A startup usually prioritises its focus on the front end functions like marketing and sales, as well as the backend functions like finances and product development. While there is no denying these functions are very critical for the success of a startup, there is one more important aspect to it which often tends to be neglected because it may not seem important. Communications and information management is an often overlooked function a lot of companies ignore. The fallout from ignoring the criticality of good communication does not immediately make itself known but rather keeps on piling up until the problem becomes too big to ignore.
During the initial or idea stages of a startup when there are only a few members on the team, communication might not be a problem because all of the team would be together for most of the time. However, as the idea develops into a product and the startup begins rapid scaling up, the need for hiring more hands arises. This is when communication becomes a priority.
Communication for startups includes both internal and external. Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool. Some easy but highly effective ways to improve communication, both internal and external, are discussed as we progress through the article.
Internal communication is a powerful tool for enabling better decision making and for increasing business productivity. Open, clear, crisp communication from the top management level to all branches of the organization will serve to bring everyone together on to a common goal. This will also further keep executives informed, engaged and make them feel valued thereby leading to more productivity. Regular team meetings will ensure each team member is on the same page and will also boost employee morale. Google Hangouts, Slack, Microsoft Teams and Trello are some of the tools which can be used for internal communications.
Some of the ways to drive a healthy internal communication within startups are
- Promoting openness, honesty and transparency.
- Candid one on one sessions with leaders.
- Valuing every opinion.
- Sharing challenges, suggestions, progress and expectations.
- Welcoming team feedback.
- Create an environment of creative expression and non judgemental spaces.
ALSO READ: The Importance Of A Communications Manager
External communication also plays an important role in the growth of a startup. While internal communication is used to keep the teams on the same page, external communication plays a huge role in the brand awareness and value. External communications play an important role and a startup cannot ignore how it is perceived by job seekers, financial institutions and the public. Therefore a startup needs to put out its ideas, culture, vision and products in the purview of the public and this can be done through blogs, social media, newsletters, press briefings, advertisements and emails. A startup needs to realise the importance of managing external communications and the power of releasing information at the right time.
Some of the ways to drive a healthy external communication and which often tend to be overlooked are given below.
- Leverage the correct medium for communication. For example social media for branding, ads for lead generation, landing pages for call to action.
- Create a unique tonality suitable for the brand image of your startup.
- Ensure to stay in touch with your external public through all contextual means like emails, newsletters, publications and so on.
- Create high-quality content like opinion pieces, sales materials, research reports, annual reports, whitepapers, buyer’s guides, and product datasheets.
- Incase of any issues with the product on the technical side or manufacturing defects, startups need to immediately issue advisories. Good communication is also essential for firefighting and damage control
Startups should keep in mind that internal and external communications are mostly about being spontaneous, relevance and honesty. A healthy communication goes a long way to improve employee performance, team productivity, positive mindset, and above all business revenue.
Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?
If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something. There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you. Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes. The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.
These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing. Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more. Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost. Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.
Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements. Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up. If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”
Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition. This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing. Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing. Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”
There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms. Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.
Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present. Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics. We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)” Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort. The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions. Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools. Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.
With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset. The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.
From Unicorn To Bankruptcy; Knotel Bears The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic
It is no secret that in the fast paced world of startups, fortunes can change at the snap of fingers. Sometimes startups tend to scale so quickly that they become unicorns and sometimes the fortunes reverse so quickly that a startup can immediately go bankrupt from being a unicorn. The latter was the case for an American property technology startup Knotel, who are now bankrupt due to the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knotel is a property technology company quite similar to WeWork. Knotel designed, built and ran custom headquarters for companies which It manages the spaces with ‘flexible’ terms. Knotel does a mix of direct leases and revenue sharing deals. Knotel marketed its offering as ‘headquarters as a service’ or a flexible office space which could be customized for each tenant while also growing or shrinking as needed. For the revenue-share agreements, Knotel solicits clients, builds out offices, and manages properties, and shares the rent paid to it by the client with the landlord. This model is the majority revenue generator for Knotel.
In March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its economic destruction on the world, Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. What is even more interesting is Knotel raised $ 400 million in Series C funding in August 2019 which led to its unicorn status. However, with the COVId-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns and curfews by various governments across the world, startups and businesses shifted to a remote working model. This in turn led to startups pulling out of Knotel properties to cut down on working costs.
In late March 2020, according to Forbes, Knotel laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed another 20%, due to the impact of the coronavirus. It was at this point that Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. The company had started the year with about 500 employees. By the third week of March,Knotel had a headcount of 400. With the cuts, about 200 employees remained with the other 200 having either lost their jobs or on unpaid leave, according to Forbes.
In 2021, Knotel filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to Newmark, one of their investors for a total of $ 70 million dollars. As work culture is still undergoing changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many companies realising that remote work model saves costs and improves work efficiency, the flexible workspace sector would continue to face challenges. Knotel is just the tip of the iceberg and is a warning call for the flexible working spaces industry.
5 Reasons Why Telegram Founder Pavel Durov Thinks Whatsapp Is Dangerous
Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram Messenger, is no fan of Whatsapp and he believes Whatsapp is dangerous and not safe. Elucidating more on the topic, Durov made his reasons known in a blogpost he published in late 2020. Here are the five reasons why Pavel Durov thinks Whatsapp is dangerous.
1) If Jeff Bezos’ phone can be hacked via Whatsapp then nobody is safe.
One of the richest men in the world and the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos’ phone was allegedly hacked by Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Some of Bezos’s private communications and images were taken during the hack following which Whatsapp’s security was questioned.
2) The United Nations recommends its officials to remove Whatsapp from their devices
The United Nations recommends its officials to not use Whatsapp because it thinks Whatsapp is not a secure mode of communication. In June 2019, a U.N., spokesman Farhan Haq said, “The senior officials at the U.N. have been instructed not to use WhatsApp, it’s not supported as a secure mechanism (sic.)” This directive came when independent U.N. experts found a possible involvement of Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in the alleged cyber attack of Jeff Bexos’ phone in 2018.
3) End to end encryption does not guarantee security.
Durov says “in their marketing, WhatsApp uses the words “end-to-end encryption” as some magic incantation that alone is supposed to automatically make all communications secure. However, this technology is not a silver bullet that can guarantee you absolute privacy by itself (sic.)”
4) Chat backups on Android and Apple cloud are not encrypted.
Pavel Durov does not believe chat backups in the cloud are safe and says “Users don’t want to lose their chats when they change devices, so they back up the chats in services like iCloud – often without realizing their backups are not encrypted. The fact that Apple was forced by the FBI to abandon encryption plans for iCloud is telling (sic.)”
5) Backdoors continue to exist in Whatsapp
“There are backdoors. Enforcement agencies are not too happy with encryption, forcing app developers to secretly plant vulnerabilities in their apps. I know that because we’ve been approached by some of them – and refused to cooperate. As a result, Telegram is banned in some countries where WhatsApp has no issues with authorities, most suspiciously in Russia and Iran (sic,)” claims Durov in his blogpost.
As data privacy is becoming more and more important in the current day and age of the internet, we wonder what messaging application is totally safe.
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