| Business, Startups

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I have been involved with Maine Startup and Create Week for the past four years. After three years of increasing my volunteer-driven participation I had to scale back this year, as I focused on launching my DIY branding software: Branding Compass. The week did not disappoint and it inspired me as usual.

Here are my four, somewhat random, take aways.

Update your LinkedIn Profile

In the first keynote, Angela Lee of 37 Angels was asked about why she didn’t list her previous startups in her LinkedIn profile. In her response and in a conversation I had with her after, it was confirmed to be more of an oversight than anything meaningful.

It prompted me to look at my own LinkedIn Profile. I had never listed Branding Compass anywhere!

It’s very typical that people you network with will review your LinkedIn profile before or after meeting you. And it raises questions when something is missing from your work history or experience. I have added Branding Compass to my listings, but still need to do more to have my profile more accurately list my current projects.

Build a sales funnel that creates trust

John Lee Dumas, the podcaster from EOFire.com gave insight into how he leads his listeners from his free podcast to his paid products and services. He detailed how he could just push people to buy his Podcasters’ Paradise right away, but instead he first funnels them to a free podcast course that teaches them how to podcast in 15 days. He has greater total conversions when they’ve gone through that educational course.

I have recently launched Branding Compass. Like so many startup founders, I was so thrilled to just get my MVP live. But now I realize that I need to build out a sales funnel. In my case, education about what branding is, and the related vocabulary, as well as specifics about how to use our DIY platform will be key to getting people to buy.

It can be uncomfortable to think about the risks of scaling

If you’ve followed my story over the past year, you know that after 15 years of running Visible Logic, a branding firm, I’m now launching a software application. Managing a consulting firm is very straightforward. The revenue model is essentially money-for-time, and I have a few employees and a couple of freelancers. There are no other channel partners, equity owners, or anything complicated.

Some revenue and equity models can be confusing and scary, but if I want to scale, I need to educate myself about these options. As usual, MSCW gave me the opportunity to get information, ask questions and make connections from outsiders who aren’t judging me or trying to make a deal with me.

Email marketing works

For this year’s event, we handled all of the e-newsletters through our Mail on the Mark service.

The e-newsletters start as a marketing push to attract ticket buyers. Then, the emails become a user experience tool as we keep attendees and speakers up-to-date with the latest information. I don’t have the full data, but I would guess that email marketing was again, like in 2016, the primary driver of ticket sales.

Facebook, Slack, Instagram, SnapChat, are all important. But email still is the dominant business communication tool. In fact, I just read a statistic today “that worldwide email usage will grow by 12% in the coming years.” Email and e-newsletters can effectively move between promotion to education to customer service, allowing you to truly connect with and serve your customers like no other channel.

What were your takeaways from MSCW2017?

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