Whatever kind of business you start, getting people involved is going to be a huge part of it. This is where meet ups can give you an edge. If you’re a starting a technology firm, then start or join meet ups in your area related to the technologies you’re involved with. Same thing goes for any business whether it be cosmetics, education, games, or event planning. No matter what you’re doing, there will likely be people doing or interested in doing things related your topic areas.
Being involved in these meet ups will help you with several things:
1) It’s a great place to find potential employees and contractors.
2) It’s a great place to find potential customers.
3) It’s one more way to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
So what are you waiting for. Seek out users groups, high-tech happy hours, business breakfasts, or any other kind of engagement you can be a part of. If you don’t know how to start, check in with your local chamber of commerce and meetup.com.
Many of you are probably familiar with the halo effect, but for those that aren’t, it is an enlightening thing to think about. In a nutshell, things that share a relationship can benefit each other via reputation. Synergy is in this same vein, but a bit different. In a nutshell synergistic effects allow the relationship of two or more things to be greater than the sum of the individual parts.
When you are designing the products and services your business will offer, consider whether or not one product will feed into another product. For example, at The Game Crafter, we manufacture both playing cards and tuck boxes. They share a relationship in that one can be placed inside the other.
This relationship can help in many ways. First is that by offering both we have a better chance of increasing the size of our sale, because people are likely to buy both a box and cards together. Second is that by offering two related things, our customers can come to one place and get both things that they’re interested in. That gives us a competitive advantage over someone that offers only one or the other. Third, if a customer already knows the quality of one of our products, they’re more likely to buy other products, due to the halo effect that The Game Crafter’s reputation has on its products.
Obviously the card and box thing is a really simple example, so let’s look at one that’s more complex. At Plain Black we make a Content Management System called WebGUI. We also built a web site called CMS Matrix, which is a site where you can go compare the features of over 1,000 content management systems. Not only do we make money selling services around WebGUI and selling advertising on CMS Matrix, but CMS Matrix gives us intelligence on our competitors, and it is yet another way for folks to find out about WebGUI. So WebGUI has a synergistic relationship with CMS Matrix; but the ratings WebGUI gains on CMS Matrix allow CMS Matrix to add to have a halo effect on WebGUI.
Products aren’t the only thing that benefit from a halo effect. Many things can including businesses and blogs. If you own two or more companies, the fact that they are owned by you gives them a relationship. You may be able to exploit that relationship from time to time either in marketing or in one using the other’s services. If you have more than one blog, you can cross promote ideas, products, services, and announcements on all of them, thus giving the ideas, products, services, and announcements a halo effect. Your notoriety on one blog may get you followers on another. And when you launch a third business, the customers you have acquired through the other two will be more likely to be interested because they like the products and services the first two offered.
So as you start your business, think about other products and services you could offer that would share a halo effect with your existing ones. And as you create blogs and social media presences consider creating others on related, but separate, topics so you can exploit the halo effects there as well.
If you have a customer who complains about something, don’t ignore it, no matter how crazy you think the complaint may be. If it can happen once, it can happen again; and more importantly, how many times has it already happened and nobody brought it up?
Of course not all criticism is valid, but you don’t know if it’s valid if you don’t take it seriously. Investigate every claim. Find the root cause of the complaint just as you would find the cause of a software defect. And once you’ve found it, see changes you could make, or what systems you could put in place to either stop it from happening, or mitigate the damage it could do.
If you treat every complaint as a defect, you’ll have fewer and fewer complaints over time. In addition, there’s simply nothing better than good customer service to promote word of mouth marketing.
Everyone, at one time or another, repeats the same mistakes. You reason with yourself, “this time it will be different.” You make excuses like, “but I’ve already got so much time/money invested in this.” You argue with your colleagues, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” So you press forward, despite knowing that you should stop and take a look around.
Economists call this the sunk cost fallacy. “Well, we’ve already dumped a million dollars into it, might as well spend another million and see if we can get the damn thing to work.”
Stop. Think. Evaluate. Change.
Whether you’re trying out a marketing strategy, writing a piece of code, designing a new product, or launching a business, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate anything and everything. It could be that the path you are on will work with a minor adjustment, but it’s just as likely that you need to do something else all together. With each failure you should stop and evaluate what went wrong, so that you can evaluate what will give you better odds of success next time.
Likewise, when you succeed, you should re-evaluate things as well. Just because you’re successful one way, doesn’t mean you can’t be more successful another. Tweak, measure, and respond. Tweak, measure and respond. This is how you can improve upon success.
A few years ago, a friend of mine posted a blog about dealing with trolls. In the article he asked the question, “What are you hoping to achieve by arguing with someone who doesn’t like your project?"
I massaged it a bit to become: “What do I hope to achieve from this?” and it changed my life. Basically, when dealing with any situation, try to figure out the best case scenario and then compare that with your expectations.
It’s going to cost you $4,000 to attend that trade show. Can you reasonably get $4,000 worth of business from it?
You’re having an argument with someone. What do you get by winning the argument? Does it even matter? Or would it be better to put it to bed and forget winning?
I’m going to add this feature to my app. Does anybody need it? Has anybody asked for it? Is anybody willing to pay for it? Do I need it?
Asking yourself this question before taking action could save you a lot of time, frustration, and money. I know it has me.
According to this article, which is based upon research from CJ Hutto, Sarita Yardi, and Eric Gilbert here are the top three most important factors to gaining Twitter Followers:
- The overlap between your Twitter network and your followers’ networks.
- The degree to which your tweets received retweets over a given period.
- The informational richness of your tweets. Measured as the ratio of tweets containing a link, an RT (retweet), MT (modified tweet) or HT (hat tips), to total tweets.
And these are the top three most important ways to not gain followers:
- Tweeting negative emotions and opinions.
- The use of hashtags.
- Meformer content or self-referencing content.
I was asked recently why I only post short snippets of advice, and whether I’d be willing to expand upon them.
I only post short snippets, because, sadly a lot of people won’t read a more in-depth article. Plus, it has the added side-effect of making you long for more. =)
That said, I’d be happy to go into more detail on any subject. Just post a note in the comments about what you’d like me to expand upon and I’ll do a follow up post.
If you are a software developer and have created or are creating a start-up, then please do not forget about building a web services API. Not only will it be an excellent way to build out a web site and connect mobile clients, but a web services API can be an excellent marketing tool.
The API allows other people to build their own stuff on top of your API. Sometimes these will just be hobbyists playing around, but those hobbyists can be an excellent marketing tool as they’ll likely write blog posts and release their source code out on GitHub, or elsewhere. In addition, businesses may tie into your service, which is not only an additional source of revenue, but they’ll likely tout their integration with you on their web site.