Social Marketing Kung Fu, Purple Belt with Dave Olson

Dave Olson

Photo by Kris Krug

On Wednesday, April 27th, I sat in on my first startup talk at the Bootup Garage. Dave Olson, Director of Marketing at Hootsuite, came in to do his third talk in a series aptly named Social Marketing Kung Fu (#smkf).

In January, Dave started off with Social Marketing Kung Fu, White Belt (Maura’s notes from that session are here), then in March, he came in for the Yellow Belt – “Listening Everywhere” session.

Dave is always a joy to listen to – I’ve seen him speak at a few different conferences – so I was eager to hear what he had to say in session number three: Social Marketing Kung Fu, Purple Belt – Release Day. His talks are always full of interesting tidbits and useful information, and this one was definitely no different.

I jotted down a few notes to share with you, but you can also find Dave’s notes on getting your Purple Belt here.

What to Release

  • Should be something substantial, or a few things bundled together and released around the same time.
  • Code names for product releases are always smart, as they’re memorable.

Know Your Coverers

  • Reach out to the media that you want to cover your story: RT them, comment on their stories, add them to twitter lists, etc.
  • Get to know them, and what they write about.
  • Personally invite them to join your media e-mail list.
  • When you send them info, make their life easy. Respect their time.
  • Spoon feed them the story, but never be condescending.

Craft Stories

  • Take 3 important talking points, and craft them into different forms.
  • Tell them why your story matters!
  • Get quotes from your customers, not your CEO (unless it’s a special circumstance, where a quote from the CEO is appropriate).
  • Putting a boiler plate “About” section at the bottom of a press release is unnecessary and a waste of space. Link to your website/blog instead.
  • Tune your vocab. Make it active, not passive. Lose the buzz words, and keep your vocab as consistent as possible.
  • Include image(s) to support your story, so they use your image and not their own.

Line up Dominoes &/or House of Cards

  • Constantly keep your media kit up to date. If you have one page on your website, this should be it.
  • Thursday before the release: Send an internal memo to your team to share the master plan. Include your 3 main talking points, who you’re telling, and why it matters.
  • Monday 1PM: Local press release, & media preview e-mail. Include assets, like an infographic, if possible. Make them feel like they are getting the story first.
  • You can also send a preview e-mail to your key clients, to keep them in the loop, and ultimately, make them feel special.
  • Tuesday 5AM: Scheduled blog post. Make everything point here, so it answers any questions people may have. This way you are controlling the conversation.
  • Next comes Twitter & Facebook updates, a general e-mail to clients, and a wire release (with links, tags, etc.) Keep the Facebook update light and airy. You don’t want it to become your main feedback channel.
  • Tuesday 9AM: Make sure your dominoes have fallen into place! You can also update any LinkedIn groups, Forums, Q & A sites like Quora, Formspring, etc.
  • Tuesday 11AM: Optionally, you can host a webinar, an hour at most, to go over any details that go along with the release.
  • Schedule any interviews requested by the media.

Then…

LISTEN
REPLY
THANK
SHARE
REPEAT

Prepare for the haters

  • If you comment on articles right away and thank the author for sharing your story, you may prevent a good portion of negative comments, because they know you’re there listening.
  • Prepare some stock comment copy for the trolls, so that you don’t take their criticism personally.

Finally

  • Thursday: Send a News Round-up. Share your favourite coverage from the release. If someone has created a video tutorial on your product, make sure to include that. Don’t forget to trackback to those articles.

Next month, Dave O will be back for the fourth installment of Social Marketing Kung Fu at the Garage, so be sure to come check it out.

After the talk, most of us headed over to the Alibi Room for Startup Drinks. Sign up for the Bootup Meetup Group if you haven’t yet, so you don’t miss out on the next one!

Additionally, if you have any other notes or tips that I have missed, please feel free share them here.

The Art of the Investor Pitch with Boris Wertz

There are many posts, books, and seminars out there already that cover how to pitch investors.  As entrepreneurs, it is important to realize that there are many ways to pitch investors and each investor is different. For instance, some investors may care more about the team than the idea where others may want to see real traction before they invest.  The most important thing you can do first is identify the right investors for your business and learn everything you can about how and what they invest in before reaching out.  The right investor will be more than just an injection of cash. The right investor will bring loads of value in the form of mentorship, connections and added credibility.

Considering that Boris Wertz is one of Canada’s most notable super angels, we thought it would be helpful to learn his tips on pitching early stage investors.  As an angel, Boris has invested in more than 20 early stage consumer Internet companies in the Pacific Northwest including Summify, Sparkbuy, Tynt, Suite101.com and Techvibes to name only a few and sees his share of approximately 150-200+ pitches per year.  Out of those 200+ pitches, he many only invest in about 5-6 companies,  which means you have to be pretty stellar to cut through all that noise and land a term sheet.

Step 1 – How to Find the Right Investor
I know you are busy building a company but you have to poke your head out of the garage once and a while to meet other entrepreneurs, angels etc. and get to know the influencers in your community.  Through your interactions and presence at events, you will quickly learn more about the types of investors you should consider approaching.  Boris stressed that you really need to do your homework before you start knocking on doors, so you do not waste anyone’s time.  Once you have compiled a list of investors, dig deeper to find out more about the stage (early stage vs. later) what sector (software vs. ecommerce), business model (b2b or b2c) and geography each investor is interested in as well as who you know that can personally introduce you.

Step 2-  The Warm Introduction
As I have learned first hand and Boris noted in his presentation, it is always best to get a warm introduction to an investor rather than cold call or shoot off an email out of the blue.  An introduction from someone an investor trusts and respects could make all the difference in getting you a face-to-face meeting.  And when you finally do get an introduction – don’t send the investor a 20 page business plan ahead of time. Just an executive summary with a link to your product will do.

Step 3-  Nail the Pitch
Nailing your pitch is way easier said then done but if you have done your homework and been introduced to the right investors, you are off to a great start.  Boris and many Internet investors I know look at the team first.  A strong team can weather many storms and iterate and pivot when needed.  The idea will change, so Boris recommends that in your first meeting you:

  • pitch yourself not the idea
  • show a product demo
  • focus on a the high level concept, rather than digging deep into the long term plans and financials
  • keep your pitchdeck to 10 slides. Something Guy Kawasaki also preaches

What Not to Do:

  • Ask Investor to sign an NDA – If you ask for an investor to sign an NDA, you may not even get past your first slide. Investors see hundreds of pitches every year and chances are there are many other entrepreneurs, who are working on a similar idea. If you ask your investor to sign an NDA, you look like an amateur.
  • Share a detailed business plan and financials. In your first meeting, going into too much detail is not necessary.  Explain what problem you are solving first and show a demo of the product if you can.
  • Schedule a 30 minute or more meeting – Any meeting longer than 30 minutes is too much for Boris. If you are pitching an investor and he starts asking questions, seems engaged and you go over the allotted 30 minutes, that’s probably a good sign.  If you aim to deliver your presentation in less than 20 minutes and allow time for questions, you will be in good shape.

Remember, every investor is different.  Boris likes to spend time getting to know you before he invests. Other investors will be quicker to write a check.  Venture Capitalists usually take 4-6 months, if not more to paper a deal.  So, the be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to raise funds.

Boris’ Presentation
If you missed Boris’s presentation, he has posted the presentation on his blog here.  Thanks again Boris, for dropping by.

What Have You Learned?
As always, we love hearing from you too. If you have an investor Do or Don’t that you learned a long the way, please share with the rest of us in the comments below.

NOTE: Next Bootup seminar will be on February 23 – Social Marketing Ku Fu, Yellow Belt “Listening Everywhere” with Dave Olson. Sign up. He rocks!

Social Marketing Kung Fu, White Belt with Dave Olson

If I had an all time favorite people in Vancouver list, Dave Olson, the Community Director for Hootsuite, would be on it.

He’s engaging, worldly, kind-hearted and always willing to share what he has learned with others.  And so, when I asked Dave to be a Mentor for Bootup Garage, he didn’t even hesitate.  However, instead of hosting regular mentor office hours, Dave wanted to put together a series of social marketing talks for startups. Yes, please!

On Wednesday, January 26 – Dave delivered his first Social Marketing (#smkf) presentation at Bootup and as expected, it was chock full of practical nuggets, steps and interesting stories to help attendees start building their own social marketing toolkit.

“Dave O’s talk was great. I have already implemented some of the strategies with my companies. Dave O is a wealth of information – entertaining with great practical application…..I can feel a book coming…” Mike Edwards, SMKF Attendee

Below are some of my notes from Dave O’s talk and you can also check out his notes over here:

Getting Started

  • Document everything you Do. From Day 1, Dave stressed that entrepreneurs should document everything and have one place to share all of their “collective intelligence,” such as an internal wiki. Writing everything down will help you stay focused and remind you what it is you set out to achieve.
  • Do not plan much farther out than 6 months.
  • Define the roll of each person in the company. This will help people focus on and take ownership over certain tasks

Naming Your Company/Product

  • Coming up with a name for your company that has an available URL is not an easy task.
  • Define what it is your product does first.
  • Start playing around with words that are easy to say, spell and remember.
  • Ask friends or your community for feedback or ideas.  For instance, HootSuite crowdsourced their name.

Describe Your Product

  • Try and define your product in 3 words. For example, Hootsuite at first chose “Professional Twitter Client” as it’s 3 word description and now defines itself as a “Social Media Dashboard.”
  • Take those 3 words and expand on them to create a 100 word description.
  • Reach out to users and get feedback and watch what terms they are searching for.  It is important to be using the same terms and descriptions that your users/customers are.

Start Listening

  • Create Lists.  Start following the people who care about your product as well as watching your competitors.
  • By listening and asking specific questions, you will start to build relationships with your customers.
  • Respond and participate in the conversation.
  • Each community is different. For example, your customers may act differently on Facebook vs. Linked In. Watch this and communicate accordingly.
  • Define what you want to get out of each of the social media channels you are using.

Media Kit

  • The first page you should create on your website is a media kit page.
  • Make it easy for people to write about you and tell your story.
  • Your kit should include artwork, logo, colors, typeface, TM with specific guidelines on how to use.
  • Be sure to have multiple descriptions that writers can snag to use in articles and posts such as a 100 or 500 word description.
  • Colorful screenshots or infographics like this one are a great resource for writers.
  • Keep your kit up to date and fresh.

Be Loud

  • Now that you have defined who you are and what you do, start telling the world.
  • Don’t wait until you launch.  Become an active participant in the community you are trying to reach.
  • If it is not on the Internet, it didn’t happen! So – Blog, Flickr, Tweet etc. starting right now.
  • When someone writes an article or post mentioning you or your area of expertise, COMMENT. It shows you are paying attention and care about your community and the people, who are taking the time to write about you and use your product.
  • Create 3-4 touchpoints to an article.  For example, Dave will comment on an article, social bookmark it and add it to an RSS Feed = juicy, indexable goodness.
  • Hashtag everything. Topics, brands, acronyms – be creative and always remember to listen to your audience and be consistent with your message.

Dave O will be back in the Garage next month to deliver another his 2nd Social Marketing Kung Fu preso.  In the meantime, please share your notes, questions and tips in the comments below for other startup founders.

This Week in Tech Events: Nov. 29 – Dec. 5, 2010

Hope to see you all on December 1st for our event filled day 🙂

User Experience Design with MySpace’s VP of UX, Mike Macadaan

  • Wednesday, December 1
  • 8:30am
  • Bootup – 163 West Hastings St., Suite 200, Vancouver
  • $50. Buy here.

Bootup Garage Pilot Program Open-House

  • Wednesday, December 1
  • 12:30pm
  • Bootup – 163 West Hastings St., Suite 200, Vancouver

Launch Party Vancouver 10

  • Wednesday, December 1
  • 6:00pm
  • Canvas Lounge, 99 Powell St., Vancouver
  • Regular Ticket: $30
  • Buy here.

Building a Successful Start-Up with Dave Schappell hosted by VEF Momentum

  • Friday, December 3
  • 6:00pm
  • Republic – 958 Granville St., Vancouver
  • Early Bird Ticket: $10
  • Buy here.