May 032011

Why Winning Matters (Especially When You’re Young)

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has long been a leading voice for direct marketing for nearly 100 years – back when direct marketing was really only about postal. It has evolved in that time to include phone, fax (for the nanosecond that was relevant), and then interactive tactics, including email. While the DMA has not always incorporated the new technologies in the most elegant way – the tendency has been to apply previous best practices, even when consumers have demanded a new way of thinking – the organization has made tremendous strides in recent years to re-shape itself into an organization that will be relevant for another 100 years.

And one way it is doing that is by supporting and recognizing achievements among start-ups and new ventures, they’ve announced a new award called the Early Stage Innovation Award.

As a DMA Board member and mentor of TechStars/SeedCamp companies, I am happy to see my two interests coming together in this way. Return Path’s own history of innovation and supporting new companies that are at the leading edge of the progress of direct marketing (including email) is well documented.

I’ve said that marketing is like eating French fries (and ice cream— I like snack-based analogies) and it’s hard to know when to stop grabbing for just one more. There’s always one more thing you can do to position your company and gain awareness. But I can give you a tip. This award? It’s a fry worth eating.

Awards don’t just make you feel you great; they can provide credibility in a crowded marketplace. What’s important about this Early Stage Innovation award is the exposure. Being industry-acknowledged as a company that makes new rules or changes the game? That’s the kind of ROI and opportunity that a growing company can really run with.

The other thing I love about awards and the shows where they are presented is the chance to learn about what’s new and interesting. Attending these shows helps link me to companies who may be creating tools that I didn’t even realize I was lacking and may not have heard about otherwise. I get the opportunity to learn more about problems other companies may be facing as well as seeing the solutions being proposed. For a smaller, new company, this chance to connect may lead to the support they need to grow and eventually be eligible for accolades in growth and long-term success.

If your young company is doing something new and innovative in direct marketing, consider submitting for an award. But hurry! Entries are due by May 15. Finalists will be selected and showcased during our ALL FOR ONE Marketing Summit June 20-21 in New York NY. I’m looking forward to hearing about these exciting new companies at the Summit.

Oct 222008

Managing in a Downturn

Managing in a Downturn

I spoke at a NextNY event last night along with several others, including fellow entrepreneur David Kidder from Clickable and angel investor Roger Enhrenberg about this fine topic (Roger wrote a great post on it here) and thought I’d share a few of the key points made by all of us for anyone trying to figure out what to do tactically now that Sequoia has told us to be afraid, very afraid.

Hope is Not a Strategy:  Your business is not immune. It will do what everyone else’s will. Struggle to hit its numbers. Struggle to collect bills. Lose customers. There is no reason to hope you’ll be different.

Get Into the Jet Stream:  Develop your core revenue streams — and make sure they’re really your revenue, not just skimming tertiary revenue out of the ecosystem.  Investors will look to see how sustainable your model is with more scrutiny than ever.

It’s a Long Road to Recovery:  I don’t care what people say. There is no true “v-shaped” bounceback from a true downturn. Plan for a long (4-8 quarter) time to return to normalcy.

Budget Early and Often:  Things change rapidly in this kind of environment. Make sure you reforecast, especially cash flows and cash, monthly when you close the books.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow:
  If you have a real business, you need to be it for the long haul. Keep pursuing opportunities. Keep investing in the future. Don’t pare back your vision and ambitions. Just make more conservative investments, insist on shorter payback windows, and adjust expectations about timeframes.

Leadership Counts:
  Your people are nervous. They’re concerned about their own bank accounts. Their jobs. Be even more present, more transparent, and more communicative. And set the right tone on expenses with your own decisions. The troops need to know that you care about them — and that the big boss has a steady hand on the wheel.

Jul 072008

Learn Word of Mouth Marketing

Learn Word of Mouth Marketing

Our friend, former RP colleague, and WOM guru Andy Sernovitz is hosting a small-group word of mouth marketing seminar. Usually he only does private training for companies at a very large price, so this is a rare chance for 50 people to get the best introduction to word of mouth that there is.  I blogged about his book a while back here.

We’ve arranged for a $250 discount for our clients. Use code “welovereturnpath” when you register (kind of catchy code, isn’t it?).

This is a very practical, hands-on course. In one intense day, you will:

  • Master the five steps of word      of mouth marketing
  • Construct an action plan that      your company can start using the very next day
  • Get the same training that      big corporations (Microsoft, TiVo, eBay) have received — for a fraction      of what they paid
  • Know how to translate word of      mouth marketing into real ROI
  • Participate in an active,      intense day of practical brainstorming (not boring theory)
  • Learn from Andy Sernovitz,      the guy who literally wrote the book on word of mouth marketing

Andy promises you will learn a repeatable, proven marketing framework that is easy to execute, affordable, and provides measurable results within 60 days.

More information:

Chicago: July 30 and September 4

Pass it on:

Filed under: Conferences, Email, Marketing