Friday, September 14, 2007

Entrepreneur Issue! The viral marketing mystery

These days almost every business plan has a viral marketing component to it.

How do you get customers? Viral marketing to the rescue; there seems to be an “understanding gap”.

I have made it a point in the past few weeks to ask every entrepreneur that brings up the issue “what do you mean by viral marketing?” The diversity of answers and interpretations are fascinating. The responses include, funny videos on Youtube, a page on Myspace, putting definitions on wikipedia, planned message board entries, and of course having a blog. What is interesting is that the definition of viral marketing is reduced to the channels of distributing a message vs. the message itself.

To have a viral marketing campaign, you must first have a message that is viral and contagious like a virus, a message that contaminates others as soon as they hear it, to the point of passing it to others. 93% of all sales are initiated through word of mouth, and viral marketing is intended to ignite this process. BUT, the first question is do you have a compelling message, a compelling story a compelling product, and a compelling value proposition that deserves to be viral. The second question is how you communicate it to your potential customers (the channel).

If you want to have a viral marketing program, the initial challenge is to figure out what is your contagious (viral) message (the virus), do people care hearing about it, are they impressed enough (contaminated) to pass it on (contaminate others). In the process, you must make sure that people are not already immune to the virus – just because it worked for someone else, it will not work for you; a fake message, a “me too” message, and a message without a real value proposition backing it is not viral, it is noise and can be more detrimental than helpful.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Entrepreneur Issue! Nothing wrong with a Life style business!

Speaking to entrepreneurs everyday has lead me to believe that most entrepreneurs really like to build a Life Style business and are not in tune with what motivates Venture Capital firms or Angels to invest.

So what the heck is a Life business?

1. You build it to operate for many years to come
2. It will generate good income for you and you absolutely love doing the job
3. you want to be in control – who needs a boss!
4. This would be a great business for my children to get involved with

If your answer to any of the above questions is yes … well you are on your way to build a Life Style business. Where you do not need a very very large market sizes, you do not need disturbing technology, you do not need a proven management team from Ivy league schools, you do not have to report to a board who is pushing for faster and more aggressive results all the time, and most importantly you do not need to exit (sell out).

So what is wrong with starting a Life Style business – well absolutely nothing, but do not expect making millions in a couple of years, be patient with growth, be prepared to put your name on the dotted line as a guarantor.