This quarter in Entrepreneurial Marketing has reinforced the basics of marketing and opened my eyes to the “realities” of marketing to matter what part of the life cycle a company is in. Time and time again this quarter we heard from presenters that good ol’ PR and ad placement was often the best way to go to get new customers and build a business. Despite the new and ever-changing technology that defines so many of our lives, we have not evolved to a place where we can build companies and gather customers simply through social media. Facebook and twitter are not enough to make a company. You still need product placement, reviews, and traditional marketing tactics. (I have to admit I was secretly hoping to hear that marketing for startups is completely different but alas, I was left wanting).
What is striking about the startup world is that new companies have to be more in touch with the customer even though our lives are driven by technology making it easy to “interact” with one another without leaving our bedroom or even getting out of our pajamas. Leaving the cubicle, leaving the building, even leaving the city where it all started is important to get real feedback, understand the user experience, and hone a new product so that it can stand out from the rest. Talking to people on a bus, in a restaurant, at the gym can provide invaluable insights and result in thousands of new customers. Avoid burying yourself in your phone, tablet, or book and connect with those around you. It’s not rocket science but it can make all the difference.
Of all the companies that we learned about, read about, and heard about over the last ten weeks, there are two that I will continue to follow. The first is Optimum Energy. They are getting ready to make some significant changes and if all goes as planned, they will have the ability to set new standards of efficiency for the built environment, saving money, time, and significantly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. This would be a win-win for everyone.
The next company is one that I only recently discovered but has been around since November 2011 – its called Everlane. They specialize in cutting out the middle man in the retail clothing process and sell to the consumer only through their online store. I recently made my first purchase and so far am pleased. They appear to be doing a nice job breaking through the establishment and helping people understand how they are being “screwd” when they buy designer clothing.
Two very different companies in two very different worlds – both changing and disrupting the marketplace in fascinating ways. Only time will tell.