When Choosing Marketing Channels, Visualize the Curve

Business Owner: “We’re launching a new company/website/campaign and want to buy ads that can get us some customers. Once that’s working, we’ll invest in content and SEO.” Marketer: “So, no one’s heard of your brand, and you don’t have any existing digital marketing, but you’d like to start with ads, then invest in content and SEO?” Business Owner: “Yup! That’s…

One Customer Feedback Email Changed Our Startup’s Trajectory

Building a new company means constantly managing one’s emotions. The high highs of days when everything’s golden inevitably give way to the low lows when you’re certain it’s all doomed. At the end of February, Casey (my cofounder) and I were in that latter boat, nervous about how signups for our 10-month old startup had slowed to a trickle. Here’s…
Data Marketing Startups Tactics

Marketing Personas Are Almost Always a Boondoggle (but they don’t have to be)

Boss: “We need marketing personas for each of our customer targets.”You: “Got it. What problems are these personas meant to solve?”Boss: “You know, um… Strategy. Targeting. And, uh… give ’em fun names like Workin’ Wendy and Stay-at-Home Steve, or something.”You: “Oh god, not again…” A few years back, I worked on a 6-month project to collect survey, interview, and industry…
Product Psychology Startups

SaaS Churn and Short-Term Customers: The Contrarian View

Ever wonder why so many business software companies make it so darn difficult to start using their products? Or why subscription-focused tools are so obsessed with making it hard to quit vs. making it easy to sign up? Why don’t these SaaS (software-as-a-service, aka subscription) companies want customers who might only need their product every few months or even only…

Why You Should Hire Agencies & Consultants (for everything you can)

In my first decade as a tech CEO, I consistently got advice about how building a great team was essential to building a great business. Agencies and consultants were never part of this conversation. It was always: hire full-time employees in areas where you need a competitive advantage; only hire agencies for functions you want to put on autopilot or…
Psychology Startups

We’ve Gotta Stop Using “Lifestyle Business” as a Pejorative

For a long while, American business culture has worshiped at the altar of big. Entrepreneurs want to build “big” companies, because they believe that’s how they prove their worth. The media tells us that’s true when they report on every move made by big companies, but barely cover small ones. Speakers on stages and webinars reinforce it when they talk…
Marketing Startups

Where Should You Start Marketing a New Business or Product?

There’s no question I get more when presenting on startup marketing than this: “I feel so overwhelmed… Where do I even start?” It’s a fair response, one for which I have great empathy. If you start consuming information about marketing a business online, the rabbit hole can quickly lead to some very overwhelming and, in my opinion, misleading advice. When…
Marketing Psychology Startups

Read The Room.

When folks ask me about how best to do marketing right now, my answer is consistently turning into the same three words: Read the room. Imagine you’ve walked into a religious space. This room is sacred to the people inside it. When you speak, whatever you say will be viewed through the context of where you are. That’s exactly what…