Alison is an Account Executive at J.B. Communications, a marketing and strategy agency based in Los Angeles that specializes in innovative startups and a guest author on NoCMO, online marketing strategies for founders and companies without a CMO. Connect with her @AliDaniel89 or on Snapchat at AliPDaniel.
It took me a while to finally “get” Snapchat. In fact, it wasn’t until earlier this year when my agency’s founder kept sending me random snaps from Comedy Central’s Discover Channel that I finally Googled, “how to use Snapchat” like an old person so that I could figure out how to appropriately respond to her. Yes, I was part of the 1% of Millennials that wasn’t actively using Shapchat, but thanks to my boss’ love for Key and Peele, her refusal to get cable TV, plus my cousin’s random cat videos, I decided it was finally time to become better acquainted.
What I discovered is that Snapchat is a treasure trove of creepy face swaps and barfing rainbow creatures, but it’s also a place where you can learn a lot from people you wouldn’t typically get to have such a close, intimate connection to.
The Snapchatters I found myself drawn to the most were using the medium to share their life experiences and lessons learned in surprisingly digestible and engaging clips. Once I got the hang of Snapchat’s purposefully-hard-to-get UI, I finally “got” it and understood why there are over 100 Million dailyactive users, a number that is consistently growing, and why it’s so attractive to advertisers, marketers and investors.
The brilliance of Snapchat from a marketing perspective is that it’s designed in such a way that it forces users to pay attention. The videos are so short and ephemeral, people are paying close attention to those valuable seconds and that is pure gold. It also adds a level of intimacy and transparency between you and your followers that other platforms like Facebook and Twitter can’t replicate – though Facebook Live could change this.
As someone who works with startups day in and day out, I knew that I could no long ignore the little white ghost on my phone, leaving it as a strategy for our Snapchatting founder to handle. Snapchat is still in its infancy, believe it or not, so startups, get on top of it now while there’s still so much potential to stand out and amass a following! If you’re new to the platform, I suggest checking out Mark Suster’s Snapchat 101 which provided me with everything I needed to know to get snappin’.
Ok, so all this is great, but now comes the hard part. Who are the best people to follow on Snapchat for marketing and startup advice if you actually want to learn something? Snapchat doesn’t make them easy to find. It’s not like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter where you get suggested users to follow or any sort of search functionality. No, it’s pretty barren once you start. So to help you out, I’m sharing my list of the top users to follow for the best startup and marketing advice. From founders to growth hackers to investors, these are the best people I’ve found so far who dish out their experience straight to you. Am I missing any good ones? Probably! So let me know in the comments.
Mark Suster: Msuster
Suster is a 2x entrepreneur, angel investor and investment partner at Upfront Ventures. He’s also a prominent blogger and is one of the names that came up most in my search for Snapchat startup stars. His snaps are mostly delivered via “Snap Storms” and center around practical startup and business advice that he’s learned as both an entrepreneur and investor. Be prepared to take notes and screen shots because he goes over a lot of useful information.
Justin Kan: Justinkan
Kan is a serial entrepreneur, Partner at Y Combinator and has been one of my favorite Snapchatters to watch and learn from. He shares insightful advice for entrepreneurs and anyone aspiring to get into the startup scene. You’ll hear anything from his advice on getting a job at a startup, to marketing, recruiting and employee motivation and retention tips for startups. His snaps are often shot while exercising or interspersed between shots of his alligator friend Klaus and John Hamm the raccoon. Oh, and he loves his hoverboard.
Justin Wu: Hackapreneur
One of my other favorites on Snapchat for his practical advice but down-to-earth attitude. Wu is also a serial entrepreneur, founder of Vytmn.com and growth marketing genius who has been around the startup block enough times to share some valuable experiences and learnings. His snaps revolve around growth & lean user acquisition, information architecture, books he recommends and even guest snaps from other growth hackers and marketing guys.
Morgan Brown: MorganB180
Brown is the Growth Oriented COO at Inman with years of experience in early stage marketing and growth expertise. He’s got a very welcoming vibe going on his channel, which I like, and his snaps are full of growth marketing tips, hacks, lessons and also some guest snappers who take over his account from time to time to provide fresh marketing perspectives. If you want to understand how growth works online, he’s a good place to start.
Gary Vaynerchuck: Garyvee
Vaynerchuck is a seasoned entrepreneur, digital strategist, author and social media guru. His talent? Harnessing the power of social media and the internet to build his personal brand. He eschews traditional media buying for social channels and live streaming platforms like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Musical.ly. His snaps are often a bit self-promotional but they’re littered with tips for anyone looking for a leg up in social media marketing and internet stardom.
Nik Sharma: Niksharma69
I actually just started following Sharma the other day after catching his takeover on Justin Wu’s (a.k.a. Hackapreneur) Snapchat. He cut his teeth in social by managing and successfully growing the followings for music celebs like Pitbull. On this takeover, he offered some simple yet effective tips to grow your social following – like taking advantage of live streaming platforms before they get popular, using SnapChat Geo filters, and finding and leveraging other user’s audiences to grow your own – like what he did with Hackapreneur’s Snapchat, which obviously worked on me. Looking forward to his how-to snaps about using Geofilters to grow your audience coming up.
Sujan Patel: Sujanpatel16
Patel is the co-founder of Content Marketer & Narrow.io, tools that help scale and automate social media and content marketing. He’s led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and now he’s on Snapchat to share his expertise with the rest of the world. His snaps consist of solid marketing advice mixed in with his adventures around the world.
Hillel Fuld: Hilzfuld
Fuld is a startup advisor, a tech blogger and contributor to outlets like The Next Web, VentureBeat and Business Insider and he’s the CMO of a startup called Zula. Each week he does a feature called “Snapchatorah” where he relates a message from the Torah to startup life and they’re actually quite interesting, no matter what religion (or lack thereof) that you adhere to.
Here are a few more I just started following and might be worth checking out as well. I haven’t watched enough to give my stamp of approval yet, but they come from good recommendations:
- Talia Wolf: Taliagw
- Amy Buechler: jujubeeks
- Hunter Walk: Hunterwalk
- Alexis Ohanian: Alexisohanian
- Cammy Murray: Cammysutra6
- Filip Novak: Filip.Novak
- John Dumas: Johnleedumas
- Sarah Snow: Sarahsnows
- Chris Kubbernus: ChrisKubby
Do you have a Snapchat account you’d like to share? Comment below!
This post was originally published on NoCMO.com
Moran is a marketing advisor with the Techstars accelerator in Tel Aviv and the co-founder of No CMO, online marketing strategies for founders and companies without a CMO. She is a full-stack marketer, building marketing and business strategies for successful startups. For full bio – moranbarnea.com, connect with her @moran_barnea.
There are many things on your plate while growing your company. You have a team to manage, a product to develop and deals to close. You may or may not have already hired a marketing manager, but you know marketing is crucial for your company’s growth.
You also want to make sure you don’t throw away valuable marketing money.
Making mistakes is normal and as Joseph Conrad said, “it’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes.” Working with entrepreneurs and startups, I’ve learned you can’t avoid all mistakes. But you can avoid some.
Here are the top 4 growth-stage startup marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. You don’t have a fixed marketing budget – Just like your general budget planning, you should work with a detailed marketing plan. Creating such a plan makes it easier to understand where your marketing money is going and when. For example, if you’re looking to launch your blog mid-year, your marketing plan should take into consideration the time and budget needed to build the blog and create the initial content. Growing your company and showing growth in your forecasts is nice and all but it has to be backed with a growing marketing budget. SEO work is another example for a marketing initiative that spans through a period of time and needs allocation of funds throughout the budget timeframe (there’s no such a thing as an “SEO campaign”). Setting a fixed marketing budget can be ok for the first couple of months, but if you want to grow, you need to take into consideration a growing budget.
2. You don’t keep track of the competition – Some startups mistakenly operate thinking that they don’t have competitors. Even if you don’t have direct ones, it’s crucial to look at the nearest ones. Being an entrepreneur, it’s impossible to operate in a bubble (on a side note – telling potential investors you don’t have competitors is probably in their top 3 things they hate to hear). Knowing who your competitors are and following their work can help your business and marketing strategies as well. By signing up to your competitors’ newsletters, and using alert tools such as Mention or IFTTT, you can stay on top of what’s going on in your field.
3. Your tracking tools are not in place – Having tracking tools, such as Google Analytics in place is crucial, as otherwise you’ll be operating like a blind person. Google Analytics is the most popular tracking tool, 100% free, well-known, and reliable. If you don’t like using Google for tracking, there are other tools such as Piwik or Clicky that are just as good (and free) as well, or for both a web and mobile presence, Mixpanel. If you haven’t done so already, set your tracking and make sure that you know how to create goals, funnels and read reports. Having the majority of your traffic marked as “unknown” in Analytics is terrible as you’re spending money on marketing but cannot calculate the ROI. If you are unsure of how to set analytics and connect them correctly yourself, hire a freelancer to do this small project for you.
4. You’re not where your audience is – If your product is an innovative baby sensor that is sold directly to customers on your site, a LinkedIn campaign may not be the best use of your marketing money. Plan your marketing according to where your audience is. If you are a B2B cyber startup and your target audience are CIOs and CISOs of large enterprises, meet them in industry events, publish in blogs and newspapers they read, and re-target them on LinkedIn. If your product on the other hand targets millennials, you have to be very active on social media and mostly these days, Snapchat.
Who hasn’t told themselves at least once (or twice) – “I’ve got a great idea and it’ll be worth millions…It’s time to launch my startup.”
That’s good and all, but launching a startup takes far more than a solid idea and a lofty goal. The hard truth is that some people probably shouldn’t become founders.
With every dream comes a reality. It’s not for the faint of heart, and while a healthy dose of delusion will get you through the excruciating pain of your first years as an entrepreneur, you do owe it to yourself to really understand what you’re about to get into. We hear the great success stories and watch the whirlwind humor of Silicon Valley on TV, but rarely talk about the failures.
The statistics alone are revealing. The most recent reveals that about 9 out of 10 startups fail, and that’s a generous calculation (“not fail” has a broad meaning and can be interpreted in many ways. It doesn’t mean that the 1 out of 10 startups had successful exits or IPOs).Sure, there may be incredible moments of success and accomplishment, but for most, the reality of success is slim to none. Becoming an entrepreneur and launching your own startup takes nerve.
I’d go so far as to say it also requires a certain character and attitude, something that goes as deep as your DNA. If you don’t have it, the dream will quickly be shattered.
Here are 6 things to be cautious of when you first go all-in:
1. You’re perpetually stressed out – Some people are calm by nature and some are stressed out all the time. Yes, being a successful entrepreneur means you have to be alert and sharp, but it doesn’t mean a constant sense of tension. Planning and launching your startup entails many stressful situations but to be an accomplished entrepreneur, you need to know how to control it. Making decisions and functioning under constant pressure will cause you to make mistakes and eventually fail. The stakes only get higher when you’re tasked with easing a team. Your first 10 employees will develop and carry your company culture to your next 100, and if that culture is riddled with anxiety and worry about the unknown, you simply won’t make it. That kind of mentality creates a toxic work environment, and the only time your team will feel relief is when you take a sick day.
2. You’re indecisive – Making decisions and taking risks on an hourly basis are what startups are all about. You need to be strong with your decisions or risk going into a tailspin.. Successful entrepreneurs know to make decisions quickly, and also stand behind those decisions. We’re not talking about being stubborn and not or refusing to be flexible in changing conditions. Rather, when you’re are unable to make a decision, whether it’s about who to hire or what your product roadmap should look like, you’re letting your self-doubt take over.
3. You have awful budget and forecast planning skills – You don’t plan your budget right and it seems like you’re always down to your last three months. This could be an extra stressful situation when you have to pay suppliers or employees. A good entrepreneur thinks long-term and also knows to strike the iron while it’s hot. Investors are looking first and foremost at growth and growth opportunities. If you had a period of terrific growth in your startup that’s recently slowed down, it may be too late to get new funding.
4. You spend too much money on useless advisors – You don’t have time to hire staff for all the positions you wish you could fill, so you retain advisors for one-time projects. The devotion and dedication of an advisor is not like the devotion of an employee, and that sometimes makes all the difference. You may also be under the false impression that it saves you money (but it actually doesn’t). A good advisor is costly, and usually not less than what a good hiree would take. A bad advisor will help you with nothing, and happily cash your check all the same.
5. Your interpersonal skills suck – overall, you are not the nicest person. You also like to gossip and talk behind people’s back. Unfortunately, that didn’t change when you launched your own company and hired employees. It’s also extremely difficult for you to say something nice, let alone compliment someone on a job well done and overall, be appreciative of others.
6. You’re not a role model – Your employees and peers don’t look up to you and you expect of them to perform a certain way and do certain things that you are not doing yourself. As an entrepreneur, any person that first meets you will label you a leader and you will immediately sense their respect. But, this leader reputation can fade fast when you are not acting on it. It can start by coming to the office at noon and leaving at 4 to just not caring at staff meetings. Remember that you are at the top of the pyramid, and everyone is noticing you. If you don’t deliver leadership, you will not be perceived as one.
Originally published on Tech In Asia
Moran is an advisor in the Techstars accelerator in Tel Aviv and the co-founder of MarketingRamen.
As an entrepreneur, you master a wide range of skills: you are resilient, passionate, a leader, and always focused on your company’s success. The vast majority of entrepreneurs also come from a technical background, and the core team they build around them is often comprised of people with similar skills.
This may often lead to the startup’s marketing efforts being kept on the back burner in the initial stages of the company, and later being outsourced; however, marketing is a crucial aspect of a company and should be treated as such from the start. It defines the positioning of your company in the market, your brand, and the packaging of the product you’re selling.
The role of CMO has grown dramatically over the past several years as the function of marketing evolved. Marketing is not about just selling the product; it’s about engaging customers and driving growth. Marketers are no longer simply the broadcasters of communications, but rather, they’ve become much more involved in the customer’s journey with the product and the company.
A good CMO needs to be equal parts creative and analytical, thinking outside the box and having a deep understanding of the full picture in terms of what’s going on in the market and within the company. As not all startups can afford to hire a seasoned CMO or even have a marketing budget to begin with, you as an entrepreneur should know that you can grow your startup under a small or even non-existent budget and be your own CMO. Combining your entrepreneurial skills and passion with the right guidance and tools is key to avoiding mistakes and burning a lot of money on ineffective marketing.
During my work with startups and entrepreneurs, I was sometimes amazed at how important decisions like company name, branding, website and the like were made with a seemingly devil-may-care attitude. Entrepreneurs would often latch onto their latest whims and get carried away with them, without considering crucial elements like target audience and fit.
One of the most important things in marketing is planning and strategizing. Instead of diving directly into media buying and testing various channels, think first of your goals. Who your potential clients are, where they are located, and even which devices they are likely to use when visiting your site or trying your product are all important pieces of information you need to have. Understanding who you are selling to and what you are selling does not necessarily require a marketing budget.
Here are 4 things you can do right now to grow your startup without a CMO or budget:
1. Use existing free resources to spread the word about your startup: There are some high-quality blogs and forums with a large and relevant audience that can be your content distributor and promote your startup. Popular blogs like ProductHunt, Betalist and startupli.st are ones that are being visited often by potential customers, tech industry members (including possible future investors or employees) and reporters. Promoting the launch of your startup in one of these blogs can generate massive traffic to your site and even spark interest in tech reporters who can later on cover your startup in large tech news outlets.
2. Reach out to bloggers and reporters yourself: Having a small or zero dollar marketing budget probably means you won’t be able to afford a good PR agency. Don’t be tempted to work with cheap agencies that can’t deliver (for reference, good PR agencies in the U.S charge somewhere between $5K-$10K/month), but rather do the outreach yourself. Whenever you are ready to spread the word about your company, prepare a pitch or a press release and send it to reporters who you know cover your field. Like anything in marketing, the best results are the targeted ones. Most media outlets publish their reporters’ emails, and there are some great templates you can use to draft a release. Before sending, do your homework on what a reporter is interested in. Influential reporters and bloggers receive hundreds of pitches a day, so the major part of your work is to plan and create a great pitch. To make sure it’s appealing and interesting, run it by your friends first to solicit feedback.
3. Use your personal network: Not all marketing and growth has to do with SEO, conferences and buying media. Your personal network is valuable and can lead to even more valuable second and third degree connections. Maintaining a strong personal network is important for any entrepreneur, as it can be tapped into from the brainstorming stage – advising with friends on aspects of the product, name, etc. – all the way through to the launch stage and future partnerships.
4. Use A/B testing methods to increase conversion: A/B testing is something that can really help you grow, without investing a lot of money. By using tools such as Optimizely and Unbounce, you can maximize the potential of users who are already visiting your site. A/B testing can be tricky if not done right, as you don’t want to be overwhelmed by numerous variables. Simplify the tests, and each time, check one variable or two. You will be surprised how a small change in the color of a button or the size of your header image can boost your conversion rate, sometimes by 20%-30% or even more.
Originally published on TheNextWeb.