Posted by: pauditore | August 27, 2009

Why Big Company’s can’t and Startup’s Can: Startup Advantages in Marketing Communications & Sales

Small business and startup companies are not hindered by the politics and processes of larger companies and can operate at a higher level of business velocity especially in this age of social media. In a startup company public relations is the mouthpiece of marketing and PR, marketing and sales are connected at the hip. This is a major competitive advantage that small business and startups have over their larger competitors. Nowhere in large organizations will you find such synergy and automatic cross functional team execution, they are so siloed they can’t help themselves. Reading this week is Peter Ducker’s famous book, the Daily Drucker, published in 2004 the Daily Drucker provides 366 days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done.

This is great reading for companies of all sizes and unlike many management books it was written by an alien, Peter Drucker was so smart he didn’t come from this planet!

Startup Advantages

  • Top Down support and commitment
  • Culture
  • Execution and the illusion of largeness
  • Relationships

Top down Support

When the president or business owner fully supports marketing communications, then the rest of the company follows along. You need support from everyone and especially the CFO or controller who ultimately signs the checks for travel and entertainment. At my second startup, Hummingbird, the CEO understood the value of MARCOM and even went on the road and helped conduct briefings. This was vital to Hummingbird’s success in the early days when winning product awards from technology magazines meant something. Sometimes, however, CEOs can be arrogant and not know how to respond to the journalist’s “stupid question.” They can be combative and play what I call the stupid smart guy syndrome, and actually destroy the relationship that you are trying to build. When a journalist or analyst asks a “stupid question”, it is your opportunity to educate them, not berate them. Some CEO’s and Presidents never understand this and it leads back to my favorite Sicilian proverb, “listen you learn talk you teach.”

Culture

Small business and startups are not hindered by politics and sometimes antiquated policies, processes and procedures that plague large enterprises. Nor do peers within the company try and take credit for other peoples work and/or successes. Their altruistic culture prevails and with PR, marketing and sales all teams on the same page, all campaigns, initiatives and programs are clearly focused on the bottom line, driving sales. This environment and culture enables startups and small businesses to operate at a much higher level of what I call business velocity. The best and most effective communications is always around the success that you deliver to your customers and the relationships that you create and maintain with them. This provides competitive advantage in the market that can’t be disputed.

Execution

In the new social media communications world we live in today, communications’ agility and execution are paramount not only in brand protection, but even more so in every aspect of your communications and sales strategy. Startups and small business can execute at business velocity levels that leave large organizations in the dust. As Drucker always said, “there is no strategy without execution” and there is great opportunity for small business to execute and create what I call the illusion of largeness in their market. At Zona Research the first step in our communications marketing attack began with the investment in a great looking Logo that made us look big. Making news today and generating interest in your company in some markets means blogging, tweeting and participation in a social network. This inflection point in the communications war almost evens the playing field for small businesses against larger competitors. Creating and executing a communications strategy that makes you look bigger than you are is even easier and less expensive today than it was ten years ago, just look at Youtube.

Relationships

What is a relationship? There are actually all kinds of them in the business world that benefit you and there are those that just don’t help you. Over my last twenty years in the technology industry I have continually heard the word symbiosis, as if it were a good relationship. Well in the world of plants and animals symbiosis can be tremendously varied, and it includes relationships like parasitism, and mutualism. Does the thought of Plasmodium Vivax, (the malaria parasite) flying around your blood stream eating your red blood cells sound symbiotic and good? Large organizations today may think they are symbiotic; however, their greatest challenge is in actually building and developing meaningful relationships with key influencers.  They are constrained by what I call a host of inhibitors: politics, policies, procedures, legal, and processes that are boundless; this prevents them from forming deep and meaningful relationships with journalists and analysts. During my days in startup marketing communications I formed great relationships with the key influencers, so deep that I was seen as their advisor and authority on the market. If you are in a startup or small company competing against mid size or large organizations, make the relationship investment with the key influencers in your market it will pay off in many ways, including more sales.

The Personality of the Blowfish

This week our marine biology discussion is about a fish with perhaps the prickliest personalities of all, the blowfish. Blowfish are one of only two fishes that are circumpolar, meaning they are found in nearly all the world’s oceans, the other is known as the mullet. From the family Tetraodontidae, blowfish are the second most poisonous of all vertebrates, and the most poisonous of all fishes, they second only to the Golden Frog. Their glands secrete a neurotoxin that can paralyze your involuntary muscle system that of course means that you stop breathing. In Japan, sushi chefs are trained for years in the art of fogu preparation that means having the skill to cut just the right amount of poison from the membranes on the skin of the blowfish. After consuming fogu sushi, your lips, tongue and mouth go completely numb and hopefully that is as far as it goes.

When threatened or alarmed the blowfish can quickly inflate itself and protrude its spines. This of course is a great defensive mechanism and helps it to avoid from being eaten, however, once in the mouth of a fish it becomes nearly indigestible. In all my marine biology years I never once encountered a blow fish in my stomach content analysis, of any fish or mammal, and I dissected thousands of fish over a course of ten years mostly at sea. Blowfish employ ostraciform swimming motion that is they use only their fins for propulsion and because of their personality they can pretty much go anywhere they want anytime they want. There are more than 120 species of blowfish on our planet and they are actually highly evolved and quite beautiful in coloration and movement. Like many fishes that employ ostraciform swimming motion they appear to almost float or hover through the water like a hummingbird. I hope you have enjoyed this week’s blog post and remember to keep your blowfish like employees in the office when you interact with the influencers. Until next time I wish you and your company great marketing and selling in the millennium and remember if you don’t blow your own horn no one else will!

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