Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Coreg makes a comeback.

Check your Facebook timeline and you’ll see friends and co-workers sharing competitions, quizzes and giveaways.  It’s almost as if Quizzes are the new self-help section!

People love quizzes and giveaways, so it’s no wonder that when personality quizzes, dream holiday competitions or product giveaways come along Facebook users flock to participate and share.

Clearly co-registration marketing is making a comeback.  I’ve been testing using my own quizzes and have found that if properly executed, co-registration competitions and quizzes are a powerful marketing tool.

For the uninitiated, Coreg (or co-registration marketing) is where consumers complete a sequence of questions and based on their interests are either subscribed to newsletters or opt-in to receive information from advertisers.

Coreg fell out of favor in recent years, mostly due to a proliferation of coreg networks that proffered low quality consumer data.   When I started list building for an offer I was running I tested several co-registration lead suppliers but found that when I ‘bought’ in subscribers they were often uninterested, didn’t engage with my content or were just downright fraudulent.

I could see the value in owning consumer data, so rather than abandoning coreg entirely, I built my own co-registration platform which enabled me to control the end-to-end process.  Once I’d refined my sequence of questions and figured out what actions I wanted my users to take, I started marketing my competitions & quizzes.

In my experience, it’s one of the cheapest ways to generate opt-in data, especially on Facebook.  With an opt-in rate of 1 in 6 my average cost is around $0.47 a record.
By adding co-registration lead generation to my own quizzes over the last 6 months we are turning a profit while building email lists.

Key takeaways on why I’m in love with coreg.

  1. You obtain Marketing Consent.

Consumers that engage with quizzes give you permission to market to them.

If you’re running a quiz or a co-registration offer, you’ll not only acquire personal information, but also get opt-in consent to market to your recipient.

  1. You gather invaluable Demographic Data

Metrics focused affiliate marketers understand that demographic and psychographic profiling plays a key role in the success of their businesses. Armed with this information you’d spend less time picking relevant offers to promote, see an increase in your activity rates as well as your earnings.

  1. Engagement drives revenue

Engagement is critical to the sustainability of your business and can only be improved by understanding your consumers.

Once you understand and use their demographics, behaviour patterns and buying triggers you can segment your lists more effectively, build consumer profiles and present more relevant content.

Your revenue will increase and list retention will improve, as your readers will be more engaged, interested and active.  They’ll be far less inclined to unsubscribe.

If you’re into building mailing lists, you should consider coregistration marketing.  Done right, it can have a massive impact on your business.

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This article was originally published by me in Feedfront Magazine.

The fundamentals of doubling down

Sitting at the table, you’re on a losing streak.  What do you do?  Pick up your chips and walk away or double down and hope for the best?

There’s that moment in every movie where the hero is faced with the gambler’s dilemma.  Walk away a poor man or double down and go for broke.  

As the audience, we know how it’s going to end, we roll our eyes at his decision and dig down into our seats to watch the impending train wreck.  

It’s not so much different from real life.
Entrepreneurs are often seen as gamblers, mavericks who risk it all on the spin of a wheel or the throw of the dice.  In reality though the business-savvy entrepreneur doesn’t just risk it all on a wild spur of the moment decision.

We weigh our options, review all the angles, think about the consequences, imagine all the outcomes and eventually settle on a course of action.  Then we roll the dice.  

To the outsider it seems like a crazy decision, but it’s not.  It’s a calculated risk, not just a Hail Mary play.

Ok, sometimes it is a Hail Mary play, but hopefully at least a well considered one.

When I am faced with gambler’s dilemma, I use 4 key questions to help me make my decision:

What’s the opportunity cost? Cutting bait may be easy if you’re not that invested, but if I keep spending or even accelerate spend, what could I reasonably expect to gain? If the opportunity cost outweighs my risk, I consider doubling down.

How badly do I lose if I walk away?  If you’ve invested a bit of time or money it’s easy to quit.  Use a stop-loss mentality and pull the plug before you get in too deep.  If however you’ve invested significant resources into a project, take the time to thoroughly review the consequences.

How does this decision affect others?  Sometimes hard decisions influence others like employees, customers, investors or vendors. The people most affected may have options you haven’t explored, so consult widely.

What are the conditions I need to double down. Just like in poker, decisioning becomes easier when you have more cards on the table.  When you can reduce your probability of failure, it becomes easier to make a winning decision.  Spend time identifying key elements that indicate success or failure and use these to evaluate progress.

Stay on course by identifying bail points, criteria for defining success & failure and use these to make your decision based on sound fundamentals, not fear.

The real skill of course, is in listening to your inner voice and actually following your own advice.

As the song says, you need to know when to hold’em, know when to fold them and when to run 🙂

Pokemon Go – an overnight success 20 years in the making

We’re waiting with baited breath in darkest Africa for the release of what’s become a global phenomenon in gaming.  Not only has Pokemon Go overtaken twitter & Facebook, it’s forced sluggish gamers to get out there and inadvertently exercise!

As a nifty by-product its also added $7 Billion to Nintendo’s market capitalization in just 7 days.

pokemon

Here’s the lowdown.  It’s a game that takes place in a virtual world.  Overlaid on the real world.  You hold up your phone and you see pokemon, special places and tools overlaid on your real surroundings.  Yep, every dystopian nightmare ever, come to life – but more fun 😉

If you want to find out how it works, go google it.  Here’s a nifty piece on the brilliance behind the game, with thanks to Roger Hamilton

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How long does it take to create an overnight success? For John Hanke it’s taken him 20 years to create Pokémon Go.

This week, the Pokémon Go app has broken all records, with 10 million+ downloads in the first week, exceeding Twitter in daily active users, and with higher average user time than Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram & WhatsApp.

How did John Hanke create such a massive overnight craze? Here’s the 10 times he levelled up in his lifetime to reach Pokémon Go:

1st Level up: In 1996, while still a student, John co-created the very first MMO (massively multiplayer online game) called ‘Meridian 59’. He sold the game to 3DO to move on to a bigger passion: mapping the world.

2nd Level up: In 2000, John launched ‘Keyhole’ to come up with a way to link maps with aerial photography, and create the first online, GPS-linked 3D aerial map of the world.

3rd Level up: In 2004, Google bought Keyhole and with John’s help, turned Keyhole into what is now ‘Google Earth’. That’s when John decided to focus at creating GPS-based games.

4th Level up: John ran the Google Geo team from 2004 to 2010, creating Google Maps and Google Street View. During this time, he collected the team that would later create Pokémon Go.

5th Level up: In 2010, John launched Niantic Labs as a start-up funded by Google to create a game layer on maps. John explains why he called it Niantic:

“The Niantic is the name of a whaling ship that came up during the gold rush and through a variety of circumstances got dragged on shore. This happened with other ships, too. Over the years, San Francisco was basically just built over these ships. You could stand on top of them now, and you wouldn’t know it. So it’s this idea that there’s stuff about the world that’s really cool but even though it’s on the Internet, it’s hard to know when you’re actually there.”

6th Level up: In 2012, John then created Niantic’s first geo-based MMO, “ingress”:

John explains: “In the case of Ingress the activity is layered on top of the real world and on your phone. The inspiration was that it was something that I always used to daydream about while I was commuting back and forth from home to Google.”

“I always thought you could make an awesome game using all the Geo data that we have. I watched phones become more and more powerful and I thought the time would come that you could do a really awesome real-world adventure-based game.”

7th Level up: In 2014, Google and the Pokémon Company teamed up for an April Fools’ Day joke, which allowed viewers to find Pokémon creatures on Google maps. It was a viral hit, and got John thinking the idea could be turned into a real game.

8th Level up: John decided to build Pokémon Go on the user-generated meeting points created by players of Ingress, and the most popular became the Pokéstops and gyms in Pokémon Go:

As John says, ”The Pokéstops are submitted by users, so obviously they’re based on places people go. We had essentially two and a half years of people going to all the places where they thought they should be able to play Ingress, so it’s some pretty remote places. There are portals in Antartica and the North Pole, and most points in between.”

9th Level up: John raised $25 million from Google, Nintendo, the Pokémon Company and other investors from Dec 2015 to Feb 2016 to grow a team of 40+ to launch Pokémon Go this year.

10th Level: John and his team launched Pokémon Go on July 6th in USA, Australia and New Zealand. Since its launch, Nintendo’s share price has risen $12 billion, and the app is already generating over $2 million daily in in-app purchases, making it an overnight phenomenon.

The overnight success of Pokémon Go has taken John Hanke 20 years to create. Throughout these 20 years, while he had a big vision of a game layer over the world, he didn’t know what form it would take. At every step, he just focused at his next level up.

At each new level, he had new powers, new team members, and new items in his inventory…

Are you, like John, treating your own entrepreneurial journey like one big MMO?

Keep the end in mind, but focus today on simply levelling up.

At every level, grow your powers, your team, and your luck.

And know it takes many levels to win the game.

“It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.” ~ Eddie Cantor

 

10 Daily Habits of the most successful entrepreneurs…or anyone actually.

Aargh!  It took me years to figure out how to be the perfect entrepreneur.  Now, at the ripe old age of 44, I found this infographic that sums up all my proprietary secrets.   I don’t know whether to sue, cry or just pretend I made it myself.  Anyway….if you feel inadequate and need an infographic to tell you how to live, here you go.

You’re welcome.  😎

I’m a failure

image
I’m a failure. It’s incontrovertible, I’ve given up. I’ll never win the lottery.

Entrepreneurs are a rare breed. We think differently, we create, we hustle and we plot. Who among us hasn’t stood looking at the lotto and wished ever so desperately that it were that easy. Boom, you’re rich. Would you like it as a lump sum or an annuity sir? Why thank you, I’ll take the lump sum, I know what to do with it.

Sadly, I’m a failure. I even gave up on the idea of buying tickets. Yet, every few weeks some Shmuck with dumb luck or a random selection of numbers gets given a new life. “Why, why not just buy a ticket” I berate myself. “C’mon, if you don’t try you won’t win. Are you saying you’re not as lucky or as deserving? C’mon Jonathan, buy a fucking ticket!”

Staring at myself occasionally shaving, I admit I give this far more consideration than it deserves. Hey, it’s my thought process…Tourette’s and ADD are a powerful combination, so don’t judge me.

Anyway, I know why I refuse to buy a ticket. Aside from the obvious fact that you have better odds  filling a bath with rice then reaching in and pulling one red painted grain out, aside from that, it’s because I value my money.
Not just that, I value what it means to earn my money, I don’t see myself as a victim looking to escape.

There’s always more money to be made, we don’t need a lottery, we need a life. Desperately lining up week after week pinning your hopes on some random draw is far more soul crushing to me than the creative, often chaotic roller coaster life of an entrepreneur.

I back myself every time, and so should you.

Sociopathic CEO’s and the cult of self adoration

Perhaps I’m cynical, or even hypocritical considering that I’ve flirted with self-promotion and for a few years there even actively engaged in the public speaking circuit, but whenever I see the “new guru on the block” I can’t help but wonder what their real motivation is.

Latest on the chopping block is Dan Price, the messiah of middle class income, who famousely increased his enployees salaries to $70k in a social experiment designed to remove financial stress and unlock his employees potential.
In a Bloomberg article the picture painted of him is that of an abusive manipulator.  The piece is masterfully written, peeling back the layers of his personality.  I can’t help but sympathize with him though.

Driven people are often not liked, or even understood.   The more meteoric your rise, the more scrutiny you attract.

If the layers of my actions were dissected in the same way, you could probably construct and equally dark view of my personality, minus the wife-waterboarding of course.

Lee, who some of you may know is a Psychologist and has considered me a lifelong project, often reminds me that some of the very same traits that make you a good leader can also make you a sociopath.

It’s all about using your powers for good, to paraphrase Yoda somewhat badly.

Fear, more often than laziness, is the cause of procrastination.

This one surprised me. 

“We begin to work only when the fear of doing nothing at all exceeds the fear of not doing it very well … And that can take time.”

Sure, there are times when laziness is the reason for not getting something done, but more often the root of procrastination is fear, says British philosopher and author Alain de Botton on his website, The Book of Life.

“The only way to overcome this habit, is to abandon the accompanying habit of perfectionism. ”

“Instead of wasting time planning around and preparing for your project, find a way to begin it.”

“… to procrastinate less means overcoming that fear of not being able to do it exactly how we want it to be done (perfectionism). It means just doing it. An imperfectly done task is better than an unfinished task.”

Read the full story here.  Thanks for the story Eric Chowles! 

Don’t fear the fundamentals

I admit, I like bright, shiny things. I’m easily distracted and I often find myself drawn into projects and new business ideas purely because I get fixated on them.

I am a serial entrepreneur. Admitting this is not easy, but as they say, recognizing you have a problem is the first step.

With that moniker comes the dubious honor of always having your ideas competing for attention and time.
Growing a business is incredibly hard. Make no mistake, it requires sacrifice, hard work, delayed gratification and a bunch of habits I have yet to fully master.

There are lots of moving parts in a business so optimising your processes, developing strategies, planning and benchmarking are all critical, but none more so than focusing on the fundamentals.

James Carr, on his blog says “The greatest skill in any endeavor is doing the work. And for that reason, most people don’t need more time, more money, or better strategies. They just need to do the real work and master the basics.”

I find this especially true when you’re a multi-business entrepreneur. Whether you’re doing the work yourself or have a team to execute it’s critical that you have a bias toward action.
If sales are down, don’t spend three weeks commissioning a study on the macro environment, hit the phones!
If your app isn’t getting downloads, don’t run a 4 week test on a tweak to the UX, promote the hell out of it on social media.
If social media tells you it’s rubbish, well then you may have to go back to the drawing board 😉

Stop looking for a Co-Founder

I often get asked if I can co-found or refer a co-founder. Here’s my future go-to-answer.  Dave Lerner says it best.

“Stop Looking For a Co-Founder.  The very act of looking for a co-founder is already a sign that you are hopelessly unprepared.”

The conventional wisdom that you have to find an experienced co-founder to drive your plan forward indicates that you haven’t fully worked out your plan.  You don’t yet know where you’re going and that’s why you’re looking for a co-conspirator.

If that’s the position you find yourself in, you need to seriously consider whether you’re doing the right thing pursuing the project in the first place.  Going in blind and relying on someone else’s vision and foresight is probably not the best strategy.

You need to upskill.  I’m not saying you have to be the best coder or product designer, but you need to understand your product, how it’s developed, what’s going to go into it and how you’re going to get it to market.

Case in point.  You’re planning an app, because you have a kick-ass idea.  Instead of courting agencies to design and develop it, you’re more likely to succeed if you join some design forums, learn the basics, network in the community and meet people that can help you refine your app and get a prototype developed.

You also generate a lot more value before you have to dilute your ownership…..

Do you understand your brand?

Brands matter.  A recognized brand earns more revenue.  This is due in large to the fact that once a brand is recognized, trusted and available, it’s so much easier to just pick it up and move on.  No internal evaluation, no worrying about effectiveness, no decision tree – just pick it up and move on.

This is why marketers are so reluctant to change a winning logo, formula or packaging design, even when it’s clearly becoming dated.

If you’re thinking about your brand, here’s a handy reference I use when we consult to brands.

Understanding your Brand.

This is all about defining what role the brand will play in enhancing customers’ lives.  There are three types of positioning concepts:

  1. Functional positions
    • Solve problems
    • Provide benefits to customers
    • Get favorable perception by investors (stock profile) and lenders
  2. Symbolic positions
    • Self-image enhancement
    • Ego identification
    • Belonging and social meaningfulness
  3. Experiential positions
    • Provide sensory stimulation
    • Provide cognitive stimulation
Understanding your Value Proposition
  • What is the value that customers derive from using your brand / product?
  • How are they better off doing business with you?
  • What Characteristics make your brand distinct from competitors?
Customer Targeting
  • Who is your Brand Targeting?

What is the Psychographic & demographic profile of your consumer? (country / urban / gender / age / bias / interest / association / habits / behavior)

What unique traits do your consumers possess?

  • What motivates the consumer to associate with your brand?
  • What common traits do groups of distinct high value consumers possess that would identify them (audiophiles, moviebuffs, art lovers)
  • How will your customers perceive key dimensions of your brand (ex. Price, Packaging, Feel,Taste) relative to competitors brands.
  • What needs do your target audience wish to satisfy with your brand & how would you position your brand to communicate this to them?
Segmentation

The primary objective of segmentation is to identify specific customers with like attributes, and to find segments of customers that are attractive from a profit perspective.  In plain english, figure out who your best customers are and find more people like them!

Generic Markets (Large Segments)

comprised of groups of customers who have a general need
A generic market is comprised of groups of customers who have a general need, but have many offerings to choose from to meet that need. For example: transportation is a generic market that can be met by many offerings: car, bus, train, subway, taxi, etc.

Product Markets (Small Segments)

comprised of groups of customers who have a very specific need

A product market is comprised of groups of customers who have a very specific need, with fewer offerings to choose from. For example: The Luxury Car market has only a few options to choose from: Bentley, Aston Martin, Ferrari, etc. Product market segments are similar within the specific segment (ex. Luxury Cars), and are different across segments (ex. Luxury, Mid-size, Economy); and each segment has very specific characteristics, which, when reflected in the product, can return higher profits to the organization.

Markets can be segmented by defining the goals of the customers in that market subset. For example, in the transportation market(The Generic Market), a group of customers who’s goals of transportation are to be able to travel in their own vehicle, feel comfortable/safe/fast relative to other transport options, and be able to show other people how “nice” their own vehicle is: this subset can be said to have goals which define them as a Luxury Car segment.

  • Segment Dimensions = Impact on Marketing Mix Decisions
    • Demographics = Affects consumer needs
    • Geographic Location = Affects size of market
    • Behavior and Consumption Patterns = Affects product and promotion variables

Urgency of Satisfaction = Affects Place and Price variables Market segmentation is the process in marketing of dividing a market into distinct subsets (segments) that behave in the same way or have similar needs. Because each segment is fairly homogeneous in their needs and attitudes, they are likely to respond similarly to a given marketing strategy.

They are likely to have similar feeling and ideas about a marketing mix comprised of a given product or service, sold at a given price, distributed in a certain way, and promoted in a certain way.

Broadly, markets can be divided according to a number of general criteria, such as by industry or public versus private sector. Small segments are often termed niche markets or specialty markets. However, all segments fall into either consumer or industrial markets. Although it has similar objectives and it overlaps with consumer markets in many ways, the process of Industrial market segmentation is quite different.

The process of segmentation is distinct from targeting (choosing which segments to address) and positioning (designing an appropriate marketing mix for each segment). The overall intent is to identify groups of similar customers and potential customers; to prioritise the groups to address; to understand their behaviour; and to respond with appropriate marketing strategies that satisfy the different preferences of each chosen segment.

Improved segmentation can lead to significantly improved marketing effectiveness. With the right segmentation, the right lists can be purchased, advertising results can be improved and customer satisfaction can be increased.
Requirements for Successful segmentation are:

  • S Substantial: the segment has to be large and profitable enough
  • A Accessible: it must be possible to reach it efficiently
  • D Differential: it must respond differently to a different marketing mix
  • A Actionable: you must have a product for this segment
  • M Measurable: size and purchasing power can be measured

Have I missed anything?  Feel Free to Comment 😉