Posts Categorized: Thinking

Quick Things You Can Do to Build Buzz

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It’s great to have a strategy and a plan. But sometimes, you’re strapped for time and budget, and you just need to build some quick buzz for your product, service or company. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.

Building buzz often takes a commitment of time and energy, but there are a few things that you can do when you need a quick boost. Here are some ideas for you. Keep in mind that these ideas aren’t necessarily meant to be strategic. They’re meant to be tactical.

Say Thanks to Your Best Customers

When was the last time you sent your best customers a thank you note? Probably around the holiday season. It’s always good to say thanks, especially when it’s least expected. Doing this can not only strengthen your relationship, but it can also trigger some happy shares on social media. By the way, don’t do this by email. Be classy and do it with a card.

Do Something Spontaneous

Grab your team, throw on a favorite tune, and just start dancing. Oh, and video tape  your team dancing. It doesn’t have to be fancy or well-edited. Just have fun. Then put it up online (as long as your employees agree to it). At the least, it shows that your company is human. At the best, your video goes viral. It’s a win no matter what.

Write and Send a Press Release

Normally, we don’t recommend sending a press release just for the sake of sending a press release. But when was the last time you announced something? Sometimes, it’s a good idea to send a press release just to stay on people’s radar. Maybe you don’t have any significant news to announce, but let’s be real: Your business is (hopefully) not at a standstill. There has to be something newsworthy going on like recent new hires, new clients, maybe some product updates, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and your expectations or aspirations for this release should be reasonable. But it’s important to cultivate and maintain what we call a baseline level of awareness.

There are many, many things you can do to quickly create buzz. We’d love to hear your tricks and tips for keeping the heartbeat of your company going–at least publicly.


Cut through the Noise to Get Past Seed Stage

Cut Through the Noise

Well-known startup speaker and doer, Paul Singh, shared some interesting words of wisdom recently in a Washington Business Journal article. According to Singh, there are two reasons why startups have difficulty getting past the seed stage. The first is that there’s a lot of competition between companies to get the next round of funding. The second:

They get lost in the noise.

Quite simply, they don’t do a good enough job of grabbing–and holding–the attention of their potential customers. There are likely a lot of competitors out there, many with bigger budgets, who can drown out others in the field.

So, how does a startup cut through the noise so they can get to the next stage? The answer is one part ingenuity, one part elbow grease, and one part stick-to-itiveness.

Ingenuity

Terms like innovation and creativity get thrown around a lot (too much) in the business world, but we think a better term to focus on is ingenuity. Today’s marketing takes being a little clever as well as inventive. Not in a sneaky or under-handed way, but in a way that can quickly grab, hold and engage your audience for a good reason. Being clever in your marketing is important, but it also can apply to your product development (this is especially important as you iterate). Zig when others are zagging. Tell your story in a way that helps people feel the problem you’re trying to solve, so that they can feel the relief your product brings them. Think hard (see elbow grease below) about what makes your customers tick, what makes them pull the trigger, and find interesting and fun ways to get them to pull that trigger. Of course, you can burn those triggers out, but that’s o.k.  If you have a little ingenuity you will come up with something new when that happens.

Elbow Grease

Did your parents ever tell you when you were a kid to put some “elbow grease” into it? Ours sure did, especially when it came to household chores. Marketing and public relations is hard work. It takes a keen mind for both strategy and attention to detail. It often requires long hours, hunched over a computer, a spreadsheet, a media list. It takes constant vigilance of your social media accounts to make sure you respond to every tweet. But, as you may have found out when you were younger, the more work you put into something oftentimes the more rewarding it can be (unless, of course, that something is doing household chores). Take the time to do some market research. Take the time to hone your message. Take the time to get to know and interact with your customers.

Stick-to-itiveness

Like elbow grease, marketing and public relations takes an on-going and sustained effort. This is particularly challenging for startups who may not have the longest runway (gotta keep that burn rate under control!). And while we offer one-off, tactically-focused PR packages for startups, it’s not unusual for the results of these efforts to resemble blips on a radar that come and go. In other words, the results get out there, the company picks up some users (or 40,000 in one case), and then user growth and sales die as soon as the attention shifts away from their product.

So, if you’re a startup and you can’t afford to hire a PR or marketing firm, or even an intern to help you, here’s how you tackle stick-to-itiveness: Spend 15 minutes/day sending email introductions to reporters and editors in your industry. Spend another 15-30 minutes just scanning Twitter or other social platforms for relevant hashtags. And, perhaps most importantly, spend 15 minutes/day staring out into space (we know, this seems counter-intuitive, but trust us–this works wonders for your ingenuity).

Don’t be worried about failure or rejection (of course won’t–you’re an entrepreneur!). Stick to it, even when the clever thoughts aren’t coming or you feel like what you’re doing is hard. By committing these relatively small amounts of time, you’ll find after a few months, you’ll have actually achieved some results.


What to look for in a CMO

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The other day, a prospective client asked us what they should look for in a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). This prospective client is a very early-stage startup, but one with very big and ambitious plans. They have a fairly detailed business plan, and the founder/CEO only recently pulled the trigger and quit a full-time gig to run his startup. They’re pre-revenue, only have a rudimentary version of their product, and they are on the hunt for investors to help get them off the ground.

This startup is clearly planning as much as they can, and working to move forward methodically. And at some point, they’re going to need a CMO, and the CEO asked what he should look for. Here’s how we suggest he- and other early-stage startups approach it:

  • Figure out when the time is truly right. You don’t necessarily need a CMO before you’ve developed a product that’s worth selling. You will DEFINITELY most need a CMO when it’s time to scale. Which means you need a solid product, not just an MVP. Hiring too soon might be a waste of precious resources, while hiring too late could be a grave misstep.
  • Look for someone who understands technology. Marketing has become as much about the technology we use as it is about the strategy and the creative. CMOs need to be able to talk to your company’s CTO; they need to understand how your customers are using technology, and then find ways to use those technologies to spread your company’s message. They also need to understand reporting technology. So much is trackable today–there’s so much data available. CMOs don’t necessarily need to know every aspect of every technology, but they do need to have enough understanding to know how to pull things together in order to master all of these facets.
  • Look for someone who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty. Marketing is a team sport. There’s no one person who can possibly do everything, nor are there enough hours in the day. The result is that it’s not uncommon for CMOs to be master delegators. There’s nothing wrong with that–when you’re in a larger organization and your CMO is commanding a large team. When you’re in a startup, though, everyone needs to pitch in and do their part. The CMO who knows how to get stuff done–either individually or through other people–is indeed a rare, valuable find.

NOTE: Even if you’re not ready to hire a CMO, you still need to promote your company! Check out our Rocket Packs for Startups to see how we can help.

Image above of the CMO T-shirt, available for purchase here