Connect with us

Women Entrepreneur Successes

Dylan Kohlstädt Of Shift One Marketing Weighs In On Digital Marketing For Start-Ups

Digital marketing maverick Dylan Kohlstädt unpacks how start-ups can maximise their marketing spend, get noticed and reach customers through savvy and cost-effective digital campaigns.

Nadine Todd

Published

on

dylan-kohlstadt

Vital Stats

How can start-ups go about using social media, networking and word-of-mouth to grow their businesses?

You have to be active on social media, that’s a given, but the only way to cut through the content marketing clutter is to produce content that moves the needle, and the only way to do that is to really immerse yourself in your customer segments. Ideally, it’s video-based, and ideally, your customers are creating the content for you.

Social media is digital word-of-mouth — so if you’re doing it well, customers will become your sales reps, and refer friends to you. Make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you (usability testing), and for them to refer you.

Related: 8 Habits Of Highly Successful Leaders

Why is it easier to market your business than before?

Digital marketing is cheap, and you can set it up and manage it yourself. It also means that you can segment your markets like never before, and reach micro targeted segments with just a few rands. Facebook ads are super cheap, as long as you’re not chasing ‘likes’. You might actually get a few sales from them. Just remember, there’s a lot of rubbish you’ll have to trawl through first.

On the other hand, why is it also harder with such overcrowded markets?

Everyone has competitors, because all it takes is a website and a few bucks and you’ve got a business. Niching is critical. You have to understand your market. You have to be unique. You have to appeal to them, and their needs and emotions.

You have to understand their needs really well. Marketing plays a critical role in brand building — without the research involved in marketing your business, you might not understand your target audience well enough, and your product or service might not hit the mark as a result. Similarly, without a clear brand, you’re going to be lost in the sea of competitors out there.

How can start-ups access their beachhead markets through digital marketing campaigns?

dylan-kohlstadt-marketing

It’s important to be very clear on who your customer is and what your niche is before embarking on a digital campaign. The more niche your market, and the more defined your product, the more success you’ll have and the cheaper your marketing becomes. I encourage start-ups to complete detailed market analysis covering:

  • Who is your customer? Include market size, description, demographics.
  • What need drives them? What is the gap?
  • What are their emotions? What emotions cause them to make decisions and how can you appeal to these emotions, bearing in mind that emotions make people buy, while logic makes them think.
  • Which product is right for them? Which product meets their needs?
  • What is your message to them? How are you going to package all of what you know about them to create messaging that is compelling?
  • What channels are they on? Where are you going to find them? This is critical as you need to target channels that they’re using, and not only the ones you’re comfortable with using.
  • What content do they need? This will inform your content marketing strategies.

Related: Can Your Marketing Team Speak Data?

If you don’t do research, you make assumptions. The more time you spend on this process, the cheaper and more effective your marketing will be. It will also help you avoid one of the most common mistakes start-ups make when it comes to establishing who their target market is — you want to be niche, not broad.

Nearly all markets are accessible via digital marketing, and if they are not digital, then SMS and radio. The more information you have about your customers, and the more niched you are in segmenting them, the better your results.

How can a start-up figure out who their real target market is? Any tips?

There are many forms of research out there, but the ones I personally advocate are:

  • Usability testing: Get six to 12 customers to use your website and products. This gives you endless insights into who they are and what drives them, as well as the correct wording to use throughout your communication with them.
  • Dipstick research: We go to customers, wherever they are, and talk to them, find out who influences them, find out what drives them, find out their feeling about your product and your competitors.
  • Content research: Once you’ve identified the voices in the community, reach out to them to get content, establish them as influencers to the community, and create content that is appealing to the market, because it comes from the market.

What should start-ups avoid doing?

Many companies avoid the channels they are not comfortable with. Many agencies produce content that appeals to the account management team, and not to customers. Don’t make big production TV ads or sign up an agency that just wants to win awards — rather create YouTube content that your customers will respond to.


ON FUNDING

Start-ups often think they need funding to launch. When is this not actually the case and why?

In a services industry, you can get away with bootstrapping. With tech companies, you’ll need to rely on sweat equity (which generally means partnering with a developer and giving them shares in the business) if you can’t afford to pay them. You might just get stuck with someone that isn’t that great at development, but at least they are working on your project for free.

If you do go the bootstrapping route, you need to keep your costs low. You definitely don’t want offices. Instead, run your small team through collaborative online platforms like Trello, Slack or Asana.

Don’t be in a hurry to get funding — it comes with a whole new set of trouble and it might kill your business. Instead, loan what you can from the 3Fs (friends, fools and family), or even a bank loan if you can get one. At least you retain ownership of the business.

Why is cash flow more important than funding in many cases?

Funding isn’t the panacea that start-ups think it is. There are many alternatives to finding an investor, including overdrafts and loans from friends. Cash flow is critical for the day-to-day running of your business. Funding might only pay out in a year’s time, based on performance, and in that time you might run out of cash.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

Women Entrepreneur Successes

Channeling The Fire Of Authenticity: Asia’s’ Top ‘YouTuber’, Joanna Soh

Joanna Soh’s introspective look into why her YouTube channel is not a ‘side project’ and how she makes a difference to her audience.

Dirk Coetsee

Published

on

joanna-soh

“The best project you will ever work on is you” – Joanna Soh

The scene was the rooftop of the Cascades Residency in Kota Damansara, Malaysia where the tranquillity of a high vantage point, the colourful deep blue of the pool, and the hypnotic sound of a waterfall created a suitable ambience to interview Asia’s’ top ‘YouTuber’, Joanna Soh.

I only interview entrepreneurs and leaders with a sense of purpose and a deep love for what they do. Joanna Soh is no exception, her smile carries the fire of authenticity, tenacity, caring, and vulnerability. This fire has most definitely spread as Joanna is Asia’s’ top ‘YouTuber’ with well over 1 Million followers and she openly shared her fears and struggles, that in itself is a valuable lesson to all entrepreneurs. Within the willingness to admit to your fears and weaknesses lies great strength and it is an understatement to exclaim that Joanna is a strong woman.

She is driven by the purpose of adding value and making a difference to her audience and is uplifted by the feedback of her fans for they mean so much to her. As I saw a childlike sense of awe and gratitude in her eyes when she spoke about her achievements I was reminded of the master poet Rumi’s’ advice to us all:

“Sell your cleverness and purchase awe”.

Stop making everything so complicated and stop taking yourself so seriously are only some of the basic lessons that Joanna’s’ entrepreneurial journey has taught her. She acknowledges that the ‘road less travelled’ of entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey and reminds the reader that when she started she also had no audience and had to build her brand. That is the reason why having a strong purpose is so valuable as it ensures longevity and makes it hard to give up on your entrepreneurial dreams.

asias-top-youtuber-joanna

Related: Make Money from YouTube Videos

Starting out Joanna stumbled upon a YouTube article that revealed that there was only one other Asian girl that was sharing fitness related content and took the gap with great agility. Her behaviour reminded me of Julius Caesars’’ famous words:

“I came, I saw, and I conquered.”

Joanna used and still uses basic discipline as a focal point for her brands’ growth. From the start she was disciplined enough to not treat her YouTube channel as a ‘side project’ but instead ensured that she at least worked eight hours a day on her project and meticulously researched all the technicalities of building and scaling her now famous brand.

This influential leader taught the author that there is a science behind building a strong following on YouTube. Every videos’ title is very important and whom you tag is also a priority. All these seemingly small details and mechanisms create compound interest over time when you build your brand on YouTube.

Joanna understands the importance of business metrics and daily tracks the amount of subscribers she has. At this juncture I would like to point out that Joanna’s’ followers grow by thirty thousand per month on average!

Although her background working as a TV producer in England has helped in creating a foundation for her it is most definitely not the only contributing and critical factor to her success. This YouTube stars’ relentless purpose of adding value to her followers has driven her to create ‘evergreen content’ that will still be relevant in five years’ time.

Lean in a little closer

joanna-soh-youtube-award

I hope that the reader now ‘leans in’ and carefully listen to this YouTube icons’ advice, and more importantly apply the learnings contained therein:

‘Do not start a channel with the mind-set of getting rich nor famous quickly. Rather start with a clear and defined purpose – Why are you doing it, and what is really going to drive you?

Do not just upload a lot of content and then stop

Consistency is critical so therefore upload according to a pre-set schedule carefully keeping your target audience in mind. Do not limit yourself even in choice of platform, just put yourself out there. Simplicity is very important and therefore leave your audience with very easy to understand tips and practical solutions.

Discipline is a key value

Whether you are tired or not and even when you are not getting early traction still keep on doing it and be patient enough to receive your reward later. Build discipline over time and always remind yourself that helping people and adding value to them will always make you feel more grounded and centred.

Related: How do YouTube Ads work, and what will it cost me?

Remain relevant

Understand your audience and they will keep growing with you. Know who your audience is and work towards that strength. I know for example that eighty percent of my audience is female and continuously track the demographics of my audience. Slowly but surely take on branded sponsors whose vision and activities align with yours.

Carefully select who you follow online and feed off that persons’ energy

Do not confuse yourself and your purpose by following too many people from different industries.’

We concluded the interview and I felt inspired not only by her success but mainly by her tenacity and fierceness as a leader combined with the willingness to share her vulnerabilities which ultimately makes her stronger and stronger.

Follow Joanna Soh and you will learn something valuable. I already am…

Continue Reading

Women Entrepreneur Successes

10 Inspirational Quotes From Successful Actress-Turned-Entrepreneur Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba isn’t just another Hollywood face — she’s also the founder of a billion-dollar business

Published

on

Prev1 of 11

the-honest-company

While many only recognise Jessica Alba for her performances in Sin City or Fantastic Four, in the entrepreneurial world Alba’s name goes beyond her role as a Hollywood star.

Rising to fame as a young actress, Alba saw much success early on. However, it wasn’t until 2015, when Alba co-founded The Honest Company, that she became a prominent name in the business world. What originally began as a beauty line has since grown into a billion-dollar 500-plus-employee business that sells safe and healthy baby, personal care, cleaning products and more.

It’s safe to say Alba can teach you a thing or two about entrepreneurship and running a successful business.

To learn more, here are 10 inspirational quotes from the actress-turned-entrepreneur.

Related: What Sheryl Sandberg Taught Me About Giving Criticism

Prev1 of 11

Continue Reading

Women Entrepreneur Successes

What Sheryl Sandberg Taught Me About Giving Criticism

How many times have you tried to give feedback that totally falls flat?

Kim Scott

Published

on

sheryl-sandberg

Shortly after I joined Google to lead online sales and operations for AdSense in 2004, I gave a presentation to Google’s CEO and founders on the performance of AdSense. Despite the fact that AdSense was doing well, and even though my boss, Sheryl Sandberg, was sitting next to me in a show of support, I felt nervous. Luckily, we had a good story to tell: The business was growing at an unprecedented rate. As I looked around the room, I caught the eye of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, whose head had snapped out of his computer when I’d declared how many new customers had signed up in the past month. I’d distracted him from his email — a triumph! “How many did you say?” he asked. I repeated the number, and he almost fell out of his chair.

I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction. After I finished, I felt that mix of euphoria and relief that follows a successful presentation. My boss was waiting for me by the door and I half expected a high five. Instead, she asked if I’d walk back to her office with her. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Something hadn’t gone well.

“You are going to have an amazing career here at Google,” Sandberg began. She knew how to get my attention — I had three failed start-ups under my belt and badly needed a win. “And your ability to be intellectually honest about both sides of an argument, not just your own, bought you a lot of credibility in there.”

Related: 20 Quotes On Coping With Change From Successful Entrepreneurs And Leaders

She mentioned three or four specific things I’d said to illustrate her point. I’d been worried that I wasn’t arguing my points vehemently enough, so this was welcome news to me.

“I learnt a lot today from the way you handled those questions.” This didn’t feel like mere flattery. I could tell from the way she stopped and looked me in the eye that she meant it. She wanted me to register that something I’d been worried about being a weakness was actually a strength.

This was interesting, but I wanted to file it away to think about later. That nagging feeling persisted in my stomach. What I really wanted to know was, what had I done wrong? “But, something didn’t go well, right?”

Sandberg laughed. “You always want to focus on what you could have done better. Which I understand. I do, too. We learn more from failure than success. But, I want you to focus for a minute on what went well, because overall it really did go well. This was a success.”

I listened as best I could. Finally, she said, “You said ‘um’ a lot. Were you aware of it?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “I know I say that too much.” Surely she couldn’t be taking this walk with me just to talk about the “um” thing. Who cared if I said ‘um’ when I had a tiger by the tail?

“Was it because you were nervous? Would you like me to recommend a speech coach for you? Google will pay for it.”

“I didn’t feel nervous,” I said, making a brushing off gesture with my hand as though I were shooing a bug away. “Just a verbal tic, I guess.”

“There’s no reason to let a small thing like a verbal tic trip you up.”

“I know.” I made another shoo-fly gesture with my hand.

Sandberg laughed. “When you do that thing with your hand, I feel like you’re ignoring what I’m telling you. I can see I am going to have to be really, really direct to get through to you. You are one of the smartest people I know, but saying ‘um’ so much makes you sound stupid.”

Now that got my attention.

Sandberg repeated her offer to help. “The good news is a speaking coach can really help with the ‘um’ thing. I know somebody who would be great. You can definitely fix this.”

Related: Feel Like Quitting? These 9 Women Prove Grit Can Lead You To Massive Success

radical-candor

How you can do what Sheryl did

Think for a moment about how Sandberg handled that situation. Even though the overall talk had gone well, she didn’t let the positive result get in the way of pointing out something I needed to fix. She did so immediately, so that the problem didn’t hurt my reputation at Google. She made sure to point out the positive things I’d accomplished in the presentation, and what’s more, she did so thoroughly and sincerely — there was no attempt at ‘sandwiching’ the criticism between bogus positives.

Her first approach was gentle but direct. When it became clear that I wasn’t hearing her, she became more direct, but even then she was careful not to ‘personalise,’ not to make it about some essential trait. She said I “sounded” stupid rather than I was stupid. And I wasn’t in this alone: She offered tangible help. I didn’t feel like an idiot with defects, but a valuable team member she was ready to invest in.

This conversation was extremely effective on two counts. First, it made me want to solve my ‘um’ problem immediately; after only three sessions with a speech coach, I had made noticeable improvement. Second, it made me appreciate Sandberg and inspired me to give better guidance to my team. The way she gave praise and criticism got me thinking about how to teach other people how to adopt this style of management.

All this from a two-minute encounter.

Wow. How many times have you tried to give feedback that totally falls flat? How can you, like Sandberg, give guidance in a way that confronts a specific situation and creates ripple effects that change how everyone communicates?

I have spent the decade since that encounter coaching the next generation of Silicon Valley leaders to change their approach to guidance — both praise and criticism. It’s surprisingly simple. Anyone can learn it. There are two dimensions to good guidance: Care personally and challenge directly. When you do both at the same time, it’s ‘radical candor’. It’s also useful to be clear about what happens when you fail on one dimension (ruinous empathy), the other (obnoxious aggression) or both (manipulative insincerity). Being clear about what happens when you fail to care personally or challenge directly will help you avoid backsliding into old habits too common to all of us.

Many of the people I coach have found this framework helpful in being more conscious of what kind of guidance they are getting, giving and encouraging. Another important thing I stress with my clients: It’s vital to remember that very important lesson from the ‘um story’ — don’t personalise. The names of each quadrant refer to guidance, not personality traits. They are a way to gauge praise and criticism, and to help people remember to do a better job offering both. They are not to be used to label people. Labeling hinders improvement. Ultimately, everyone spends some time in each of the quadrants. We are all imperfect. I’ve never met anyone who is always radically candid. To repeat, this is not a ‘personality test’.

This article is excerpted from Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending