Growing Interest for Social Media Marketing

I’ve noticed a buzz around social media marketing over the past few weeks.  Blogs and the media have picked up on it. Business people from various sectors are interested in the drive social media marketing can generate.  My clients want to be on Twitter and Facebook; they want to have a “community manager”.

Sure 2009 was a good year for social websites. For instance, Facebook recently reported a leap to over 300 million members in September 2009. Twitter has demonstrated growth rates exceeding 1300% earlier this year and had over 50 million unique visitors this summer.  Myspace, another big player, showed statistics exhibiting 70.2 million monthly unique visitors back in June.  No doubt there is an audience out there most companies would like to get closer to.

web 2.0

This is what I say to my clients when I give tips about how to engage in social media marketing for their business:

First, listen to what people have to say. Your presence on the web has to add value to what people want to know about your product, industry or brand. If you have something interesting to say, and you are attentive to what others are saying, you can learn a lot from what your audience like or dislike about your business.

In a recent post “Feeling the Community“, Chris Brogan mentions, “companies and people want us to feel that they care about us, but they don’t, and we know it”.  The essence behind social media marketing aims at communicating the opposite of Brogan’s sentiments and wants businesses to learn from their community.  The cool thing about this approach is that consumers or fans have the right to express what they really think about you or your company. This tool is at the tip of your fingers and can become an uninterrupted source of feedback to assist you and your team in decision making.

Key ideas to retain are: be authentic, make people curious, become a community manager.

September Fever… Tips on How to Write a Project Proposal for Web Development Contract

Since I spent most of the month meeting potential clients and preparing project proposals, I wanted to share some insights on how to gather information and what to include in a sale proposal.

1 –If your elevator pitch was good enough, you will probably schedule a first meeting with your prospective client. After this meeting, your team should have all the information and documentation on the client’s project to produce a concise project proposal. You should keep the following in mind:
•  Be attentive and original, make sure you understand your client’s needs, think outside the box when you design your proposal.
•  Be thorough when taking notes during the conversation.  Prepare a questionnaire that includes all you need to know about your client’s business and technological needs.  The better you are prepared for the first meeting, the more efficient you will be and the better the impression you will leave on your client.

2 – Be transparent when writing the project proposal.  Make sure your client understands every detail in it.  You want your client to trust your approach and to make them feel the proposal on its own brings the project one step ahead.
•    Avoid overly technical terms; weigh your words and stick to language they are familiar with.  If you can, include illustrative examples to help clarify complex parts of the proposal.  This will also make the document easier to read and refer back to.
•    Make sure you justify every step in the proposal. If your client feels he/she is being overcharged, you risk losing that sale.

3 – When you operate a small company, you want to make sure that your clients are serious.  To dilute the risk, share it with your client.  One good way of doing this is to request a down payment when the contract is signed.
•    If the customer pays up front, it’s a good sign that he/she trusts you.  The down payment serves as a guarantee to you from your client.
•    Don’t be over-zealous, the amount of the down payment should be just enough for the client to be sure to remain committed to the project, and not so high as to scare him/her off before signing.

4 – Don’t forget to include the Terms & Conditions in your contracts. Make sure you know your terms and conditions and that they are clear to your customers!

Your project proposal is perhaps the first document you will hand to your client and it plays a key role in the outcome. The way you describe your work process, the logic behind your pricing strategy and the language you choose to address your client will make all the difference when it comes to a new client in your portfolio, or in your competitor’s.

SF 2009 –Web 2.0 Expo, Intelligent Startups…

April, so far, has been a very inspiring month.  I had the chance to spend the first week in San Francisco attending the Web 2.0 Expo.  The event, organized by O’REILLY and techweb, attracted over 8,000 visitors.  It has been said that this time the expo,  due to the “financial crisis” spreading across the continent, attracted as much as 25% less people compared to last year.

Nonetheless what was lacking in quantity was compensated in quality.  The message that the expo was propounding this year was “The Power of Less”.  Also, as much on the hall floor as throughout the conferences,  the underlying feeling was that in 2009, entrepreneurs should focus on building solid and profitable businesses, quickly.

For those who did not have the chance to be in the valley, you can catch up on most of the conference sessions, where speakers were generous enough to make their slide shows available.


There was clear guidance provided in terms of the creation of better web services with more concise data measurement tools.  Quantitative analysis will be the answer for many web startups, in order to survive harsher markets and move fast when new opportunities arise.  From the financial perspective, the bottom line is that the VC’s are getting their feet wet again, though the game has somewhat changed. Prospective startups will need to put down some good data on growing usage rates, or upward sloping revenue curves.  And they will probably have to expect to raise less money, for more equity.  Furthermore, presenting a viable solution to become profitable quickly, will be highly appreciated, since you shouldn’t count on a subsequent Investment round.