Success stories are boring

Success stories are boring.
Startup success stories are horribly boring.
They are all quite the same and go like that:

We had that bright idea. We made right things at the right time at the right place. We worked hard, we had luck and we are genius anyway.

Another thing those success stories have in common – you learn nothing from them. Cause by no mean you can learn success. But you can learn failures. And you can learn to foresee them and change your path.
So how can exciting stories with no happy end look like?

We had that bright idea at the wrong time.

Bright idea guarantees nothing. Just have it at the wrong time, when consumers and the market are not ready for it, and you fail brilliantly.
An innovative idea is even harder to bring through. A lot of explanation to adjust mental models of consumers (=money for marketing) is required. If you believe that innovation sells, you are damn wrong. Innovation is probably the worst sales manager ever. So just multiply your marketing budget 10 times. Maybe it’ll work.

We had that bright idea and made wrong things (at wrong place).

The brightest idea served to the wrong people won’t bring you far. You can also try to serve right people but at places, they never visit/use. Or make all of that right and forget the usability issues of your target group and thus make your product unusable for them. Yes, there are many ways to fail.
Greetings to user research I have not done when I should have had.

We worked hard.

Working hard guarantees no success. Working hard makes you blind. It really matters to take your hands off, get a bit distanced from all that startup stress and look at it from the bird perspective. Just to be sure you are not working hard on burying your startup.

We had no luck.

Well, luck is a good but very unreliable metrics. Having luck means you being on the right path. However, having no luck does not mean anything. Maybe you are on the wrong path. But maybe these are just life hurdles you are struggling with and they are to check if you deserve more.
I have a strong opinion that luck is essential and you have to keep an eye on it. If no (even tiny) lucky circumstances ever happening on your startup path, you might need to rethink it.
And my startup failure experience makes me suspect that user research, bird-eye view and luck are old good friends.

We were not smart enough.

You were brave enough to take a risk and leave your comfort zone to try that idea out. And then you were brave and smart enough to admit the flop. So be proud of the challenges you took and failed. So hey! Even if you failed, you are genius. Do celebrate the startup you fucked up. Thanks to it your next project might actually succeed.

Whatever the future might bring, the startups we’ve failed, the stories with no happy end, are the ones our grandchildren will love to listen to and ask to tell them all over again.
And again.
And again.
Cause success stories are boring.

Using content lifecycle to perform on social media

Though Austria is a beautiful country blessed with sports-predestined landscapes it still has its struggles like relatively high prices, relatively short summer, no sea, and high competition. Last years were indeed generous of sun and advantageous political issues, making Austria especially attractive for summer tourism. This summer hit operators hard. Some of them have to cope with turnover decrease up to 30%. As competition in the business becomes harder it is time to become serious with content strategy and revise the approach of using social media.

Every sports and activity provider in Austria is familiar with the social media and has at least a Facebook or a Twitter account. However, only for a tiny part of them, the effort pays off. The others think of it as of a waste of their time. Why?

The absence of a strategy is the main reason. However successful content strategy requires a high-quality content foundation. To create one a content lifecycle management should be considered. During its lifecycle content should go through four stages: Analysis -> Collection -> Management -> Delivery. Each stage must use an output of the previous one as an input so that the effort would not be wasted. So what is happening in reality?

Content Analysis

AS-IS: Prerequisites for doing well at this stage are brilliant in this business. Being usually a small company, operators are working with their customers directly and know exactly what they are up to or interested in. However, this knowledge is being wasted as no actual analysis is being done.

TO-BE: Use the knowledge and experience, think of the situation and come up with the ideas which content can be of a special interest for the customers.

Content Collection

AS-IS: Sport and activity providers in Austria are enormously strong here, even though most of them are not aware of it. To make it clear I give an example. A diving base having its location, personnel, equipment, knowledge, and guests has lots of opportunities for content collection. Making photos, filming the next scheduled theoretical course or taking a GoPro camera next time they go wrack diving – just to name some of them. Lots of content is being created impulsively – with no strategy behind it.

TO-BE: Use the outcome from ‘analysis stage‘ and create less but aim-oriented content. This approach lets to increase the efficiency of content and decrease the waste of resources.

Content Management

AS-IS: At this stage of content lifecycle the sport and activity providers are actually at their weakest. Firstly, most of them are not professionally familiar with information technologies and all the opportunities they offer as it is not their core competence. Secondly, they do not have time and energy for it. Guiding a canyoning tour twice a day is pretty much demanding, so managing created content will be the last idea such an instructor would come up with in the end of the day. Thirdly, sports instructors are seldom at the base. Guiding rafting tours on all different rivers, instructors are geographically spread and ‘offline‘ most of the time. This is a huge obstacle on the way to structure, standardize the content or even to bring it all onto the one common repository.

TO-BE: Instead of hunting every created content, focus on the content needed according to the ‘analysis stage‘ output. Managing a small amount of useful content is way easier than managing lots of rubbish content.

Content Delivery

AS-IS: Shoot a picture with a smartphone and post it on Facebook. Content delivered! This is the way most of sport and activity providers work.

TO-BE: Though this is not the only way of content delivery, it is okay to shoot and post as long as this process is driven by previous three stages of content lifecycle management. Otherwise, you deliver low-quality content.

 

This brief comparison demonstrates how lots of content and effort is being wasted for the sake of occasional delivery of spontaneous low-quality content. No wonder it does not pay off.

These TO-BE tips will help to improve the quality of the content. Social media is a great channel for a low budget marketing, so use it fully to persuade guests to take a windsurfing course at YOUR base next summer.

An der Quelle sitzen, aus dem Vollen schöpfen

Im Zuge meine Arbeit für ein österreichisches Tourismus-Unternehmen habe ich hunderte Webseiten von den Sport und Freizeitanbietern durchgeforstet und festgestellt, dass alle Aktiv-Anbieter haben zwei große Vorteile:

  1. Sie ’sitzen‘ auf der Content-Quelle – sie können jederzeit Fotos und Videos von ihren Produkten bzw. Leistungen produzieren.
  2. Sie verfügen über das nötige Produkt oder Dienstleistungspezifisches Wissen.

Das bedeutet, dass sie nahezu grenzenlose Möglichkeiten haben hochqualitative Inhalte für ihre Online-Präsenz zu produzieren. Das Problem ist aber, das sie diese Vorteile nicht ausnutzen können.

Das liegt daran, dass sie nicht wissen wie man einen guten Content von einem schlechten unterscheidet. Oft haben sie keinen Know-How über die ‚Computer-Geschichteln‘ und auch keine Lust sich nach einem anstrengenden Arbeitstag (wo sie sich oft körperlich herausgaben) mit der Technik und strategischen Konzepten auseinander zu setzen.

In diesem Ratgeber teile ich mein Wissen über die einfachen aber wirkungsvollen Techniken für eine bessere Online-Präsenz für die Startups und kleine und mittlere Unternehmen. Damit sie nicht nur an der Quelle sitzen, sondern auch aus dem Vollen schöpfen.

Die Startups sowie kleine und mittlere Unternehmen haben was gemeinsam. Sie haben meistens sehr begrenzte Ressourcen, die sie weise einsetzen müssen. Sehr oft sitzen sie an der Content-Quelle. Denn sie können jederzeit neue Inhalte erstellen, sprich Fotos oder Videos machen, ihre Gäste oder Kunden befragen, Aktionen und Campaignen umsetzen und vieles mehr. Somit können sie hochwertige und einzigartige Inhalte produzieren und ihr Unternehmen attraktiver für die Kunden und Investoren machen. Theoretisch. In der Realität schaffen nur die Wenigen gute Inhalte zu erstellen und ihrem Unternehmen damit Gutes zu tun.