The 27 Biggest Startup & Marketing Takeaways to Make 2016 Your Bitch


  1. Structured Data Markup for web content, video search and local business will become increasingly important for SEO by making your content eligible for 2 important kinds of Google features:
  • Enhanced presentation in search results with Rich Snippets (enhanced info about Product, recipe, review, events, software apps), Breadcrumbs and Sitelinks Search Box, and
  • Answers from the Knowledge Graph for use with Google answers, maps and Google Now.

2. App Indexing and deep linking will drive app installs and use by making content within apps available to existing and new users by promoting search results from installed apps, providing enhanced display in search (app incon, etc.), search auto-completions for queries to the Google app, driving installs by showing install button for your app in search queries, including your app as a Now On Tap destination.

3. RankBrain is the 3rd most important signal for Google’s Hummingbird search algorithm and understanding word vectors and machine learning will be increasingly important for SEO going forward.

4. You can leapfrog more authoritative (more links) sites by being Google Rich Answers friendly. 1.4 million queries 35% returned Rich Answers. Rich answers are either google provided, featured snippets or basic snippets (SERPs via schema). Featured snippets put you first regardless of SERP position or authority, so get you schema setup and get into Google’s Knowledge Graph to become Features Snippets for Google Answers.

5. We have to implement the highest impact growth strategies to be the $1 billion company we all want to be. Inside sales is a big one. Growth through strategic acquisition of other companies is another. Expanding O2O (online to offline) is a third. App implementation is number 4, and leveraged capital acquisition is 5.

6. Intentional networking by first providing value to others without any expectation of something in return led to a multi-million dollar Series A Round of funding from one of my neighbors, a 3rd meeting with Spectrum Equity for a $20MM investment in one of his companies later this month, and deep internal connections to most of the major PE, CG and VC funds in Silicon Valley.

7. We are spending more and more time on strategy and less time on tactics. We must be intentional in our strategy and stay focused on taking time out to plan where we want to go instead of just hearing about the latest cool tactics and implementing them without first determining whether they fit within our bigger strategies and move us closer to our goals.

8. Changing industry classifications can deliver valuation multiple increases of 10x – 40x. E.g.

  • Publishing companies are selling at a 10.18 multiple, while Retail Internet companies run up to multiples of 42.14.
  • Paying attention to market multiple comps by industry and characterizing and playing to trends can double or triple the valuation of your company with no major changes in core business.

9. Moving to the top quartile in 10 different areas can provide a 3x – 6x valuation bump. Those areas include

  • 1) YOY growth Top Line and EBITDA ideally triple digits for past three years;
  • 2) employee depth and tenure strong and long;
  • 3) audited financials;
  • 4) legal/HR/SOPs all documented, systemized and up to date;
  • 5) EBITDA > $10MM;
  • 6) Proven team with past record of multiple successes;
  • 7) Lots of blue sky left in the market for growth;
  • 8) Defensible, proprietary IP,
  • 9) Product, customer and supplier diversity; and
  • 10) Low risk profile.

10. Systems are critical and can be productized into a profit center.

11. An ideal planning system combines

  • 1) The Profit Center > Revenues > Unit Sales > Needs matrix,
  • 2) Business Model Canvas, Key Value Factors Map and Products/Markets Matrix from Blue Ocean Strategy,
  • 3) Character Diamond from Roy Williams,
  • 4) Traffic Channel Grid and
  • 5) Income Target to Ad Spend reverse engineering exercise.

12. If you have high market penetration in a narrow niche, the fastest growth can come from expanding outward to a larger niche that subsumes your existing niche.

  • E.g. 3MM preppers > 40MM campers > 141MM outdoor enthusiasts.
  • This allows you to develop a broad market offer which is critical to very rapid growth.

13. Make or license decision. Publishing ultimately builds someone else’s brand. Bite the bullet and create assets yourself then add a celebrity spokesperson. It will be cheaper in the long run. Jason Hanson example. Staff as spokespeople.

14. Test generic physical products first, then move fast to build a brand as soon as you prove the market. When you have the brand, use a wholesale model to rapidly build market share. With a branded product everyone can sell and you are building brand equity. If only you sell your product you must spend dramatically more capital and time to build brand equity, maximize omni-channel sales and diversity and depth of distribution.

15. 3 pronged ultimate end-game model. Retail Distribution + Wholesale Distribution + Brand Proliferation permits Layering for multiple exits and really appeals to funding sources.

16. Affinity and seasonality awareness and planning can vastly increase sales. People Magazine and Sephora make-up affinity models. Build affinity sites to sell customers things they already buy from someone else. Amazon, Uber, Perry’s nuts, DIY, Makeup, recipes. Use a marketing calendar wheel to always have seasonal and event based offers on calendar.

17. The importance, benefits and widespread use of exact match, partial match and branded domains and how they fit into the overall business structure. Owning EMDs and comparing organic traffic to cost of PPC for top ranking high demand keywords can make you impossible to compete with and at the same time build a tremendously valuable domain asset portfolio that pays for itself along the way. EMDs consistently outperform branded and PMDs in organic search, ad CTR and quality scores across multiple products and offers.

18. O2O is a major growth strategy in 2016 following models of Warby Parker, Amazon, Indichino and General Assembly.

19. Find something that pirates cannot knock off and sell that. Proprietary ways of doing things is a good example.

20. Buyer’s clubs and certifications are probably the best form of continuity.

21. Use a 90 day onboarding plan with Physical product welcome kits, product explainer videos and retention kits are great ways to reduce voluntary churn, and the 7 point involuntary churn plan can add 10% – 30% of continuity income back to top-line revenue.

  • 1) Use Visa/MC card updater service,
  • 2) Amex card refresher service,
  • 3) roll forward expiry dates,
  • 4) recurring transaction indicator in merchant gateway,
  • 5) auto-decline non-reload able prepaid cards for continuity and request an alternate card at signup,
  • 6) implement intelligent re-auth plan vs. auto re-authing 3 times immediately,
  • 7) client side CC and account updating periodically as part of login to accounts.

22. Using Upwork for customer care and graphics and web design allows a connection’s average employee cost among 200+ employees to be only about $2k/month.

23. Use content licensing to get high value branded content to elevate your own brand and content without having to hire a huge team of creators.

24. You can hire a kick-ass editor for about $100-$120k a year and expect five 1000 word articles a day from a $35k full time “section chief” writer. Compare to online services offering similar content for $300 – $500 per article.

25. In newsletter ads in your daily emails to your list can deliver a significant additional profit stream. SL $150k+ month.

26. The Hispanic American market is huge and virtually untapped by any of our competitors and it has greater time online and average spending than most other audiences. Own and bid on Spanish language search terms but no need to translate pages as most of this market prefers to search in Spanish and consume in English.

27. Messaging is the next huge thing and in-messaging apps with virtually no UI are the future.

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