Tech Leaders' Best Business, Success and Marketing Tips

Tech Leaders' Best Business, Success and Marketing Tips

access_time Jun/29/2017

Building your network is an important part of your success in business and life in general. It’s helpful to have a group of colleagues and friends to turn to for business and marketing help. Of the conferences that I speak at, Affiliate Summit is one of my favorites. Conferences are an excellent way to network with other professionals, to teach, to learn and to find solutions to my clients’ needs. This year at Affiliate Summit East, I interviewed four technology experts, one of whom is one of the co-founders of the event, to understand their best business and marketing tips.

Three of the experts expressed that they felt that marketing had to include a personal element. Connecting with the customer on a more intimate level is important, but so is tailoring the messaging to the audience's individual situations. Likewise, remarketing should also be very focused.

When building a company, the teammates you select to work with are critical to the success of the business. Choosing the best of the best helps, but leading them is also important and a skill to be mastered.

Brandon Gustafson, an assistant professor of marketing of Oakland University, shared what he feels is most important for marketing success is understanding how to engage and to connect with customers on a personal level. “It’s always great to focus on moving through and getting a sale, but the overall engagement piece and really connecting with a customer on a more personal level will help create longer customer lifetime value,” Gustafson said.

Shawn Collins, a co-founder of Affiliate Summit, advises everyone to always be themselves no matter what they are involved in; from meetings to public speaking, being yourself is the best way to establish solid relationships. He emphasized that perfection isn’t necessary. “Being genuine really goes a long way not only for a personal brand but for a corporate brand,” Collins said.

Vadim Rogovskiy, the founder of Clickky, a solution provider for mobile publishers, advertisers and ad networks, offered sage advice about seeking out the best people to work with and learning how to lead. “There is a notion that each person you work with should be better than you in some specific area,” he said. Beyond that, Rogovskiy says that leaders should prioritize tasks and inspire their team.

Alex Bornyakov, the CEO of Verta Media, a supply-side platform for efficient ad serving technology, talked about the future of marketing and remarketing in personalization. He knows that traditional ads do not take into consideration all the differences in people, including their nationality, location or many of their interests. “The future of marketing will be in personalization and remarketing. Remarketing in the future will be very, very targeted,” he said.

For me, advancing your career or building a business is all about surrounding yourself with motivated people who can help each other with knowledge and experience. Through speaking at conferences and corporate workshops, I’ve expanded my networking group and know that I am fortunate to be surrounded with hard working, brilliant tech leaders.

Watch more videos from MetroNY on their YouTube channel. 

Related: Leaders From Uber, eBay and More Share Tips on Success and Marketing?

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The 6 Rules of TV Advertising for Small Businesses

With exciting opportunities opening up at a dizzying pace, businesses are sometimes uncertain how best to maximize their local TV advertising. The essence of advertising still rings true: Advertising is about branding -- and converting viewers into paying customers. Here are my basic rules any buyer needs to know about today’s video advertising landscape:

1. Target the right audience.

The American marketing pioneer John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” Most successful advertisers have a fairly strong sense of their audiences but until recent years have not had sophisticated tools enabling them to reach customer prospects via specific demographic, psychographic and “behavior-graphic” targeting. Advancements in digital targeting have been well-documented; you may be less familiar with the latest audience-targeting innovations in TV targeting enabled by the combination of the latest set-top box and consumer data. 

Related: The Most Thought-Provoking Ads of 2017 -- So Far

2. Know your options.

Local advertisers are best served when there is a robust complement of multiple local cable operators from which to select. In such a marketplace, advertising rates and placements are driven by local competition. The less competition, the higher the cost. The good news is that there may be more options available than many people realize. 

3. Use digital to complement a TV campaign.

Practically every study we’ve seen about cross-platform video campaigns reveals this: Marketers who invest in multiple media outlets enhance the effectiveness of their advertising. Earlier this year, for example, the Interactive Advertising Bureau cited a new auto model campaign for which a combination of desktop, mobile web and TV advertising led to a 211 percent lift in unaided brand awareness. 

While digital-only advertising represents approximately 11 percent of our company’s total revenue -- as an example – today, we are seeing more than 70 percent of our clients using online advertising (and about 50 percent of them using mobile) as a complement to local TV ad buys.

Related: 4 Podcasts That Offer Great Advertising ROI for Entrepreneurs

4. Go ahead, use social media -- but with caution.

Social media has been plagued with well-documented issues such as gross audience overstatement, highly undesirable ad juxtaposition and general lack of accountability. The horror stories of lapses in social media messaging are legion. However, social media’s power -- especially in helping you reach younger customer prospects -- in undeniable. Ask social media marketers tough questions about how best to protect your business’s brand. Have a strict social media policy within your organization as well. Social media should be seen as a piece of your overall marketing campaign, though not the centerpiece of it, and it needs to be monitored.

5. Liberate the gold in your company’s data.

Whether you realize it or not, your own customer data file -- however large or small -- is a critical asset in building an effective ad campaign. This data can be cross-referenced with census data to define the demographic profiles of prospective customers. You can then match your data and census data with cable set-top box viewing patterns and even offline purchase behavior. And lastly, you can use the combined data to create a media plan to find the right audience by targeting your customers’ favorite TV shows, and even reach them directly with a targeted message.

Related: 4 Video Advertising Hacks Powerful Enough to Change Your Company

6. Ask tough questions of your ad partners.

Whether it’s your agency or your media partners, learn from them the relative strengths and shortcomings of various media platforms. Digital advertising’s strengths include geo-fencing, re-targeting, reaching a highly engaged audience and the ability to measure ROI. But, digital’s limitations -- including click fraud, viewability issues, ad-blocker technology, imperfect targeting algorithms and inappropriate content environments -- all underscore why many marketers choose not to use digital advertising in isolation. Radio advertising remains ideal for reaching consumers in their cars, but is known for frequency of message and limited branding power. TV advertising is evolving to encompass digital-style targeting and ROI capabilities with the advantages of sight, sound and motion but remains nominally the most expensive medium. Have a frank discussion with your marketing advisors about the best mix for your objectives and your budget. 

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What Is Schedule I and Why Is Marijuana on the List, Anyway?

Almost every media report on marijuana legalization at the state level references the fact that cannabis remains listed as a Schedule I illegal drug in the U.S.

In another words, despite 29 states legalizing medical marijuana and eight states legalizing adult-use marijuana, the United States government still considers marijuana an illegal drug with no health benefits and a high potential for abuse.

But what exactly is a Schedule I illegal drug? Who does the scheduling and why? What are some of the other drugs on the list?

The following answer those questions and provides an overview of the five federal government drug schedules -- including the fact that the U.S. ranks marijuana as having a higher potential for abuse than cocaine, Vicodin and methamphetamines.

Related: Mexico Joins Canada In Making Cannabis Legal, Leaving the US Far Behind in Marijuana Policy.

The who and the why.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) handles enforcement of the drug schedule and oversees any changes. President Richard Nixon established the DEA in July 1973 to consolidate the federal government’s efforts in “a full-scale attack on the problem of drug abuse in America.” Until then, anti-drug policy was carried out by a number of federal agencies such as the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control. 

Nixon created the new DEA agency by executive order No. 11727, signed July 7, 1973. He had talked about the problem of drug abuse and trafficking since taking office in 1968, including a 1971 “special message” to Congress.

“The problem has assumed the dimensions of a national emergency,” he said in that message. The agency started with1,470 agents and a budget of less than $75 million. It now has about 5,000 agents and a budget of more than $2 billion.


Nixon’s executive order also gave oversight of anti-drug efforts to the attorney general. John Mitchell, who held the position at the time, created a “schedule” of drugs as part of the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. Mitchell, later disgraced during the Watergate scandal, included marijuana on the list of drugs with no medical benefit and a high probability of abuse and addiction.

Congress approved the measure. It’s stayed there ever since.

Interestingly, marijuana had been listed as a legal medicine in the U.S. up until 1942. Even the American Medical Association initially opposed prohibiting its use, according to Scientific American, which also reported that by 1944 the La Guardia Committee report from the New York Academy of Medicine questioned making marijuana illegal.

Related: The 11 Most Important Moments in the History of the American Marijuana Industry

Officially, the prohibition against marijuana was supposed to be considered after debate on its medicinal possibilities. However, the secret tapes that Nixon made during part of his time in the White House make it clear he strongly opposed marijuana legalization.

Nixon asked for a "strong statement on marijuana” against legalization. He also said, “By God, we are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss…I want to hit it, against legalization and all that sort of thing.”

Schedule I

Against that backdrop, the drug schedule was created. Drugs can be rescheduled by petitioning the DEA but the agency has ignored repeated petitions to remove marijuana from Schedule I for decades.

The schedule is divided into five sections. Inclusion in each section depends on the drug’s potential medicinal uses and the potential for dependency and abuse, according to the DEA.

Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and “the potential to create psychological and/or physical dependence,” according to the DEA. That potential decreases with each subsequent schedule.

Schedule I

Considered drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” They include marijuana, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone and peyote.

Schedule II

These drugs are “also considered dangerous” with a high potential for abuse. They include Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin

Related: Science and FDA Say Cannabis Is Medicine but DEA Insists It Isn't

Schedule III

The DEA describes these drugs as having a “moderate to low potential for physical or psychological dependence.” They include products with less than 90 mm of codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

Schedule IV

These drugs are listed as having a low potential for abuse or dependence. They include Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Valium, Ativan and Ambien.

Schedule V

 Basically, products that contain low levels of narcotics, such as cough syrup. 

Follow on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.

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7 Ways to Get More People to Trust Your Content

Any time we hop on our phones or laptops, we just might feel that the glut of content there is suffocating us. How does that happen?

Related: 5 Steps To Build Trust Using Content Marketing

Google the terms "how to," "what is" or even "social media marketing," and watch as your screen is flooded with lists and anecdotes from a variety of sources. While not all of this content is bad, it's hard to know how much of it to trust.

Granted, inaccurate information isn't always the fault of the writer: The internet changes so quickly that source links may become extinct; or there may have been a misinterpretation of complex statistics or research.

However, if you're putting content out there for your own business that you hope will build trust with your audience, you need to start doing more thorough fact-checking than your competitors are. The point is about more than just gaining traffic; it's about building a relationship with your customers,

If you follow these steps, that relationship potentially could last a lifetime.

1. Focus on solving problems first, and getting visitors second.

One of the biggest things that people miss the mark on with their content is that they worry about attracting visitors and neglect to provide value to them.

After all, the goal isn't just to have them find you; you want to keep them coming back. Remember: Your business is out to solve a problem, which should be your thesis when you're deciding on topics to contribute.

In coming up with those topics, ask yourself what are the common issues in your industry. If you're looking for inspiration, it's not a bad idea to run a test on Google Trends, just to double-check that what you're thinking about writing hasn't already prompted oversaturated coverage.

Related: 5 Ways to Create Content That Breaks Down Trust Barriers

For example, if you're an artificial intellitence company that helps fashion brands with sales, then a prospective article titled "What Is AI?" has most likely already been published 1,000 times. But . . . "How AI Is Changing the Fashion Industry" is probably going to gain you considerable traffic.

Overall, your task is figuring out how your brand can produce quality content rather than doing the same thing everyone else is doing.

2. Emphasize quality over quantity.

While producing a high volume of content might be a good strategy to up your SEO results, it can damage the trust people place in your blog. Believe it or not, people tend to trust blogs as a primary source of information; in fact, blogs are in third place for trustworthiness, after family and friends.

This is a big responsibility if you're trying to get viewers to take your content seriously. That's why it's imperative to produce high-quality, not high-quantity, work.

The main factors in producing high quality are those germane to any other academic effort: Have a topic, deliver a thesis with supporting statements, back it with trustworthy research, edit for grammar and spelling and be concise.

I know that seems simple, but you'd be surprised by the number of blogs that forgo standard writing practices in the name of producing lots of content.

3. Be consistent.

No one likes visiting a blog that had one great post from a couple of months ago but has been tumbleweeds ever since. This brings up questions like: "Well, what happened to them? Why'd they stop writing?" And that can discredit the work you've already contributed, since your audience will be unsure if you're still a reliable source.

In 2014, a survey by the Content Marketing Institute showed that 78 percent of the most effective B2B marketers were producing more content than they did a year ago. Out of the surveyed group, 91 percent were promoting their efforts on social media, as well, and 62 percent said they believed that promoting their content to LinkedIn was working, while 50 percent considered Twitter an effective means as well.

These numbers reflect the fact that your competition is going to be tough; but by putting forth a system to create, promote and respond, your efforts will gain the notoriety you need to succeed.

4. Utilize social proof.

There's a lot of power in social proof. As stated above, people are more likely to trust the recommendation of somebody they know or are familiar with, which is why using social proof on your content might be advantageous.

What this might entail are actions like collaborations with industry leaders, customer testimonials and celebrity endorsements. Even just utilizing customer reviews can be beneficial; in a case study conducted by Bazaar Voice for, the group found that customer reviews saw an increase in session conversions by 12.5 percent; products that had 20 or more reviews had an 83.85 percent higher conversion rate than those without reviews.

These findings reflect how, when it comes to social proof, even just a little bit of someone else's approval can go a long way.

5. Avoid common topics or titles.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with content is churning out the same topics as others in your industry. As mentioned earlier, posting about common topics can be useful if you're contributing to a larger conversation, but churning out trite content will cheapen your brand.

Always remember that brand perception is key. To separate yourself from the pack, utilize a tool like Buzzsumo, which will allow you to see what topics in your industry are getting the most shares. Take one of the most popular subjects, and produce content that is unique to you but attacks a similar problem.

6. Invest in branding.

Branding isn't just your logo, typeface or even story; it's how those things work together to build trust with your customer. As digital agency Huge has pointed out, building this trust takes quite a bit of time, but should be one of the primary goals of your content. Remember the beliefs you have in common with your customers (the mission you share), and be consistent with them.

7. Continue the conversation on social media.

One of the biggest things that you can do to build trust in your content and your brand is engage directly with your audience on social media. This is more than just saying "Good point!" or "Thanks!" Rather, it's about actually holding a dialogue or engaging in an open forum.

Related: How to Use Content to Create Trust With Users

An excellent example of someone who does this is Nimble founder Jon Ferrara, who responds to every single tweet to him, as well as contributes to the conversation personally.

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Why You Should Take a 'Wait-and-See' Approach to New-Product Launches

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. It's also a common tactic in savvy product-makers' arsenals.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Spy on Your Competition

While most inventors would love to create something completely new, that's not always necessary. Often, it's enough -- and a brilliant marketing tactic, even -- to imitate your rivals and then add a few tweaks.

Consider the case of Pandora Premium: Pandora waited until Spotify and Apple Music's paid streaming services were vetted by a discerning -- and vocal -- public. By the time Premium launched in March, Pandora leapfrogged over the issues plaguing its competitors, solidifying itself as a smarter, less-glitchy solution for music lovers, thanks in part to what it's calling the Music Genome Project.

Clever, indeed. Pandora used imitation and a delayed launch to woo paid streaming-service users with the promise of a more personalized experience. Did Spotify and Apple Music feel particularly flattered? Probably not. But Pandora won the battle all the same by waiting to pounce rather than joining the early fray.

Patience ain't sexy, but it pays off.

This strategy of seeming to procrastinate flies in the face of conventional thought. But there's a method to the madness -- after all, even Aesop know the tortoise would beat the hare in most races.

Imagine this: You, and everyone you know, is excited about a new gadget's release. The minute it hits the shelf, you have one in hand. Rushing home, you can't wait to tinker with it. But your dreams are dashed: You discover its battery will take 24 hours to charge.

Suddenly, your social news feed is flooded with your friends' posts, all voicing the same disappointment. Everyone is in a state of delayed gratification. Before you ever hit the "on" button, you have a bad taste in your mouth.

But, what if a similar gadget company has been waiting in the wings, purposely postponing a launch so its engineers or coders can read the social chatter about the competition's latest gadget? That palpable disappointment described here would most definitely be noticed. And the company that has waited would certainly make sure that when its product comes out a month later, its battery is fully charged.

Seem like a minor detail? Not to users who would see it as an instant improvement.

Related: A Blueprint for a Killer Product Launch (Infographic)

This "what-if?" scenario illustrates the power of patience and observation. Instead of being first to the marketplace, being last may actually present more opportunities and stability. And this observation applies not only to companies delivering products but to those, like my own, delivering websites; tangibility doesn't matter.

Don't just rest easy -- rest smart.

Regardless of the solution they eventually offer, entrepreneurs who hang back can avoid early fatal flaws that interrupt fantastic consumer experiences. Three of the biggest shortcomings of first-to-launch products? Poor marketing, uber-techiness and overspending.

Splurging on expensive Super Bowl commercials, for example, might sound exciting, but it can kill profit margins and target the wrong audience. Similarly, gadgets such as the iPhone 3D Touch take consumers too long to figure out. And, the steeper the learning curve, the less likely people will see the value in the product, despite its bells and whistles.

The lesson here is that businesses should practice old-fashioned penny-pinching rather than throwing their fiscal resources down a deep hole.

Want to avoid these kinds of errors? Consider these tips to make your product launch successful from the start:

1. Watch, look and listen.

Social media is a not-so-secret listening channel. Everyone tweets, blogs, posts and snaps their experiences with new products, especially those that garner tons of media coverage. Gauge consumer feedback carefully: What are buyers noting that designers and developers missed? What seems too technology-driven and not practical enough for the average user?

One example of this phenomenon is the problem of repeated 911 dialing on some T-Mobile phones. Instead of making one call, the 911 call continuously rings overwhelmed emergency call centers. At least two deaths have been attributed to this issue. There's no doubt that T-Mobile's competitors will make sure the same won't happen with its cellphone systems.

2. Use negative sentiment to your advantage.

Capitalize on negative press swirling around your competition by waiting to release a similar product. You'll avoid possible public relations nightmares and have a better chance of endearing customers to your organization because you've addressed all the imperfections and weaknesses of your competitors' solutions.

Lyft and Uber have been entangled in a fight like this for a while. When President Donald Trump's travel ban rather circuitously led to #DeleteUber momentum, Lyft took advantage of the opportunity to outshine its rival. Not only did Lyft donate to the American Civil Liberties Union, but it has also enjoyed a 7 percent increase in customers since January 29. Lyft wasn't hasty, and it swung with the popular sentiment pendulum.

3. Differentiate yourself through great execution.

You might think you have a revolutionary product, but what if the market disagrees? If your top competitor just released a similar product and its sales are flailing, you owe it to yourself to analyze what's happening. Could it be that the market for your product just doesn't exist yet? If so, how can you pivot so you can produce an actual game-changer, not a wannabe?

Segway knows all about this challenge: It discovered its product's market was limited by cost and individual desire. By the time it was put to bed, it was no longer a technological marvel -- it was just a punchline. Chances are good that leaders of a company waiting to market a Segway-like creation put plans on hold when they saw the fallout and chose to execute their innovations differently.

4. Do the common uncommonly well.

Many times, entrepreneurs overlook the simple aspects of their products in favor of complicated elements. Instead, focus on offering your item's main features better than anyone else can. As you read through social media posts and dig into articles on your competition's products, figure out where things went awry. Make sure you don't stumble over the same roadblocks.

Useful products don't have to be complex to be meaningful to the average user. For instance, Apple is going up against Venmo, QuickPay and Square Cash to allow iOS device users to text money to one another. It's easy to see how this could be an asset for iPhone and iPad customers, and it's not outrageously imaginative. Apple has merely found a smoother path to streamline a service people want and already use.

Related: 4 Questions to Ask Before Doing a National Product Rollout

In sum: Never be afraid of mimicry. In the business world, it can be the key to outshining your top contenders. While we love a story of bold innovation, innovation doesn't always keep the lights on. Sometimes, it's far wiser to come in second or third where the spotlight is less blinding -- there, you can see where you're going.

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4 Insane Truths About Failing to Follow-up

People are being reduced to commodities. In today’s marketplace you must be different. How can you stand out? Get great at follow-up.

You need to get committed to being great at something, so why not be great at follow-up? Sales is a painful profession for the average person but massively fulfilling for those that are great. Those who live, breathe and eat their job will become great. I have never met a great salesperson who wasn't all in.

Since all great success is preceded by a commitment to being great, if you haven’t yet committed to becoming great in sales then you are average at best. Make the commitment today and start learning everything you can about sales. Here are four insane things about the state of the average salesperson:

1. No Phone Call

Why would a salesperson not follow-up even once on a potential client? Not even one little phone call! Those that never make the call will come up with lots of excuses as to why they don’t. They’re too busy organizing, searching the CRM, thinking about what they’re going to say, looking for a script. People come up with reasons not to make a call. You need to be unreasonable and make the call regardless of any reason you come up with not to.

Related: 5 Ways to Get People to Follow Up

2. No Clear Purpose

If a person is going to call there must be a reason. You need a reason. The way I start my calls is “The reason I’m calling is…” I tell everyone the reason upfront. If your purpose is to ask about the kids, the wife, the vacation—then let that be your purpose and don’t sell the product. Just make it clear. Be honest about your purpose and you’ll always have one. If you have a clear purpose going into a phone call you have no excuse to not make it.

Related: 8 Never-Before-Published Follow Up Ideas Unveiled

3. No Message

Leaving a message is something that should always be done but more salespeople don't do this than do.

You don’t want to seem desperate? Why not? You are desperate. Who are you kidding? Are you hungry for business? Then let people know it. I don’t know why people hide behind the idea of “appearing” desperate. Every time I call someone, I’ll leave a message. Never make them feel bad for not calling you back, stay friendly and just leave a message.

Related: 7 Tips for Mastering the Fine Art of Following Up

4. No Data Collection

Not collecting critical data for future sales is negligent. Whether you sell cars, watches, furniture or investment portfolios, you need critical data for future sales.

Have you ever been in the furniture store, bought something and then on the way home thought you should have gotten that side table in addition to what you already purchased? It happens to everyone. Always look for other potential sales, buying cycles and what’s next.

Related: 3 Reasons Your Follow Up Sucks

Following up is critical to becoming massively successful in sales. How are you following up with your customers? What you need is creative follow up tools you can use to stay persistent otherwise you’ll quit long before the sale. By the way, you need to use more than just the phone. Get on Cardone University (link today and become a pro at follow-up and everything else there is know about sales.

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