Politics in Startups vs. Big Companies

Politics in Startups vs. Big Companies

I’ve heard folks say they like startups better than big companies because there are no politics at startups. When people that tell me that there aren’t any politics at their company (regardless of the size) I think they are either: New employees that are still in the honeymoon phase of their job where everything looks like a rainbow-covered unicorn Lying The source of all politics at the company (sometimes known as “the founder”) In my experience both environments have lots of corporate politics, but the 2 political landscapes look very different. I define politics as activities that people engage in at work for their own personal gain rather than to achieve a specific business goal. This can range from telling your boss you like her horrible new shoes hoping she will give you a raise, to sabotaging a coworker with the hopes that he will get fired and you can be his replacement. Even flat organizations have folks with more power than others (meaning people who make decisions about hiring, firing and compensation) and both the powerful and non-powerful people will sometimes make decisions based on factors other than the good of the company. They are human beings after all. Big Company Politics At one large company I worked at, a very talented co-worker had her career as an executive derailed when she was passed over for a promotion (in that particular company, those passed over once were never promoted again). Her downfall was the result of a competition between two executives 3 levels above her. I learned that my success in part depended on my perceived alignment with...
How B2B Product Marketing is Different from B2C

How B2B Product Marketing is Different from B2C

I read a great post from Gopal Shenoy this week about how B2C product marketing is different from B2B. I’m a B2B marketer so that got me thinking about writing a post in the reverse. Here’s how I think B2B product marketing is different from B2C 1/ Channels are important (sometimes critical) – Most B2C companies sell direct. B2B is often through channels or a mix of channel and direct. The channels can be single or multi-tier and you will need to figure out how to price for these channels, enable and train them, incent them and ensure that there is as little channel conflict as possible. This is not easy. 2/ Long term customer relationships – Many B2C companies talk about “building customer relationships” like it’s a new thing and that’s because for many B2C companies it is (with the exception of SaaS-based B2C services where churn is a major metric). On the B2B side, there are fewer customers and often you will live or die by your long-term relationship with that customer. That means you will often have dedicated teams assigned to larger accounts. 3/ Tiered customer service – Because those long-term relationships are important, customer services becomes absolutely critical. Of course service is important on the B2C side as well, you don’t often see differences in the way you serve customers. On the B2B side there is quite often a massive difference in the way you service a very large account vs. a very small one. 4/ Purchasing teams – For larger-ticket items there will be a number of people and groups involved in a purchase...
Does Your Startup Need a Rockstar Marketer or a B Player?

Does Your Startup Need a Rockstar Marketer or a B Player?

I read an interesting blog post last week called “The Curve of Talent” by Eric Paley. While I disagree with some parts of this post (his description of “big companies” doesn’t line up with my experiences), I believe his assessment of the gap between what startup folks think they are looking for and what the makeup of their team actually is (or indeed should be) is spot on. He defines a “A” player this way: …folks who can “write the book and not just read it.” These are an incredibly rare breed of people who not only have a clear idea how to competently accomplish their functional objectives, but actually lead the organization to innovate and be world class within their functional area. B players by contrast are the folks that can “execute well on what they are asked to do.” C players look at a lot like B’s but need coaching to get really get the job done well. The majority of folks are C’s. B’s are rare and A’s are super-rare. Given that, startups trying to hire only A players are probably kidding themselves. He says: Those who suggest that startups should only hire A players are grade inflators.  They’re calling B players A players.  The actual A players are too rare for this to be a practical hiring plan. I will go a step further and say that there is a time and place for an A player in a certain role but sometimes what you really want is a B.  Most startups like to think they always need rockstars (I translate this to A). If I had a dollar...