the environment, to my own ability to delay gratification? Well I can answer that last part: I no longer wait for anything. If I can’t have it on my door in 2 days–MAX–then forget it. I’m no longer interested.

Still. They went from books to global e-commerce overlords, and now they even own our precious snowflake grocery stores!

That’s some kind of transformation.

You Do You

I know google isn’t the only multi-hundred-billion dollar company with a BA campus but I think they’re the only ones with a dinosaur (ie so they’re my fav)

Virgin America invented the foldable boarding pass, and definitely the coolest plane interiors

Tom’s popularized the one-for-one business model.

charity: water is still maybe the only charity/company to have a 100% giving model–and still be thriving!

In other words, there are tons of right ways to go about building a successful business, and to innovate in areas that aren’t directly related to your product. To really stand out as a company and brand, you have to explore those avenues. You’ll surely make some mistakes along the way, but you might also change the world

Your Content Sucks and No One is Reading It. Here’s Why

Your Content Sucks and No One is Reading It. Here’s Why

Were any of you around for CD Baby? I wasn’t, but I read Anything You Want by Derek Sivers, the founder and architect of CD Baby and you should really go read that book It’s quick and awesome, like a dip in a freezing cold river. In the meantime, I’ll share with you the most memorable and beloved part of CD Baby. Oh, but first let me back up.

CD Baby was around in the earlier days of the internet, when CDs were around and before Amazon was the Great Overlord of Earth. So, you’d go to this site and order a CD and they’d send you a confirmation email. But not just any confirmation; the most charming email you’ll ever get from a company. And today, it shall serve as our case study.

Thanks for your order with CD Baby!

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day.

We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed our picture on our wall “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


We miss you already. We’ll be right here at patiently awaiting your return

See what I mean? You’ve got to get this book! It’s great for entrepreneurs, but also everyone.

When I talk about good content, ^this^ is what I’m talking about. This was around before content marketing was even a thing but it’s still one of the greatest of examples of good content in the history of the internet.

What is “Good” Content?

The simplest measure of good content, and the one we’ll be talking about today, is how engaged you were. How do you know? Ask this simple question: Do I want to keep reading? It doesn’t matter the reason. Some content is informative and some is funny and some is gossipy and some is super technical. That’s what makes it such a useful question; it applies to all kinds of content. If you wanted to keep reading, it was good content.

Good content tells a story

This CD Baby email is telling several stories. It’s telling the story of a company that values creativity. It’s telling a story of customer care and experience. It’s telling one hell of a story of CD delivery. And when you’re done, you feel so good. In that way, it’s also telling you the story of a company that you want to remain loyal to.

As you develop content, keep in mind the stories being told and ask yourself if they’re true. Ask yourself if they’re stories that you want to read. This would be a good moment to dip into Simon Sinek’s golden circle talk, but I’m not even going to get into that because I don’t need to. You’ve met great story tellers in your life. It doesn’t matter what they talk about because they make everything so interesting.

Be a storyteller. Let your content tell the story of your company, your values, your people, your personality.  And if you’re not a good story-teller, hire someone who is.

Good Content Feels Like a Person Made It

Wendy’s Twitter account made a splash not too long ago for its wit and sarcasm. It doesn’t act like a sales machine or a promobot, and its certainly not beholden to stiff corporate decorum. Their Twitter account is always interacting with its followers in funny ways. At a time when retail and restaurants are taking a hit (thanks, Millennials), this fast food restaurant has 2 million followers. McDonald’s has nearly 3.5M.

It’s not because of the product, or because people love the CEO or believe in the company’s mission. It’s because those 140 characters are really good. These aren’t corporations just checking the box on social media. They have people managing their accounts, and a strategy directing them, and they’re successful because of it. People want to read and engage and connect–even with fast food restaurants in 2017.

If you forget everything else about this article, remember this: you are a human being. So is everyone who is going to read/watch/listen to your content. Be real! If you’re smart or snarky or deep, just own that. Apply it every time you create. Your content will stop sucking and start gaining followers.

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