Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Review: "No Time Marketing" Can Help Startups Start Their PR & Marketing Campaigns

Everyone's looking for signs of a sustained recovery -- and it's certainly not the stock market.

What I've seen is an increase in the confidence among CEOs and COOs of startup companies that I've been meeting. CEOs and founders of startups always have a lot of passion for their companies -- if not, they shouldn't be running the company.

What's different is that these executives aren't just focused on developing their products -- they're also very interested in providing marketing and PR support for their products. We haven't really seen that in a few years.

The challenge, however, is that they still need to budget and staff their marketing and PR functions at a time when their investors and board members may be reluctant, still, to fund PR.

That's where No Time Marketing may be able to help. Written by Alyssa Dver, a former chief marketing officer, No Time Marketing is a short book (just 115 pages) that does a great job of capturing the essentials of marketing for busy executives, providing tips and actionable questions that can help startups develop a marketing plan.

Chapter 2 contains a very good marketing inventory, designed to help companies figure out what they have and what they need in order to make sure they're targeting the right customers with appropriate messages and materials.

In the course of meeting with potential investors and customers, many executives may have already asked themselves some of these marketing-oriented questions, but I bet they haven't thought through all the questions Dver offers or as systematically, looking at prospects and customers, the buying process, marketing channels, competition and market. The No Time Marketing inventory is a good list, but even with 30 questions it doesn't feel overwhelming. That's important because too many questions covering every possibility (such as does the management team for your tech company agree on how to pronounce its mashup-type name) would make the exercise less effective.

In fact, the book is designed so that every step or exercise can be completed in 30 minutes or less. That's really important for a busy startup executive who does not have the time or staff to handle marketing.

The inventory leads to a good chapter on getting to know your customers better followed by a brief chapter on how to position your company. Even if startups have developed a compelling investor presentation about the needs the company seeks to fill, they still may have overlooked how to describe their business. (I recently met a CEO who, when asked for his elevator pitch, realized he didn't have one even though he has angel investors, a beta product and beta customers; it took him five minutes to explain what the company does -- at which time he realized they needed to work on their positioning.)

The rest of the book addresses pricing, acquiring leads and fostering leads. Chapter 6 on acquiring leads provides a good list of lead generation methods that includes
  • Advertising
  • Direct mail
  • Email and newsletters
  • PR
  • Trade shows, conferences and association meetings
  • Face-to-face seminars
  • Webinars and teleseminars
  • Telemarketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Referral programs
She also provides some templates to set goals and measure success -- an important element that can sometimes be overlooked.

The book also includes 10 marketing truths. The most important may be the first:
"Marketing is as much an art as it is a science. Plan, test, execute, and measure, but never be surprised by uncertainty and change."
No Time Marketing can help startups looking for a no-nonsense guide to conducting marketing -- helpful even if they decide to work with an agency.

Readers of this blog can save 15% on the purchase of No Time Marketing. Click here to order and use the coupon: birnbach

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