As your organisation ‘grows up’ from a start-up to a more mature company, you have a tremendous opportunity to build an in-house inbound marketing function. Imagine running a team where everybody is ‘in marketing’ because the smarts of all your people are being shared. As your entire team helps create more useful and helpful content to educate customers you will begin to attract more leads, customers and revenue. The goal is to build an in-house inbound marketing function where your whole team is social media enabled and everyone is contributing to the content marketing efforts of the organisation. This is known as a ‘social business’. To get this stage, there are three major paradigms that must adjust. 1. Management must empower It’s much easier building a ‘social business’ from the ground up than it is to implement widespread change later. Fortunately for you, as a start-up entrepreneur, this plays to your strengths because you have the ability to handpick your team and mould your culture. When you trust your team to do their best, it means you can start to realise the potential of their collective brain power and personal networks. And this obviously compounds as your team grows. 2. Marketing must make it easy The marketing team’s job is to extract the content from the organisation’s in-house subject matter expert, and use it to help educate prospective customers. Education is definitely the way to drive sales and business growth. As I’ve said before, informed people buy, not confused or ignorant people. And your role as marketer is to unleash the knowledge that is sitting the heads and computers of the people within your organisation. Your existing team, or future team if you are just one person right now, have all the marketing ideas, content and tools that you could ever need. Your responsibility is to identify it, extract it and then harness the power of your team’s collective personal networks to share it. 3. Subject matter experts are the ‘new marketing heroes’! Turn your technical boffins and in-house experts into the stars of your marketing efforts. Whilst they may not necessarily be natural writers, content creators or marketers, you can simply interview these experts and then use your skills to turn that interview into a YouTube video, an audio file, a blog post, e-book or template. You can then hand it back to the subject matter expert for final approval and share it out via your social networks! In my opinion, this is the future of web marketing and the direction you should be leading your organisation. If you’re interested in building your marketing function from the ground up, this free Inbound Marketing Flight Plan provides a step by step process for building a permanent web asset for your organisation.
Is it worth writing a marketing plan/strategy even though I have little to no money to spend on big ads or marketing agencies? Asking a marketer whether you really need a marketing plan is like asking a personal trainer whether a training routine will really make any difference. A (good) marketing strategy is not something your small business hopes to have one day when it grows up. It’s something you need now. It’s a misconception that only big firms need marketing plans and a further misconception that a plan is full of costly activity that you cannot afford. That’s an advertising strategy and you may not need one of those for a long time, if at all. In fact, many small businesses and start-ups seem to coast along hoping for some lucky break instead of following a plan that makes success look like it came about with a bit of luck. Sure there’s an element of luck in the rise of many businesses. There’s always going to be someone better connected and better funded than you, but those people will also fail if their idea or execution of that idea is – to put it bluntly – crap. A well-thought-out brand and marketing strategy says precisely and uniquely what your business stands for; what you offer customers; exactly who those customers are; and how you’re going to reach them. Of course, it aligns completely with your business strategy. (You mean I need one of those too?) One of my favourite recent start-ups is the Dollar Shave Club. Founder Michael Dubin seems to have hit the jackpot and found the magic formula all at once. Certainly it ticks every checklist for success: A great idea: Unbranded, good quality razors from only $1 per month. A clear target segment: Young cool guys who like to be seen trying new things and are ‘beyond brands’ (though this is actually the cool no-brand brand. I’m sure part of the plan.) An easy call to action: Buy now for only $1. Cancel any time. A marketing campaign executed exactly to its target market: Funny, goofy video a ‘la Old Spice man. Customer loyalty: $1 a month per person rolling credit card payments. Viral: YouTube video bonanza (almost 10 million views to date). This whole business concept looks so simple that it’s easy to think it came about with no strategy. But I’m putting money on Michael Dubin having a great plan behind it with a timeline of milestones to hit and exactly how the business responds at each point. Firstly, his brand and launch strategy to prove the validity of the idea and score serious funding to grow (over $10 million in seed and Series A funding was secured). Secondly, a plan to build the business by moving into new markets (Australia came very fast, women’s blades are coming) and also expanding into new products such as shaving creams. And thirdly, pure speculation but I’m sure it’s on the cards, a succession plan that may involve selling the business. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the big brands, Gillette for instance, had made an offer already. The lesson I keep learning when I see success stories like this one is to train yourself to operate like a big business from day one and that means have a great plan. So a quick recap: Yes, you do need a marketing plan. It needs to support the goals of your business plan. It’s not the same as an advertising plan. It needs to be well thought out. It’s worth spending a few thousand dollars and going over it with an expert. The tactical outputs don’t need to be costly. Follow the plan and review it all the time. Use the plan to tell you what NOT to do as much as what to do. Think how your business may look to make it saleable and work back from that goal. Good luck!
It’s a truly questionable enterprise. A Welsh woman’s start-up is offering lessons on how to propose after turning down her boyfriend’s proposal because it was like “being asked out for pizza”. Sam Shepherd’s company – The Proposal Expert – can cater for any budget, from $10 to $10,000. “A good proposal can be a lasting talking point, but a bad one can end up on YouTube,” says Shepherd. Her boyfriend, Ryan Galeozzi, is planning to have another crack at popping the question. Another entrepreneur in New York has come up with a similar concept, suggesting there’s well and truly a market for it. Perhaps you could launch a proposal planning business in Australia?
The web represents huge opportunities for start-up entrepreneurs to humanise their organisations. This makes us much more likable and trustworthy than the bigger corporates we may face as competitors. International speaker Jay Baer was the social media keynote at the recent National Growth Summit and he introduced a brilliant concept called the ‘humanisation highway’. It is simply a five-step journey that we go on where we gradually humanise our businesses: 1. Ignoring This what most companies are doing right now. Nearly everyone has heard of social media but most simply don’t use it yet. It may be fear, anxiety, lack of time, lack of resources or simply lack of interest. Or perhaps you have set yourself up with social media accounts but they are lying dormant and neglected. 2. Listening All this involves is setting up Google Alerts and logging into your accounts on a regular basis to see what is going on. If you’re at this stage of the journey you are likely to be following a handful of people you like of Twitter, Facebook and you may follow certain blogs. If you simply listen, you’re putting yourself ahead of most of your competition because at least you know what is going on. This stage can be very exciting because you can see the power of the community and you’re possibly thinking about taking the next step. 3. Responding This is where you stop lurking and you get involved. It’s often the scariest step mentally because you’re no longer anonymous and you’re putting yourself out there for all the world to see. It’s also the shortest stop because you realise there was nothing to worry about. It’s actually quite fun and the business benefits are enormous. Tools like Google Alerts and Twitter Search make it really easy to keep track of what people are talking about, so you are in the position to respond to conversations, which normally means replying to tweets or leaving comments on a blog. 4. Participating If you have a blog and you use all the usual social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn on a regular basis, then you’re a rock solid participant. The key difference with this phase is that you are ‘contributing content’. The rule of thumb online is that 90% lurk, 9% respond and 1% contribute. Congrats on being in the top 1%. 5. Story Telling The final and ultimate stop on the ‘humanisation highway’, and it is where you are actively contributing and sharing compelling stories. Stories that take the shape of blog posts, YouTube videos, e-books, podcasts, emails, infographics and webinars that people simply ‘have to’ share with their friends and colleagues. This is how you earn your true fans, and the reward is that they start spreading the word for you via tweets, Facebook likes, email forwards and blogging. When you become a master storyteller, then you’ve well and truly humanised your organisation! For more information to guide you on this humanisation journey, you may like my free e-book Web Strategy Secrets.
The other day, Old Taskmaster met an entrepreneur whose view of the cloud was somewhat up in the clouds, to say the least.
In the next few days, one of the largest consumer electronics firms in the world will launch arguably its most important product for the year.
Ever wanted to create a mix tape to woo a loved one but didn’t want to go through the hassle of finding an actual cassette tape and a dual-deck tape recorder?
As we outlined recently, Twitter is the fastest growing social network in the world, while Facebook is still picking up considerable numbers of new users despite seemingly reaching saturation point.
Marketing your business without your target market properly defined is like driving with a blindfold on and hoping for the best. You might get lucky a few times though chances are you won't get very far.
A lot of entrepreneurs come from a corporate background, which often stands them in good stead when they launch their start-up.
High-profile American entrepreneur Tony Perkins has highlighted US investors’ increasing appetite for Australian companies, ahead of Australia’s first-ever AlwaysOn conference.
I had lunch with some close friends of mine who own a gym.
Not many couples come up with a business idea on their honeymoon, but Sharmeen Arain and Rax Huq are not your average couple.
After winning the Best Green Start-up title at the 2012 StartupSmart Awards, John Cross quickly returned his focus to his product, the Plastic Bottle Crusher.
Small businesses are being tipped to keep an eye on Twitter's new video service, which allows users to film up to six seconds of video and post it to their social feeds without the use of a third-party uploading service like YouTube.
The 2013 International CES, the largest in the tech show’s 45-year history, has wrapped up, with start-ups ranging from the Pebble ‘smartwatch’ to a device that informs people if they haven’t taken prescribed medication grabbing attendees’ attention.
We know that starting an online business can allow for a faster launch than traditional bricks and mortar businesses.
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has said that he cannot guarantee the Coalition will bring the budget back into the black, despite calling the government’s abandonment of the surplus as “humiliating.”
Mike, Jodie and I are often asked how we persuaded ourselves that it would be okay to quit our jobs to start Shoes of Prey and how we managed to self-fund the business without overstretching our resources.
Gumtree was the most searched for local brand in Australia this year, Google’s Brand Zeitgeist reveals, while Coles’ “Down, down” campaign was the most searched for advertisement.