Category Archives: Starting a Business

Posts discussing the best ways to go about starting a small business in marketing/advertising, and how to make your business a success.

Brand Fast-Trackers #212 – The Age of the Entrepreneur

The Age of the Entrepreneur
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Employees, Entrepreneurs & Intrapreneurs

One of the key tenets of this podcast is entrepreneurship or how do I go from being an employee to an entrepreneur? We have certainly have had many entrepreneurs on this show, and have also recognized the growing trend of intrapreneurship. Today speaking with today’s guest made perfect sense. Julie Cottineau has a long history in the agency world at Grey and Interbrand and spent almost 5 years as the VP of Brands for Virgin. I don’t know about you, but when I think about famous entrepreneurs, Richard Branson certainly comes to mind. Now Julie oversees her own brand consultancy and uses lateral, out-of-category thinking to help agencies and entrepreneurs innovate through BrandTwist and BrandSchool.

Lessons from Richard

Richard Branson

Richard Branson at Gulltaggen

One of the must ask questions for someone who has worked with Richard Branson is what did they learn, so we asked Julie what her key takeaways were from her time at Virgin. I found this particularly fascinating because Virgin plays in so many different buckets and succeeds.

How do you translate the Virgin brand across categories successfully in everything from mobile to credit card to airplanes? In asking Julie what lessons she took with her, she shared four key nuggets:

  1. A Clear Core Promise Julie shares the biggest thing she learned is that the reason why Virgin can go into so many different categories is that they have a really clear core promise, which is about shaking things up and delivering a good promise to the consumer.
  2. Your Brand is the Product/Experience Your offering must deliver what it promises to do. This is key and comes before the messaging.
  3. Embrace Failure Failure is embraced at Virgin as a learning opportunity. Only through failure can you go on to succeed the next time.
  4. Know your Brand Framework Virgin is involved in multiple industries and verticals so knowing the brand tenets was key. If you can’t stay true to who you are as a brand when expanding into new opportunities, you will likely fail. Your brand should not be a document; it should be a living tool.

The Age of the Entrepreneur

The conversation with Julie covered a lot of territory, but one trend she pointed out is that it is the age of the entrepreneur. It has become easier and easier for inspiring entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) to launch their businesses quickly as easily. There has never been a time where there were so many resources at our disposal. So the next time you have a big idea, run with it. You never know what may happen. To this end, I stumbled across this fun little infographic and thought it was help some of you to make the leap. Tune into the full podcast below or check us out on iTunes or Stitcher.

Getting Over Fear On The Way To Becoming an Entrepreneur


[Lead image via WickedStart]

[Branson image via Creative Commons by Gulltaggen

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Brand Fast-Trackers #201 – Venture Development

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In a lot of ways, today’s podcast completes the venture capital trifecta. In episode #137 with Dave Knox, we spoke about his work with the Cincinnati-based start-up accelerator The Brandery and why budding entrepreneurs have to act on their ideas. In episode #143 with Ed Zimmerman, a venture lawyer, we spoke about how he helps start-ups to raise the necessary funding to get their great ideas off the ground. Today, we speak with Frank Dale, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at DeveloperTown, a venture development firm.

I had never really thought about VC firms vs. venture development firms, but Frank explained the different positioning of the two and how venture development firms are more hands on operationally.

For those of us who have thought of starting our own business Frank’s advice was surprisingly simple. Much like Dave Knox sharing that one has to act on the idea, Frank asks two simple questions:

  1. What have you done to validate that the problem you are trying to solve exists?
  2. What is your strategy for connecting the new product with the right consumer demographic on a large scale?

Simple, succinct advice. To hear more of Frank’s interview on thinking innovatively, finding gaps in the marketing and identifying the new needs of consumers. Listen below, on iTunes, or Stitcher.

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Brand Fast-Trackers #191 – Marketing is a Joke

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Today, I’m thrilled to discuss our recent interview with Joseph Jaffe, someone I read via his regular MediaPost column and listen to regularly whether on his own podcast Across the Sound, Bob Knorpp’s The Bean Cast or Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation. Joseph is a matchmaker who pairs big brands with new start-ups because he believes (and I agree) that both have something to offer each other. Learn more at Evol8tion.

Two things really hit home for me in listening to Joseph speak. The first is that the marketing department, led by the CMO, has fairly limited power within most major brands. And this despite those $4 Million per spot Super Bowl ads. As Joseph puts it:

Today, marketing is a joke. Today, the chief marketing officer, we all know the stats, tenure of less than two years. They own nothing anymore, except for promotions and advertising. They don’t own distribution. They don’t own pricing. They don’t own R&D. They don’t own a lot of the things that even pertain to the four P’s.

In a way this was not surprising and yet hearing that the four pillars we can all recite in our sleep – priceproduct,promotion, and place - are to a certain extent out of our power is extremely disheartening. So how can we overcome this? Especially since marketing is changing so rapidly. Perhaps it is, as Joseph puts it, the blending of IT and Marketing. I’ve certainly read a lot about the coming of the CMTO and it makes a lot of sense. Joseph speaks about it this way:

I was discussing with someone today, this prediction from IBM that marketing will spend more on IT, or technology, than the IT department will. I said to them, ‘Yeah. That’s true, but the real question is will the IT people figure out marketing before the marketing people figure out IT?’ If they do, there will be more marketing.

I think the real key to this podcast and Joseph’s prescription to fix marketing is for technology and marketing (Silicon Valley & Madison Avenue) coming together in innovative partnerships. This kind of creative collaboration will eventually not only change how marketing is perceived, but also change how effective it can be. This certainly echoes what we heard from R/GA Chief Creative Nick Law.

What do you think? Is a match between Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue the perfect match?

Connect with Kat on Google +LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Brand Fast-Trackers #183 – Content is King & Queen

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Today’s episode is with Rob Barnett, CEO/Founder of My Damn Channel. Rob had a long career in TV and radio when he founded My Damn Channel in 2007. Think back, in 2007, YouTube had been purchased by Google already, but it was nowhere near the behemoth it has become. Rob and his team took the bet that as online video continued to unfold, YouTube would mostly serve as a popular video aggregator, but that both consumers and most importantly, advertisers would need a place to go for premium, original content. My Damn Channel is just that place. As Rob puts it:

“For us, the approach has always been the quality, the selection . . . so on the internet it is important to steal some of the playbook of traditional media. They have always put the best in front of the most.”

This plays into the ‘content is king’ sentiment, but according to Rob it’s more than that. “Content is King and Queen,” he says. My Damn Channel takes the most popular talent online and creates (ideally) enough traction to inspire advertisers to join in, support it, and then help them create branded entertainment of their own. To me it seems Rob has found the perfect formula for bridging the gap between the safe traditional TV you-know-what-you-are-going-to-get model and the online quality-can-be-questionable video model.

My Damn Channel works with brands like Adobe, Southern Comfort, Subway, Fiat and most recently did a successful campaign with 711 to help their star Grace Helbig of Daily Grace decide whether or not she should move from NY to LA. The 7Election campaign (obviously timed along with the recent presidential election) generated 42,000 votes in the first day alone.

As a consumer, if you have not heard of My Damn Channel, go check them out to see Grace and celebs like Adam Carolla, Jimmy Kimmel and Coolio (yes, you read that right – Coolio!).

As a brand/advertiser who has perhaps avoided supporting online video, they are absolutely worth checking out.

Tune into the full audio below, or find us on iTunes or Stitcher.

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Brand Fast-Trackers #174 – The Truth Comes in Blows

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Do you have an incredible idea? A unique concept you are genuinely passionate about? In this episode of Brand Fast-Trackers, we were given the opportunity to speak with Venture Lawyer, Ed Zimmerman, who has been called “one of the best venture capital lawyers in the country – period.” And he has the credentials to back it up — he’s angel invested in more than 30 companies and invested as an limited partner (LP) in several highly successful venture funds.

So what exactly does Ed do? – In a nut shell, he can be what stands between you and the funding you need to bring your idea to reality; he represents start-ups and growth companies in raising the necessary funding to get companies with great ideas off the ground. We asked Ed what he looks for at an early stage in determining “yes or no” to investing in an idea and he quickly replied:

1. Technology
2. Market
3. Management

Ed quickly reiterated the importance of the last two, specifically when discussing management.

“I need to see someone who has a vision and can articulate that vision and has a passion and enthusiasm that is infectious. Someone who is coachable, has people skills and when articulating the vision can get people to follow.”

We spoke with Ed about companies who are truly at the beginning; start-ups that own nothing but an idea and need to get the ball rolling. Ed’s advice? “You really need to be able to network your way to these people, sending an email stating you found us online is not enough.”

My key takeaway: tenacity is crucial. In order to get others to believe in your idea with the same vehemence as you, you must believe in it enough to make your passion infectious.

To hear the rest of the interview, tune in below or hop on over to iTunes.

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