Monthly Archives: January 2015

Start-ups and the 5 P’s

5psIf you traveled off planet in 1999 and just returned, you might think nothing changed in the world of Internet start-ups.

There’s tons of money chasing a few big ideas, incubators galore, and a whole service economy of lawyers, accountants, consultants, advertising agencies and monetization programs.

Every Tom, Dick, and Aunt Mary wants to do a start-up instead of buying a lottery ticket.

What has changed is the speed and quality of these new ventures. The LAMP ecosystem (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl/Python programming languages) instant on, auto-scaling cloud-based resources, plus myriad APIs have given new meaning to “demo or die” and credence to a strategy of “fast fail.”

As a seasoned entrepreneur, service provider, Banker, Venture Capitalist, and consultant over the past 20 years, I’ve had a number of views into the business of creating value from the Internet and related technology platforms.

I believe these 5 P’s describe the roadmap.

Prototyping is by far and away the most fun and interesting because it includes two other P’s: Possibilities & Potential. There are fewer great words of motivation and inspiration than: “that’s interesting, we can do it.”

Hand in glove with Prototyping is Presentation. An idea not shared is like kissing in the dark, where you and your partner know it but nobody else does. Presentations may be informal to friends and family, and formal in a fund raising pitch, but regardless, you need to make the idea real and alive. More than one business has succeeded from the promise in a prototype.

Promotion is the next phase and it’s characterized by other concepts like defining customer benefits, social sharing, scaling and distribution, pricing and momentum. A recent study published by Adeven reported that 400,000 iTune apps (about 65%) were “zombies” and never downloaded.

Promotion quality and strength is what sets the vast majority of start-ups apart as successes vs. failures.

The next P is a sad one, but all too common for the vast majority of ventures, and it’s about Pleading, which is sometime connected to or confused with Praying. Most of the glow from possibilities & potential has been crushed into practical Ps of daily matters: payroll, personnel, and predators.

In many cases the founders and start-up team are stretched to the limit as new capital is slow to come in and the promotion fuel tanks run low. It’s also when predators appear on the landscape to poach your idea, your staff, and your customers so new distractions and scarce resources are allocated to defending your space instead of growing it.

Hopefully your investors are understanding at this point and have given you enough runway to get to the next stage: Performance.

Performance is that well oiled machine that makes you money while you sleep, where you have fans doing the promotion for you, and where you can get back to possibilities & potential for the new innovation of your product/service to grow faster and bigger.

There are even more P’s to explore, but no matter what, don’t fall prey to the worse P: Procrastination. Get some swoosh on and just do it.

Big Picture Branding

quote 1This is the golden age of photography. And it’s more important than ever for digital  marketers.

Virtually everyone with a mobile phone has a digital camera to make pictures. Facebook says more than 350 million pictures are posted daily; that’s more than the total USA population. Add in all the other social sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, Picasa, Google+, and iCloud and there must be billions of images a day being shared, and this doesn’t include all the photo’s we keep private, archive or delete.

If you are a brand manager, ad agency, musician, artist, or any type of creator, your marketing mission is to make your brand photogenic.

What is a photogenic brand, and what’s the strategy? Simply put, to be photogenic you need to create an attractiveness, some charisma, energy and intensity in every captured image. If it looks normal, shake it up. Put your brand in context, unique situations or surroundings, use various effects and lighting to create drama, explore micro, macro, and panoramic images. In other words, be creative and innovative. As Matt Hardy said, “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”

The strategy is to increase the chances of people engaging with the image and sharing it. Since cost is minimal or free, one should favor volume and creativity over expensive and few “special” images.

 In it’s ultimate extreme, a photogenic brand would have a picture at every touchpoint and with every customer.

Two side notes worth exploring: branding and tagging.

There are insane amounts of writing to guide your thoughts on branding, but for the purposes of a photogenic brand it would be wise to consider brand development in the widest possible light. For example contrast automobile pictures which are always 80% car and 20% setting or driver verses beer or beverages that are 80% people having fun and 20% product and logo. Many more connections and attractiveness could be had by mixing up the ratio’s and breaking some rules.

In the digital age of discovery, it is imperative that a photograph be properly and deeply tagged so it turns up in searches. The tags should include characteristics like brand name or hashtag, location, day/date, and names of people and things shown, but you should go far deeper into emotional words, mood or state of mind, concepts like peace and justice. Again, the strategy is to connect your brand to as many concepts as possible.

Start making your photogenic brand today by taking a picture of yourself with the brand, tag it, post it.