Category Archives: Business

Lunch Break with Sam Zell

Today Silicon Flatirons presented the entrepreneurs and aspiring business folks of Boulder with a treat, Entrepreneurs Unplugged with Sam Zell. Ranking in the low 50’s on Forbe’s wealthiest Americans in years past, Zell has a surely done more than one thing right despite what others may think.

zvt7dks5Here is the brief bio on Zell as said in the brochure: “Sam Zell is a U.S. born, self-made billionaire and real estate entrepreneur. He is co-founder and Chairman of Equity Group Investments, a private investment firm. A consummate deal-maker, Zell is invested in or controls a diverse array of companies, including the most successful builder of low-cost housing in Mexico (Homex), the largest U.S. waste-to-energy company (Covanta), and the world’s largest distributor of telecommunications and cabling products (Anixter). In early 2007 Zell orchestrated what was the time the largest leveraged buy-out in history — the sale of his flagship Equity Office Properties REIT to the Blackstone private equity group for $39 Billion. Also in 2007, Zell purchased the Tribune Company — publisher of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Time and the owner of the Chicago Cubs — in another leveraged deal.”

While the biography was a bit brief, it didn’t take long to learn a lot about Mr. Zell. He got started on his entrepreneurial lifestyle at a young age as he was purchasing copies of Playboy in the city of Chicago and selling them in his suburb for a wealthy margin where the magazine wasn’t available. Zell continued the lecture with an emphasis on what it takes o be a successful entrepreneur. Many elements where brought up. What really hit home with me is the necessity of confidence in your success and the importance of selling. You could have an amazing product, offering or what have you and never achieve success without the ability to: a. remove the idea of “failing” from your vocab & b. have the ability to sell your product along with the brand that comes with. If you can’t pitch it in three sentences go back to the drawing boards, because in accordance with Zell’s opinion, if you have to give someone the runaround in explaining whats on the plate in front of them they probably aren’t going to eat it. Same goes for selling, whether it be product, service, or yourself.

Along with the importance of selling and the necessity of faith, Zell addressed questions about the power of networking and building relationships. This isn’t anything new to anyone, if you want to be successful you have to put yourself out there and build relationships; nobody’s ever gotten laid by spending each day in their dimly-lite computer room watching internet porn, same goes for the guy with an innovative concept that lacks the skills to build business relationships. There’s a stressed importance in being able to understand people and build relationships that help you network yourself, and now in this age of digital progression its easier than ever to connect with people.

Something mentioned that I really feel rings true to this online setting of marketing interactions is the reality that the longevity of a concept or idea really coincides with success. Too many people on the internet are taking advantage of the social tools at hand to make a quick buck. Sam Zell can be used as an example of what it truely means to be successful seeing that he’s never been employed by anyone other than himself, besides the four-day stent at a law firm in Chicago where he told his executive that last four days were a waste of his time and talent. In the lecture he stated something along the lines of “do you think it was by chance that I oriented my success around real estate?” And the reason being is that real estate is an industry with longevity and foreseen success. You may make money selling gimmick products to overly trusting consumers online, but the idea of becoming a successful entrepreneur entails much more than marketing ploys and monetary figures, its prestige, innovative thought, notable transactions, and a passion to elevate industry.

While the majority of the lecture was focused around what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, there were a couple questions in reference to the economy and the new administration. I can say one thing for sure, despite the fact that probably 90% of the people in the room voted for Obama nobody was about to say anything. Mr. Zell didn’t come across as reserved one bit while on the topic of politics. In a nutshell, Zell explained his stance on the approach of the new administration as trying to tackle too many things at once and doing so with a risk of increasing debt to overwhelming proportions. In response to questions about the future of the market Zell speculated that we would see a significance decrease in volatility by the end of summer, but not necessarily increases. He supplied good reason, which I failed to write down and choose not to attempt to reiterate.

All in all this was a great presentation. I know there are mixed feelings about Sam Zell and the happenings at the Tribune Co., but like I mentioned earlier he has certainly done more right than wrong. One lesson talked about in the lecture was the risk all entrepreneurs take and while things may not always work out you never fail. Mr. Zell was a great speaker and entertaining. I really plan to take some of the ideals talked about today and apply them to our business venture.

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Marketing: Metaphorical Life Raft

Even though President Bush sidestepped the economic issues in his farewell address the other night the problem still remains front and center in practically every aspect of life. Not to put down Bush’s speech, probably one of his better ones and there were some good remarks about our actions overseas, congrats GB. 2995481021_f3095f46411

So, the correlation between marketing, the economy, products and consumers. Two words, “budget cuts.” As companies begin to re-evaluate future expenditures talks of less marketing frequent the conversation. Problem with this is that when you cut marketing you cut communication channels with your consumers. When you have people becoming more conscious about spending, especially on unnecessary things the last thing you want to do is leave them high and dry without advising them why your product/service is the most logical purchase. When people are left to decide on their own they simply don’t decide, and they sure as hell aren’t going to buy your product if your sitting quietly in the corner, fingers crossed, hoping the customer lands on yours goods after a decision process based on eny meny miny mo!

I’ve talked about this before, but this is an important topic that everyone must consider in order to survive this economic crisis. Luckily social networks exist in a time like this, otherwise we’d all be scratching our ass wondering how long the bag of instant rice will feed us for. Strategically marketing through social networks provides companies direct links to their target demographics, if you didn’t know that you’re in my prayers. These micro interactions between marketers and consumers are bringing down prices in marketing, helping the right people find the right products, educating consumers, educating marketers and other professionals, and providing a quality past time for dorm life. If you’re a consumer and get angry because you are subjected to marketing while you cruise around facebook or twitter, think about the benefits of what you’re seeing. Excluded in this specialized marketing are the mass marketing ploys submerging Myspace into the past. They lack value, focus, and deceitfully suck you in.

As I’m rambling here I’m trying to stay focused, I apologize. Moral of this ideology is that as marketers we have to use our brains and begin to think more in depth. There are many innovators out there moving this business in the right direction and adding value to their clients marketing plans and implementation. Sadly, the days of clients handing over a couple hundred thousand dollars and living by the “power in numbers reached” method is long past. The age of micro interaction and specialized marketing has arisen. You put your ear to the digital landscape and listen to what consumers want, react, and then advise them. Its nice to be a consumer these days.

My parting words for this post; if you own a company or for that matter work at one where the economy has got you down please consider my words above. We’re in a age of innovation, so when you’re thinking “marketing isn’t in the budget” make it in the budget, think of a way to structure a contract so that you’re guaranteed results, maybe request the marketing company do what Hyudai is doing. Think about how you can inject yourself into social media and bring value to the table, its an efficient investment.

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Filed under Business, Economy, Marketing, Motivation

“He Said She Said”- Single Celled Twitter Morphs Through Apps.

If you listen to anyone that knows anything about Social Media you’ll hear them say that twitter is platform that you must master. The beauty of social media is sharing, connecting and doing so instantaneously. Twitter offers all of this in a simplistic platform operated 2511539541_b8c0356486through micro interactions. Consider twitter the evolution of texting, a no bullshit message offering substance and suggestions, at least for the most part. Including links in tweets creates a direct connect to the content you value and exposes it to those you share with, beautiful!

As simple as twitter is meant to be there is a strategy on how to use it to build both your personal brand or promote your clients, if you dare to go there. There are multiple web applications that have encouraged the evolution of twitter. You can start by using Search Twitter. This app. allows you to filter conversation based on your search inquiry and inject yourself into conversations of your interest, find friends sharing your interests, or see if anyone is talking shit behind your back or critiquing your client. When you take this app. and apply it as a marketing tool it helps you narrow down a target audience and approach those people you know will be interested in what you have to say, however, like you hear everywhere, you must bring value to the conversation rather than dropping the name of your client. The twitter community is not meant to be an online telemarketing style forum, so keep that in mind, connect with the people that ask.

People such as myself use twitter to learn, seek knowledge, and listen to advice pertaining to their profession. I can’t give enough thanks for links I’ve gotten on twitter and learned so much from. While Search Twitter allows you to narrow down the conversation, re.twited allows you to see and tune into the posts that are sparking the most interest. As Simple as twitter, re.twited simply ranks conversations that people re-tweeted and allows you to search based on when the re-tweets occurred. If twitter is your reference while looking for the most popular topics on the web this will be a godsend. Re.twited also provides a quality service for those looking to get exposure for their posts. Getting your post to appear on re.twited is one challenge that is overcome by simply offering quality material that people will embrace or be driven to RT. Once on re.twited you’ll likely see the NOS kick in and watch your post gain popularity.

Die hard twitter sensei, Brightkit has your service. This is a service allows you to manage multiple twitter accounts from one place. The site allows you to manage your posting times along with a plethora of other management options. If you’re tweeting under multiple aliases this is a must have. You can put your imagination to work and see how a tool such as this could help from a marketing standpoint.

Theres plenty more on these apps. floating around the web. Be sure to check out Logic and Emotion for more on re.twited and other info on the importance of twitter and things to keep in mind while using it.

Photo Cred: carrotcreative

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Filed under Business, interactive, Search, Social media, Twitter

Power of Percent

Its obvious that the economic crisis has presented business owners with an unfavorable situation, take today’s market swing as an example. I had an earlier post talking about the hardships the weak economy has presented marketers, especially companies in their infancy. There have been multiple pitch situations where our potential clients are reluctant to sacrifice a hefty front-end investment in marketing and/or web design without any guaranteed results. It is hard as a new company to show your worth to potential clients with a small portfolio, no matter how good you.

In our negotiating processes we have started to present potential clients with percentage of profit Milestone Fee Basis options. As we present our clients the bid figures we present them with the option of percentage of profit sharing. Be wary of who you offer this option to based on the work ethic they show, but this can be a very mutually beneficial payment method. If the potential client agrees to a percentage method be sure to run analytical figures to estimate necessary sales to reach the payment amount of an original approach. You must also reconstruct the payment terms agreed to in contracts. We suggest a Milestone Fee Basis that follows a quote system. For example: agreed to a 30% profit share for up to 200 units sold, 40% for 200-600 and 50% for 600+. Also, it is wise to include a longer agreement term to ensure the marketing efforts have time to gain exposure as well as a mutual cancellation clause to ensure that the client doesn’t bail when the term is up because the marketing is paying off.

Our company along with larger firms are beginning to adopt this method because it entices clients to invest in marketing and offers marketers for potentially larger gains, but also presents more risk. If your confident that your marketing methods will work I suggest you consider this in the future.

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