Guides Marketing Street teams

How to map a yard sign route for sign placers

If you want to succeed with yard signs (or bandit signs), Google My Maps is a must-have tool.

For the reason that, without this tool … putting out yard signs will be much more difficult than it should be.

Because imagine if you can do this:

Create custom driving routes – Hop into your car, open up Google My Maps on your smartphone, and in seconds, get the step-by-step directions to each sign placement location – without spending an ounce of brainpower! Making it easier for you to finish putting out signs faster so you can get home to bed early before your spouse gets worried sick.

Discover new places to put your signs – Use this tool to find unexplored cities, suburbs, or towns to map out new locations for your yard signs or bandit signs that otherwise would’ve been impossible to find.

Prevent miscommunication with your team members – Share GMM with your yard sign placers so they can know where to place each sign without ever having to consult with you. Thus, saving time for you and your team members.

I recommend any business using yard signs to snag this tool.

Go here to get Google My Maps for free.

In this blog post,
we’ll go over the three different ways to use google my maps:

  1. Targeted Zone
  2. Location List
  3. Driving Route
Targeted zones, location list, driving route
Each option has its own pros and cons.
But all of them will make it easier for your yard sign placers to go out in the field and complete their jobs faster.
Make sure you stick around until the end to become a pro at using all three.
Okay, let’s get started.
If you haven’t already, open up google my maps.
1. Create a targeted zone 
Targeted zoneThis isn’t exactly a driving route but it’s a great way to get started quickly.
With a “targeted zone”, you can quickly draw boundaries around the areas you want to place your signs. Then, give this “targeted zone” to your team for them to get started with their yard sign placements right away without having to plot out everything.
So what we’re going to do first is this.
Step 1: Click on create a new map
Step 2: Give it a quick name by clicking on “untitled map.” You can leave a description in there as well
Step 3: Click the “draw a line” button
How to find draw a line button
Step 4: From there we’re going to go through and click an outline of this area where we want our team to place the signs
Outline of the area
Step 5: Give the outline a name and some instructions, such as “place signs every 20 yards.”
Step 6: Hit save.
Pro Tip: Change the color of this area to make it stand out a little bit more.
2. Create a Location List
Location listA location list is a great way to map out the strategic areas you are already familiar with.
And if you’re aiming to create a driving route, I highly recommend creating this location list first because it will make it easier to set up the driving route later on.
There are two different ways to create a location list.
Option 1: Manually add each location
This option is great if you want to quickly add a category of locations, such as supermarkets or shopping centers.
Step 1a: Do an individual search

In the search box, you can type in an exact address or the location’s name.

For example, if I type in the search box, “West Seattle Thriftway Supermarket”, then that exact supermarket will show up on the map.

Step 1b: Do a bulk search

Alternatively, you can do a bulk search to find a category of locations.

For example, if I type in, “Supermarkets in West Seattle”, then every supermarket in West Seattle will pop up on the map.

And when the pin shows up on the map, go to the next step.

Step 2: Go to the pins that you want to add and click on “+ add to map” and you should see that location show up in the layer that you created.

Step 3: Repeat steps 1-2 until you have every location you need.

There you go you’ve just added a whole list of locations very quickly.

Pro Tip: Create new layers to keep different categories organized. For example, you can have a layer for just “supermarkets” and another layer for “shopping centers”. It’s not necessary but it’s there if you need it.

Option 2: Import a spreadsheet of addresses

If you already have a list of addresses in a spreadsheet somewhere, then you can use this option.

Importing a spreadsheet makes it incredibly fast to map out all of your locations on google map.

So for example this one that I have on google drive

It just has the column headers as restaurant and address and the name of the restaurant and the addresses that they’re at:

Sample spreadsheet

To upload a spreadsheet of locations into google my maps, then follow these steps.

Step 1: Create a new layer

On the left-hand side of your screen, you’ll see a button called “add a layer”. Go ahead and click on it.

Otherwise, you won’t see an option to import the spreadsheet file.

Step 2: Click on “import”

After you click on the button, upload an excel file or CSV. If you’re on a desktop, you could just drag it or click the select a file from your device.

Import button

Step 3: Select the column to position your placemarks.

This basically means to click on the column that has the addresses of each location.

Step 4: Select a column to title your markers.

Pick a column to use as the title for the placemarks, such as the name of the location, and in the example case, the name can be the “restaurants” column.

Hit finish.

3. Create a Driving Route

The sample of driving routeIf you want to do that extra prep work and create a step-by-step route for when you’re actually in the field or your team member is in the field placing signs, follow the next steps to create a driving route.

Step 1: Click this add directions button that’ll create a new layer automatically.

Add directions visualization

Give it a name.

Note: You can change the transportation mode to walking or biking by clicking on the “driving” icon.

Step 2: Click on the point A type box and do one of the following options.

Driving route visualization

You have two options here.

Either you can type in the name or address of the location, or you can click on a pin from the map like in the image below.

Pins on the map visualization

(If you don’t have any pins on the map yet … go to the “Create a Location List” section above for learning how to create one.)

Now, we’re going to keep adding destinations and you can play around and see what’s the most efficient way to drive there.

Step 3: Keep adding destinations until you have an entire route.

But there are some downsides. The biggest one is that google my maps only allows you to do a driving route of 10 stops per layer. The solution is you could create multiple layers and have multiple driving routes on a single map.

Finally, share the map to your sign placers

Now it’s time to take all of your hard work and hand it off to your sign installer so that they’re able to go out in the field and know where you want them to place their signs.

To share your map, click on the share button on the left panel:

How to find share button

Next, enable link sharing and then turn it on to public so everyone gets access to it that needs it:

Enable the link sharing

Copy that link to your clipboard and send this as a text message to your team members.

What’s next?

Send your team members
out into the streets to place your yard sign🙌

However, most business owners don’t always trust their sign placers.

What if … they don’t follow your instructions.

Or worse … they throw away your yard signs.

This is where SimpleCrew comes in.

SimpleCrew verifies that your sign placers are outside (going to places such as supermarkets, shopping centers, etc), following your instructions and perfectly placing your yard signs.

How does it work?

First, sign placers use SimpleCrew to snap photos of each sign they place.

Next, those photos are immediately populated on a map inside our software, letting you see all their work getting done in almost real time.

SimpleCrew campaign example

As a result, this makes it the easiest experience of managing a sign placer. 

SimpleCrew pairs seamlessly with Google My Maps

Copy and paste your Google My Maps link within SimpleCrew so that your sign placer will never have to ask you where to find the link to the map. It’s always in one place.

How to share Google My Maps map to SimpleCrew

And when your team members are inside the app they’re going to go into that campaign and they’ll be able to see the instructions by clicking the link to the map.

How to open Google My Maps in SimpleCrew

To keep your sign placers accountable, start your free trial with SimpleCrew.

If you learned something from this blog post make sure you leave a comment and if you try it out let us know in the comments below.

To learn more about SimpleCrew and how you can hold your team members accountable by tracking all of your signed placements in the field … check out the video and introduction to simple crew for sign marketing.

Marketing SimpleCrew Story Street teams

The key to motivation is tracking

Without results to track, self motivation is like swimming upstream.

As Ben Horowitz wrote in The Hard Things About Hard Things, “there are only two ways for a manager to improve the output of an employee: motivation and training.” That probably comes as no surprise to business owners and entrepreneurs, but is much easier said than done.

After all, difficult and laborious tasks can make motivation hard to maintain–even among the most driven of individuals. This is where a little hack comes in handy: tracking. Deliberate, consistent, active tracking.

What makes tracking effective in pushing through limits and
resistance points?

At SimpleCrew, we hear (and see first hand) how tracking can change the trajectory of a business. But what does that really mean? In reality, tracking is simply data. And much like any set of data, how you use it and what you use it to measure is more important than anything else. Afterall, too much data can be equally ineffective as no data.

At the end of the day, when we correlate tracking and motivation, the best way to look at it is through the lens of the individual. I found myself sinking into this realization when I experienced how beneficial tracking was in my personal life, particularly in the fitness arena.

1. Performance tracking inadvertently leads to performance enhancement.

Over the last two months, I have been swimming every single week. This is notable because my fitness regime is usually a bit more sporadic, and a lot less consistent (ha). Initially, I figured it was likely due to Olympics 2020 fever. But I’ve since realized that my new routine is actually due to the purchase of a new gadget.

I got an apple watch.

Somehow, I never knew how similar personal fitness tracking was in comparison to business tracking until I started using the watch. It is incredibly easy to track a workout with a few quick taps and swipes. Once I got past the initial hump of starting, tracking my workouts became as second nature as brushing my teeth.

In fact, it is more than second nature, it has become… dare I say it, addictive. After 2 months of consistent use, I can say with confidence that tracking my swims is the single most motivating element of my current workout routine. It keeps me going week in and week out.

I want to see what I can do. How many laps can I swim this week? How long can I swim for? The tracking gave me something to show for my workouts. It created a competitive drive within myself which motivated me to keep showing up, keep competing against myself, and keep attempting to do better than my last performance.

While the tracking itself gamified my swim experience, what got me hooked was the unexpected outcome. The results. While I didn’t set out to swim every single week, the workout tracking kept me going again and again, and inadvertently led to better performance in my swims.

2. Reports highlight tangible results and showcase quantitative progress.

The more you track, the more you want to track. Ever since I began tracking my swim, I’ve been more consistent with my workout frequency. While I don’t check the reports of my apple watch often, I can feel my excitement each time I do. 

Knowing that I have been pushing myself, feeling the level of motivation with my weekly swims, performance reports are like little gifts waiting to be opened. This is in sharp contrast to when I was inconsistent with my swims. Now, with the amount of tracking I’ve done, I eagerly look forward to seeing quantitative progress.

For example, in a recent peek into my performance, I compared two workouts roughly 6 weeks apart (June 10 vs July 20). Crazy enough, I not only swam 34% further– I also swam 30% faster. Seeing the results is about as motivating as it can get. Especially when it was an unexpected side effect of tracking.

The comparison of 2 workouts, screenshots from Apple watch tracker
  • 36.96% More laps
  • 34.04% Further
  • 22.44% More calories burned
  • 30.77% Faster

3. Goal setting becomes easier when you know what is possible.

Goals can feel lofty and ineffective if they are either too hard to achieve or too easy to accomplish. The ideal goal is one that challenges you within reach, pushing you outside of your limits to what is possible, without making it too easy. Tracking helps establish these goals. 

Before I tracked with my apple watch, I had no benchmark or starting point. I wouldn’t even know what a proper goal should be. I would swim without any intention of hitting a number of laps, or any amount of time. If I wanted to set a goal, I wouldn’t be motivated to hit it if I didn’t know I could accomplish it.

The data made available from tracking has made it easy for me to push myself. Since I’ve seen real numbers on what I can do, it creates an easy starting point for me.

The Key Takeaway

After experiencing the dramatic results from fitness tracking, it has become even more clear why tracking is so crucial to businesses. Much like in your personal life, business tracking requires two core elements. A device to do the tracking, and software to store the data and generate the reports.

You don’t need to be an olympic athlete to do the same tracking that professionals do. The Apple watch is always on you, and it’s easy to use. On that same note, you really don’t need to be an enterprise business to track your field crew. Phones are always on your team, and using SimpleCrew is as easy as snapping a photo.

If you need more motivation to do grassroots marketing try simple tracking with photos using SimpleCrew


🚀 5 Ways to Improve Yard Sign Conversions

Today I have an interesting yard sign to show you.

It’s from a small local business called Nickens Lawn & Landscape.

The founder Nick – after years of experimenting – has created a recipe for making almost every yard sign convert better.

He boiled it down to five essential elements.


This yard sign has roughly 5 subtle techniques that you can use in your marketing.

A sample of a sign of the company Nickens lawn&landscape

Let’s break it down.

  1. Follow The Purple Elephant Rule – When choosing a background color for your yard signs, Nick noticed the color to choose is context-dependent, meaning, the best background depends on the yard signs around it. For example, in his neighborhood, the majority of yard signs were white. So instead of using the same color, he used a black background … and instantly it made a difference. Now, go and drive around your target area and notice what background colors are typical in those areas. Then try choosing a background color that stands out amongst every other sign.
  2. Pass the “First Line” Test – Businesses like to clutter their signs with a list of all of their services. But for yard signs … “If you try to say three things, you say none”. So make sure the first line of your yard sign explains a single thing your target market wants. In this example, his target market wants (PAVER PATIOS). This way people driving by can instantly know what you offer. And if they’re curious to know what else you offer. They can just Google your company name.
  3. Where is your phone number? – At first, Nick always used to place his phone number at the bottom of his sign. However, he noticed people in their cars would have to pull over and walk up to his sign, just to note down his number. Imagine all the potential loss of business for the people who DIDN’T get out of their car. That’s why Nick places his phone number under the first line … making it easier for people to write down his phone while sitting in their cars.
  4. High-Quality Logo = 💎 Some businesses don’t care about how well their logos look. But for yard signs that will spell disaster. The truth is … people assign the quality of your service in proportion to the quality of your logo design. Therefore, the better and “higher perceived” quality your logo … the more people assume your service is high quality. Your logo is especially important for new customers since they don’t know who you are.
  5. BIG BOLD LETTERSThe number one thing that is costing you sales … is people driving by and not stopping to write down your phone number off of your signs. This is why you should say a few things and those few things must be BOLDED.

Go ahead and give those tips a stab.

Then, after you’ve done that - check out SimpleCrew

You can download SimpleCrew on your smartphone to boost your sign marketing success.

For example, when you’re driving around and placing signs at strategic locations (such as telephone poles, intersections, supermarkets) …

… you can open the app and use it to snap a photo of your yard signs or bandit signs.

And in doing so, it will SimpleCrew help to:

  • Remember where you’ve placed your signs (which is best if you constantly have to pick up and redeploy your signs due to local laws)
  • Keep all your data secure in one place (eliminate spreadsheets, email threads, cloud storages)
  • Manage different yard signs campaigns
  • Track and monitor the progress of your sign campaigns (great if you have one or more sign placers more putting out signs)
  • And that is just to mention a few benefits.

Sounds cool?

Test drive it and see for yourself 🙂

Sign up for a free 14-day trial here

Mike McCabe


4 Best Areas to Place Yard Signs

This is a free guide created by SimpleCrew: The best tool for tracking and optimizing your yard sign marketing campaigns.

Important: We’re advocating for responsible yard sign placement. For every suggestion we make, we ask that you please check with store owners and local ordinances before placing your yard signs.

What is yard sign marketing?

Yard sign marketing is a marketing strategy that uses printed signs to target an audience present in the same region or town in which your business is. It focuses on the people who are within a certain of your business location.

It’s an essential part of a marketing strategy for restaurants, local businesses and retail stores, real estate wholesalers, and events. It gets your message in front of the right people in the context of where they spend their time.

With yard sign marketing, location is everything.

Yard signs can be an effective method of marketing for real estate investors and wholesalers. The key is, you need to place them in strategic locations to maximize your exposure and funnel in more leads. That’s really the point, right?

Important: Before you place any signs anywhere, you’ll need to check with city ordinances to make sure certain areas are authorized. Otherwise you’ll risk getting fined or having your signs taken down. 

The better your yard sign placement, the more people will see it and be inclined to call the number.

So let’s get into it: here are 4 proven places to get your signs more visibility, and more leads to your phone.

1. In front of large shopping centers

Important: You should always be careful of where you are putting the signs though or they may be removed by store or property owners.

Shopping centers, like Walmart or Costco, are high volume areas that many shoppers pass by. Placing signs in heavily trafficked locations like this one will almost guarantee that you will get visibility.

You also want to be sure that your signs aren’t being overcrowded by other signs that are placed by people that have the same idea as you. Give yourself an open, but highly visible area, outside of all the noise from competitors.

Here’s some large stores you can start with that most likely have branches near you: 

  • Walmart
  • Best Buy
  • Costco
  • Home Depot
  • Kroger
  • Publix
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Dollar General
  • Lowe’s
  • Office Depot  

2. In busy intersections

Placing your signs at busy intersections where people naturally have to stop, like stop signs and stop lights, is perfect for visibility. It basically gives people the perfect window to clearly read your sign.

Important: This does not, however, mean you should put them at every single corner at every single intersection within a very small area. You want the visibility and coverage, without the overkill.

3. In public medians

Public medians are heavily trafficked areas as well.

If you found the perfect location within your target area, then you should only have to use between five and ten signs, any more than this and it can be too much.

If you target only the specific areas where you’re trying to sell, then that will be the audience reading your signs.

Just remember, too many signs can become an irritant. Be strategic and make sure that your message is direct and enticing and specifically designed for your demographic in your target area.

Another thing to remember: medians divide traffic, so proper placement is critical. You want to be sure that the signs can be seen by people traveling in both directions, so placing them on both sides is the recommended option for optimum exposure and balance.

 4. In front of your current inventory for sale  

For real estate wholesalers and investors, it’s always a good idea to place your signs in front of the property you have already acquired to raise awareness to people of your business and who they should call about the property with questions. The point of yard sign marketing is to establish a presence in your target community and build your brand awareness.

Important: Never place a yard sign in the yard of someone’s private property without first seeking permission from the owner.

IMPORTANT TO READ: Rules and regulations for yard signs:

There are many important rules and regulations when it comes to where you can legally place yard signs.

These rules can vary enormously between cities and states and it is important to research the laws regarding the signs before placing them and possibly losing out on your marketing strategy.

Most states have detailed lists of rules and regulations listed somewhere on their .gov website.

Take Massachusetts for example:


Tip: A good way to find your local rules is to type into Google the following phrase:

“[Your State] Outdoor Advertising and Signage”


Yard sign marketing signs can significantly improve the revenue and leads that flow through your business and because of this some people feel that the reward outweighs the risk of any fine.

Possible consequences:

As mentioned before, there are potential consequences when it comes to a yard sign campaign, these consequences can include, but may not be limited to, the following: 

  • Can be given a fine of between $200 to $500 per violation
  • Officials can remove signs and throw them away without warning
  • People can deface or damage signs that have been left out too long

 Potential Rewards:

A lot of people firmly believe that the potential rewards from launching a successful yard sign campaign far outweigh any costly fines later on down the road because the signs were placed in the wrong locations.

Before placing any yard signs, be sure that you have a method of being reached when the calls begin to come in. It is recommended that you utilize services such as Google Voice, a call center, or a website to receive the leads. Be sure that the lead’s contact information, such as name and call back number or email are saved and easy to reach, so you can return the calls and emails quickly.

Yard signs are affordable and will not cost your company a lot of money up front, but the results due to the visibility, your sign’s message, and the placement of your signs could turn into a serious return for you later on. Remain consistent with your campaign and build your buyer’s list and begin to see a return on a minuscule investment.


5 Proven Ways to Promote a Concert

Concert promotion matters.

While that might seem like an obvious things to say (especially coming from us), you can, at times, come across concert promoters who believe that the gig will “sell itself.”

What these promoters don’t realize is that, most of the time, that’s just not the case. You can have the best artist in the world booked to play, but if no one knows about the show, no one’s going to turn up.

So once you’ve got the date, the venue, and the band in place, you need to sell tickets. And for that, you need to know how to promote concerts.

It’s not a dark art – although it might sometimes seem like one. Rather, it is a skill.

Marketing and promotion is a huge subject area, but there are a few basic rules that can help you on your way.

Figure out who your audience are, and be led by them.

Almost everything you do will be led by your audience, rather than the band.

If you don’t know who your existing and potential customers are, how old they are, where they hang out, or what matters to them, you’re not going to have the first clue about how to market to them.

Selling a gig to rock kids between 14 & 25 is a very different job to selling a jazz gig to the over 50s.

Some audiences might be very similar, but they’re never identical. You can very easily waste a lot of time (and a lot of money) on the wrong path, and the best way to avoid that is to put the audience at the center of your marketing plan.

Make sure you leave yourself enough time.

I’d honestly say that you need four weeks minimum, to promote a concert. Ideally you want much longer, but if you get offered a job with less than a month to go, for a band who don’t have a solid local following, you’re going to be up against it.

When you’re learning how to promote concerts, time is one of your most precious resources. And unless you’ve got a really hot show – which will need minimum promotion in the first place – fans probably won’t buy a ticket the first time they’re asked, and you’ll need to remind them.

That means leaving enough time to make sure that posters get refreshed, and flyers that go out several times leading up to the show.

You also want to make sure that word of mouth has time to build, for Facebook event invites to get some circulation, and for fans to invite their friends.

Leveraging the networks of a band’s fans is a powerful way to promote – word of mouth is still pretty much the most trusted form of recommendation – but it takes time to reach its full potential.

Set a budget, and stick to it!

How much cash you’ve got to spend will define how much promotional activity you’re able to do. Is the budget realistic? If you only have a small amount, and you’re expected to sell a huge number of tickets, you may want to reassess.

You may want only to pick those marketing channels which give you the best return. Remember it’s very easy to overspend, so getting really complicated and really pretty posters printed might be less important than making sure you have enough of them.

If you’re not in charge of printing, make sure that you’ve asked for enough to cover your area, and don’t be scared to ask for more if you need them.

Learning how to promote concerts isn’t just about which kinds of activities you’re able to carry out, but also how much of each you’re able to do.

Decide on your channels, and get the right balance of offline and online

Posters and flyers are the mainstays of concert promotion. Even in a digital world, it’s worth having them in the right places around town.

If you’re worried about being able to see where they’ve gone (and indeed if they’ve gone up), then that’s where our street team software comes in.

Press ads can be great if you’ve got the budget, but unless you get a good deal from the publication in question, they can be expensive, and it can be pretty difficult to measure ROI.

Editorial space in the right publications (online or offline) is highly sought after, but you need a good angle, and a good relationship with the publications. Learning how to write a press release might well be time well spent!

Online promotion on blogs, Facebook and Twitter is essential, but it can be time consuming – so like posters and flyers, it’s something that your street team are really well placed to do.

Get them to upload screenshots of their postings to SimpleCrew and you’ll be able to keep track of their work in the same way you keep track of their work on the ground.

Getting the balance between offline and online promotion is important, so remember to be led by your audience: what will they respond to?

Monitor, evaluate, adapt

This is probably the most important factor in making your gig promotion a success.

If possible, link the work you’ve been doing to ticket sales, so that you can very easily see what’s working, and what isn’t.

If posters in one particular neighborhood are effective, that’s worth knowing. If activity on a Facebook event page is getting lots of attention, put more energy into that.

The point about linking it to ticket sales during the promotional period is that you’re able to adapt: by the time the gig’s happened, it’s too late!

If you’re working with a street team, and using our app, the Stats tab will help you monitor how much work individual team members are doing, and so you’ll know who needs a push, and who you should congratulate – which will help you in the long term, as well as the short.

Lastly… and this is one that you won’t find in marketing textbooks: wherever possible, only work with people you trust, and once you’ve found good people, stick with them.

The concert and events industry can be hard work, there can be long hours, and it can require a serious amount of flexibility. But the joy of pulling off a successful show with a team of people you trust is worth the effort.

So go out and do it! We’ll see you on the dancefloor.


Business Lessons Learned from Atlassian

I like picking out heroes in business (and in life). People and companies whose mindset, actions, and achievements I respect and admire.

Folks like Paul Graham37Signals/Basecamp, and Instagram – these guys have been there, walked the path, and have left plenty of inspiration on everything from product features to marketing copy to business strategy.

Today, I stumbled across a Forbes article chronicling the rise of another badass company that’s firmly in this camp for me: Atlassian, a software company that makes collaboration, project management, and communication tools for enterprise companies.

These guys have turned the traditional sales/marketing model for the enterprise market on it’s head:

Unlike the model of behemoths like Oracle , or even contemporaries like Workday or Box, Atlassian chose to minimize costs by not investing in sales staff or marketing, focusing instead on research and development. It simply sold their competitively priced products on the website.

“We felt if we could sell something at a reasonable price and sell it on the internet then we’d be able to find a market there. And that’s what worked out,” Farquhar said.

Like many start-ups, early sales were from friends of friends and acquaintances. But the company knew it had broken through when, without solicitation or any human interaction, the credit card information for a purchase from American Airlines came through.

Sales and marketing will continue to play a huge role in how we push SimpleCrew forward, but it’s inspirational to see Atlassian pushing the boundaries of whats possible with just a maniacal focus on product and development.

That, and they just seem like a cool bunch of guys and girls. Hero status confirmed.


Mobile Stats from Meekers “Internet Trends”

I mentioned Mary Meeker’s “2012 Internet Trends” presentation in last week’s post “The Mobile Generation“.

These were my favorite slides from the presentation, illustrating the optimistic outlook and huge upside still open for the mobile sector:

The slides on “re-imagining” were some of my favorite in the entire 88 page deck, and of them, the “Connectivity” and “Photography” re-imagined slides really hit the nail on the head with what we’re working to do with SimpleCrew.

So much can be communicated with photos, and for the first time ever, SimpleCrew offers teams an easy way to share and organize photos across a team.

It’s a re-imagining of connectivity for teams, with photographs as the medium. And it’s all up and to the right.


The Mobile Generation

Mary Meeker from the Venture Capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, & Byers (KPCB) always kills it with her Internet Trends presentations, and I love it every time.

In particular, I love it because of how amazing the numbers have been for mobile. They’re incredible. It makes me feel all warm and tingly inside, seeing the graphs that portray a technological revolution we happen to be right in the middle ofright now.

You don’t even need a VC analyst to tell you that there’s big stuff happening in mobile lately. You can just look around and see it in every pocket – it surrounds us.

Think about how amazing this is: computing has brought about three waves now, each of them creating massive technological change (along with vast fortunes) from the period before. The first was the proliferation of the PC. Then there was the internet. For both of those waves, my generation was too young to really appreciate what was going on, let alone dive in and participate.

But this wave, mobile…

The first iPhone came out in 2007. I was 19, and had just finished my first year at University of Maryland. Like most people that age, I had just recently started considering the options for my future and would be for the next few years before graduation.

A couple months after that first iPhone came out, the economy hit the fan and everything turned to shit. Students started graduating into the crappy economy, and the “Jobless 20-Something” became a defining cliche of the time. My friends and I watched the value of our college degrees plummet to almost worthless, a year before graduation.

And then this happened:

All of a sudden, a ray of light appeared amidst the frenzy of the shit economy, and that ray of light was mobile. A new wave of technology that brought a new wave of opportunities, value, and wealth.

This time, we weren’t too young. And we weren’t too old either – that’s very important. We weren’t 4-5 years down paths towards middle-management in office buildings anonymous.

We were young, jobless, and had nothing to lose. We were just right.

By now, it’s practically conventional wisdom that it’s never been easier to start a company. With basically zero start-up costs, infrastructure readily available, and the world’s knowledge at your fingertips – very little of the barriers to entry that existed just 10 years ago exist today.

And now we have the explosion of this new platform. The smartphone. Think about how incredible of a canvas this thing is. With the touch screen, it offers literally infinite possible interface options. It has a camera (or two), a compass/accelerometer, a speaker, a microphone, a light, and a headphone jack. It’s connected to the web, it’s always on, always around, and there’s millions of them. And that’s just for now.

Think about how many problems there are that can be solved with the right software on this canvas! And of course problems can translate into opportunities for business. You literally can’t put a number on how many business opportunities there are out there now. It’s effectively infinite.

Thus, it’s a beautiful thing Mary Meeker reports on. For a generation that graduated into an economy in the dumps, mobile has offered a beautiful silver lining. The chance to create tools that solve problems and create value for people, and build businesses around those tools.

We may have been to young for PC and the Internet, but this wave, mobile, is our wave.


Measuring Your Brand: Esteem vs. Awareness

There’s a simple exercise that is incredibly powerful when considering marketing, advertising, or branding a company. The practice can be applied to anything – a product, an event, even ourselves – by simply considering two variables: Esteem and Awareness.



Esteem is what the brand is known for, or its image. This includes how much (or how little) the brand is respected, and what it’s respected (or disrespected) for. On one hand, there are brands associated with quality, great service, and other positive traits – like Apple,, and Mercedes-Benz. On the other, you’ve got those universally accepted as undesirable – companies like Enron, or the NFL Replacement Refs (had to…)


Awareness is how well known a brand is. How big – or how small – its reach is. On one hand you’ve got Joe’s Pizza on the corner, serving the locals, and on the other you’ve got Pizza Hut, serving up slices from countless locations on every corner of the globe.

This is what branding is all about. Esteem and Awareness. As far as marketing, advertising, and branding are concerned, they’re the only things that matter. It all boils down to those two pillars. Everything else is secondary.


With all this in mind, here’s a fun trick: plot Awareness and Esteem against X and Y axis, and then split the graph into four quadrants.

In the top right, you’ll find the well known, and well respect brands. This is the sweet spot. Our examples from before – Apple, Mercedes-Benz, and Zappos – are all comfortably in this quadrant.

Below them in the bottom right quadrant, you’ve got well respected but lesser known brands. This is where you’d find high-end niche brands like Harmon Kardon (speakers), or newer startups earlier on their paths, like our friends at InternMatch (internship marketplace) and LikeBright (social dating) – both extremely valued and respected among the communities that know them (and growing every day).

On the left side, the Hemisphere of Sorrow. The top left: high awareness, low esteem. Our earlier examples of Enron and the NFL Replacement Refs fit nicely here.

On the bottom left: unknown, and unloved. The bottom of the barrel. No good examples are coming to mind, but the depths of Apple’s App Store or’s catalog are probably littered with examples of obscure, crappy products.

In Practice

There’s a couple takeaways from this exercise that we’re applying with SimpleCrew. The first is that esteem comes first. Whatever we do, it’s important that we maintain a great reputation, and that our app stays useful and valuable to our customers. The more the better. That is our top priority.

Awareness, while important, comes second. Our marketing and advertising efforts will grow as awareness grows in importance for us. But all the attention in the world is worthless without the esteem that comes from having a dialed-in product and customer support.

That’s the golden tip: Be good. Make it valuable, and make it work. Take care of the people who already know about you – they’re your foundation for esteem. Those early adopters can later become your biggest promoters. With that in place, then go to town on marketing and advertising.

Scale through the roof, but don’t forget your reputation along the way. Because awareness comes and goes, but esteem is your rep for life.

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