startup advice

10 common startup mar comm mistakes

Ooops All too often, there are a few basic mistakes marketing  communications overlooked by startups.  These little oversights just drive me batty.  Below please find my list of pet peeves/easy mistakes often made by startups.

  1. Put an "About Page" on your website. Tell me about yourself. Who are you? Where are you in life/funding? Is your offering live?  Is there a link to as assets page, so I can grab pictures, screengrabs etc and share with clients or teams? Help me to help you!
  2. Link the logos on your "Clients" page to either your products live in market with these clients or case studies outlining your contribution.  Tell me your story!
  3. Never claim to be "the only", "the best", "best in class" or "industry leading".  These words mean nothing to anyone with any experience, and are often far from true.
  4. Make your contact information clearly accessible.  Put a phone number, AIM ID and a contact name and email address on your site. DO NOT make me go to Google Maps to back-trace your listed address or domain registration address to a phone number.
  5. Return requests from information from prospects quickly.  Returning a message 6 months later will get you nowhere (and this happens ALL THE TIME!). 
  6. If you've got a lead, even if you aren't quite ready for their business, keep the conversation alive. Invite them into focus groups.  Get them enthused.  Keep them excited.  Never turn away a lead.  Embrace the people who will be writing your paychecks once you're past VC funding.
  7. Sell your business benefits, not just your tech features (courtesy of Chris Kieff and Mike Spataro)
  8. Know your place in the market. This requires having a clue what your competitors are up to.  Make sure the faces of your company, your sales staff, is equally well educated.
  9. If you're getting a lot of questions, put up a FAQ page.  
  10. Bring in a full time marketing communications specialist, hire an agency, or at the very least use a consultant (hat tip to AY Fuld) Mar Comm is an art, not a technology play.  Technology enables conversations, people make them happen.  You may have the coolest tech in the world, but without the ability to tell your story in the right way, to the right people, you're only hope is to befriend Arrington or Pete Cashmore.  And THAT is not a sustainable mar comm strategy.
photo credit here

newsweek declares twitter dumbest innovation...

 OK, so first off, I'll admit it. I read Time and Newsweek.  There are times when I find their articles intriguing, educational or provocative.

But this week, Newsweek was off the mark in a really grand way.

In their recent "The New Global Elite" issue (dated January 5th) they ran an article comparing Ink Versus Influence.  What struck me the hardest was their Twitter Versus Newspapers comparison.  To quote -

The dumbest innovation of the century? Memo to tweeters: we don't care what you think.

Yes, print is troubled and some urban dailys are doomed.  Still, on a screen or on dead trees, nothing shapes the conversation like facts.

Twitter_user_growth_q4-2008_hubspotFirstly, I searched, this article isn't even on the web.  Irony...

Secondly, I can't help but wonder what this factoid is hoping to convey? 

(a) That twitter is overhyped by people and/or bloggers? 
(b) That twitter is misunderstood? 
(c) That the mainstream news is overhyping or over-covering this growing platform?

A quick search of reveals no less than 52 results, 45 of them in the past year alone.  So I guess they were at least partially responsible for throwing Ink at this "dumb innovation".

Furthermore, their second is assertion is that Newspapers contain... facts, while Twitter contains... something else. 

Are newspapers factual? Non-partisan? Fair and balanced? 

During the recent Intifada, the NY Times ran a picture my neighbor from Long Island, a kid I went to school with, on their front cover, reporting that he was an Arab teen fleeing the Israeli Police who had beaten him bloody.  In reality, he was a Jewish American student studying abroad who was beaten beyond recognition by an Arab mob in the days before Yom Kippur.

Sure, newspapers are held to a higher standard than rumor-rich social media.  But twitter is not a fad anymore than speaking with one another.  Twitter may or may not be the next big thing (though the numbers do look promising).  But it is a rich platform, and one I wouldn't be as quick to dismiss.

So is Twitter an irrelevant, over-hyped fad?  Not today it isn't.  I'm content with the fact that millions of people are talking.  CNN and Fox News a regularly reporting on Twitter buzz and rumors (as is Newsweek).  Brands are turning profits, direct ROI, via Twitter.  I have met hundreds of interesting people on Twitter, and continue to do so on a regular basis.   I have been recruited through twitter, I have recruited others via Twitter, I communicate with friends, family, clients, partners, vendors and startups on Twitter.  This isn't to say that Twitter is an evergreen platform.  But I wouldn't label them the dumbest innovation of the century.

So Newsweek, even if you believe Twitter is over-hyped, why would you turn your back on an open marketing channel, on millions of conversationalists?  What do they stand to gain?

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disclaimer: I'm generaly a fan of Newsweek and will continue to read this publication. I agree that Twitter is overhyped and misunderstood, I'm just not ready to write it off.  And anyone who is, is clearly missing the core values of information flow in the digital dynamic.  Let's hope this was the lone view of one contributor and not representative of a broader company perspective.  On that note, the views represented in this post are solely my own and not of my employer or their parent company.