by Bill Reichert at Garage Technology Ventures
Tips and Techniques for Making Money in the New Economy
Nearly 300 entrepreneurs came together at the Microsoft Conference Center in Mountain View, CA, for a one-day workshop called “Revenue Bootcamp.” The event was billed as a way for entrepreneurs to energize their sales and marketing efforts by getting inside tips and techniques from the most successful practioners and experts, including speakers from Google, Glam Media, Photobucket, Federated Media, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google, as well as Chris Anderson from Wired Magazine, Mike Moritz from Sequoia Capital, Paul Graham from Y Combinator, and Guy Kawasaki from Garage Technology Ventures.
The audience really got into it, tweeting nuggets of insight to the outside world. Entrepreneurs who could not attend asked for videos from the conference, which were later posted by Rackspace, one of the event sponsors:Revenue Bootcamp Videos.
Overall, despite the general gloom from the macro economy and the fall-off in venture funding, there was a lot of positive energy and several useful ideas that came out of the conference. Here is our summary of the Top Ten Lessons from Revenue Bootcamp:
1. Be Free: The most popular content or the basic service offering on your site should be free. Chris Anderson, author of, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price,” suggested that a lot of companies on the Internet have learned the hard way that you can’t charge money for the most popular content on your site. Better, make the most popular content free, drawing in prospective customers for your specialty content or services, which you can then upsell. (Watch Chris Anderson’s keynote, “Free, the future of a radical price.”)
2. Specialize: People pay more for deep specialization than for broad and shallow. Concentrate on providing the highest value to a well-defined group of prospective customers by being the best, most comprehensive, most specialized offering for a very particular need. Most generic offerings cannot command good conversion rates or good margins. (Watch “How to create a traffic jam.”)
3. Target: Trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for disappointment. You might get decent traffic, but you won’t get good conversion, because you are not addressing a specific, differentiated need. You need to really understand your best prospective customers. Find the core interests and needs of the people who are most interested in what you have to offer, and target your offering and your marketing to them.
4. Advertising: The future of advertising is advertising that doesn’t seem like advertising. The Internet gives advertisers opportunities to employ techniques that are even more clever than the invention of “product placement” in the old media world. The evolution of social networks is giving advertisers opportunities to promote products and services with more authentic and credible endorsements. (Watch “Is the advertising model dead?”)
5. Competition: Don’t count on your customers being loyal. Even the most enthusiastic Facebook and Twitter users would have no remorse moving to other platforms if they thought they were better. You had better offer your target customers more value than your closest competitor, or you will soon be toast. (Watch “Will anyone pay for anything?”)
6. Experiment: All the consultants and algorithms in the world won’t be able to predict how much what people will pay for which products. The beauty of the web is that you can test, test, and test. Start small, spend little, and try lots of alternatives. There’s no need to bet the company on unproven tactics. (Watch “Beyond CPM: Experiment a lot.”)
7. Consultants: Trust no one. It’s okay to seek out expertise, but don’t abdicate responsibility for developing your core product offering, positioning, pricing, and promotion strategies. Some of the new techniques for reaching customers seem like black magic. They may or may not work for you.
8. Metrics: Make sure you implement objective measures of how you are doing. You may think you are doing well, but a little outside perspective and quantitative data may tell you otherwise. Use the tools that are available; you don’t have to build your own or spend a lot on consultants. (Use seo-browser.com to see how your site is assessed by search engines.)
9. Monetization: Making money is the product of many factors coming together. Tools and techniques can take you only so far. This is not an engineering problem; it is a people problem. Your success depends on building a team of people and a culture dedicated to the company’s achievement, projecting that dedication to the outside world, and connecting with customers whose needs you meet.
10. Passion: Whether you are trying to convince an investor, or a customer, or a candidate, you need to show your passion for what you are doing. It is not enough to say you are passionate. Indeed, if you have to say you are passionate, you will not be credible. (Watch “Fireside Chat” with Mike Moritz and Paul Graham.)
This only scratches the surface of the ideas and insights, and wisecracks, that were offered at Revenue Bootcamp. If you have any insights of your own to offer, or if you come across something in the videos you think we should add to this list, let us know!