1 Million Reasons to backup – from the Inc.com Startup Toolkit

In which I again tell you why you should backup your data early and often…

At a recent event I was talking with the director of a 10 person non-profit, and she mentioned an important database she was trying to convert to a newer format. “Where is it kept?” I asked. “On my computer” she said. “Where else?” And then I got that look – the look that says “what do you mean – where else?” Ah. How much would it cost to replace that data? Perhaps a million dollars, which is her approximate annual fundraising income. So one more time, for you folks who have not done so – Back up your work. Please.

Start-Up Toolkit

Small Biz Sites and the Mobile Web

It’s not easy to make your website compatible with all browsers – and now you have to consider mobile browsers like Blackberry, iPhone, Palm Pre and others.

Tomorrow’s launch of the iPhone 3GS and last week’s launch of the PalmPre focused my attention on the way people are doing more search and research on products and services while on the go. US consumers are the top group in the world for mobile browsing and spending according to mobile development house Bango, exceeding UK customers.

You can read the rest at the Start-Up Toolkit blog.

Help A Startup Find the Right Marketing Solution

Sometimes I get reader questions, and this seemed like a good one to share with readers of the Toolkit. Today I’ll put forward the case, and during the next week, several marketing experts will forward me their opinions and I’ll deliver the results next week in part 2.

Matt Pollitt, CEO of PTE Golf told me “We run a golf company that sells tournament enhancement items to country clubs for their first tee area such as embroidered table covers and special tournament cases for their starters areas. We have never done any marketing with the company, only doing 1-3 trade shows a year. Otherwise, all of our business is word of mouth.”

He also noted “We’ve never marketed to past clients and I think that is a big mistake. We do get reorders, but our contact info has changed over the years.” So unless customers actively look for his website, they can’t reorder via the old phone number.

Matt wanted to know the best way to connect with his old customers. Some of the contacts at the golf clubs may have changed. One thought he had was a post-card mailer, since he has the addresses and contact info for all his previous customers.

Whatever method he chooses should allow him to make customers aware of new products, while also generating inquires and reorders.

How would you help Matt reconnect with old customers? And Marketing folks? Feel free to weigh in via the comments below.

(Originally published at the Inc. Start-up Toolkit part 1) and (part 2)

Two weeks ago, I put forth the case of Matt Pollitt of PTE Golf and his challenge — lack of follow up marketing with his customers, and a change of phone number and address.

I asked several marketing experts to comment, and here I’ve provided some of their responses.

Hart Hooton, President of Marketechnique.com suggested,

“Matt should send a ‘We’ve moved and forget to tell you’ mailer — done in a format that keeps it fun. Then come up with a humorous way to follow this up. Try getting a temp or intern to follow up the mailer with calls to everyone on your list. Don’t forget to get the client’s email address. And, do something on the website that references the mailer so that if people go to look it up, they’ll recognize the visual.”

When I contacted the Direct Marketing Association, Neil C. O’Keefe, V.P. Multichannel Segments, gave Matt more than a few ideas.

“You have an advantage over a typical start-up in that you already have an existing customer base. Since you have their contact information, whether you realize or not you now have a database – albeit a very simple one. Add the date of the event and the dollar amount they spent with you and how long ago? If you have their email address, add that too. And by all means ask for the email going forward and be sure to store that information. If your budget allows – do that mailing you considered to your full file of contacts. If resources are tight you can prioritize by dollars spent and how long ago. A recent customer and a high dollar customer are more likely to respond.”

Neil had a lot more to say, including suggestions to advertise in the trade magazines around the trade shows PTE already attends “Advertising here would also spread the word and allow you to more broadly communicate your 800#, Web address, email, and potentially LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook pages. Also consider making a Golf blog, where readers contribute to the conversation without turning it into an infomercial. You have a wealth of experience and there are many people who can benefit from what you have to say.”

Finally, Belinda Lang, VP, Marketing Strategy at American Express tells Matt,

“As you put together your plan to reconnect with former customers, thank them for the business in the past, and if you have the information, include some reference to what they had purchased, and for how many years they were a customer. Tell them about something new added to your product lineup, and add an incentive for coming back and buying again from you. Finally, let them know you would love to hear from them with any feedback or suggestions. Like any good relationship, you want to recognize them, give them a reason for engaging with you and demonstrate that you are listening. They may even end up talking about you with their friends.”

Matt, hopefully these 3 experts have given you some things to think about as you reengage with your customers. Check back and let us know what you did, and thanks for letting me use you as a case study.

Twitter can Get You Business – My latest post on Inc.com

“Yes, people get business via Twitter. At a recent event in New York (organized via Twitter by PR guru @PeterHimler), I met Lisa Cruz (@LisaRedShoesPR), Co-Founder of Red Shoes PR , a 5 person startup agency in Northeastern Wisconsin. It was created about a year ago as an integrated shop helping clients with both traditional PR and Social Media services. Lisa told me that while many folks are still questioning the way to obtain business on Twitter, her shop had just signed a client who found and actively sought them out because of their activity on Twitter.”

Read more of: Twitter Can Get You Business

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Latest Inc.Com article – Orders of Magnitude Easier to Start a Business

Start-Up Toolkit

Last week at New York Entrepreneurship Week’s BootupNYC event, Rose’s keynote discussed the differences in cost and investment between starting a tech based business just a few years ago, and starting one now. The orders of magnitude are considerable.

You can read more about how it costs so much less to do so much more at the Inc Startup Toolbox.

My Latest Post on Inc. – Startup in a Weekend?

Start-Up In a Weekend?

As part of the StartUp process, it is important to know the resources in your community. If you are creating a tech company, or a product or service that will be delivered on line, many of the resources you want to know will be developers, marketers, interface experts and of course, funders. What if you could find them all in one place, test them out, and see how you work with them, all in one weekend?

You can learn more about Startup Weekend as well as NY Entreprenurship Week in my post.

At Inc.Com Startup Blog – Stop, Collaborate and Listen

This morning’s piece is on Drop,io, at the Start Up Blog

So much of business is “getting everyone on the same page.” People are mobile, and teams do more virtually. That’s why a quick collaboration solution will be useful to many companies who want to simply share files, view them at the same time, chat about them, leave notes for each other about them, and, well, there’s a lot more… Read the rest at the Start Up Blog .

Bonus points if you got the title reference.

At the Inc.Com Startup Blog – When Customers Supply your Demand

When Customers Supply Your Demand – Start Up

One of the hardest business problems to solve is “demand.” We know about demand from economics class as the “The willingness and ability to buy a range of quantities of a good at a range of prices, during a given time period.” It is a problem startups and growing businesses face all the time – how much should I make, or how much would people buy if I make it? But what if your customers could tell you how much they wanted in advance? What if they could tell their favorite band “Play this arena and you’ll sell out” or tell an author “200 of us will be at your book signing in Topeka, if you schedule one.”

Go read the rest at Inc.com.