Archived entries for Miscellanous

Why do Business Development in 2012? 2013.

A great deal has been written recently about the status of marketing with mass media fragmentation, CMO confusion and lack of agency leadership. It’s a brand new world for the industry and the companies that move forward with focus and conviction will win.

The 4A’s New Business Activities and Resources Survey Report for February 2012 was recently released and it included some fundamental insights to find that next big client. Since I spend my days leading business development for a digital marketing agency, I’ve highlighted a few of the data points that are critical to #winning.


Reported as % of gross income, the aggregate investment in new business income was comparable across all agency size groups and agency service types. While that’s not all that interesting, what it does outline is that agencies of all sizes (note: they are segmented in 4 groups by # of ppl) spend on average between 1.5%-2.5% on new business (non-billable) expenses. It’s most interesting to look at <100 subset since many of those agencies operate on close to a cash accounting basis which means it takes discipline in deal sheets, time management and profit margin on existing work to not deplete the resources required to compete. Many agencies don’t allocate and reserve resources for new business other than ‘what can we afford this month’ which lacks the discipline, foresight and planning required to target new clients and communicate to them in a relevant way.

Speaking, here are the venues to do just that.


It should come as no surprise that the methods used for different sizes of agencies vary widely based on their offerings. However, the perfect storm for every agency is highlighted in this chart and detailed below. The plan is the science. The pitch is the art. More on that next.

  • Client Networking and Industry Events: Select an agency position. Craft a POV. Target verticals/categories/clients and then go find them in their natural environments. There are lots of nouveau shows (SXSW, All Things D, etc) and the old, crowded ones (CES) but one thing is certain: you must activate them with a strategy to make introductions. Good biz dev people know how.
  • Website: Show the work. Show the work. Show the work. Rinse & repeat. Every agency has tons of experience, A+ leadership with fancy titles and long histories of client work and a new ‘next generation’ model. Prove it by showing the work with results.
  • Direct Marketing: Consultants and/or potential clients – deliver consistent updates to the different segments with a combination of thought leadership, PR and recent work/client wins. Newsletters, personalized emails, press releases, awards – all of it matters and should be communicated to the masses. The key is consistency to enable the 3 phases of ‘know, like, trust’.


Crafting the agency growth strategy + value proposition and then delivering that message is serious stuff. Brand Ambassadorship is not to be taken lightly and it’s clear based on this data that smaller agencies rely mostly on executive leadership to handle that responsibility. Larger agencies have the manpower and resources to staff the department and chase big budget RFPs.

My philosophy on creative agency new business is that it’s best done by someone who both works with current clients and also has the time to plan and chase that next client (see above). The reason why is that its very difficult to sell work and POV when the business dev people don’t know the story behind the work. The art of the pitch isn’t in credentials and client rosters. It’s in telling stories about clients and work that begin with challenges and end with insights and results. It’s very difficult to do if Mr./s is always setting up that next meeting. Collaborate and share responsibilities as a senior team with clear accountability on revenue goals for both existing and new clients.

The (Perceived) Career Cul-de-sac of BD (Rant)

I wrote here a few months ago on the principles of biz dev as it pertained to the values and patience required to help any business development person be successful. As someone who’s been on both sides client and agency, it’s easy to see why business development is seen by clients as sales and why agencies view the position as well, sales.

I am not on the fence about BD driving sales. They should be at the front lines with clients and customers. That said, I believe they should be equally challenged and focused on the business strategy as the execution. I am surrounded by all sorts of talented and motivated sales people in business who work for the world’s largest technology companies. These guys are into the management of global sales teams and hitting ‘their quarterly numbers’ and moving units and well, you get it. I applaud them. It’s aggressive.

And yet I know thats only one dimension. Much like I’ve highlighted prior, there seems that there aren’t many good business development people out there. Either that or they are in high demand. Based on these results, I bet the latter. The primary reason this comes to mind every so often is that I get an increase of inquiries from headhunters wondering if I am interested in interviewing for various positions. And most often the answer is no. It’s often not because of the position or the company – its because of the description. See there is a very close relationship between job success/failure and the expectations that are set at the beginning. If the position is well-defined in an organization that has sound values and requires accountability, its usually quite clear what success looks like and leadership knows it when they see it.

My point: Leadership, human resources and/or the job search community have a responsibility to develop accurate, detailed and  highly targeted job descriptions. From startup to Fortune 50, people fail at their jobs often not because they aren’t capable, but mostly because they don’t know what success looks like. Good business development people are highly focused, social and motivated experts who work in organized and methodical ways. They understand the network, class and fortitude it takes to lay the groundwork for the future sell. And they should require agreement of method, timing and discipline in similar fashion from those with whom they work.

Hacking Our Way To The Future

Reinvention is not new. Taking an old idea and creating a better, faster, cheaper version is called capitalism. And its what technology is doing everyday. Led by a generation of young developers, the syncing of devices, software and buyer behavior: enterprise and consumer is creating endless business opportunities by disruption. Its aggressive. And it will save our economy.

Macroeconomics says that if a company grows in perpetuity faster than the economy, it will eventually become THE economy. Its fair to say that many of the leading tech companies of the past year believe they can become the new digital economy. Dream big and see what happens. We are all witnesses.

This type of orderly chaos (aka disobedience) is what makes product strategy (what I do) interesting. Find opportunities, reinvent them and then see what works. Incubate, aim, fire and measure. Over & over & over. I’ve outlined three areas below of interest to me that remain the frontiers of innovation for hackers. These are the corners of technology where innovation-hungry, opportunity starved companies will focus on to bring new ideas to life in the near future.

Its assumed Verizon will join forces with Apple in the coming year with a iPhone derivative to then have a share of the two largest mobile platforms. That’s big news considering they employ completely different playgrounds.  Apple is closed. Android is open.

The data:

  • Apple has shipped 47 million iPhones in 2010 and expects to ship 21 million more in Q1/11
  • Google Android adoption is projected to grow 51.2% from 2010 to 2014 despite the fact that most enterprises have no plans yet to support this platform
  • Android went from 30,000 activations per day to 300,000 in 2010
  • Near a half a billion smartphones are expected to be sold worldwide in 2011

What does this all mean? In short, smart phones will become the primary device worldwide to access the Internet, which will drive down prices creating more usage and bring down wireless data prices as well. Mobile consumption will rise bringing more attention to creating a reliable, scaleable application platform. DIY apps will level off in the coming year as the focus becomes how to the build the best cross-platform mobile development tools.

Bringing together chat, email, messaging telecommunications and video isn’t a new concept. But with the dedicated resources of Apple, Cisco, Citrix, Google, Microsoft and a few others, the race is on. Various companies began setting this table with M&A a few years ago and now software leads and hardware is following.

The data:

  • Apple reports that sales of its new Apple TV will hit the one million mark by end of 2010 –  remarkable for a device that was just released in October
  • Integration with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch may also have appealed to the first million; all can be used to control Apple TV via the free Remote app
  • Vizio, Sony, Logitech (with Google), Plantronics among many others each launched UC devices in 2010. Look for social and cross platform integration to be all rage in accessories at CES.

The fascination with UC is paid for by the enterprise space and made interesting by consumers. B2B technology is driving work efficiency and cost cutting measures in Corporate America while consumer electronics bring Facebook, Pandora and Twitter to your TV screen. And sync it with your Bluetooth headset. And then allow you to access it in your car.  While it might seem like just more noise, engineers and developers now need to be adept at building and scaling applications on numerous devices.

New e-readers seem to launch on a weekly basis throughout 2010 and that will continue as we near CES in the coming weeks. Yet no one wants to become the ‘betamax for books’ and that means the device war will come to an end. Convergence doesn’t mean more devices and the jury is still out as to how consumers will integrate the tablet, yet we can’t ignore that the tablet has become a very powerful tool for innovation.

The data:

  • One out of every five Americans plans to own a tablet by 2014
  • E-book sales almost doubled in 2010 and make up 9% of total consumer book sales
  • The third-gen Kindle surpassed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as the bestselling product in Amazon’s history
  • The tablet computer’s share of the PC market may rise to 9.2 percent next year, based on 402.7 million PC shipments in 2011

Only about 3% of the current U.S. population owns a tablet of any sort – yet the POSSIBILITIES in publishing, gaming, entertainment and user-interface have created a worthy buzz. The yet to be solved tipping point is when companies can devise a business model that monetizes and deliver fresh, interactive content at a sustainable price that users will buy. From newspapers to books to music to video, the evolution from commodity content to proprietary access via search will be where the tablet (and entrepreneurs) find the future.

Facebook Forecast 2011 Mobile e-Commerce
Monday Musings: How the 5 consumer tech macro pillars influence enterprise software innovation

The Way Product Dev Should Work

“You can tell when you’re working with people who love music as much as you do because there’s an excitement to it.” - Mark Ronson

Whether its an album or device or an interface, the process for development is creative and collaborative. And should be valued as such.

The Value of Human Capital

Circa 1979

Last week I traded emails with a good friend of mine who works for a hedge fund on the financial intricacies of large University endowments. The genesis of our conversation came from this NY Times post on If We Should Invest Like Harvard. To clarify, Harvard is one of many private and public universities that invests a substantial amount of it’s endowment with hedge funds. Like the rest of us, these schools recently suffered some of their worst losses in history, but the principle stands: these guys know what they are doing.

Harvard’s fund stood at $25.9 billion in 2005, more than five times its $4.7 billion level 15 years earlier…(it) averaged gains of 16 percent a year in his last decade. Among the biggest U.S. endowments, it trailed Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, which averaged 17 percent. (site)

When we got into discussing how these schools have created such enormous stockpiles of cash, the same point kept coming forward: its not just about the capital. Its about the people running it – which is the basis for any service model looking to create value.

My friend went on to further explain how these firms have raised the capital and smartly managed it for long term returns. They use disciplined and patient mechanisms to evaluate smart investments with clients who trust them to make the right decisions. Yes, hedge funds have brilliant PHD’s from prestigious schools and a long history of investing experience – but thats not what distinguishes them from other each other. What does make them different is two things:

  • ACCESS: To quote Groucho Marx: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member” – the same stands for great businesses who carefully select their clients. They don’t just take anyone’s money, they look for the right type of clientele who believe in what they are doing and have the patience to prove it. Its a 2-way street and unfortunately most businesses aren’t willing to show the discipline to say no to some business because its not aligned with their core values.
  • PASSION: Most of the market knows pretty darn close how Harvard does it – almost down to 1% of their asset allocation (ie they know exactly how they invest). And yet thats not good enough. And its the same in every other service model. From customers to clients to consulting, the process isn’t the mystery. Its about the access to best and brightest people who achieve the highest net returns (notice I didn’t say the cheapest). Its about finding those people that aren’t worried about hiding in process or behind the institution but rather delivering breakthrough work that challenges others to emulate you.

My head space has recently been consumed with where startups succeed and fail. When you ask VC’s what makes a business plan exceptional, they answer the list of people on the back page. Every smart business has conceptual ways to monetize and almost every time, they pivot when the market responds (or doesn’t respond). There are all sorts of metrics to evaluate risk (Monte Carlo, anyone?) yet the decision ultimately is made by people. And thats the value of human capital.

Treasure Islands Treats Social Innovation

Treasure Island Music Festival

As a bit of a music festival fan, I’ve come to really enjoy good music in the outdoors in a generally socially policed environment. Its good for the soul. And it usually allows people to do some of their favorite things: dance, drink and hang out with friends outside. Increasingly, its also allowing people to share that experience with those that can’t be there.

My point: the ongoing tech innovation hasn’t just shaped music, art and how we share it – but shaped how we enjoy it.

I had the good fortune of attending the Treasure Island Music Festival on Saturday to witness a number of good DJs, bands and festive people enjoy a cold, but sunny day and night. The festival was supremely organized with constant shuttles running from the SF to alleviate the parking issue caused but such a secluded little island. In typical SF fashion, good food, merch tents and clean outdoor toilets were even provided. Its all about the little things.

Yet the reason I was profoundly struck by the crowd was the very casual yet progressive integration of innovation from its attendees. There were the usual CE sponsor tents allowing people to hide from the wind trying their new toys yet it was the cameras, TVs, phones, headphones (Silent Disco, anyone?) and video recorders as part of the experience. You had people watching the Giants games from lawn chairs, stages were people danced all together listening to headphones and the constant pictures of bands, friends and those on the fringe everywhere.

No doubt much of this footage will end up online being passed around between friends and really, thats the point of all this social media: To share experience. For those of you that couldn’t make it from those of us that did, we bring everyone a little closer through the gift of technology.


Email is a Technology. Not the Savior to Acquisition.

UPDATE: I have reposted this from awhile ago since it seems more relevant everyday. Email is for loyalists. Not awareness.

In light of all the economic drivers pushing marketing budgets south yet with raised expectations for delivery, I want to confront the assumed easy route to marketing awareness: the email campaign.

The genesis (and genius) of email was to distro shared data files with short pieces of actionable information. This remains its most effective use. Yet, the email campaign has assumed the responsibility of actually doing the marketing for clients – instead of providing the information-share medium. It’s a classic case of false identity.

Below are 5 creative ideas to use email correctly and drive business development. Important to note: these tips are designed to help modify how you use email – not confirm its the preferred (or only) medium.

#1: The Premise: Make everything B2B
You are selling something. Your list better be interested in buying it (if not – your attention should be on list development). So it’s a business transaction. B2B communication is more direct because it assumes knowledge and need of the product. Its why average click rates of B2B emails are 20% and B2C rates are um, not. Email campaigns are not for awareness. They are for conversion.

#2: The Content: Need to Know Vs. Nice to Know
Email provides a valuable tool – information share. So share it. Send information your customer base MUST know. This creates a dialogue of RSVPs, appointment times, and inquiries about directions, delivery dates and pricing. From window washing (services) to widgets (products), your dialogue starts here and it works.

#3. The Dialogue
Driving real-time messaging based on online (analytics, SEO, competitive announcements) and offline information (cultural news, sales information, tradeshows, retail, etc) confirms you are listening and drives credibility. Police and respond to your customer’s behaviors daily. They will notice and find you as a credible resource. Proof: customers are trending to blogs for product reviews and not magazines for this reason.

#4. The Call to Action: Time Sensitive
The last and most straightforward – but oft the most misaligned – is the call to action. Develop time sensitive incentives such as price promotions, response rates, and reservations. The first 10 responses to this email receive a Starbucks card. A 10% discount. Free shipping. Make it attainable and consistent to generate open rates for your emails.

#5. The Follow-Up: Customer Service as a Product
There is lots of research and analysis on the importance of customer service. Not sure why AT&T has figured out but that’s me & my Iphone’s issue. Whether my cable is down or I need to buy a home, use email as a preferred medium. Consumer information confirms we prefer it that way. That’s called a dialogue (refer to #3) and will drive the most effective and cheapest type of growth – the organic kind.

Geo Crazy: The Rise of B2C Location-based Services

With all the geo-targeting publicity over the past few months, I thought it was interesting to see how where the funding is going – which only means prepare for the barrage of sites trying to stalk your location.

Green CE Design

Solio Charger

Although solar-anything isn’t really new, my friends at the SF-based startup continue to generate good buzz in a category that is overflowing with competitors. Highlighted amongst a gang of other green tech companies here, its a positive trend to see consumers and clients value strong design as a key to innovation.

Economic New Morning

The intention of New Morning can be assumed many different ways but it made me think about the newness of what the economic downturn brings for us. It actually made me feel optimistic.

See I don’t believe that the recession and unemployment rates and financial crash and on and on is all bad news. Easy-er for me to say so since I still have a job and my home. Point taken. Yet letting the hot air out of the economy has generated new political leadership, smarter/faster companies, increased innovation and generally an awareness that financial greed and irresponsible spending couldn’t last forever.

The smartest companies have first looked at themselves to be global citizens instead of greenwashing. They’ve trimmed the unneccessary levels of hierarchy internally to bring decisions and ideas more quickly to the forefront. And most importantly, people have seized the opportunity to start their own companies or work harder at their current ones.

Sure, not everything is great but understanding that this is an opportunity for us as people to pursue our dreams. To chase those moments that used to pass only as we drove to work or day dreamed in our offices. See it as a new morning and will be just that.

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