Archive for September, 2006

Good News for Startup Entrepreneurs!

One thing that is pretty consistent in start up operations is the limited amounts of cash on hand. You have a great product or service, some of your team in place, you think you know who your customers are and now you have to get the word out to the marketplace.

In the old days, like just last year, you had to figure what types of advertising and PR you could buy with the limited or non-existent cash you had around. So, you made a decision to start out in your own geography, go to a lot of networking events where you could talk it up, have friends and family mention it to their friends; basically you grind out some organic growth to maybe get some cash to get the word out the right way.

When I talk with a lot of early stage owners, I hear a lot about they are using word of mouth to get others to learn about what they have to offer. The problem with the old way is that it is time consuming, and time, is yet another precious resource you can’t afford to squander. If you are the CEO or business owner, you should be out figuring out how to capitalize the company or find equity funding not attending every networking event to create buzz.

So, what’s the good news I mentioned in the title? There is a new way to create word of mouth and the focus is not on finding different ways for you to spend your time. Rather the emphasis is on identifying and enrolling others to do the talking. They might be friends, associates that you know have a good Rolodex, or maybe people you have never met. If you can engage the right people, the can be amazing.

Picking up on amazing, let me talk about a recent experience I had. A business associate recommended an entrepreneur give me a call. He had created a new high tech product that solved problems and saved time in measuring things like buildings, boats, trucks, or houses. He named it the Amazing Stickey Yard.

The software was complete and since they also have a graphics and sign business, they had all the collateral and product literature designed and copied. They had thought of innovative ways of assembling the products for shipping and had even attended a trade-show for sign companies and gotten very positive feedback from the attendees including some catalogue companies who wanted to carry the product.

Like a lot of entrepreneurs, they got to this point through by bootstrapping and now had very limited funds to go to the next level. So now what? Well if you remember one of my earlier posts, I mentioned a podcast I did with an entrepreneur that created the novel Beerbelly and had it picked up by one of the top tech and gadget bloggers, Gizmodo. I spent some time searching through their site, and found that one of their FAQs mentioned that they would look at thing that were sent to them but preferred to be asked first. So, I asked one evening in an email where I described the product, gave the web address, and the next morning, I had two emails sent a half an hour apart. The first said that they did, in fact, talk about these kind of products and a post was up. The second email asked if I would send them a copy to evaluate. Of course, I immediately Fedex’d the product.

The reviewer, Charlie White, took the product and used it around his house and they published about a four page review where he spoke highly of the product saying it performed as advertised and gave it a 9.2 out 10. It ends up that Charlie not only publishes reviews for Gizmodo, but also has four related sites: Consumer Electronic Net, Photography, Digital Toys, and Gadgets.

Prior to these reviews, Sticky Yard was getting a couple of visits to their web site every day using the old Word of Mouth. After the reviews, the visits have increased and been consistently about 10 to 15 times what they were earlier. Visitors to the site have come from at least 20 countries and sales have picked up. Earlier this week, I heard that they were mentioned in a German blog and one of the owners had to get it translated to find they were saying it was a cool product.

The original Gizmodo post was June 30th of this year and the traffic from to Sticky Yard continues. I set up a Google Alert so I can tell when someone talks about and I can see references to either that post or the others that Charlie White published.

Hopefully, you see the point. The old word of mouth for Sticky Yard were working slowly and took a lot of effort from the very small team at the company. On the other hand, a couple of emails, a couple of blog posts by an influential blogger, and very little out of pocket expenses, were producing significantly better results that were continuing over time without have the team at Sticky Yard involved. Now that’s Word of Mouth.

So you can’t claim or blame lack of financial resources as the reason your product has not taken off. Use some imagination and some of the new tools that are available to get the word out. Find out what this new Word of Mouth is all about. One things for certain, it’s not spending a lot of cash.

Got any questions or stories of your own? Share them through the comments. I would love to hear from others who have successfully used the new Word of Mouth.


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September 2006
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