I think we sometimes celebrate things way to early in the startup space. Sure achievements and milestones should be acknowledged, the small wins along the way are very important. What puzzles me is when people equate getting an article in the media with the idea that doing that is going to bring about a sustainable customer base for their business. Sorry startups, it’s not. Selling = Sales and Media = Perception.
Lets look at media coverage.
After a year and 8 months our first website [this one] under the Shoe String Media brand ranks quite well, our traffic is something I am definitely pleased with and we have a solid revenue plan in place and are growing month on month. However, because we are a version of media and people see major brands advertising with us now, people have [quite regularly] come to the assumption that we must be worth more than we actually are. Over the past few months I have been asked to talk at a seminar around sales in the media space and have been approached about doing a piece around successful media startups. These are both opportunities that I have also declined.
Why would I deny myself the opportunity to get myself out there?
Simply put, it’s fraud. How could I stand there and speak to an audience about advertising and sales when my company still has debts to pay and has not yet broken even. Why on earth would I prance around in the media and talk about having a successful media startup when I don’t have the balance sheet to back it up…
One of the reasons we started this particular site was to get the word out about new ventures and ideas.
I think it is important to tell your story through as many of the right media channels as possible. The stories you are telling however need to be congruent with your business and where it presently stands. I see way too many stories on vanity metrics at the moment, these puff pieces only create a perception about your business [a fake perception], they don’t add any value to your bottom line.
I am from the school of thinking that you need to crawl before you can run a marathon, and when it comes to business, I believe that you need to earn the street cred and have the sales flowing through the door before you can begin to brag about your successful business.
Selling = Sales.
Selling your product or service is not easy, if it was EVERYONE would be a sales person. We need to get ourselves out of the train of thought that says Build it + Do some PR around it= Everyone wants a piece of me = Google will buy me in 12 months, because it’s not going to happen that way. Ever. Most exits happen with profitable companies. Even exceptions to the rule have some kind of value [monetary value] to the company acquiring them.
We need to get back to basics, pick up the phone and make some appointments. We need to hustle like a motherfucker and stop living in the world of made up numbers [those best scenario ones you always put into the calculator] – Unless the numbers have a dollar sign in front, and are sitting in your bank account, than it is not a sale, unless the visitors to your site are clicking through and buying your products, spending their cash with you, it is not successful marketing.
Concentrate on sales, leave the tales of the success until after it’s achieved.