Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Jim Ericson Meeting

Yesterday, I had lunch with arguably one of best internet marketers in the state, Jim Ericson. Jim was one of the first team members at Ancestry.com, and is a bona fide jedi knight of selling online content subscriptions. He is now working on several exciting projects with Infobase Media Corp.

Jim gave me some great pointers on selling online content. My time is short, so I'll just share two of the basics:

--When you sell someone a subscription, you are selling them a promise -- a promise that you will add value and content to their subscription every week so that the investment they made in your product will be worth more next week than it was when they started. If you can't do that, you shouldn't sell subscriptions.

--Constant contact is a must -- Don't start selling subscriptions until you have a solid e-newsletter in place. Once they begin their subscription, you need to constantly reinforce their investment by reminding them what a great deal they are getting. Let them know about new ways to use the information they are getting, use testimonials, tell them about new content, etc.

I'll have to to include more tidbits of info in a later post. Gotta run.

Thanks, Jim.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Interesting CEO Blog Stat

Just got an email from WOMMA with the following info about CEOs who blog:

"Only 7% of CEO's are blogging and only 18% plan to start in the next two years. Those are the results of a joint survey conducted by PR Week and Burston-Marsteller.

Even though many CEO's are not blogging themselves, they do still continue to value them as a mode of communication. Other findings include:

* 47% called blogs useful for internal communications
* 59% called blogs useful for external communications
* 41% favor blogs for communicating news and ideas quickly
* 36% favor blogs for collecting feedback "

Here's a list of CEOs who do blog.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mom, Entrepreneur Podcasts, and Motivation

I was on the phone with my mother last night and, in passing, she mentioned that she is keeping up with how I am doing by reading my blog. For a moment I pictured my proud mother in a Relief Society meeting holding an open laptop with my blog on the screen, the same way most mothers hold open their wallets with pictures of their children and grandchildren. Then I thought it would be a good idea to to try and write something altruistic that a mother could be proud of.

So here goes. This one's for you, Mom.

I just learned about a great new website called businessjive.com.

The site is a compilation of podcasts featuring successful Utah entrepreneurs like Alan Hall of Marketstar and Will Marre, co-founder of the Covey Leadership Center. Tomorrow, the site will broadcast an interview with Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne.

There are a million ways to motivate people. I think most of us believe that nothing motivates people the way good people do. Every time I hear the story of a hero who has overcome tremendous odds to become very good and very influential, it motivates me more than any incentive or reward ever could.

I read about a great example of inspiring motivation at a (speaking of good people) Corporate Alliance function the other day. The following text is taken from a full-page ad published on Boss's Day 1994. The ad was paid for by the employees of Southwest Airlines and it was addresses to Herb Keller, the company's CEO:

Thanks Herb
For remembering everyone of our names.
For supporting the Ronald McDonald House.
For helping load baggage on Thanksgiving.
For giving everyone a kiss (and we mean everyone).
For listening.
For running the only profitable major airline.
For singing at our holiday party.
For singing only once a year.
For letting us wear shorts and sneakers to work.
For golfing at the LUV Classic with only one club.
For out-talking Sam Donaldson.
For riding your Harley Davidson in to Southwest Headquarters.
For being a friend, not just a boss.
Happy Boss's Day from Each One of Your 16,000 employees!

Only one "thank you line" out of thirteen has anything to do with the success of the company, and not one has anything to do with pay.

Don't get me wrong -- If a company can't pay people, it certainly cannot motivate them. We are all in business to make money. To forget that fact is to commit organizational suicide.

But, when it all boils down, people are motivated best by good people. To forget that is morally and interpersonally destructive and will keep your organization from peak performance.

(How was that, Mom?)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Here's to the Free Press Release!

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk pounding out an email when I received a call from a writer for Worth Magazine, a publication for the rich, based in NYC. She said that she would like to do a feature article on FundingUniverse.com in a forththcoming issue. After a twenty-minute interview, I asked her where she first heard of our company. She said that her boss handed her a press release that we had written a couple of months ago when FundingUniverse.com reached $250 million in available capital.

The best part: All of this exposure hasn't cost us a dime!

For the past few months, FundingUniverse.com has regularly published press releases on free press release distribution sites like PRWeb.com, PRLeap.com, and PRZoom.com and others. If your company hasn't been doing this, start now. It's a easy way to get your name out and give a PR intern valuable experience. In addition, press releases that include links to your site help SEO and increase the chances of your company showing up on someone's blog.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Anne Holland on Email Marketing

If your business has anything to do with the internet and you haven't subscribed to MarketingSherpa's free daily newsletter for internet marketers, do it now -- on a new browser, of course.

I just purchased the transcript of the MarketingSherpa "Selling Subscriptions to Internet" summit -- best $195 I ever spent.

Sherpa's publisher opened the conference with a killer presentation on email marketing.

Here are a few highlights:

One of the most read emails you will send your customers is your "Welcome" email -- the one they receive when they register on your site. Make sure you include something in the welcome email that will entice them to return to your site, like a coupon, the first issue of your newsletter, or a free sample of your product. Better yet include some sort of offer that the new subscribers can send to a friend.

RSS is still in its infancy -- 3 million users -- so don't kill yourself trying to reach RSSers just yet. Stay up on developments, but don't make it a priority.

You have 8 seconds to cath the attention of your users, so simplify your emails. More is not necessarily better. If you are going to include a picture in your emails, make sure you have important text in your email right next to it, because a huge percentage of your readers wil go there first.

Duke University Alumni Association sent "update your info" post cards to their alumni when their email addresses started bouncing back emails from Duke. Worked like a charm, reduced churn like crazy.

In the interest of staying on the right side of copyright laws, I'll stop there.

Think Digital, Act Analog

I'm following the lead of FundingUniverse.com CEO Brock Blake and posting an email that I sent to the FundingUniverse.com marketing team last week.

"Check out yesterday's stats:

20 new investors, $8.8 million in new investment capital, 44 new entrepreneurs, 23 new business plans

Boo-ya!!

These high numbers are likely due to our new "open door" policy:

1) Our toll free phone number was listed in our email to over 3,000 entrepreneurs. At least 20 of them called yesterday, giving us a great opportunity to create a relationship with each of them, receive valuable feedback, and sell them our other services.

2) We now call every investor who registers on our sites to a) Welcome them to our network b) Encourage referrals c) Confirm that they are accredited investors d) Obtain feedback

The lesson in all of this: Think digital, act analog. Guy Kawasaki uses this phrase in Rules for Revolutionaries when he encourages internet companies to use technology to enhance, not supplant personal relationships with their customers.

I think yesterday's experiment is proof that Kawasaki is right, and that the root of good business is still in one-on-one relationships."