Tag 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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Pepsi Portrayal

The world continues to be split over which cola is better, Pepsi? or Coke? While the two brands couldn’t be any different in terms of identity they still occupy the same category and strive for consumer love and acceptance. While Pepsi stakes its claim to the pop-culture, Coke keeps it real with the throwback logo and simplistic brand message. One would be quick to say these brands are polar opposites, however if you think about how their identities are structured you’ll be quick to find that both have pop-culture appeal through different portrayals. Jay-Z said “thirty is the new twenty,” and Coke rolls on with the throwback mentality, keeping it classic, just like the Nike kicks you see hitting the pavement under young individuals and just like the sports jersey’s you see King James and KG in each night. Coke’s choice to maintain the classic appeal has granted them honors into pop-culture like a classic car sitting on 20’s, but the decision to remain traditional still makes it the cola of choice when Grandpa comes in for lunch.

Pepsi approaches the “appeal to pop-culture” through a different technique. They organize the advertising and marketing around trend culture. Back when Brit was flashing her v-card you could she her sippin Pepsi on prime time. Pepsi takes the approach of constant re-branding and staying current. While it is probably a more expensive method of capturing consumers it creates a new segment in a limited product category, offering those non-traditionalists a choice besides the classic.

The investment into staying fresh comes at a costly price. The small fortune spent to constantly face-lift the brand leads to no guarantee of increased sales or brand loyalty. The tools provided through social media allow companies such as Pepsi to listen to consumers and address feedback accordingly, but still the ultimate decision is up to the company. I noticed that Pepsi even went through the process of targeting online influencers to gather feedback and promote the new identity. Unfortunately you can find portrayals such as the one below that have the ability to totally dismantle the logo for everyone:

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Utilizing the online community certainly has advantages, but also demands a higher quality of product, branding, and consumer relations due to the accessible tools. While this one negative portrayal may seem insignificant it has the capability of spreading like wildfire across the internet and tainting the brand identity of Pepsi. Essentially it should be the taste of the product that people base their opinions on, but in the current age of marketing a significant amount of consumer perception is based on the element of branding and how a company can position and differentiate itself within a category.

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BuzzGain Sets the New Standard

Yesterday was the initial public beta launch of the long awaited BuzzGain. Founded by Mukund Mohan and co-founded by Brian Solis the program is intended to help companies analyze and understand online communities. Not only does the program help small business, entrepreneurs, and even corporations understand these communities it takes it a step further to find the influencers within these social mediums. BuzzGain sets itself apart by providing users the ability to see conversations pertaining to their brand. Its quite simple to see the benefits of such access; build a better brand based on input from your most passionate consumers and directly connect with your influencers.

This all-in-one, do-it-yourself solution to online buzz tracking is currently being exercised by Lenovo and SAP, now that the public beta version has launched its widely available to the online community. Through the simple “listen” dashboard users can narrow in on content and conversation pertaining to their specific search inquiry. There are over 140 social networking properties within BuzzGain which users have the ability to monitor, anything from micro-blogging to podcasting. Once you find what appears to be an influencer BuzzGain gives you the ability to dig deeper about the individual and find characteristics such as geographic location, twitter followers, twitter updates, blog posts, alexa rankings, etc.

The pricing of the program is quite reasonable compared to the price of PR or hiring out-of-house. $99/month for small businesses and up to $1,000/month for corps. netting $1 billion +. If you’re an online business looking to find your voices online this is an amazing tool. Talk around the blogosphere is that the beta version of BuzzGain has just standard glitches such as slow results for some searches and shows “problem loading” for just a few inquiries, beyond those couple of issues this program looks to be the next benchmark in extracting from online social activity revolving around brands.

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Check out the product demo video at BuzzGain under Solutions.

Also read more at Chris Brogan and Mashable

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Filed under Analytics, Buzz Marketing, Social media, Social Networking

“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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Senses save Cents

Online marketing has undoubtedly caught on due to the limitless avenues through which customers may be reached. However, now more than ever is it necessary for marketers to utilize the outlets online to promote products and connect with consumers. Having the economy in a recession and the market in such a volatile state companies have been faced with a straining situation. Often clients perceive marketing budgets as the most sacrificial entities within their businesses. This notion has and will continue to require agencies and marketing teams to utilize the efficient offerings from the web.

As a new marketing company we have seen first hand the strains put on clients, especially new businesses. They are limited in the ability to put up a large front-end investment in their marketing. This has created a significantly more limited scope on the actions we can take and requires us to restructure our payment negotiations. The advantage of working with fixed budgets is the pressure to pursue more viral, efficient, and creative avenues to promote. Within the world of online marketing as marketers we have the ability to greatly decrease costs and capture a more concentrated target demographic. This inverse relationship that online marketing and networking has created allows for economic growth and entrepreneurship to continue despite the state of the nation. Online consumers and active networkers have themselves to thank for this and as a marketer and new business owner I greatly appreciate the efforts put forth.

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