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

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 |





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!

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!

Mark Zuckerberg IPO Letter – Lessons Learned

By now you’ve probably heard that Facebook has filed for its IPO, in a valuation range between $75-100 BILLION dollars. Very amazing stuff. I am personally in awe of what Facebook has accomplished in such a short period of time, and quite honestly, I believe that it has lots of room to grow in the foreseeable future.

Besides all that, what can you learn from Facebook’s IPO? Well, if you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend that you read the letter that Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO of Facebook) included in the IPO filing. You can find it here: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/mark-zuckerberg%E2%80%99s-ipo-letter–why-facebook-exists.html

From Mr. Zuckerberg’s letter, there are some very important lessons to be learned. First of all, check out this particular quote from the letter:

“As people share more, they have access to more opinions from the people they trust about the products and services they use. This makes it easier to discover the best products and improve the quality and efficiency of their lives.”

As I’ve been saying for quite awhile, Facebook (and the Internet in general) are moving the world closer and closer to a tight knit community, similar to the kinds that were found in small towns years and years ago. This means that if your business doesn’t deliver the service that you promise, people will find out quickly and you WILL go out of business. For this reason, you absolutely must focus on quality and treat all of your customers as individuals, rather than just a paycheck. The empowerment of the “little guy” means that even one dissatisfied user or customer can wreck havoc on the state of your company. But…to put a positive spin on it, a satisfied customer can become the best salesman (or saleswoman) your company could ever dream of having.

Another quote: “Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.”

This has valuable connotations for any business, not just a rapidly growing tech start-up. If there’s one thing you can learn from Facebook’s business culture, it is that building something valuable and great should be the primary goal of your organization. For the business leader’s out there, this means making decisions based on customer value, not internal politics.

One last quote: “Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.”

As businesses grow, they tend to reduce the number of risks they take. The opposite needs to happen. As a business leader, you MUST be willing to try new things and be bold. Opportunities are out there for the taking but only the bold will seize them.

I could go on for hours with lessons from this letter but I’ll end it there. Let us know what you think about Mr. Zuckerberg’s letter and the Facebook IPO in the comments below!


Email Marketing Basics

In the normal course of business, you’ve probably collected emails from current customers and prospective customers. If you know what you’re doing, these emails can become extremely useful for customer engagement and sales. In today’s world of flooded inboxes, it’s important to follow certain rules when sending emails. I will be getting into this in more detail over the upcoming weeks and months but here are 3 quick tips to implement immediately:


Subject Line

Make your subject line as interesting as possible. Obviously, your email content is very important but you need to make your subject as intriguing as possible so that recipients open the email. A major problem with email marketing today is low open rates, presumably because of the torrent of emails attacking people’s inboxes.

Short and Sweet

We know you have a lot to say in your email. However, try to keep your email as concise as possible, out of respect for the reader’s time. A useful technique is to link your email to a blog post or article where you can talk about the subject in more detail.


Try your best to include the recipient’s name in the email and sign off with your own name. Some email list services (such as MailChimp and Aweber) make it really easy to do this.


We’re happy to help make your next email campaign a roaring success! Feel free to contact us with any questions. Happy New Year!


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: Using Mentions and Retweets to GET NOTICED!

If you’re like most business owners, you’ve made a Twitter account, followed some people, tweeted a few times, and are still waiting for the magic “Twitter effect”, which should be a nice bump in web traffic. Furthermore, your number of followers is stuck at somewhere less than 100. What are you doing wrong?


First, its important to understand one major factor in marketing: The key is to get your name OUT THERE as much as possible! Twitter gives you a couple ways to do that.


The easiest way is to reply to the people you follow. For example, if you see someone you’re following talking about a topic in your industry, you should definitely reply to them. Taking this one step further, spend 15 minutes each day searching Twitter for topics relevant to your industry and respond to users who are asking questions. This is a great way to gain a Twitter following and overall, improve your brand image.


Another way to gain a following is to tweet highly relevant and interesting content that your followers will “retweet”. Retweeting results in higher exposure to a variety of new audiences because your followers will be broadcasting your content to all of their followers. This can increase your follower count as well as raise brand awareness.


While its easy to read suggestions and put them away in the back of your mind, by far the most important aspect of Twitter marketing is consistency! You need to spend a minimum of 15 minutes Tweeting everyday. If you have a smart phone, its easy to get this done by Tweeting from your phone.


Contact us for more Twitter strategies and make sure to follow us on Twitter @upayaservices for constant updates and strategies!


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