It's a topic that you can't stop hearing about...for better or worse.
It's hard to regain once you lose it (trust us, we know) and you try like crazy to maintain it once you have it. Talk about a delicate balancing act. Below is a quick snapshot of how we see the "momentum game" shaping up.
Internally (aka Inside your Company)
When employees sense momentum, it creates a more fulfilling environment and a better culture. When you are in start-up mode, asking people to work long hours and be "swiss army knives" (aka doing everything and anything) you need your employees to buy into the mission of living & breathing the brand because they are at the frontlines. People love being part of a movement, even a journey so long as they buy into the idea that they're building something. The model used to be "customers first" but we're now hearing a lot of people say "employees first, customers second" because if you don't get the employee engagement (even "satisfaction" isn't enough) you'll never get to the customers (at least in the right way). That all starts with the products/company, momentum and eventually the culture that emerges from it.
Externally (aka Outside your Company)
It's amazing how somebody will say "you guys must be killing it because I see your stuff everywhere" and things of the sort yet, at the end of the day, it can sometimes be a case of perception. We all know perception can end up as the reality when you get people talking about your brand/product/company because everyone wants to do business with the pretty new girl (i.e. the new hot company). It's amazing how much people can also feel like "they hear about your brand everywhere" when they hear about it from a handful of people in their circle or see it at several of their favorite neighborhood watering holes.
Fundraising (aka the Momentum of the Brand and its Story)
High-flying tech companies probably do this better than anyone when they create momentum in the fundraising process, especially to scale their businesses by ultimately creating roadmaps for incredible growth and momentum. For example, they are very good at creating momentum in one pocket or one market and then riding that growth to huge financings vs spreading themselves or their marketing dollars too thin and not being able to show that momentum. Take a page from the tech world who induces people to invest with their hearts based on momentum as much as their minds based on the numbers.
How to Create the (Elusive) Momentum
"Be brutally honest in short-term but eternally optimistic in long-term." We were fortunate to hear from Reid Hastings of Netflix at the last Goldman Sachs Builders & Innovators Summit and these simple words have really stuck with us over the last year.
Even when being brutally honest and talking about the negatives always talk about the positives like "I know we're struggling in Costco but the good news is that we've just rolled out a new marketing campaign targeting at the Costco stores specifically in response to the slow sales"
Momentum usually starts with 5 evangelists or 5 stores because you create a movement by creating momentum and you create momentum person by person, situation by situation. Our old friend Blake from TOMs (Shoes) won the hearts of millions by winning the hearts of the first employees and interns working out of his apt which then won the hearts of a few key stores in Venice and eventually Nordstrom's. That momentum led to a commercial with AT&T and a movement that forever changed business models (by introducing the 1-for-1 or BOGO (buy one, get one) model).
Always be brutally honest and realize momentum and results are not the same: you usually can't get results without momentum but in the same vein momentum without results is worth very little.
Don't let yourself be fooled by your company's momentum because, at the end of the day, results are what will really matter and momentum is just a means to that end.