Pick One Big Audience

This conversation keeps coming up with fellow founders and consultants so wanted to share my thoughts.

Oftentimes, you look at a startup’s website and you see them describing themselves as being “The _____ for everyone.”

I have to admit, I really hate this approach. But I appreciate how hard it is to narrow down.

The reality is, the goal shouldn’t be to focus on everyone. The goal should be to tightly focus on a big audience. [Read more…]

How I Picked a New Name for My Startup

My big accomplishment this month: I changed my company’s name from House of Betsy to Cube Riot, so now you can find us at CubeRiot.com and as “CubeRiot” on all social media channels.

Transitioning away from something that overtly called out the Made in the USA thing (Betsy = Betsy Ross, maker of the American flag) was tricky for me. But after a lot of thought, it felt right.

I worry about the garment industry becoming “green washed” the way that the organic food movement has. For a mainstream audience, the quality and fit of the product matters most. The fact that something is made in the US or uses organic fabric is usually an added bonus, not a core feature. [Read more…]

When it Comes to Startup Metrics, Focus on Big Rocks

Lately I’ve been helping clients set up metrics-driven processes for marketing.

This is different for every company, of course, but the more I go through this the more I firmly believe one thing – You have to be careful what metrics you track.

I say this because what you measure determines how you spend your time and how you perceive your progress. These are two very important things for an employee and the company that employee works for.

Little Rocks and Big Rocks

Increasing the open rate on your startup’s newsletter by 20% sounds great. If there are ten people on that list, who cares? [Read more…]

Should Early Stage Startups Have Marketing?

This op-ed by Jessica Livingston about why startups should focus on sales, not marketing, has gotten a lot of chatter recently. Given that I’m working with several early stage startups on marketing right now, I figured I should offer my perspective.

My hope is that for founders, this post helps you decide if you should hire a marketer. For marketers, I hope this helps you decide if you should accept a job offer as a first marketing hire, and helps show you what you should focus on. [Read more…]

20 Debates Your Startup Should Stop Having Today

Startups are known for being fast-paced. But anyone who has worked for an early-stage venture knows that isn’t always the case.

When you lack infrastructure as a company, it’s tough to gain momentum and get things done.

It can be unclear who owns decisions in flat organizations.

You’re often doing things for the first time. There aren’t any past practices to rely on for guidance. [Read more…]

Advice for the Class of 2014: Accept That There is No Path. You Might As Well.

It’s graduation season and I keep seeing all kinds of “advice to the class of 2014″  blog posts. I have now been out in the real world for five whole years. Given my five years of real-world experience and that I am now an expert on everything ever, I present to you my thoughts for the class of 2014.

My thoughts can be compiled into one sentence, actually:

You need to accept that there is no “path” to success in your career.

This is difficult to accept. When you realize it, it feels like you were lied to your entire life.

I’ve seen it take some people years to get over. Don’t waste years of your life getting over this. Embrace it. [Read more…]

Progress

To catch you up if you missed my post from last week, I’m off into a new career direction of consulting.

I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the messages of support, and somewhat surprised to hear from many others that they struggle with similar “self-branding” issues.

In my last post I promised to share my process with you. I tried a number of different methods to refine my offering, and some worked better than others.

Here’s what I’ve got so far. [Read more…]

The Hardest Thing to Market: Me

No company’s marketing has moved me in the past few years quite the way that Chubbies has.

Chubbies makes short shorts for frat bros, and they are on a crusade to rid the world of cargo shorts one pair of gingham print “Danny Dukes” at a time.

The mission is concise and clear, and in a startup world full of “It’s this for that!” and 200-floor elevator pitches, I appreciate the focus. Maybe Chubbies wants to be this huge lifestyle brand one day. Maybe they have this big, broader vision in mind. It’s possible, in fact, probable, given what I know of founders so far. But that they were able to dodge the shiny objects and channel those dreams into a single focus is an accomplishment to be revered. [Read more…]