This is a usefull post written by Vlad Barshai (@vbarshai) that gives you tips on how and why you should treat your customers or users like your girlfriend. This is an example I always use during the training sessions I take about social media marketing for small businesses.
Whether you're a start-up or a small business facing some problems with your customers on social media, you'll find it usefull!
"You always have to remember that until you have users, you're just another cool lemonade stand (website) in the middle of the dessert (web). One of the most important questions to ask yourself is: how do I get her (people) to love me? How do I get her (them) to care about my (its) existence?
Let's take a step back and look at our "users" as our girlfriend. Here are some scenarios:
#1 Don't assume she (they) will say 'yes': Of course she (they) won't! Especially if you move too quickly (ask for too much information). They want to get to know you without giving away too many details. The best thing to do is assume that they will most likely say "no" and do everything you can like work-out, smell nice, dress good (layout, pitch, call-to-action) to higher your chances and make you impossible to resist. At the end of the day, they can always turn away (press the back button or x) to eventually find themselves a boyfriend (competitor) who can make their life better.
#2 She (they) won't know what to do unless it's right in front of her (them): It's true, every girl (user) likes to have everything taken care of. They want you to take the initiative and iron out a path... ask them on that first date (an initial e-mail submit) and clearly show them why you're worth their time (pitching the value proposition). Then they want You to have everything planned out beautifully (your layout) and ready so that they won't have to think of much (single path and call-to-action). They want to enjoy a great end-to-end experience (every move is simple, clear, precise) from the moment they leave the house (come to your site) to the moment they return home (press the back button or x). The girlfriends (users) really don't care how hard it was for you to do it, they just want it done so that they can brag to their friends (other influencers) about how good you are.
#3 Be nice! Overly nice if you have to: Everyone loves to feel loved. Everyone loves to feel that they matter. She (users) is no different. They want to know that if there are issues, you're a quick reach away from and can solve them immediately. They hate waiting! The way to make her (them) know you're great is to make sure that you're always there when there is a problem. Remember, the bad will stick with her (users) for years ... and the good will only be reminisced when there is nothing better ... but there will usually be something better.
#4 Stop worrying that someone (a competitor) will come in (to your market) and take her (your user) away: Instead, focus on why she (your users) stays with you and continue improving on your secret sauce. This is usually your thing (MVP - minimum value proposition) that she (users) won't find anywhere else. I know that anyone can take her out (feature #1), dine her (feature #2), and buy her material possessions (feature #3). But do they care for her (users) like I do? The first question I think about when I talk to her (users), is "what can I do that will make me stand out amongst everyone else? How can I help in a way that will shine past what everyone else is willing to do?" Finding my focus, which in my case is compliments (emotion exchange) to her (them) helps me when another guy (competitor) gets a better car (cooler feature) or just has more to offer (larger feature set).
#5 Once you stop contacting (e-mail) her (them), she'll (they'll) forget you: You're basically letting her (them) know one thing - I don't care about you enough and I know I can't offer you anything good enough for us to stay in touch... we should probably part ways. The name of the game is to constantly offer some value. So if you loose touch, then you are hoping for the best (that your users will one day remember you and come themselves). This is the reason you need to call (e-mail) her (your users) at least once every 2 days if not once every day. If this seems excessive then maybe you're just not close enough to her (your users). You might even want to say that you miss her (them) when you don't hear from her (them).
Treating her (each user) like the love of your life, might just get you to understand exactly what she (they) wants. In which case, you get married (premium sign up) .... and that's when you really have to be there ... through thick and thin ... because if she (they) leaves at this point, then she (they) is gone forever ..."
Good article about vision & long term planning in startups.
From the article: "Meaningful companies are built upon a strong timeless vision. Let’s look at some examples…
“To organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” — Google “To be the pulse of the planet” — Twitter “To be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” — Amazon
These statements may sound abstract and grandiose, but as you begin to think about it, you realise why a plan like “To be the Best iPhone Photo App for Sharing Pictures with Facebook Friends” or “Let’s Build Stuff and See What Happens, Right?” just won’t cut it.
The vision for a company must be robust for years at a time. Technologies, social networks, trends, all come and go, and a company must stay relevant regardless. Notice how Google doesn’t mention search, Amazon doesn’t mention books, and Twitter says nothing about apps or tweets. This is long term thinking. You can’t base your company around current technologies, trends, or other companies. It’s about what you are doing for your customers. If you set out to build “The Number One MP3 Player for Bebo Pages”, well, sorry about it. [..]"
A lot of startups choose to defer the “pricing question” because they don’t think their product is ready. The common mindset when launching a new product is one of lowering sign-up friction through discounting or making the product free. This not only delays validation of one of the riskier parts of your product, but a lack of strong customer “commitment” can also be detrimental to optimal learning.
In this webcast you will learn:
-How to set initial pricing for your product -How to test and refine that price with your customers -Bonus: When and how to use Freemium
Hosted by Ash Maurya (@ashmaurya). He is the founder of USERcycle. Since bootstrapping his last company seven years ago, he has launched five products and one peer-to-web application framework. Throughout this time he has been in search of better, faster ways for building successful products. Ash has more recently been rigorously applying Customer Development and Lean Startup techniques to his products, which he frequently writes about on his blog http://www.ashmaurya.com.
Startup folks, looking for inspiration for 2012? TED talks are an awesome source of inspiration. I listen to them on road trips while the kids are sleeping, and I started keeping a list of the talks that were most inspiring to me as an entrepreneur.
This post kicks off a series of methods for accelerating startup iterations with the goal of getting you to product/market fit faster. It’s not theory from a whiteboard. It’s based on things that have been tried, tuned, and effective across a number of companies (well, startups) in Silicon Valley in a variety of markets. Each subsequent post will describe specific things a startup can try (with real examples) to help accelerate product/market fit.
A good prune is as good for business as it is for your rose bushes. This excellent article suggests some annual pruning in your business will pay dividends in terms of future business growth and profitability.
Nearly every entrepreneur has heard the refrain, "Get back to me when you have some traction,” while seeking funding. From an unsophisticated investor, this response might be a non-confrontational way of saying "No." However, when uttered by most Venture Capitalists (VCs) it conveys a desire to obtain validation of your venture's value proposition from dispassionate, objective third parties. In this context, your "value proposition" is defined as the utility you claim users will derive from your solution.
"If you’re a long-time reader of this blog then you’ll know I’ve reviewed her book before, but Kristin Zhivago’s Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy has been a great influencer of how I think about marketing. Thinking like a marketer is all well and good, until it’s time to sell a product or service to someone who is not, and will never be, a marketer.
Who are you trying to sell to? The customer.
And how does your customer think? Unless you are very lucky, he or she probably does not think like you. And in order to sell to them, you need to know what they are feeling, thinking, and planning on doing. [..]"
From the article: "There’s a psychological barrier to paying online, and it needs to stop.
We pay for things in real life every day. We don’t hesitate to drop a fifty for a tank of gas, or $4 for a cup of coffee. But when it comes to paying for $5 for an online service that actually delivers significant value – it’s a no-no. I’ve been guilty of this for years myself, and now that I’m sitting on the other side of Paypal, I see the light, and have started to pay for web services that I value.
Why is this happening? Why is there a perception that everything online should be free?
Is it the fault of VCs? Yes. For venture backed companies the key to success is a large user base. Monetization of that user base is a secondary priority. And if all else fails, you can get acquired for $1 billion.
The VC model is based on 1 home run. They don’t care if 99 of their portfolio companies fail, but as long as 1 gets sold for $1 billion, they are happy. A decent double-digit-millions exit is not exciting to them. So when faced with a fork in the road: a) build a sustainable business with a real business model, or b) give the product away for free to grow as fast as possible, thus treating your free users as a marketing cost - the incentive is to go for option b. Go big or go home. Or don’t raise money.
Is it your fault? Yes. Stop being cheap. Just because something is “virtual”, doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Ask yourself: “Is this more valuable than a vanilla latte?”
GoDaddy founder and CEO Bob Parsons has 16 rules for success in business and life in general. If he sells GoDaddy to private equity firms for $2 billion, that’ll make him a billionaire or close to it. Does that give his “business rules” more weight? Maybe. On the other hand, the guy made a creepy videotape of himself killing an elephant and hungry villagers ripping the flesh off it while wearing GoDaddy hats. Does that mean you shouldn’t learn from him? Who knows? What I do know is the guy’s got a big success under his belt and that’s worth something. Personally, I would learn as much as you can from accomplished executives and follow the advice that resonates with you. Speaking of which, here are my 12 Rules For Business Success. If you like them, that’s great. If not, try the billionaire elephant guy. Whatever works, it’s okay with me.
Investors seek familiar investments that are analogous to companies that they admire. They would like to believe that you can be successful because you are like another company that has been successful.
Growing up I was surrounded by entrepreneurs. All of my uncles on my mom’s side of the family ran successful businesses, and I learned that working for yourself was a great way to improve your lifestyle.
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