Big vs small company influence: are you a church or a key maker? Episode 68

boxing mouseBig company, small company – does it matter when you’re trying to sway people with community and influence marketing? Since influence is earned, does it really matter if you work for a giant church of technology or a small startup? Will people drive miles for the best chai?


  • John says that he had a harder time getting people to pay attention when he was at a startup than when he was at VMware. He likened being a startup to being a tiny mouse standing on a cup.
  • Matt, now at a startup, says that although he has a much bigger relative share of voice inside his company, his overall potential audience is smaller.
  • Amy refutes: social media has changed the game, or at least the relative difficulty of using a multiple of tools that make you look bigger than you actually are.
  • At a small company, everybody has 10 jobs – so there is often no one social media or influencer marketing or evangelist role.
  • At a small company, goals may be more tactical.
  • Do you need to be selling big expensive products to afford to hire a community manager?
  • How does the company even know you’re doing the right thing, contacting the right people?
  • How does a small company create that “X” factor?
  • Veeam certainly did it.
  • Bay area startups are starting to hire community managers very early.
  • Does influence go with the company or with the person? Can you go from a large company to a small company and keep your influence?
  • Good influence marketing is relatively cheap, so company size may be irrelevant.
  • John has been reading a lot of Paul Ford. @ftrain.
  • Would John Troyer always have been John Troyer without VMware?
  • Effort = Ability.
  • The Anna Karenina Principle: Big companies are all alike, but small companies are all unhappy in their own way. There might be a wide range of influence programs in a small company, but in a big company all influence marketing programs are all alike.
  • Maybe it’s easier to be influential at a small company where you have more of your own voice rather than having to echo the corporate voice.
  • The consensus seems to be that the big company ammo is balanced out by small company freedom. Your influence is up to you.
  • John’s key-restaurant-church theory: some companies are like churches, some are like restaurants, and some are like key makers. It’s easier to do influence marketing for a church (often a big company) than a key maker (often a small company)
  • John’s chai guy, Raman Bechar, differentiates himself by making great chai, and only making it his way. Best cup of chai this side of Bombay. (He’s moved down the road a bit since that article, but is still in Half Moon Bay.)


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  1. Lauren Malhoit
    30 December, 2014

    So, I’ve only listened to the beginning of the podcast so far, but I already have something to say =) I found John Troyer because I was looking for VMware podcasts, vExpert stuff, and twitter accounts later. I came across Matt Brender because of EMC Elect. I found Lewis because she’s huge on Twitter. I honestly didn’t know she worked for Cisco until much later…like much later…after my first waffles and chicken party. So, it’s all different. Amy has found a way to be out there without the huge company behind her, but now I work for Cisco. While I really respect all the other companies you’ve all worked for, and I respect the journeys you’ve been on…the fact is…I found Amy due to her presence on social media and now I work for the same company (well…the same for a bit until she moves on officially =)).

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