Early stage startup marketing & community management + the great outdoors.

Reading Recommendations, Week of July 12th

What am I reading this week?  He’s a partial list:

patagoniaPatagonia’s Founder on Why There’s “No Such Thing as Sustainability”

Yvon Chouinard is one of very few who, I believe, truely use their company not as a source of profits but as a source of philanthropy.  I’ve never believed this more than I do now having read his article.
Here are a few excerpts:

“I’m kind of like a samurai,” says Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor-apparel maker Patagonia. “They say if you want to be a samurai, you can’t be afraid of dying, and as soon as you flinch, you get your head cut off. I’m not afraid of losing this business.”

Impressive.  So basically he’s one step away from Patagonia becoming a non-profit 501c company.  That would be nice.

“You have to get away from the idea that it’s philanthropy. I look at it as a cost of doing business. Every business should say, We’re polluters, we’re using our nonrenewable resources, and therefore we should tax ourselves.

How many CEO’s can get away with this?  I suspect more business people would argue the two are very separate and the business should not make decisions on non-business matters using stockholders assets.  At least that’s what I’ve heard when mentioning a similar responsibility.  The challenge seems to be: 1) if people want to support the environment they’ll do so with their own money and would prefer their investment stay focused on profit, and 2) convincing people that their company could gain from non-profit items.  How do you convince an industry with low customer loyalty (online travel or commercial real estate) that donations can improve their business?

“I believe the accepted model of capitalism that demands endless growth deserves the blame for the destruction of nature, and it should be displaced.”

I love this statement – so succinct and accurate.  The challenge remains how to convince people to change their behavior or how to make it financially rewarding.

Here’s the full article:

Coincidentally, the 2nd article also comes from Fast Company.

bestjobintheworld6 Lessons From the Best Marketing Campaign Ever

They say hindsight is 20:20 and that certainly exists when dissecting an extremely successful campaign.  These concepts, however, are certainly always good to keep fresh in your mind and should be used as a checklist when brainstorming your next marketing campaign.  To cut to the chase, here are the six lessons:

  1. Make it believable. Many marketing groups would never make a claim if they can’t provide substantial evidence. How might Tourism Queensland prove that their job is the best in the world? They can’t. But it is believable because it is a beautiful place and fits what many people’s definition of a dream job might be.
  2. It’s not about how much you spend. One of the major benefits of smart public relations and social media is that it scales in a way that advertising typically doesn’t. In other words, you don’t have to pay more to get more. The real trick is to have something worthwhile to say that people can’t help talking about. You need a good story.
  3. Focus on content, not traffic. The typical marketing campaign focuses on traffic to some kind of site. For Tourism Queensland, the biggest payoff of this campaign was having over 34,000 videos on YouTube from people around the world talking about how much they love Queensland. Aggregate the views of all those videos, and multiply them over the long term and you’ll start to understand the true impact of their campaign.
  4. Create an inherent reason for people to share. Another element of this campaign that worked extremely well was the fact that there was voting enabled on the videos. What this meant was that after someone submitted their video, they had an incentive to share it with everyone in their social network online to try and get more votes.
  5. Don’t underestimate the power of content creators Most recent statistics point to some number between 1% and 10% of the user base of any social network are the active content creators. Though these percentages may seem small, the potential impact of some of these individuals are vast online. It could easily become the secret weapon for your next marketing campaign.
  6. Give your promotion a shelf life. The best thing about this campaign may just be the content yet to come. Ben, the winner, just started blogging and sharing videos and photos, but the content is already engaging, high quality and inspires you to dream of making it to Queensland yourself. Over the next six months, his itinerary will take him across the state of Queensland and unlock many other unique opportunities. Best of all, this content will live on far beyond the time span of the campaign.

Here’s the full article:

Startups: 10 Things MBA Schools Won’t Teach You

This was originally posted last week but some of the comments that have been coming in have been very open and useful.  I’m clipping the article but would encourage a quick scan of the page to pick up some good reminders.  My favorite:

“1.  No amount of strategic planning will ever substitute for managing your cash flow.  Financial statements are great.  The most important one is your bank account statement”

I learned this crash course when founding my first startup after college.  Cash flow management is hugely important and became a large percentage of my time.

“8.  To recruit the best people, fair compensation and equity are only a start.  Company culture and a demonstrated passion for your vision is hugely important.”

I think this one is almost always overlooked and under valued.  Maintaining culture is very challenging and only seems to be a fairly recent topic of conversation that is perhaps being overshadowed by new media / customer influence / social-CRM.

Here’s the full article:


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