Situation: An entrepreneur has created a new business offering a critical service but struggles with how to monetize it. The primary clients don’t have the resources to fund it viably. What alternative sources of funds or revenue can be found? How do you monetize a new venture?
Advice from the CEOs:
The venture’s brand name must carry the message – the name must describe the mission.
One of the core messages is reciprocity. Reinforce this theme all over the site.
Testimonials are critical. Testimonial videos of real users personalize the experience. These drive participant acquisition and contributions.
Make participants feel like they are a part of a community.
Consider a variety of landing pages – same database but different doors of entry.
Encourage even more communication within specific target communities.
Look at MySpace vs. Facebook to guide the model:
MySpace was already big when Facebook launched.
Facebook exploded by making itself a more closed community – all exclusive colleges and Universities.
Monetize via donation or advertising vs. subscription. Fees could kill the opportunity. Too many other resources are available for free.
The key appeal is enabling people to do something that makes them feel good.
Post stories from those who have succeeded as a result of the platform, as well as those who have helped on the site. This will inspire others to participate.
How do you recruit new participants?
Some CEOs joined LinkedIn because of peer pressure – after enough people asked them to join, they did.
Install a template to encourage people to invite new participants – allow new participants to tell their story and the need that the service fulfills for them.
Consider adding premium content to the site, but only for those who have made contributions – monetary or in-kind.
Consider Fremium to Premium. In the Fremium model include a banner ad for users, like a university Training Institute.
Consider creating an advice network. Post questions and ask for answers from the community. Include an option to click to become a contributing participant.
Online there are eyeballs vs. action – the action is what matters.
An early stage venture which focuses on a humanitarian mission needs funding.
The founder is more interested in providing a peer-driven platform and service
than in producing profits. She envisions most of the funding coming from
donations rather than investors, at least near term. How do you fund an early stage venture?
from the CEOs:
that the venture is focused on building a peer-driven software platform, it is
possible that it may be of significant value if the venture was to be sold for
its technology or audience. Facebook and similar platforms could have a
distinct interest as the venture attracts a significant audience. Is this a
potential conflict with the original vision? The answer to this question will
impact funding choices going forward.
are several resources available to assist in fund raising:
for local groups that assist with fund raising.
Foundation Center (www.foundationcenter.org)
specializes in helping organizations to secure funding for non-profit ventures from
foundations. They have online facilities as well as locations in New York,
Boston, San Francisco and other major cities. They also provide training in
raising funds from foundations.
the founder’s network to find people with an interest and contacts in
with local churches and synagogues which also excel in fund raising. The
congregations may be smaller than the mega-churches, but the members are often
very connected. Because of the humanitarian nature of the new venture, churches
and synagogues may be natural partners.
Interview with Peter Koeppel, President, Koeppel Direct
Situation: The media industry is increasingly challenged trying to reach its audience. Media choices are fragmented, and the proliferation of new devices makes reaching purchasing audiences difficult. How do you best reach your target audience in this environment?
Historically placement of advertising and pricing of media ad buys were driven by calculations of audience impressions – how many eyeballs a particular ad would reach. With the media market now highly fragmented this measure is no longer as effective. Sophisticated marketers now seek ROI driven media buy models to justify their advertising purchases.
Two companies, Facebook and TiVo, are in the lead in terms of potential to assist marketers in targeting distinct audiences, because they collect rich data on individual consumers, but this information must be balanced with privacy concerns.
Non-conventional channels like TiVo or Google TV and other research services can selectively present marketing messages to specific customer demographics.
The mobile search market represented approximately $2 billion in revenue in 2010. As more people consume media through mobile devices, this market will grow. The leader in this market is Google.
A growing format is longer length spots. These include short-form infomercials which are typically seen for insurance, legal services, and spots that drive consumers to web sites or an 800 number. Long-form infomercials are typically 30 minutes in length, composed of three to four 7 or 8 minute segments separated by commercials, which serve as calls to action. Infomercial marketing is not for every product, but is most applicable to higher priced products where specific demographic information is worth the investment and where the consumer needs more education about the product,in order to make a purchase decision.
Cable TV, print and radio, remain an effective way to target niche audiences. Television, among the traditional media, still drives the largest number of consumers to online purchases.
For the future, we predict a convergence between TV and online marketing and purchases. Many HDMI TVs and current Blu-Ray sets are already configured for both cable and either WiFi or Ethernet connections. Google and Apple sell devices that combine TV and online access. Netflix and Hulu serve content through either TV or online devices.
We see the future of TV as a device which will consume all media. As access to rich databases of consumer preferences and purchasing proliferates we see growth in content which will be increasingly tailored to personal preferences and desires of highly fragmented consumer demographics.
Interview with John Lima, CEO, Coffee Bean Technology
Situation: As with anything new, there are varying adoption rates for social media. Many top executives aren’t sure how social media can improve their sales. How can social media effectively enhance sale efforts?
Advice from John Lima:
Business is about people, and people are increasingly using social media to connect with others and to express themselves. Social media platforms encourage us to be ourselves – to take off the business mask that we normally present to the world. This enables the savvy company to better know their customers.
First, social media enable you to find customers more quickly. Almost everyone is somehow connected to social media. The problem is the inefficiency of searching for them through LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter, etc. Software-assisted search makes this more efficient. Develop a customer Social ID: a profile of what you believe your customers interests and buying behavior to be to serve as your social media connector.
Second, find people who fit this profile and engage with them in social media. Let them bring their conversations and interest to you, and refine your Social ID as you gain additional information. This gives you insight into the person – who they interact with and what interests them – and enables you to approach them as a human being. Envision an open marketplace where people connect first and then tell their stories. This allows salespeople to quickly build empathy and smooths the sales process.
Third, your evolving customer Social ID can help generate new leads. As the Social ID becomes more sophisticated you can develop key words to find similar customers. Software robots use these key words to find relevant conversations in Twitter or Facebook and flag then for a sales person who can then dig deeper to determine whether the individual identified is a competitor or a prospect.
To make this work efficiently, you want to have an integrated system with a set of tools that allows you to cost-effectively sift through the millions of daily entries logged through social media.
Interview with John Hollar, President & CEO, Computer History Museum
Situation: Traditional media for reaching audiences – television, newspapers – have broken down. Audiences are atomized and increasingly “what you want when you want it.” How do you aggregate an audience in this environment?
Develop partnerships that align with you both in terms of audience and purpose.
We just finished a $20 million expansion. With 1.5 million technology workers in Silicon Valley, how do we spread the word?
We work with corporations in the tech sector, corporate alumni groups, tech retailers, convention centers, hotel concierges, and schools.
Our new campaign – Silicon Valley Starts Here – encourages Silicon Valley visitors to start their Silicon Valley journey with us.
School field trips are booked through the end of the year. Local foundations support transportation costs.
Leverage the digital world to expand your presence.
Everything physically present in the museum is also available digitally to a global audience.
We use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to generate viral networking.
Live events are captured in HD and broadcast through our YouTube channel to 2 million viewers.
We update our Facebook page and tweet daily. Facebook is fun and playful with “Today in Computer History” and Friday YouTube films.
Tweets include a quiz – “Who Am I?” – of famous figures in computer history with prizes.
What are the implications for companies and institutions?
We must embrace the notion of living in parallel worlds – having both a physical presence and a broader digital presence.
Expert knowledge is here, but we must be able to access an increasingly digital audience that is global.
Digital capabilities can’t just be bolted on to an old structure. This must be a marriage that connects our knowledge and expertise organically to our audience, their needs, and the knowledge and expertise that is happening in the world.
Situation: In traditional marketing, many marketers are more focused on activity than results. In the digital environment, top marketing organizations must become better at listening to their customers, watching them, and tracking their purchase decision behavior. What does this mean for the marketer?
The digital world has changed marketing.
The traditional marketing campaign was led by creative. Through the early 90’s marketing was directed by media players and large publishers. Once a campaign was developed the pitch was “buy lots of impressions and customers will come.”
During the dot.com boom and into the 2000s there was a shift to ROI – spend $x with Google, get y clicks that will yield z buying customers. This was very transactional and could be expressed relatively simply.
Behavior is now changing, and the model is becoming more collaborative:
A potential customer expresses interest and a need.
A supplier offers a solution.
The potential customer verifies and validates the offer through online communities, Twitter, Facebook or other resources, and eventually may make a buying decision based on what they find along the way.
The buying decision today is very different from the traditional offer-driven process.
All of this can happen in minutes.
For the marketer, this means moving far beyond the simple advertisement.
The marketer needs a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and many more sites, in addition to their website, to woo potential customers.
For marketers this is expensive and requires a different level of resource commitment. It is, therefore, important for them to attribute the appropriate value to each online presence that the customer engages as they evaluate their buying choices.
Only through developing complex metrics, which change real time as customer behavior changes, can the marketer track and understand customer behavior and adapt the offer to the needs of the customer.
As individual consumers increasingly engage employ new forms of digital technology the challenge to marketers only increases.
The digital marketer who will thrive will develop a sophisticated, metric-driven understanding of the multiple touchpoints and social interaction of a given transaction.
Situation: The company has been running very lean for the last few years, with very good people. New opportunities are opening up, and we need to staff up to execute. How do we get the best talent while minimize hiring costs?
Job Posting Boards: You can often find specialized talent on industry specific job boards such as Dice.com, SimplyHired.com, Cybercoders.com, TheLadders.com or similar non-traditional job boards.
Online Interest Groups: There are a wide range of industry and product specific user groups through Google Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and so on. Connecting with relevant groups will not only position your company as a key firm within the segment, but also make you THE place for career progression.
Go Social: Leverage the power or social media to publicize your available positions. Facebook advertisements, LinkedIn job postings and similar sites can build targeted interest in your company, and available positions.
Go Viral: Even if you don’t personally like Twitter or Facebook, these sites can create viral awareness of your company and technology. Tweeting that you are hiring now, with a 140 character job profile.
Be Cool: Create exciting new ways to add in the cool factor. Skilled talent likes to work with fun, exciting, successful companies. Capture photos of company events and add them to a Picasa or Flickr gallery. Positive blog posts build good vibes around your company, your technology and your products.
Ground & Pound: There are many groups that meet on a regular basis to discuss skills, functional interest, best practices, business opportunities or to just mix and mingle. Sites like Meetup.com to find local groups that match the talent you’re seeking. You will often find candidates, people that can pass the opportunity along, or even someone willing to provide an awesome referral.
Attack: Be pre-emptive in your focus. Select a few top-notch recruiters who specialize in your technology, market and/or geography. These professionals already know the talent pool, may accelerate the process, and ultimately provide higher quality candidates.
These are a few thought-starters. What has worked for you to find good candidates at minimal cost?