Free eBook: Building the Marketing Plan: A Blueprint for Start-ups

The following describes the startup demand creation & revenue jumpstart period quite well… sounds easy, right??

I talk to a lot of start-ups about their marketing and sales operations.  Often, the conversation turns to the subject of building a marketing plan – how to prioritize, what to do, activities, infrastructure, etc.

I’ve noticed that my suggestions have been roughly the same, because many of the challenges start-ups face are similar: on a small budget, with a small team, you need to go from a standing start to quickly create awareness, establish a new category, educate the market, generate and nurture leads, make sales, all the while nailing down the product, company processes, finding your way in the ecosystem, building a community and gearing up for exponential growth in the coming months and quarters; and all the while, with entrenched Goliaths in your rear-view mirror.

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USA Today Latest Media Co. to Realize Open is Better «

USA Today is the latest media company to open up its data via an API, the software interface that makes it easy for outside developers to use another company’s data in their applications. The newspaper — which said that it will launch its open API project later this month — joins a small but growing group that includes The Guardian, the New York Times and National Public Radio. The newspaper says it plans to start releasing APIs for specific sections first, including a sports API that provides access to the paper’s database of salaries for players in Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL and other sports franchises. It will also be releasing data about best-selling books through its books API, and says it will be opening up other parts of its news operation through similar offerings later in the year.

It remains to be seen how much content USA Today provides through its interface, and on what terms. The New York Times only provides an excerpt of its content through its API, and doesn’t allow that content to be used in any venture designed for profit. National Public Radio, meanwhile, has provided full access to all of its content since 2008, and the organization is also working on a project with other publicly-funded entities to come up with a single system that provides access to all their data in one place. There is a tangible upside to an open API as well: NPR says its pageviews have climbed by 80 percent since it released its interface, as users click through from apps that use the service’s content.

KDYKES: It has been since late 2009 that I left my focus on API strategy for @vibe media to focus on growth of ScaleUp Technologies. With @vibe, we were on the right path – the strategy was/is solid. But, it is exciting to see such recognition of this model taking hold in companies of all kinds!

An example of how NOT to build API partners … FMyLife Starts Clamping Down On Its API, Has Some Developers Saying FML

Now, FMyLife disallowed paid applications and advertising when its API launched in February 2009, but the company has been inconsistent about enforcing those rules. Some developers have offered their applications with advertising for some time. And FMyLife has even approved the use of advertising and premium versions in some cases, without anticipating just how popular these applications could become. As it turns out, some of these applications have turned into big businesses in their own right, and some have proven to be drains on FMyLife’s servers. Rather than kill off all applications that are monetizing the service, FMyLife has decided it wants a cut.

KDYKES: Great example of a company who released an API with no real strategy or business structure in mind. Now they are in battle with partners using their API over revenue share – this is only the beginning & I suspect the varying law firms will make more revenue here than any of the players.

Stealth Startups, Get Over Yourselves: Nobody Cares About Your Secrets

That’s the problem with stealth. Startup guru, Eric Ries says one or two of every 10 companies he meets have what he calls a “stealth-disease”. They are too afraid to show something imperfect to the world or are afraid that a competitor will steal their idea. And they think that when they launch their product will make front-page news and grant them blockbuster success. Wasn’t it Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”?

Well, Emerson was wrong. The harsh reality is that even if you did build a better mousetrap, no one would find you. To be known, you have to have a great stor

KDYKES: Also a great insight about “launch” PR and forming unrealistic expectations from the first big splash… Its about building relationships with media & being a good source – not usually launch day mentions.

The Lego Internet « TechWag

Which brings us to the one thing that will kill the Lego building block internet; it will be all about service and how service is perceived by the end user. Would anyone have trusted Facebook Connect four years ago and would anyone trust a MySpace connect now? If a service provider (and if you are providing a widget or an API, you are a service provider) fails, then it becomes a problem for the entire ecosystem that is build around that service. If the service becomes unreliable, then people will flee the ecosystem. Even a hint that a service provider is not reliable will cause adoption issues.

Right now developers are looking only at the big systems, Facebook, Google, and Twitter (even with its track record Twitter has been compelling) to build their eco systems around. Much like people built applications based on the Linux, Apple or Windows eco systems, people are focusing on the major systems because they have a longer staying power and a better chance of survival over time. When someone is building something on your API, widget or infrastructure, being 99.999% available is critical, anything less means that the developer or the company quickly loses credibility. Companies need to address the SLA issues first, and then the Lego building block internet might be something that many companies can participate in.

Interesting discussion about the perception of trust regarding third-party API’s such as Facebook Connect & others. He’s dead on regarding need for a focus solid SLA issues first before rapid adoption as an ecosystem or social layer to the web.

San Francisco Launches City App Store

Last month, at WordPress (WordPress) headquarters with leaders from the technology community, we launched This new web site is designed to improve transparency in government, increase access to City data, and engage our highly skilled workforce to create apps from that data.

After the kick off there was a discussion about next steps for Gov 2.0 in San Francisco with Tim O’Reilly, Matt Mullenweg and other technology innovators. One idea was to create a City App Store to highlight and centralize programs created from City data. This has worked for Apple and Facebook, at last check; there are 60,000 apps available in the Apple App store and more than 350,000 different Facebook apps. Why not create a government app store as well?

KDYKES: It’s official – API’s are popping up everywhere. This is changing the face of the web & app development at a very rapid rate.

New Study Reveals that Social Media Investment Continues to Increase | VisInsights

The top three concerns of marketers and merchandisers related to social media:

  • Brand degradation fear – “people can trash my products in front of large audiences”?
  • Competence fear – “I am using outdated marketing/merchandising techniques”?
  • Competitive fear – “customer’s inclination to leave their site to find a more socially-engaging site”

These motivators, which drove the last wave of social media adoption, will also be driving the next wave in the coming year, says the study. Over the next 12 months, study respondents say they plan to adopt:

  • Facebook Connect (31%)
  • Social Listening Tools (31%)
  • Customer Reviews (26%)
  • Product Suggestions (26%)

The study also found the primary goal for adopting social media was:

  • Customer engagement (39%)
  • Mobilizing advocates to drive “word of mouth” (30%)
  • Increasing brand loyalty (21%)

Lauren Freedman, President of the e-Tailing group, says “The integration of community and social networking within e-commerce has reached critical mass… failing to engage consumers via community and social media will have brand and bottom-line implications… “

Regarding advocacy and word of mouth (the #2 goal of using social media tools), the study found that Facebook is considered by brands and merchants to be the “single most effective tactic in mobilizing brand advocates and influencers to spread the word about products/services.”

Great insights from this study tells a bit about what demand in services will be over the coming year.