Upcoming Speaking Engagements

March 14th, 2007

I just accepted two speaking engagements that sign me up for a doubleheader to the west coast this coming May. This time, I am headed a little further north than usual, San Francisco and San Jose. If your in the bay area and in the online / interactive marketing space, come check out these events. I have heard a lot of great things about Inbox, and have previous experience speaking at the Click Z Specifics: Email Marketing, when they kicked it off in New York City last October. I was very impressed with the turn out, and the content was exactly the stuff marketers want to hear, real world experience. Hope to see you on the west coast.

May 31-June 1 - INBOX: The Messaging Industry Event
San Jose, CA - San Jose Marriott
“The Future of Viral Email and User Generated Media” (Panel)

May 16th, 2007 - Click Z Specifics: Email Marketing
San Francisco, CA - San Francisco Marriott
“Cutting Through the Clutter Creatively”

Tags: inbox, emailmarketing, clickz, messaging, onlinemedia, creative, design, marketing, california, events, conferences, media, viralmarketing,

Biz Plan Competition Follow Up

March 13th, 2007

Since I am still about a week behind on blogging activities, I wanted follow up to an earlier post where I mentioned that I was judging a business plan competition at UMBC in conjunction with Entrepreneurship Week USA which ran from Feb 24th - March 3rd. The event was great and we actually had two first place winners. Congrats to both teams!

The 2 first place winners are:

Company Name: Auto Soundtrack
Students: Sandorn Dornbush, Computer Science PhD Student and Alark Joshi, Computer Science PhD Student

Idea: Use advanced artificial intelligence techniques to learn how a person’s music preference varies over time and external conditions. It does this by learning its owners’ musical preferences for different activities, then automatically tailors the music selections accordingly (ex: plays fast music when a person is working out, calmer music when in the office, etc.). Prototype devices have been developed and Sandor and Alark are currently working on consumer applications. They have recently partnered with Nokia Research to bring Auto Soundtrack to Nokia headsets.

Sandorn and Alark were very passionate about their idea and are actively developing it with Nokia as a research partner. They are aware of the Last.FM’s of the world and seem to be on the edge of taking their technology to the next level. This was definitely an interesting idea that will no doubt be developed.

Company Name: Phoenix Circuit Boards
Student: John Keyser, Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student

Idea: Develop cutting edge aftermarket electronic control boards for paintball games to fill the niche market for high-performance, feature-packed boards. Paintball is a $1.5 billion dollar per year industry and is ranked as the third fastest growing extreme sport behind snowboarding and skateboarding. John currently has 2 boards in

Talk about a niche play. I admit when I first heard about this I didn’t really understand, but then after listening to John present, and learning how big the paintball market is (and growing), it was clear there was a great opportunity for this product launch. Great job finding a market thats underserved with an up sell / cross-sell opporuntity. Apparently, there are alot of people who are into “mod’ing” up their paintball guns with advanced circuit boards :-)

Congrats to both teams!

Tags: entrepreneurship, business, startup, businessplans, competition, america, learning, education, umbc,

On Travel (Alot of Travel)

March 9th, 2007

What a crazy schedule as of late. It has been a whirlwind week of travel which began a week ago today. I left the house at 4am last Friday and began a travel spree that is almost coming to an end. The good news is I am in sunny Miami, Florida where the weather is absolutely beautiful as opposed to some of the other places in the country.

My record travel week, in terms of flights went something like this;

- Friday am leave house 4am to catch 6am flight to Orange County, CA

- Arrive OC at 11am west coast time, attend a one hour meeting, check into hotel, eat sushi (good hanging Michael)

- Back to John Wayne airport at 5am on Sat, fly back to Baltimore through Dallas, arrive in Baltimore 5:30pm EST

- Dinner with my lovely wife, packed my suitcase again, and crashed.

- Sunday am back to BWI airport at 6am for a flight to Ft. Lauderdale, arrived 10:30am

- Arrive at Radisson in Miami in preparation for the sold out MarketingSherpa Email Summit (we were exhibiting)

- Sunday afternoon set up booth and go right into cocktail hour in exhibit hall at 5pm - 7pm - out that evening until 1am (Sushi Samba and the Ritz for drinks)

- Monday, booth all day, networking, meeting folks, prospects, etc - out again til 1am (did China Grill and The Shore Club)

- Tuesday did the exhibit thing again all day (translation = on feet all day), broke down the booth around 5pm and shipped it back to Baltimore.

At this point as you can imagine, I was feeling pretty toasty and was definitely working off of fumes. I decided to stay in Miami for a few days and unwind and catch up on a few things. I have been enjoying a few low key days at The Standard, the whole theme of the hotel is hydrotherapy and spa. This made it easy for me to keep on my once a month massage resolution :-)

I am checking out now and heading north to spend the day at Langerado with some friends and enjoy some live music in the sun. Baltimore is on the horizon tomorrow! Then its back in the routine. Lots to write about and catch up on.

Entrepreneurship Week 2007

February 24th, 2007

In case you didn’t know, today marks the kick off of Entrepreneurship Week, a Kaufmann Foundation supported and sponsored national event starting today Feb 24th through March 3rd. Entrepreneurship Week is a collection of thousands of activities across the country that are:

“designed to stimulate on-going interest from individuals and organizations serving as an educational kick-start for the uninitiated, and an inspiration for young people to begin a journey to fulfill their potential as self-starters and entrepreneurs.”

I am happy to be participating in Entrepreneurship Week with my alma mater UMBC. UMBC’s cutting edge Alex Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, which just received a $2mm grant from the Kauffman Foundation to expand its programming, is hosting a student business plan competition this coming Monday.

I have been asked to be a judge of the competition, and am really looking forward to it. We have 18 groups which have made the submission deadline, and my FedEx packet of biz plans arrived at the office yesterday. I will be reviewing them this weekend, and then on Monday we have back to back presentations from 11:30am-4:30pm. Each group gets 15 minutes to present their idea and do a few minutes of Q&A.

From my initial scan, it looks like there are some very interesting ideas, so the competition should be good. The top prize is $1000.00. Good luck to all of the students who are participating! I look forward to it.

If your interested in participating in any participating Entrepreneurship Week events in your area, this website has a listing of most of the institutions and organizations who are involved. Check it out.

And remember, there’s never been a better time to start a business in America :-)

Tags: entrepreneurship, business, startup, businessplans, competition, america, learning, education, entrepreneurshipweek

Speaking Schedule

February 21st, 2007

I posted a new page on the blog under the “Info” section that has my updated speaking schedule, both current and past (Still a work in progress). Also, if your interested in seeing what events myself and other representatives from my company will be at as well, we have a “public appearances” page on our main website.

Tags: blueskyfactory, events, speaking, travel, presentations,

Converting Sales

February 20th, 2007

Ian Landsman brewed up an awesome post on 10 ways to convert customers into sales. I have been following Ian’s blog and the launch of HelpSpot since the beginning, and I always enjoy reading about entrepreneurs and the lessons they learn. Ian talks, in particular, about how some key actions on a company’s part can dramatically increase upsell and cross sell opportunities. I have found these same “rules” to apply to my business as well.

I have also found some of Ian’s rules to be our best drivers of new business, or as most people call it, sales. Here are a few of the rules Ian mentions in his post that have not only had a positive effect on current customers, in terms of upselling and cross-selling, but also are directly attributable to driving sales as well.

Respond Fast

I just can’t say enough about this. Its so simple, when people inquire about your product, service or brand, the quicker you respond, the more likely they are to buy from you. I have tested this out extensively over the past 6 years, and hands down everytime a member of my company touches a prospect within the first 30-60 min of them reaching out to us, our close rate shoots through the roof. Simple stuff, respond fast, and you will see your sales increase fast.

Always be the last response

As Ian states, “It only takes a few seconds to respond back” and wow, what a difference that last touch can make. It says, “I am all over it, just let me know what you need and I am here, present and accounted for.” Who wouldn’t want to deal with a company that had that kind of customer response and service? Enough said.

Avoid overly prepared responses

Canned responses to sales inquiries SUCK. No one wants to be communicated to like they are a robot. There is nothing wrong with having “canned” templates of information, but please, take a few minutes and customize it just a bit based on whatever information you know about the person. Did you have a conversation with them? Then reference it. Give your communications some personality, people want to be treated like real people.

Know who you’re dealing with and respond accordingly

I have seen several examples of how things differ when you are selling at the CEO level vs. the manager or director level. Totally different game folks. Know your audience for sure. A CEO generally wants to hear the hard core facts, and the bottom line value add that using your product or service will bring to their organization, vs. the Marketing Manager who may want the entire history of your company, 10 references, and 2-3 demos of your application before buying. Knowing your audience and responding to them accordingly is key.

All good stuff. Thanks again to Ian for the insight. Happy selling and customer serving :-)

Tags: ianlandsman, helpspot, userscape, sales, customerservice, business, conversion, support, customerresponse, prospects,

Michael Geoghegan on ROI Radio

February 19th, 2007

This weeks episode of ROI Radio features a chat with Michael Geoghegan, Co-Founder / CEO of Gigavox Media. Michael and I had a chance to sit down at last weeks Podcast Academy between sessions and catch up on all of the latest and greatest. We talk about IT Conversations, the first and still the largest podcast network online today. We also discuss the evolution of Gigavox Media, and the upcoming release of Gigavox Audio Lite, a new podcasting work flow and management system.

The features of Gigavox Audio Lite are extremely helpful for anyone who is producing a podcast or a series or a network of podcasts. Outside of the show assembly workflow, the section of the app thats really sexy to me is the ad campaign manager. Michael and I talk a lot about how publishers can execute an ad or sponsorship campaign on behalf of an advertiser, and with a click of the button deploy that spot to an episode that was published a year ago. This requires no updating of that original file. Simply put, thats huge. Think about it, publishers will be able to monetize not only their current content, but also their historic and archived content. Good stuff.

Also discussed is the upcoming Podcast Academy book that I am participating in writing along with a great cast of folks. There will be MUCH more on that very shortly. Check out the show for the full conversation.

Download the direct mp3 here. Subscribe to the RSS feed here. Subscribe via iTunes here.

Tags: podcastacademyv, podcastacademy, podcasting, gigavox, dukeuniversity, advertising, marketing, sponsorship, itconversations, michaelgeoghegan, gigavoxmedia, , technology,

The Podcasters at Tylers

February 18th, 2007


Originally uploaded by Michael_G.

Great crew this past week in Durham, NC. Here we are at Tyler’s Taproom enjoying some very fine adult beverages. Clockwise starting from the front left is Noah Bonnett, Ryan Irelan, Tim Bourquin, Randall Northcraft, Kris Smith and myself. Michael Geoghegan was taking the shot. Great seeing everyone.

Podcast Academy V: Duke University

February 14th, 2007

We are having a good time down here in Durham, NC at Podcast Academy V at Duke University. The folks down here at Duke are VERY much pioneering the shifting media landscape and on the edge of using podcasting as a medium in the academic environment. They definitely have the required “champions” to move their initiative forward. I had a chance to learn a alot about Duke’s Digital Initiative, DukeCast and their use of the Lectopia system. I highlighted them in my presentation this afternoon after learning how they implemented the program on campus, how well its adopted by the student population, how its used, and how its measured. Good stuff.

Tags: podcastacademyv, podcastacademy, podcasting, gigavox, dukeuniversity,

New ROI Radio: Tim Barton, Blue Sky Factory, Inc

February 13th, 2007

I just posted (a day late) the latest ROI Radio Podcast. This week, our very own Tim Barton, the VP of Business Development from Blue Sky Factory, Inc joins me in the studio for a conversation. A little bit of a change of pace this time, and I must say after months of call-in interviews, it was great to have Tim in the studio sitting across the table.

Tim and I talk about lead generation, follow up communications, how to nurture leads along the buying cycle and keep your brand top of mind. We discuss several strategies that have been successful for not only us at Blue Sky Factory, but also for our clients. Check out the show.

Download the direct mp3 here. Subscribe to the RSS feed here. Subscribe via iTunes here.

Tags: roiradio, timbarton, emailmarketing, onlinemarketing, leadgeneration, blueskyfactory, relevant, communication