Marketing Zen - Elevator Pitch:
"We help businesses realize real ROI from digital marketing by strategically integrating content, social media, outreach, and SEO. By leveraging every opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with their audiences online, we position our clients as the leaders in their industries, so that they are top of mind when customers are ready to buy."
Shama, you have been described by FastCompany as "Millennial Master of the Universe" and by Entrepreneur Magazine as "Zen Master of Marketing", it's a pleasure to have you with us on InspiredStartups.com! Among your many achievements are founder, technology entrepreneur, best-selling author, public speaker and web and TV personality… Given all your experience I'm sure our startup community will be really excited to hear your entrepreneurial wisdom!
You have written recently that video will be the most important content on the internet by 2017. What advice would you give to startups about how to use video in their online content from their early days?
"Jump in! Too many businesses get scared or shy away. Video is such a powerful platform, and you don’t have to be on camera. You can find someone who would be a good spokesperson. You also have to experiment, test, and stay committed to finding which style and format works best for your intended audience."
You also maintain 'every piece of work has to be a work in progress', how do you apply this to startups who are perpetually trying to get things done and completed to be able to get the next task done!
"This applies to startups more than anyone else! It is very important to constantly be shipping your ideas. Iterate, edit, get feedback from your customers. The challenge is to avoid the perfection syndrome."
One of the key pieces of advice you have given businesses previously is to differentiate themselves. But what are your top tips for how to do this effectively?
"There are many ways to differentiate yourself, but the key is that your customers should recognize it as a differentiator. It isn’t enough for a company to say “we are different. ” It is only a differentiator when customers are willing to value it as such."
Where do you think your confidence in your business life comes from and do you think it has been central to your success?
I am not sure it is so much confidence as just plain resilience. Being able to dust myself off, and start again or try again. You have to view it as a game, and enjoy the process. I think that attitude is key . As for where I get that attitude, I’d have to just credit my parents who never let us sweat the small stuff.
You have also written about the importance of businesses giving back to the community AND telling their customers how they do this. Do you think this is something entrepreneurs should be considering even in the early days of operation?
"Absolutely. People want to be a part of something which serves a greater good. They are more willing to pay for and support businesses which have a greater agenda than just increasing their bottom line."
What helps you when you doubt yourself?
"A reminder that at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. There are no “right” or “wrong” moves. You are in it for the learning and for the experience."
What have people told you has been the most useful thing they learned from reading your book 'The Zen of Social Media Marketing'?
"That the basics matter. That social media is an amplifier, but you really need to have your 'business ducks' in a row."
Is there anything in your business that you would do differently if you were doing it again? Why?
"I wish we would have pivoted sooner. Our clients kept wanting us to be an integrated online marketing and digital PR firm – they wanted turnkey services, but I hesitated initially because I knew it was a huge leap to go from consulting to full scale implementation. When we finally gave it to our clients, it changed everything. The business really took off even more."
Who is your business idol and why?
"Oprah Winfrey. She was able to play to her strengths and create an entire media empire around it. That’s very commendable!"
Thanks Shama for sharing your startup story with us and for giving us some great entrepreneurial tips. We wish you and your team great achievements on your exciting entrepreneurial journey!
ARE YOU INTO STARTUPS? DID YOU GET INSPIRED?
Why don't you share your startup experience with other entrepreneurs in the comments below:
What pivots did you have to go through to find a successful formula for your startup?
What was the moment when you realised your startup could be successful?
Who is your business idol and why?