Freelance by @SPGroupLtd

Going Freelance

Freelance by @SPGroupLtd

After years of providing internal and external consulting, to colleagues, customers, business partners and startups, I am setting up shop and offering to assist with marketing, business development and digital management.

Needing to review your brand’s presence on social media, develop a strategy ? Or looking at additional resources for content creation, copywriting or just managing the tools and presence. Translation (English/French) is also available.

Wanting to get in touch with customers and have real discussion ?

Feel free to get in touch for a chat & a quote : @sampavin / @SPGroupLtd or via email samuelpavingroupltd [at] gmail [dot] com


Avoid burning your startup over marketing

(Image :

(Image :

Starting up is an adventure. Even if startups have become fashionable, they do remain actual companies.
With the same basic principles governing them.
Build, sale, make enough money to stay afloat and, hopefully, thrive.

Yet, statistics still tell that half of the newborn companies will not make it past a few years. Even the recent trend of over-funding tech startups will not really help as startups tend, more and more, to adopt a “nouveau riche” stance.

Nobody can deny the extreme competition over talent within the startup world leading to crazy packages to be offered. Also San Francisco and its housing prices make it near impossible to hire anybody without offering a premium just to allow them to live somewhere decent.
However, not all startups are in San Francisco and not all of them need to hire the one worldwide expert.

Does that mean that these other startups may be safe from the cash burning epidemic ? Not necessarily.
Before the spending spree, startups were already burning cash. Only in different ways.

Back to basics

Startups are, by default, young and lacking experience. That is basically why most founders need help and advice. A founder, backed by a mentor, usually builds a far more solid business.
Why is that ? Because, at the very least, a mentor may allow to avoid the panic decision-making.

Every company has deadlines. Every startup – or most at least – tend to have funding covering a defined lifespan and will, ultimately, need to make money or die. This creates a sense of urgency.
And out of urgency, panic.

Think and act

Founders, entrepreneurs, need to think before acting when it comes to steering their company. And not act without thinking.
The early stages of a startup are crucial and every decision made can create rotten foundations for the future.
From renting office space to hiring people and external consultants.

This post was actually triggered by a recent encounter with a company managed by a handful of people using outsourced skills. Definitely a good way to get skills onboard for a limited time and lower cost while still having the job done.
However, “job done” does not mean job done well.

Ask questions of “experts”

In the age of freelance, it sure is easy to put together a bunch of experts bringing dedicated skills to the table of a startup company while avoiding the humongous costs of having full time employees.
But whatever or whoever the “experts” are, startups need to put their name to the test.

A job done is still just a job done. Not a job done well. And as much as people want to love the lean startup approach and the MVP approach, not every product delivered will get a second chance.
An easy example being apps. People download, test and uninstall if it is bad or even just acceptable. And never come back.

This is valid for more trivial matters. In the case I encountered, I gave advice on the customer experience, the marketing and the use of social media. A quick but solid overview of what was good, wrong and where major improvements were needed. It basically took me 15 minutes to do a quick audit and put a summary together.
Nothing major.
But this startup then let me know that these points definitely made sense as they had commissioned an analyst company to do an audit and they had had similar findings.
After having been provided this document, my new finding was that analysts had basically been paid a very fair amount of money for a half-assed audit, written over about 50 pages, and not providing any clear recommendation.

Bullshit sells

Seriously. I did provide more content and actionable recommendations, for free, in a standard note than an actual analyst in 50 pages and for an amount of money I would love to be paid.
But bullshit sells. Especially when people panic. Especially when they do not take time to think and define their positioning, strategy and expectations well.

The bottom line here is that out of panicking and missing advice, a company burns time and money on a useless resource.
Which leads to the potential next burning : hiring an agency to fix what is not working … Remind me again what, in this report, were the solutions ?
PR agencies alone are a risk for startups. Going the extra mile and entrusting the whole marketing and social media job to an external agency, without a dedicated resource to liaise and challenge them, is a do or die.

Needing a picture here ? Take your baby, walk out of the house and entrust your baby kid to one stranger you pick in the street. Then pray that was the right one … .

In the end, it is easy to burn cash in ways definitely less fancy than what Silicon Valley displays but startups beware.

Thinking and planning may save you from getting burnt – from a bad decision, leading to another, more expensive and engaging, to burning too much cash, screwing up the company’s image and finally not getting customers onboard.

Just sit down, relax and ask for advice.

Startup normality ?

Life and startup advice : Screw what most people think is “normal”


Stop the meetnaping

Published via Pressgram

Don’t feed the startup assholes

Cheap Toilet tissue

The “asshole” wording has been put forward quite a few times recently about Silicon Valley and startups (see Sarah Lacy’s bit on Pandodaily).

On the smarter side of things, the right (?) behaviour was summarised in one old(ish) tweet by Dave McClure :

pro tip: always give nice people a better deal. otherwise, ur rewarding & optimizing the world 4 more assholes.

It does say it all … .

Do not complain for shit products and services when you are the ones allowing them to strive.


(Image credit: Flickr, user : Travis S.)

IPhone in store ? The bait and the scarecrow


Once upon a time I considered swapping my nice current iPhone 5 for the new and seemingly slightly better iPhone 6. Nothing crazy yet.
Since not being in a hurry, the pre-orders frenzy and all the crazy queuing were not on my list and I finally happened to put my hands on a phone yesterday, in a (non-Apple … I know, still beating myself about it) store.

Welcome to the world of Telstra

And welcome to Australia by the way. Since Telstra is major here, not having the iPhone in store would definitely not make sense.
Not only for the sake of being able to offer the main products on the market but also to draw advantage of the marketing impact of the device itself (or devices indeed).

Oh joy, since a few weeks after the launch, The smartphone was there on display for every commoner to approach – and even test – it.

Customers – sales people

Before moving to hands on matters, I would begin with a slightly more business-oriented observation : the absence of a crowd.
First, not a single body to be seen around the iPhone 6. And nobody apparently willing to show even just a sign of interest for the device.
Ok, I may have come to be more geeky than I thought and all the buzzing around this phone may not mean people should show interest. Still … .
Then, in a shop where a couple of dozens of customers could fit, only one person was to be seen, nonchalantly browsing the various phones on display.
While a bunch of sales people were apparently busy having a chat between themselves. Why should I care ? Well, for once, no one came to me wondering if I may need help with a purchase or just even information.

No touching!

As a customer, I do not necessarily like to be disturbed while quietly browsing stuff I will certainly not buy. And as logic wants it, I would definitely ask, would I need further details.
So, there I was, happy bunny, testing this new iPhone which, by the way, is already too big in its small version and could have kept on offering black as a color.
That is until I set on looking at the touch ID. The oh-so-new feature for me, poor user of a 5 with no such (fun ?) technology.
And so much for conspiracy theorists (yes, the NSA collects your prints from your iPhone) that did actually trigger the most amazing response from the bunch of sales people with one lady rushing to ask me to stop. Because … I would “lock the phone”.
– But “this is a demo, Mam’”.
– “Please stop or the phone will get locked”.
– “Erh … demo ?”.
But facing a crazy look and a person who, visibly, does have no interest in a (minimum) 800 Australia Dollars sale, that was me on my way.

The bait and the scarecrow

This is a more serious take regarding this slightly funny story.
The iPhone, in Telstra’s case, is basically not only an added offering to the range and the ability to offer the full portfolio of devices, it is also a necessary one for a telephony leader.
They basically have to have the iPhone on offer.
But, also, the phone serves as free marketing and lead generation.
I am the example of it as I only stopped at this shop when seeing the phone on display.
And that is the perfect bait – when customer-hunting – as it would draw a population of potential buyers with the ability to foot the bill for a high-end device.
Yet, the bait is not enough. Especially if next to the bait, you put a scarecrow.
In the form, here, of a lazy sales team and a – seemingly – crazy sales person.
Not letting a potential customer test a product is already bad enough but done in a questionable way it then raises further questions, not only on the people but the brand too.

Here, that is a lead lost, a very bad image for Telstra and, well, a post about it which will be read by the hundred of thousands of you (I wish …). 


The lesson to be learned

Generating leads is not easy. When you have a bait like the iPhone to generate easy leads make sure to have the right structure in place to handle the second part : closing the deal.
And not just a bunch of scarecrows.