Small Business Marketing Strategy & Process Development

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StartUp Connect Summary, Part 2

on December 19 in Soapbox, Tech | 0 comments

(This is a continuation from Part 1.) I only attended the Saas/e-commerce breakouts since tech marketing is more my thing.  Here are my rough and random notes, with commentary. Brad Jannenga of WebPT and Bob La Loggia of Appointment-Plus had an amusing session addressing life as an entrepreneur.  No slide deck, just a background of changing images with their heads on bodies of animals, icons like Jules and Vincent, and even inanimate objects like jet fighters. In terms of challenges, they noted execution (Bob) and prioritization (Brad).  Basic as it sounds, it obviously was important to state that “the right product and demand for it is required” for success.  (In my mind, when marketing is an integral part in product development instead of being brought in as sales support after the fact, success can be assured. But, I’m biased of course!) Metrics and measurement was also covered, with monthly recurring revenue (MRR) a key for SaaS companies.  Other measurements include churn, customer acquiring cost, and LTV (which should be 3x the acquisition costs). Trends identified included “platform as a service, portability aka ” How is my data formatted and how do I get it out of there?” (Brad), and enterprise service bus (Bob). Brad  had some great points around content marketing, such as “Be a voice in the industry,” and he noted how marketing has changed and is “no longer about tradeshows and ads but is science now.” I think it has always been thought of as (at least part-) science, just in larger organizations.  Now small businesses and startups are getting more savvy and adoption of testing and measurement is more commonplace (and in part because tools are more affordable). Other panelists addressed marketing in interesting ways as follows: Carlos Roman from Insight highlighted the shift that has happened since the 1990s in solution marketing, which is from a scarcity of information (from the buyer’s perspective) to abundance via the Internet.  The content provided allows you to be found at the right time. Now, when an enterprise client calls, he says,  the sale is 60-80% completed. Alan Lobock, co-founder of SkyMall and now Worthworm, raised the point about investors needing to know what the sales cycle is like...

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StartUp Connect AZ Summary, Part 1

on December 19 in Local Phoenix, Startups/Entrepreneurs, Tech | 1 comment

Yesterday’s first StartupConnect AZ conference brought together Arizona experts and entrepreneurs alike to talk about our city and state ecosystem with respect to STEM; provide insight from experts in investing and VC, education, incubation and co-working; and address topics such as Women in Entrepreneurship and models of success like London’s Tech City. Instead of a long summary, here are a few quotes from the event: Mayor Stanton: “There’s not an old boy network here to keep you down.” “This is a wide-open town.” Arizona Commerce Authority (Brian Sherman, I believe): “Entrepreneurs have to understand their value proposition.” (I couldn’t agree more!) On Collaboration:  “Be more inclusive; get outside the usual suspects.” “Businesses don’t know how to get connected.” Jerry Colangelo: “We need more cooperation from our state legislature.” Maria Speth: “If it’s not your genius, it’s not your job.” An interesting topic and takeaway was related to “Identity.” The city and state’s identity (or lack thereof) was another theme.  It’s a difficult concept to explain but essentially our “story” of who we are as a place is fragmented and oftentimes empty. We hang our hat on weather, but that isn’t enough to attract big business and create civic pride.  We have to create a connection to place and a real culture here.  Kimber Lanning, of Local First Arizona fame, is a leader in delivering this message and I wish there were more of her thoughts on this topic out there but all I could find was this; she was incredibly articulate and passionate so go hear her speak whenever you can.  For my part, I tweeted: Theme for the day: lack of a #Phoenix story. IMHO an R&D problem not #branding. #startupconnectaz — Tracy Diziere (@tracydiziere) December 18, 2013 What I meant was, before the “story” comes the “value.”  We have to find and develop our community’s strengths and improve on key areas that would really drive value in the minds of prospective businesses and talent.  (This is the same process I go through with clients in developing marketing strategy, by the way!) The expert panel of Public Policy & STEM championed education as the #1 priority for improvement.  When we have critical mass (and enthusiasm) around who we are, we...

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How to Improve Your Small Business Website

on December 28 in Small Business, Tech | 0 comments

Most micro and small businesses started a company website at launch in order to establish a brand identity, build credibility with potential buyers, cross temporal communication barriers, create another opportunity for lead generation or customer education, or even conduct online sales. However, as the company has grown and more information has been added, the site has lost its focus, become difficult to navigate, and/or compromised the brand. The effects of these challenges can appear as decreased e-commerce or lead generation activity, negative feedback from users, or lack of contact made with the right customers. To remedy this, we recommend a thorough site review—in the form of our Site Review Report™. To provide those of you who like to do it yourself a foundation to work from, here are some key guidelines to consider when seeking to improve your existing website: Assess the current activity. To best understand what changes to make, you’ll need to know what is happening on your site. Take a look at the reports and statistics that come with your hosting plan. If they are insufficient, supplement them with a Google Analytics account. Looking at the numbers is an important first step in any site re-design project. Plan to put other data collection mechanisms into place. Consider what you need to know about customers to be successful, including demographics and psychographics. Design the necessary mechanisms or forms to capture that data if it isn’t readily available. Be clear about the product or service you’re positioning and its relationship to “online.” It sounds easy, but oftentimes we are so familiar with our product or service offerings that we forget what someone needs to know and understand when encountering it for the first time. Looking at the offering with an outsider’s point of view is important to see how others will respond it. Oftentimes, a professional external review is helpful. Make sure your content speaks to the intended audience with a clear, consistent, well-thought-out marketing message. Based on the above and an understanding of your market, scrutinize the content to identify any barriers to successful communication. Ensure all visual images support your message. Ensure the site is structured to meet your purpose. Users should be able to move through...

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Between the Ivory Tower and ROFLCon II

on May 13 in Culture & Theory, Tech | 0 comments

It’s been over a week since ROFLCon II and while I wasn’t there, I have a favorite panel based on the agenda and transcripts.  It’s called  “i can haz dream?”  and it seeks to address the important issue of race on the internet. The topic is introduced as follows: The internet is often painted as white and nerdy, but that’s just not the case. This panel will discuss the history, current status, and future of race on the internet. How is race signified online? Is the internet segregated? How are we doing on that digital divide? Why do black people take over Twitter at night? What DO white people like? Can non-Asians laugh at “My Mom is a Fob”? Will it ever be possible to have a rational discussion about race online?? First, Some History ROFLCon was founded by Harvard students Tim Hwang and Christina Xu, who I imagine sought to host an intelligent yet accurate alternative to ivory tower conferences on internet culture.  As Xu tells reporter Benjamen Walker for NPR:  “what we found repeatedly was that, as someone from the internet generation, we constantly were kind of wincing [at academic conferences] and being like, ooh, it’s not quite right, you know, they’re not quite getting – it.” The result?  An annual conference of “internet celebrities“–people who create the content that goes viral–with a name that comes from the culture itself: “Rolling on the Floor Laughing” (ROFL, pronounced like “rah-full”).  My Take on the Panel As is, I was entertained and surprised at some of the discoveries reported by the panelists, but left feeling a bit empty.  On the other hand, I know of no other space as accessible where the issue of race is being explored and discussed.  For me, the problem is that the topic of race online is so broad and a whole discussion could have been focused around any one of the questions introduced for the panel.   If even one of the more serious questions–How is race signified online?, Is the internet segregated?, or Will it ever be possible to have a rational discussion about race online?–had been addressed by all panelists, I could have benefitted from clear takeaways or hypotheses, as I might at an academic panel.  As is, I was entertained by...

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