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In real life, we incent our children and pets with rewards and treats for good grades, a nice "sit/stay," and other accomplishments. When that doesn't work, we threaten and punish. BAD DOG! NO iPHONE FOR A WEEK.
We adore our clients. Adore. We respect the chances they have taken, and the hard work that has gone into creating some of the best SaaS startups and companies in California. However, take this as a cautionary tale. Please listen to us, or you will end up in a video.
We're going to have a drink and talk about some of the things that we've seen go wrong for some of our startup founders. I want to start with this idea, and it's one of my favorite expressions, which is, "Great is the enemy of good." A lot of times people want things to be absolutely perfect before it goes out. And while I'm a fan, if you can, it can stymie you and can take you too much time to get something going.
And we have a client right now that had an urgent project, and we must've gone through the three lines of copy changes about nine or 10 times. And I guarantee you that there was no one word change that really made any difference. And for the several thousand people that they send email to, all that struggle over the copy wasn't worth it.. So it was just a giant waste of time, to be honest.
People make a mistake in this area on brand. Like whether you have the right color pink or the right color green. Right now, for you, it doesn't matter. It absolutely can matter. And I'm not going to say that it doesn't. But it's probably not time for you to spend $250,000 on a brand package when you're just getting started. Unless you have huge funding, then knock yourself out. I'm a fan.
Another extremely important tip that we offer, because we see this done time and time again, we recommend that you don't over-complicate what you're doing from a marketing perspective. Well, in life in general. But from a marketing perspective for sure. We'll come into startups that have been operating maybe one or two years, and they had some child genius working on their stuff, and we can't even figure it out. And there's been so much complication, and segmentation, and rules, and places emails get sent.. and not sent. And also workflows. All kinds of stuff going on. And we basically, we rip it out. We just delete it all, and we do real simple stuff that everybody can understand and everyone can maintain. Perfect the basics, then add the fancy stuff.
My favorite on that one, and you know who you are...One of the things that people really over-complicate is what's called attribution, or where leads are coming from. So it's really incredibly important to know where your leads are coming from, and especially as you are trying to work with finite resources. But when you're getting started, most startups have really good tools. There's really great tools these days that, right out of the box, will tell you where these leads came from, at least what's called "first-touch attribution," the first thing people touched. Probably good enough for you.
The reason why is that, what I see startups do it again and again is, I'll call it the law of unintended consequences, where they're paying a sales rep, for example, for making an outbound call that results in a deal. So all of a sudden, all of your deals are going to come from your sales reps. I can virtually assure you that this is true.
Because that's how money works. So try to use your attribution right out of the box. The tools these days are really quite good. Until you're spending a lot of money, and you really need to make some choices, then probably what you have already is good enough.
Another tip we have, or something that we see go wrong sometimes, we encourage you to just get started, to just do something. A lot of times founders will get a little bit worried about, "Maybe I don't know my buyer persona correctly. I don't know exactly who I'm selling to." We say just pick somebody. Pick one or two personas. Don't say that your product can fit and solve the world's problems. Just give it your two-best guess, let's start a little marketing. Let's see what kind of pickup we have. We can always adjust later.
I think the phrase that The Lean Startup uses there is "niche down." And I think it's a perfectly appropriate term to use. Just pick something.
My absolute personal "grrr," if you're going to have a phone number, and you should, answer the phone. You would be absolutely blown away by how many times that you call into a company and their phone number doesn't go to anyone, even bigger companies. So I call that the "I hate money" club. If you are so hot that you can't answer the phone, okay. But otherwise, if you're going to have a phone number, answer it.
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