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Get Out of Your Building Again, Part II

Pic-MarketsSteve Blank popularized the concept of getting out of your building to conduct customer development in the pursuit for the ultimate product/market fit. The benefits were obvious: get to know your real market, test your hypotheses, and gather insights from your customers.

But there is a Part II to this advice. Fast forward to having been successful, nailing the product/market fit, and growing like crazy. Now you need to get out of your building again, but this time, it’s for marketing outreach activities and to establish your physical presence where your customers and markets are.

There comes a point when online referrals, peer to peer viral growth, and centralized command and control online processes can take you so far in terms of reaching maximum visibility, awareness and preference potential to attract new users and customers.

Not all products are conducive to an infinite network-effect-driven growth curve via user-to-prospect referrals, and lateral message propagation.

So, if you’ve reached close to 100 employees, and you think you’re doing well, but 95% of your employees are still in head office, it’s time to re-consider that. If you are the CEO, get out of your building and start reaching your community on the ground, wherever they are. You can’t just push a button from central headquarters and expect local markets to be favorable to you by remote control. Even better, start hiring people in the local markets where your customers and prospects are.

Even Twitter has been opening regional offices, as they need to have feet on the ground where the (paying) customers are. Dropbox and Mailchimp regularly sponsor local activities where their customers and prospects hang out. The reason why Drew Houston hits the speaking circuit so often is because he’s spreading the Dropbox brand around. Facebook knew that a long time ago. They had been cozying-up to the local developers around the world since 1999 when Facebook Connect came out, because they knew that they would in turn evangelize early on in their local markets. Local Facebook Connect meetups were routinely attended by hundreds of developers and marketing agencies.

The battleground for market share consists of reaching your prospects, i.e. the majority of the market who doesn’t know about you. You need to get into their heads before the competition does.

Most startups are comfortable dealing with their customers, but they struggle reaching the outer layers of the market they really need to attract. You cannot wait to be led to that market. You need to go and be in front of it. Matt Mullenweg, CEO/founder of Automattic, revels in attending local WordCamp meetups around the world. It’s how he stays in touch with the local communities globally, and how he continues to spread the WordPress brand by staying inside the minds of the market.

You could think of your market potential progression in 3 stages (see figure):

  1. Product/Market Fit: Demand driven by early adopters of your product
  2. Growth: Reaching the fast followers
  3. Local Markets: Being in the global/local market where your prospects are

Here are some (partial) ideas for local outreach activities to assert your marketing presence in local markets:

  • Sponsor and/or attend local meetups
  • Create your own brand of events (e.g. WordCamp)
  • Get invited to fireside chats
  • Speak at conferences and participate in panel discussions
  • Visit your local customers
  • Send someone from headquarters to spend a week per city and have them infiltrate and participate in the communities where your target markets are

There is nothing wrong in having a strong head-office, but if you’ve experienced a relatively pleasant growth phase, and you’re wondering what’s next, you need to start asserting your presence where your market is. You can typically start with the major metropolitan or regional concentrations where your customers and prospects are. You don’t need to open new offices, but you may need to hire local people that are feet-on-the-ground with the local communities that you are trying to reach. If you don’t do that, you’re really making it harder on yourself to be successful, and making it easier for the competition to beat you if they are already local and you’re not.

Go capture the imagination of users where they are, and get into their minds early on, before the competition does.


Entrepreneurship, Sales, SaaS, Marketing, Failing, Mobile, Scaling, Growth Hacking,- Weekend Roundup #18 Nov 11 2013

Startup Management is a manual selection from the hundreds of weekly articles being curated. Previous issues are available here. There are 21 article links in this edition. Entrepreneurs and Blogging    Prompted by Keith Rabois on Twitter, there was a discussion on whether successful entrepreneurs have time to blog. Chris Yeh asked Should entrepreneurs blog? Mark Birch chimed in with Successful Entrepreneurs Do Not Blog? And I wrote a post entitled All Entrepreneurs Should Blog. The consensus is still debatable, but at the end of the day, it is up to the entrepreneur to blog or not. Blogging is not related to their success or failure, rather to their willingness and ability to communicate by writing, and seeing the marketing and social capital value behind blogging. Mobile ROI Ameet Ranadive from the product management team at Twitter has an insightful post, Why Mobile ROI is So Hard. It covers mobile monetization, with a focus on m-commerce, perhaps a hint on upcoming Twitter products in mobile commerce. “28% of mobile searches result in a conversion (defined by store visit, call, or purchase).” SaaS David Skok has a mega post, Manage Customer Success to Reduce Churn. The key point is that focusing on customer happiness is not enough. You need to make sure they are receiving the promised benefits. “Customers bought your product to get a clear business benefit. To make them happy, I believe that you need to make sure they are getting the business benefits they hoped for.” Sales Jason Lemkin has another one of his practical advice posts, If Your VP Sales Isn’t Going to Work Out – You’ll Know in 30 Days. He lays out 5 top things they should do, and the order of priority for doing them. Here’s one of the red flags: “if they start creating and driving deals themselves,” they should be out in 30 days, because they didn’t focus on recruiting a team instead. Bob Marsh asks and answers, What Has Changed in Sales? The Sales Manager. And here is a third post on sales, The Trend that is Changing Sales, where Steve W. Martin points to the increased nature of inside sales. Marketing Communications In Deconstructing PR: Advice From a Former VentureBeat Writer, Conrad Eyusa outlines a step by step approach for working the media. I know it works, because I have used a similar approach successfully several times. VC-Entrepreneur Relationship Fred Wilson and Matt Blumberg have another set of related posts on this important topic. In What Makes For The Most Productive Management-VC Relationship, Fred advises to “keep the frustration to yourself,” when dealing with startups. And in Getting the Most of Your Investors, Matt says to “take on-boarding seriously,” when it comes to new board members. Failing Last week, the Everpix shut down was publicized, and lessons were being drawn. Here’s a pair of posts that explain why the company wasn’t able to raise more money to continue operating, although they had a great product. Andrew Chen weighed in with When a great product hits the funding crunch, and Casey Newton at The Verge wrote Out of the picture: why the world’s best photo startup is going out of business. And related to this, here’s a post by Hutch Carpenter covering 10 examples of fabulously flawed product-first thinking. Marketing James Heaton has a short post, What is Marketing Strategy? that builds the case for marketing and helps you to differentiate between marketing strategy and tactics. “Why does marketing strategy matter? Because it saves you money.” Scaling In Built to Scale: Why Growth Entrepreneurs Need Structure, Dino Signore highlights this important topic. “Structure is like a well-written software code that enables your organization to reduce errors and run consistently.” Growth Hacking If you missed the third Growth Hackers Conference put on by Gagan Biyani and Erin Turner, here’s a pair of posts recapping the key points from it: Growth Hackers Conference 2013 A Detailed Bullet-Point Summary, and Growth Hackers Conference Recap and Slides. Competitive Analysis                  Steve Blank has a new way to depict a Company Competitive Analysis, using a “petal diagram” instead of the classical 2×2 matrix. By putting the startup at the center and linking it to the various market segments, this new visualization helps to get VCs excited about the opportunity to re-segment existing markets or create new ones. Entrepreneurship Fred Wilson posted a recent video interview of his partner Albert Wenger with me, where Albert covered the USV thesis, working with entrepreneurs, Tumblr, Foursquare, venture capital, and many other topics. SEO If you’d like to see the top 200 Google ranking factors in a wicked Infographic, here is a view on Every ingredient that contributes to search engine ranking. There is a method behind the Google search madness. That SUMs it up! Don’t forget to share on Twitter,  add us to your Feedly, forward to a friend, follow on Twitterread in Flipboard, or just visit the website often and daily. William Mougayar Founder & Chief Curator Startup Management]]>

About That Sales Cycle…It Will Kill you

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Objectives, SaaS, Sales, Venture Capital, Conversions, Monetization, Growth, SEO, Mentorship, HR, Weekend Roundup #13 Oct 6 2013

Startup Management is a manual selection from the hundreds of weekly articles being curated. Previous issues are available here. There are 13 links in this edition. Forward to a friend, so they can sign-up and benefit too. Business Models To monetize large networks of engaged users with a free product, founders need to create a new product that is different from the free one, leading-up to a Monetization Dilemma they will face. That dilemma emerges when the founder doesn’t get as excited or involved as they were with the original consumer product. I list 8 points for managing this dilemma. Conversions Bill Gurley revisits “the most powerful Internet metric of all”, 13 years after he first wrote about it, in Conversion: The Most Important Internet Metric of All (Revisited). “Conversion improvements typically are the aggregate gain of 100 tiny improvements, not one silver bullet. Rarely will you find one single change that is going to have a 5% lift in conversion… rather you will find 30 things on a page that all have a tiny impact.” This is a must read.

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