How to choose a Business Model

I know it’s hectic out there! Lots of options to choose from, lots of possibilities, but how can you select the correct Business Model for your startup or company?

There is not simple answer, but here are some tips that you can use to figure it out. A small spoiler:  as the Marketing guy I will start as usual with – know your costumer.

Thanks to EFactor for the opportunity!

 

Do marketing to jump the chasm

It’s the end of the month, your thriving financial reports are on your desk. You’ve had a history of great months of revenue, of increased sales, great success overall. You run through your numbers, with the same diligence as the past months, but come up with a decreased cash-flow, less units that are being sold. You might try to find the answers in your accounting books, on the Profit & Loss statements, or even try to understand the reasoning of your sales force. The reality is that you are facing the chasm.

The term chasm was coined by Geoffrey A. Moore in 1990. Despite being more than 20 years old, some of the concepts from the theory are still latent in the modern business theory. A critique to the book has been its focus on high-tech industries, such as pharmaceuticals, computers, mobile phones, etc. Nevertheless the theory can be easily applied to any market, since its objective is to achieve a sustained growth of the company.

 

The main idea behind “Crossing the Chasm” is to target your market and focus your efforts on niches. To achieve a better segmentation, Moore based its theory on ​Rogers’ Innovation Adoption Lifecycle. Rogers’ curve presents five different segments:

  • Innovators – constantly in search of new technologies.
  • Early adopters – search for new technologies hoping to solve their problems.
  • Early majority – waiting for technology to solve a problem or issue they have.
  • Late majority – they are not searching for a new technology, if it’s a proven solution, they’ll use it.
  • Laggards – they have to adopt the technology or the innovation because they are finding difficulties not using it.

Image credits to ​Idiology

 

To cross the chasm and take your startup to its growth stage, you can take into consideration these suggestions:

Marketing is essential

We usually leave the marketing department out of the loop of the business development. Moore’s focus on crossing the chasm is based on the ability of this department to reach out to customers and translate your product or services into a value proposition suited for your target market. For Moore, marketing is the group of people working directly with the customer, fitting the product and positioning the image of the brand in a relevant and useful context.

The marketing department ultimate goal is to position the product into the early majority segment – jumping over the chasm. For Moore: “Positioning is the pinnacle of marketing–but it’s also tricky. People hold an image of a product in their minds–and don’t like anyone else to manipulate that. So instead of trying to define it, find ways to make the product easier to buy.”

Understand where your customer buys

You need to create a relationship with your client to get over the chasm. Those Early Adopters and Innovators were willing to come to you and test your product. Now it’s your turn to go and look for them.

Direct sales is the preferred strategy for Moore, but this was pre-social media. I’m not saying that you should just disregard the one-on-one meetings. But if you are on a tight budget, you can reach some of those prospects with the correct automation tools. Once more, don’t just ignore going out there and meeting your clients, in this stage, your product needs to engage customers.

Don’t be afraid to adapt

Moore doesn’t urge you to change your product. To cross the chasm you need to adapt your message. A good tailored message, that

He provides a template to achieve this in two sentences:

For the (target customer),
who is dissatisfied with (current alternative in the market),

Our product is a (new product category)

that provides a (capability to solve target customer’s important problem).

Unlike (the product alternative),

we have assembled (key features that demonstrate you have the whole product, not just a piece of a puzzle).

You are not back to square one

The question that might arise from entering a new segment is: who do I know inside that target niche? You might already have contacts within your previous costumers, talk to them, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask them for a recommendation.

If you are uncertain that they can help, pinpoint the prospect that might have a larger benefit out of your product, that one customer that you can really help. Even if you have no strong contacts, it’s a good thing; you can start nurturing your network!

Is your tactic killing your strategy?

Tactics might become a tornado for companies, and by tornado I mean they can destroy the core foundation of your marketing efforts, overwhelming your strategic intents.

We all talk about a strategy, a plan, a road-map to success, but in reality, finding the right mix between tactics and strategy is easier said than done. Strategy is, like a business plan, once you wrote it, it might be rendered obsolete.

tornado

The problem begins when we stand on top of our managerial pedestal and forget that someone has to implement the plan. You gave the marching orders, but do you walk the walk? Can you make your crew to walk it with you?

Check the next 5 points to avoid the wreckage of overspreading you and your team. Do I have to begin with: Have your strategy written down! I’m not even going to bother with that point.

Establish your measurements

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” – established Edwards Deming.

When we create an outreach plan, a marketing plan, even a sales strategy, we rely on outcomes, numbers, data. This is the same as with Big Data (you can read my previous post on the Trap of Big Data here), identifying which are the important factors to measure is as important as your strategy. Kevin Hillstrom has great insights on how to work on your measurements on his blog.

Your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) will vary, widely, and it all comes down to your strategy and where your customers are on the funnel (yes – I don’t believe the funnel is dead – go to point 3). If you don’t select which data means something, you’ll find yourself drowning in a sea of numbers which might or might not mean anything.

Are you getting anywhere with your measurements?

Are you getting anywhere with your measurements?

Communication, communication, communication

What makes a great manager is the ability to communicate clearly that plan to her team. My point here is that we tend to care much more about how we communicate to the outside audiences, and we don’t make the same efforts with our inside crowd. We allow the tactics to become the strategy for our team, because that is the tangible asset, those are the easily measurable items. We pound our team to have a strategic approach, but demand the tactics to deviate from the strategy, to generate immediate results.

If we are able to communicate what we want, how we wanted, and how far along our team can pivot from the immediate rewards/revenue, we’ll have a better and more motivated team.

Be clear on what you want your team to do.

Be clear on what you want your team to do.

Don’t forget the funnel

The funnel is dead they say? I disagree – I think the funnel is more alive than ever. Those who say its dead might base their opinion on the complexity of the current funnel.

Customers and clients don’t follow the traditional funnel anymore. They can get into our radar anywhere – maybe they no longer need to be ushered from lead to prospect, they may already be customers, but how to know? Using a CRM, tracking their interactions, rely on technology. If you don’t have the resources to do it – go back to your KPI’s those are will give you some information on your tracking efforts.

The sales funnel might look as neuronal network instead of just a funnel.

Where in the funnel are your customers?

Where in the funnel are your customers?

Where are your personas?

There are good and bad news if you already have your personas. The good part: if you have them, you already have them. You don’t need to invest more time or resources in figuring out who they are.

The bad news: Maybe your personas are inside someone’s drawer, or computer, or the Cloud. I’m all in favor of saving paper, and trees, but you have to have them where everyone who’s selling and doing marketing can see them.

An important point – update your personas often. Don’t let your personas age throughout the strategic plan. If you see that they are changing, they are using different media, they are moving to other websites, re-target and re-name them.

not idea

 Pivot and align – then align and pivot

When you have your strategy ready, try to stick to it. The danger of tactics will remain, it’s inevitable. Let’s remember D. Eisenhower’s words: “…plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”. The mere action of telling your team the plan, establishing a course of action and adjusting it to the environment will help you to be better prepared to satisfy your customers, to fulfill their expectations. Remember, they are your business, that’s why we work so hard.

Plan

Why should you Crowdfund as a marketer?

Before, there was only a few ways in which you could get your company started. You usually saved your money, or asked your parents. If you were really lucky, you might have inherited a huge amount of gold coins so you could get your business started. Now, the Internet has changed a lot of the business model and the way we create companies. As marketers, we should be aware of such changes, especially if we are working with social media.

Last week I was part of the organizing team of a conference by Indiegogo. I had to study a lot for the conference, and I have to thank Indiegogo’s disposition and insights. Furthermore, that event was the launching campaign for a project that I’m taking part of: Traqme. This is all related to marketing, I promise, stay with me while I pitch you the project.

Traqme is a platform that provides powerful insights for people with Diabetes. Through text messages, we can track and manage significant measurements of patients with Diabetes, and connect that information to caregivers and physicians. What drove me to the project was that it is not an app, everything is simpler, done by text messages. We remind them to measure blood sugar and capture the values. We transform these into insights and provide them in mobile and responsive forms. Check the project here:

Traqme

Texting your way to a healthier you

This pitch goes to the core of this post, which is that the way in which we fund our companies has changes completely. Indiegogo’s Alisa Cordesius, Cause Manager, showed us the four most important steps to have a successful crowdfunding campaign:
1-Set up realistic goals – It’s all about knowing where you are going.

Goals
2-Have a pitch and a video – It looks nice, but every good video has to have a story.

video
3-Have perks – We all like gifts, but this is also promotion (from the four P’s, remember?)

presents
4-Give updates – Never leave your backers unattended (or your customers for that matter). I got a comment on my Facebook wall saying that backers hate when you don’t let them know the stage of your product. (Thanks Francisco)

Don't forget your customers/backers

Don’t forget your customers/backers

All this are criteria that any marketer should be able to address day in and day out. That’s why I believe that marketing professionals should get more involved in these kinds of projects. Crowdfunding campaigns will teach us how to establish business KPI’s, leverage our networks, and, through traffic, generate bottom-line revenue. All of this, part of any good marketer’s basics.

If you were wondering– we do need help from you to achieve our goal. We reached our first milestone of $1,000 dollars yesterday. But we have a long way to go. We are changing the life of millions of patients with diabetes and you can help us – Traqme.

10 Google+ sins for CMO’s

There was one time where Google tried to have a successful launch of social networks. I was actually part of Google Wave and Google Buzz, two predecessors of Google Plus. These two weren’t really useful, and Google still had issues to figure the market and the dynamics of their platforms. Some years ago, critics said that Google+ was another flop by the company, now I can say that it is here to stay. As a side note – if you want to know about Google’s path through their social networks trial and error, read this Time article.

If you are a serious Digital Strategist and are not considering Google+ as part of your mix, you might be blinded by arrogance. More people are joining the social network – maybe through some not so ethical tactics from Google – nevertheless, it is happening.

Here are ten things you might be doing wrong with Google+:

You/your company doesn’t have a Google+ account

Three words to have an account – Search Ranking Optimization. The simple fact that you have an account won’t boost your rankings immediately, but it’ll help if you generate relevant content.

Relevant content, RELEVANT!

Relevant content, RELEVANT!

 

Your Google+ profile is not updated

I’ll quote Krista Bunskoek here:  “[without an updated profile]…you miss the opportunity to link back to it, reference it, and do all those kinds of things to raise your business profile, and SERP (search engine results page) ranking.”

Krista

Forget to post

I know: one more social network to manage, administer, create personas, strategize, post, etc. Nevertheless, don’t lose perspective on the big picture, if you post, you’ll increase the chances of getting better rankings.

capobvious

Not add value – post relevant content

This is not exclusive to Google+, but especially if you are looking to improve your searchability (is this even a word? It should be….) post content that help your inbound marketing efforts.

Alien Google cartoon 1

Not build communities

One of the great features of Google+ is its community/groups. Either build your own thematic one, or join the conversation in other groups.

cartoon

Sell, sell, sell

Don’t try to shove your product into the user’s throats just because you created a group, a profile, or joined a group. This is still a place to communicate and share with real people, don’t push you agenda. Listen and discuss first.

dilbertSEO

Don’t use hangouts

There is a great marketing potential for any brand or company willing to host weekly Hangouts. Use this feature.

i-climb-all-this-way

Not optimize your posts

Google+ is a very dynamic social network; it has integrated hashtags, pictures, and videos. In here everything goes! It is a cool place that way. Use its graphical interface to post infographics for example.

Undermine the users

Google+ is not a deserted highway, but it might be considered a niche social network due to the similar characteristics of users. Mostly males, between 25 and 34, most of them Android users, and some of them are tech savvy (aka. Engineers and developers). See the infographics below, courtesy of PR Daily:

Who’s using Google+?

Think that Google+ is the same as Facebook and Twitter

Some are even questioning if Google+ is a social network. There is the discussion of it being a closed social network, compared to Facebook which is now an open social network. But the most relevant points that I’ve found come from an article from The Guardian: “Google+ isn’t a social network; it’s The Matrix”

FBG

I’m going to stop writing about social networks for a while, mainly because there are three events that might interest you during the following weeks:

  1. I will be hosting and attending an Indiegogo workshop on how to do crowdfunding – hence next week’s post will verse on that subject matter.
  2. The second part is supporting Traqme, a healthcare related startup, in their crowdfunding campaign; I’ll keep you updated on that.
  3. I’m hosting a Webinar on entrepreneurship on Wednesday morning.

More information on Google+ best practices:

Moz

Social Media Today

Thinkletter

Webfor

 

10 Twitter sins for CMO’s

There is a great challenge for brands and CMO’s while using Twitter. While it is a broad spread media, with more than 500 million users, but it is also a potentially passive media, where only 170 million participate constantly, according to TechCrunch. You should have this in mind when you plan your social media mix, this will be your cornerstone of your Twitter efforts.

With that in mind, let us look at what your sins are:

  1. Not have a strategy

Of course I was going to start with this one! A media outlet will not be effective if it is not part of a whole. Twitter is not just a sound box, some people even question if it is a social media. Nevertheless, if used properly, it can be fundamental to distribute your messages.

No

2. Not communicating you have a Twitter account

Having a Twitter account is not the same as using Twitter. If you do happen to have a corporate account, you need to let your customers or clients know that you are using the platform. Include calls to action to follow you.

dontknow

3. Tweet non relevant content

You already promoted your account, now create value. This goes along with my last week’s post about creating a persona for your social media. If you post random Tweets you are not going to be followed. If you are followed and start posting garbage, you are going to lose your hard earned followers.

whatever

4. Tweeting more than 140 characters

There is a limit on Twitter – 140 characters. Respect it, obey it, live by it. Don’t try to fool your followers, we know what you are doing, and they are extra sensitive about brands and companies posting more than they should. Think of Twitter as a conversation starter while on a bar – you don’t want to come across as shy, but you shouldn’t use a cheesy pickup line either.

what

5. Not using hashtags or #using #excessive #hashtags

There was a time in which I hated hashtags (why do I kid myself, I still loath them), but by using them, you can help engage your users. Remember to think your hashtags through, before launching them. Several #fails were associated to a lack of strategic thinking of your custom hashtags.

Also, don’t overuse them – it’s not only annoying, but completely ridiculous. Cue to Justin Timberlake:

6. Not having control or a pattern of your tweets

This one is related to the third sin. You should know who is publishing, what, and which times of day. The same as in Facebook, you need to have a daily, weekly, and monthly breakdown of the major plot lines for your tweets. This will make your account to be consistent and, most important, it would allow you to think twice before using Twitter as a mere promotional platform, and force you into dialogue.

annoyed

7. Not following other users

At parties, there is always the guy that brags about how many influential friends they have. He is annoying, everybody hides from him. Don’t be that guy! It’s common courtesy to follow back. I understand personal accounts don’t have this principle in mind, but as brands or public figures, we are on Twitter to listen and dialogue, not just speak.

followers

8. Not using a Tweet Client

There are great tools out there for you to manage Twitter. My favorite has always been Hootsuite. Having a client allows you to have better control of your streams, followers, publications, and also gives you statistics and analysis on the engagement level of your tweets. Use this tool wisely – especially while programming your content.

Facebook

9. Being a robot – program all of your tweets

Have you ever received one of those annoying calls where you clearly notice that the operator is a machine with the voice of a person? You hang up immediately? Why then do you like to schedule all of your tweets?

You are hiring a social media team or community manager to create content and generate engagement. Don’t just post without replying. Don’t leave Twitter unattended during the weekends – it is after 7pm on a Friday where Twitter crisis generate and everybody is skiing in Tahoe or at the wireless nature reserve = chaos.

Chaos

10. Use Twitter as Facebook

Different platforms, different media, different users, different use from your customers – see? Everything is different. Just because it’s called a Social Media, it doesn’t mean you need to have the same content in all of them.twitter

This sin comes with a warning: You DON’T have to have a Twitter account. It’s not about who owns more social media, it’s about how effective your messages are. Use Twitter with caution, because it can generate you more trouble than rewards.

Fired

P.S. Twitter is a great platform for customer service, demands can be solved fast and you can use the search tools to improve your business.

Next week I’ll dig into Google+. Meanwhile, look at other tips for Twitter on the following links:

10 Facebook sins for CMO’s

So you decided to create a Facebook page to promote your business/product? Great! You just made your first mistake of your marketing campaign.

This is not necessarily true if you, as I suggest, plan ahead and come with a strategy that matches your objectives. But most of the “digital marketers” out there tend to sell prepackaged tactics that might look attractive, but are not effective.

Here are ten things you are doing wrong while managing your Facebook corporate page:

  1. Not establishing a talking voice or persona for your Facebook profile. In social media, consumers expect to have a closer relationship with their brand; you should have a clear voice and a defined demeanor while talking to them.The master has spoken!
  2. Not publishing enough posts, or badgering your users with constant updates. You don’t want your Facebook to be a TV Ad, but it shouldn’t be Twitter either. Try getting three to four updates everyday and track from there.

    Too much? Too many? Get an expert!

    Too much? Too little? 

  3. Not use pictures and videos. Posts with these kinds of media attract more attention, plus real people are sharing more and more images on the platform. Why shouldn’t you?

    Blows my mind

    Blows my mind

  4. Not use Facebook metrics. Are you not doing it? Really? They are making it even easier with their new dashboards. As a manager you should be getting one report in your desk at LEAST once a week – if not every day.

    Really?

    Really?

  5. Not using Facebook Ads – they will give you great returns if you have an adequate targeting and a clear idea on your objective with them. And here is a post that tells why Facebook Ads are Killing it.

    C'mmon!

    C’mmon!

  6. Not post on weekends or after hours – most of your users will be posting during that times, why shouldn’t your brand?

    Yes, we also use Facebook on weekends and after-hours

    Yes, we also use Facebook on weekends and after-hours

  7. Not having a publishing calendar. Much like magazines, Facebook and other social media, need direction and guidance. Define monthly topics with weekly themes and daily posts. Lay it down on a spreadsheet.

    So dissapointed

    Disappointing

  8. Believing that Facebook is the correct channel to communicate with your audience. As I stated previously, this is not a pre-packaged thing – Facebook works as a tool, and you don’t want to hammer with a screwdriver – get the analogy?

    Anyone can create a FB page, how to use it - different story.

    Anyone can create a FB page, how to use it – different story.

  9. Relying only in likes to measure success. Just because someone liked your post or page, doesn’t mean they are reading your updates or converting to customers.

    Go back to your strategy - bigger picture!

    Go back to your strategy – bigger picture!

  10. Not having a strategy on what you want to achieve with your Facebook page. This is by far what bothers me the most. In order to maximize Facebook’s potential you need to be clear what are your objectives, where is your target audience and, bottom-line, how to reduce your CPA (Cost per acquisition) through social media.

    You should be sure where to go!

    You should be sure you are on target

Sometimes it’s just not worth it setting up a Facebook page; you’d be better off creating a Twitter account. But next week I’ll let you know why are your Twitter accounts not working.

Why should you do Twitter?

Why should you not do Twitter?

Contact me if you want help with your Social Media efforts.