Situation: A professional services firm has opened a new office in Silicon Valley. Their immediate priority is building clientele in their new market. They have an excellent reputation in their other markets, but are as yet unknown in in either Silicon Valley or Northern California. What can they do to create buzz and local awareness? How does a professional services firm get known?
Advice from the CEOs:
Hire a part time PR person who is familiar with the local community. For example, this may be an experienced Mommy Tracker – a woman who puts priority on being a mother, but who is also interested in working part-time with a flexible schedule. The role will be to schedule speaking engagements with local organizations, groups or companies.
Think about publishing a book, whether yourself or with a professional writer. Tweak it to include a section on start-ups and do a book speaking tour in Silicon Valley.
Consider sponsorship of prominent local organizations. In Silicon Valley this could include incubators or entrepreneur groups. These are companies who could benefit from professional services.
Offer seminars to target clients, or those that invest in target clients – for example venture capitalists or angel investment groups.
Get to know the WI Harper Group (wiharper.com) – connected with Walden International. This is a San Francisco venture capital group with limited partners from China, and with a focus on US/Asia technology transfer.
Highlight past success in helping clients to gain funding.
The suggestions outlined here can be applied to opening a new office in any new location.
Situation: A company exchanged a small percent of their stock for a Series A unsecured note 4.5 years ago. The company has not undergone an IPO because of the recession and if the note is not repaid in 5 years, the holder has the right to call the line. If the company can’t repay the line, the holder gains governance rights. Revenue declined during the recession and while it is on the upswing, the company doesn’t have the cash to repay the note. What are the best alternatives for the company to unwind this redemption clause?
Advice from the CEOs:
Raising money to repay the debt will be problematic because of the current liability. Investors want their investment to fund growth and returns, not to simply repay debt.
Assuming that your revenue rebound is sustainable can you prioritize resources to accumulate cash to repay the note? Jack Stack, in The Great Game of Business describes how he was able to rally his company’s employees to pay off a seemingly impossible debt load in one year to save his company,
If raising the cash to pay the note is impossible, you have 5 options:
Convert the note to long-term debt that you can service.
Convert the note to equity at a lower evaluation and take some dilution.
Renew and push out the note, with a sweetener.
A combination of the above.
File Chapter 11 if you can’t produce or raise the funds.
Have your options in place at least 2-3 months before the note is due. This gives you time to talk to and bargain with the note holder.
Start a PR campaign with the note holder.
Look for leading and lagging indicators that show your progress.
Build a story that lends credibility to your forecasts of future success.
Pitch that you are a good long-term investment, and now is the prime time to trade the note for equity.
Prep the holder, and build this story gradually over time.
Situation: We just issued a press release that generated great media coverage. This resulted in increased call traffic and “hits” to our web site. How can we to leverage this response into sales?
Advice from the CEOs:
Everything starts with a Marketing Plan. Without a plan, there may be little that you can do right now. The most important benefit is that you’ve established a presence in your market that may make it easier to gain coverage from future press releases.
What can you do short-term? Try to use reverse DNS to look up the email addresses of those who recently viewed your site. These will enable you to send email materials to capitalize on interest once you have a plan.
Develop a holistic marketing plan, including incentives for prospective customers to respond to your product or service offering.
When your marketing plan is in place, send out a series of timed press releases to develop and maintain interest in your technology.
Feature your offering and incentives both on your web site and in non-web collateral for prospects and leads.
When interested customers respond by visiting your web site or calling, use the incentives to convert this interest into sales.
Put different response codes on web, snail mail and other collateral so that you can track the source of leads. This will tell you which channels generate the most and highest quality leads and will improve future planning, budgeting and allocation of resources.
Key Words: Press Release, Lead Management, Lead Conversion, Lead Tracking, Marketing Plan