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When & Why You Should Consider Selling A Startup

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Selling A Startup - MyStartupLand

Selling a startup is becoming a business of itself. Rather than raising money from investors, business owners are increasingly considering selling their new and rapidly growing startups for massive capital gains.

A rapidly growing startup can get purchased for far more than the initial investment used to start. Just look at the example of Trello being scooped up for 425 million after raising only 10 million in funding.

The key questions you should be asking yourself is when and why you should consider selling your startup. In this article, we’ll explore a few basic tips and hopefully help you get some massive capital gains from your growing startup.

Don’t Miss Your Shot At Selling Your Startup

If your startup is growing rapidly, it could be a good idea to look around for potential buyers. Cast an extremely wide net and watch the response you receive.

A rapidly growing company based on new and emerging technologies within the market usually receives a lot of attention and the offers should begin to roll in. It’s especially true to keep contact open with potential buyers if your market space is starting to be populated by competition.

If your startup was one of the first to fill that market niche, then selling before the competition becomes a problem is a smart way to gain capital from your growth. After all, nobody will be interested in buying a company whose product barely stands out against the competition, regardless of how quickly that company has grown. Don’t miss your shot to move on.

Be Hands On

Just like bringing investors on initially, a lot of the same tactics are used when cultivating potential buyers.

Dean Willocks Advisory recommends getting hands-on! Consider taking potential buyers out for dinner yourself and invest in friendships with buyers. By being present and working closely to woo potential buyers, you portray a strong sense of confidence. A potential buyer will be more likely to complete the sale with you than with a competitor who didn’t take the time to personally meet the buyer.

If the buyer’s decision comes down to a gut decision, make sure you’ve made their gut feel good to help their decision along!

What Do You Want?

When you started your business, you had a particular goal in mind. Regardless of what that goal is, you should ask yourself if that goal is better met by selling your startup to a larger company.

If you were looking to solve a particular problem, possibly selling your startup to a larger company will help solve that problem more effectively since the larger company may have better resources to help scale it.

It’s easy to get lost in the notion that a business should be yours simply because you started it. Instead of getting locked in this way of thinking, consider the bigger picture and the problem that you wanted to solve when you started your business.

Sell Yourself The Dream

Anyone can appreciate being their own boss. In fact, most people would prefer to be their own boss. Selling your startup gives you the opportunity to become your own boss. This is especially true when you consider that after selling your business for a healthy sum of cash, you can then start a new business which is entirely your own rather than split between yourself and investors.

 

Are you in the position to consider selling your startup? Would you actually take that step and let your “dream” go away? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Mobile Marketing For Startups: A Modern Way Of Advertising

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The introduction of smartphones made the use of mobile marketing a “must” for companies and startups. This is, with no doubts, the modern way of advertising.

It’s no longer enough to have an active presence on social media and build an attractive website. More and more people started using mobile devices in the past few years and it’s slowly becoming the primary channel for online advertising.

Mobile Marketing: The New Boss In Town

Mobile marketing began in 2000 when the first mobile ad was sent via SMS. Two years later, SMS became the newest mass media channel. In 2005, Nike and Pontiac were one of the first companies who launched their SMS campaigns.

One of the biggest revelations came in 2010 when QR (Quick Response) codes started being used in mobile marketing, the same year when Apple released its mobile advertising platform called iAd. The following year saw mobile marketing became a $14 billion industry.

Another important change in the mobile marketing landscape came in 2012. Facebook launches mobile ads on its mobile application to increase monetization. The biggest social network platform globally, with 1.45 billion users on a daily basis, dove into mobile marketing.

Mobile marketing only continued to grow and in 2013 mobile revenues soared to $3 billion in the first half of 2013, representing triple-digit growth at 145%, from $1.2 billion in the same period the year before. In the same year, the mobile advertising industry was worth $19.3 billion, and in the next year, the industry experienced a worldwide growth of 65%.

The fact that mobile devices overtook desktop in internet usage worldwide in 2016 is the biggest reason why mobile marketing is one of the preferred means of advertising for companies and startups.

In order to find out more amazing facts about mobile marketing, scroll down and take a look at the infographic.

Mobile Marketing - MyStartupLand

How To Successfully Track Sales Activities For Freelancers

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

You won another client. Another project to work on. A step closer to make your freelancing activities a self-sustainable business. Success, however, doesn’t come without pain. It can be stressful to manage multiple projects or clients, following up on requests and keeping track of what to deliver and when. In all this, you still need to successfully track sales activities to make ensure new business comes in.

For most of those who are not familiar with sales, successfully tracking sales activities can seem like a scary task to tackle.

What’s the best way to keep track of everything while ensuring you keep working smoothly on existing clients? How to make sure you don’t miss new opportunities?

The answer is simple. You need to work on a client relationship management tool. There are different options in the market, free CRM tools are also an option. However, if you feel like you are not there yet, there is an even easier alternative. Creating your own “CRM” to track sales activities is the first and smartest thing you can do as a freelancer.

Before we get into creating your own CRM or just signing up somewhere, it’s important that you don’t understand why you need to do this.

It’s Not Impossible To Behave Like A Sales Pro

First things first. Like it or not, sales is going to be part of your day-to-day activities.

Do you want to make enough money to sustain your freelance practice? You need to do sales.

Are you willing to scale the number of projects you are handling to afford perhaps that nomadic lifestyle that everyone is talking about? You need to do sales.

Sales doesn’t need to be scary. There are ways to get around a few initial mental barriers. First of all, you will need to identify your potential clients. Then, you will need to send the first “cold-emails” and then, yes, close your first paying client. Once you have done that, you will need to create a process to replicate that successful journey you took the first paying client over and over again.

Being Organized Is The Key To Success

Successful salespeople will unlikely reveal what’s their secret to overachieve their quota. I have been in sales for over 10 years now and I can tell you that, together with some luck and the right understanding of what sales is about, what makes the difference is how you organize your work.

How well do you track new potential clients you start talking with?

Have you identified which source bring the most interested clients?

Do you have a way to track when was last time you reached out to those potential clients?

How do you make sure to follow up at the right time?

All these questions will help you stay on top of the communication you have with the client. Timing is everything in sales. You can have the best solution or service for a potential client, but if he doesn’t need it now (or he doesn’t understand why he needs it now), why are you even wasting your time?

Sales Is Not What You Think

How many times have you bought from someone who you thought was trying to be sneaky or too pushy? ZERO!

Sales is about understanding your clients, their needs and how you can help them solve whatever problem they are facing. How can you do that? It’s really simple.

Track your sales activities constantly and in an organized way. Be on top of the communication by knowing what to ask and provide the right answers at the right time.

Yes, you will still have to ask for next action or even to slightly “push” for closing that client, but that’s not everything and surely not the way you should sell.

Let’s Start Closing More Clients

I have seen too many freelancers asking themselves how to take their business to the next level or listening to “experts” promising to give them THE answer they need while talking about abstract marketing topics.

The answer you are looking for is in tracking sales activities in a proper way, constantly and creating a process that is easy for you to follow.

For this reason, I have created a Sales Growth Framework for all freelancers. Easy to use, not complicated and with everything you need.

sales growth framework - MyStartupLand

The Sales Growth Framework For Freelancers

This framework aims at giving you a basic “DIY CRM” version that you can start using today.

It has four main sections (or tabs).

  1. Pipeline Stages: This tab will help you add all contact details of potential clients, with some additional information to keep track of your sales activities. For example, deal size (i.e. what’s the size of the contract you are talking about), the status of the deal (i.e. where is the conversation at). As you will download the Sales Growth Framework, you will see that some cells are automatically filled in as you input some data. Lastly, you can also change the stage names in the “Instructions” tab.
  2. Funnel Analysis: This tab is completely automated and it’s based on the Pipeline Stages tab. This is mainly for your own consideration in understanding how well you are doing with all the potential clients you are talking with.
  3. Activity Management: This is an extra tab for you to give yourself some targets and stick to the plan. You don’t have to use it, however, I highly recommend to do so especially at the beginning. It will give you some structure to follow. Remember that being organized is what makes you successful.
  4. Finance: This tab is self-explanatory. It will help you track the finance coming in from the clients you are working with.

 

Sales is a number game. You need to contact potential clients, the right ones. Get a good understanding of what to offer them as well as being consultative. Lastly, you need to be organized, keep track of your sales activities and stick to the plan you set for yourself.

In all those years in sales, I have realized that successful salespeople have a plan to follow and track what they do constantly. You can now do the same with the Sales Growth Framework.

sales growth framework - MyStartupLand

How To Help Youth Unemployment Through Entrepreneurship

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Youth Unemployment Entrepreneurship - MyStartupLand

Youth unemployment is a worldwide crisis given the combined factors of overpopulation, limited jobs, and limited resources. With immigration to urban centers rising, the issue of how to help youth unemployment becomes a pressing and valid concern.

More youths are returning home to live with their parents than preceding generations. More are finding themselves in a competitive job market for which they have no skills or too little experience.

What should the public and private sector do to address this issue? Where should the solutions start?

There are steps that the society as a whole can do to alleviate the problem. The government can step in, private companies can contribute, and youths, themselves, can find new strategies that may work. Technology is always changing, which means there are always new business opportunities. We have become a small world as social media connects us to the best and brightest minds with one tweet. We can use these advances to create solutions to the growing youth unemployment.

Here are 6 ideas on how to reduce youth employment through entrepreneurship:

1. Create Mechanisms That Rely On Mentorship and Education

Graduating from college to find a limp job market can be discouraging, to say the least. Can this structure be changed? One way is for private companies to recruit students before they finish school. Having them work part-time at the company while in school, and then hire them upon completion of their education. This serves two purposes. One, it guarantees a student a job upon graduation. And two, the student graduates college with experience.

Youths seeking a job will usually find themselves up against a wall. They are unable to find a job as the only job openings require experience and few companies are willing to train them. Working for a company part-time while in school offers a viable solution.

2. Encourage Entrepreneurship

The traditional ways of graduating and then seeking a job can sometimes be discarded. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It simply means there are other ways of landing a job.

How can entrepreneurship solve youth unemployment? 

Youth should be encouraged to think about what society needs, create a product for that need, and effectively market it. As the job market is limited, as youths are flocking to already saturated urban centers, youths should be encouraged to create their own entrepreneurship opportunities instead.

No doubt, starting a business is a difficult endeavor which does not come without its own risks. Society has built a support system for this. Crowd-funding, venture capitalists, startup accelerators are just some examples.

Entrepreneurship can come in the form of social media. As an example, this generation has created full-time paid gamers and YouTubers who have carved out new opportunities and social media jobs for themselves. Tapping into social media as an entrepreneurship opportunity are effective ways entrepreneurship can help combat unemployment in youth.

3. Help Them Think Outside Of the Box

Venture capitalists can be significant for youths. They provide the contacts, the experience, and opportunities for youths to learn valued skills. They can also tap into the needs of hungry youths looking for experience. The private sector has the chance to step in and offer opportunities to unemployed youths.

Successful entrepreneurs can provide seed money to youths who have exceptional business ideas. They can hire like-minded youths into their own startup teams.

Startup companies can help combat youth unemployment by seeking fresh blood for new positions.

4. Create A Pathway To Work

Show youths a way that their skills can lead to work. Did they grow up playing basketball? Coaching kids’ basketball could be a possible path to full-time employment. Do they speak two languages? Acting as an interpreter could be a possible job. Hone in on their skills, develop them, and encourage them to seek employment in that specific job area.

Sometimes youths graduate with skill sets that are not particularly useful in the job market. In addition, youths may have a set of skills but not know how to make use of them. A degree in Philosophy doesn’t guarantee a job upon graduation. However, those skills can be applied towards a teaching job in high school or grade school.

In order to create a pathway to work, youths should understand that it is important to learn how to make money doing what they are good at. They should also understand that in order to make money, they need to be very good at what they do.

5. Spread Encouraging Words And Inspiring Stories

We all need someone in our corner, rooting for us. Youths, fresh out of school, need this the most. Successful entrepreneurs should offer networking opportunities as well as forums that shine a light on their journey. Not only will it inspire, it will give youths a map to forge a successful path of their own.

Leaders from companies like Amazon, Paypal, Netflix, and more can teach their communities and encourage the up-and-comers to take similar paths. The best teachers for our youths are successful entrepreneurs.

6. Sponsor Non-profit Organizations In Your Community

A community with entrepreneurs being supportive of youth and local community encourages not only growth but also a productive behavior of people who belong to the community.

Aside from ways you can help youth unemployment mentioned above, you can sponsor or donate to organizations that specifically tackle this issue. Organisations founded for this purpose can create opportunities for young people to engage in training, volunteering or other productive activities.

For instance, in Australia, for the last 56 years, yourtown has been running a variety of projects to help unemployed youth develop skills that they need. They tackle issues like youth unemployment and mental health in youth, through training and a range of activities.

Entrepreneurs can help by sponsoring non-profit organizations running similar projects to yourtown. This type of charitable contributions help better your community, and you can be assured that your contribution is to people who are trying to make a real effort to improve the community.

 

Is your local community helping youth unemployment? Do you get involved as an entrepreneur in supporting youths in their learning path? Tell us more in the comment section below.

How to Improve User Experience through a Web Hosting Provider

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Improve User Experience - MyStartupLand

UX, geek-speak for user experience, is a measure of how people behave towards a product or service. Like other social sciences, the user experience is hard to quantify objectively. In the end, what you like is not necessarily what someone else likes.

While there is no consensus on what a great UX is, a bad user experience is a lot easier to define. In one sentence: it is what kills great businesses.

UX is so fundamentally linked to purchasing behavior that blue-chip companies spend millions of dollars on UX research. To make things more complicated, customer perception influences how usable they find a product. A case in point is Apple fans. Their confidence in the company’s design bars them from trying other offerings.

But what does this mean for an entrepreneur? If you have a great product and lousy customer service, of course, your business will fail. For an e-Commerce website, customer service comes down to how easy it is to use the site. This is profoundly impacted by your hosting provider.

For instance, slow-loading websites are a turnoff for most users. If your site takes minutes to load instead of seconds, many potential customers will take their business elsewhere.

As outlined above, user experience encompasses all factors that affect the customer’s’ willingness to do business with you. As such, choosing your web hosting provider based on cost alone is akin to basing your choice of business premises on nothing other than rent.

Learning how to improve user experience through a web hosting provider is, therefore, crucial for your business. Below are what a company can do to improve UX through web hosting.

Choose The Right Hosting To Cope With Surges

The ultimate UX faux pax is for your site to crash due to a sudden surge in traffic. When online content, products or services go viral, it is a chance for the entrepreneur to get paid for hard work or just being plain lucky. However, if your hosting provider does not offer you a way to gracefully scale up when traffic surges, the website is bound to crash. Prospective customers may end up having a bad first impression and going to the competition. If your website traffic cannot be predetermined, then you need to ensure your hosting provider allows you to scale up easily.

Different strokes for different folks. The same applies to choose a web host. If you don’t know how to choose a web host, do your research to find out what will work best and what will be the cost-effective choice. In a nutshell, VPS hosting is good for certain kinds of sites and web apps and good at handling a sudden surge. For some others, cloud hosting might be more appropriate. Cloud and VPS technologies are the latest trends in web hosting industry.

Suggestion: Secure A Strong Host Provider For Your Website

Consider The Servers Location

Having your servers close to your customers increases the page loading speed since the data travels a shorter distance from the server to your customer’s browser. If your users are globally distributed, then you need to have servers in locations that reflect that distribution.

Furthermore, locating servers in some areas could trigger security warnings in the browsers of visitors. Potential customers can shy away because of such warnings, and this could affect your site UX negatively.

Communicate With Your Host’s Support

Your hosting provider’s user experience tends to trickle down to your site. If your hosting provider offers great support and responds to your issues promptly, you’ll be able to quickly resolve outages, site failures, and availability issues.

Remember what the ultimate user experience faux pax explained above? Availability is when a customer or a lead is unable to access your site when needed. They will go to your competition and probably stay there.

Use A Web Host Who Offers Web Acceleration

How do sites like Google, Amazon, and eBay maintain user experience in the midst of technology changes, fluctuating traffic and, of course, platform upgrades? There is no silver bullet. Instead, they use many approaches.

Each of the optimizations in itself does not achieve much. But when combined, they ensure constant availability. Key UX optimizations are caches, load balancing and pipelining. To work well, these features must be implemented at a server level.

Load-balancing, enhanced cache loading, and web acceleration tools are important when it comes to loading times. If visitors have to wait more than a few minutes for your pages to load, they’re likely to exit the website. Web acceleration tools will certainly enhance user experience.

Use Plugins And Apps Sparingly

It takes two to tango. As such, the user experience is not only influenced by your hosting provider. User experience improvement is your responsibility as the site owner. For instance, uploading a lot of multimedia content on your site will increase the time taken for the page to load. Using content that requires plugins has a negative impact on usability.

Keep Measuring

If it cannot be measured, it can’t be improved. Moreover, as explained, the user experience is highly subjective. Continuous evaluation allows you to know what changes your audience is most responsive to both negatively and positively.

How does this help? Let’s say you change both the color scheme and font face, increasing the average time users spend on your site by 30 seconds. That is great, right? Maybe. If you roll out the changes one at a time and evaluate each, you might be surprised. It could be that changing the color scheme alone decreased the time spent on your site by 20 seconds. Changing the font face, however, could have increased the time spent on your site by 50 seconds. By rolling back color scheme changes and retaining the new font, you can, therefore, increase the time spent on your site by 50 seconds.

Conclusion

User experience (UX) is a measure of how willing people are to do business with you. While great UX for a lousy product will not improve the product, bad UX can, on the other hand, kill a great product. An often overlooked aspect of usability is the role played by your web hosting provider. The provision of an excellent user experience happens to be an ongoing task that involves finding what appeals to your users and giving them more of the same.

 

How do you make sure your website has the right user experience? Do you implement any specific actions that we haven’t mentioned to improve user experience? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

[INFOGRAPHIC] How Mobile Marketing Can Help Your Startup Growth

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Mobile Marketing - MyStartupLand

Mobile marketing is a multi-channel online marketing technique by which businesses can reach users on their mobile devices. It is different from other marketing strategies as it allows companies to reach customers on-the-go. Mobile marketing also provides customers with a more personalized experience.

There are different ways through which marketers and brands use mobile marketing to grow their business.

Text Messages

Short message service (SMS) is a core aspect of mobile marketing and many businesses have embraced professional texting. Marketers have fully adopted the use of SMS for reaching the customers, particularly when they want to send sensitive information and data.

With more than 75% of the smartphones in use globally being SMS enabled, the use of text messages for marketing purposes has proven effective. Customers are able to opt for product information and notifications and receive action based rewards (such as purchase discounts). An added benefit of text messages is that they have a much higher and faster open rate than emails.

SMS-Marketing-vs-Email - MyStartupLand
Image provided by TxtSignal

 

Mobile Friendly Websites

Almost every business nowadays has a website. Not all websites, however, are mobile friendly. Businesses that do not have an excellent mobile device response and adaptability experience lose out on more than 50% of customers. Brands enhance mobile marketing efforts by ensuring an optimized version of their website for various devices.

Mobile Apps

Another strategy that brands employ for their mobile marketing campaigns is the development and use of mobile applications. Considering that more than 80% of smartphone users access mobile apps on a daily basis, marketing through apps is an effective way of reaching customers.

Studies show that mobile users browse three times more products in apps than on mobile websites. Users feel more at ease using mobile apps than websites, due to the experience. Besides the benefits of mobile apps, they have become less expensive to develop than they used to be, meaning more businesses can now afford to create their own customized app.

Mobile Payments

Many brands integrated mobile payment platforms into their marketing platforms to encourage ease of transactions. Businesses use payment processors that offer great service, security, cost efficiency, and ease of use. Customers, therefore, find it easier to make payments using modern payment options.

Active Social Presence

Brands are using social networks to gain new customers and attract visitors to their products and services. They do this by initiating conversations, sharing posts, asking questions, and posting comments. These foster interactions with an audience on relevant topics, making sure the brand is seen and known by the social media users.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest are common examples of platforms that brands use to promote their marketing and grow business.

Offering Deals

Businesses take advantage of mobile technology by sending out digital deals to customers directly through smartphones. For example, brands send SMS coupons that are 10 times more redeemed than the printed ones and are far less likely to be lost or misplaced.

Customer Service On Mobile Devices

Companies also offer customer service through mobile devices. Brands can take customers’ payments, track their orders, share shipping information, and provide prompt responses to their inquiries.

These services are easy and convenient for the customers and the business owners. Besides, the quick response time that mobile customer services offer makes customers very pleased with the brands that employ it in their marketing solutions.

Here below an infographic to show the advantages of implementing mobile marketing for startup growth.

Mobile Marketing Startup Growth - MyStartupLand

[INFOGRAPHIC] 127 Interesting Facts About Video Marketing

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Video Marketing - MyStartupLand

Video marketing is one of the most commonly used techniques for promoting brands. Companies like Newegg or Amazon use different types of video content to engage with users. Explainer videos, “how-to” videos, training videos, and the latest trend, live videos have had an incredible impact on users experience.

Interesting Facts About Video Marketing

On social media, in particular, video content has been used widely. 72% of social marketers are interested in learning video marketing since videos in social media marketing increase sharing by 10 times.

  • Facebook – On a daily basis, users watch 100 million hours of videos.
  • Twitter – Video tweets increased by over 50% in 2016, and are 6x more retweeted than photos.
  • Instagram – Posts with video content almost doubled in 2015, and in the same year 58% of the ads were videos.
  • Snapchat – Users watch 10 billion videos on a daily basis.
  • Pinterest – Video posts increased by 50% in 2015-2016.

There is certainly a great interest in video and brands are not missing out. The following brands are among the biggest ones who are using video marketing.

  • Amazon spends $3 billion on video content.
  • Gillette with 106K subscribers generated an amazing 7.7 million views on one “how to” video.
  • Chevrolet with 164 million views is the most watched auto brand online.
  • Louis Vuitton with 196K subscribers has almost 200 million views on YouTube.
  • Coca-Cola with almost 3 million subscribers has 1.3 billion views on YouTube.

Video marketing can have a major impact when the brand is well-known worldwide. However, freelancers and startups as well can benefit from video content to engage their users in a new and different way with their products or services.

Video content together with video marketing is taking over the way users experience the Internet. The following infographic made by the guys at Website Builder contains more 127 interesting facts about video marketing. Take a look at it to find out more.

 

Video Marketing - MyStartupLand

[INFOGRAPHIC] An Introduction To Social Media Customer Care

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Previously, there were three main types of customer care that customers could use if they were not physically in a store. These methods were by post, email, or telephone.

As technology develops, people are now expecting brands to provide them with a lot more than this when it comes to customer care. The majority of the time they expect a response almost instantly.

The Evolution Of Customer Care With Social Media

In response to this, companies have introduced a couple of new ways to get in touch with them. Live chat is proving to be very popular but equally is social media customer care. After building your website, you can use live chat on your domain, or through social media channels such as Facebook. Alternatively, you are able to directly message brands or comment on their posts.

This provides a much more instantaneous response. It could also be the difference between making a sale or the customer going elsewhere. For example, if a customer is having trouble at the checkout, unless she can get a response immediately, she is likely to leave.

The great thing about using social media is that it doesn’t have to be initiated by the customer. Brands can reach out to the customer if they are a talking about the brand or their products.

 

Social Media Customer Care - MyStartupLand

There are tools (like Mention) that businesses are able to utilise to help them find anyone who is talking about them. In this way, they don’t miss out on any opportunities for interaction and relationship building. If you are new to the social media customer care scene, as many brands currently are, it is worth conducting a little research so that you are providing the very best service that you can.

 

7 Offline Promotion Strategies to Boost Your Online Brand

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Offline Promotion Strategies - MyStartupLand

One of the most common mistakes that online businesses make is focusing solely on digital marketing. In reality, the best way to build a strong brand is to use both online and offline marketing strategies. Targeting both mediums allow you to extend your reach, get in front of new audiences, and increase the effectiveness of your existing digital marketing campaigns. Here are seven of the best offline marketing strategies that you can use to strengthen your brand.

1. Direct Mail

Yes, you heard it right. Direct mail can be one of the more common go-to offline marketing strategies for online businesses. The reason why is because the channel works similarly to email marketing where the goal is to get your email read and elicit the reader to take some kind of action. For some reason, many business owners think that direct mail is too expensive and not as effective as online marketing. That is far from the truth. A DMA study showed that direct mail outperformed email by a factor of 36. It’s just a matter of learning how to make this channel work.

2. Offline Joint Ventures

If you’re working with a limited budget, one of the best offline marketing strategies you can utilize is joint ventures. Come up with a win-win scenario where you can partner up with related small businesses. In many cases, it will cost you next to nothing to execute. It’s just a matter of being creative and making sure there’s a big benefit to your partner partaking in the deal. Even if the business owner decides not to take you up on the deal, you can follow up and ask if you can advertise your business to their customers.

3. Sidewalk Signs and Banners

While it seems like the most basic way to market your brand offline, you should still be using advertising signs. There are many different ways to grab the attention of people in local areas from signs, printed banners, to sidewalk signs. And don’t worry if you don’t have a storefront. You can use these signs and banners to present a QR code to people passing by. Once they scan your code, they can be redirected to your website, blog, social media page, etc. As a matter of fact, Juniper Research projected QR code coupons redeemed by mobile devices will quadruple in the next 5 years.

4. Print Advertising

While many online business owners think otherwise, offline advertising is still a viable way to generate leads and customers. There are numerous ways to get your message out there from magazine ad placements, newspaper ads, to classified ads. Many of the direct response strategies apply to making these ads work. The great thing about print advertising campaigns is that you can really start scaling your campaign quickly once you find a winning a formula. This will quickly open you up to a large audience that otherwise would not have found you online.

5. Trade Shows

Trade shows are one of the best ways to acquire leads, customers, and business partners. Some of the biggest industry brands and buyers show up for the biggest trade shows. This will really build your brand presence if you manage to set up a successful booth. Trade shows can be quite expensive, so it’s essential that you have a clear strategy for your booth as well as how you intend to generate a positive ROI from your efforts.

6. Press Opportunities

One of the most underutilized offline promotion strategies is press. Getting your story or idea featured in TV shows, radio spots, magazine stories, and offline events can build your brand equity in a way that no other strategy can. A perfect example is when the company FourSquare set up an actual kid’s game of four square at an SXSW convention. This drew thousands of people to their staff and leads to a large number of installs for their app.

7. Phone and Mobile Marketing Campaigns

A relatively new offline marketing channel that online businesses need to use more is mobile marketing. Mobile marketing is a mix of both online and offline strategies. It utilizes everything from text messages, smartphone apps, and push notifications. A great way to use mobile marketing is to capture the phone numbers of your leads and customers online. You can follow up later with voicemail drops, text message marketing.

 

These are just a few of the many offline promotion strategies you can use to boost your online brand. The idea here is to use online and offline strategies together in a synergistic manner. You’ll find that they complement each other very well and will make campaigns in both mediums more effective together than alone.

 

Related Article: 5 Offline Marketing Mistakes Your Business Could Be Making

How To Get Your First Paying Client As A Freelancer

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how to get your first paying client - MyStartupLand

You have been thinking about it for a while now. Getting on a freelancing gig and following your passion. Be it photography, content writing, web development or anything else. There’s only one problem, you don’t know where to start and how to get your first paying client.

It’s great that you have been thinking about getting out there and follow your dream. However, you have never sold yourself, nevertheless your passion. On top of that, you kind of hate salespeople. So, how do you get started?

The first thing you need to understand, before jumping into this, is that you cannot avoid sales (nor marketing for that matter).

Yes, take a deep breath. Inhale slowly and while you exhale repeat with me… “I can’t avoid sales“.

Now, you don’t have to like it. You don’t have to become a salesperson. However, you need to realize that to get freelancing gigs, you will need to

a) present yourself properly

b) sell your services to get clients

Here, I will focus on 6 activities you need to start doing to get your first paying client.

#1. Nail a Niche

First of all, niche doesn’t mean small. If you want to start somewhere, you need to start to identify a niche within your specialty.

Let’s say you are a photographer, ask yourself what do I like to take pictures of? Is it people, landscape, food, weddings? Or, let’s say you are a translator. What do you like to translate? Is it comics, fantasy, adventure, or perhaps technical documents?

Think very well about what you like, but also what you are good at. Identify a niche that you want to nail and then become a specialist in it. Aim at becoming the go-to guy/girl for it.

Remember, if you nail a niche, you are not thinking small, you are not reducing your opportunity. You are focusing. At this stage, and until you don’t nail that specific niche, being focused is going to be key to your success.

#2. Identify Your Ideal Target

After you have understood what niche you want to focus on, you need to move to the audience you want to address. There are few questions you want to ask yourself:

  • Who are the people you want to talk to?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • How can you reach them (phone, email, advertising, meetups…)?
  • What problem do they have and how you can help them solve it?

This step might seem a little bit abstract, and perhaps non-sense. After all, you are thinking: “why do I need to limit myself to a specific type of client? If I find someone who wants to buy my service I will just go for it.

Although it might seem logical to think that way, it is crucial to understand that focus is the key, especially at the beginning. Identifying your ideal target is directly linked to nailing a niche.

Spread and pray doesn’t work in sales. Having a focused and organized approach will get you results instead.

#3. Create A Portfolio

Before “going to market”, you need to create a portfolio. There’s a way for you to have an “MVP” or minimum viable product before you approach your potential clients, even if you haven’t had one yet.

For example, let’s assume you are a translator and you decided that your niche is comics. The first thing to do is to get down on it and translate a couple of your preferred comics in your spare time. Once you have done that, put them on documents that you can share with potential prospects.

Another example, you are a photographer and you want to specialize in food pictures. Considering the high competition you might find on Instagram, I would suggest you take a more creative approach rather than just plain simple food pictures. For instance, think about the composition of the picture, get creative and go beyond the basic idea of food pictures.

One last example, you want to get into content creation. Let’s say your niche is leadership and management, there are several ways you can create your own portfolio. One is to simply write two or three articles and reach out to few blogs out there and get it published. There are literally thousands of small/medium blogs that accept guest posting (we also accept external contributions). Another way, perhaps a bit more complicated for the less tech-savvy, is to create a website and publish your content there. Your website will become your portfolio.

 

These are the first steps to get you started, without these 3 points, you cannot move forward. What comes next is key for you to get your first paying client as a freelancer.

#4 Talk With Friends & Family

Start spreading the word within your network that you are going to make the jump. Start with the people you trust and know best. There might be a chance they would appreciate your services. The important thing here is that you don’t sell to them yet.

Remember these are your friends, you don’t want to bother them. You want to focus on good potential clients. Try to find the right way to talk about your passion and explore, rather than sell.

If you land one gig with your friends and family, don’t consider that a sale, even if they pay you. Consider this an unofficial client. It will be up to you if you want to charge them for your service. If you decide not to, make sure you get a reference. A written testimonial will get you a long way at the beginning of your freelancing career. This is even more relevant if you are on some freelancing websites. Ask your friends and family to book a gig through the website and leave a reference. Start establishing your brand.

I wouldn’t generally suggest giving your service away for free. At the end of the day, you are doing a job and you want to make sure that people understand that, even if they are your friends or family. Perhaps, you can charge them a “friend price” or just give them one session for free, if your service is based on multiple interactions.

#5 Get Referrals

After you have spread the word within your network and found your first unofficial client, ask for clients referrals. If they are happy, they will gladly refer you to some other people they know. In case they are not fully satisfied, ask them for feedback.

A key thing to keep in mind when selling your services is always about asking.

Ask for referrals.

Ask for a sale.

No one will give you the answer you want if you don’t ask the right question.

Referrals are the best way to get your first paying client. They come in with a positive image of you and your services, so usually, the sales cycle should be very simple and intuitive. Remember though to stick to your niche. This is fundamental for your client portfolio and your focus.

#6 Get Involved In Meetups

In case you can’t access friends and family, meetups are another great sources of contacts. Depending on the city you live in, you can find meetups about everything. Try to combine generic meetups about your passion and, if possible, specific about your niche.

Meetups are the only occasion where you can go broader, rather than focusing on a niche. This is about meeting people, getting out there and start learning what other professionals are doing.

As said above, it’s also a good idea to get into niche meetups about your specialty. You might end up meeting a lot of your “competitors”, but that’s totally fine. Learn from them and ask questions, you might get some interesting ideas as well as potential collaborations. From collaborations, you can get your first paying client as well.

Final Thoughts On How To Get Your First Paying Client In

Getting started is usually the most complicated thing. Once you get the ball rolling, you will see how things will fall into place and the process will become smoother. There are few things to keep in mind when (thinking of) starting:

  • Give yourself time
  • Don’t give up too easily or at the first problem
  • Before you jump, make sure you have a monetary safety net
  • You can start all this while you have a stable job

The key to sales is about being focused and having an organized approach. You don’t need to be a sales guru to get your first paying client. You don’t have to like sales to do all this. You are already doing it when talking about your passion. You just need some structure to it.

The Millennial Management Issue

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Millennial Management Issue - MyStartupLand

Millennials are changing organizational structure around the globe. Many in this generation, that now is the biggest in the U.S., have taken over management roles recently. Their mindset is reshaping some core concepts behind traditional leadership style. Millennials want a different work environment and need to be treated differently from other generations.

Although most managers today are millennials themselves, they are what I would consider “early millennials”. These are in their 30’s and have grown up professionally in the mid of the change. They have a set of values shaped by old generations, but with a considerably different inner feeling.

The Millennial Management Issue

These managers represent the change. They are the one in the front line managing the “real” millennials. They have a tough job ahead of them because they need to act as the middle-man in between generations.

Pulled by the need for a change and on the other side, by a traditional mindset, these managers are struggling to communicate both ways.

The millennial management issue is even more complicated as most of the CEOs and top executives rarely understand them. Low loyalty and high disengagement is a reality. Millennials are not in it for the long-term. Statistics say that the majority of them don’t expect to be in the same job for more than 2 years.

Management Is Failing At Millennials

Although job conditions have never been better than today, millennials are still feeling unsatisfied and leaving their job. However, they are not just “job-hopper”, as many think.

A survey showed that 91% of millennials are looking for a full-time stable employment. There’s obviously a mismatch between expectations and reality. There’s a lot of confusion and very few are trying to address it by reshaping traditional leadership concepts.

Here are 4 ways to change the current state within your organization:

1. Empowerment For The Learnings

From the day we stepped in an organization, we have been told what to do and how to do it. Managers have been focusing on giving directions and employees on executing. Regardless of the company size, solutions, usually, flow from top to down.

There is little or no time to waste. Decisions need to be taken fast. Actions need to be implemented in the “best possible way”.

Millennial Management Issue - Communication Style - MyStartupLand
Linear Communication Style

This has been the traditional communication style. Liner and one-directed with little or no involvement from the employee side.

Millennials, however, live in a different world, a very far reality. They are aware of the fact that they might not have the tools to deliver the best decisions, but for them, leadership is about empowering others.

Millennials want to be part of the decision-making process. They want to contribute to the growth of the company actively, not just like a wheel in the machine. Millennials value career progression more than anything else. Career advancement is linked to learning and skill improvement, which comes from taking part in the process.

Communication Style - Millennial Management Issue - MyStartupLand
Two-way Communication

A two-way communication style needs to be incorporated into the day-to-day relationship with employees.

Questions such as “How would you go about doing this task?“, “What do you think is the best process to achieve this result?“, are empowering questions that will help managing millennials (and everyone else for that matters).

TIP: Empowering questions are the best for stimulating learning and self-progression. These will keep engagement high and help both sides understand what skills need to be developed.

Remember though that as a manager, your role is also to help out when needed. Keep your ears open and offer help when requested to do so.

2. The Feedback Loop

According to a Gallup’s research, millennials receive way less feedback than what they are expecting. Only 19% of them said that they receive routine feedback.

Not giving feedback is bad for all employees, regardless of the generation they are in. However, for millennials, who value communication and learnings, this becomes a major pain-point.

The same research, however, has also shown that this is not exclusively a management issue. Millennials are also failing at asking feedback. But, is it really so?

Too many times, managers brush off a feedback request with an “everything is going well” response. Feedback on performance must be regular and well-thought. An annual or bi-annual performance review is not enough if there’s no feedback in between. It is important that organizations have a way to control how feedback is provided and implemented.

Millennials want to be heard. They value leaders who seek feedback from employees and implement it. The feedback must be a two-way road. It’s a loop that stimulates growth.

TIP: There’s an old saying that goes “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak“. This should always be true, but even more in management. Speak less, hear more. Let your team members talk about their experiences and feelings and provide valuable feedback when needed.

3. Perks, The Way To Percieved Happiness

It is known that happy employees are more engaged and deliver better results. This is also the key to profitability.

Making employees happy, however, is not as straightforward as it might seem. Most organizations are taking the easy way to reach perceived happiness. As said earlier, job conditions have never been better than today.

Pizza-day, breakfast-day, beer-day, casual-day, massage-day, sport-day, yoga-day, are just a few examples of how employees are spoiled today. No matter in which companies you step in, you will find one of the above at least.

As someone else put it, perks should be divided into “basic shit and fancy shit“. Fancy shit won’t make you happy.

Millennials have started their career when free and fancy perks were a reality. The perception of value is undoubtedly different between generations. However,  66% of millennials are ready to switch job if another company offers better perks. But, is it all about perks?

Millennials are not as superficial as one might think. Yes, perks are attractive, but because the working environment is not. Managing to create a working environment where they feel valued and with possibilities to learn and grow will have far better results than focusing on fancy shit. Obviously, the basic perks, such a decent pay, decent work-life balance, flexibility and so on are still to be considered.

TIP: Perks are the way to perceived happiness. Creating happiness through fancy perks will not lead to higher engagement. Fancy perks will then be regarded as basic ones, and expectations will keep increasing. Link fancy perks to achievements and results. Stimulate growth and accountability.

4. Transparency Creates Awareness

Aside from learning opportunities and growth, millennials value transparency in communication. Changes happen constantly in organizations. Decisions cannot always be taken in groups. However, you can still make them feel part of the decision process by being transparent.

Creating awareness through transparency is key for trust. Regardless of how big your organization is, let millennials be aware of why the company is taking certain steps. If you take the time to explain what’s going on, they will feel part of it.

Sometimes taking these steps can get you in a difficult situation, but as a manager, you need to take the responsibility.

Let’s say your organization is going through rough times for whatever reason, how are you going to address this with your team? You need to be open and honest in sharing the situation and also ready to take in harsh feedback.

Do this by:

  1. Creating a safe environment where feedback is welcome
  2. Acknowledging the facts without softening stories
  3. Keeping enquiring about further clarifications
  4. Answering in a positive but realistic way

Remember that as a manager, you still represent the company, so you need to find the right balance.

TIP: Honesty and transparency are highly regarded by millennials. Creating a safe environment where both parties feel comfortable in sharing thoughts and feelings can go a long way for engagement.

The Road To Success

Although managing millennials can be challenging for everyone, these are the employees that will give you the greatest feeling of achievement.

I believe that implementing the 4 above-mentioned points can be beneficial to anyone, regardless of the generation they are in. The real difference between millennials and baby-boomers, for example, is that today job is not equal to life. Job satisfaction is regarded differently because of the economic situation we are in. However, being respectful, listening more, giving feedback and growth opportunities are beneficial for everyone, not only millennials. We are all just realizing this now because millennials are not afraid to speak up.

One important last point is that not all millennials are created equally. Generalizations have always limitations and it’s up to managers to understand the person in front of them and make a decision about it. You can’t save everyone, but you should save the ones who deserve it.

 

How are you currently managing your team? Do you think is there anything else outside of these points that should be taken into consideration? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Founders Interview: Sankarsh Chanda – Savart Founder

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Savart - MyStartupLand

Sankarsh Chanda is a young but hungry and motivated startup founder from India. He is a certified research analyst and started getting into equity investments at a very early stage, 14. At the time, he developed a strong interest in equity markets. This led him to develop investment strategies from UK, US, Denmark, and India.

Sankarsh’s interest for investment, however, did not stop there. He also wrote a book, Financial Nirvana. This is an investment guide for beginners, combining old-school values and modern-day planning.

His passion for the topic took him in 2017 to found Savart, a wealth management app for everyone. Currently, it manages about 80 Million INR (around $1M) in AUM.

In this exclusive interview with MyStartupLand, we walk through his experience as a startup founder, as well as understanding some key learnings for himself as well as other fellow entrepreneurs around the globe.

1.    Sankarsh, thanks for having this interview. For all startup founders reading your story and practicing their elevator pitch, can you summarise in less than 30 seconds what Savart is? 

Savart is an online-offline wealth manager that helps people make smart investment decisions whether they are investing $1 or a million dollars.

2.    How did you come up with the idea for Savart?

I was working on several freelancing websites building amateur investment strategies for people around the world. The opportunity to study different markets got me excited.

This interest slowly made me think more seriously about actually doing the same for the masses. A lot of friends and family were actually asking me about investment ideas or investable companies. I had no clue on whether to guide them or not, as any loss that would be incurred with my ideas would have made me feel responsible.

This initial thought was strengthened after a customer survey I conducted with over 1000 people throughout the country to understand people’s financial life. As a result, I found out that money was indeed a priority for many. So I felt that our idea to invest and get people wealthier would, in turn, help them focus on their passions and lives, at least to a small extent.

3.     What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

What I just told you about my learnings and experience actually inspired me to become an entrepreneur. It was not something that I had a clear idea about initially. It took me quite some time to understand that turning into an entrepreneur would help me achieve those goals.

4.     Startup founders go through a lot of ups and downs, what keeps you motivated and focused on the target? How do you manage to keep that motivation up within your team? 

The journey has been exciting so far with a lot of ups and downs. On most days, the entire team is very motivated and energetic, but there are days when things don’t happen according to the plan. However, we always have a single thing in mind: customer first. During our meetings, we have an empty chair and assume our customer is there, watching us work. This makes sure that we don’t get distracted or demotivated.

Happy customers and their profits actually keep us motivated.

Other small milestones like feature releases, team members’ induction, and positive customers’ feedback are celebrated to keep the good spirit.

My personal motivation is about getting closer to reach out to the remotest people out there and introducing, explaining, convincing, getting them invested and help them achieve their goals.

5.     Mentors and advisors are important figures, especially for young startup founders. However, finding the right help can be challenging. Can you walk us through how you managed to find the right support? If you could summarize in 3 keywords the key qualities you looked in an advisor or mentor, what would these be? 

I first met my mentor, Mr. Ajay Batra, when I was looking to enroll in an entrepreneur-friendly university. A few meetings later, we understood each other fairly well and my passion was something he connected with, from day one. I can comfortably say that my current work would not have been possible without his guidance and support. I never realized the importance of having a mentor until I had one.

Initially, I had no idea I even needed a mentor, but few things I would look for in a mentor would be:

  • Adding direction and motive to the overall idea
  • Continuous constructive criticism
  • Helping build the right culture for the organization

6.     In light of what you just told us, what’s the best advice so far?

Keep customers’ needs and preferences in mind all the time and give them priority over everything else.

7.     Stress is a natural companion in the journey to success. Can you suggest to other startup founders, who might be going through some rough waters, what’s the best way, in your opinion, to deal with it? 
I often stress out trying to do all things myself. It is important not to micro-manage and trust the team. Trying to do everything by myself can be challenging and also foolish. Hence, building the right team is crucial. The team must be aligned with the vision and mission level with the organization thoroughly for this to happen in the first place.

I think it’s important to note down all activities the founder is involved, as there are thousands of moving parts in a startup. Completing these tasks one by one gives a lot of confidence and helps reduce stress for me.

8.     How did the startup life change you? (compared to the time before your startup journey)
My book reading hours have drastically reduced. I now listen to people more than I speak. I travel much more frequently and get to visit quite a few places.
9.     When running a startup, there are several components that become priorities: product, team, culture, funding, and so on… what’s your top priority when running Savart and why?
Product and culture are my top priorities closely followed by the team. I strongly believe that my mission and a sense of building a positive culture is why I am in the business. While the product is what will keep me in the business. Keeping the team happy and positive is also a top priority.
Savart Founder - MyStartupLand
10.  Did you raise venture capital? If yes, what would you suggest to other startup founders that are getting into VC funding? If not, are you going to look for funding and how would you go about it?
I have not raised VC fundings so far. However, we are looking to raise some soon. I would suggest to founders to look for like-minded investors. These should be creating long-term wealth and be aligned with your vision.
The lesser the investor interfere in areas of founder’s strengths and the more they add value to the founder’s blind-spots, the better the investor is.
11.  How much influence did customers interviews have while building Savart? 
I started as a product guy and all I cared was to build a perfect, unique product that performed well for customers. Eventually, I realized that I had to focus on building a solution that was customer-centric. Adding value to people’s lives became the priority and not just the end result.
This commitment towards customer choices helped us get recognized and awarded by TiE (The Indus Entrepreneur) in New Delhi as one of the leading startups employing design thinking and being customer-centric in India.
12.  How has Savart been perceived by the market so far? How does your current growth look like? 
We are in the initial days of our business. The growth has been fairly good and slowly catching up to our expectations. Most of our customers are extremely satisfied with the special treatment and transparency in our services. We are experiencing referrals from our existing clients, which we believe is a great sign of growth.
13.  What advice would you give to first-time startup founders?
There are few things I would say to first-time startup founders:
  1. Stick to the motivation.
  2. Keep the passion alive and burning.
  3. Money < Mission
  4. Long-term benefits outweigh short-term gratifications – not just with investments but in most things, we do at a startup.
  5. Respect team and customers
14. Savart is based in India, can you share your experience as a startup founder in the country? 
It is exciting to be a part of India’s startup ecosystem. I personally believe the startup space in the country is in its nascent stage but the pace of the growth in terms of awareness and changes in making things easy for businesses is great.
I cannot predict the outcome of this change, but things are definitely looking positive and startups are getting the support they deserve.
15. India startup ecosystem is incredibly active with some massive companies around, as well as innovative startups across the country. How do you see the competitive landscape and what are some key activities that you take as a leader to ensure your market position is protected? 
The Indian startup ecosystem is growing and new companies are coming up by the dozens each month.

The equity investment space is particularly competitive. Given the size of the market, however, and the potential, we would hardly call them competition. Instead, the competition helps spread the costs of educating our customer segments and thus opening avenues for the industry as a whole.

Moreover, Savart’s stock research algorithm, online & offline interface along with its rural networks help it reach out to those customer segments which are off the radar of most of the other players.

 

You can follow their stories on the following Social Media channels:

Facebook

LinkedIn

 

Tools For Startup Founders: Email Hunter

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Email Hunter - MyStartupLand

Summary:

Email Hunter lets you find email addresses of prospects in seconds and allows you to connect with people that matter for your business.

What Is It? 

Email Hunter can be either a Chrome extension or a stand-alone tool. Your sales reps simply need to add a domain name and the tool will get you examples of email address structure. Super add-on: there’s a confidence score.

It has different functionalities:

  • Type Filter – List specific type of results
  • Email Pattern – Understand most used email formats
  • Lead Gen – Save leads your team finds

Is It Free? 

Yes! Up to 100 searches per month. This should be more than enough for your sales team.

SparkLabs & Argon Group Partner Up To Launch First Startup Accelerator Security Token Offering

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sparklabs - mystartupland

SparkLabs, the largest startup accelerator in Asia, operating a global venture capital fund, has partnered with Argon Group, a digital finance advisory firm. The partnership has taken place to launch the first startup accelerator security token.

This token is not a utility token but simply a smart contract. This represents an investor’s equity into its fund vehicle that will have equal holdings in start-up companies that are associated with SparkLabs IoT & Smart City Accelerator in Songdo, South Korea and SparkLabs Cultiv8 Accelerator in Orange, Australia.

This comes as a surprise, considering SparkLabs has been very conservative in its approach towards cryptocurrencies.

SparkLabs accelerators’ alumni companies have raised on average over $3.5 million with 80% of the startups receiving funding after the program.  SparkLabs’ startups also average over $500,000 in funds raised prior to entering the accelerator programs.

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Rebirth Of Email Marketing – 119 Stats You Didn’t Know

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Email Marketing - MyStartupLand

Despite the fact that there is now lots of new and innovative ways to market a business, email marketing is by no means taking a back seat. This is especially thanks to rise in mobile phone use over recent years.

People have now instant access to emails wherever they are. They often have email notifications activated on mobile devices. Some marketers would even go as far as to say that email marketing is currently undergoing something of a “rebirth”. Thanks to this, brands are exploring new ways to drive ROI and reach potential customers.

The Rebirth Of Email Marketing

Like with most things, email marketing services are constantly evolving, implementing innovative ways to grab the audience attention. New technologies allow for all sorts of new features to be included in a marketing email. For example, more and more emails include a video to grab people’s attention, or use analytics for personalization.

Using names in an email can also be effective, but not as much as thought. What recipients seem to prefer is personalisation. Product suggestion based on their previous purchasing or browsing history is what triggers the audience attention. This is an interesting point to consider, as marketers should send emails with a specific need, as opposed to just sending an email without a defined name. By sending product suggestions, the email is automatically given an aim.

Another great way to grab someone’s attention is to give them something. People love getting free things, and as soon as they see that word in the subject line, it is likely to draw them in. You could also offer them discounts or promotions, all of which are likely to encourage them to click through to your website.

With the rise in social media use, many people thought that the death of email marketing was near, but with companies being creative in their email marketing approach, their demise is by no means imminent.

Email Marketing - MyStartupLand

5 Effective Ways Your Startups Can Get Existing Clients Referrals

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Existing Clients Referrals - MyStartupLand

Regardless of the industry your startup operates in, existing clients referrals are a critical component of your success. When an existing client refers your products or services to her network, she is making a strong statement about your startup. 

Your satisfied client found true value in working with you and is actively assisting you in helping you to generate new business.

One of the biggest challenges startup founders face is how to get more clients. Asking for referrals is a cost-effective solution that many might not be thinking about. Understanding how to get existing clients referrals can help you to get the leads you desire.

Build Trust and Respect With Your Clients

Before asking for referrals, it is important to build brand awareness and ensure that clients are fully satisfied with your startup. Building trust and respect with clients is a critical step in this process.

Although critical, it is not as complicated as it might seem. Building trust is based on delivering on what you have promised you would do. This includes everything from arriving on time as scheduled to perform services to ensuring customer satisfaction before leaving.

TIP: Create customer satisfaction surveys to get instant feedback.

Select Specific Clients for Referrals

When thinking about getting existing clients referrals, it is crucial to carefully select who you want to ask for referrals from.

Each of your clients may have had a unique experience with your startup. Some may have been thrilled with their experience, and others may have only been somewhat pleased. Thrilled clients can generally be expected to gush and rave to others about what they have experienced. These are the clients that will refer your products and services to their network. These are the clients you want to ask for leads from.

TIP: Carefully think about who to ask referral from

Ask for Referrals Directly

There are a few different ways to ask for referrals. One of these methods is to directly ask for leads.

Explain to your clients that you are pleased they had a great experience with your startup and stress out how word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients are trivial for your growth. Chances are that you have helped them in some way through your products and services. Pleased clients will be more than happy to help your business in return. 

TIP: Ask existing clients for referrals, don’t shy away from this practice.

Create a Rewards System for Existing Clients Referrals

Another great way to get existing clients referrals is to create a rewards system.

For example, you may offer a cash credit on the next service you provide to the customer in exchange for the referral. You may also offer a free month of service, a gift card or another type of reward. This goes without saying, but ensure that your rewards system is affordable before you move forward with it.

TIP: Explore rewards opportunities for clients referrals

Extend Thanks for Referrals

Regardless of whether you have a rewards system or not, it is important to extend thanks when your existing clients refer you to others. They have gone out of their way to help you generate more business.

More than that, they have said kind, thoughtful and helpful words on your behalf. Ensure that you reach out to each client who referred you in a personal way to thank them for their efforts.

TIP: Be grateful for each referral you receive

Final Thoughts On Existing Clients Referrals

Referrals are one of the top ways to generate new leads on a dime.

You may have spent a considerable amount of time and effort making sure that your existing clients love the work you did for them. You can easily take advantage of that time and effort through referrals.

Most clients, however, will not refer a business without specifically being invited to do so. Whether you ask for referrals directly or you set up a referral system, be sure to take full advantage of referrals.

 

Do you currently make use of referrals? What are the best strategies that you have implemented so far? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

Drawbacks and Benefits of Mobile Payment in Startups

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Mobile Payments - MyStartupLand

With technology on the rise, it is no surprise people are becoming accustomed to paying for items with their phones. With applications such as Apple Pay, PayPal, and Google Wallet making it easy for customers to pay online, companies of all sizes started to accept mobile payments as well.

While the convenience of paying for everything with a smartphone brings plenty of benefits, it certainly brings a few drawbacks with it. It is important to take these risks into consideration before switching your startup over to accepting mobile payments.

Mobile Payments Benefits

The trend is quickly catching up with customers. Should you jump right into it? Here are the many advantages of mobile payments for startups. Let’s take a look.

1. Convenience

One of the benefits of mobile wallet payments is the convenience. When it’s easy to make a mobile payment the customer will spend more money on your services or products.

A customer is more likely to have their phone on them when they see an item they would like to have rather than their credit card, right? Many companies have already adopted this practice with dozens of examples to vouch for it. Even laundromats are jumping on board and allowing customers to make mobile payments with their e-CleanPay service, instead of using coins to operate their washing machines.

Another benefit of mobile payments comes to the ease of interacting with mobile customers to encourage them to shop in your store. For example, those who bring their phone out to check for item prices, coupons, or product descriptions are more likely to pay with their mobile phone than those who aren’t engaged with your company online.

2. Access To Valuable Information

Encouraging your customers to pay with their mobile device will also provide you access to powerful data that can easily improve your business.

Some of these mobile apps often provide information about the customer that your sales team can implement in their processes. This will improve your sales and survey ratings, all while keeping your customers happy. Using these apps can also help you keep track of your businesses personal information such as your inventory and when you should order more.

3. Cost Reduction

Converting your smartphone into a POS (point of sale) device is much more simple and cost-efficient than purchasing a traditional POS system. Using an app or card reader on your mobile device will also cut the costs of receipt paper and ink since you can email the receipt straight to the customer’s device.

Mobile Payments Drawbacks

After highlighting the advantages of setting up mobile payments in your startup, it is important next to check on the drawbacks.

1. Security Risks

One of the most widely known risks of accepting payments with a mobile phone is the possibility of data breaches. When customers decide to pay with their mobile devices, they are trusting you with their information. If for some reason this information should be compromised, it could cause tense relationships between your customer and your business, harming your brand

2. Inconvenience For Some Customers

Many people are set in their ways and would rather pay for items with a debit or credit card. For businesses having to choose between solely accepting mobile payments or regular payments, this may be an important point to think over.

3. Too Many Alternatives To Choose From

Everyone’s devices are different, and not all mobile payment application treat devices in the same way. For example, a user with PayPal may be good to pay using mobile phone credit at your business, but a Google Wallet user may not be able to. It is important to read the fine print before choosing a platform and to inform your customers of what mobile payments you can accept before starting the transaction.

Speaking of fine print, it’s also very important to note the fees your application may charge you for using their software. Some applications charge a swipe fee for transactions while others charge for manual payments, so beware before signing up.

4. Constant Update Needed

While some see the fact that turning your device into a POS system to accept mobile payments is much cheaper than buying a traditional system, it may actually cost you in the long run.

Whatever device you’re using, you will need to keep up with the updating POS software and eventually will become outdated. For example, many users are currently switching to phones that can support NFC (Near Field Communication). If you keep your device running long enough that it becomes unable to update to keep up with the requirements to run mobile payments, you will have to upgrade your device.

 

Also, on top of having to have at least semi-recent technology, you are also required to keep a strong internet connection to make it possible for your startup to process mobile payments. This may be an added cost that your startup is not ready for yet.

 

Have you implemented mobile payments in your startup? Do you see an increase in usage of mobile payments within your user base? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Biggest Global Cybersecurity Trends in 2018

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As many cybersecurity experts say, no company– regardless of its nature or size – is safe from cyber attacks. In this age where businesses rely so heavily on data and information, it is not surprising why even startups are being targeted by cybercriminals.

It is also well-known fact that hackers have equal – if not better – skills and resources than most startup businesses. With cybersecurity threats on the rise, it is imperative for business owners to take it more seriously and make it a core part of their business operations.

Is Cybersecurity Affecting Only Big Corporations?

Many startups and small business owners think that hackers only target high-profile organizations. However, a study from Ponemon Institute revealed that 55% of SMEs experienced some form of cyber attack.

As long as your business uses an Internet-connected computing device or has an online presence such as website, social media, or cloud storage accounts, you are at risk of getting hacked. Adding more to the risk is that most SMEs have no dedicated IT department to deal with this kind of issues. This is why it is important for startups to make data security a shared responsibility across all members.

Cybersecurity Trends For 2018

This year, we can expect that cybersecurity will continue to be an important topic in the startup scene. To give you a glimpse of what might take place in the cybersecurity landscape in 2018, here are the key takeaways by TeleMessage.

  1. Increased Data Breach Accidents from Unsecured IoT Devices
  2. Cyber Extortion and Data Breaches to Increase in Frequency
  3. More IT Security Professionals Doubt Their Organization’s Cybersecurity Capabilities
  4. Cyber Warfare and Breaches Will Have the Greatest Negative Impact on Organizations
  5. Cybersecurity as Strategic Priority
  6. More Focus on Regulatory Compliance

Global Cybersecurity Trends 2018 - MyStartupLand

 

What security measures does your startup have in place? Have hackers ever attacked your company? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

6 Sales And Marketing Strategies To Grow Your Startup

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sales and marketing - MyStartupLand

The key to growing a startup these days is based on understanding why traditional sales and marketing strategies are failing and why new activities are taking over.

Sales And Marketing To Fuel Growth

A good combination of sales and marketing is needed for successful startups’ growth. Sales relate to those one-on-one direct interactions that add revenues to the organization bottom line. Cold calls, email, networking events, and meetings are all part of the direct sales process.

Marketing, on the other side, involves those activities that a startup takes to reach and recruit prospects. Some examples are direct email campaigns, online advertising, PR and more traditional advertising, such as TV or Radio.

Direct sales marketing embodies all these strategies. Research has shown that there’s a need of 3 to 12 touch points to convert a lead into a client. More important than quantity of contacts though, is following and maximizing each contact point so that the time, cost, and effort put into each sale decrease.

What’s Not Working? 

There are some marketing techniques that have been proved over the years that are still relevant. People still love video advertising. As a matter of fact, video accounts for 69% of all consumer traffic, according to Cisco Visual Networking. Aside from this, however, many other activities are failing. Sirius Decision has reported that on average the sales cycle has increased by 22% over the past 5 years.

  • According to the 2016 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail is expected to experience a 19% decline over the next 12 months;
  • A mere 13% of people who read print publications report ever looking at the ads;
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened;
  • 70% to 80% of online users don’t look at online ads, preferring to focus only on organic search results;
  • 86% of people ignore television commercials.

 

Effective Sales And Marketing Strategies

Buyers have become more and more complicated to reach due to their ad-blindness. For this reason, it becomes very important for startup founders and marketers to find new and innovative ways to target their audience.

Without doubts, it is the role of a startup founder to ensure that information is delivered to the prospects at the right time, in the right format and platform. This is where inbound marketing strategy becomes crucial.

1. Research

This refers to the time spent understanding company goals and strategy, as well as the industry and consumers. This step is where startup founders focus on attracting customers rather than seeking new leads.

The important points here are:

  1. Clarify what the business is and ask yourself:
  • What does it mean to “grow the business?”
  • How will you know if you are being successful?
  • What are the long and short-term goals?
  • What is the sales process?
  1. Keep checking on the industry

Regardless of the experience, someone might have in an industry, things will keep changing. Innovation is a constant nowadays and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. This is where industry research comes in.

  • How do other startups fare against meeting (or exceeding) their goals?
  • What marketing strategies are other organizations implementing to attract clients?
  • What current events and news are impacting your industry?
  • Is there a B2B marketplace a startup founder can access?
  • Are there any leaders that a startup founder can speak to within the industry?
  1. Understand your customer base

Another important point is to talk with people on the ground. Your salespeople, but also everyone else involved in consumers relationship, should be doing this. Use those people to gather as many insights as possible to understand what potential customers want.

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Which marketing tactics work best?
  • Are customers complaining about any current strategies?
  • What are the customer demographics?
  • What questions are the sales teams answering most?
  • What pain points does the product or service help alleviate?

2. Create Effective Content

Startup founders cannot expect users to discover their website magically. There’s a need to update the content constantly. Over 70 percent of marketers say relevant content is the most effective SEO tactic. Startups that blog 16 times or more per month enjoy four times more leads than those who publish blog content less than five times a month.

The most effective content focuses on helping customers reach their goals or solve problems. Although old content might still be relevant and create value for prospects, it’s best to make sure new content is created constantly.

3. Pay Attention to SEO

In the word of content marketing, SEO is a very important activity to keep in mind. SEO consists of all the factors that influence search engine ranking. This is what makes your customers know where to find your startup. Once you have a good understanding of what your target customer base is looking for, it’s important to spread those keywords on your website.

To optimize a website for SEO, Entrepreneur magazine suggests that startup founders:

  • Create a priority list of keywords that pertain to the customer base and market segment
  • Review industry sources and competitive lists to determine which keywords should be used
  • If there are frequent misspelled words, include those in the web pages as well
  • Track the site’s rankings every 30 to 45 days to ensure the keywords remain effective
  • Determine goals ahead of time and make sure they are measurable to review them regularly
  • Create page titles
  • Develop new sitemaps for Google and Bing
  • Place strategic words throughout your content pages
  • Continually test and measure the business’s success

4. Podcasts Really Work

People love to receive something for nothing. In the world of marketing, the most valuable asset is knowledge. Offer this to potential customers through an effective use of Podcasts.

Podcast listening, as shown by Hubspot, increased by 23 percent between 2015 and 2016.

5. Become Social Media Savvy

The effectiveness of social media marketing is controversial. Some people say it’s a complete waste of time, however, the numbers suggest otherwise. After all, the breadth of audience participation is unparalleled.

  • 72 percent of adult Internet users utilize Facebook;
  • During the past two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57 percent;
  • Instagram has 500 million active monthly users;
  • LinkedIn has 450 million members, with a reported 25 percent active on a monthly basis
  • 30% of U.S. millennial use Snapchat regularly

6. Stay In Contact

Depending on the product or service your startup offers, it might be that it is crossing your target audience mind on a daily basis (such as a food-related product) or less frequently (such as expensive beauty treatments). Once you have an understanding of this, it’s important to structure your sales and marketing activities with that in mind and be there when they are ready to buy.

The best way to do so is to maintain a constant and consistent communication with your target audience.

  1. Collect the customer’s information at every opportunity, but be aware of new regulations, such as the GDPR
  2. Craft email campaigns to stay in contact with prospects and previous customers
  3. Be sure the business is listed in local directories and search engines.

 

Having an effective sales and marketing strategy means more than relying on direct mail campaigns or traditional advertising activities. It involves a multi-dimensional aspect, that develops in a  multi-sensor process. It’s crucial for startup founders to keep up with industry trends, as well as understanding new technologies available in the market to assist your sales and marketing efforts.

What activities are you currently implementing in your startups to leverage both sales and marketing? Do you see any direct result thanks to the strategy you have implemented? Share your experience in the comment section below.