Skillful Social Media, Relationship Marketing, Social Marketing Strategy, SEO, SEM

Social Media Strategy, Implementation, & Training!

Don’t Get It Twisted: Customer Development = Startup Sales (Guest Blog)


There seems to be a misconception out there in startup world. There is plenty of talk about “customer development” and Lean Startup Methodology (talking to and learning from potential customers) in the product development stage, which is great. But there is simultaneously a sense of apprehension when it comes to “monetizing”, as if it’s this mythical, frightening beast. I’ll let you in on a secret: customer development and early stage startup sales are literally the same process.

This comes back to a fundamental misunderstanding of what selling is. Way more than any slick sales pitch, it’s about matching your offering with a customer’s need. To create this match between product and need, you need to listen but you also need to expose yourself to failure by trying to sell and seeing what happens. The biggest mistake you can make is giving the impression that your product is free when it actually isn’t.  

And once you do bring up price, always be ready to close the deal! Most people separate customer development from sales so that they are either only:

1) Learning during customer development conversations

2) Trying to sell while in sales calls with potential customers and not trying to learn anything

Yesware’s founder Matthew Bellows offers a warning of this exact symptom in one of his early blog posts where a potential customer was ready to buy licenses for their sales team but he was too busy thinking of potential features to notice the buyer’s intentions. Yesware has raised double digit millions and is absolutely crushing it (I love using horrible cliches) so if they can make a mistake like this, it’s very possible that you can too.

But what happens if you misread the potential customer’s intentions, try to sell them, and they reject you? You’ll hit an objection. Objections are great because you learn why the customer is saying no! If it’s something wrong with your product, you can now go fix that problem. If it’s related to your pricing, you can work on that. The real problems come when you aren’t getting any feedback on why the customer isn’t buying – it’s impossible to fix the problem when you don’t know what the problem is in the first place.

There’s another hidden advantage to having paying customers – it’s way easier to get useful feedback. At one of my previous companies, we went down the free trial route and got solid adoption from one of the core audience groups (high school counselors). The problem? They never used the product unless we told them to. We weren’t sure if it was because of our design, our product, or if we just weren’t solving a true need. You’ll never have this problem if you’re asking initial users to pay money to use your product – they’ll either not buy your product or they’ll quickly cancel if you aren’t solving their need.

Don’t overcomplicate things. If you’re doing customer development already, just add a step and try to close the sale – worst case, you’ll learn more and best case, you’ll have more revenue than SnapChat. And if you’re not already doing customer development and you run a startup, the time to start was yesterday :)

– See more at: neilsoni.com/post/the-importance-of-pricing-model-in-product-market-fit

Helping Non-Profits Find The “Social” Sweet Spot!

We all know that nonprofits are understaffed and under resourced. Do you spend a lot of money on social media, SEO, and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? What do you get in return? Upaya’s skill set has evolved to focus on the overlap between Social Media Marketing (SMM), SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Google’s recent refinements to their search algorithm has made this intersection a very relevant and active space.

Upaya Services works with you to identify your short and long term social media marketing (SMM), search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM) objectives. We manage your SMM, SEO, and SEM for two-three months while we actively measure results, refine our outreach, and provide you with the training/skills and resources necessary to manage your own SMM-SEO-SEM projects.

Social Media Marketing – Optimized social media that shares relevant content across multiple channels.

  • Channel development – we set up your social media assets, optimize for SEO, and show you how to maintain and update your social media.
  • Community activation and growth – we identify the best ways to activate and grow your social media community from better “Tagging”, to “Seeding”, to great content that makes a difference!
  • Content creation and aggregation – we show you how easy it is to create and source compelling content! In the end – it is all about CONTENT!

SEO – Focus on good content that is keyword rich. Drive traffic to website and social media channels from high value sites (high traffic with relevant keywords).

  • Keyword research (using analytics from Google Analytics and AdWords) and optimization. Do you want to compete for keywords that your competitors are willing to pay high prices for or do you want to find the “niche” keywords that you customers are searching for and spend your money more effectively?Quality Content – Content is key! Good content creates engagement, engagement (video, commenting on blogs, sharing/commenting/liking on FB, retweeting, +++) improves SEO.
  • Quality Links – Drive traffic from high volume sites (media outlet, Twitter Hashtags, Huffington Post, LinkedIn Groups) to your digital ecosystem (website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, etc).

SEM – Our Google AdWords expertise allows you to maximize your SEM budget, target relevant audiences, and drive traffic to your web channels (web, social media, blog).

  • Keyword research (using analytics from Google Analytics and AdWords) and optimization. Find the”niche” keywords that you customers are searching for.
  • Setup/Reset – we conduct a SEM audit to identify the areas to improve your SEM. We explore what campaigns are most relevant for your short and long term objectives.
  • A/B Testing – after 2-3 months, you know how to maximize your SEM budget.

Why Upaya? The Upaya team has the ability and skillfulness to acquire and create the necessary resources to succeed. We see obstacles as opportunities to perform! We work seamlessly to craft creative solutions to every type problem (and we are good at it!). Most importantly, we are used to making possibilities out of the resources we can acquire and that you have within your organization.

Upaya Services understands the limited resources of non profits: money, human resources, and leadership bandwidth. What a organization can achieve is often limited by these factors. Upaya’s experience with a diverse clientele has given us a unique and “real time” perspective on what works and why (it is always changing!). We do not merely add to your team we multiply the effectiveness of your team and organization.

Give UPAYA a call to schedule a complimentary call to discuss how we can help you! We provide general consults, design and implementation, DIY help and training, or something in between. The Upaya definition of success: 100% satisfaction!

Ben Simon-Thomas
Principal & Founder
Voice: 510-859-4236
Email: bst@upayaservices.com

New Year’s Resolution? More LinkedIn!

LinkedinIn is an evolving space with LOTS of potential!

LinkedIn is becoming increasingly relevant in the target social space.  LinkedIn has made some great improvements: updated profiles, new company pages, the influencer following program, and the endorsements feature. This network is becoming even more valuable.

LinkedIn is fast becoming the destination for all aspects of your professional life, not just the place to look  for a job. Companies and organizations using LinkedIn well are treating LinkedIn much more like Facebook’s Newsfeed: posting more regularly and engaging within relevant communities.

New Year’s Resolution – ACTIVE your self and your business on LINKEDIN today!

All About The “Subject Line”

Here is a great post election article on the subject lines that reaped millions. Imagine if you took a “subject line” lens and applied it to all of our social media messaging. What do I mean? Think of your first few words on FACEBOOK and TWITTER as subject lines!

Take home for social media…

  • Be Bold! Capture Attention
  • 3-6 words is all you have
  • Be Familiar

Read more @ “The subject lines that reaped millions” By Michael Sebastian (http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/13273.aspx#)

Staunch social media enthusiasts have rung the death knell for email.

The presidential campaign shows these doomsayers are full of it.

“Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising emails,” reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

You might know these emails, which began with overly familiar—some might say creepy—subject lines, such as, “Hey,” or, “Do this for Michelle.”

Turns out, they brought in millions for the campaign.

Obama’s camp shared email figures with Businessweek, including the amount of fundraising dollars each subject line reaped on one day of the campaign (June 26).

They tested a number of email subject lines—a common practice in the campaign—the most successful being, “I will be outspent.” It raked in $2,540,866.

Some of the other top earners that day:

  • “Some scary numbers”— $1,941,379
  • “If you believe in what we’re doing” — $911,806
  • “Last call: Join Michelle and me” — $894,644
  • “Would love to meet you” — $755,425
  • “Do this for Michelle” — $714,147
  • “Change” — $711,543

As The Atlantic Wire noted, the top three earners on June 26 were “guilt-trippers.”

Over the course of the campaign, guilt-inducing subjects lines weren’t the most successful. That honor went to casual introductions. “Hey,” for example, brought in millions of dollars, according toBusinessweek.

The lesson is that a familiar tone beats one that’s more formal.

“The subject lines that worked best were things you might see in your inbox from other people,” Toby Fallsgraff, director of Team Obama’s email staff, told Businessweek.

Is that what you’ve experienced?

By Michael Sebastian | Posted: November 30, 2012

The Art & Science Of The Story

Telling great stories is an art and science… here is a great story about the neural underpinnings of what makes a great story. Although the focus of this video is on giving, identify the elements of a story that illicit a response that promotes engagement is the HOLY GRAIL of social media.

From: “The two ingredients of stories that motivate giving”, By Jeff Brooks.

Here’s a video about story-telling that every fundraisers should see:

Or watch it here on YouTube.

In short, it describes a study that found the most impactful stories have two key elements:

  1. Distress, produces cortisol, which helps us focus attention on the story.
  2. Empathy, which produces oxytocin, which promotes a sense of connection.

And when these things are present, hearers of the story are much more likely to give.

Do your stories have both distress and empathy in them?

Posted by  on 28 November 2012 at 08:04 in Donor Psychology |





Generating New Possibilities With SKILLFUL Social Media.

When planning a specific marketing campaign or implementing a long-term marketing strategy, Upaya Services generates new possibilities that can grow your business. Upaya Services understands the limited resources of small and mid-size business: money, human resources, and management bandwidth. What a small company can achieve is often limited by these factors. Upaya’s experience with a large number of companies has taught us skillful ways to work with limited resources.  We do not merely add to your team we multiply the effectiveness of your team members. Upaya Services radically alters your organization’s possibilities by removing roadblocks by extending the number of people working for your company’s success and by introducing missing skills and resources.

We create SKILLFUL SOCIAL MEDIA!  Your customers stop being merely a demand on the limited resources of your company, they become a supply for nearly endless free resources: promoting and selling your products, discovering new applications and channels, providing support and education to the world. Understanding your target audience — and what they want right now — is the foundation for the design and execution of a great social media campaign. This understanding affords strategies that allow Upaya to connect your messaging with the right audience, at the right time. Your social media campaign is an integral part of your entire marketing outreach, and should be planned accordingly. Our analysis and recommendations are tailored to meet your unique goals and provide insight into current trends, challenges, and opportunities.

Why Upaya? The Upaya team has the ability and skillfulness to acquire and create the necessary resources to succeed. From content creation, to running inspired marketing campaigns, to creating new markets – this team see obstacles as opportunity! We work seamlessly to craft creative solutions to every type problem (and we are good at it!). Most importantly, we are used to making possibilities out of the resources we can acquire and that you have within your organization. We understand that our success depends on our team, effective decision making, and performance based incentives. Opportunities to perform are the resources that we are most interested in. We are driven to succeed and have the greatest possible impact.

Please contact me for a complete proposal. We start with an audit of your existing social media presence including goals/objectives, competitor analysis and market review, ROI analysis and summary with actionable solutions. After we conduct our social media audit, we will have a better idea of the scope of the project and what social media strategies to recommend. We will provide a detailed proposal that outlines our recommendations. ​ The integration and training typically take 4-8 week period. We also offer individual services – cost depends on scope (TBD).

We guarantee that your social media campaign will more than pay for itself (repeat clients, referrals, real time promotions, etc). Give UPAYA a call to schedule a complimentary call to discuss how we can help you use social media more skillfully! We provide general consults, design and implementation, DIY help and training, or something in between. Upaya Services delivers SKILLFUL SOCIAL MEDIA. The Upaya definition of success: your completed project must run under its own power and deliver more than you ever thought possible.

Ben Simon-Thomas

Principal & Founder


Voice: 510-859-4236

Email: bst[@] upayaservices.com

For more information, please visit UPAYA SERVICES (http://upayaservices.com/).

Facebook Timeline for Pages: Upaya to the Rescue!

By now, you’ve probably heard about the mandatory 30-day switch to Facebook Timeline for Business Pages. We’ve been getting a lot of calls from clients who are worried that Timeline is going to negate everything they’ve worked for on Facebook over the past few months. However, we’re here to show you how to make the most use of the new features offered by Timeline. Check out the top 3 tips below:

Facebook Cover Photo

This is arguably the biggest change made by Timeline. The Cover Photo gives companies a space that is 815×315 pixels to convey their “brand image”. However, this cannot be used as a banner ad. There are specific rules for this space, namely:

  • Cannot be used for displaying pricing or purchasing info
  • Cannot display contact info
  • Cannot display any calls to action
  • Cannot show references to Liking or Sharing page

Despite these restrictions, this space can still be used effectively. The best examples I’ve seen are the Nike Facebook page, the Ben & Jerry’s Facebook page, and the Coca-Cola Facebook page. If you look closely, you’ll see that all these companies have done creative things with the space to promote their brand.

Default Landing Tab

A big strategy used by Facebook pages to recruit non-fans to Like the page is no longer going to exist. After Timeline implementation, default-landing tabs will no longer be allowed. This means that fan-gating will no longer work for pages. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a landing tab. It just means that you have to pay for this “privilege”. If you purchase a Facebook ad, you still have the ability to direct users to a specific landing page. This new restriction may be a way for Facebook to increase revenue in anticipation of the upcoming IPO.

Admin Panel

Now lets examine one of my favorite aspects of Timeline; the new Admin Panel. This will help page managers view all relevant information about their page in one glance. The Admin Panel displays notifications, Insights, and the all-new messages feature. With messages, users can message a page about any issues that come up. This allows pages the ability to quickly deal with customer service issues or any other problems.

What do you think of the new Timeline for Pages? Let us know in the comments!

Kickstarter: A New Platform for Company Branding?

Kickstarter has been in the spotlight recently; thanks to its effectiveness in helping “small players” raise money to pursue their dreams. Today, we’re going to quickly examine if Kickstarter can be used as an effective platform for company branding.

The Most Important Factor = Creativity!

In 2011 alone, there were over 25,000 projects launched on Kickstarter. In this type of environment, there are a lot of projects competing for donors. To be successful on Kickstarter, you absolutely need to stand out. There are many ways to do this. According to this New Media Rockstars article, a graphic novelist rewarded his backers by including them in his latest comic book. It was a successful way of getting the project noticed and funded, but from a branding perspective, it was a brilliant move. Those individuals that are part of the comic book are now fans for life.

Actionable Goals for Your Audience

Too often with start-up companies, people support the concept and team but feel helpless with how to play a part in their journey. With Kickstarter, that problem is solved. In our experience, we’ve seen support for start-ups stagnate after the initial interest phase, simply because there is no finished product that the “fan” can enjoy. Kickstarter gives supporters a feeling of being an integral part of building the product, which will make them invested in the company’s success. From a branding perspective, this is fantastic because it helps increase your early adopters and evangelists, who are pivotal in your success or failure (Ex. Apple fanatics).


Overall, Kickstarter is an effective source of small fundraising and branding. It is a great way to get evangelists on board and increase the excitement level surrounding your company. Let us know what you think in the comment section!

Other Resources:

Kickstarter Official Blog

Social Media: Reap the Rewards and Avoid the Risks

I was reading an article in Forbes earlier today about the management of social media risk (for those interested, here’s the link: Forbes on Social Media Management). It was pretty insightful on the potential risks that companies can encounter with social media and the methods currently available to counter those risks. These risks can be especially devastating for companies in highly regulated sectors such as health care, finance, or insurance. The article discusses social media management systems that can help mitigate these risks. Here are  three tips to use to minimize your company’s social media risk:

  • Have a second person review all posts. This is a good idea for all external communication, not just social media
  • Monitor social media sentiment. This can be done the “old school” way by simply searching for and reading what people write about you. However, for larger businesses this might not be possible so using a platform like SocialVolt would be helpful
  • Plan your posts in advance. This gives you time to reflect and determine if you want to edit your post for any reason, including controversy or improvement.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Why Super Bowl Commercials Are Bad Advertising

This past week, I had an interesting discussion with my friend and fellow social media consultant Mike Oradini about the effectiveness of Super Bowl commercials and the future of advertising. For the price that companies are paying (reports show a $3.5 million price tag for a 30 second spot), they better be at least breaking even on their investment.

During our discussion, Mike brought up the trend of ads going from a “one to many” approach to a “one to one” approach. What this means is that while advertising has traditionally been done on a mass media basis, the trend is for advertising to become more personal. This means a switch from full page newspaper advertisements or TV ads to specific Facebook or Google ads.

Let’s do some math. If you are a company that advertises at the Super Bowl, lets say Ford, you are spending $3.5 million, even if you only have one, 30 second commercial. Now, it was reported that approximately 110 million people watched the Super Bowl. Of that 110 million person number, we can exclude about 30 million of them because they are children or college kids who won’t be buying a car. Now we’re down to 80 million. We can also exclude another 60 million, because at least 75% of the audience will not be in the market for buying a new car. This brings us down to 20 million. Of this group, maybe (and this is being generous), there are 2 million potential Ford customers. Of this group, a conversion rate of 1% or 20,000 purchases as a direct result of the ad are possible.

Now, with $3.5 million, you could run an enormously extensive online advertising campaign. For example, you could allocate $1 million for Google ads, running with keywords associated with Ford car purchases. These customers are actively looking to buy cars. Another $1 million can be used for Facebook ads, targeting people who are interested in American-made vehicles. At an average of $2/click for Google and $1/click for Facebook, you would be able to get 1.5 million potential customers to come to your site. And yes, I know the argument for Super Bowl ads includes a “brand awareness” boost. For this purpose, lets allocate the remaining $1.5 million in the budget for banner ads across the Internet (particularly on relevant sites, like car review and car magazine sites). From these banner ads, for argument’s sake, lets say another 500,000 potential customers come to your site. That brings your potential customer number to 2 million, equivalent to the Super Bowl ad number. But we forgot one key factor; conversion rate. Since your online ads are targeting Internet users who are actively looking for, or likely to buy a vehicle, your conversion rate will logically be higher. Even with a conversion rate of just 2%, you are already selling DOUBLE the number of cars you would have been able to sell from the Super Bowl ad.

Obviously the numbers used in the preceding paragraphs are a bit rough but the message is still important. Over time, advertising will start to shift towards this “personalized” direction. However, now is the time to be ahead of the game and tailor your advertising message to the group you are marketing to. It is simply common sense. If you were a big Green Bay Packers fan and there were 2 different companies advertising the same car to you: one using New York Giants quarterback, Eli Manning in the commercial and the other using Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the commercial, which are you more likely to pay attention to?

Do you have any thoughts on the future of advertising? Let us know in the comments below!

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