How to Choose a Company Name? Ask Google!

An entrepenuer, working on an RV / Mobile Home rental business, writes:

“At first I was set on naming it Recreationist, but the more I thought about it, the more irrational it seemed to choose a domain based on my own preferences. While I had a good feeling about Recreationist, I’m fundamentally skeptical of my own and everyone else’s intuition”

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So he went ahead and tested 17 names by creating identical Google Adwords campaigns for each name.

“The winner, by a landslide, was rvmenu.com

It had a much higher click through rate than the other names, suggesting that it can be an overall better domain name / business name (especially if online advertising will be a key customer acquisition tool).

Read More!

P.S. Panabee and LeanDomainSearch are great for coming up with new (and available) domain name ideas.

Cheaper AND Better – Use ThemeForest for Basic Web Sites

Need a basic “marketing” web site? For your company? For your new product? For your nonprofit?

You know, the typical Home Page, Who We Are, What We Do, Contact Us, etc. In the old days, we would pay a designer somewhere around $5,000 to design and build a really simple site from scratch (goes up from there).

Those days are over. Head-on over to ThemeForest and browse their “Site Templates.” You’re bound to find one that you really like.

Most are:

  • Meticulously designed using the latest technologies (HTML5, CSS, JS)
  • Well-documented and very easy for a technical person to edit
  • Extremely flexible, with lots of different layouts to choose from Responsively designed, so they look great on Web, Mobile and Tablets

You still might need a designer to make some custom modifications, but the end result should be a much better site at a lower overall cost.

Quick Tip: Increase Your Email Response Rates

Sending an e-mail to a prospective customer, partner, or investor?  Trying to get them to schedule a meeting or phone call with you?

Our advice: put your request, up top, in the form of a specific question.

Journalists have a related idea called the “Inverted Pyramid.” MBA’s know it as the “Minto Pyramid Principle” (you can skip the book, this is the central idea).

So, something like this:

Hi John,

Would you be available for a brief phone call on Thursday (5/16) at 11AM or 3PM PT?

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Proin luctus libero quis lorem feugiat id consectetur libero porta. Aliquam ac leo convallis erat gravida eleifend. Proin sed lorem ipsum, ac sodales sapien. Donec iaculis, nunc non dignissim porttitor, sapien massa dapibus tellus, eu suscipit ligula nisi sit amet magna. Fusce erat leo, vestibulum quis interdum sit amet, dignissim quis ligula. Nulla aliquam tincidunt diam, quis sollicitudin dui varius non. 

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All the best,

Mike

You get the idea. Your goal is to elicit a response. How?

  • Making sure your request is actually seen by putting it up top, with all of the other info and details below
  • Challenging the recipient by proposing something very specific (encouraging them to think about it your request in a concrete way)
  • Framing your request in the form of a question (which naturally begs for a response).

Jakob Nielsen has written up many more useful and related tricks.

Venture Voice – Great Podcast on Startups and Entrepreneurship

 

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Have some time in the car, on a plane, on a train? Check out VentureVoice – a really great (but sadly, discontinued) free podcast on startups and entrepreneurship.

From 2005 to 2009, our friend Greg Galant interviewed 60 really smart and interesting startup founders and investors. It’s full of insightful anecdotes and war stories. We’ve listened to them all – our favorites are probably:

“Drip” Marketing Tools to Check Out


Everyone sends their users a “Welcome” email.  You might be using Sendgrid or Mailgun for your transactional emails (Welcome, Forgot Password, etc.).  And you’re probably using MailChimp,Constant Contact, or some other similar tool for your marketing emails (newsletters, new product announcements, etc.).

 

You might want to think about going wild with your transactional emails. There has been a boom in tools that let you:
  • Define a bunch of events (Upon Signup, Three days after signup, After user does task X, after user touches feature Y, etc.)
  • Send out very personalized emails when those events occur.
Some tools you might want to check out include:
Patrick McKenzie put together some really great info on the topic.

 
The bottom line: emails work.  It’s still one of the most powerful channels out there (like it or not).

 

Video 4 of 4: Strategies for Early Stage Companies to Be Successful at Trade Shows & Conferences

I was recently invited by the team at Docstoc to participate in their “expert” video series, meant to help small business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals. This is part 4 of 4.



In this last video, I bring up ways for startups to be effective at trade shows:

  • Don’t get a booth.  Expensive: space, booth itself, manning it, etc.
  • Find out who will be there; identify those who you’d like to meet
  • Craft a persuasive e-mail asking to meet briefly.  Make it personal.
  • Private room, Coffee shop

Video 3 of 4: Difference of Business Development Responsibilities During the Early Stages of a Startup

I was recently invited by the team at Docstoc to participate in their “expert” video series, meant to help small business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals. This is part 3 of 4.



Here I talk about the difference in biz dev responsibilities during the beta stage and growth stage of a startup:

  • In the early stages, it’s the responsibly of the founders.  Sell the vision to prospective customers.  Refine the product as necessary.  Get the first few deals done yourself.  Figure out how to sell the product into what markets.  You’re the passionate visionary – you’re the heart and soul of the company.  You can’t possibly expect an outsider to be able to jump in and start selling.  And if you can’t sell it yourself, don’t bother hiring.
  • In the later stages, bring in folks into biz dev and tell them exactly what to do.  Here’s what works, here’s what doesn’t, here’s what to say, here’s what not to say – all informed by the other deals you’ve already done.  The general sales process will be in place, the legal documents will be in place, the rollout plans in place, etc.

Video 2 of 4: How to Validate a Business Idea Spending Minimal Time & Money

I was recently invited by the team at Docstoc to participate in their “expert” video series, meant to help small business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals. This is part 2 of 4.

Here, I talk about how to test a business idea:

  • Throw something in front of customers. Create minimal marketing materials and present them to customers (in person, via mail, via search, etc). Don’t need a lot. 500 visitors or 10 in-person consultations will probably get you 90% of the information. (See: Jakob Neilsen, Hallway usability testing).
  • Gauge the response. # of folks who provided email address, # of survey respondents, what they said, etc. Some of this is not scientific. Hopefully you will have verified some of your hunches. Perhaps you’ll hear something that you didn’t expect.
  • Refine or drop the idea. Proceed with confidence, or, further dig into some of the concerning pieces. Better to work hard at this, up front, and be honest with yourself (vs. spending lots of time and money building stuff folks don’t want).

Video 1 of 4: Four Steps to Build Great Software Products, A User Centered Approach

I was recently invited by the team at Docstoc to participate in their “expert” video series, meant to help small business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals.

In this first video, I describe the software development process I like to follow. I think that it optimizes for the end user.

It requires a lot of focus and energy, up front, iterating on the user interface in each phase:

  • Wireframes
  • Design mockups
  • HTML / CSS / Assets
  • Development

The product person remains as the primary advocate for the user – nothing rolls out until they approve.

Lots of stuff can get lost in translation from design to development. Lots of really important nuance can be lost. Development is hard. Help the development team by clearly and consistently communicating to them what you want.