Product Marketing On A Shoestring Budget

So I’ve been a product manager at a number of startups and I’ve enjoyed every one of these experiences. I find that startups have a sense of energy that I just don’t find at the larger companies that I’ve worked for. However, what startups are more often than not missing is money. Cash. What this means for product managers is that because being able to make payroll (which they can’t always do anyway) is more important than marketing, you’ve got to learn to get by on a shoestring marketing budget.

It’s All About The Chocolate

OK, so I’m going to start this discussion off with my best idea first. I can’t tell you how many trade shows I’ve been to in my career. Every vendor has a booth and everyone is giving something away just so that visitors will remember them. People who attend these shows are given a bag when they arrive just so that they can load up on this “swag” stuff. How is a small startup supposed to compete with the big boys who are giving away fancy flash drives, coffee mugs, and pen sets?

It turns out that the answer is rather simple – chocolate. Everyone loves chocolate (or they know someone who does). If you hand out chocolate then you will earn the gratitude of everyone who gets one of your chocolate bars. Buy a chocolate bar, remove the paper wrapper but not the inside metal wrapper, print your own wrapper with info about your product on it and then re-wrap the candy bar. Hand these out and watch a line form in front of your booth! Now that’s something that you’ll be able to add to your product manager resume.

Odd Shaped Handouts

Every product has a collection of information about it’s product development definition that you’d like to get into your customer’s hands. The problem is that every other vendor at a trade show is trying to do exactly the same thing. All too often I’ll see product managers create 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper with material on both sides. They then try to hand these out to passersby who will take them and then never look at them again.

I hate it when my hard work is ignored. That’s why when I have product information that I want to get into my customer’s hands I take a different approach. I create a brochure that doesn’t look like everyone else’s. My favorite is a 3″ x 9″ brochure. This is perfect to fit into a man’s suit coat pocket and will stand out among all of the other things that a person picks up during their visit to a trade show.

Read A Good Book Lately?

The problem with any sort of printed material that we hand out to potential customers about our product is that there is a very good chance that they are going to end up throwing it away before they ever get around to reading it. The reason that this can happen is because customers simply don’t value our material.

In order to get around this problem, I did a little bit of research: what did my customers value? It turns out that the answer was books. They never threw books away. Once I knew this, I realized that my product needed a book that talked about it. The good folks over at Amazon bought a company called CreateSpace a while ago and this company will print your book for you on demand – how many copies would you like? Each copy is going to cost you about US$2.50. Now when I hand out my product book, I’m confident that my customers are going to hold on to what I’ve given them.

What All Of This Means For You

Wouldn’t it be great to work for a company like IBM, Google, or Oracle who must have a virtually unlimited marketing budget? If you find yourself, like I have, working for a startup where every dollar counts, you’re product manager job description is going to have to include getting more creative with how you go about telling the world about your product.

There is no one answer to how to get your potential customer’s attention when you are working with a shoestring marketing budget. However, some things that I’ve tried that have worked out very well include customizing and then handing out chocolate to my potential customers. When I have to create a handout, I try to make them uniquely shaped so that they’ll standout later on. Finally, customers don’t throw books away so I’ll create a book that talks about my product and then hand it out to potential customers.

Creativity is a big part of what it takes to be a successful product manager. Anyone can create material that talks about their product. What it takes to be a successful product manager is the ability to create material that will really stand out. Consider the three methods that I’ve shared with you and then see if you can come up with even better ones!

Who’s Your Yoda? Because You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

We’ve all said at one time or other “If I had only known… ” and looking back on my own entrepreneurial journey it is something I have, over the years repeated all too often.

Many of us have spent our entire careers in the same industry. It’s what we know, it’s what we are good at and it’s where we feel safe. We spend a lot of our time talking to people who do the same things as us. The articles we read, the trade shows and the conferences we attend and the away days we suffer through are mostly related to the industry in which we work in. We seek to become experts in a bubble listening to other experts in a bubble.

When we do decide to follow the dream of starting our own business it is a whole new learning curve and the things we don’t know (which, all of a sudden, become many) can, and do, come back to bite us hard. Those crucial early stage knowledge gaps can be expensive, frustrating, time consuming and very painful. Sometimes they can even kill our dream before it begins.

You don’t know what you don’t know

Donald Rumsfeld (not a person I would normally quote or even listen to) said at a US Department of Defence news briefing back in 2002. According to

As we know,

There are known knowns.

There are things we know we know.

We also know

There are known unknowns.

That is to say

We know there are some things

We do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns,

The ones we don’t know we don’t know.

No one ever claims that it is easy being an entrepreneur but, as I have said in previous posts and truly believe, the critical ingredient is getting off your behind and doing something.

“Watch, listen, and learn. You can’t know it all yourself. Anyone who thinks they do is destined for mediocrity.” – Donald Trump

18 things new entrepreneurs need to know:

  1. Seek good advice
  2. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, but don’t make the same one twice.
  3. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so take your time. As Abraham Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
  4. No one cares about your company until you give them a reason to
  5. Stay self-funded for as long as possible. Don’t rush into raising funds
  6. Don’t hire too quickly. “If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder
  7. Don’t wait for perfection
  8. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself, have confidence in your abilities and don’t let the bastards get you down.” – Michael Bloomberg
  9. Never let ego cloud your judgement.
  10. Chase the vision, not the money
  11. Don’t launch too early
  12. Don’t get disheartened
  13. Family and friends rarely make good business partners.
  14. Don’t over-analyze everything
  15. Start small but think big. “As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big.” – Donald Trump
  16. “Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.” – Ryan Freitas
  17. Employees will never care about the company as much as you do
  18. Once again, find your Yoda.

We all need mentors

Someone somewhere has already been on the journey you are about to take. That journey has given them knowledge, experience and valuable insight that will take you years to acquire on your own. Why repeat the mistakes of others when you can learn from them?

Don’t fool yourself into believing you don’t need mentors and that you can do this on your own. Arrogance has no place in your entrepreneurial toolbox – passion definitely, self belief most certainly and good advice absolutely.

Good advice can make the difference between success and costly failure.

“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could” – Zig Ziglar

Many new entrepreneurs fail to recognise the importance and value of good advice and they avoid seeking out a mentor for various reasons, the most common being:

  • They don’t know where to begin – finding a trusted and generous mentor can be difficult.
  • They think it’s a complete waste of time.
  • They feel too shy, awkward, afraid or proud to seek help.

You don’t need to seek out industry gurus. Good mentors are not trophies to be added to your website or sales pitch as a sign of how well connected you are. A good mentor is a source of guidance, they will have important skills and experience you have not. The best mentors offer honest, timely, hard-learned practical advice and can give you the confidence you need to act on it.

Years ago the only way to find a mentor was through a friend of a friend who knew someone, or by going to your local Chamber of Commerce networking events I.e breakfasts, seminars and conferences.

Today we have LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, specialist blogs, online webinars, entrepreneur podcasts and videos. Potential mentors are to be found at the click of a button. But, remember you are not looking for leading corporate CEO’s, but for someone who has started a business themselves and who has been down the path you are about to travel, someone who understands the problems you will face and has some of the answers.

Some of the world’s most successful people have had mentors at crucial points on their journey:

  • Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook
  • Warren Buffet to Bill Gates
  • Barbara Walters to Oprah Winfrey
  • Sir Freddie Laker to Richard Branson for advice and guidance during the early days of getting Virgin Atlantic off the ground.
  • Diana Vreeland (Legendary fashion editor) to Jackie Kennedy
  • Justin Timberlake to Justin Bieber (I bet you’re glad you know that one now!)
  • Christian Dior to Yves St Laurent
  • Paul Gauguin to Van Gogh

Find your Yoda

Amazing Tips to Turn a Budding Sales Executive Into a Seasoned Professional

Sales figures, profit and loss, balance sheets, quarter result disclosure and much more… Every day at office is no less than an ordeal for a sales executive. But as he learns the trade and grows in experience he learns the tricks and imbibes qualities that make him grow far above being novice. Joining a sales force is not just to prove one’s capability to convince people and generating leads but also to establish a name and market for the company in the global environment. The lessons that a budding sales professional learns while at his work are many. But a few of them remain etched in his mind which will take him to new heights in his career. Some of these lessons are listed below are effective sales techniques that can be adopted by any organization to their benefit.

Learn from mistakes

The best sales training programmes caution its audience by telling them to be alert and leave no scope for mistakes. But as to err is human, mistakes are prone to happen during sales meetings or even during presentations. Rather than sulking over a mistake committed, one has to learn from the mistake and never repeat the same again.

Create new opportunity from crisis

The word business is synonymous to the words crisis and risks. A sudden business decision, a change in marketing plan or even a new business sales strategy could back fire and can take the product launch plan to drain. The situation becomes critical but a professional sales expert tries to find a new opportunity from the crisis and does not mull over the past. This positive attitude helps the company to assimilate their energy, courage and self confidence and go places in the future.

Build a quintessential relationship with prospects

A sales expert knows every prospect is capable of bringing more business. Hence, he does all the needful to build a nice rapport with every prospect. He is good at remembering names and tries to have a personal connect with every prospect through media interactions, social networking sites updates, email campaigns etc.

Question, influence and persuade

The best sales executive learns to question, influence and persuade clients in the most formal but interesting way. Patience is the biggest virtue for a seasoned sales professional. When the sales professional begins his address, he tries to bring out the best about his product, list its advantages, talk how it can change the future and most importantly, its cost and user friendliness. Influential talks persuade the leads to become customer upon repeated attempts.

Convince customer with delight

With the best presentations, reasonable facts and figures, the sales executive needs to possess the ability to convince customers with delight. Content driven presentations, timely project updates and quick responses are few customer driven approaches that convinces the customers big time and keep the association strong and long.

These tips give a detailed understanding of the complete sales process to any newbie sales guy and ensure his win in every step thereby maximizing sales for his organization. These new techniques along with the traditional ones definitely work well in today’s scenario and will guarantee top results within the shortest time span. To learn these unique and effective techniques the perfect destination is Phil M Jones where an executive can get trained in the techniques suggested and approved by one of the most renowned speakers in the world.