The ‘Be Everywhere’ Strategy: A winning formula for just-launched startups or a simple way to screw things up?

“Win the battles you are in before you take on new battles”

– Mark Cuban

Life After Launch

Ever heard of the ‘self-selling product’ narrative?

Come on, you know the drill – creating a great product and letting it sell itself!

As we established in an older post, this line of thinking is an almost guaranteed way to go out of business.

Yep. No matter how good your product is, getting customers through the door won’t happen by magic but…

…will require some good, old-fashioned marketing.

Which brings us to today’s subject – the ‘be everywhere’ strategy!

What’s that about?

Simply put, is the idea that when starting out, you absolutely have to put yourself out there and spread the marketing message across ALL the marketing channels that are available to you.

That’s right, we need to let our people know we exist by:

– Creating accounts (and be active) on all the major social media outlets

– Blogging, vlogging, and podcasting

– Publishing ebooks

– Spamming the universe (via email)

– Doing SEO

– Going to events/conferences/meetups

– Jumping into paid advertising

– Getting into webinars

– Putting together a referral program

– Reaching out to influencers

And MUCH more…

But what’s the logic behind this strategy?

Well, according to the “be everywhere” supporters it boils down to these two factors:

Factor #1: Diversification

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been advised to ‘never put all of your eggs in one basket’ multiple times.

And I bet quite a few of you probably thought: ‘that’s sound advice.’ – after all, in business as in life, sh*t happens and having a single point of failure is very dangerous.

How is that translated into startup marketing?

No guesses here; the conventional logic suggests that by spreading ‘your marketing eggs’ around, not only do you avoid relying exclusively on one marketing channel (and mitigating the risk if something goes wrong with it) but…

… it also provides you the opportunity to “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” rather than picking winners based on guestimates.

Factor #2: Expanding Reach

Want to broaden your market reach?

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Looking for early adopters? Don’t hold your breath!

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. ”

– Agatha Christie

Willing to put up with a buggy product? Join the club!

As a customer…

Have you ever got scre*ed by a company?

In a big way?

If so, don’t despair; you’re not alone!

Even though in this day and age people, in general, have become much more sophisticated buyers than they used to be, from time to time, they still end up not getting their money’s worth.

And needless to say, most disgruntled customers don’t keep their feelings secret…

But what if I told you that there is a group of people that are not only willing to put up with a buggy, half-baked product but also are happy pay for it?

I know; Shocker!

So, who are these mysterious individuals?

Behold: The Early Adopters…

According to Steve Blank, These are the people that… see the finished product 18 months from now even if you didn’t show it to them. You know you’re in front of an early adopter when they stop you in the middle of your presentation and run in the whiteboard and draw your diagram even better than you are.”

Yep, this rare breed of people buy into your vision early on, even if the product is still incomplete because:

a) They love the idea of being in an elite group that tries new things before anyone else has

b) They have the ability to see the market potential (and capitalise on it) way earlier than the general public – hence for them it’s an area of opportunity to stay ahead of the curve

So, why are they considered by me many “startup experts” as crucial for getting a new product off the ground?

Three reasons:

Reason #1: Are willing to take a punt on unproven products

Whether new entrepreneurs like to hear it or not, unless a new product is battle-tested in the market (with real, oxygen-breathing… people) you don’t know with certainty whether that thing works as expected or not.

But the thing is, for most people, unless there is a proof (through consumer reviews, testimonials, word of mouth, etc.) that a product does the job, they will simply NOT be willing to park their hard-earned cash.

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The lean start-up model: A better way to start a business or a methodology flawed from start to finish?

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

– Mike Tyson

Science Vs. Intuition

As of 2017, the lean startup methodology is one of the most popular methods of building a new business.

I know, it’s been 6 years since Eric Ries released his best-selling book “The Lean Startup” but it seems that the lean movement he helped popularize is not going away anytime soon.

And for many, that’s a good thing!

After all, as the lean startup supporters would say, it’s a scientific(ish) process that has been proven to work…

… not necessarily turning a (business) idea into a success but at least helping people find out – fast – whether it has market acceptance or not.

So what’s so special about it?

According to Steve Blank, also one of the lean startup pioneers, it’s special because “it favors experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional “big design up front” development.”

Which as you might agree, at least in theory, appears to be a more appropriate formula for startups.

But at this point you might wonder, if it’s an undisputed theory that does the job (for everyone) why even bringing this topic in the first place?

Well, because it simply is not undisputed!

In fact, the last couple of years more and more people came out of the woods and said: That thing doesn’t work; time to throw it under the bus!

And on today’s post will do our usual digging and find out how much of that is true and how much is BS talk!

Let’s get started…

The Case for Lean Startups

Before going into the lean critics, I think it is worth taking a moment and to see into a bit more detail on why the lean methodology got so much traction the last few years.

Early decisions are validated by data and not market guesstimates

A couple years ago the conventional practice of starting a new business was to a) create a static business plan (which as you know described not only the area of opportunity, but also how you’ll make things happen), b) build the product on stealth mode and c) almost religiously follow the prescribed action plan.

Nonetheless, at least for startups, that approach it would seem to be gone (as in forever).

Why?

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Hyperlocal Positioning: A time-tested business strategy or simply not relevant anymore?

‘“Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.”

– Jack Welch

The Global Village…

Scroll down your Facebook feed and chances are you will see at least one post talking about the world becoming a global village.

And the idea here is that since nowadays people are closely connected through the use of social media, other internet-related communication means, and of course trade and travel, the world is gradually transforming into a single community.

But whether you agree with that notion or not, you’ll probably wonder; how is that connected with today’s topic?

The answer? 

Simple. Even though, the conventional wisdom suggests that today’s entrepreneurs should create ‘born global type of companies’ in reality many new founders put that advice to the test rubbish bin…

… and do exactly the opposite – go local!

The ‘Hyperlocal Option’

Before going any further, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.

Hyperlocal positioning describes the business strategy of starting a business with the primary focus to serve the needs of a well-defined geographical area, “generally on the scale of a street, neighborhood, zip code, or city.”

I know, that’s not really a new concept. In fact, it is probably one of the oldest methods of starting a business.

If you think about it, almost all small retailers (i.e. grocery stores, restaurants, clothing boutiques, pubs, jewelry stores, etc.) operate under this model.

The Historical Case for Going Hyper-Local

Why does this model exist?

In a nutshell, it’s because it serves the time-sensitive and even province-specific needs of the local community. Plus, the convenience factor comes in quite handy!

And also let’s not forget that:

a) Customers tend to trust local shops more than the non-local ones

b) The lifetime-value of each customer is much higher (because people, in general, stick in an area for quite some years and historically the competition in local markets has been lower)

All sounds great so far, right?

I know… so what has changed in the last 20 years or so?

No guesses here – the internet arrived!

As they say, it came into our lives and changed literally everything – how we buy, work, communicate, live, and …

… last but not the least,

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Lifestyle Business: Fundamentally Flawed or the Future of Entrepreneurship?

“The purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life.”

– Michael E. Gerber

High-growth vs. Lifestyle Businesses

Who doesn’t want to have a cash-producing business while doing what they love?

I know, hardly anyone can turn down such an offer…

But, daydreaming aside, is that even possible?

Well, at least for a category of fellow entrepreneurs that seems to be the norm.

In case you wonder, yes I am talking about the so-called lifestyle entrepreneurs.

Unlike the aspiring high-growth business owners (you know, the ones that want to disrupt an industry and capture market share on the fast,Uber style), this special breed of entrepreneurs see things differently.

In particular, they want to have a business carefully crafted: a) around something they enjoying doing (i.e. passion, hobby, interest), b) to provide something people want or need, c) in a way where they don’t need to sacrifice having a healthy and pleasant work-life balance.

And on today’s post will explore this concept further for finding out how much is real and how much is outright fantasy!

Without any further ado let’s dive straight in…

The Lifestyle Business Benefits

So, what are the advantages of having a lifestyle business?

Well, according to our lifestyle entrepreneur friends, there are a number of them.

Advantage #1: You’re the only cook in the kitchen

Yep, the owner is responsible to no one but himself, which means no external stakeholders involved (i.e. financiers, investors, board, etc.) putting pressure on you and scre*ing around with YOUR business. The bottom line? It’s your business, and you call all the shots…

Advantage #2: You don’t play the “all or nothing” game

What does that suppose to mean? Put simply, unlike ventures that partner with angel or institutional investors, their business model is not built on the assumption that to make it, you’ll absolutely need to have a massive amount of growth and sell the company in a just couple of years for millions.

Advantage #3: It doesn’t require funding

This needs no explanation. Lifestyle entrepreneurs almost always start off small and need just a couple of $100(0) for getting their micro-business off the ground.

Advantage #4: You won’t wait for ages to turn a profit

That’s right.

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