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Endeavor Investor Network’s Latin American Venture Forum Gathers 160+ Entrepreneurs and Investors in Bogotá

Last week, Endeavor Global and Endeavor Colombia hosted the inaugural Latin American Venture Forum in partnership with Bancoldex. This event gathered over 30 of the most active regional funds in Colombia for a day of content, discussion […]

September 16th, 2014 — by admin

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Endeavor Greece Research Spotlights Local Entrepreneurship Scene; Featured in The New York Times and BloombergTV

Endeavor Greece recently released findings in an infographic highlighting  the nation’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene, the rise in local startups, and the influx of both domestic and foreign investment capital. With ventures in the ICT sector dominating, […]

March 25th, 2014 — by admin

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Fred Wilson: How to be in business forever


Reprinted from A VC. Original article here.

By Fred Wilson

Last week we talked about long term thinking vs short term thinking. But sometimes, no matter how long term you are thinking, things happen that you didn’t plan for and they can impact your business. Actually, this always happens. And that is when you need to adapt.

You will not stay in business forever if you don’t adapt to changing market conditions. This doesn’t mean adopting the “business model of the hour” model and this doesn’t mean pivoting either. What I am talking about is the once every few years “oh shit moment” when you realize that the path you are on isn’t going to work in a year or two and that you need to make some changes.

This is a frustrating realization. I have a good friend who has been running a business for more than a decade. He told me a few weeks ago that he thinks the market he has been operating in is changing and it is starting to impact his business. And just when he had everything firing on all cylinders.

That’s how it is in business. Just as you are taking the victory lap for the kickass execution you and the team have delivered, the track takes a tilt and things start getting harder. Businesses don’t operate in a vacuum. They operate in a dynamic ever changing market that is going to make things difficult for you, especially if you want to be in business forever.

I think some examples will help. The one that comes to mind front and center is Microsoft. By the middle of the 1990s, Microsoft had it all. They had a dominant share in desktop operating systems and a dominant share in desktop apps. They were literally printing money. Then the commercial internet happened. Netscape showed up. And Microsoft’s market changed, forever.

Microsoft did adapt. They built Internet Explorer in reaction to Netscape and then used their desktop dominance to push it into the market, hurting Netscape so badly that it had to sell to AOL. That got Microsoft into trouble with the Justice Department and they were investigated as a result.

But what Microsoft didn’t see in 1995 was Google because it didn’t exist. And they didn’t see the emergence of cloud based productivity apps because they didn’t exist. In hindsight, it is pretty easy to see how fundamentally transformed Microsoft’s business has been by the Internet and it is also pretty easy to see that they have not been able to adapt sufficiently to maintain any semblance of the dominance they had in the mid 90s. This stock chart tells you everything you need to know about what the Internet did to Microsoft. They may be surviving but they are certainly not thriving.

Another great example is RIM. I don’t even need to tell this story. Everyone knows that the dismissive tone and stance that RIM’s management took toward the iPhone and what it represented was essentially the death knell of a great company. I suspect they wish their stock chart looked like Microsoft’s.

But let’s look at a more positive example. As Ron Ashkenas points out in this HBR article, IBM saw that the hardware market was changing and their competitive position in it was changing with it. They sold their PC hardware business in 2005 to Lenovo and doubled down on consulting and related services. Their stock chart tells the rest of this story.

Adapting doesn’t always mean exiting a business that you decide has issues. You can also retool, reshape, and refocus the business. A company that I’ve worked with for more than a decade saw the industry it services go through some painful transitions in the 2008/2009 downturn. They built an entirely new line of products that service the growth part of the industry while working to maintain the older products through an orderly and gradual decline. It’s been a difficult transition because it has meant that the company’s top line hasn’t grown during this transition. But the company is still in business and the new products are growing quite nicely.

Every situation is different and I don’t have some “silver bullet” to help you all think about how to figure out when to adapt and when to stay the course. But I do have some observations. The comfort of a strong balance sheet (and a nice looking stock chart) is often your enemy not your friend in these situations. The most agressive CEOs I’ve seen in these situations are often the ones with less than a year of cash in the bank and survival instinct in full on mode.

Another observation is that getting your organization to adapt is harder than you might think. Organizations have inertia. The bigger they are the more inertia they have. If you think you need to adapt your business quickly, you will need to figure who is in the boat with you and who is not and make the changes you need, particularly on your senior team, to align the team with mission and get going.

Finally, you cannot be in adaptation mode all the time. If you map out long living successful businesses, you will see they go through periods of great stability followed by periods of great change and then move back into stability mode. You have to know when to get into which mode and you need to see each one through to its logical conclusion.

Given how hard all of this is, you might wonder if you really want to stay in business forever. The answer may be no. But even if it is no, you had better plan for and act like you do. Because I am certain that if you don’t, you won’t.

7 social media mistakes that can keep your content from going viral


Reprinted from Quick Sprout. Original article here.

By Neil Patel.

Social media marketing may not be rocket science, but there is still a large science component to it. If you want your content to spread, you have to look at the numbers and stop making gut decisions.

Over the last 5 years I’ve learned how to successfully push content out on through social media so that it spreads virally. And more importantly I’ve learned what not to do.

So if you want to ensure that your content spreads, avoid the following 7 mistakes:

Mistake #1: Timing doesn’t matter

You can’t write content and publish it in the middle of the night, and expect it to spread virally. Social sites like Twitter and Facebook have peak usage times and if you can submit your content to those sites during the ideal days and times it will be more likely to spread.

48% of Twitter users are on Eastern Standard Time, they are most likely to retweet on Wednesdays, around 5pm. Links on Twitter tend to get clicked on the most within the first hour of them being posted.

So if you want to share something on Twitter, tweet it on Wednesday at 5pm EST.

And if you want to share something on Facebook and get the most amount of likes, don’t post more than once every 2 days. Also to get the most likes, post on Saturday at noon EST.

Mistake #2: All social buttons are the same

On Quick Sprout I tested the placement of social media buttons at the top and bottom of my blog posts. Surprisingly, people have a tendency to share posts before they read them as the social media buttons at the top of the post got 117% more clicks than the ones at the bottom.

In addition to that, I tried using scrolling social buttons such as the Sharebar, which got 226% more clicks than the social media buttons at the top of the post.

When I tested the combination of the scrolling social buttons with social buttons at the top, it underperformed by 29% compared to scrolling buttons in combination with buttons at the bottom.

If you want to get the most social shares, consider placing social media buttons at the bottom of your blog post in combination with scrolling social buttons like the Sharebar.

Mistake #3: Shares matter, not traffic

Most bloggers and content marketers focus on how many likes their content gets on Facebook or tweets they get on Twitter. In theory, if you have more shares, you should get more traffic, but that isn’t always the case. If no one clicks through from Facebook or Twitter to your website, you won’t get any visitors.

Instead of just focusing on the pure number of social shares, you should also be looking at traffic. A good way to boost your traffic from these social sites is to analyze your click through rate.

According to this blog post by Dan Zarrella, the optimum place to leave a link on Twitter is right at the 25% mark. So not at the beginning, end or even middle… make sure you add it right on the 25% mark if you want to boost your Twitter traffic.

Mistake #4: People read content during the same peak times they share it

There is a huge timing difference between when people prefer to read content versus sharing it. Based on mistake number 1, you know people prefer Wednesday for Twitter and Saturday for Facebook.

People prefer to read blogs on Monday at 11am EST. They prefer commenting on blogs at 9am EST on Saturday.

If you are also targeting a female audience for your blog, never post during the evening or night; women prefer to read blog posts before noon EST.

Mistake #5: Focusing on all social channels

I talked about placement of social media buttons earlier, but I didn’t talk about the number of social sites you should promote. On Quick Sprout I tested placing buttons for 3, 4 and 5 different social media sites. No matter how many social media buttons I used, less than 9% of people clicked on more than one social button.

But, there was a huge difference on how many people clicked on the social media buttons when there 3 buttons versus 5. Although there were fewer options when I just placed 3 buttons, there was an increase in click throughs by 11%. As for click through percentage difference between 4 buttons and 3, there wasn’t statistical significance between the two.

People have a tendency to only share your content on 1 social site, so ideally you shouldn’t have more than 3 social media buttons. If you have over 50,000 monthly visitors, consider placing 4 social buttons.

Mistake #6: Tweeting your content once

Even if you tweet during optimal days and times, it doesn’t mean that everyone is going to see your tweet. Although 82% of Twitter users have less than 350 followers, 18% still have more than that. And just because that 18% number is small, you shouldn’t ignore it as Twitter has over 500 million users.

Out of all of your followers, the ones who also follow thousands of other people, probably won’t see most of your tweets. And if they don’t see your tweets, they won’t be able to retweet them or click through over to your website.

According to a test Mark Suster ran, you should consider tweeting your blog posts at least twice. He got an extra 56% more visitors from Twitter by just tweeting a blog post again. You can also tweet your content 3 or even 4 times, but the more you tweet the same post, the less clicks each one will receive as many of your followers would have already seen it.

Mistake #7: Slow and steady wins the race

In the social media world, it is all about speed. The more shares your content gets within a short period of time, the better off you are… especially on Facebook.

Facebook takes momentum into account, so if your content is gaining a ton of likes at a quick pace, more people are going to see it within their feeds.

I did a quick test in which I bought 50 likes within the first 30 minutes to one content piece and I bought 50 likes spread over 8 hours to the second content piece. Both of the content pieces where the same, but the one that got 50 likes within the first hour ended up with a total of 142 likes and 10 comments. The second variation ended up with 95 likes and 7 comments.

If you want your content to spread on the social web, you need to get a lot of shares within a very short period of time.

Conclusion

If you avoid the 7 social media mistakes above, your content is more likely to flourish and spread. Now when you decide to leverage the above tips, don’t just assume they are going to work for you, make sure you test them out with your content. Based on where most of your website visitors live and the demographics of your audience, the results maybe different for you.

What other social media mistakes should you avoid?

8 core beliefs of extraordinary entrepreneurs


Reprinted from Quick Sprout. Original article here.

By Neil Patel.

What does it take to be an extraordinary entrepreneur? You know, an entrepreneur who has a vision for a business, rallies support to build it and then grows it into one of the most innovative companies in the world….what does it take to be an entrepreneur like that?

Well, I may be young but I have been an entrepreneur for over ten years. My first SEO consulting job was in high school where I built and ran a successful agency. And from there I co-founded a few software companies. Luckily for me, I was fortunate to grow up in a family of entrepreneurs, so I’ve heard a lot of great advice about what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.

And I’ve also seen that all great entrepreneurs hold closely to a core set of beliefs. So what are those beliefs? Here are eight:

Belief #1: Make a decision and go!

This was one of the first lessons I learned when starting my first business and it was extremely hard to get used to making a decision and then taking action on that decision.

I was so afraid I was making a mistake. Since then I’ve learned that making a mistake is not a bad thing. You actually learn from those mistakes, which helps you make better decisions down the road.

You will struggle with hiring and firing people, project budgets, office space and advertising creative. When you first start off in business you will take days and even weeks to answer these questions.

This core belief actually came back to me when I lost a million dollar client. They were happy with the service I was providing, but they wanted to know what else I was going to do to take their business to the next level. I had a few ideas, but I didn’t make a decision on which idea I was going to act on. Long story short, I took too long to make a decision and I lost a $1.2 million client.

Belief #2: Show passion, not perfection

It’s a lot easier to work on a project for closed doors for years until you get it perfect and then ship, but that just won’t work these days.

Often when I talk to young entrepreneurs who are “working” on a project behind closed doors I realize they are afraid to ship because they don’t want to be ridiculed. But I always encourage them that what people don’t want a perfect product…what they want is a passionate person behind the project.

If you can show people you are passionate about creating a perfect product by releasing it, then getting feedback and iterating…then people will jump on board…especially if the product solves a real-world problem.

Don’t try to perfect anything because if you perfect something that no one wants to use, you will just end up wasting money.

At KISSmetrics we created 2 other versions of our product that are no longer live. We spent over $500,000 on the first version, trying to perfect it, instead of just getting it out there. Since then we have scrapped that product. If we used the minimal viable product approach instead of trying to create a perfect product, we probably would have saved that money.

Belief #3: Avoid the ugly baby syndrome

One thing that entrepreneurs are in the habit of doing is falling in love with their ideas…even if it is a bad idea. This is like parents who fall in love with their new baby, even though everyone knows newborns are ugly.

You need to be objective in your business, with your plan and your product. Everything on the table needs to be up for debate if you truly want to succeed.

Seek out mentors to help you, and get advice from them on a regular basis. Listen closely to what they are saying. Listen closely to what your partner is saying and more importantly your customers.

This doesn’t mean you have to surrender every idea, but sometimes you may have to make drastic changes.

The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, tells a story about how they were going down the wrong path and brought in the founder of Costco, Jim Sinegal for advice. Jim said, “You know, I don’t want to be rude but this is exactly the wrong thing to do.”

Schultz listened, realized Sinegal was right, and shifted their strategy.

One way to protect yourself from falling in love with your idea is to train yourself to fall in love with solving people’s problems. It doesn’t matter what you create to solve their problems, but as long as you do it in a simple, easy, and ideally an affordable way, you will be fine.

Belief #4: Find the sweet spot, then scale it

Once you have reached product market fit, there will come a time when you need to figure out how to scale your product.

If you scale your product before people fall in love with it, you’ll tarnish your brand. What I mean by this is that people won’t be happy with your product so they will say negative things about it. This will cause churn, a decrease in sales, and a bad brand that will be hard to fix. Once people think negatively about your product or brand, it’s hard to change their perception… even after you fix your product.

When I first started Crazy Egg we spent thousands of dollars on marketing before we launched the product. We had a ton of churn in the beginning, as there were a lot of product issues we faced when we launched. The marketing spend had a negative ROI and if I had to do it all over again, I would scale the business once I fixed the major product problems.

Belief #5: Don’t think about taking a leap, just take it

Speaking of perfection, there is never a perfect time to become an entrepreneur. Though being young and without a family is certainly a better time than when you are older and have a family.

Once you take the leap though…you are committed. You need to quit your job and become your new business. That’s a huge risk for sure, but if you don’t take the risk what’s to encourage a partner or investor to take the risk on you?

This commitment needs to infuse everything you do…and never think of minimum amounts. Never think that you need to secure just 4 clients a month to succeed or you just need to make 200 calls before the money pours in.

That never happens. Your projections will more than likely fail. This means you need to have a mantra that says there is no failure…just wild success! So stop wasting time and take the leap.

One of the most common emails I get is from people asking if I would invest in their business idea. When I ask them how far they have gotten, most people tell me that they are still at the idea stage and don’t have the time to go further as they have a full time job. If you can’t take the leap into entrepreneurship, investors won’t fund you because it shows that you don’t believe in what you are doing if you aren’t willing to quit your job.

Belief #6: Entrepreneurship isn’t a war, it’s about solving problems and turning a profit

Some entrepreneurs treat business like it’s a war that you need to defeat and destroy your competition. But even if you can actually do that and become number one in your market, you will still fail if you aren’t turning a profit.

For instance, at KISSmetrics we don’t focus on killing our competition even though they copy our features and steal our designs, instead we focus on solving our customers’ problems and growing our revenue.

The truth is that if you can find a way to differentiate yourself from your competition in a meaningful way, your revenues will go up. Plus if you are in a new market that is big enough, it doesn’t matter what your competition is doing, as there is enough room for both of you.

Belief #7: Hire slow, fire fast

The single most critical part of running a successful business is to hire the right people…and fire the wrong ones fast.

A lot of people spend a lot of time and energy trying to select the right person based upon past performance, but I’ve often found that what you learn in an interview with somebody doesn’t equal good performance down the road.

I like to see people get their hands dirty and how they adapt to stressful situations. When I interview people, I rarely talk about what they have done or even look at their resume, instead I ask them questions related to what they would do for my company and how they’ll get that work done in a timely fashion.

And if you happen to hire a few bad people, keeping them hurts your business as it will probably do more damage then good. Mark Zuckerburg famously fired people who were loyal to him but couldn’t handle the growth. And Zappos even paid people to leave the company if things weren’t working out to make the transition easy.

Belief #8: Learn from your first, earn from your second, give back with your third

If you are a serial entrepreneur…or you’re on your first business but think you have two or three more in you…then you will likely get a lot of experience, business wisdom and wealth out of those ventures. It will take years before you get there, but if you keep at it, sooner or later you will do well.

Your first business is going to be full of mistakes and lessons learned…that’s a good thing! You can apply those lessons learned to your second where you should get it right and become successful. Then on your third business you can give back.

You can give back money to other startups but you can also give back experience and help out other entrepreneurs or volunteer for charities. Don’t ever expect anything in return, but instead just give back like your mentors did with you.

Conclusion

Now, do you have to have all of these core beliefs in place on day one as an entrepreneur, you are going to become extraordinary, right? The answer is no. The thing about starting and growing a business is that you will grow as a person yourself…and that is one of the best educations an entrepreneur can get!

So take a minute to re-read the core beliefs I shared above, then print them out…and start working on becoming the next Bill Gates or Larry Page.

What other core beliefs do you believe that extraordinary entrepreneurs have?

How to hold productive meetings that people don’t actually hate


Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing. Original article here.

By John Jantsch

Scheduled communication may be one of the most powerful team and accountability building tools available when done the right way.

Meetings are an essential aspect of getting things done, collaborating and delegating, but for many they are the bane of business life. People actually leave companies because of the life draining nature of their meeting culture.

This commonly accepted feeling about meetings comes about because most people have been trained to handle meeting in one of two ways.

One is the “I hate meetings, so just come to me if you have a problem” method. Of course this is quite possibly the most frustrating approach for all concerned. This approach leads to lots of wasted time and the every ten minute or so interruption.

The other approach is what I refer to as the “I’ve called a meeting, but it’s really a reading” approach. In this approach managers read from a list of to-dos that could have been sent via email and then propose some things to try to get buy in.

This second approach eventually leads to adopting the first “I hate meetings” attitude and drains any sense of commitment from all involved.

Here’s the deal: you need meetings, perhaps frequently, but you need them to be energetic, useful and in the words of consultant Al Pittampalli – modern.

In Read This Before Our Next Meeting, Pittampalli lists the seven attributes of what he calls the modern meeting. This is a great framework for how to think about meetings that generate energy and action.

1. The Modern Meeting supports a decision that has already been made.
2. The Modern Meeting starts on time, moves fast, and ends on schedule.
3. The Modern Meeting limits the number of attendees.
4. The Modern Meeting rejects the unprepared.
5. The Modern Meeting produces committed action plans.
6. The Modern Meeting refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory.
7. The Modern Meeting works only alongside a culture of brainstorming.

Read Pittampalli’s book before your next meeting and consider making it a gift to everyone in your organization.

Adopting this approach to meetings and making it the “accepted meeting protocol” in your organization will reduce the need for meetings that drain, hold anyone that calls or attends a meeting accountable for action and even keep the boss on task. (Well, maybe)
Pittampalli’s last point can’t be emphasized enough.
Brainstorming is an essential business tool as well, but it’s not the same as a meeting. Meetings are for making decisions, brainstorming sessions are to throw out ideas, discuss constraints, test theories and get feedback on ideas.

You need an entirely different framework for brainstorming. You need to frame the idea, throw roles and titles and encourage big thinking. (And, don’t forget to feed everyone well.) In fact, brainstorming sessions should be held offsite in settings that encourage and foster creativity.
Far too many meetings are really just protracted brainstorming sessions where little gets done. Hold advertised brainstorming sessions as special events to take advantage of this unique tool, but resist the temptation to bring this dynamic into meetings.

Again, meetings are for making decisions, most everything else can be handled with email, IMs and texts.

This applies to team meetings, all hands meeting and even one on one meetings.
Embrace this mindset and watch what happens to the energy, accountability and action produced from meeting that nobody hates.

8 accounting pitfalls that start-up businesses can avoid


Reprinted from Under 30 CEO. Original article here.

By Krisca Te

You’re probably in an accounting mess if you’re reading this article.

I mean, no entrepreneur dreams about crunching numbers. No, we dream of creating the next iPhone, the marketing, the office design, the company culture, and recruiting talent.

But who would willingly spend their time thinking about invoicing and tax, right? It’s only when the sky comes crashing down do we look at the numbers.

I get that. As an entrepreneur, you want to make your first dollar before you worry about these things. But here’s the thing: accounting is a cascading function. If you don’t get this month right, there’ll be more to do next month. The problem will only grow.

So here’s my first tip:

1. Integration

The most common pitfall start-ups businesses make when it comes to accounting is a lack of integration. What’s integration?

Well, it’s when accounting, like product development and marketing, is part of the business processes, not separate from it. It’s not done once a month, or worse, once a year. It’s not an afterthought after a marketing campaign.

You do it every single day. And you ask your team to do it every single day. Here’s the problem though: you guys don’t have time to do all that. What do you do then?

That’s part of integration: it has to be easy to do. If you want to launch an Adwords campaign, do you need jump through hoops (like going through Google’s user manual) to do it? Of course not.

The same is true with accounting. A cloud based accounting software, like Wave Accounting, can do that for you. It’s not as complex as say, MYOB, but it keeps the correct records a spreadsheet can’t do.

2. Understand The Basics

Now that you have the data, you need to understand the basics. You need to know how to interpret those numbers and know what questions to ask.

For example, what are the basic documents you need? (Income statement, Balance sheets and Cash Flow Statements) What is the purpose of these documents? What is a liability? What’s the difference between cash and asset?

Are those documents even useful to a start-up? And if not, what do you need? These are topics for another time.

3. Credit Terms

I can’t tell you how many times an entrepreneur thought he’s going great, only to realize that he’s actually broke – a classic scenario where the bottom-line is showing a profit, but the business doesn’t actually have any cash to pay its bills.

An established business can offer their customers credit (pay nothing for 30 days), but as a start-up, you may not be able to. Making a sale is not the same as making money.

As a rule of thumb, you want to be paid as early as possible, even before the goods are delivered. For example, subscription based services (magazines, software, gym memberships) frequently give customers who pay 1 year in advance a discount to maximize their cashflow.

With the invoices you need to pay, the rule of thumb is to delay them for as long as you can (unless there’s significant discount to pay early).

You can then use the difference between the amount you collect in advance and the delayed payments to do something else in the business – like expand and advertise.
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An entrepreneur’s tips for stress management


Reprinted from Under 30 CEO. Original article here.

By Luke Kupersmith.

Family responsibilities, bills, demanding jobs—life’s stress will never cease and for an entrepreneur it can be that much worse. Although working for yourself does grant certain freedoms, we as entrepreneurs do have the increased pressure of an entire business’s operations to oversee and the responsibility of managing employees, all of which can cause some major stress.

Stress is one of the biggest causes of disease, illness, and even death. Removing oneself from stress is important to not only keep yourself sane and healthy, but to keep stress from causing you to make bad business decisions. Below, I have highlighted a few strategies that I employ for managing stress—once stress levels are under control, you feel better, work more effectively, and consequently, your business benefits.

Physical

Although most office workers don’t have physically laborious jobs, you still need to recharge. Constantly sitting in a chair in the office in front of a computer screen day after day can be physically draining and exhausting, not to mention the other health problems it can lead to.

Develop a regular workout schedule- this can include any type of physical activity such as running, surfing, hitting the gym, practicing yoga, or playing golf. Non-work related physical activity can recharge your body and as an entrepreneur, you need all the energy you can get.

Taking a break by enjoying a little 18-hole round of golf.

Emotional

The daily stresses of work and life can be emotionally draining as well. Dealing with tough clients, legal issues, financial challenges, or having to manage a “rouge” employee can all be very draining. Take some time to refocus those emotions on something else—traveling, a good book, picking up a new (or former) hobby, or volunteering—whatever makes you feel good.

One of the ways I enjoy taking care of my emotional self is through volunteerism. Instead of having my mind working through my challenges, I’m forced to focus and think of others, and it feels good giving back to the community. Find something that speaks to you. There is truth in the saying, “Perspective is everything”. Helping out others who have it worse than you can have an amazing impact on your own emotional state.

Mental

While some may look to meditating to clear their mind, for me it’s about doing something fun and adventurous to take my mind off of work. Grab your wife and go on that second honeymoon, take the kids on a camping trip, or grab some buddies and head out for the weekend. Get away to somewhere that you love, or better yet, explore somewhere new.

Doing something fun and adventurous, or relaxing if you prefer, is a fantastic way to get your mind off of work and keep the stress levels down. Take the time to enjoy life and experience new places, different people and all the fun opportunities outside of the office. Learn how and when to sign off of email and leave the phone at home… or at least turned off.

6 ways to create buzzworthy content

Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing. Original article here.

By Gregory Ciotti.

Everybody is all abuzz about “creating buzz” these days.
We as marketers operate in an industry obsessed with content that is “buzzwothy”, “viral”, and all other sorts of names that aim to describe a single scenario: getting people to talk about your business. Let me tell you the tale of a truly buzzworthy endeavor by an internet business: back in 1999, Mark Hughes convinced the town of Halfway, Oregon to rename itself Half.com to generate publicity for the growing e-commerce start-up. Needless to say, Mr. Hughes was a guy that really knew how to create buzz, and in 2005, he wrote down his techniques in the wonderful book known as Buzzmarketing. In it, he outlines the six buttons you need to push to get people talking… every single time. With enough exposure and a form of content that pushes these buttons, people will be guaranteed to spread the word. Much of Mark’s book overlaps with the recent research from Wharton Business School on “What Makes Online Content Go Viral” (specifically with the types of emotions triggered), so today I’d like to break down how YOU can use the 6 buttons of buzzmarketing to create content that gets people talking.Let’s begin!

1.) Taboo

The very first of Mark’s “buttons of buzz” is the taboo.
Taboo content is defined as something that is “labeled by a society as improper, unacceptable, prohibited, or profane.” A lot of people jump right to conclusion that taboo content must be scandals, sex, and bathroom humor, but that’s because the context is out of focus: instead of creating content that’s taboo to society, YOU need to create content that is taboo for your industry and community.
Take a stance on something that will make people in your industry do a double-take, and then back it up with evidence! Many bloggers say they hate pop-ups and just “know” their audience hates them too, so when Dan Zarella showed the data on why pop-ups still work, he was engaging in the creation of taboo content specifically for his industry (online marketing).

2.) Unusual

Things that are unusual are those that just don’t seem to fit in. The kind of stuff that we simply have to look at, not even because we want to, but because the call is just too strong for us to ignore. As you know, content doesn’t always have to mean blog posts, and when it comes to getting attention in spammy areas like forex trading, creativity is king: one supreme example is MahiFX’s You vs. John Paulson. That page allows you to create your own content, an infographic style breakdown of how quickly billionaire investor John Paulson earns your entire yearly salary (ouch!). It’s 100% strange: it outright insults your current earnings, it requires your input for the content to even be there, and it even mixes in a bit of the taboo! (Comparing salaries).
…and yet, it’s hard to look away! It’s been mentioned and shared a ton of times, and here I am now sharing it with you again, showcasing the power of creating unusual content that gets mentioned and linked to.

3.) Outrageous

In the Wharton study mentioned above, one of the “emotions of high arousal” was that of anger, and here is where it comes into play: in the form of truly outrageous content that gets us fired up and tripping over ourselves to leave feedback. The study cites articles like What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses, and it comes as no surprise that news articles make for a great source of outrageous content. One that is closer to marketer’s hearts is the recent piece on Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25, a piece of “flame-bait” that did it’s job so well, it hooked a bunch of so-called marketers into leaving long-winded comments on why the author was wrong… and even resulted in a ton of them sharing the piece in outrage! Marketing folks should have known better, but they didn’t, and I’m not here to rag on them for it, I’m here to point out just how well outrageous content works. The outrageous differs from the taboo in that it’s not pulling moral strings, it’s all about creating a debate over opinions and dividing people among that debate. When division occurs, people literally fall over themselves to have their voice heard and to affirm their opinion… our brains just can’t help it!

4.) Hilarious

Funny content is often the most viral (see: YouTube videos), but it is harder to incorporate into your typical small business content strategy. While comedians can get away with being hilarious + outrageous all the time, utilizing humor for business related content has to be done a certain way, or it will seem unprofessional or not genuine. One example I always love to showcase is Grasshopper’s “$!@# Entrepreneur’s Say” video, because it takes an industry relevant spin on a popular viral trend on YouTube:

“Dude, let’s go viral right now!”
Taking a jab at the tech entrepreneur community (their customer base), Grasshopper was able to generate 70k+ views and a broad, fun brand impression in front of the right audience.

5.) Remarkable

This is likely the most difficult content to define, and yet it is often the most memorable and effective to create. Without making people angry, without being profane, remarkable content still manages to outshine the competition and live up to the source of its name: being worthy of remark.
As an example, let’s look at the fitness market. While weight loss stories are inspiring, they are a dime a dozen in a place as large as the web, and won’t get the kind of traction that allows them to “go viral”. However, the project Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit did. That’s because the founder put a spin on the tried-and-true fitness journey: being a fitness model already, he let himself get fat, only to lose the weight again in 6 months, to prove that it could be done. That’s thinking outside of the box! Other (more tame) forms of remarkable content come when brands take time to make something truly awesome in a crowded space, just like SEOmoz did with its Beginner’s Guide to SEO, a multi-page work that looks as beautifully as it reads. Now ranking on the homepage for simply “SEO”, I would say their remarkable project has made a huge splash!

6.) Secret

This is my favorite sort of content, as it’s the type I practice most often on my blog.
Secret content reveals knowledge that only the “initiated” know about. The post you are reading now is secretive in its own way: it reveals information from a book and a Wharton research paper that not everyone has read. Other forms of secret content come to us in the form of this infographic on KISSmetrics, which looks to answer the question, “How do colors affect purchases?”, while citing research that gives the answer. Since we were just talking about the fitness niche, did you know that most diets fail because our brains are susceptible to “abandoning ship” as soon as their diet starts to falter? When you learn about that research you become initiated, free to share the “secret” with others. Secret content is more than just regular information like “How to set up a Facebook page”, it’s the kind of stuff that comes out of left field and totally blows the lid off of a topic people care about. You can only create secret content by reading good books and by breaking new information in your industry. A tough task to accomplish, but one with a ton of viral potential.

Your Turn
What did you think about these “buzzworthy” forms of content? Which ones can you apply to your content marketing efforts?

The 10 secrets that make networking easy, fun and ridiculously effective


Reprinted from Quick Sprout. Original article here.

By Neil Patel

After ten years of being an entrepreneur, I’ve learned a thing or two about networking… One of the most important things I learned is that networking is a lifestyle. It needs to be worked into your DNA so that you are networking at all times…effortlessly and happily.

When you treat networking as a lifestyle you don’t get anxious when you see a stranger at a conference, when the phone rings or you’re waiting in a long line.

What you see and feel is opportunity. So, let me show you how to take those opportunities and turn them into profitable relationships with these ten networking secrets.

Secret #1: Assume the burden of other people’s discomfort

Ever go to an event or conference and just look around the room? What do you see? While you’ll see lots of people talking to each other, you will also probably see several people sitting at tables looking through the event guide or talking on their phones. These people are probably nervous about talking to new people…so they are avoiding it by looking busy.

Well, you can help these people out by introducing yourself. See, they probably want to approach total strangers…but they just find it hard to break the ice. You can come along and make life a little easier for them, which could lead to some interesting opportunities.

Secret #2: Give and expect nothing in return

Ask any successful networker how they spend their time and they’ll tell you that they spend their time helping other people.

They’ll spend their time visiting young people in school, at colleges, over lunch and at start ups. These networkers want to help people by sharing advice and helping them to avoid the mistakes they made.

If you want to be a successful networker then you need to have conversations all the time with people, and you have to keep in mind that these people may not be able to repay you…and that is okay.
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2012 Endeavor Gala Highlights Game-Changing Entrepreneurship

On Thursday, November 8, over 450 people attended the 2012 Endeavor Gala at 583 Park Avenue in New York City. Endeavor’s only annual fundraising event, the Gala raises about $2.0 million each year to further Endeavor Global’s mission to select and accelerate the best high-impact entrepreneurs around the world.

Endeavor co-founder & CEO Linda Rottenberg said that this year, in honor of Endeavor’s 15th anniversary, the team wanted to do “something special.” The organization invited five game-changing Endeavor Entrepreneurs, Nikos Kakavoulis of Daily Secret (Greece); Yasmine Shihata of Venus Media & PR (Egypt); Bento Koike of Tecsis (Brazil); Nevzat Aydin of Yemeksepeti.com (Turkey); and Martin Migoya of Globant (Argentina), to participate in a panel discussion on entrepreneurship.

Rottenberg explained that in the wake of the chaos Hurricane Sandy wreaked on New York City, she wanted Gala guests to understand why Endeavor views high-impact entrepreneurship as the answer to many of the global economy’s problems.

“[Entrepreneurs] do view our increasingly chaotic world much differently than most of us,” Rottenberg said. “For them, chaos is not the enemy, chaos is their friend. When economies turn down, entrepreneurs look up…I invite you into our world, and I think that once you meet these big dreamers, you’ll understand why we’re so hopeful about the future at Endeavor.”

 

In addition to the panel discussion, attendees heard from Endeavor Global Chairman Edgar Bronfman, Jr.

Bronfman, Jr. thanked donors and partners for their commitment to Endeavor. “What you’re doing  and how you’re helping us is absolutely critical to creating entrepreneurial ecosystems in each of these countries,” he said.

Dinner ended with a performance by up-and-coming UK singer Rumer! Following dinner, guests enjoyed Endeavor’s annual after-party, with special guest DJ Hannah Bronfman.

Click here to view photos from the Gala cocktail and dinner. Click here to view photos taken in front of the Endeavor banner.

 

Endeavor and Startup Genome collaborate to map entrepreneurial ecosystems

Endeavor Global and Startup Genome are pleased to announce a partnership that will help drive and deepen the cultivation of entrepreneurial ecosystems worldwide.

It’s the mission of Startup Genome to build the world’s most up-to-date database of entrepreneurial communities through a network of local curators. So far over 150 curators across the globe (including many developing nations) have begun layering real-time updates over the existing data in their respective ecosystems with profiles of founders, startups, investors, accelerators, incubators, universities, etc.

Co-founded by Dave Lerner and Shane Reiser, Startup Genome is going beyond mere hyperlinked lists and has already created the first of many data visualizations of these ecosystems to make entrepreneurial communities much more accessible and searchable for entrepreneurs and others worldwide.

Endeavor Global is now working with Startup Genome to add its own layer of curators in many cities and nations where Endeavor operates.

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