Lessons Learned From the Rise of the Tech Start-Ups in Silicon Valley

All successful business strategies are founded on certain guiding principles, like Google’s famous maxim, “You can make money without doing evil.” Whatever your line of business is, the key to long-term sustainable growth are the right principles and remaining true to them no matter what.

Even if your business is not in the technology sector, you can still profit from knowing the unspoken principles underlying the successful business strategies that continue to serve Google, Facebook, Apple, Sun, Cisco, Amazon, and the other Silicon Valley heavyweights well.

These high-tech companies weren’t always big. In fact, all of them started small. Many of them weren’t even the best or the first in their field. Yet, by the mid-1980s, they had outperformed their older; more established and better-funded counterparts in Route 128.

How did this happen?

Sociologists suspect it may have something to do with the cultural and institutional values in that part of California. The industrial systems in Silicon Valley were built on regional networks, which are more flexible, adaptable, and more dynamic than other business districts in the US, which were based on independent, autonomous mega-sized companies.

Silicon Valley vs. Route 128 Boston

In Silicon Valley, the organizational boundaries within and among companies, trade associations and learning institutions are conducive to knowledge sharing, collective learning and collaborative undertakings. Big CEOs, start-up owners, interns, and new players would meet for coffee, brainstorm ideas, and interact with one another freely.

In contrast, the Route 128 companies were super-secretive about what goes on within their organizations’ walls. Information was highly compartmentalized, similar to that of military settings. Ideas flowed in systematical, hierarchical chains. This may sound like a logical process to you, but this process actually hindered innovation- another reason why those companies didn’t survive.

The companies in Silicon Valley have implemented many successful business strategies from their start-up days up to the present time, no doubt about that.

Three of these strategies though, are consistently present in almost all companies there.

Innovate or perish, it’s as simple as that.
Innovate, otherwise you stagnate and become redundant. Remember that there will always be better, faster and cheaper ways for consumers to get something done. The good news is there are always new needs to fill, problems to solve and wants to fulfill. Your company’s job is to find those opportunities and take advantage of it.

Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail while experimenting. Failure, for the resilient, is the first step that must be taken to succeed. Embrace your failure and learn from your mistakes, and then iterate and experiment some more until you hit it right.

There wouldn’t be an iPod today if Apple allowed their failure with Newton PDA back in 1993 to hinder them.

Of course, no man is an island!
No business can survive in a vacuum. Communication should not be limited to a one-way, or even just a two-way street. The digital age we’re in requires leaders and company front-liners to have excellent, business communication skills. This means having the ability to sell the company’s vision with colleagues, customers, and investors regardless of the person’s role and position in the company.

Listen to what the public, the staff, and stakeholders in your business have to say. Share your ideas and get their feedback. Most Silicon Valley software makers release free beta versions of their next products, which anyone can try out, comment on and even retool, and improve. Emulate the practice and chances are you will be learning something new to improve your product or service. You will also be earning a lot of respect and goodwill.

You may even forge lasting authentic relationships, which is much better than the I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine networking arrangements typical among many commercial establishments and professionals.

Pay it forward
Lastly, helping others is its own reward. Organizations with successful business strategies that incorporate social responsibility will earn the respect of their community.

© 2013 Incedo Group, LLC

8 Lessons in Strategic Marketing A La ‘Daddy Daycare’

I bet you thought the movie “Daddy Daycare” was a kiddie comedy, right? Wrong…It’s a marketing strategy film! When Charlie and his friend Phil are fired as Product Development/Brand Managers for a cereal company, they decide to fill a need in their community.

Along the way to success they demonstrate several solid marketing strategies — equally applicable to online, offline, and integrated companies. Take these lessons to heart when developing plans for your business.

Lesson 1: Research the competition

The future entrepreneurs visited each daycare in the area. While doing so, they got a feel for their daycare competitors. By knowing your own competitors you will be better able to effectively find a way to compete.

Competitor research does not have to be thought of as “guerrilla warfare.” In many industries, competitors work together by partnering, cross promoting, sending business to each other, or even manufacturing each other’s products.

Lesson 2: Know your customers’ values

Charlie and Phil understood that price is not the only important factor for their target market. Based on their own experience and customer research (talking to other parents), they recognized that other concerns besides price played a part when parents choose a daycare provider.

While price is almost certainly a consideration for your customers, don’t get caught in the mentality that customers will buy from you only if you have the lowest cost. If you think of your own service/product as a bundle of attributes having a unique value for your customers, you will be more successful.

Lesson 3: Identify opportunities

Charlie and Phil uncovered an unmet need in the market by combining their competitor research and knowledge of customer values. You can do the same when looking to develop new products/services or improve existing ones.

Lesson 4: Develop a positioning based on opportunity

Using knowledge from the first three lessons, they positioned themselves as the quality alternative and focused on providing different benefits than their nearest competitor. In the movie, Daddy Daycare stole all the competitor’s customers and drove her out of business.

In real life, customers choose a product/service that best fits their needs. Consequently, competitors can co-exist when each are valuable in different ways to industry customers.

Lesson 5: Create a catchy tag line

The tag line “Who’s your Daddy?” helped advertise the new business. Often, a concise, catchy tag line can go a long way in building brand equity, communicating benefits and features, and/or conveying a feeling/mentality your target customers can relate to.

Some examples:

“Just do it.” (Nike)

“Life Unscripted” (TLC)

“Naturally sweetened whole grain oat cereal with real berries.” (Berry Burst Cheerios)

“Makes anything possible.” (Craftsman)

Lesson 6: Spread the Word

Phil and Charlie put their tag line on t-shirts along with their business name. They also printed and distributed flyers that explained their new company’s positioning.

A few more ideas you can use to spread the word about your business:

Word of mouth — give customers an incentive to tell people about your business.

Advertising — use both online and offline methods. Online options include pay-per-click search engines and ezine advertisements. Offline methods include radio spots and newspaper advertisements.

Philanthropy — donate money, services, and/or time to non-profit organizations or conduct your own event.

Lesson 7: Be ethical and above-board

The new business owners cooperated fully with the daycare inspector. They treated him as a source of information rather than “Big Brother”. This resulted in not only a better business, but also a valuable ally. In the long run, your own company will be more likely to thrive if you concentrate on improving the business rather than dodging regulations.

Lesson 7A: Subterfuge is a poor long-term strategy

Besides being unethical, subterfuge soils your reputation. In the movie, the competing daycare crashed and ruined a fundraiser event…spilling bugs, freeing animals, and drenching visitors. Short-term, it worked. Phil and Charlie were broke, seemingly with no way to continue with their venture.

In the long run, Ms. Subterfuge had such a poor reputation (from this and other business tactics), her business failed.

Lesson 8: Implement until you’re blue in the face

In the beginning, the new Daddy Daycare was a complete disaster. Charlie and Phil did their “homework” and knew they had a good idea. When reality hit theory, however, a few not-so-minor details got in the way. Like all successful marketers, they worked out the kinks (okay…disasters) and kept trying (and trying, and trying) until they got it right.

Keep the Daddy Daycare lessons in mind when developing and implementing your own marketing plan. Don’t give up, strive to continually improve, and you’re business is sure to be a success.

Essence Of A Well-Positioned Brand – Lessons For Corporate Nigeria

The word branding is not a relatively new business concept. More than three decades ago, marketing expert Michael J Baker wrote an introductory text on the importance of brands and branding. What is new is the degree of attention and sophistication it has gotten the world over in recent years.

Maybe this has to do with the increased mental clutter in our lives and in the marketplace, which makes it difficult for companies to get across their messages.

“Brands are quickly becoming the basis for most critical business decisions,” an observer noted. Branding is the sum total of whatever a company or an idea represents. For most part of it, branding is as simple as doing the right thing, consistently and clearly.

Today as expected, Nigeria parades herself with her most celebrated brands of all time – her super brands! Indeed, for a few of them, branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problems.

While a brand is the uniqueness a customer perceives of an organization or idea; there’s a connection between a brand name [identity], brand image [perception] and brand reputation [respect].

All strong brands depend on, more than anything else, its reputation. In as much as corporate executives try to build a good brand, they ought to be mindful of corporate reputation also. In essence, a good reputation accounts for a good brand.

However, for obvious reasons, Nigerian entrepreneurs are quick at building strong brands to their advantage only to allow them crumble in no distant time, for lack of brand management skill.

I have to admit I used to buy UAC’s Gala Sausage, until Leventis Meaty came along. The experience was always positive and I always had the feeling of that tasty snack with pure beef filling. But where did Gala go wrong? Gala lost its unique positioning in the heat of competition. Apart from the sudden change of wrap [which I think I don’t like so much], the sausage in it has become so lean.

UAC failed to realize that branding is more than just putting on new clothes.

The problem with many of these great brands is that they don’t usually realize the repercussion of their actions and inactions until well after the time and money have been invested or after it is too late.

How many times have you pulled into a company’s parking spot and saw a sign that read, “Parking reserved for xxxx customers only. All others will be tolled,” or “Cars are parked at owners’ risk”? Have you ever met a lousy school proprietor raining indecent words on parents? Or how many times have you had to queue for long hours somewhere, only to be disappointed at the way a customer service officer treated you?

These are all negative branding and reputation at work. We experience it everyday. It affects the way customers perceive us.

Corporate bodies should pay great attention to their messages – spoken or written.

Words do the talking for our business, so it’s worth investing in the best copy we can afford. Unprofessionally written communications and marketing materials can actively work against us, telling potential customers things we didn’t mean to say.

Instead of the stereotyped “Cars are parked at owners’ risk,” why not try something like “While we ensure your vehicles are safe, we don’t accept any risk”? Long but it’s full of great impact.

Our dear economy has suffered from a breakdown resulting from her choice of words. They cost money, but words efficiently applied produce great wealth.

So let’s begin to take a good look at everything we do: our message; our corporate identity; our approach to communicating with clients; our demeanour; our products; our packaging; our advertising and our staff.

Exit mobile version