Tuesday, November 12, 2013

22 Characters: Be kind, please rewind

On the day Twitter went public, Blockbuster closed their remaining stores. In 2004, Blockbuster had up to 60,000 employees and more than 9,000 stores. In 1999, Blockbuster went public with a valuation of $4.8B. The decline of Blockbuster was not a surprise but certainly could have been avoided with quicker online adoption or even the purchase of Netflix. In fact, Blockbuster declined several offers to purchase Netflix for a only $50 million in 2000.
So what does Blockbuster have to do with Twitter? Blockbuster was all the rage when it came out but it failed to adapt it's business model. The story around Twitter is how are they going to expand and make money. Twitter will need to discover new channels to make money and it can do so through organic growth or acquisitions. A failure to recognize opportunities to generate new revenue streams could be similar to Blockbuster failing to buy Netflix.
Even though Twitter is the hot site right now, it does not mean that there is not a Netflix out there that will disrupt the marketplace and displace Twitter. Facebook is also in a similar position. As storage drops to pennies, the ability of the consumer to interact will drastically change and Twitter will need to adapt.  The question remains is can they continue to see into the future to avoid a Blockbuster like fate. At one point Myspace was the site to be on until it was overtaken by Facebook. Twitter will need to be equally aware.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Beware of Shiny Penny Syndrome

Shiny Penny Syndrome (SPS) tends to affect CEO's at small, growing companies. SPS is like the Soup Du Jour, but in this case it  involves the CEO being focused on a new, shiny opportunity or feature that he or she thinks the company should incorporate into the product. The result is a lack of focus and execution on the core business and confusion run amok across the company.

When Salesforce.com started out they concentrated on going after on-premise contact or sales management systems. As they proved their business model only then did they branch out into new areas like marketing and customer service. I am sure they were tempted by some shiny pennies at the time, but they focused on the core business model and product to become the force they are today. A firm with SPS will have the opposite growth trajectory as the impact crosses many departments, including:
  • Sales: Unable to come up with the core elevator pitch since they are constantly hearing about "what's next or what is coming." The result is spending time on prospects that may not be a fit for your service, taking time away from strong leads and slows down the funnel.
  • Marketing: A marketing department dealing with SPS resembles my 4 year old daughter's finger painting. Lots of colors, but no focus. Marketing is not able to come up with the core value proposition and benefits. As a result, marketing can target the wrong accounts while not reaching the true A-level prospects.
  • Product Development and Engineering: The inability to build a clear roadmap with priorities and timelines for delivery. SPS makes it hard to prioritize the most important items because the CEO keeps giving them a new shiny penny and classifying it as high priority.
  • The Board: Unable to set long term strategy for growth as the business model is constantly changing.
As you can see, SPS can negatively impact a firms ability to grow at the pace needed and promised to investors. Now, I am not saying you should not be looking at other markets or uses for your product, but first you need to execute and deliver on your core product to your defined market. As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day so suppress your urge to find the next shiny penny.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Groupons Problem: It is Not a Platform

At HBR.com, Rob Wheeler wrote a post entitled Groupon Doomed by Too Much of a Good Thing. Rob discusses why he believes that "Groupon's fundamental problem is that it has not yet discovered a viable business model."

I would disagree as I think Groupon does have a business model, it is just flawed and will never work. What do Facebook, Twitter, Constant Contact, Apple, Google, and LinkedIn all have in common? These firms all have built a platform. These are not single solution apps, like Groupon, but rather large scale platforms that can be used by these firms to add features and functions as well as tap into a community of users to help build out exciting new applications. What exactly can Groupon do to build out its application? Is it a platform? Can people leverage it in many different ways? No. It is what it is - an email application for the most part.

Think of Apples app store and all of the apps that people have built to make the iPad and iPod that much more useful and vital to people's everyday life. Can Groupon do something similar? No.

They key here is if you want to succeed and be relevant in today's web world, you need to build a platform, not a point solution.

 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Social Media: Broader Than Just Marketing

Most of the focus around the use of social media is that it is just a marketing tool. Social media is certainly a new and important form of PR and Marcomm, branding, lead generation (inbound and traditional marketing). However, if you are only utilizing and focusing on the use of social media solely as a marketing channel you are losing out on some other very important things you can accomplish with these platforms, such as:
  • Competitor Intelligence
  • Product Development
  • Beta group
  • Product testing
  • Focus Groups
  • Customer Support
  • Strategy testing
  • A/B testing (yes, technically marketing but have you tried it?)
  • Sales presentations
  • Community outreach 
If you are just using social media for marketing purporses you really need to think broader than that and get groups like those listed above involved. It is particularly true with firms that have a a large number of followers as you have an untapped audience that has shown interest in your firm/product that can be utilized for other things besides just leads. After all, the key to social media is connecting and communicating with prospects and by engaging them in other parts of your business you can deepen the relationships and drive leads and create evangelists.
Share any successes you have had using social media to promote other parts of your business!


    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Content creation strategies

    Marine Institute Ireland, Strategic_Planning_S...Image via WikipediaCreating unique content probably sounds daunting, especially if you are running a small business and you are already head cook and bottle washer. To ease some of the burden of creating content you should first come up with a strategic plan for all your inbound marketing initiatives including content. Here are a few thoughts on building a content strategy. If you have other good strategies please share them.
    What makes good content?: As described in the previous post, content needs to be high quality, relevant and non-pitchy. 
    Forms of content: The items you produce do not need to be a War and Peace sized endeavor. People are already inundated with loads of content so it makes sense to make your materials easily digestible and simple to understand. As such, think of delivering quick snippets from research you have done or read, trends you are seeing in the market and why they are important and what they mean to your customers, and, possibly most importantly, links to other content providers that you consider valuable (see here for a post from Hubspot on the importance of link building). You should also consider developing some white papers and cases studies on how you solved a customers pain.
    Shareable: All of the blogging platforms have widgets that allow readers to share your content with others. Make sure you have enabled them.
    Tracking: Tracking how readers are reacting to the content is extremely important as it will allow you to spot what your followers are most interested in and not interested as in reading and sharing. There a number of different tools available to track your content (good overview here). At the very least you should use a service like bit.ly for simple tracking purposes. 

    These are just a few simple thoughts on how to develop a content strategy. Please share your own.
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    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss

    Content is still the boss, even more so with the increased use of inbound marketing techniques and the proliferation of mobile devices providing any time access to this content and social media platforms. According to Terametric, 85% of companies us Facebook in their a marketing strategy, followed by Twitter 77%, LinkedIn 58%, and YouTube 49%. These statistics show the reach and importance of these channels but they also highlight that there are a lot of firms out there trying to communicate with customers, potentially the same ones you are trying to gain attention from. So how do you differentiate? Quality, relevant and non-pitchy content.
    • Quality: The quality of the content increases when the source is seen as credible and reliable. This could be in the form of a well-known author or a large survey where the methodology is clearly laid out for review. 
    • Relevance: Somewhat self explanatory, but you need to make sure the content is relevant for your audience. The content should inform and educate your audience about market trends, customer attitudes or relevant problems.
    • Non-pitchy: Do you remember the last advertisement or marketing message you saw? How many of these messages do you think we see on a daily basis? Do you remember the last good article you read? The content should not be a veiled advertisement for your product or service. Your content should inform and educate your audience, not sound like a late night infomercial.If your audience believes that all you are trying to do is advertise to them, they will tune you out immediately. 
    Content is and will always be the boss. However, given the amount of content that is out there and accessible you need to extremely strategic in the development and dissemination of your content to ensure you are the one your audience is listening to.
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    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Plan your inbound marketing efforts

    After describing an inbound marketing strategy I was asked how I would implement and manage all of the different properties and postings.  It is a good question, especially if inbound marketing activities are only part of your initiatives as managing the different platforms can be very time consuming and difficult to track.  If you do not  have a plan the postings cans lose some of its effectiveness as the messaging can seem muddled and ad hoc. In my last post I discussed the different ways to use each platform, now you need to implement a plan to make sure you are getting the most from your efforts.

    You need to draw out a weekly, monthly and quarterly plan of inbound initiatives and make sure you know when these will all fall and who will be responsible for managing them. The plan should take into account any upcoming case studies, white papers, webinars, banner or other forms of advertisement and event attendance or other items so you can schedule announcements appropriately. You also need to assign people to manage these events on the different platforms. For example, if you have  technical white paper coming out in two weeks, it would make sense for someone on the development team to write a blog post about the paper and possibly promote it on LinkedIn. You will need to make sure that person is aware of their deliverables and know when and where they need post. You need to plan like a marketing agency would plan for more traditional activities to make sure your messaging is cohesive and accomplishes your objectives.

    Anyone else have thoughts on how to plan or some best practices?
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