One of the things Toronto is quickly becoming known for is the diverse startup culture. Off the top of our heads, local hotties like Sprouter, MyCityLives, Sysomos showcase just a fraction of the amazing things coming out of Toronto. SMWTO Producer Eli Singer got a chance to pose a few questions to one of our Advisory Board members, Mark Evans about his work in digital and start up consultation as a digital marketing strategist. A key influencer in shaping Toronto’s digital culture, through linking social media with start-ups and entrepreneurship, Mark is truly an invaluable addition to both our community and Advisory Board.
Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, which works with start-ups and entrepreneurs to deliver digital marketing strategy and tactical execution that resonates with target audiences. Mark has worked with four startups (Blanketware, b5media, PlanetEye and Sysomos), and spent more than 10 years as an awarding-winning technology journalist with the National Post, Globe & Mail and Bloomberg News. He writes a twice-a-week online column about startups and entrepreneurship for the Globe & Mail, as well as a popular blog focused on startups, digital marketing and content marketing. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of mesh, Canada’s leading digital conference.
Toronto is home to some of Canada’s greatest young tech minds, working on creating some pretty fantastic new companies. How does social media consulting with a start up differ from working with large, established companies?
For startups, social media consulting is usually just one part of the overall sales and marketing mix. My take is startups need well-articulated messaging about what they do and why people should care if they want to effectively leverage social media. While social media services are free, it doesn’t make sense to use them unless you have a clear idea of what you want to say, the goals and how success will be measured.
What are some things you’ve learned from working in the startup space that you feel would be beneficial to large corporations?
One of the best things about startups is their flexibility and willingness to quickly make strategic and tactical changes without having to battle through bureaucracy. The Web is such a fast-moving landscape that some decisions need to be made quickly or on the fly. This is a key lesson for large companies to embrace.
What are some of the trends we are seeing come out of the startup community?
The biggest “trend” is we’re in the midst of a startup renaissance. More entrepreneurs are taking the startup plunge because the barriers to entry are lower than ever, the tools to create, distribute and promote services are accessible and affordable, and the “risk gap” between doing a startup and having a “regular” job has shrunk given the uncertain economic conditions.
As one of the co-founders of mesh, what is one of the most memorable moments you’ve had at a mesh event?
Without a doubt, the start of the first mesh stands out because we had no conference experience so it was thrilling to actually see everything come together. I think our ignorance of how much work is involved in doing a conference was a good thing, and we were lucky to have stumbled upon an amazing event planner, Sheri Moore, who played a key part in making mesh work right from the start.
What makes a presentation memorable?
I think a presentation resonates if it does one of the following: inspires, provokes, entertains or educates.
What are you looking forward to most for the 2012 SMWTO festival?
It will be interesting to see how social media has evolved and matured, and how individuals and brands are looking to take their social media efforts to the next level.
For all the startups who are going to be in attendance at SMWTO this year, can you provide any insight as to what sort of events they should see? Or what sort of events they should host?
Startups should focus on sessions that provide them with insight on how to effectively and efficiently leverage social media. The reality is startups are lean and mean operations so they need to know how to make social media happen without spending too much time on it given they have lots of other priorities.