It’s not you, it’s your users: the new bizdev
There’s a funny thing happening in a consumer facing world increasingly focused on social media as a means of advertising. There’s a lot of talk about the virality of various campaigns, but there’s a side of that paradigm that isn’t discussed as often: the disruption of the traditional model of biz dev.
In the old days, there was a guy, or a team, whose job was to go out and find the channel partners needed to build up the sort of distribution necessary to create a successful business. This is especially important for us little guys without a voice. Spending money on straight advertising isn’t quite as nice as having Walmart start announcing that you are their favorite supplier of product x. Given the impact of that strategy, it makes a lot of sense that biz dev grew as a functional piece of an organization.
But then social started taking the lead and the way that biz dev worked started changing. Look at it this way: you could get the Walmart contract, but chances are, if you do, it’s because the folks at Walmart have heard about you already. Ideally, they or their kids have been using your product and raving about it. Maybe they got it from a friend, a neighbor, it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, you have to hope that someone else has done your job for you, at least to some extent. Your strategy has to be structured in such a way that you can take advantage of your users high opinion of you. Of course, you need to create it first with a great product and a great community of users.
So the goal of grabbing large channel partners is still an important one. But to do it, you need to break out of the traditional biz dev way of thinking. Every single one of your customers/users is, effectively, a biz dev node. You need them telling people how great you are, because you saying it isn’t effective enough.
So while firing your head of biz dev might be a bit drastic, figuring out how to integrate that person incredibly tightly with your community manager is going to be critical to actually doing what has to be done.
Special thanks to Simon Brief for sparking this post. Not the first time a conversation with him has changed the way I think about things.
WSCTUT #4: seriously, another service to deliver things to you? How many of these are there right now?
This is an attempt at redesigning the tutorspree profile page that I built mostly for practice. We’ve hired a designer to make something significantly better, but going from a blank page to this felt pretty good (though clearly it’s not good enough). As I take over more and more of the front end work from Ryan, it will be tests like this that make me better. HTML/CSS can be pretty very time consuming, and as we ramp up and load balance responsibilities, creating a release valve (me) for handling it is critical.
In any case, our real new profiles will be up soon, as will our whole prototype.
Background courtesy of Loryn Brantz, author of the very awesome Harvey the Child Mime.
pitch it to me, baby
I woke up this morning and decided to try an exercise - I wanted to write down my tutorspree elevator pitch. After all, I’ve given it about one thousand times in the last few months, and I know it’s changed over time. But was it good? Actually well and truly good?
I have a couple of anecdotal metrics by which I judge its success. I’ve gotten potential CTOs, teachers, DOE staffers and my father excited with it. I’ve seen positive reactions from VC, strangers at the dinner table, and hardened startup sceners. So that’s good on the surface, but how do I know that I’m actually putting my best face forward each time. Am I really being consistent, or am I subconsciouly ignoring the times it went poorly in favor of the times it went well. That wouldn’t be an unheard of bit of human behavior. I really got thinking about it the other day after a phone call with Alex Grodd at betterlesson (which is really awesome, they’re changing the way teachers teach and share in a powerful way). During the chat, I started out with the heart of my typical pitch, but, once we started talking, I started describing our perceived 5th and 6th pivots. Alex stopped me, and said that, while he thought those pieces were cool and we were just riffing on things, I should keep my message focused. Too much talk about all these future possibilities when the challenge in front of me is so massive could scare people away. It’s good to exhibit long term strategic vision, but know your customer, know the limits of what to discuss in an initial meeting, know where you can take things over the long term.
That’s some excellent feedback. A lot of people I talk to head for pie in the sky within a few minutes of first contact. I’m still curious about whether or not they’ve done anything in the way of product/market fit, and they’re telling me how zero gravity ice cream is going to change the face of global politics. That’s well and good, but I’m still not sure if you know where to get your cream, or if you have the right engineers on the job. It’s not that I’ve written off your idea, but I’m definitely confused about you. And that’s something I know I’m prone to do. I love talking about all the cool things I know and want to do, and I need to keep that contained.
So this morning I sat down and wrote down my pitch. It’s 601 words and takes roughly 2 minutes and 35 seconds to get through. It’s also only one version of the pitch, my general intake one. I place the emphasis in slightly different areas depending on who I’m talking to. Not enough to change the heart and soul, but enough to pique different interests. Reading through it, I see places where it needs to be tweaked and overhauled, places where it’s evolved, and places where it really flows.
I’m certainly no expert on the sales pitch, so if you’ve got any other advice, I’d love to hear it. In the meantime, I’m going to go practice.