Twitter Cracks Down
Twitter to prohibit paid tweets from third-party start-ups. Less than an hour after Bill Gross launched his Twitter-focused advertising start-up TweetUp at TechCrunch Disrupt, Twitter has published a blog post that would seem to threaten TweetUp's plans, as well as those of similar businesses. "[A]side from Promoted Tweets, we will not allow any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API," the Twitter blog post reads. Among the reasons for this ruling is the fact that "Twitter will bear many of the support costs associated with any third-party paid Tweets, as Twitter receives support emails related to anything a user sees in a tweet stream." TechCrunch says that the move should serve as a warning to other start-ups attempting to piggy-back on Twitter's wildly popular service.
How to budget in a growing company. Fred Wilson continues his series about projections, forecasting, and budgeting--this time for a fast-growing company with 50 to 100 employees. Wilson recommends that companies of this size hire a dedicated finance person, either a CFO of VP Finance. What you'll need: A detailed revenue plan, a comprehensive cost model, and a list of key performance indicators (KPIs). Begin with the revenue plan, but be more conservative than what your salespeople predict. ("They're optimists," says Wilson). Then identify all the KPIs it will take to hit those numbers in terms. "The KPIs are the glue between the top line model and the cost model," he writes. "Spend a lot of time on this part of the process."
Sales lessons from the battlefield. In combat, the first hour after a battlefield injury occurs is the "golden hour," the period of time in which in which immediate medical attention is most likely to produce a favorable outcome. Seattle-based tech entrepreneur and VC, Chris DeVore, argues that the golden hour also applies to the need to follow-up on incoming sales leads. Using data from one of his portfolio companies, DeVore says that nearly a third of all closed sales were won in the first hour after the lead came in, and 43 percent of sales were closed when leads were responded to within the first two hours. As DeVore explains, "Unsurprisingly, most leads turned cold after just a few days, with just 9 percent of closed sales occurring beyond the 72-hour aging mark."
How to sell to big companies. If your customers are businesses--and you're still hungry for more sales tips--check out Smart Bear's guide to selling to large corporate customers. The guest blog post, by Steve Hanov, details legal issues, price quotes, and the sometimes curious requirement to read 100 pages of invoicing procedures. "Selling to big companies can be frustrating," Hanov writes. "Throughout the process, it is important to stay professional and pleasant. Sometimes, it may appear that your customer is trying to screw you. Even if they are, [it] is your job to be jovial, point it out, and assume that it is a simple oversight. It makes no business sense to throw money away because of a rude email."
Mark Zuckerberg on the Facebook privacy controversy. The Facebook founder pens a somewhat apologetic letter to the public in today's Washington Post, announcing that his company will soon streamline its complicated and contentious new privacy settings. He promises an "easy way" to prevent other applications from accessing your profile within a few weeks. "Simply put," Zuckerberg explains, "many of you thought our controls were too complex. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark." This admission comes on the heels of Zuckerberg's email exchange with tech blogger Robert Scoble, in which he explains why he's been largely silent about the privacy issue until now. "We're going to be ready to start talking about some of the new things we've built this week. I want to make sure we get this stuff right this time," he tells Scoble. "I know we've made a bunch of mistakes." (Via Valleywag.)
Hands-free web advertising for small businesses. A new start-up called PlaceLocal promises an idiot-proof way to advertise online. As the New York Times reports, all you need is a company's name and address. "Instead of sending customers a rate card, I send them an ad that the program has built," a customer tells the Times. "It's easier to sell ads if customers have an example in front of them."
Making the best of a $1.6 million loss. How do you turn a costly and potentially embarrassing mistake into a marketing opportunity? If you're Zappos.com, you blog it. Zappos's Aaron Magness writes that the company's discount site, 6pm.com, which carries luxury items sometimes priced in the thousands of dollars, accidentally capped all sales at $49.95. Though Magness says the company lost $1.6 million before the bug was patched, in keeping with a desire to be beloved by its customers, Zappos is honoring all of the sales.
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