HBO’s latest original show Silicon Valley, is hilarious in its commentary about the real Silicon Valley and the cutthroat world of technology. The dot-com boom of the late nineties has showed us the fleeting moments of internet success, while the 2010’s has give rise to up and coming mobile app companies. Whether you own a small business or startup, here are some things this Mike Judge comedy can teach you about internet marketing:
You Are Dispensable
Lyft, Uber, Sidecar, Ridejoy. Just HOW many rideshare apps do we really need? On the show, Richard creates a proprietary universal compression algorithm, Pied Piper. It’s set to change the world as we know it by pushing the theoretical limit of lossless compression. But what does it really matter, when Hooli (the show’s answer to Google) has reversed engineered his algorithm to create it’s own, Nucleus? The short and sad fact of it is, is that your business is a dime a dozen and completely dispensable. How do you combat that? The Pied Piper team has shown how they’ve done that in a few ways.
Maintain Your Integrity
Instead of selling out for $10 million to the giant Hooli, Richard and his rag tag team has taken the alternate route. Agreeing to $200,000 in investment capital from billionaire Peter Gregory in exchange for his 5% ownership in the company. Hooli and every other company in Silicon Valley pride themselves on the fact that their creation will “make the world a better place”. But there’s no real way Richard can have any part in that unless he is in control.
The lesson here is that you can’t let your marketing campaigns run on auto pilot. As easy and as much as you would like someone else to do it for you, no one can guarantee your own success except yourself. With someone else in charge, your message will be diluted or even lost. Stay in the loop and be as hands-on as possible, even if you are CEO of a multi-billion dollar company!
Stand Out, But Not Too Much
As much as Pied Piper despises the overall nature of today’s Silicon Valley, they know that they have to play the game in order to be successful. This means, having an eccentric company spokesperson (Erlich Bachman), attending pretentious company launch parties (complete with an awkward Kid Rock performance) and having their very own blasé company logo (lowercase letters in a box).
In online marketing, your business also has to “play the game”, so to speak. This includes everything from paid ads, local search, blogging, and being active on social media. When all your competitors are doing the same thing, it means that you should follow. BUT it doesn’t mean that you should follow blindly. Look and learn from others to see what’s working and what’s not.
Have a Backup Plan and Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot
Sure, you may have a brilliant idea for a parking or water fountain search app but what happens when it fails? What happens when a much bigger and better competitor has the same idea and can do it better? It may be time to pivot. This real-life Silicon Valley buzzword can play an important part in your own marketing campaign. Instead of looking at something as a failure, look at it as an opportunity to “pivot”.
Case in point as the show explains it, Instagram started as a location based check-in service. It grew to become a mobile photo and video social sharing network that Facebook bought for $1 billion. Pivoting means growing, changing and re-purposing your product/service to fit the needs of the people. In business, marketing and real life, you have to adapt to changes. Rolling with the punches for your marketing campaign ensures the best success.
With a short season of only 8 episodes, Silicon Valley has taught us a lot about starting a small company. Stop by our Facebook and let us know what you think!
Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.