Why Buying Marketing Technology is Hard

by Sherry Lamoreaux


Editor’s Note: David Raab has 30 years’ experience as a marketer, consultant, speaker and analyst. He’s the author of “The Marketing Performance Measurement Toolkit,” and the Raab Association’s reports and guides, including the B2B marketing automation vendor selection tool the VEST report. You can keep up with David at his blog, Customer Experience Matrix. Atri Chatterjee is Act-On’s Chief Marketing Officer. They held a three-part Act-On conversation which covered the obstacles to buying technology; common mistakes in buying technology and best practices in buying technology. This blog post is an edited transcript of the first part: obstacles.

Technology has changed marketing so profoundly, and with such potential, that Gartner has said that we can expect the CMO, the chief marketing officer, to outspend the CIO and the IT department by 2017. Marketers are investing in technology so they can meet the buyer where they are, which is usually online or some other form of digital communication. And, in this medium, they can measure the results of the marketing engagement and quantify their efforts.

This, in turn, means that a lot of marketers are making business decisions and buying decisions in technology — something that was previously done by the IT department. Many marketers do not have the background or experience to do this. David, would you agree with that analysis?

Fundamental issues in purchasing technology

DAVID:  Well, certainly I would agree with that analysis. And I’d argue that many IT people don’t have the right training to do procurement. But certainly marketers, although they are very skilled in procuring other things like media, they’re by and large not trained in technology procurement. And technology procurement is hard.

Even if you’re an IT person, you often don’t really understand the marketing technology itself. So, marketers first have the issues that IT people face, which include understanding whether a system will perform the way it’s supposed to perform, will the vendor be in business, will it scale, will it integrate?

So, the marketer has all these same fundamental issues that IT people face. You have additional issues in that you can’t turn to the corporate IT department for help. They have software-as-a-service vendors who make everything sound very simple, but in fact there are integration and more technical issues that the marketers don’t understand. So, you have a whole range of things, capabilities, that marketers have to learn about in order to make the technology decisions.

Read more at Act-On.com

Sherry Lamoreaux s the editor of Act-On’s Marketing Action blog. She also writes and edits eBooks, white papers, case studies, and miscellanea. She is an award-winning creative writer. Find her on Google+


3 Steps to Fighting Cyber Crime Through Your Application Portfolio

By Jason Ausburn and Karl Fruecht


You’ve acquired a new storefront. While doing your final walk-through, you notice an unlocked door that opens to a side alley. You can’t use the alley for storage. It doesn’t give your customers an additional entrance. It’s just an additional access point.

How are you going to secure it?

Just like your store’s physical footprint, your IT network may have “side doors” in the form of valueless and unused IT assets that cost more to maintain than they’re worth. Each of these doors simply increases your organization’s vulnerability, or its attack surface. The right application management strategy, however, can help you understand not only where you’re vulnerable but also how to fix weaknesses, evolving your approach from a tactical obligation to a strategic business driver.

Define the Landscape

The challenge of maintaining a secure posture with limited resources while attempting to support and enable current business demands is not uncommon. With so many assets to manage, there isn’t much time left for innovation. As a result, security was seen — until recently — as a necessary evil.

However, recent high-profile retail data breaches have highlighted the importance of data security. Stores that can’t protect their customers’ data risk losing their business. As a result, the damage to your reputation may be irreparable. The time is right for IT experts to demonstrate why it’s important to invest in security, how it affects infrastructure and why they need to be part of budget and planning conversations.

To effectively participate in those conversations, however, you need a toolset to help clearly explain the security landscape as well as current and future security plans. Buy-Hold-Sell, a methodology more commonly associated with Wall Street, can be something of a Rosetta stone for your application portfolio. It will enable each business unit, including security, finance and business operations, to use a data-driven approach to crystalize the view of your IT investment.

Buy refers to valuable IT assets that advance business and merit additional investment; Hold means the asset is necessary but neutral; and Sell applies to assets that lack value, cost a lot to maintain and increase the business’ vulnerability to attack.

The Creep

This visibility helps staunch asset creep — the steady, incremental buildup of assets that, over time, lose their value. Sometimes new apps are layered onto obsolete ones without reevaluating which apps drive business, which keep the lights on and which merely increase network vulnerability.

Sprawling IT landscapes takes a lot of time, money and effort to maintain, pulling resources from more valuable, strategic activities. Buy-Hold-Sell allows you to decide whether you want to accept the risk of a particular IT asset. It provides the opportunity to simplify the IT landscape and reduce the organization’s attack surface. At the same time, this practice takes guesswork and blind spots out of the equation.

Build The Trust

Ultimately, security all comes down to people, and in most companies, there are gaps between the people who handle security, the information about the assets being secured and the ability to communicate that information. IT security must evolve from something that’s perceived as a necessary cost to a profit enabler that sets the company apart from its competition and sustains trust from your customers.

Catapult Your Career

When you can provide a single source of truth that everyone can clearly and easily understand, you’ll bridge the gap between business operations, finance and your company’s executives. You’ll cut across teams to help your organization understand the actual cost of security, and you’ll be able to map that cost, and the associated risks, across multiple lines of business.

Once you can do that, you’ll not only clarify your company’s needs, you’ll also demonstrate your own value to the organization. This will better equip you to rise through the ranks of your IT organization. It all starts with IT leaders having the tools and the understanding to know how to keep that side door locked.

Karl Fruecht, Client Engagement Manager, joined KillerIT in 2013 as Head of Engagement. In this role, he is responsible for pre and post-sales, implementation and on-going support engagement. He also leads education and thought leadership activities and frequently presents at Executive Forums, Civic Groups and Training Seminars. Prior to joining Forsythe, Karl helped bring HSBC Securities (USA) into the digital age as Head of E-Commerce. He helped pioneer the firm into the electronic trading age by overseeing the implementation of the first futures trading system, which ultimately became the firms first revenue producing website in the America’s.

The Battle for Relevance

by Mark Sanborn


You and your business are more likely to become irrelevant before you ever become obsolete. Blackberry is a great example. Its market share for smartphones was 40 percent in 2010. It is less than 2 percent today despite an 85 percent growth in the number of annual smartphone sales. Blackberry didn’t lose market share because it stopped working. It lost because it became irrelevant.

The battle for relevancy comes up in every conversation we have about our own careers and businesses. We are, as a group, obsessed with it. In this blog, we share how it affects what we do and how we do it. We hope you enjoy our most personal post to date.

From Scott McKain:

Death concerns me; irrelevance terrifies me to the core.

On my 14th birthday, I started a daily job at a small radio station. At 18, elected as president of a student organization, I took to the road full-time to travel and speak on its behalf. I’ve never left the platform since.

In other words, from the day I turned 14 — to this one — there has been an audience for what I have to say, and how I have to say it. I’ve been fortunate beyond description.

However, if I become irrelevant – taking the audience for granted — those wonderful readers and listeners would evaporate, instantly terminating the career I love so much.

That’s why relevance is critical – and scary.

I discipline myself to read constantly, watch shows and sites targeted to other demographics, see avant-garde movies, and stay active on social media. I listen each week to Billboard’s top songs via Spotify. I engage with what’s impacting Millennials — not just Baby Boomers.

You can’t pull the covers over your head and stay relevant by accident. You must actively participate in the current culture to ensure you’re prepared for, and perhaps able to influence, whatever comes next.

Or else…

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

From Mark Sanborn:

There are three great fears most leaders posses: Staying relevant is at the top of the list.

It makes sense — the ability to create results is dependent on relevance to customers, employees and shareholders. You never hear about successful products or leaders that are irrelevant.

Staying relevant means not resting on past success. I consider success as an early warning indicator for failure.  As my pal Joe says, success means only that you know what worked yesterday.

The danger is that our thinking becomes frozen in time. Staying relevant requires “unfreezing” yourself. That means being immersed enough in the present to be able to understand it and speak to it.

Three suggestions:

  1. Find a millennial to reverse mentor you,
  2. Pay close attention to current culture even if you don’t agree with it.
  3. Run you ideas by your kids for feedback. They’ll help keep you relevant.

*Read more at MarkSanborn.com

Mark SanbornMark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Sanborn is an international bestselling author and noted authority on leadership, team building, customer service and change. Follow Mark on Twitter @Mark_Sanborn.

Laugh More, Stress Less and Enjoy Success

by Steve Rizzo


It seems like whenever I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, anything can happen, and it usually does. I can’t tell you how often I notice a stain on my shirt or a broken shoelace.  Sometimes I can’t find my car keys, or I notice the gas tank is near empty. Boy, does life seem stupid sometimes. If I allow even one of these annoying moments to try my patience, it could set me off for the rest of the day. In the end, all it takes is one annoyance to influence another one, and then another, and so on. This domino effect can be devastating, but when I recognize it for what it is and say to myself, “This is a test, and I will pass it and learn from it,” I set myself up for a happier, more productive day both professionally and personally. Here’s where humor can really be a difference maker.

One time, Gina and I were running late for an important dinner engagement with a corporate client and I couldn’t find my glasses. I tore the entire house apart looking for them.  The more I looked, the more aggravated I became, throwing items around and stalking around the house like a mad man. I noticed Gina was sitting in the living room chair shaking her head with a smirk on her face. Finally, I said, “Why don’t you help me look instead of just sitting there?” She asked, “You want me to help?”

Miraculously controlling my temper I said, “Yes! If you don’t mind!”

“OK,” she said. “I’ll help. Why don’t you check your face?”

Of course, I had been wearing them the whole time! I couldn’t believe it. At that instant, I found myself in the middle of two conflicting emotions. I could feel my bad mood escalating. A part of me was angry at Gina for letting me search the entire house when she knew we were going to be late for the dinner. This could have easily turned into an argument that would have set the tone for the rest of the evening.
But something inside me knew what the consequences would be if I held onto the anger.  o, when I looked at Gina, who was trying with all her might to refrain from laughing, I decided to go with the positive emotion and began to laugh too. I looked at Gina and said, “Oh yeah. Right where I left them. You’re never going to let me live this one down are you?” As we were leaving, Gina noticed I was jiggling the keys in my hand.

“Now,” she said, “If you can only find your car keys we might make it in time for dessert!”

We laughed all the way to the restaurant as we recalled some of the more ridiculous things I had done in the past. Laughter put us both in a relaxed, positive mood, which set the tone for an enjoyable and very successful evening.

It is amazing the power we derive from stepping outside our emotions of the moment and giving ourselves permission to make a shift and view them from a humorous perspective. But you don’t have to be a comedian, armed with an arsenal of rapid-fire funny remarks or wise cracks at your disposal to give your Humor Being the opportunity to express itself.

What’s important is not necessarily to be funny, but rather allowing yourself to see the funny in a stressful or challenging situation. This is a habit anyone can master. The more you challenge yourself to see the humor during adverse times, the more your Humor Being will become a part of who you are. The more you Humor Being becomes a part of who you are, the more you will be able to enjoy your life.

So, when do you need to tap into your Humor Being? When you become aware that your emotions are veering out of control. Awareness is the key that will set you free from the wrath of negative emotions of any kind. If you’re not aware something is wrong you won’t know you’re heading in the wrong direction. How do you determine they’re heading in the wrong direction? Stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself any number for the following warning questions:

  • “What will be the consequences if I hold on to this anger?”
  • “I have an important meeting with a client. Am I putting my best foot forward now?”
  • “What will happen if I don’t get my shift together?”
  • “I have an extremely busy day. Am I in the mood I need to be in to get things done?”
  • “Are my fears keeping me from succeeding?”
  • “What can I do to turn this mood around?”
  • “What would Steve Rizzo say if he could see me now?” (Or substitute “my mother” for “Steve Rizzo” and “she” for “him.”)

These types of questions act like radar, warning you that you’re spinning out of control and becoming dangerously negative. More importantly, warning questions are good reminders that there are better ways to deal with frustrating and chaotic events than clinging to the worst-case scenarios they bring up.

Here is one humorous strategy to get you on your way: The next time you’re at the breaking point of losing it, imagine that your Humor Being has a voice and is taking on the role of a news reporter giving you the blow-by-blow account of what is happening inside you.

“We interrupt your regularly scheduled life to bring you this special news bulletin! This is a message from your emotional broadcasting system. It has been brought to our attention that you are late, stuck in traffic, and your back sweat is turning your seat into the Everglades! You are now being tested to evaluate the severity of the negative situation. Right now you have a choice!  You can either get your shift together and laugh, learn the lesson life is trying to teach you, nourish your soul, move on with confidence and enjoy the day — or you can suffer from inner conflict, get angry, lose control and let opportunities pass you by! May the shift be with you. Back to you in the studio, Chuck.”

*This blog originally appeared on SteveRizzo.com

Steve RizzoSteve Rizzo is more than a Funny Motivational Speaker. Don’t let the laughter fool you! What Steve brings to the table is his captivating ability to engage the attendees with laughter as he challenges them to SHIFT their focus and way of thinking to discover greater enthusiasm, increased productivity and new levels of success. Recognizing difficult situations don’t cause us to fail or be unhappy, but rather our negative thoughts and beliefs about the situations, Steve has been Adjusting Attitudes in organizations throughout the world such as AT&T, Prudential, State Farm, LaQuinta, and even the CIA (yes, he even had them laughing!) since 1994.
Find him on Twitter @steverizzophb, Facebook at Riz’s Biz Steve Rizzo, LinkedIn and Google+.

C-Suite TV to Showcase Behind The Brand, Hosted by Bryan Elliott

C-Suite TV, a web-based digital on-demand business channel featuring interviews and shows with business executives, thought leaders, authors and celebrities, is proud to announce that CEO of The Good Brain Digital Studios, writer, producer and TV host Bryan Elliott is joining the C-Suite TV family. His weekly TV show, Behind The Brand, takes viewers behind the scenes at some of the coolest brands to see how they get things done and to what they attribute their successes.

The show’s formula is simple: produce a show with start-ups, entrepreneurs, innovators, and other business professionals. The goal is to help business owners grow their companies and get insights from people who have done it and have achieved a higher level of success.

Behind The Brand is ‘insight to grow your biz from the experts who’ve done it,'” said Elliott. “Outside of possibly the TED talks, I can’t think of many other places where you can come and learn from so many of the world’s most dynamic entrepreneurs, business experts and thought leaders under one roof.”

Behind The Brand was launched in 2010 and has already aired multiple full-length episodes, and now they will be shown on C-Suite TV. Guests have included actress Jessica Biel, media personality Mike Rowe, and professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. Companies featured include Ford, Taco Bell, and CamelBak.

“I am thrilled that Bryan is joining our C-Suite family,” said Hayzlett. “With Behind The Brand, Bryan provides our C-Suite TV audience with incredible content geared towards innovators and entrepreneurs from all walks of life and it also gives viewers a sneak peek at how these big, cool brands became household names.”

Behind The Brand can now be seen on http://c-suitetv.com/behind-the-brand/

For more information, visit www.csuitetv.com.

Read more at MarketWired

The Math Behind Measuring the Value of IT

by Bob Dvorak


In today’s digital age, the amount of money enterprises are allocating toward IT is rapidly growing. But what exactly do we get for all that money spent? According to Gartner, IT continues to command enormous budgets. Enterprises in the media industry spend an average of 5 percent of overall revenue on IT. Banking and finance companies allocate 6.5 percent, and software and Internet companies spend nearly 7 percent of revenue on tech.

IT is too important and too expensive not to measure its effectiveness and efficiency, especially as it goes through historic changes in its delivery and consumption. CEOs and company boards clamor for new digital capabilities to improve their customers’ experiences, drive organic revenue growth, increase agility and create competitive advantages.

To speed deployment of digital business capabilities, technology budgets and spending are bleeding beyond IT’s walls and landing across the business. Chief marketing officers, chief digital officers and chief innovation officers — to list a few — now control almost 40 percent of the traditional IT budget, Gartner reports. That number is expected to rise as high as 80 percent over the next three to five years.

How will the organization and board measure the effectiveness of this “New IT” world? Corporate performance management traditionally struggles with deploying a model to measure IT’s business value. Many efforts degrade into techno-babble and overstated, unsubstantiated assertions about IT project ROI or IRR that result in the C-Suite discarding or discounting any value claims.

With a new desire for rapid deployment of digital capabilities, now is the perfect time to shed the failed IT measurement models for a simple and accurate approach.

The New IT Metric: Business capabilities, divided by costs. It’s math, not rocket science.

This ratio should become the standard for measuring IT effectiveness. Much like miles-per-gallon measures a car’s efficiency, dividing business capabilities by department costs becomes the MPG of IT.

Consistently measuring business capabilities is essential, so the numbers don’t waver as components and competencies change over time. Some business capabilities aren’t necessarily numeric by nature, but a scoring index is possible. As long as you’re consistent with how you score them, you can create numeric values and data models that can be governed.

Consuming financial data from accounting and other systems of record can accurately assemble IT costs. Data-driven metrics ensure reliability and legitimacy. Moreover, using business capabilities as the desired outcome of IT improves the dialog across the organization Ú everyone is clear that investments in technology are there to drive new or better business capabilities.

Skeptics and naysayers will argue for more measurements and a wider, more granular model of measuring the business value of IT. This approach has been pursued for the last 20 years or more with limited effectiveness, which some would say proves the need for new thinking.

Business Capabilities/IT Costs is the proper metric to accurately show any CEO or board their IT organization’s effectiveness, while fitting nicely into a corporate performance management dashboard.

Over the long-term, organizations can determine if they should share this metric with investors or use it as a valid benchmarking comparison with other companies.






New IT models provide business with agility, speed, digital capabilities and customer-centric approaches to drive organic growth and profitability. Measure the impact of New IT in a new, meaningful and elegant way.

Bob Dvorak is Founder and President of KillerIT.  He is responsible for KillerIT’s strategic direction and execution. Under his leadership, KillerIT continues to grow and succeed. During Bob’s 25 years at Forsythe, he has held a number of national management positions and earned numerous distinctions. Most recently, he was senior vice president, general manager, responsible for serving clients in the company’s Central Area. Prior, he was responsible for the establishment and development of the company’s Western Area, which experienced double-digit growth in product sales and professional consulting services under his leadership.

Is Marketing Automation Worth the Investment?

by Sherry Lamoreaux


Researchers keep saying that marketing automation is growing really, really fast. What’s all the hubbub, Bub? Is it worth the investment?
For most companies, yes. This is more than my (admittedly biased) vested opinion; the research clearly shows companies that use marketing automation skillfully fare better than those that do not use it (or that don’t use it well).
Some of that research is recapped in a new white paper: CEO Perspective: 5 Ways Marketing Automation Can Optimize & Grow Your Business.

CEO Perspective looks at five aspects of marketing automation that let it earn its keep, from the point of view of the C-suite:

1. Improve Revenue Measurement & Management
You know the old saying: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Marketing automation helps you do both. You get to see which campaign touches (both messaging and channels) are working best. This gives guidance on where to put those precious dollars, and it helps your marketing team focus on fine-tuning repeatable processes so you can scale the campaigns that work best.

63 percent of companies that are outgrowing their competitors use marketing automation.
— The Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups, 2013 Lead  Generation Marketing Effectiveness Study

2. Reduce Sales & Marketing Friction; Increase Trust and Results
A CEB study showed us that 49 percent of surveyed sales reps ignored more than half of all marketing-provided leads. Friction between marketing and sales is a long tradition, fed by differing goals, mixed messages and missed forecasts. Changing buyer behavior hasn’t eased the tensions. These days, marketing has got to take the football further up the field, driving impact across the entire buying cycle, right up to — and then beyond — the point of a sale.

Digital marketing has made it possible for sales and marketing to work together, determining lead qualification, nurturing strategies and much more. Marketing automation provides the infrastructure that brings the shared process to life, ensuring that the two teams have transparency and accountability to each other. And that, friends, leads to bigger, better deals.

According to Aberdeen Research, companies that are best-in-class at aligning marketing and sales experience a 31.6% average year-over-year growth in annual company revenue, versus 18.2% for the Industry Average and a 6.7% average decrease among Laggards.

3. Improve Marketing Efficiency
The classic benefit is saving time. This happens in multiple ways and places, from creating reusable templates to saving time on email and landing page creation, to creating multi-step automated programs that replicate successful campaigns and run non-stop, 24/7, with speed, scale and accuracy. These and other programs create results that are hard to come by when done manually.

According to The Annuitas Group, nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

Templeton & Company left the chaos of managing six different marketing tools behind when it moved to an integrated marketing automation program. Sarah Parker, CMO, and Julie Weil, the company’s marketing manager, recently said their marketing automaton platform has cut the time spent on marketing programs in half  — which also contributes to the bottom line. “If you add everything up, [our marketing automation platform] is saving us approximately $10,000 a year,” Sarah said. Read the case study.

4. Improve Sales Efficiency
Looking at today’s modern purchase process, marketers using digital marketing can gather information about the prospect’s needs and wants, which in turn provides sales reps with unprecedented insight into a prospect’s interests and pain points. Consider that marketing has been engaging with the lead, building the relationship, and earning trust all through the nurturing process, bringing the buyer near to the point of decision-making. When the hand-off to sales comes, the rep knows exactly how to target the pitch from the moment they engage.

Marketing automation can also build and deliver an up-to-the-minute list of hot prospects prioritized by lead score. This increases sales reps’ efficiency, leading to more closed deals while reducing the costs to earn a new customer.

According to Aberdeen Research, companies that get lead scoring right have a 192 percent higher average lead qualification rate than those that do not.

5. See How to Improve ROI
Marketing automation offers pinpoint, real-time measurement and reporting. With this data at your fingertips, your team has the ability to measure ROI across various sales and marketing efforts. Should you invest in another pay-per-click campaign or hire a new inside sales rep? Advanced ROI reporting made possible by marketing automation enables you and your team to make sound financial decisions based on hard data instead of gut feel or emotion.

B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing achieved 24 percent faster revenue growth and 27 percent faster profit growth over a three year period, according to SiriusDecisions.

It’s always important to save money where you can — and increase your results when you can. Marketing automation gives you the ability to do both, equipping your team with the tools to revolutionize your marketing and sales organization for greater efficiency and return on investment.

Read the paper: CEO Perspective: 5 Ways Marketing Automation Can Optimize & Grow Your Business.

*This blog originally appeared at Act-On.com

Sherry Lamoreaux s the editor of Act-On’s Marketing Action blog. She also writes and edits eBooks, white papers, case studies, and miscellanea. She is an award-winning creative writer. Find her on Google+


Traditional Corporate Structure Can Hurt Brand Health

by Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey


In order to stay fresh, relevant and dominate their space, brands must constantly reinvent themselves. But does the traditional company structure itself suffocate a brand’s growth and evolution? Does the structure itself create its own roadblocks, choke communication and suppress innovation?

Traditional corporate structure puts marketing higher in position and status than either sales or customer service. This creates the misconception that marketing knows most about what the customer wants when, in fact, sales and customer service are the only two groups in the company that talk to the customer every day.

How did this structural upending happen? For one thing, corporations were originally developed to achieve efficiencies of scale based on divisions of labor and mass production. This worked fine in the old supply sided economy where companies controlled raw materials and needed to sell them. It was only logical to seek marketing advice as to what products should be created out of those materials and how to advertise them. With this top-down approach, products were pushed through the system. Sales people were viewed as soldiers who executed the marketing plan, and customer service was viewed as complaint resolution.

This attitude was reinforced as universities began to offer degrees in marketing. Even today, you would have few options if you wanted to get a degree in the areas of sales or customer service from a major university. The media and the general public believe marketing alone is responsible for brand creation, growth and health. Yet, without the constant feedback from the customer that comes from sales and customer service, marketing can easily be blinded to the ever-changing market.

But traditional corporate structure has an answer for that: focus groups, sales and competitive analysis. The problem with reliance on these methods is that the information tends to be tainted by the questions, manipulation of the statistics and following the market leader who may be about to fall off the cliff. These methods tend to be more of a justification for “Why we are doing it the right way?” rather than “What’s getting by us?” A rearview mirror approach can easily distract the company from what’s rapidly approaching in the windshield!

Traditional corporate structure is based on silos, which in themselves can create turf battles and limit the free flow of ideas. Job security begins to take precedence over brand longevity. Each silo fights the battles for making their job easier regardless of the consequences to the brand or the company.

Production wants more standard packaging, simplified labeling and lower costs — even at the expense of uniqueness, perceived quality and brand promise. Legal wants bigger warnings, longer review periods and watered-down rhetoric even if it means the “buy” message takes a back seat. Accounting is figuring how much it could save by cheapening the package based on the misconception that sales will not be hurt. Marketing wants more money for advertising because their budget is based on how much they spent last year.

Executives can feel pressured to make their mark on a brand to help their career even if it is inconsistent with the general public’s expectations of their brand image and promise. “New is better than good” becomes a slippery slope where the company begins to lose sight of what made the brand successful in the first place.

You can follow the competition, or try to save money, face and status. You can try to protect territory and every kind of perceived liability. Or you can try keeping your brand fresh, current and healthy by elevating sales and customer service in rank and status. Don’t let efficiencies of scale result in deficiencies of sales!

Michael-Bonnie-ProfessionalMichael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey are the founders of Barefoot Wine, the largest bottled wine brand in the world, and authors of the New York  Times Bestselling Business book The Barefoot Spirit. From the start, with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative strategies to overcome obstacles, create new markets and foster key alliances. Michael and Bonnie now share their experience and entrepreneurial approach to business as consultants, authors, speakers, and workshop leaders. Michael and Bonnie launched at the C-Suite Network Conference their new companion book to The Barefoot Spirit entitled, The Entrepreneurial Culture, 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People. Learn more at barefootspirit.com, and find them on Facebook and Twitter @barefoot_spirit.

Matt Lanfear, CEO Great Eastern Energy, Interview with Dov Baron

Dov Baron, host of Full Monty Leadership Radio, interviewed Matt Lanfear, CEO of Great Eastern Energy, during the C-Suite Network Conference in Marina del Rey about the ways in which is company is bringing awareness to energy use and its impact on organizations.

Matt Lanfear, CEO of Great Eastern Energy speaks with us on how energy providers are now having to step up and take on the responsibility of being energy educators. You may be surprised by what he says about the resources we have and what has to change.

Energy costs and stewardship for small to mid-sized businesses are hot topics of conversation today. Matt speaks about how Great Eastern Energy is taking the lead on awareness of energy use and it’s impact on both ecology and the bottom line.

Today many small businesses are turning away from their standard utility companies and looking toward alternative suppliers to assist them with both costs and energy management.

Watch the Full Interview at Podomatic

Creating a Company Culture that Boosts Your Brand

by Emma Siemasko


Your company needs core ideologies and a solid brand. These things don’t just happen on their own. They all start with the company leaders. Branding and company culture are inextricably linked. If you want to attract the best employees, you need a great brand. And to build a great brand, you need the best employees. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation.

A company is a living, breathing organism. It grows, changes and responds to outside influences. That’s why we think of culture, passion, efficiency and core values as part of a Brand’s DNA. This is the stuff your company is made of!

Your Brand’s DNA is two-fold. It’s directly related to:

  1. Your internal culture: The productivity and passion of your employees depends upon your leadership. If you build a brand that prioritizes passion, personal development and work-life balance, you’ll be much more likely to have a happier, more dedicated team.
  2. Customer perception: Do you want your customers to see you as another nameless, faceless corporation without personality? Probably not. That’s why it’s crucial to build your brand DNA with customers in mind.

You don’t want to be just another chiropractor, software company or law firm. You want a branded image that makes you recognizable, strong and inspiring. We’ll focus on your internal culture and how you can build one that reflects a healthy DNA.

Deciding Who You Are and What You Believe In
To create a thriving company culture, you need an identity. You need hard DNA — not just fluff. So, how do you define yourself? You’re probably a generous person wanting to provide a valuable product or service to your customer. You probably love what you do and want to make a living doing it. Think of the values you care about and want your employees to care about — things like generosity, skill, cutting-edge technology, a team focus, empathy and fun.

A brand is led by its founders. It takes time to build. Without deciding who you are and making a commitment to follow-through, you can’t create the brand that you want.

Writing Down Your Beliefs
It’s not enough to say that you want ambitious people with a great attitude. You’ve got to write it down. Once the guidelines are written, you can make sure everything you do is aligned with your values. At Grasshopper, we developed some core values to define who we are and what we’re working for. These help us chart a path for the future and inspire and remind us who we are in the present.

We chose the values we did because we’re on a quest to fulfill our mission “to empower entrepreneurs to succeed.” We’re passionate about providing a great phone system, but we also want to offer something bigger than that. We’re not working just to work — we’re working to help others start, run and grow their businesses.

We created G.A.R.Y.:


Having values allows us to consistently check on the pulse of our company. They serve as a report card to make sure our team is aligned with the company mission. We even have “I caught” cards so employees can celebrate each other by catching coworkers in the act of living our core values.

Company Culture is More Than Ping Pong
You’ve heard it before: Company culture is more than just a Ping-Pong table. But those Ping-Pong tables sure do help.
If your employees can only play at the table or in the game room after hours, you might as well not have them. Workers need to feel like they can relax and take a breather without getting in trouble or raising eyebrows.

If you create reasons for people to want to come to work, provide good benefits and offer flexibility, your employees will feel lucky to be where they are. It’s about way more than the Ping-Pong table. These things help reinforce the culture.
If you want to build a successful, lovable company, start by investing in the people you work with. If you’re going to skimp, don’t do it here.

Here are some things you can do to generate a positive company culture:

  • Provide ample healthcare and time off.
  • Hold employee outings and parties.
  • Give employees gifts when they start.
  • Make sure every worker is equipped with the best technology, if feasible.
  • Celebrate employees’ life milestones, such as big moves, getting married, having babies or passing classes and certifications.
  • Celebrate employees’ birthdays every month. Lump them together and celebrate with a monthly birthday party.
  • Provide tons of snacks and food options so no one is ever stressed if they forget their lunch.
  • Pay for some other things like gym memberships, rail cards and cell phones.

Building a Company Culture That’s Great
If you want to build a great brand, you need an amazing company culture. It isn’t easy, but a healthy brand DNA can make or break your company.

*This article is excerpted from Your Brand’s DNA: Core Fundamentals, Ideologies, and Brand, a chapter in JUMP, Grasshopper’s guide to starting and growing a business.

Emma Siemasko is the Content Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper, the entrepreneurs’ phone system. Grasshopper provides toll free numbers, call forwarding, and a host of other features to help small business owners sound professional and stay connected. You can follow Grasshopper on Twitter @Grasshopper and learn more at Grasshopper.com.