Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sales is about People, not Presentations

Your slide deck may be the best in the world.  Your pitch smooth as butter.  Your suit as fine as none other.  Yet, you continue to lose the sale to Alex, who uses no slides at all.  You better wise up and realize that sales is about people, not presentations.

Alex understands what sales is... and here is what he knows.

  1. If you can't engage with the prospect, and get them talking, they will never remember a thing you say.
  2. If you don't understand the needs of the prospect, both functionally in the business and personally, you will never be able to "show him the solution".
  3. No matter how much you love your solution and think its the best, there are always alternatives and selling is showing that your option is the one that best solves the prospect's need.
Where are your slides Alex?  I have some, but I'd rather send them to you after our meeting.
Why is that, that is odd?  Yes, I hear that, but I would rather spend the time learning about your problems than looking at my pictures...  if there is a fit, we'll find it together and I'll give you materials you need to sell internally.

Sales is about people.  Them not you.  Please, please, sales-people, stop with the slides already.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Holidays Unmotivates Us

The holidays are a time for family, fun, rest, relaxation, party, presents, remembrance, and faith.  What the holidays are not are a time of work.  We feel deserving of a break.  Even if we have to be "on the clock" we don't give much effort, and certainly can barely focus.  Why then do we force ourselves and our employees to punch in during these two weeks?  They aren't going to do their best work, and probably don't even want to be there.  My advice?  Go home.  Be with your family.  Come back in January recharged for success.

If only I could listen to myself...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Social Brand Evangelism

In Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter, there are a subset of people that are extremely vocal in their support of a brand, product, or company.  For some reason, this group of people (call them Social Brand Evangelists), find some pleasure in touting their love of a product (iPhones, iPads, graphics cards, TVs, XBOX, t-shirts, or whatever).  Here is the dirty secret...  I think most of these Social Brand Evangelists are "on the payroll" or "in it for something else".  The loudest proponents and evangelists are employees and especially marketing employees... they constantly blab about themselves, share links about their companies, and the like.  The second set are doing it for 1 reason: to try to win something...  a contest or a sweepstakes system (such as Karmaback's own system) prompted them to share to enter to win (this is not a bad thing).

But magic hour happens, in my mind, in the truly informal.  The Social Brand Evangelist who does NOT squawk off constantly about a brand, but who makes a subtle recommendation to a friend JUST at the right time!

How can you make your customers so delighted, that when no-one is looking (not contest, no sweepstakes, no employees)... they make the recommendation to a friend because they think it's the right recommendation?

If you can do that... you've won.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Measuring is different than Succeeding

Many marketing executives believe in measuring effectiveness.  From Google Analytics to Conversion Tracking to "Share of Voice", the importance of measurements is growing rapidly.  In order to succeed though, we marketers have to actually do something with the data.  Make more rational decisions.  Invest more deeply in the  things that work.  Why would any rational person want to invest in something they know doesn't work?  And without measurement, why would any rational person invest in something they don't know if it works or not?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why Social Marketing Works, and Sometimes Doesn't...

Did you ever wonder how Papa Johns Pizza got to 1.5MM Fans on Facebook?  Do you wonder if they make money on Facebook?  Why does Ford run TV commercials pushing people to their Fanpage?  Are companies making money with Twitter?  The short answer is: Social Marketing pays... usually.

Papa Johns:
  They are incredibly consistent on their Facebook and Twitter Pages.  1 Contest or Sweepstakes a week.  At least 1 coupon per week... and all involving their fans.  As a consumer, it PAYS to follow Papa Johns (discounts/contests/more).  This eMarketer.com study shows that 65% of daily followers want Deals and Sales! Papa Johns is capitalizing with REGULAR deals and sales... and it is working.

  Are 440,000 people following Ford on Facebook to get a deal?  Probably not, a cursory glance shows that most engagements on Ford's Facebook page are questions or comments for Ford.  Would Ford's fans enter a contest to win a Car... probably yes.  But Ford doesn't run such contests very often. If they did, they'd have a lot more fans.... but would they sell more cars?  Maybe.  But the direct line of sales success from couponing is not there for Ford like it is for Papa Johns.  So, is Ford making money on social?  Nobody knows... probably not even Ford!

I think companies need to wise up and realize that a small consumer purchase on Facebook (like Pizza) works only because it is measurable by coupons.   Cars, B2B, and other big purchases need to figure out a way to see if Social is worthwhile very fast!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The "Tree of Business"

To so many people, business is confusing.  It's hard to understand, and we fear the unknown.  To the most "daring" among us, we embark on starting and running our own companies (I'm on Startup #2).  When people begin to think about starting this insane ride that is "self-employed"... it may be helpful to think of business as a tree.

First, the most important question:
What kind of business do you want to build?
1. A Tree that grows large and bears regular fruit.  (a for-profit business, but limited in size)
2. A Tree that stays small, and has just enough fruit to feed yourself & family.  (a for-profit business, often called a lifestyle business).
3. A Tree that sprouts many other trees and grows into an orchard or a forest (a huge corporation that someday may IPO - Initial Public Offering).
4. A Tree that gives any excess fruit away to charity (a non-profit)
5. A Tree that you plan to grow quickly, by feeding the tree its own fruit, and then someday sell the tree to someone that is building and orchard or wants to keep the fruit for themself.  (a for-profit business, designed for acquisition).

Knowing what you want out of your business can be extremely helpful in deciding A.) What to do.  and B.) When to feel successful. and C.) How to get your starting soil (investment).

Enjoy your fruit!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Decision Making Angst: Why being "undecided" is painful and what to do about it.

"So, clearly Karmaback has speed, responsiveness, and price going for them," Carol says, "but Wildfire looks to have more clients."  "So, Adam, which Sweepstakes company are we going to go with?  Karmaback or Wildfire?".  Carol looked on, red eyes staring, heart pounding faster than it should, and clearly stressed.

Adam looked back wide-eyed and confused.  "Carol, we've just started looking at options, we have weeks yet before we need to decide." Adam is confused because he asked Carol to find a good Sweepstakes company only yesterday.  Where is all this angst coming from?  What is the rush?  The deadline is months away.

A few days later, Adam has learned more about Wildfireapp and Karmaback and now his eyes are red, palms too sweaty.  "They both have positive aspects," he says, "lets just pick one and be done with it.".


This is classic cognitive dissonance causing an irrational behavior.  Is "just pick one" really a good way to make an important business decision?  After you've picked one, the next thing is rationalization and confirmation bias and a whole bunch of other "post-decision" justifications.  Why? The angst is over, now you have to justify that you are a rational person... even though you just weren't.

When faced with tough decisions social experts believe that cognitive dissonance causes humans that hold different conflicting possibilities in their heads get added stress and discomfort while the two are debated.  This leads to a "rush" to find an answer in order to "reduce dissonance" and the discomfort of indecision.

There is only one way I know of to confront and defeat the cognitive dissonance of decisions... creating decision criteria.  No, the cognitive dissonance is not "gone", we humans still feel it... it still presses on us.  However, as business people, we have to at least TRY to make rational decisions.  It's why we are leaders, managers, and in the game in the first place.

So, to defeat the angst of decision making, you can only make as rational a decision as possible with criteria that make sense.

Here are the steps that work for me:
1.) ignore all data collected so far.  Just forget it.  save it for later in the process.
2.) imagine you have no data, and create a "table" or list of information you would LIKE to have about all the choices prior to making a decision.
3.) select which data are "go/no-go"/ must-have items. and circle them.
4.) collect data, get samples, find as many options as you can... and fill out the table.
5.) eliminate all choices that are "no-go".
6.) evaluate the remaining choices FAVORING the ones that you have more data for.... (better to know than to guess).  *THIS STEP IS CRUCIAL.  If you are having trouble collecting data for an option, in my experience, its not a very good option.
7.) pick the best choice based on the data you collected and the criteria... in the event of a tie, pick the one that contacted you/you got data for first.  (Speed matters).


Decision made.

Dissonance over.

And you made a rational decision in the face of stress.

Nice job Adam and Carol, you rock.

You must have picked Karmaback :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Custom made chairs, feel better on your bum.

Ever bought something "custom made"?  Measurements, colors, shapes, style, fit, finish, and polish... all to your bum's liking?  If you had to wait 3-months for that chair, dang... you may never try it.  Imagine if you could get custom-made stuff in about the same time as a normal chair... a few days or minutes... at the same price.    WHO WOULD BUY A NORMAL CHAIR?  (especially if the price were the same?)?

No, I don't sell chairs (Sorry).  Karmaback, though, is now offering custom made "Social Applications" with the speed of a custom chair (days not months).... at the same price as others charge for "normal white label apps" (e.g. non-custom).  Want us to build YOUR custom Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Web, iPhone, or iPad app (or any combination there-of)?    Shoot us an email: support@karmaback.com  and we'll reply with a Bid and an ETA within 24-hours.  (or call us for an instant bid: 1 (888) 406-5033 )

There are 2 key elements here that make this offer special (and so far REALLY successful):
1.) Time.  We make bids in 24-hours or less.  We build almost anything in just a few days (add a few more days for iPhone/iPad :) ).
2.) Price.  We do this at prices other folks charge for their standard cookie-cutter solutions.

So, if you have a business, and want to figure out how to increase sales: consider:
Try CUSTOM.  It works if you can deliver in SPEEDY times and at FAIR prices.

Who wouldn't want a comfortable butt?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Karmaback goes Free to Try!

Karmaback has now gone "Free to Try" for all of our powerful tools and services.

Why? Because we listen.  Our customers have told us that they LOVE using Karmaback for Sweepstakes, Coupons, or Feedback Applications, but would LIKE to try before they buy.  It's a simple request.  We know you'll like the results that Karmaback delivers so much, you'll come back again and use us at our very affordable pricing.

So, don't delay, try Karmaback Free today!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Your idea sucks... analytically speaking.

Does your idea suck or rock?  If you want to try something more than "my friends like my idea", "my teacher likes my idea", or "I know I would buy it"... consider an analytical approach to opportunity analysis.  Why not say, this idea is a 25.  Then you can compare that to what you are doing now (probably a 12).   Or compare it to another idea (wow, a 38!)...  If you ever wanted to know if your idea is good, from an analytical perspective... read on.

There are 2 Acronyms that Harvard MBAs (and UT MBAs) learn: POCD and SWAT.  They both boil down to "Pro and Con" type thinking... but they both also add something useful.

POCD = People, Opportunity, Context, and Deal.  
P - Are the people likely to be able to succeed (the right people)
O - Is the opportunity big... (how big is it)... (how much money might be made?)
C - What is happening in context of the world at large that is or MIGHT effect this opportunity?
D - How much money will it take to get to success, and what are the terms and risks?

I often use POCD to look at 2 different opportunities, I use a 1-10 scale to compare them... here is an example:
P - 9 (my team rocks)
O - 7 (its tough to make money in social right now)
C - 10 (Social is heating up and people are looking for our solution: how to make money with Social Marketing)
D - 8 (not a lot of funds needed)

--- vs. ---
Making my own social game (something I'd like to do someday)
P - 5 (I have no artistic talents)
O - 4 (hard to make money with just 1 game)
C - 7 (social games are hot)
D - 7 (not a lot of money needed to make a social game)
SCORE: 23 (better than I thought it would be)

SWOT is very similar, and does add a valuable concept (that POCD doesn't directly address)
SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

I don't directly use SWOT, but I do like the thought of "threats" as part of the "Context" in the POCD framework.

So, the next time you are asked, is this a good idea?

Give them a POCD score.  It's fun.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Painful/Scratchy Toilet Paper, Reduces Consumption.

I'm not trying to be vulgar, but consider: would you use MORE or LESS Toilet paper when it is painful/scratchy cheap kind vs. the nice soft good stuff?  Business owners, consider this a lesson: don't make it painful/scratchy/awkward!  If your sales-people/staff are not friendly, then its painful (less consumption).  If your product is ugly, unwieldy, or difficult, then it is painful (less consumption). If your food makes people sick, or your bathrooms are not clean: painful, less consumption.  And for goodness sakes, buy the soft TP!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Socratic Method in the Modern Age

What has changed since Socrates first developed the method of debate known as "The Socratic Method"?  Are we more or less patient as a society?  Are we more or less narcissistic?  Do we even talk face to face with each other at length?  Are people more or less willing to engage in debate?  Much has changed in 2,400 years, but the Socratic Method can still be an incredibly useful tool in business and in life.

Benjamin Franklin (my hero) first turned me on to the Socratic Method of debate, finding great joy in frustrating his friends with continually asking questions to almost any debate posed.  However, even in Ben Franklin's times, I believe people were more patient, less narcissistic, and engaged in Face-to-face debate far more often.

Here is Harlan's revised Socratic Method for 2010, based on real world examples:

  1. Find something worth debating.  -   This can be the hardest step.  Time is so precious in our narcissistic fast-paced society, and not everything should be debated.
  2. Find someone worth debating   -   If the participant is not willing to explore the topic in an open debate forum, and relegate the results to logics fine conclusion, then you are wasting your time.  NOTE: They do not have to be willing to engage in Socratic Method.  Only that they are open to debate and change.
  3. Set aside a preset time period (at least 30-minutes).   -   Unlike the days of Socrates, we cannot simply cavort on one topic for an entire day.  Our MTV minds are simply not accustomed to such concentration.  A preset time period is not so that you can stop when the time is up... it is a minimum for how long you should explore.  The temptation is to concede the point after the first hole in logic.  This would be a gross error on both parties, regardless of which side you are arguing.
  4. Begin with a statement  -  just like normal Socratic method, we must choose sides... pick a side and explore with questions... its that easy!
  5. Ask any question but "Why"  -  Why questions are an example of opinion questions.  In the Socratic method we must explore facts, logic, and assumptions (and foundations of all these in society, prejudice, culture, etc.).  Avoid Why type questions whenever possible.  It is OKAY if you are the only one asking questions.  If you are the only one asking questions, you must ask on behalf of BOTH SIDES of the debate.
  6. End with 2 statements  -   no-one likes to feel as though time was wasted.  When the time is up (or when you both agree to stop), both parties should make a summary statement to capture how far (or how close) both parties have come along the path to enlightenment and truth.

Here are some real-world examples I've recently engaged in:
  1. Sales Call.  I often have sales calls and sales meetings.. and based on one of my favorite sales books, I try hard to use questions to help sell.  The hardest part was "opening with a statement", and then being willing to be "moved from my own position".  Here is what worked:
    • Statement: "You need Karmaback to help your company grow."
    • Sample Questions: "Does your company want to grow?", "Do you know what Karmaback is?" "Do you believe Karmaback can do what it says?", etc.
    • Closing Statements:  "COMPANYX needs to grow, and Karmaback can help."  vs.  "COMPANYX needs to grow, and has bigger problems than what Karmaback can solve"
    • My openness...  In order for this debate to work, I (as the salesman) had to be open to change... I had to be open to the fact that maybe MY STATEMENT was false.
  2. Family Dispute. My kids are great test subjects.  They are active, willing, and can easily handle 30-minutes.... not.  (10-minutes was the best I could do.  More would have been better)

    • Statement: "You need to learn to throw the football like a pro."
    • Sample Questions: "Do you like football?" "Do you know what football is?" "Do you know what a pro is?" "Can one learn to throw a football?"  "Can one learn to throw like a pro?"  "Which pro?"  "What is a need?" 
    • Closing Statements:  "I want you to learn to throw a football so I can play with you and get some exercise."  vs.  "Papa wants me to learn to throw a football"
    • Kids: Sometimes, it's good enough to get to the "intention" of the idea... 

In almost every case I've used the Socratic method, it has been helpful.. it usually changes "me" more than "them".  And this is not a bad thing!  

The other magical thing.  Asking, and being open to being wrong, often wins business!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why companies MUST dedicate themselves to design... or die.

We live today in a renaissance of design.  There is no Scarcity of information.  There is no Scarcity of bandwidth.  There is no Scarcity of choices.  The most Scarce resource for the modern company is design.   Design requires 2 very disparate groups to be completely aligned: engineers and creatives.  Products, Services, Brands, and Everything in between now compete using the last scarce resource: design.  Here are some examples:
  • Would you buy an "ugly looking" candy bar?
  • Would you shop at a grocery store with an "ugly" sign?
  • Are you going to spend money at a website that is "hard to use"?
  • Do you enjoy "waiting in line"?
  • Does processing power matter more or less than operating system?
  • Are you likely to "keep using" a complex application when a simpler one exists for the same price?
My story of how I became "an Apple guy":

I used to be a MAC hater.  I loved my PC because it could play games (and I love games).  I hated MAC because it was popular, it couldn't play the "best" games, and because I had to "pay" for all of my software.    iPhone changed all of that!  First, it has games (so I had to get one).  Second, the games are cheap (Free - $0.99)... and they are good.  But what really "got me" with iPhone was its incredible user interface design.  I "FINALLY GET" why people love their Apple Computers (Mac, iPhone, Powerbook, or what have you).  It is exactly because Apple does not rely on "the mouse and keyboard" for its UI, that it's UI works.

I recently bough my first Macbook Pro. ... and I'm starting to "get it".  Apple has infused in its UI guidelines and very strict application approval process, the notion that "design matters".  In many cases design matters most.  Interestingly, some of the elements of Apple design should be considered for ANY platform:
1.) Clutter: There shouldn't be any.
2.) Organization: There should be good.
3.) Automatic Mode: Should always be on.
4.) Configuration Options: Should usually be hidden.
5.) Function: Should be intuitive and should have as few as possible.

Companies will soon realize that if they don't compete on design, they will consistently lose.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Giving back. Karma->back: Karmaback now turns points into charity donations!

In Eastern Philosophy, Karma is that earned thing which leads to something you deserve (good or bad).  Karma comes full circle when it is shared... it gets amplified back upon itself.  It is this "circle of Karma" which my company Karmaback, Inc. now offers to both businesses and end users.  We have just announced our "Donate points to charity" program.  This program allows users to donate their points to charity, which Karmaback turns into cash donations to that charity.  The circle starts with businesses who use Karmaback services.  Users interact with those companies, and EARN points (Karma).  Then those points can be spent on "stuff", including Charity, completing a circle of Karma!

To learn more about Karmaback Points for Charity and how to turn your online activity into cash donations or to become a participating charity, please visit karmaback.com/charity.

Non-profits participating in the Karmaback Points for Charity program include:
  • The Bob Woodruff Foundation: The vision of the Bob Woodruff Foundation is to provide resources and support to injured service members, veterans and their families -- building a movement to empower communities nationwide to take action to successfully reintegrate our nation's injured heroes-especially those who have sustained the Hidden Injuries of War-back into their communities so they may thrive physically, psychologically, socially and economically.
  • Learn To Be Foundation: Learn To Be was organized on the principle of using the World Wide Web as a medium for people of all ages to grasp their educational potential. The Foundation fosters free online tutoring services that are driven by a community of users dedicated to teaching and mentoring those in need.
  • Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society: The mission of the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society is to improve the lives of equines by educating and helping owners, assisting law enforcement agencies, rehabilitating abused and neglected equines, and placing them into safe, permanent homes.
Got a business?  Check out our Social Platform to learn how you can get MORE FANS/FOLLOWERS, MORE VIRAL SHARING, and MORE SALES for your business... by giving Karmaback points, running Karmaback Sweepstakes, and Karmaback Coupons and Feedback.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Research: Fans are worth over $130.00 EACH.. and they want to BUY your stuff!

We've dug up some research on how much having a Facebook Fan/Twitter Follower is worth: it is well over $3.60/yr, more like $130.00!  In addition, what do fans want?  The #1 thing is "Receive discounts and promotions"!  Now, what better argument to use Karmaback "Social Sweepstakes" to get fans, and then give them special offers with Karmaback "Social Coupons"?  It works folks!

According to Mediapost.com:

"A new study by ExactTarget and CoTweet finds that ... the number one driver for consumers to "like" a brand on Facebook... [are it's] discounts and promotions. [40%+]"
"In addition, getting free samples or coupons, and updates on upcoming sales, tie into the discount/promotion motivation. "
Motivation to "Like" Company or Brand on Facebook
Facebook Motivations % of Respondents
Receive discounts and promotions
Show support for the company
Get a "freebie"
Stay informed about company
Get updates about products
Get updates on upcoming sales
Fun and entertainment
Access to exclusive content
Learn about company
Source: ExactTarget, August 2010

    "Additionally, ...  the average value a Facebook fan provides a brand is $136.38, but it can swing to $270.77 in the best case."

    Thanks to Precision Marketect (Barry) for sharing the research!

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Karmaback Pricing... and new services!

    A lot of our customers really liked the fact that Karmaback was "Unique" in that we only charge when we successfully grow new Fans or Followers for our partner companies' Facebook and Twitter pages.  Well, great news! We have brought back the "purely variable" pricing again, and now have a "Cap" on fees so you know your maximum possible fee up front!  Just $0.25/New Fan we bring you with a max fee of $99/month.  Check it out: http://karmaback.com/platform/pricing/

    While you are there, check out our new "Customization" and "Software Engineering Services" offerings... we'd love to build customized Website/Social Applications for you!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Extroverts, plan your Introvert time. Introverts, plan your Extrovert time.

    Seth Godin (and many other business authors) agree, growth comes from "stretching" your discomfort.  DO the uncomfortable and you will grow.  Don't want to grow?  Stop reading blogs for goodness sakes!  Want to grow, here are some tips for HOW to Stretch and Exercise your "discomfort zone".  (Extroverts and Introverts both)

    Extroverts (like myself) prefer to think "outside their head".  We like to draw on white-boards, engage in debate, and generally "talk & interact" with people.  The problem is this: if all you do is extroversion, you miss out on deep thinking, attention to detail, and most of all quiet focus.  For an extrovert, it is "uncomfortable" to have quiet, work alone, or focus on details.

    Planning your introversion and "forcing yourself" to spend time alone, focusing on details, is the best way to stretch that uncomfortable muscle.  It will grow from there (or at least you will minimize the effects of lacking introversion).

    • Each day, plan out 2 x 1-hour blocks where you will DO something introverted.  
    • (fix bugs, add comments to code, handle accounting, submit expense reports, research competition, develop formalized strategy/documentation)... 
    • most important do it ALONE, and make sure you force yourself to do it for the whole 1-hour block.
    • Because you set an "end-time" for the discomfort to end, you will find it less dis-comfortable to do it (just for 1 hour).
    • I find the best time for me to do it is 1st thing in the morning, and then again right before I leave work.

    Introverts (like my wife) prefer to think "inside their head".  They prefer to work alone, to think deeply on problems, and to focus on details.  In many cases, they fear (and are VERY uncomfortable) engaging "with people".

    Planning your extroversion is even more important!  Unlike extroverts, you have to make plans that involve other people.  Here are the tips:
    • Each day, plan out 2 x 1-hour blocks where you will DO something extroverted (WITH others).  
    • (brainstorming session, lunch hour, happy hour, coffee, phone call)... 
    • most important do it WITH someone.. preferably NOT someone you know really well.
    • Because you set an "end-time" for the discomfort to end, you will find it less dis-comfortable to do it (just for 1 hour).
    • Lunch hour and happy hour are the best times.
    • THE ADAGE: NEVER EAT LUNCH ALONE comes to mind... that can be one of your hours!
      • just invite people you are connected with on LinkedIn or Facebook to lunch... be sure to say "dutch, just to catch up".
    • GO to those events you hate (the happy hours, etc.)... but just spend 1-hour there... for the whole hour set yourself a goal:
      • talk to x people
      • pass out x business cards
      • whatever
    • Then.... next time, try to improve on the target #!
      • You may find it turns into quite a "game".. or you may continue to hate it... but at least...
    • You are out there!

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Don't take pictures without people in them.

    Ever been on a trip with someone camera happy?  Snap.  Snap. Snap.  What are they taking pictures of?  That hill, that mountain, that building, that car, that whatever?  Why?  Will they ever look at those again?  Will you?  Now, contrast that with anytime a friend showed you a picture of ... you.  Heck, even a picture of them.  Were you interested?  If it was you, I can almost guarantee you wanted to see it, and maybe even wanted a copy.  So, that leads to the following axiom: People prefer photographs (pictures) with people they know in them.  What can this mean for business?

    In business, if you include the customer in the picture, they are about 5x more likely to want to see it.

    The picture might be "the sales pitch".

    The picture might be "the social network".

    The picture might just be "a game".

    But whatever it is, be sure to include the people in it.

    My friend David Walker says this a different way... he says wait and be patient for the "experiential quality" to reach its peak.  I'd add that that peak, usually comes with other people involved.

    At Karmaback, we are working on more and more ways to include the people "in it"... and to make sure people are rewarded for staying around!  The experiential quality should be high.. and there should be "people in it".

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Learn when to call...

    If you are like me, you hate sales calls: doing them, almost as much as getting them.  If you have a small business, you probably get them and do them a lot.  The trick to making (and receiving) sales calls, is doing them when they will be best received... here is a few tips.

    1. Never call after 4pm, or before 8:30am... period.  
    2. Try calling no more than 2x per day.
    3. Call first in the morning, leave a message saying when you'll call back later that day, and do it.  
      • (10am and then later at 2pm are good times).
    4. After 2 or 3 days of call attempts, email to ask to set up an appointment.  (email the admin if you can), then switch to once per week.
    5. Figure out their "slow day"... here is a hint, its probably NOT Monday.  
      • Often it is Friday at 10am or 2pm.
    6. Don't call on the weekend, or at lunch.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Karmaback, my Seth Godin inspired company.

    Sometimes, we forget where inspiration comes from.  I am a Seth Godin fan.  If you don't believe me, read my blog... check out the movie I made... or consider my company: Karmaback.  Yes, almost everything about Karmaback is inspired by Seth Godin's principles.  Permission Marketing is really the core of Karmaback.  We're trying to match up companies that care about their customers with customers who appreciate permission marketing.  We want to leverage peoples social networks, WITH their permission, and help companies create great end user stories.  And the really exciting part: Karmaback is working GREAT for a bunch of really happy companies.

    Here are a few "Seth" principles we live by:
    Permission Marketing? (Very much so... we give points for permission!)
    Purple Cow? (We think so, although our colors are green, we are unique in several key ways)
    Linchpin Commitment to Service? (our customers think so, and I work dang hard to keep it).
    Meatball Sundae?  (We're different and we're getting our word out "the right way".)
    Giving? (Yes, we frequently go above and beyond for our customers.  Plus, we have some amazing free programs, and frequently give our services to others at little to no cost).

    Also, At last night's Austin Seth Godin Linchpin meetup, I met Pace from FreakRevolution.com.  Pace is building a company to try to "change the world".  She's got a Linchpin factory that turns people with world-changing ideas into world-chagers.   It was speaking with Pace that got me re-jazzed about permission marketing.

    Stay tuned for some "little tweaks" to Karmaback to get us back in line with Seth Godin's principles.  We want to be the BEST place for Permission based Marketing on the Planet.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Austin is a Linchpin City

    Announcing the introduction of a new short-film called: Austin is a Linchpin City.  A small group of very loyal and passionate Seth Godin Blog readers started a Meetup.com group back in June 2010.  We shared a vision.  We wanted  to "ship" something valuable and interesting for our city.  We all believed in the tenants shared in Seth Godin's book Linchpin: Are you Indispensable. From that we wanted to do something cool and fun to tell the world, YES, we are, and so is our great city, Austin, Texas.  So here it is, just 2 months later: http://vimeo.com/13843742.

    Special thanks to Ryan Jeanes of http://www.theriverislife.com/ and David Crews of www.CrewsCreative.com.  These guys are both Linchpins and were essential in the creation of this film.

    Also special thanks to the entire Linchpin Group, Mark Katz of Katz Deli, Roppolo's Austin, and all the others who made this film possible.

    So, what makes Austin a Linchpin city?  Without a doubt, it's the people who live here.

    If you live in Austin, and want to check out our Linchpin Group, join us!  We meet monthly, and help each other "SHIP STUFF":  http://austinlinchpins.com

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Getting Stuff. Loot.

    Loot is the stuff you get for doing the stuff you like.  In video games, it's usually a "just slightly better" piece of armor, or "a little bit of coin".  Hundreds of Millions (if not Billions) of people aged 4-40 (and above) play games with loot.  My company, Karmaback, has loot too... and a new kind of game altogether.  Marketing to a new generation of thinkers.  People who "get it".  Gamers.

    Karmaback is a game in one sense only: you can EARN loot.  That's me sporting some of the REAL WORLD loot you can get.. yah, it's just a t-shirt... but it's more than that.   Its a symbol of TRUTH, that you can "do stuff on karmaback" and get "real loot".

    So, learn about Karmaback, how we reward END USERS with points... points they can turn in for real loot. And learn how Karmaback's loot can help YOUR BUSINESS grow!   


    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    A Focus on Small Business

    Small Businesses, whether they be a burgeoning startup or a solid "mom & pop" or something else entirely, have needs.  They need sales.  They need cost efficient Marketing techniques.  They need to reach "the right people" at "the right time".  They need passionate fans to help evangelize their greatness.  We at Karmaback have interviewed dozens of small business owners around the country.  Now, we are proud to announce, Karmaback is dedicated to helping companies (of all sizes, especially small) to address these needs directly... with results.

    Sales: The Goal.  This is the ultimate need of any company, and for small businesses, it is usually the #1 topic on their mind.  How am I going to make rent, lease, payroll... How can I keep my dream alive?

    Karmaback's answer: We believe you should be delighting the people who love you.  Give them special deals and special offers.  Let us help you make those offers viral, so friends of your fans can see the generosity and the love.  Karmaback Social Coupons are live now, and they are going to get even better soon: http://karmaback.com/sweepstakes/social_coupons/

    Efficient Marketing: This means reaching "the right people" at "the right time", with the "right message".

    We can't help you with your message, but we are dedicated to helping small businesses reach the right people at the right time.  Social Coupons do this... Social Sweepstakes do it better.  http://karmaback.com/sweepstakes

    Passionate Fans!

    We can help almost any company find them, reward them, motivate them, and leverage them.

    This is what we do!

    Let us help you!

    We'll only charge you if we are successful... and it will be 100% more efficient than any other advertising or marketing method you've used before.

    If you are a big company, we'll help you too... especially if you treat your customers with respect, love, and almost act as though you are a small company, even though you are big.

    Friday, July 30, 2010

    Innovation at the Speed of Customers vs. Technical Debt.

    Last night, a Karmaback customer asked for the impossible.  Around 6pm EST, I got a message asking how our new Social Coupons can support % rather than just $ discounts... he wanted it right then.  He said simply "how do I do this?".  Well, one answer would be "you can't".  Karmaback's answer, though was, "hold on a second...  let me build it."  That's speed of customer.  Less than 15 minutes later, you could.

    How did we do it?  Do we have an army of programmers?  Is it such a trivial thing?  No, and No.  We do it because we have almost zero "Technical Debt."  So adding a feature, by just 1 programmer, can take 15 minutes.  Even when that feature touches 7 different files, including templates and web-pages.

    Consider, every time you "don't comment" or you "hack it together", you incur Technical Debt, or stuff you will have to do later... cleanup.  We all know cleanup almost never gets done, so the debt piles up.  Some companies have literally man-years worth of technical debt.  Their entire software has been "kludged" together.

    Now consider when  you do it right.  You take the time to "architect, plan, comment, code, test".  You have no technical debt, and you can Innovate at the Speed of Customers!

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Why Karmaback was founded.

    "What? You mean we're spending HOW MUCH on advertising?" I asked, dumbfounded at the amount of money we were spending related to the number of units we were selling.  I had just built a new metric for my startup, Bigfoot Networks, called "Marketing Spend/Unit"... or what I thought of as 'customer acquisition cost'.

    This scene, and more like it, serve to why Karmaback was founded... where we came from and our main goal.  But first, welcome to the Official Karmaback Blog!  This Blog is an extension to my Blog on Business and is "feedburned" into Karmaback just for you.  Now, on with the story.

    "So, we spend $x with Google to get a site visitor, then y% just leave or BOUNCE on the first visit... and so on and so on till we get to what, a conversion?" I asked dumbfounded.  This was my first stint as CEO.  Prior to this I had been in Engineering, Architecture, or Sales... and now Marketing was my #1 expense!

    "Okay, so how do we measure when this 1 special Google ads site visitor actually buys one of our products?" I asked, hoping for the best.  I got the worst.

    "So, we don't have any way to know if that customer who we say 'converted' because he clicked on a reseller link, actually bought or not... so, we have NO idea to know if all these Dollars we're spending is worth a dime, right?"

    This frustration led me on a 3 year chase at Bigfoot Networks to shore up this hole.  I wanted Marketing to justify itself.  I wanted to be able to say $X in marketing spend will yield $Y in sales.  What I wanted, was unheard of.

    Years later, I had an idea.  I thought it likely that thousands of companies have this similar problem.  I thought it possible to solve with technology, and so Karmaback was founded.

    Our main goal, if you didn't know by now, was to create a system... a fun system... to somehow connect "interest" to "the sale"... in short, to Justify the existence of Marketing.  After looking at the landscape, and building our first product (the like-it-flow), we discovered that MANY companies do have this problem... especially with Social Network Marketing.

    Now, 1 year after Karmaback's founding, we are on the threshold of Success.  Using Karmaback a company can:

    1. Grow fans and followers at a low variable cost of $0.25/new relevant fan.
    2. Measure those fans and followers interactions as they "evangelize" and "follow" the company.
    3. Convert those fans and followers into REAL and Measurable sales.
    All without the constraints of Time, Space, or Real-estate.

    With Karmaback, a company really can justify Marketing.

    Call us to find out how.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Karmaback converts FANS into DOLLARS at $0.10 per "social coupon"

    Karmaback launches Social Coupons aimed at helping companies convert & reward real sales from Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter.  http://www.sunherald.com/2010/07/27/2359874/karmaback-inc-launches-social.html

    This builds on our previous product, Social Sweepstakes, which brings companies tons of fans and followers.

    Now, companies can BRING fans and followers and then leverage that attention into REAL sales.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Choosing to make a difference with charity over profit.

    If you know you could make a difference, would you?  I mean really?  My company, Karmaback, has a chance to leverage some of our profits to help a ton of very worthy charities... all we have to do is... well, do it.  Yes, it will cost us some profits.  The profits we lose are probably 10x in value because of leveraging effects.  So, I ask, if you could make a difference, one where it has a "multiply" effect, would you take it at the expense of some profits?  I would.  Here's why you should, and how you can!

    You should take it, because you are doing MORE than just "linear" help.  You are doing non-linear, multiplicative help when a business gets involved supporting a charity.  Your employees participate, your partners participate, and your customers participate too.  For Karmaback, all 3 will be true when we launch our upcoming new program! (more details to come in the future).  So, just find a charity or 2 that you believe in, and do it.  The KARMA you get back will nonlinear as well.

    And how can you do this?  How can you participate in charity in a "non-linear" fashion?  Simple, get your business involved.  Don't have a business, easy, get your community involved.  Don't have a community?  No problem, get your family involved.  Don't have a family, for goodness sakes, join a community!  After all, we humans need each other!

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    When plans go awry.

    In the startup world, plans often go awry.  A well-thought out plan can almost never foresee all contingencies.  Interestingly, many entrepreneurs are so overconfident that they even forgot the obvious contingencies.  Nevertheless, when something doesn't go as planned, a decision usually has to be made.  The decision is sometimes as simple as "fight or flight", and sometimes as complex as "steal or die".  From my life, a real-world example is what to do when you build it, they come, but they don't buy?

    My startup Karmaback has had some HUGE success.  We've launched amazing innovative products, collected thousands of fans and followers, and are actually pretty good at bringing qualified customers (companies) to our website.  The problem?  How to get those qualified customers to pull the trigger and start running Karmaback Social Sweepstakes or Social Coupons for their fans and followers.

    Classic marketing theory would say, lower the barriers to participation.  For example, we don't offer a "Free Trial".  The problem with this is it goes against my principles.  I don't believe that it is fair for a company to reap the benefits of our thousands of fans AND our viral features AND our platform AND our legal, etc. without paying.  Fairness is a core value, a principle, of mine.  So, what do I do?

    Well, when plans go awry, here is what I suggest you always do: stick to your principles.  I believe in fairness, and free is definitely not fair.  But "pure variable" micro-transactions are fair.

    So, for now, we're going to begin to offer "pure variable" priced products & services, beginning with Social Sweepstakes and Social Coupons.  Pay only for success.  That's fair, and that's a decision.

    Meanwhile, I am looking to bring more "free" stuff to Karmaback for companies.   Stay tuned for parts of THIS blog to show up on Karmaback and for white papers, tutorials, and more to be offered for free.  Why?  Because knowledge should be free... or so say my principles.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Giving with No Expectation of Return.

    How many books have you read that describe "tit for tat"?  Classic and neo- negotiation tactics books all describe tit-for-tat as a way to give and expect something back.  According to Seth Godin in Linchpin, this time-honored tradition is simple barter, not gift giving.  Giving a gift has an entirely different meaning according to Seth, and I find myself really enjoying its simple charm and Karma.

    For Seth and I, a gift can be anything...  not just something that cost you money, not just something that is physical, and you can even charge money for it.  How?  A Gift is anything whose value far surpasses its price.  People who put their soul, their art, their passion, into their product or service, and for no expectation of "extra/tip/reward" are giving a gift.

    In my own life this has lead to 2 things I realized recently: 1.) I should not feel bad about going above and beyond for my customers... it's okay... it's a gift, and I give it freely because I love what I do and I take pride in hard work and others success.  2.) I find myself "leaning forward" into the concept of charity a bit more.  Charity under my own terms, with my own gifts, of course.  Helping others start and manage their business.  Helping grow my beloved town of Austin.  and more... (stay tuned Karmaback fans!).

    So, consider... is there something "more" you can "lean forward" into at your own work?  MORE you can do in your own job or art or life that is NOT REQUIRED, but that will likely delight?  Try it.  Give it.  Lean forward.  You'll soon find that you are a Linchpin.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Entrepreneurship: Does early revenue matter?

    I define early revenue is the money your business makes before or shortly after a first serious investment.  In  the old days, many companies started up and raised money with no plans for early revenue.  These were R&D type business where the R or the D was going to take several years AFTER the investment.  In the information age, and post-bubble(s), I sense something has changed.  Investors seem less likely to invest in businesses without Early Revenue.  Do you agree?

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    "Leaning Forward": An attitude of Emotional Energy in the workplace.

    Seth Godin is inspiring.  His latest book: "Linchpin" is not only a best-seller, but also an amazingly motivating and rewarding read.  It should be read in conjunction with Timothy Ferriss' "4-hour Work Week".  The book Linchpin is the "how" and 4-hour Work Week is the "why".. together they can reshape America.  One of the smaller chapters in Linchpins is sticking with me.  It's the idea of "posture".  People who "Lean Forward" as opposed to "stand by". Are you spending enough Emotional Energy on the job?  Read on.

    People who "stand by" are ready to help, but not offering.

    People who "stand by" may be skilled and talented, but do only what is needed.

    People who "stand by" spend as little effort as is needed to do the job.

    People who "stand by" aren't willing to spend Emotional Energy without getting paid for it.

    In contrast:

    People who "Lean Forward" are looking actively for how to help.

    People who "Lean Forward" want to take ownership.

    People who "Lean Forward" spend extra effort to make sure its done right.

    People who "Lean Forward" spend Emotional Energy, and put more into their job, usually for no "visible" reward.

    The question is this: can America afford to "stand by"?  Or should we be "leaning forward"?  Realize this, you can outsource a job... but you can't outsource a person.  People who lean forward can never be replaced.  They are a linchpin.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Karmaback Social Sweepstakes' new Pricing & new Look.

    Whenever a new service or product is launched, getting the word out is job #1.  Job #2 is converting that buzz into real sales!  If done right, you can use Google Analytics to measure how people are flowing through your site.  You can even set up conversion events and tracking to see how people are converting and where they are coming from.  Here is the thing: the data doesn't lie!  Fix whats broken!  2 things were a bit broken according to Google for our website sales funnel... first, people were confused about the pricing.  second, people were bouncing on the sweepstakes page.

    So without further gilding the lily, and no further ado, I present to you the new look of Karmaback.com and Karmaback.com/sweepstakes.  (Check them out, leave feedback, let me know how else I can improve!).

    And what's better?  Simpler pricing: $0.25c per relevant fan or follower we bring you... and a cap of $299.99 no matter how many we bring you.  (You can set a lower cap if you want).  That's it.  Brain-dead simple.

    Want 1,200+ new fans & followers for your Facebook or Twitter pages?  You got it!


    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Maximum-ally Buyable Product (what is next)

    Onstartups has a great article and a very excellent read about what to do next AFTER your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) succeeds.  I think it should be opened up to a debate: Should you BUILD IT BETTER (MBP) or should you BUILD ANOTHER MVP?

    My argument for building another MVP is: why ruin a good working product?  By definition success means its working.  STOP.  Let it work.  Build something else!

    My other argument for building another MVP is: your current MVP is probably not working.  DO NOT Go from MVP that fails to Maximally Viable Product.

    Finally the ideas that make an MBP good from the article, probably should be PART of your MVP!

    1. Easy To Understand
    2. Easy To Try
    3. Easy To Buy
    4. Easy To Stay
    5. Easy To Leave

    Finding your Focus.

    Some people have a big vision.  It is complex.  It is beautiful.  It is impossible.  These kinds of people (myself included) need to find a focus for their energy, a single "part" of the vision that we can execute to.  Here are 3 steps to finding a single focus.

    1.) Consider a formal marketing plan.  A formal marketing plan (such as I have described how to develop in detail), can help to focus your thoughts... specifically the sentence: "we are a x, that does x, for x, and unlike other x, we x".  Very effective (thanks Barry Raskin for teaching me!)

    2.) Minimize your MVP.  I've spoken about MVP in the past, but this time, consider, is your MVP truly minimum?  Sometimes to find your focus, you have to build an MVP & discover if it really is V (Viable).

    3.) Revise.  Inevitably you will fail.  Recognizing the failure and buliding a NEW MVP (in line with the original vision) is a must... in short: revise.

    Now, get out there and build something!

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    My new startup, Karmaback, nominated for COOLEST NEW COMPANY from Austin Business Journal (ABJ).

    We're very pleased to have been nominated for "Coolest New Company" by the Austin Business Journal.

    Please take a moment to vote for us!  (takes just 5 seconds)

    And if you don't know what Karmaback is... shame on you!  Check us out here: http://karmaback.com 

    Vote for us... its good Karma!
    You could Get Some Karma Back!

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Obvious and True: Fans and Followers are a Very Targeted Audience.

    One of my favorite blogs (The Marketingsherpa Blog) recently posted the result of a study that showed "like search traffic, social media traffic tends to be very qualified” This stunning statement came from Maura Ginty, Senior Manager, Search and Social, Autodesk.  Is it any big surprise?  

    Let me think, people who like you, follow you, fan you, or are searching for you on social networks are a targeted audience.  While this does seem obvious at first glance, what is interesting about what Autodesk has done is that they actually developed a keen way to measure it.  Unfortunately, their measurement stops at "sentiment".  Karmaback would like to take that measurement all the way through the sale.

    According to Adam Sutton (Marketingsherpa),  "the [Autodesk] team can calculate the velocity of a marketing message — the number of people a message reaches in a certain amount of time in social media — and combine it with a sentiment analysis".  And while this is nice... speed of message, sentiment of message, I find it lacking in 1 key area: the Sales!  Why is it people assume that sentiment leads to sales?  

    Remember, for a sale to happen, you need to have 3 key elements: demand (sure, we can call that sentiment), price (there needs to be a match between price and demand!  Economics 101), and place (a place to buy, to shop, to complete the purchase, that is convenient & fast).

    Here's a Social Marketing Tip.  Ask for the sale!  Heck, even play with the price (promotions).  While you are at it, why not let them go ahead and buy, directly inside Facebook?  (place).

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Months and Months of work PAY OFF. Karmaback Social Sweepstakes+ is live.

    After months and months of hard work, Karmaback's Social Sweepstakes+ is finally live!

    My new startup, Karmaback, is finally finished with our private Betas, our testings, our public Betas, and our trials.  We have the case studies, we have the FULLY AUTOMATED setup process, and we've hooked in to Paypal for payment.  Karmaback is now officially live.

    In case you wonder what Karmaback Social Sweepstakes is, and why we created it... here's the skinny:

    Karmaback is a Social Network Marketing company that helps companies grow fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter and uniquely rewards users for engagement and sharing with Karmaback Points.

    The Benefits:
    • Gain Fans & Followers
    • Build Loyalty & Evangelists
    • Get Sales & Justify Marketing
    How do we do that?  Simple.
    1. Set up a Social Network Sweepstakes with Karmaback (a Social Sweepstakes+)
    2. Let us manage the sweepstakes & provide "viral growth" features, like social sharing & more.
    3. Use Karmaback's other tools for "after-sweepstakes" follow-up, including Social Discounts & Karmaback rewards for purchase!
    Yep.  Our vision is here.  We really can help companies get real measurable increases in Fans and Followers, and help turn that attention into "Rewarded" engagement & "real" revenue.

    Enjoy folks,

    And do provide feedback to help us make this service even better!

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    What New Facebook & Twitter Rules mean to Business.

    "There is no spoon" - The Matrix

    Recently, several enforced rules by Facebook and new rules from Twitter are causing Heart-ache and pain for Social Network Marketing companies and customers alike.  Facebook recently banned a company from "paying" people to refer fans & customers to companies using Facebook.  Twitter announced new rules to prohibit "paid" advertising in peoples twitter feeds.   What does this mean to marketing companies and service providers like Karmaback and Tweetup?  What does this mean to the millions of companies, just trying to get their word out?  My answers below:

    Companies that "use" Twitter and Facebook:

    For companies that use Twitter and Facebook, this should be a wake-up call.  You have to stop thinking of Twitter and Facebook as "advertising", and start thinking it as a "company public forum".  This means making a place on Facebook and Twitter that is rewarding and engaging for users.
    Here are 5 ways to make Facebook & Twitter more rewarding & engaging:

    1. Consider a sweepstakes/giveaway!  http://karmaback.com/sweepstakes  -  This reward people for following you and is fun as well!
    2. Provide content that creates discussion between members.  - Posts that ask questions, invite discussion, and generally are not 'just advertisements'.
    3. Use the feedback you get, and let people know you used it.
    4. Share relevant stuff in your industry that people might not know about (and how it will effect them).
    5. Reward positive comments and feedback with Karma points!  http://karmaback.com/sweepstakes

    Something else to consider:

    Twitter and Facebook want to MAKE MONEY off of you.  Period.  They also don't want OTHER companies to make any money off of you (if it is something they could get from you instead).  So, remember this when thinking about the rules & regulations of Twitter & Facebook.

    Marketing Service Providers:

    First, remember that Twitter & Facebook DO NOT want you to compete with them.  If you do (such as providing advertising services/etc.), then you are likely to get into trouble.

    Second, do stuff that Facebook & Twitter don't do.. to ENHANCE the experience (not copy it).

    Finally, be transparent.  Karmaback is crystal clear (or we try to be)... we provide Sweepstakes services (something Facebook doesn't do)... and a simple Karma points reward system (again something that Facebook doesn't do).  Stay transparent, and stay competitive.

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Seth Godin's Austin Linchpin meetup.

    Are you a Linchpin?  A linchpin is someone who makes a difference... who starts a trend... who gets it.

    My favorite Blogger Seth Godin is arranging a worldwide Linchpin meetup on Flag day June 14, 2010

    Austin's meetup is being organized here:

    Come, join us at 6:30-8:00pm at 360 Primo Cafe in the Arboretum!

    9828 Great Hills Trl
    AustinTX 78759
    Neighborhood: Great Hills
    (512) 795-9292

    And check out Seth's Blog....  if nothing else, it will give you courage to change.  And being willing to change makes you a POTENTIAL Linchpin.  Now do it!

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