(originally published in Entrepreneur.com)
Jack Trout, an old mentor of mine, used to say that branding is “what other people say about you.” For most companies, though, the message that defines the brand comes from the elevator pitch — a carefully crafted and succinct value proposition. The only problem is that when your company needs to pivot, the ideas your brand was built upon may no longer transmit the right message. So, what can your startup rely upon if not an elevator pitch?
The answer is a carefully chosen core value. In his theory of basic human values, social psychologist Shalom Schwartz identified 10 basic personal values that are recognized across cultures. These values are spread across four dimensions — conservation, self-enhancement, openness to change and self-transcendence — and organized into a circular arrangement like a pie. Each value represents a slice.
Schwartz explains that the closer any two values are, the more similar their motivations. For instance, power and achievement in the self-enhancement dimension are motivated by the desire for social superiority and esteem.
The opposite is also true. Value dimensions on opposite sides of the circle — self-transcendence and self-enhancement, for instance — come from the opposing motivations of devotion to others and social superiority, respectively.
By using this universal model to inform and guide your startup’s central messaging, you can develop a strong brand and appeal to your audience’s most deeply held values, to inspire loyalty.
Make decisions based on value alignment.
If you’re starting a small B2B company, for instance, you’ll need to rely on service and relationships to differentiate your brand. You’ll need to be ready to help a client at any time, even if your agreement only requires service during normal business hours.
That focus on service fits into the self-transcendence dimension — characterized by the values of benevolence and universalism — and it’s a powerful force that will ensure the loyalty of your clientele.
Schwartz’s system can also help you identify and prioritize markets. For example, like most disruptive startups, Airbnb appeals to people who value the dimensions regarding openness to change and self-transcendence.
These are people who either challenge the status quo or think that everyone should have equal access to everything. For that reason, Airbnb thrives in places such as Paris — which has more listings than even New York City — because the French are revolutionaries at heart and are very open to the company’s value proposition.
Determine your audience’s values
As a startup, you’ll want to stick to one value dimension. For example, if you’re working with risk-averse B2B clients, a tagline about challenging the status quo probably won’t resonate. You want to match your messaging to your client base. Here are three tips for getting started:
1. Show your true colors. If you’re an ambitious, wealth-hungry founder, don’t try to play your company off as a philanthropic crusader. Ride-sharing company Uber is under intense scrutiny for ambitious overreach with its contractors and employees. Its attempts to offer up a more gentle, benevolent side are being read as disingenuous. Know yourself and your team: That kind of awareness will keep you from sending mixed messages.
2. Follow through. Actions speak louder than words. Your core value proposition won’t resonate if your company doesn’t back it up with action. Major telecommunications companies espouse benevolent values, but in my opinion, their fight against net neutrality shows they value self-transcendence instead. Had they consulted with Schwartz, they could have saved millions of dollars in lobbyist payments. They were as destined to lose that battle as were the opponents of marriage equality.
3. Embody your core value. Your entire company should align with your core value. If you’re in the self-transcendence dimension, you need to embody inclusiveness and equality — from your administrative assistants to your executives. Hire people and work with vendors who hold similar values. Everything — from your company benefits to your marketing messages — should be consistent with your core value.
When your message is consistent and appeals to your audience’s most deeply held values, you’ll gain devoted customers who pledge allegiance. Priorities change, and your company might need to pivot to survive, but your dedication to a value dimension will always keep your messaging consistent.
Once or twice a month, our busy, brainy developers release a batch of really important platform updates that have recently been suggested by users. Here’s the latest:
Discovering influencers for your brand is fine but you really want to know about the audience they have influence over, right? After all, they’re your real consumers. So we created an audience analysis for both the individual influencer and a group of influencers in a report. Take a look:
For any analysis that lists influencers (like ‘Audience’ or ‘Who Influences Them’) you’re now just two clicks away from a new, fully-functional report. Want to know when your influencer’s audience is online? Or how socially traditional they are? Create the report and find out!
Influencer marketing is a team sport. So we have a group communications page where you can keep track of who has communicated with whom. You can even go to an individual influencer’s communications page, see who’s been communicating with them from your company, and add notes in a timeline. See how to do it here:
We continue to thank you for your interest in Mattr and keep those feature requests coming!
Whether you’re attending a conference in person or following along digitally at home, it can be difficult to keep tabs on what’s happening. There’s so much going on that it can be overwhelming to keep up with all of it.
Social media, especially Twitter, has made it a bit easier. A Twitter stream can now keep you in the loop and bring you information from real attendees, there’s no longer a reliance on only journalists.
Still, even that can sometimes be daunting. So many conference attendees tweet their every move with the #conferencehashtag that Twitter can become diluted. How do you know who’s relevant? Or credible? Or even simply interesting?
If you’ve seen our posts over the past couple weeks, you know that we’ve been working to solve this problem for South by Southwest Interactive, and we have to say, it’s been a really fun project.
We analyzed tons of marketing influencers and finally have our list. The people below are the influential SxSW attendees that we will be following throughout the show. Keep in mind, we don’t define influence as those people with the most followers. That’s part of it, but we go deeper than that, looking for the real people who are truly influential, not simply celebrities with large followings. We chose these people based on their industry expertise and knowledge (in marketing, advertising, PR and social media), quality of content (tweets, blogs, books, etc.) and social following and interaction.
So without further ado, here’s our list of who we’ll be following during SxSWi. Feel free to use our list and join us in following these influencers. We’re looking forward to great thoughts, comments and observations.
Follow these folks on Twitter at these links: Meg Bear, Oracle – Bianca Buckridee, Sprinklr – Melissa Carrier, Swarovski – Jules Che, Lotus Leaf Communications & FASHIONOTES – Frank Danna, Softway Solutions – Roger Dooley, Dooley Direct, LLC – Angel Gonzalez, Ideagoras – Tammy Gordon, AARP – Maddie Grant, Culture That Works – Sairah Hearn, LuluLemon Athletica – Martin Jones, Cox Communications – Wayne Kurtzman, Pitney Bowes – Kat Mandelstein, PwC Digital – Nathalie Nahai, The Web Psychologist, Ltd. – Jamie Notter, Culture That Works – Katie Perry, Crowdtap – Patrick Pho, Volkswagon of America – Ef Rodriquez, HTC – David Sanchez, APCO Worldwide – Geri Stengel, Ventureneer – Jonathan Waddingham, JustGiving – Brian Wallace, NowSourcing, Inc.
South by Southwest is practically here and the streets of downtown Austin will be crawling with techies, marketers and more beginning this Thursday!
Over the past two weeks we’ve published a couple of posts to help prepare you for SxSWi:
Hopefully you were able to use some of that info to begin preparing and settling on your schedule while in Austin. Perhaps the most difficult part of scheduling a SxSW trip is deciding on your day schedule, though. There are so many panels, sessions and speakers – how do you choose where to spend your time?
We’re here to help you with that decision.
While we’ve been sorting through online marketing influencers who are attending the conference, we’ve also come across several interesting marketing panels and sessions. We assessed each of them closely and kept track of the ones we felt would be the most valuable for marketers like you to attend.
They may not all be relevant to all marketers, and some overlap so still force you to make a tough choice – but we encourage you to give all of these sessions a consideration!
Monday, March 16
Quantified Selfie: Our Digital Well Being Meet Up
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
There are a ton of wearable technologies and apps available to track your personal well being. Everything ranging from nutrition to exercise to sleeping habits to even your mood can now be monitored and shared. Which of those technologies and apps really work though? This session, hosted by PwC’s Kat Mandelstein, will discover which digital technologies really work for improving our well being.
When Millennials Take Over
5:00 PM – 5:20 PM
Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant will be releasing their new book, When Millennials Take Over, at SxSW, and their panel will share case studies and research from it. With millennials now entering leadership roles at many companies, business will begin changing to better fit the vision of that cohort. Jamie and Maddie will give you concrete, actionable advice about how to prepare for the coming change and how to set your company apart as a leader rather than a follower.
When the Glimpse Is Worth More Than the Glare
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Did you know the average person’s attention span decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013? Popular social media platforms like Vine, Snapchat and Instagram allow users to share video content as short as 6 seconds in length, a prime opportunity to capture our dwindling attention span. But many marketers still grapple with using these platforms, seeing constraints where others see opportunity. Join Frank Danna, Annie Park, Darren Lachtman and Michael Platco as they share trends, styles, influencers and more that can help marketers utilize the increasingly popular short-form video platforms.
Tuesday, March 17
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Game Advertising
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
To fully understand the advertising opportunities that games afford brands and marketers, they must understand the changing dynamics of gamers and gameplay. Join the panel of MRY’s David Berkowitz, Twitchtv’s Kym Nelson, Nielsen’s Michael Flamberg and Ari Brandt of MediaBrix as they discuss the evolving gamer landscape and the future evolution of gaming advertising.
Redefining Realness for Brands on Twitter
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
After recent Twitter gaffes by brands like DiGiorno, US Airways, the American Red Cross and Chrysler, fear of messing up or worrying too much about what followers think has led some brands to lose creativity. Join Bianca Buckridee of Sprinklr, Christina Warren of Mashable, John Colucci of Engadget and Maria Bonaccorse of Procter & Gamble as they discuss how brands can stay smart and creative, and if they do make a mistake, how to bounce back with class.
Today Mattr announced that it has been named one of Built in Austin’s Top 50 Startups to Watch in 2015. Mattr joins forward-thinking startups such as Apptive, Balcony, Cratejoy, Everfest, Paybook, Spanning, and TrendKite on this year’s list.
As marketers continue craving more qualitative analytical information on their customers, the popularity of Social Segmentation technologies is rapidly increasing. With so few companies currently providing marketers with deep data on both their audience and their influencers, those possessing that ability, such as Mattr, are increasingly seen as valuable.
“Mattr was built to solve a key challenge facing marketers by focusing on a unique algorithmic mix of personality data and demographics,” said Jack Holt, CEO of Mattr. “We are thrilled to be recognized on this list of 2015 top startups, especially since Austin is so deeply committed to fostering the next-generation of entrepreneurs and innovative technologies.”
Mattr launched in January 2011 and is one of the first platforms that focuses on qualitative data through social segmentation. Rather than focusing only on followers, Mattr provides rich context around an influencer, their audience, and their psychographic profile by uncovering personality traits, interests and values. The self-funded company captured significant clients early on to retain a recurring revenue stream while expanding its technology to help grow its client base, making it an appealing choice as a startup to watch in 2015.
Built In Austin is a comprehensive network for the digital technology industry in Austin. The site connects talent to startups, covers local tech news, aggregates and publishes data on the sector. The “50 Austin Startups to Watch in 2015” article is available here.