One of my new favorite shows is HBO’s Silicon Valley. Why? Because I find the startup world – and particularly the startup scene in SV – to be fascinating. On a regular basis, I am blown away by some of the ideas and technology being produced by these super smart twenty- (and sometimes 30- or 40-) somethings. And being from the more traditional coast and of a “not 20-something” generation, I find the culture to be very interesting. But on a deeper level, I think there’s more to my fascination.
If you haven’t watched the show and/or don’t plan to, it’s intended to tell the story of Pied Piper, a company founded on an algorithm developed for highly advanced file compression. And the main character first explains it as a way to for companies to quickly locate music copyright information. It’s not until others see what he’s doing that the true value of the algorithm’s compression value comes to light. And quickly, a few investors come flocking. But the main character decides to take the seed money rather than the quick but financially lucrative buyout offer so that he can create and foster his company, Pied Piper. And then, it’s off to the races…which is what is most interesting. The continued episodes share his escapades in developing a business plan, dealing with company name challenges, and purchasing SWAG. And the humor is absolutely not lost on me and I’m sure it’s not lost on those who consider themselves entrepreneurs and marketers.
But at the core, I enjoy the show because it brings up topics that entrepreneurs face every single day: WHAT is this company – this thing that we’ve created – all about, really? Are we really selling an algorithm? That might be what’s behind your company but if this is what you try to sell to your prospects, you will probably not recognize a lot of revenue, especially in the B2B space.
The truth is that there will be 50 more ridiculously smart entrepreneurs right behind you who will create the next faster, better, easier solution next month. So you damn well better figure out WHY you exist and be able to articulate it simply and effectively.
So if you’re a startup or a small business that hasn’t really taken the time to think through these things, here are 4 key questions you need to ask and be prepared to answer. Do they sound simple? Yes. Are they easy questions to answer? Just ask every entrepreneur who has tried to answer them:
Always put yourself in the mind of your customer/potential customer. It’s not about what you call a product or service – it’s about what your customer calls it and how it relates to their pain points.
But my absolute favorite scene in the first episode of Silicon Valley is the part where the founder and his friend approach Hooli, a startup turned large company, and witness a group of people on a “shared bike” to which he exclaims:
“Oh God. The marketing team is having another bike meeting.”
Perfect. Remind me to get one of these shared bikes when Take Root Marketing makes it big.
There’s a lot of talk about big data these days. It’s very buzzy and, for those of you who know and work with me, you’ll understand that I have a healthy skepticism for shiny objects and marketing babble.
But don’t get me wrong – most of this chatter surrounds topics that we should care about and that can prove very meaningful to our marketing efforts. But not just because you can sound important when talking to your CMO.
This brings me to the topic of Big Data. These is so much input these days and the power of Big Data lies in our ability to put our arms around all of this data to truly inform and improve our marketing results by better understanding our prospects and customers. This is an important and challenging endeavor but one that needs to start in a place that is rooted by an inherent understanding of our audience and our objectives.
To provide a specific use case for what I’m referring to, I will use social media. One of my favorite analytics tools is Simply Measured. It is simply amazing and provides companies with a veritable treasure trove of data. And it’s incredibly tempting to pull down pretty reports that show things like what time a Facebook visitor from Ireland viewed a specific post and which browsers my Twitter followers use.
While all of this is very interesting and can make us look smart, are they really important in understanding how my company is performing in social media based upon the objectives we set out? Probably not. But there are some important data pieces that you can and should be reviewing. So how do you know what to look at?
Time and time again, I see marketers and marketing analytics teams reporting on this kind of detail when they don’t even understand whether they have strong and growing engagement with their followers. And I also see executives who scratch their heads as they look at these reports wondering if they should care about these metrics or not.
So put away the fancy terms, pull out that Powerpoint that details the marketing objectives (that are also hopefully aligned closely to corporate goals) and figure out how you’re going to measure your results in a way that you and your team can share. Big data is a cool topic but wrapping your arms around key insights that relate to your specific objectives is even cooler.
Looking to drive brand awareness, for example? Figure out how many times your company is mentioned in relationship to specific terms, i.e. your keywords. How does this compare with the mentions for these same terms amongst your competitors? These numbers will begin to show whether your brand recognition is on the rise or if it’s stagnant.
And always remember your attribution. It’s tempting to say that a goal of social media is to drive sales. But if your product is one with a long, complex sales cycle, then it’s shortsighted to say that one interaction drove a sale. More likely, this is just one piece of the marketing and sales pie that helped to drive the sale. So think about the attribution of your marketing activities, as they are not all created equal.
In an upcoming post, I’ll discuss how you can begin to think about lead scoring. While you may think that you need a fancy marketing automation system – and it does help but is not a requirement – you can start to develop a simple scoring model that will help you to better report on marketing results.
Since I'm always referring to these and often provide them to my clients, here are 2 killer resources for image sizing:
I also really like this template that goes into more detail on Twitter, especially the background image sizing since that one can be tricky.
Twitter background dimensions 2014 - template
Renay M. Picard
The Take Root Marketing Blog is intended as a vehicle to assist and engage with marketers and social media addicts like myself - please share your thoughts, good, bad or otherwise. I'd love to hear from you!