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/).

Upaya’s Social Media Marketing Solutions

In today’s business climate, every company needs a carefully crafted social strategy to integrate into its marketing program. Social media campaigns can be formulaic, or they can be excellent. Excellent campaigns are designed and executed with a solid knowledge of a company’s mission, its goals, and a clear understanding of who comprises its target audience and what that audience wants to see. At Upaya, it is this understanding that produce winning strategies with long term results. Our analysis and recommendations are tailored to meet your unique goals and provide insight into current trends, challenges, and opportunities.

We build social media campaigns by offering three categories of services:
Outreach: We work with you to identify your target audience. This step is critical in crafting authentic messages delivered with the right tone, to the right people and at the right time.
Content Development: At Upaya, our primary objective is to create and source content that compels cohesion around your products and services and, most important, your brand. We know that your growth and success depend not only upon your story but on how it is told. We invite people to hear your story and excite them to participate with content that matters.
Community Management: After building your social media infrastructure, we provide you with the tools, resources and training to maintain it in house, so you can grow and manage your community in ways that don’t impair your efficiency, but enhance it.

By integrating all elements/channels of your social media outreach/strategy, you create an economy of scale and offer a streamlined social media presence that promotes continuity and cohesion. Most importantly, your outreach reflects your unique brand and your social personality. We offer a dynamic and novel approach to social media: strategic insights, custom solutions, and a social media education. We provide general consults, design and implementation, do-it-yourself help and training, or something in between. We guarantee your satisfaction!


Twitter Marketing: Driving traffic or only engaging customers and followers?

When people think of Twitter, they often think of it as solely a great method to
engage their existing customer and fan base. At best, business owners on Twitter
hope that they can gain new fans through their existing fan base by engagement
in “Retweets” or “Mentions”. However, I’m here to tell you that Twitter can be used
as a way to drive significant traffic and business opportunities to your site. Here are
our Top 3 tips to use for driving traffic to your site through Twitter:

1. Think of Twitter as an advertising platform. Your “followers” are the base
number of users you can directly advertise to. The “influence” of your
followers is important as well, because if they interact with you at all, their
followers will see your page and potentially follow you. For this reason, you
need to focus on increasing your number of followers. This can be done by
following relevant users and telling your existing customer base to follow
you on Twitter.
2. Use Links to get engagement on your page from your followers. Sending out
interesting links will result in retweets and increased mentions.
3. Engage with influencers in your business sector! When you engage with
these users, their followers will notice and be more inclined to follow you.

That’s it for now! We would love to help you build your Twitter following and
strategy. Feel free to email neilsoni[@]upayaservices.com if you have any Twitter

Do It Now!

SWIFT Design Group helps entrepreneurs take their start-ups to the next level. Often the primary fear of our clients with innovative new products is: how will they be able to compete with wealthier copy cat competitors after their innovative product is introduced to market. Lacking a satisfactory answer, they delay on coming to market at all, ensuring that they never lose the market, by never creating the market in the first place. This kind of procrastination is not driven by laziness, but by fear. But procrastination still threatens their future.

But FEAR = False Expectations Appearing Real.

How secrecy can doom your start-up to everlasting purgatory
As a result of their fears, one of our clients had filed a 3 patent applications and waited 3 years for them to issue, before asking our help to build a company that would write software that could take advantage of them. And yet, even with issued patents — which means the technology has been published online by the US Patent and Trademark Office for everyone to see — our client refused to allow us to contract with anyone to develop the technology until we could raise over a half million dollars in investment.

The problem is that venture investors don’t invest in a ideas — they invest in a team – a team that is able to create measurable business objectives and achieve them. For the investor, the test of how good an idea isn’t dependent on how difficult the science is, etc. The measure of how good the idea is how well the team is able to exploit it to achieve business objectives they promised they would reach.

Unfortunately it is hard to achieve any significant objectives without involving other people. But if at each meeting with investors all you can say is that you haven’t achieved any of your objectives because you are still looking or money, all you confirm for them is that you are a team that can’t get things done — and not a “can do” team worth an investment.

Try as we might, we could not convince our client to let us contract with people who could develop the applications or the market. But without progress on either of those two fronts we were unable to recruit the investors he sought, and neither of us achieved the goals we had set for the engagement.

Secrecy has it’s place in business, and when you are the 600 lb gorilla in the market, all eyes are watching to see where you’ll step next, But the stakes are different for start-up companies. The tradeoffs are different, in most cases, you’ll lose more by keeping secrets rather than you’ll gain by including more people in your idea.

Consider for a moment, you’ve got the idea that turns you on about your business. Lets says that someone tells you about another start-up, with a different idea than you. Would you give up on your idea and try to steal theirs. Most likely not. There are things about your idea that make it more appealing to you than most. And your background makes you uniquely qualified to pursue it. This is the reason you can feel free to discuss your idea with others entrepreneurs.

But what about big companies don’t you have to worry they will steal your idea?

In most cases, by artfully positioning yourself, you can make choices that will protect you from them as well. And this will be the focus of our next post.

Scott McGregor

Upaya Services would like to thank Scott McGregor of SWIFT Design Group for his guest blog!

LinkedIn Marketing: Quick and Easy Tips

Due to the rapid growth of LinkedIn and its usefulness in generating leads (primarily for
B2B companies), I’ve been spending more time on learning how to market more effectively
through LinkedIn. Since most business owners don’t have much time to spend on secondary
social media sites, I will share 5 quick tips that anyone can do if they take 30 minutes of
their day. Aren’t additional leads worth working through lunch? I would think so. Anyway,
here are the tips:

1. Customize your LinkedIn URL
*Go to Edit Profile and click Edit next to the public profile link to customize the URL
*Try to create a URL that is related to your business. For example, a plumber may use www.linkedin.com/JoeThePlumber.
2. Make sure your profile is complete
*While this may seem obvious, you would be surprised by the amount of business owners that don’t do this. *Since people may look for you on LinkedIn before you meet them for a sales call, having a strong LinkedIn profile can get you started on the right foot with potential clients.
3. Connect Twitter with your LinkedIn account
*By doing this easy step, you raise awareness of your Twitter account, thus gaining followers. But more importantly, your LinkedIn network will see your company’s Twitter updates and thus become more aware of your products and services.
4. Join Groups!
*When you join a group, you can participate in discussions, connect with, and interact with others in that group. By taking a few minutes each week, you can become an involved member of the group and thus, an “influencer”. Once others in the group respect you, this influence can be used to offer your services to potential clients.
5. Download the LinkedIn Mobile App
*Imagine you just met a potential client. Or you just met someone at a conference. You used to have to get their business card but now there is a much simpler way to connect. Simply download the LinkedIn app. If they have it too, all you have to do is open the app and then bump your phones together. You will automatically be connected. Now isn’t that easier than storing 10,000 business cards?

That’s it for today but I’ll be back soon with some more great and easy ways to incorporate
social media into your business. Remember, Upaya Services is always here to serve your
social media needs so just shoot us an email if you need some help.

Until next time,

Neil Soni

  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • NetworkedBlogs