This week I attended an event organized by the Haredi Women’s Professional Network here in Jerusalem, hosted at WritePoint, which is where I ran my Hebrew-English Translators Training Course almost 2 years ago. I really enjoy these kinds of events because it is so refreshing and fun to get together with likeminded women and see all the amazing things that other people are doing professionally.
There was a very interesting speaker, Michael Eisenberg, Partner at Benchmark Capital. He didn’t really stick to the topic of “Elevator Pitches,” but rather gave a very interesting and dynamic presentation on the basic principles of marketing: Differentiation, Value, Customer Experience, a Sense of Greater Purpose, etc. This is an area where I always need serious chizuk, especially since I tend to get distracted by the myriad technical details of the day-to-day operation of our business and the big picture is often pushed to the side. This is normal for small business where the strategic visionary and the schlepper/dogsbody are the same person!
He made a big point of the fact that the world is so “noisy” nowadays and it’s very hard to get people’s attention at all, never mind get them to hear your message. Even a 5-second elevator pitch is so hard to get across! He said that every market is extremely competitive and overcrowded nowadays. He is a fan of “friction marketing,” which I guess means swimming against the stream in order to get people’s attention. Even if you are annoying them – at least they are paying attention for a few seconds.
We don’t do friction marketing at MavenMall, but I can see the value of it, and I can think of lots of businesses who have captured crowded markets very successfully through this kind of marketing – he mentioned Apple and Google, I’m thinking of the email marketing software we use – MadMimi. About 8 months ago, when I was considering various options for web businesses, I was only interested in ideas that I thought were very original and would provide a unique and highly differentiated service. MavenMall was one of those ideas. I davka didn’t want to do anything that anyone else was doing. But now I can kind of see the advantage of entering an existing market using guerilla tactics, rather than creating your own market in a niche that never really existed before, which is what MavenMall is doing.
Still I think that my nature is to be innovative and that’s why I wanted invent something entirely new. Also I think that I am very influenced by my background in the translation industry – which is totally overcrowded to the point of saturation. In translation it is SO HARD to differentiate yourself. Every translation company and their dog (and there are tens of thousands of them) is out there with a fancy website claiming to offer the best quality, best value, fastest translation services in 101 languages. Some are a little more cool, some a little cheaper, some a little more corporate, some a little higher tech, etc. but since translation is not a topic that most non-translators are particularly excited or knowledgeable about, the opportunities for differentiating yourself are limited. Maybe with a big budget and friction marketing, something could be done…
As I got more interested in business and marketing, I felt that I couldn’t stay in translation because there was not enough scope for creativity in such a saturated market. That said, I actually still run a boutique translation business as a side thing. It is by nature small because we are in a very limited niche – Jewish genealogical texts – but I consider it a very successful and satisfying little business. Our differentiation is that we only do a specific kind of text – I have no interest in managing projects of any other kind. We also bring an attitude of professionalism and customer service to a niche that is generally a little too heimish. We are also pretty heimish – we enjoy what we do and are openly enthusiastic about it. What could be more heimish than that?
And no, I’m not going to tell you the name of my translation business right now. That is not part of my marketing model!