Business Inspiration for the New Year

January 5, 2009

As I was catching up on my RSS reading, two posts by Seth Godin and Fred Wilson really caught my attention as inspiration for the New Year.

In the first, Seth Godin posed the question, “Do ads work?” In particular, Seth is asking about digital ads where he feels the mindset of marketers should be “We have an unlimited budget for ads that work.”  In his own words:

Digital ads are different (or they should be). You should know cost per click and revenue per click and be able to make a smart guess about lifetime value of a click. And if that’s positive, buy, buy, buy.  And if you don’t know those things, why are you buying digital ads?

Seth goes on to give the example of Amazon during the Dot Com boom of the late ’90’s.  He says that during this time, the mantra at Amazon was $33. “They would buy unlimited ads, of any kind, as long as they generated new customers for $33 or less each.” Was $33 too high of a number to be sustainable?  Possibly.  But their internal ROI showed that $33 was the magic number and there was unlimited money to buy ads under that figure.

In other words, don’t use the excuse that you don’t have the budget.

Any idea that you have proven will build your sales and share should be invested in…and it should be invested in at the expense of ads that aren’t proven.

In the second thought-provoking post, Fred Wilson talked about creating a great business team in “Putting the Band Back Together.” Fred has noticed that as times get tough, many successful serial entrepreneurs are rejoining people they have worked with in the past.  Or as he puts it, “they are getting the band back together for awhile.”  Fred sees this as an encouraging sign because:

Teams that have worked together successfully before know the strengths and weaknesses of each other and they know how to get along, make hard decisions, and move the ball forward each and every day.

I think this is a brilliant insight and one that most businesses don’t think about often enough.  Think about your own brand team at work.  How long has the most junior person been on the team?  Or how long have the most senior members worked together?  What about your agency?  Have the same people been on the account as long as the Brand Manager or Marketing Director?  I’d be willing to bet that there has been considerable change over on both sides.

I think more brands need to follow the advice of Fred and “get the band back together.” 

If you have a successful brand and agency team, then practice continuity and keep them working together.

Business is a game of teamwork and it takes time to develop good working relationships.  In sports, All Star games are boring because the best players don’t practice together every day.  So when you throw them together, they don’t know how to work together.  Just look at what happened to the USA “Dream Team” in 2002 – 2004 when we lost to teams that had played together for years.

The same thing might be happening to your brand when you change the players every year.

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Why won’t someone develop a decent Twitter client for the Blackberry?

November 30, 2008
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image by via CrunchBase

On the trip to the parent’s house this weekend, I was bemoaning the fact that Twitterberry is not exactly a stellar Twitter client for the Blackberry.  And I appear to be in good company since Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures complained about the same thing on Friday.

So why is a smart developer not paying attention?  After all, RIM announced in September 2008 that they have over 19 million Blackberry subscribers.  Compare this to the Nielsen estimate that there were 3.6 million iPhone users in October 2008.  So while there are 5X as many Blackberry users, the only decent option is Twitterberry while iPhone users have Hahlo, Tweetie, Twitterific and a whole bunch of others.

And this lack of options is coming out clear in Google as well.  If you search “Twitter for Blackberry” you get 4.2 million results.  But if you type “Twitter for iPhone” you get a staggering 10.3 million results.

Blackberries (not iPhone) are the tool of the trade for most marketers and Brand Managers out there.  If Twitter is going to catch on with this group, it would help to have a solid Blackberry option for them.  As Twitter’s popularity grows, Blackberry themselves would be smart to develop a killer Twitter app and stop giving corporate users any excuse to switch over to the iPhone.

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Weekly Round-Up 3-13-2008

March 13, 2008

I spent the week clearing out my RSS Reader after saving way too many posts. However, I can across a few oldies but goodies that I wanted to share.

  • PSFK – The Problem with the Trends (Business): Over at PSFK, Piers set off quite the debate with this post about the problem with the Trends Business. In his opinion, “It’s broken by lack of imagination, lack of collaboration and secrecy.” Piers touched off a great debate and the comments are just as good as the original post.
  • Nike Looks Under the Radar: This story in the Wall Street Journal inspired one of the slides in my upcoming IEG Presentation. It also reinforced two of my core beliefs in marketing….1.) We all need to be Cultural Anthropologists, and 2.) Networking will define the next generation of marketers. More about that in some future posts.
  • Fred Wilson’s Summary of Start-Up Advice Weekend: I just started reading A VC, the personal blog of Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures, but I have already found it to be hugely useful. Of course I would one day love to be involved with a start-up so these tips are great.
  • Why Is Twitter Exploding?: I honestly can’t figure out Twitter yet but Armano does a great job of making the case, especially with his included diagrams. Check it out….and I’d love to hear if you think Twitter will expand beyond its current passionate user base.
  • A 21st Century Magnifying Glass: I just think this concept is incredibly cool.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for this type of stuff.