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Interview: John Jantsch, Author of The Commitment Engine

john-jantschJohn Jantsch, author of The Referral Engine and Duct Tape Marketing talks about his book The Commitment Engine.

Listen to John’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

Inspiration: Startup Vitamins Steve Jobs

Inspiration: Startup Vitamins Steve Jobs

Inspiration: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs at the All Things Digital

Create a Marketing Plan

You have it. A great idea. A great team. Some investments. You’re ready to move forward with your venture. But here’s a something to look for on your to-do list:branding

A marketing plan.

If you went ahead and made a business plan, why would you leave marketing up to fate? Entrepreneurs are planners and your marketing platform should be no exception.

Here are somethings to keep in mind when writing your marketing plan.

1. Find your personality.

You probably aren’t Apple (you might be the next Apple, but you aren’t Apple yet), but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. One of the turning points for Apple was the “Think Different” campaign. At the time, it seemed like a reaction to the IBM “Think” campaign. In both cases, the campaign goes deeper than a feud. These two brands found slogans that associated with their identities.

Find you identity and tell people what it is. Think? Think different? Imagine? Imagine greater? What do you stand for and how can you tell people in your marketing campaign?

2. Find you context.

What surrounds you in your market? Who are your competitors and what stands in your way? What can best help you to grow? Don’t ignore the context that surrounds you. Integrate it into your marketing campaign.

Make a list of people who work with your competitors. These people might be open to you and your business at some point. Identify your target market.

3. Unite personality and context.

This is where you start to formulate your strategy. If you’re business is primarily B2B (business to business), you don’t want to focus your efforts on something that is primarily B2C (business to consumer). Can you make contacts with other businesses on Twitter? Sure! There’s a symbiosis there.

Can you find other businesses on Facebook? Less likely. Facebook is almost primarily a B2C platform. Focusing your efforts there wouldn’t be the best use of resources. Make sure you’re reaching the people you need to reach.

4. Take action

This one’s self-explanatory. Don’t make a plan if you aren’t willing to take action. Give yourself deadlines, goals, achievements. Measure your success.

5. Evolve.

Your plan looks good from here and that’s great! But don’t sit back on your heels. With the Internet, everything seems to be moving at an alarming rate. Today’s Gangnam Style is tomorrow’s Harlem Shake. Your business plan is a place to start, but it isn’t the ending. Keep moving forward.

What do you put in your marketing plan? If you’ve never made one, what is most daunting? Share in the comments!

Square and Payment Methods for Entrepreneurs

As smartphones and tablets become more and more prevalent in the market place, mobile payment methods are a more viable solution for small businesses and entrepreneurs to manage their money.

Square, a dongle based credit card swiper for the iPhone, was an advancement in technology that demonstrated the potential the smartphone had for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Since it’s introduction, some businesses have been able to get rid of cash registers entirely and shift their entire platform to tablets and mobile phones. Square is trying to remain on the cutting edge by getting rid of the hardware and enabling geofencing, making payment possible by proximity over rather than actual card swiping.

While security issues are still being sorted out, Square has remained on the cutting edge of mobile payment technology. Behind them, PayPal is attempting to pick up the slack and offer new ways to pay by phone, as well. PayPal here again offers a physical device to swipe the card with, but doesn’t have a dedicated app for iPhone or iPad.

Intuit GoPayment offers a similar device as Square. It plugs into your phone and requires swiping the card. One major benefit of using the Intuit method is that the transaction syncs automatically with your Quickbooks software.

Many different companies are offering ways to turn your mobile device into a cash register. Is the mobile wallet going to be the new trend? Several credit cards, banks, and cellular carriers got together to form Isis, a place where standards could be set for mobile payments.

The biggest concern that remains is security. All the information is flying through the air. How can we be sure no one will pick it up? Some researchers are even devoting their time to punching holes in any wall that Square builds.

While mobile payments are a great way to take your business with you anywhere, you need to make sure you are up to date on security issues. You need to protect yourself and your customers before going mobile.

What are some of your concerns? What would keep you from or encourage you into using mobile payment?

Slogan Week: Think Different

This week, Biz Television takes a look at its favorite slogans.

A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a political, commercial, religious and other context as a repetitive expression of an idea or purpose.

Slogans play an important role in advertising. They linger in one’s mind even when the advertisement is long gone. A slogan needs to stick in your head even when the ad is gone.

Today’s slogan: Think different (Apple)

A play on the IBM “Think” slogan, “Think different” was created for Apple Computer in 1997 by the Los Angeles office of advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day. It was used in a famous commercial, several print advertisements and a number of TV promos for Apple products. Apple’s use of the slogan was discontinued with the start of the Apple Switch ad campaign in 2002.

What makes it such a great slogan? While Apple seems to be the definition of trendy, in 1997 it wasn’t. Before the iPhone, before the iPod, Apple was the other guy. PC’s and Microsoft dominated the market. The “Think different” slogan was a layered message.

First, explore your originality, don’t submit to conformity. The Apple posters showed great thinkers and unique personalities to portray their message.

Second, and most important, think of a different kind of computer.

Two words make an amazing slogan and “Think different” is the shortest slogan on our list.

Apple eases app restrictions

The court system recently decided that jailbreaking your smartphone is legal. While Apple stood the most to lose in such a case, the iPhone producer never brought tried to prosecute anyone who had jailbroken their phone. Jailbreaking voids the warranty, but a quick restore factory settings tends to erase the damage.

This week, Apple Inc announced easing restrictions for building iPhone and iPad applications, a move that should allow for the use of third-party tools such as Adobe Systems’ Flash software.

Shares of Adobe surged over 12 percent at mid-afternoon on Nasdaq on Thursday, after Apple announced the changes.

Apple’s about-face follows a high-profile spat with Adobe last spring that saw Steve Jobs sharply criticize Flash technology.

Apple had been criticized by developers for what they called onerous restrictions on building apps. Apple had effectively banned developers from using the popular Flash software and other technology to build apps for iOS, the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad.

Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall said Apple was feeling huge pressure from app developers.

“What spurred this on was the uproar from the growing iOS developer base,” Marshall said. “People liked using Flash, and now they’ll be able to use a bunch of different technologies.”

Blackberry touch is official!

Blackberry lovers finally get their touch screen.

Research In Motion unveiled a new BlackBerry smartphone with a touchscreen and slideout keyboard, hoping to raise its consumer appeal and fend off competition from Apple’s iPhone.

The BlackBerry Torch will go on sale in the United States on August 12 for $199.99 with a two-year contract with AT&T Inc. in a move similar to AT&T’s exclusive contract with the iPhone. Analysts said the consumer-friendly features could help the BlackBerry catch up with the iPhone, as well as smartphones that use Google’s Android operating system such as Motorola’s Droid.

The Torch features a touch screen, but also has a slide down keyboard.

While some sites argue that consumers should wait for the iPhone to come to Verizon, other sources argue that Apple has little reason to go to other networks.

Blackberry did not try to reinvent the wheel. The Torch does not change the name of the game for touch smartphones. Blackberry seems to be the standard for business, and now, there’s just one more option out there.

The Tablet War heats up

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has puffed out his chest and thumbed his nose at the iPad as Microsoft prepares to do battle with Apple.

Ballmer announced most major PC companies, including Dell, Acer, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sony, have tablets in the pipeline at the company’s annual partner conference in Washington, D.C. All these devices will be running on the Windows 7 operating system.

Hewlett-Packard was not mentioned, as it will be designing a slate device that runs off Palm software.

At the same conference, Microsoft announced that online auction firm eBay Inc, tech services company Fujitsu Ltd and PC maker Dell are among the companies testing Microsoft’s new Windows Azure platform appliance, which lets customers implement Microsoft’s newest “cloud” server technology in its own data centers.

Launches for Amazon and Borders

US online retailer Amazon.com Inc has opened an Internet grocery store in Britain, joining a competitive market. Amazon competes with Tesco, Wal-Mart’s Asda and J Sainsbury, as well as online specialist Ocado, though Amazon will not offer the one to two-hour delivery slots provided by these operators.

Online sales of groceries are booming in Britain and grocery specialists IGD forecast they will almost double to 7.2 billion pounds ($10.9 billion) by 2014. Amazon recently launched a grocery store in Germany recently and already provides grocery services to the US.

Another major launch this week was Borders ebookstore. It simultaneously launched applications for smartphones. Borders assures customers that several file formats including ePub, mobile technology, and PDF. Borders also offers several different ereaders through its website. They hope to sell at least ten different e-readers by the end of 2010.

Borders is trying to catch up to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Apple, who started selling ebooks sooner and are ahead of the curve.

If you would like to know more about the e-reader wars, you can check it out here.

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