by Molly Kramer, Founder & Creative Director of Model Content
Part I can be found here
Marketing is a critical tool for growth and innovation. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be in this business. But partnerships are essential too.
Recently, a lesson in the symbiotic flow of a partnership came from Terry Fong, Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA, when he told his story of government and the private sector teaming up (to help robots and humans team up).
“NASA deeply cares about technology because it enables everything we do. NASA is a procurer of technology of course,” he told the crowd at Collision Conference 2018, adding, “…but we’re also a big consumer.”
He told the story of a Nissan partnership in which NASA’s work using real-time 3D graphics, autonomous robotics software, and human-robot teaming in space has transferred into the development of earth-bound, self-driving cars. “If we can learn how to make humans team well with self-driving cars, we can turn it around and apply it to humans working with robots in space,” Terry said.
Recently, I’ve gotten the pleasure to see this dynamic firsthand. As a judge at the AIME Center’s annual pitch competition, I saw students present business plans to commercialize NASA patents—with applications from auto maintenance to wearables. And during the Stennis Space Center’s most recent Small Business Showcase, Model Content got the privilege to exhibit among contractors with NASA, the Navy, and other Stennis tenants.
Government contracting is basically Model Content’s own final frontier, and to that end we’re looking for our own ultimate partnership. I’m seeking a protégé in the SBA's All Small Mentor-Protégé program. This should be a company who can guide Model Content on HR and internal business management systems—and who can take advantage of our services in technical communications, qualitative research, multimedia creation, or event planning in a joint venture. If that's you, email me directly.
But of course, partnerships aren’t everything. Like I said, marketing is an essential tool. Model Content markets itself the same way we market our clients—except we have almost no campaign budget! So every dollar spent is strategic. That’s why it’s so powerful to hear from the true experts in marketing.
At SCORE’s 2018 American Small Business Championship, Ron Cates (of pre-acquisition Constant Contact) challenged the conventional wisdom about list maintenance practices for email marketing. He warned against scrubbing unengaged subscribers from your lists.
Ron explained that subscribers may be still in the buying cycle, just not on the timetable you’d prefer. So stay engaged and let your unopened emails do some work for you.
“Opens are not tracked perfectly,” he said. “And even emails that are not opened have an impact because of the subject line.” But he also reinforced what most marketers assume—that unprofessional emails make your product seem second-rate and that audience segmentation is essential to showing you care.
And at Collision, HubSpot Co-Founder and CEO Brian Halligan talked about the importance of a CEO performing direct and continuous customer discovery (yas Lean Startup!). Brian sits down with two or three customers each week.
And one of the things he’s discovered about his company’s own sales cycle is that lead generation has significantly shifted away from e-books and other marketing collateral. As the company has matured, leads are coming from other customers instead. He sees lessons in this:
“Marketing is underrated in startup mode and overrated in scale-up mode.”
So who knows? Maybe by the time Model Content has the budget, we won’t need it! In the meantime, experiments with event marketing at Collision and Stennis have resulted in amazing customer discovery. Like Ron suggests, I’ll stay engaged and show clients I care.
For Model Content, that’s through listening. At both Collision and the SCORE event, I spent most of the time listening to others talk about their lives and businesses—plus their favorite podcasts, apps, travel destinations, science writers, and beers.
And that’s how true partnerships are built.
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