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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses the 13 Unlucky Reasons Startups Fail (on ASBN)

Posted By: George Deeb - 9/29/2021

I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small busine...



I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about the unlucky 13 reasons startups fail, and how to prevent them in your business.  I thought this video turned out great, and I wanted to share it with all of you, to see if it can be helpful to you in avoid the mistakes made by many other companies before you.  I hope you like!!



The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Don't Be the Smartest Guy in the Room

Posted By: George Deeb - 9/01/2021

  I have been exposed to many interesting business leaders over the years. The difference between the average ones, and the great ones, was ...

 


I have been exposed to many interesting business leaders over the years. The difference between the average ones, and the great ones, was how they viewed themselves, and the role they thought they needed to play within their company. My conclusion: the persons that saw themselves as the smartest guy (or gal) in the room, who needed to control all the decision-making in the company, are the ones who achieved the least success, and ended up alienating their peers the most. Allow me to explain further, so you don’t repeat these same mistakes.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this month.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.



Monday, August 16, 2021

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses Pitching Venture Capitalists (on ASBN)

Posted By: George Deeb - 8/16/2021

  I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small busi...

 


I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about how best to pitch a venture capitalist.  I thought this "Tip of the Day" short video turned out great, and I wanted to share it with all of you, to see if it can be helpful with your own fund raising efforts.  I hope you like!!



The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Lesson #339: OKRs Unite Companies to Achieve Goals

Posted By: George Deeb - 8/03/2021

  Goals setting is one of those business processes that is really an art. When it is done really well, it can unlock huge performance increa...

 

Goals setting is one of those business processes that is really an art. When it is done really well, it can unlock huge performance increases and propel your business to new heights. I was recently introduced to Matt Roberts, the founder of London UK based ZOKRI, whose software helps fast growth companies use Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) driven goals and agile working practices to provide clarity on how growth will be delivered. He is an expert in this space and was gracious enough to allow me to pick his brain to assist me in writing this post.

Why Do Goals Matter? 

The research is clear. Goals serve to direct our efforts towards relevant activities and away from irrelevant ones. Put another way, goals are there to make sure we are doing the right things everyday. The activities that will make a difference.

There are other insights in the research, as well, though. The most important recurring theme is the need for goals to be a challenge to achieve, to push the business forward to new heights. This is why these "harder to hit" goals matter:

  • Harder goals are proven to increase our focus and prolong our effort
  • Harder goals encourage learning, collaboration and innovation - when goals are easy we don’t need to try as hard

If goals really matter to performance management then it is worth exploring what good looks like to start a process of inquiry and improvement. This post has been written to:

  • Introduce the basics of OKRs as a way of setting goals - it’s a leading goal setting framework
  • Share common OKR failure points so you can avoid them
  • Share examples of OKRs that align and would unite a company and teams
  • Emphasize the importance of committing to a update and discussion cadence
  • Encourage you to go all-in if you feel that more aligned and ambitious goals and agile execution are for you

An Introduction to OKRs

OKRs are the go-to goal setting framework for start-ups and scale-ups, and they have been around for a long-time. In fact, they can be traced back to a framework called Management By Objectives (MBO), which was used in the 1970’s. Since then, they’ve become a mainstream way of setting goals and managing growth with Google being the most famous of the companies that use the framework.

There is a simplicity to OKRs that is really attractive. Starting with the fact that they have just two entities:

  • An Objective - describes the Mission you want people to sign-up to and why
  • Key Results - measure the outcomes you are trying to get to. 

Other attributes OKRs have that make them different to other methods like SMART goals are:

  • Frequency of discussions - OKRs are designed to be discussed frequently and widely
  • Aligned - OKRs are set at the top in the form of Company Objectives and aligned with by teams, both departmental and cross-functional.
  • Transparent - OKRs are designed to be shared across teams and not hidden away in silos.

However there are nuances to OKRs that if not understood can cause confusion and even make their introduction a failure that it’s worth understanding.

Common Issues with OKR Implementations to Avoid

Like with the introduction of any new system or way of working, some of what you do and is being asked feels alien or even counterintuitive at first. The most common issues are:

  • 100% is not the only definition of success, in fact, the level of ambition and how you work towards the goal often matters more than the final outcome.
  • Tasks not outcomes are used for Key Results - usually because teams are not good or comfortable talking about measurement.
  • OKRs implemented well are talked about all the time and weekly priorities are constantly aligned and re-aligning execution around them. If agile ways of working are new, OKRs can still become a set-and-forget goal.
  • OKRs are expressions of the most important objectives being targeted. They are what teams are being asked to align with and focus on outside their business-as-usual activities. The issue can be that teams describe their roles and everything they are doing as OKRs, so everything and nothing is most important.

How you avoid these issues is with education, coaching and reinforcement of what good looks like, and leadership. 

OKRs that Can Unite a Whole Company

OKRs, when used well, have the ability to not just be a way of setting goals in traditional teams like Sales and Marketing, they have the ability to unite teams around Company goals and encourage the creation of cross-functional teams. Here is an example of a Company Level OKR that could unite and focus a start-up:

Achieve product market fit and be easy to invest in

As measured by:

MRR increases from X to Y

Churn has reduced from X to Y

LTV : CAC Ratio is over 4

NPS is 80+

Teams would be asked to align Objectives with this OKR. Which is what will be discussed next.

It’s easy to see how Marketing and Sales could work together on top, middle and bottom of the funnel OKRs and target the MRR and CAC metrics. What is often not done as well is Product, Data Science and Engineering OKRs.

If these teams go it alone they are highly likely to create OKRs that target improvements in processes and systems that improve their team performance. For example, it’s common for Product Managers to create OKRs around talking to more customers, or Engineering to reduce the bug count or increase story-point velocity.

If you got these teams together and asked them a different question such as ‘how can your team be improved’ and asked everyone, ‘how could the product be improved to help customers?’

To be clear, you can also have a team OKR, but having an OKR that is targeting the customer and the value they need you to provide is more important.

For example, what if your product was hard to learn and it’s stopping you from getting scale. The value you need to provide is:

Make learning our product really easy

As measured by:

80% of new sign-ups complete all 5 engagement tasks

50% of new users invite 5 colleagues to the app

To achieve this you’re going to need Product Management, Engineering, and the UX / Design team to work together, not working in separate silos.

Tracking & Reporting OKR Progress

What then follows on from this is a planning session where Initiatives are proposed, a backlog is created, some are moved to ‘in progress’ and execution begins.

Every Monday the teams propose priorities for the week, share problems, and review related metrics that would support the OKR like Sign-ups Volume, Weekly Average Users.  On a Friday, wins are shared.

This focused agenda and cadence is what keeps the teams connected to the OKR and helps its achievement, and is what OKR software like ZOKRI supports.

Software matters because spreadsheets not only suffer from ‘set and forget’, they are not good at managing the constituent parts of goal and executional conversations, both when teams are together, and when people are working asynchronously.

The reality is you want and need the reminders, alerts, input structure, workflows, integrations, data views and reports. Not having them reduces goal and execution focus, or increases the time and management overhead.

The other part of the argument is that you want to be breaking down the silos not supporting them. Having a friendly easy to navigate common system that shows anyone what teams are trying to accomplish, their progress and priorities has huge advantages. For example, it helps decisions in teams make sense, especially if what is being done conflicts with what you need, as goals provide context for the work being prioritized and committed to.

Mastery is Not Hard But Needs Commitment 

Mastering OKRs is not hard but does take commitment from the top and an understanding that changes in how you plan and collaborate takes time as you are acquiring new skills and embedding new behaviors. The destination and journey can be a rewarding one as it can unite your whole company around a common vision and set of goals. If you want a deeper dive on this, Matt shared this free guide on OKRs which may be helpful.  If any of you need help with setting business goals, call us at Red Rocket.  If any of you need help with measuring and achieving those goals, call Matt's team at ZOKRI.  Matt, thanks again for your help and inspiration here.  


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.


Thursday, July 29, 2021

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses Paths to Revenue Growth (on ASBN)

Posted By: George Deeb - 7/29/2021

  I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small busi...

 


I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about the various paths to revenue growth.  I thought this video turned out great, and I wanted to share it with all of you, to see if it can be helpful with your own growth efforts.  I hope you like!!



The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Lesson #338: The 7 Steps to Managing Your Advertising Agency

Posted By: George Deeb - 7/05/2021

In my recent post, we learned how to select an advertising agency , with the best skillsets needed for your exact business challenges.  In t...


In my recent post, we learned how to select an advertising agency, with the best skillsets needed for your exact business challenges.  In this post, we are going to learn how to best manage that agency, to ensure both parties are in alignment on key goals and performance metrics.  As you are going to learn, it is not as simple as hitting “autopilot”, crossing your fingers and hoping they get it right.  You will need watchful eyes along the way, helping to get your agency back on the desired track, when they start to stray off course.  Let’s learn more.

1. Set the Business Goals

Everything starts with the business goals.  Your agency needs to be perfectly clear on the budgets they have to work with and what you are defining as success from the campaign.  Sometimes that is upper funnel targets, like growing your overall brand awareness metrics.  But, more often than not, it is lower funnel targets, like hitting a desired revenue level and matching return on ad spend (ROAS) or cost of acquiring a customer (CAC).  It is very difficult to manage for everything at the same time, so set a very specific goal to shoot for.  As an example, a ROAS in the 5x-10x range, or a CAC not to exceed 33% of your average order value (AOV).

2. Set the Target Customers

Every business is different.  If you are a B2B company, you are typically targeting specific companies that would be logical buyers of your products.  Or, more likely, specific employee roles, within those businesses.  For example, if you are selling a social media marketing software, you may be reaching out to a Chief Marketing Officer, or a Director of Social Media, at those target companies.  Understanding that not all companies are created equal.  Maybe you are targeting employees at big enterprise scale Fortune 500 companies, or you are going after employees of small and medium size businesses that can better afford your products.  So, lock down your target company size and the target roles of employees inside those companies, understanding you may have more than one target persona to go after.

If you are a B2C company, you are most likely going after a particularly customer demographic that would be most interested in your products.  Is that men or women?  Is it high income, well-educated people, or more mass market?  Are they aged 21-34 or 55 plus?  Does geography matter, if so add your target states or cities of residence?  And, if you can layer in persona information from various psychographic data sources, that is even better.  For example, is your customer more of a “fitness fanatic” or an “arts and crafter”, to enable media targeting at that “interest” level.  The better you understand your current customer base, the easier it will be to identify the right look-alike targets to go after.  Again, there may be more than one persona here.

3. Set the Media Mix

Mastering your marketing funnel and media mix is a more in-depth conversation that I have written about in the past.  But, at the highest level of understanding, your marketing funnel has three parts: (i) upper funnel, driving awareness of your brand; (ii) middle funnel, driving consideration for your products; and (iii) lower funnel, driving transactions and revenues for your business.  And, there are different media tactics to consider for each stage of the funnel.  For example, maybe you would consider television media for upper funnel, social media for middle funnel and search engine marketing for lower funnel.  That’s why understanding your goals is so important, so we use the right media to help you hit those goals.  So, at this stage, you are deciding how much of your budget to put into each funnel stage (e.g., 20% upper, 30% middle and 50% lower funnel), which tactics for each funnel stage (e.g., social media for middle funnel), and which specific publishers for each tactic (e.g., spend the social media budget evenly between Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter). 

4. Set the Analytics and Reporting

The best advertising agencies these days are as much technology and analytics businesses, as they are creative and branding businesses.  They will make sure your website and campaigns are set up in a way that most all clicks, contacts and transactions can be tracked back to their originating source, including assigning cross-channel marketing attribution metrics.  And, they will build the dashboards that will enable you to easily see which marketing efforts are working towards hitting your desired goals, and which ones are not.  So then, they can easily “dial up” or “dial down” any winning or losing tactics within the campaign.   It is important that the key business goals are being measured in these reports, by funnel stage, by channel, by publisher, by campaign, by creative, etc.  Make sure you are getting these summary reports sent to you on at least a weekly basis, so you can track their progress and make changes quickly, before you waste a lot of money on a “losing” campaign.  And, make sure you are using the right metrics at each funnel stage (e.g., CPV upper funnel, CPL middle funnel and CPA lower funnel).

5. Set the Communications Frequency

Your communications with your agency depends on the size of your budget and how often things are changing.   If it is a relatively small budget and the campaign is largely optimized and static in terms of changes, maybe you can get away with monthly meetings.  If it is a large budget, the campaign is still being set up and lots of testing and changes are being made, more likely you will need weekly meetings with your agency.  But, meetings will be needed for communications both ways.  You will want to make sure the campaign is achieving your goals, and your agency may need guidance from you for anything they are not clear on, or if there is a “fork in the road” that needs your input.

6.  Set the Roles & Responsibilities

Think of setting up multi-leveled roles and responsibilities at both your company and your agency.  Those levels most likely include: (i) executive oversight (e.g., a CMO in your business and a Head of Strategy at your agency) that is not too involved in the day-to-day, but is being kept abreast of the big picture issues; (ii) day-to-day project leadership and management (e.g., a VP-Media Buying in your business and an Account Executive at your agency), that are “quarterbacking” their subordinate teams and keeping everyone on task and on plan; and (iii) the teams in the trenches living and breathing the campaign and the resulting data (e.g., a Social Media Marketing Manager at your company and a Head of Social Media at your agency).  Make sure you have the appropriate teams set up at both your company and your agency, to optimize at each level—strategic, planning and execution.

7.  Rinse and Repeat

Just because you followed the above process doesn’t mean your job is done when you have completed the six steps above.  This is an iterative process—every quarter you should go back to step one, to restudy everything and adjust for any changes in business goals, customer learnings, media learnings, etc. and then reset the campaign in steps two through six for the new learnings.  Plan for quarterly campaign review meetings with your agencies and internal teams at that more strategic level.

Closing Thoughts

I know this sounds like a daunting process, but it is required to make sure you don’t unnecessarily flush any of your marketing dollars down the toilet.  A strong, well-optimized relationship with your advertising agency could be the difference between sales and profits being flat this year, or up 100%.  If you need any help here, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, as I have worked with many agencies in my past, and know the ones who are currently “best of breed” where the rubber hits the road—with smart teams driving a high ROI on your investment.


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.


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