Why Social Capital May be Your Most Effective Growth Asset

Social Capital's Path Toward Actions and Outcomes

In a paid, owned and earned media world, where even paid media can be supercharged by social sharing and activity, the digital marketing of today must capitalize on social capital to fuel growth. 

Most early, mid, and growth stage companies have limited budgets or business models that make using paid media as an acquisition strategy, out of reach, ineffective, or both.

Earned media (press and blogger coverage) and owned media (company blog, content and social media) when done properly are typically more cost effective and deliver better results. Why? 

In a sharing economy. we can’t buy customers or users (real ones anyway), despite the fact that we marketers look closely at Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC). We have to earn customers through, trust, experience and repetition. 

At Make Good Social, we created a model we dubbed, F.A.R.E. to guide the consistent creation of frequentauthenticrelevant and engaging earned and owned media content that builds trust and increases the likelihood of a share, which in turn boosts social capital.

Author and analyst, Brian Solis writes in his book, “The End of Business as Usual”,
 
"Brands are no longer created, they are co-created".

Customers and prospects freely express their opinions online about the brands, companies and apps they use - especially when they have a bad experience - and occasionally when they have a good experience.

But whether they express their opinion or not, their experiences (with your content, your product and your people) will shape their level of trust with you. And trust is a critical component of building social capital. 

The graphic shown above, 
from the report “The Rise of Digital Influence,” by Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group shows social capital’s path towards outcomes and actions.

So why is social capital such an effective growth asset? According to Solis,
 
"Social capital is the key that unlocks digital influence and new customer touchponts".

According to social economics 
researchers, “most definitions of social capital… focus on social relations that have productive benefits.” 

In this case the productive benefit is; customers find joy (and an ego boost) in sharing a product/service they get value (e.g. knowledge, entertainment, utility) from and the business gains introductions to new customers.

As most of us know, the referral, word-of-mouth, introduction is one of the most effective ways to get a new customer. A referral is an implied endorsement. A person we trust has vouched for this product or service so our scrutiny and natural skepticism is reduced and we are much more likely to sign-up, buy, join, etc. 

The more social capital a business has, the more likely people will be to share. The more that people share, endorse, vouch for and recommend your product or service, the more your business will grow. 

Social Capital can help:

  • Increase customer growth - more referrals
  • Shorten sales cycles - trust equals shorter evaluation periods
  • Increase retention and reduce churn - your customers will be more likely to give you another chance if you make a mistake 
  • Boost the average sales price - if you’re selling something (and you should be, why else are you in business?) - people will be willing to spend more with you
  • Lower barriers to; entering new markets or product segments, forging new partnerships, securing earned media (press) coverage, and even - raising growth capital
To learn more about how your business can raise the value of its social capital, contact the team at Make Good Social for an opportunity audit and analysis.

5 September 2013 ·

3 Reasons Why Revenue Growth is Key For Startup Success

         image

With all of the widely publicized stories of startups generating significant valuations and capital based on user growth, downloads, and traffic, it’s led to a common mis-perception among many company founder and entrepreneurs: “we’re a startup - we don’t need revenue”. 

Well, unless you truly have the user growth #’s of an Instagram and are the exceptional standout, you better have some revenue or have a plan for revenue in the near term. Profit is one thing, revenue is another. 

Veteran entrepreneur turned VC, Mark Suster, said recently in his blog post: “Why You Need to Ring the Freaking Cash Register" he frequently finds himself having this type of conversation with startup founders: 

"If you started to bring in some ad revenue or some data revenue we could lower our burn and have longer to search for options.

If I have to call our co-investors to ask for $4 million more it will be a tough conversation. If that narrows to $1.5 million between 3 of us it’s a no brainer.

If I were you … I’d ring the freaking cash register.”

Here are 3 reasons why revenue is critical just about every startup:

Revenue reduces your dependance on outside capital and that means you hold onto more of your company. Of course outside capital can help you grow faster and capitalize on the opportunity before another competitor does. But having revenue will enable you to reduce your burn rate and use the capital you do have for longer while building your business and developing new sources of capital with potentially better deal terms.

Revenue demonstrates you know how to build a business, not just a pretty app. Sure, investors want to see a high-level of engagement, downloads, viral buzz and large user growth numbers, but showing revenue along with it, demonstrates you know how to build a product/service and tap into a market that is willing to buy. If you can’t actually drive revenue, make sure you have a strategy and plan for revenue and that you are working toward that goal. Even if you are able to drive a hefty valuation and get significant capital (rare for most), investors will want to see that you have the business sense and have thought through exactly how you will monetize, the path to get there and the growth potential.

Revenue proves the viability of your idea by demonstrating to investors and potential acquirers that there is in fact a market for your product/service, a market that can be monetized in some way. The revenue #’s do not have to be significant but large enough to statistically to show that when the company scales, the revenue can scale with it.  

So make sure you have the resources, seek outside advice when needed, to get clear and focused on driving revenue in your business. You may need to test and evaluate a few different monetization strategies before you find one that fits your model and shows the greatest potential. You may feel you have no time for this, as what’s critical now is the latest feature build and hiring the right developers. No doubt great products with strong development teams are valuable, but so is revenue, so take Mark Suster’s advice, and ring the freaking cash register! 

Chris Bechtel is principal and chief marketing officer at Make Good Social a full-service marketing and business development consulting firm for start-ups and growth-stage organizations focused on strategy + services for demand generation, revenue and growth. Learn more about the firm’s G.O.O.D Revenue Model for growth at the firm’s website www.makegoodsocial.com.

15 August 2013 ·

How to Forecast Revenue and Growth

Forecasting business revenue and expenses during the startup stage is really more art than science. Many entrepreneurs complain that building forecasts with any degree of accuracy takes a lot of time—time that could be spent selling rather than planning. But few investors will put money in your business if you’re unable to provide a set of thoughtful forecasts. More important, proper financial forecasts will help you develop operational and staffing plans that will help make your business a success.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/76418#ixzz2bhky1zKx

11 August 2013 ·

Strategist Q&A: Driving Revenue and Demand for Growth Stage Organizations

Mike Moss, a Make Good Social Collective member and Chief Revenue Officer and Partner at Blue Deer LLC interviewed Senior Strategist and Growth Hacker, Chris Bechtel on his approach to driving revenue and demand for growth stage organizations. The following is an excerpt of that conversation: 

image
Mike Moss: What is your approach to demand generation, marketing automation, content marketing?

Chris Bechtel: My approach to Demand Gen. is to first understand the goals of the client. What product, service, etc. do they want to drive demand for? Who are the target buyers? Who are the competitors? What is working and what is not working now? What resources, assets and tools are currently available (people, content, software)? What differentiates the product/service and what are the needs/pains that it is fulfilling? What is the brand story? Is it clear? Do we still need to define and refine the product/service and brand positioning or are we ready to rock and roll with what we have?

Marketing automation is applied if the need is there (i.e. sales cycles that include a period where leads need to be “nurtured” so the product/service will stay top of mind when they are ready to buy.) The approach is to map out the funnel, then identify Lead/Prospect behaviors that will trigger a communication or series of communications based on where the lead is in the funnel (e.g. top of the funnel/just browsing/nurture with educational/entertaining content vs. bottom of the funnel/numerous visits to a buy or pricing page/or tech. specs. page - target upsell or close or notify sales).

Content Marketing is mapped against the funnel that is defined for each client/product/service. A Content Marketing Strategy then determines the goals/outcomes desired (to move leads forward in the funnel) and specific assets and types of assets are specified in an Content Plan that will consistently produce content that is designed to accomplish the goals specified in the strategy. 


MM: Do you have a framework or methodology you use? 

CB: Yes, you can check it out on our website. I call it “G.O.O.D” Revenue: which stands for “Goal Oriented, Opportunity Driven” revenue growth.


MM: How would you get started?

CB: Identify the goals and objectives of the client/company/product/service. Ask the questions listed above under Demand Gen., create a scope of work that specifies these goals along with an initial program. Often this is the result of a demand gen. “Opportunity Audit” which is part of a “Scoping” phase - this phase can be built into the whole program or contracted as a separate and initial phase.


MM: How would you price?

CB: We price based on the estimated number of hours to accomplish the scope of work, then provide a flat monthly fee/retainer or a straight project fee based on those hours. 


MM: What kind of metrics would you measure?

CB: Start with the key numbers the client is looking for: New Sales, new leads, lead acquisition costs/customer acquisition costs, channel effectiveness/lead acquisition costs by channel, Customer LTV, length of sales cycle/funnel velocity (rate by which leads move through the funnel), lead quality (sales acceptance rate), and of course conversion rates across channels and media (email, landing pages, ppc, etc.)


MM: What technologies need to be in place already?

CB: None actually. It is typically part of the scope of work to build out an infrastructure of tools; from web content management software for managing web content and blog content (Wordpress for example), to analytics (Google, KISS Metrics, or other) to marketing automation (Eloqua, HubSpot, or Marketo for example) to CRM (Salesforce, Sugar, Zoho) integration and email campaign management (Constant Contact, Mail Chimp AWeber, etc.). We will work with what the client has already, tune them up, add or replace, based on project goals, budget constraints. We will perform the work to set them up, integrate them and train team members.


MM: What are your favorite tools and technologies to use? Why?

CB: Google Analytics - measurement and free, Unbounce for Landing Pages - A/B testing and easy CMS, Google AdWords and Bing for PPC, Authority Labs for SEO and rankings, Salesforce for CRM, Marketo for Marketing Automation, and Hootsuite for Social Media.

There are many others and we can work with them if clients have them. We believe these tools to be the industry leaders however.


MM: What are you most excited about when engaging with a new firm?

CB: Helping them define their goals. Looking for untapped opportunities. Supporting sales in closing more deals. Creating compelling content and a consistent content production flow. Monitoring and measuring success and continuous improvement.


MM: When is the best time for you to engage, and typically how long do you like to stay engaged?

CB: Best time is typically after product, branding and services positioning has been fairly well defined. So, we can take it to the next level and not have to spend months while the company spins on positioning and getting buy-in. Typically 120 days at a minimum. 6 months is preferred.


To learn more about how the teams and Make Good Social and Blue Deer LLC can help you, contact us for a consultation.

17 July 2013 ·

Content sharing: 5 reasons no one shares your content

Content sharing: 5 reasons no one shares your content (via http://www.contentmarketingexperience.com)

So you’ve read all the SEO and online marketing blogs and you know that building dodgy links that are spammier than that awful processed meat is not an option anymore. You know these days it’s all about creating “quality content” and you know social content sharing is pretty important too.…


 

25 April 2013 ·

About Me

Chris Bechtel, Principal and Chief Marketing Officer at Make Good Social, a division of Blue Deer LLC a full-service marketing and business development consulting firm for start-ups and growth-stage organizations focused on strategy + services for demand generation, revenue and growth. Chris is a content marketing, demand generation, social media marketing, online PR professional and growth hacker who has spent more than 15 years working with consumer and B2B startup tech companies as well as leading Fortune 500 companies including ACS (a Xerox Co.), City National Bank, Epson, and Target extend the reach of their content online.

Contact Me: about.me/chrisbechtel

Make Good Social
Blue Deer LLC