Tag Archives: Invest in the Upswing

The Recession — Opportunity for Startups? Yes.

11 May

The Silicon Valley Insider published an article worth reading if you’re running a startup.  In a nutshell:  Recessions can be opportunities to position yourself for success, refocus the business, fix what’s wrong, and get yourself on the right track.  

And it’s true…to a point. Standing with another dad at my son’s baseball game, I heard a perfect rundown of how hard it is to keep a startup going these days — cash flow issues, missed payroll, missed opportunities and an unwillingness to adapt the sales strategy.  Success hinges on being clear eyed to the opportunities in front of you, ruthless in managing assets and resources, and willing to go all out after opportunities that are real. 

Focus and passion are key, but more critical is the willingness and ability to outwork the competition.  As the Insider notes, big competitors will probably advertise less — with less overt noise crowding the marketplace, tactics like influencer outreach and addressing potential customers and influencers via social media can be even more powerful.  It’s a lot of work, but you can open channels to the right people, spread your message, and make yourself more easily found by the people and communities you want to reach.

Not to minimize the challenges — you either have the money and the talent and the strategy and the time and the right answer — or you don’t.  But if your startup can invest today — dollars, time, talent or hustle — good things will happen.

B2B and Social Media: It’s a Matter of Time

23 Jan

Social Media marketer (and Twitter rockstar) Chris Brogan posted a query on Twitter and an opinion on his own website on the differences between how social media is used in B2B and B2C marketing.  It’s a question I’ve thought about a great deal, after many client conversations with smart B2B marketers who are very interested in social media, but simply don’t see it as a priority. And they’re not totally wrong — in the short term, for many of them, their cusotmers just aren’t there yet.  But in the long term, they will be.  

Brogan writes:

“Think of this principle: “Be there before the sale.” Sales cycles for B2B products are often very long. When I spoke at IBM Research’s headquarters in NY, I heard about a supercomputer of theirs that has a 3 year sales lead cycle. How much marketing can one do in 3 years to move that box? Instead, how HUMAN can you be for 3 years, while going through the process. I think that’s where B2B gets a big boost from exploring these social tools.” 

And I agree.  As I noted in a comment on Brogan’s post, the B2B company’s role is not to control the conversation ‘out there’ but listen, participate in human ways, as you put it, and, at the right times, engage in ways that invite participation in efforts to help the industry that happens to be your market.

But I note that it’s important to respect the B2B marketer’s point of view.  And from their point of view, this can be a soft argument.   Again, as posted on Chris’ blog:  

When the typical channel-focused B2B marketer looks at his marketing investment, he looks first to direct-to-channel communications via literature and other sales tools, and next to PR — which, at least, gets you on the web — and advertising — of far more limited value, and their own website. Being seen online as human would be something to get to when there is time… and there isn’t time.

The challenge for organizations is that the marketing communications teams feel like they have no time to get what they see as “the basics” done, let alone do “technology stuff” in social media. What they need to do is step back and reassess how their organizations view the basics of communications. That reassessment has to happen across marketing, sales, product management and at the executive level.

The question they need to ask themselves is whether they want to be there as social media begins to grow in importance as part of the B2B sales process, or spend massive amounts of human capital catching up once it gets there.

Marketing as Journalism

15 Oct

Invest in the Upswing #2

When I talk to clients about managing communications and marketing planning, I like to have them imagine those old movies about TV networks, where executives sit in their fancy offices adding and erasing programs from the big schedule board. The point:  every day, every week, every month, you need to decide how marketing will facilitate interaction with the market — online, offline, in social media, with bloggers, with professional reporters, at trade shows, on the website. As many have remarked, the newsroom model is a good place to start.  Every day, the news organization must determine its top stories, and how it’s going to tell those stories.

Albert Maruggi does a nice nine-minute podcast this morning with new media PR guru David Meerman Scott about viewing your marketing department as a newsroom.  It’s worth a listen.  Maruggi says that (transcribed as accurately as I could), “marketing as a mouthpiece for all that is good within a company is being viewed cynically.” Instead, he says, “look at trends in an industry and where your company fits in that trend line …news within a company and how it impacts trends and social communities.”

Meerman Scott cites the idea some have called “brand journalism,” noting that where the traditional advertising and direct marketing model interrupts its audience, the future is in publishing “information, multimedia…that your audience wants to consume.”

Organizations looking to invest in the upswing can look to this model as a place to start.  Rather than creating new advertising to build mass awareness, consider find out where the conversations are happening today – Facebook, MySpace, online forums, media websites, blogs – see if there’s a contribution you can make.  Invest in content — video, audio, photos, articles, speeches, news — that engages your market online.

%d bloggers like this: