Video of the Week: Steve Blank Evidence-based Entrepreneurship

For our video of the week, watch Steve Blank, Evidence-based Entrepreneurship at The Lean Startup. Steve is the author of The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company and one of the most influential thinkers around modern entrepreneurship (see 11 Great Ideas from Steve Blank). Enjoy!


Vertical Ad Format Now Available on Instagram

Starting today, you can create photo and video ads on Instagram in the vertical format. You can now upload up to 4:5 aspect ratio format on Instagram feed for photos and videos.

Since the beginning, we’ve been thoughtful about rolling out ads on Instagram to give businesses and consumers the best experience possible. And ad formats are no exception. Portrait has long been available on the platform for posts, and is a common format for consuming mobile content. Knowing this, we wanted to give advertisers everywhere greater creative flexibility by bringing the vertical format to Instagram ads.

Advertisers around the globe like Mulberry (@mulberryengland), Guaraná Antartica (@guaranaantarctica) and LG USA (@lgusamobile) are already taking advantage of this new format.

And in initial tests, businesses are seeing better view rates using this ad format. For instance, Brazilian soft drink manufacturer, Guaraná Antarctica, ran a vertical video ad showing the history of Guaraná. “Vertical formats in mobile advertising are of great interest to us. With Instagram being such an important platform for our brand, we were really excited to test. First results seem promising!” — Richard Lee, Guaraná, Digital Manager

In the US, LG USA Mobile ran a video ad in the vertical format showcasing its LG V20’s new audio features.

While these examples show that Instagrammers respond to vertical ads, we encourage you to experiment and find out which format — vertical, square or landscape — works best for the story you want to tell.

We’re excited to offer more flexibility for advertisers creating on Instagram, and can’t wait to see what you’ll create.

Jobs to be Done Framework

Clayton Christensen, author of the The Innovator’s Dilemma, also invented the “Jobs to be Done” framework.

From the Clayton Christensen Institute:

The jobs-to-be-done framework is a tool for evaluating the circumstances that arise in customers’ lives. Customers rarely make buying decisions around what the “average” customer in their category may do — but they often buy things because they find themselves with a problem they would like to solve. With an understanding of the “job” for which customers find themselves “hiring” a product or service, companies can more accurately develop and market products well-tailored to what customers are already trying to do.

Too often, entrepreneurs think in terms of features. If our product does X,Y, and Z, then people will buy it. Instead, think about the job that needs to be performed and how the solution will fit it. Think solutions to jobs, not features.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the jobs-to-be-done framework?

New to Instagram Stories: Boomerang Mentions and Links

Today, we’re introducing a few new tools to help you make your story even more fun: Boomerang and mentions. We’re also starting to test links inside some stories.


Boomerang lets you turn everyday business moments into something fun and unexpected. Now you can easily take a Boomerang right inside Instagram.

Swipe right from your feed to open the stories camera. A new format picker under the record button lets you select “Boomerang” mode. Tap record and the camera will stitch together a burst of photos into a mini video that plays forward and backward. Then share it to your story.


Share who you’re with or who’s visiting your business by mentioning them in your story.

Mentioning people in stories works the same as it does in captions and comments. When you add text to your story, type “@” followed by a username and select the person you’d like to mention. Their username will appear underlined in your story. And when someone taps the mention, they’ll see a pop-up that takes them to that profile.

You’ll receive a notification in Direct when you’re mentioned in someone else’s story. Just tap the preview to go straight to the story for as long as it’s live. If someone you don’t follow mentions you, you’ll see the notification in your message requests.

‘See More’ Links

You may begin to spot “See More” links at the bottom of some stories. This is a test that lets verified accounts add links so it’s easy to learn more. From finding tour dates for Chance the Rapper (@chancetherapper) to learning about a new movie starring Dwayne Johnson (@therock) or reading a related article from Bustle (@bustle), tap “See More” or swipe up to view the link right inside the app.

To learn more about today’s updates, check out the Instagram Help Center.

These updates for Instagram Stories are available as part of Instagram version 9.7 available for iOS in the Apple App Store, for Android in Google Play and for Windows 10 in the Windows Store.

18 Quick Sales Resources for Startups

These past few weeks have been focused on sales — the life blood of every successful startup. Here are the recent sales posts:

  1. Four Types of Sales Reps
  2. Getting to “Wow” in the Sales Process
  3. Sales Team Challenges When Scaling
  4. Territories vs Wide Open for Sales Teams
  5. Make Body Language Your Superpower
  6. Benchmarking Sales Development Reps
  7. The Different Meeting Rhythms in Sales
  8. Analyzing the Sales Opportunity Pipeline
  9. Mining the Sales Opportunity History for Insights
  10. The Sales Ops Role — Operational Rigor for the Sales Team
  11. Hire a Sales Assistant First
  12. The Best Sales Demos are Conversations
  13. Mapping Out the Sales Stages
  14. Discovery Calls — A Critical Part of the Sales Process
  15. Notes from Trenton Truitt’s Presentation on MEDDICC
  16. MEDDICC Forecasting Methodology
  17. The Success Plan Google Doc for Sales
  18. Testing Potential Demand By Being an SDR

Sales is critical, yet foreign, to most startup founders. Put in the time and effort to learn it — it’s worth it.

What else? What are some more sales topics to cover?

Four Types of Sales Reps

Predictable Revenue laid the ground work for sales development and the rise of sales engagement software. The author, Aaron Ross, outlined a more modern, predictable function of appointment setters on the sales team, as separate from the closing team. In the book, he outlines four types of functions on the sales team.

Here are the four types of sales reps in startups:

  • Market Response Rep — Qualifies and nurtures inbound leads that are handed off to an account executive once engaged in the sales cycle (one rep can handle approximately 400 inbound leads per month)
  • Outbound Sales Development Rep — Cold calls and emails potential prospects and nurtures them until they are ready for an account executive (one rep should generate 10–20 qualified leads per month)
  • Account Manager — Manages the relationship with existing customers and continually looks for ways to add more value
  • Account Executive / Sales Rep — Carries a quota and is responsible for taking leads engaged in the buying process through to close and hand-off

Early in the startup lifecycle, it’s common to have “full stack” sales reps that do both the appointment setting and deal closing. Then, as the startup grows, more specialization emerges. Look for these four types of sales reps.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the four types of sales reps?

Getting to Wow in the Sales Process

At Pardot, we’d work hard to get marketers to a web demo, through cold calling and typical B2B marketing campaigns, as we knew there was one “wow” or “magic moment” that really made the value of the product apparent. David Skok calls it the “wow” in Creating a Wow Moment.

Our Pardot wow: showing a marketer their own activity history in Pardot via a screen share. When marketers saw how all their digital fingerprints (clicks, opens, page views, etc.) were captured, and made actionable to both sales and marketing, they immediately wanted that functionality for their own team.

Here are a few questions to ask:

  • What’s the “wow” in your product?
  • How hard is it to show the “wow” to a prospect?
  • Where is “wow” currently shown in the sales process?
  • How can the “wow” be delivered sooner?

Entrepreneurs would do well to think through the feature in their product that is most powerful and exciting to prospects — the “wow” — and work to deliver that to prospects as quickly as possible.

What else? What are some more thoughts on getting to “wow” in the sales process?