Last night we had Martin May & Brady Becker of Forkly come in to guest lecture. Martin & Brady are an excellent example of new business and are on some level, the competition for marketing students. They are technologically enabled, business savvy entrepreneurs. They are the kind of business people that make marketing students want to be able to write code.
Martin & Brady also founded one of the first location-based social networks – Brightkite – which is now sadly, defunct. (Not their fault.) Because of their experience with Brightkite and now Forkly, they are uniquely qualified to dispense some wisdom! (And they did.) Here is a list of their Do’s and Don’ts.
Don’t hire a PR firm (right away) – Instead of using a PR firm, they contacted WSJ/TechCrunch/etc writers directly. Writers get thousands of press releases every week and they appreciate being contacted by the founders directly. (Rest assured that this does NOT work if your app/business model is anything less than compelling.)
Don’t spend tons of money on traditional advertising – Their target market (and maybe yours) does not respond to print or TV ads. They may respond to a PPC but more than likely respond to positive sentiment such as that for Bed in a Box on Facebook.
Don’t throw a big party at SXSW – This is not so much a matter of cost but more a matter of focus. (SXSW is probably worth going to, but try to make your offering a “unique find” and not a girl trying to be the prettiest.)
Don’t be afraid to approach the big guys – Big business is struggling to innovate and they are looking for small business to partner with. You’ll be surprised who’ll listen if your offering is something smart.
Put your app in the app store – There is a lot of discussion around creating an HTML 5 app and offering it online. You can do that and those that download apps, will miss it because they are looking for something new in the app store and not online. Consumer behavior requires that you put your offering where it’s expected.
Turn failures into opportunities – When they launched Brightkite for the iPhone, it was 4 months late. Instead of pulling the ostrich maneuver, they embraced the issue by admitting the problem and then playfully created a Flash movie (screenshot below) that allowed people to throw virtual tomatoes at them online. (This level of transparency is key to social business.) This helped build rapport with their customer base and not to mention trust.
Let your users do your marketing for you – If you’ve read this blog for any period of time, you’ve heard me talk about customers as conduits. You need a core set of fans and then arm them to the teeth with ways of showing the love for your business.
Give swag to the right people – Don’t think trinkets and trash. Think t-shirts. Who doesn’t love showing up at a party with a unique, high quality T, highlighting your geekdom!
Be approachable and humble to the media – People have to want to help you! Enough said.
Build viral hooks into your business – If you want people to share the thing you’ve created, you better create an experiential reason. e.g. “I can do this so much more easily!”
Cook analytics into everything you do – If you don’t know where you’re at, how will know what direction to go in?
Over the course of the discussion we also learned several other things.
- They are working on an iPad app. Not coding mind you, but concepting.
- Having launched in October, they’ve already received acquisition offers.
- The business side of the business has them working to create a dashboard where restaurants can see which meals are the most popular and whom they’re popular with.