Wisdom Acquisition is a Moral Duty

9 Jun

Slide1Recently I had the chance to watch a documentary on HBO about Warren Buffet.   I’m enamored at how grounded he is, and amused how simplistic he has made his path to becoming so wealthy.

As with all great leaders he relies on his great people around him.  Charlie Munger has worked with Buffet for decades and in a speech he outlined 10 ideas that allowed his success in life.

One of those ideas is “Wisdom Acquisition is a Moral Duty.”  To dig a little deeper, to him this means becoming wiser  is your moral duty, not something that you do just to advance in life.  It means that you’re hooked for lifetime learning. Munger says he constantly sees people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines, they go to bed every night a little wiser than when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.

Based on every article I’ve read about leading sales individuals, curiosity is always listed as one of the top 3 traits.  This story mirrors that to perfection.  As we continue to grow, think about how you can strive to grow.   Do you have industry friends that have found success and can learn from?   Are their people in other industries that have a unique perspective?  Look for those opportunities, an others, to grow.

Personally, I rely on a many friends and mentors, but my favorite is an Army Ranger friend who helps me understand how they lead, learn and develop.

 

Let Perseverance Be Your Engine And Hope Your Fuel

1 Jun

let perserverance be your engine and hope be your fuel

I was reading  the Chicago Tribune a few weeks back, yes I still read the paper.  They had a good piece on a former Cubs players (Matt Sczur) who talked about Hope and Persistence and how it drives him.  As I was thinking about this I thought these 2 things  can help us move our personal and professional life forward.  Persistence can provide results, while hope pushes us to take the next step.

If I hope to reach a goal but give up trying whenever I face a problem, I will never reach any goal worth achieving. If I work hard at something every day but don’t have any hope that I will see results, I will soon get discouraged and abandon the effort.

Persistence is defined as “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.”

Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

Sczur was consistently sitting behind more experienced players and couldn’t break the everyday lineup even while continuing to put up good numbers.    In the article it talks about how Szczur kept a rock in his locker at Wrigley Field, a reminder of a parable — “the Stonecutter” — he learned from a priest while playing football at Villanova.

bigstock-Stone-Sculptor-21145889-520x332

The story goes after trying to break a stone by tapping it repeatedly, the stonecutter finally cracked it with a tap.  It was a lesson in perseverance. The stonecutter realized the collective taps were what really did it, not the final one.  Sczur always had HOPE, not a wish, of being that everyday player, and now with the Padres he is doing just that.   With hope and persistence we can be successful.

3 Sales Lessons You Can Learn From The Military

25 May

Military

As we approach Memorial Day it had me thinking about all those that served.  Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who have died protecting all of us.  While I have not served, I enjoy exploring American history and the leadership lessons from our Military leaders.  My respect for the Military has led me to one of my favorite charities, the Fisher House.

The Military has provides many lessons that sales  can learn from.  A friend of mine of 36 years has served our country for almost 20 years.  He has served in many capacities and for the last few years has worked in a very specialized area.

We’ve discussed over the years how they approach missions and how they prepare. He shared that working as a team they identify what success looks like,  based on the higher-ups directive, and they discuss the tools and personnel needed to be successful.   They write it out and walk through the plan.

So as I think about how this applies to my life.  I used to ask my team, “What does success look like in this meeting?” as we walked or entered a meeting.  95% of the time the seller will know what success looks like.  In many cases we had other members of the organization joining the meeting in a specialty capacity, and many times they did not know what success looks liked for the lead sales individual or we discussed it on the way to the meeting or before we walked in.  The timing was to late and unorganized.  We’ve adapted our plan to be more successful by clearly defining goals and understanding the tools needed at the start of every week to help guide our conversations and develop the story prior to the meeting.

As I’ve read articles on books of great leaders, another area we can adopt as a sales culture is post-mission analysis.  We are all guilty of jumping back into the day when the meeting ends.  We are all short on time, but taking 5-10 minutes with the team to discuss what worked, what didn’t, and how you would do it differently, can help as you get ready for the next sales call.  Use your agreed upon “Success” as the guide and see if you accomplished what you hoped.

3 Things I Learned

  1. Collaborate with the team to come to an agreement on what success looks like days before the meeting.  Write it down and send it out to all involved.  Our team starts every Monday with defining success for our meetings and the tools needed.
  2.  Understand who and what is needed to drive the outcome you have agreed upon. This doesn’t mean bringing 10 people to a meeting or delivering a 60 page PowerPoint to get your point across but it can create clarity.
  3. Perform a post meeting analysis to identify what worked and what didn’t work to create success moving forward.

In no way does sales come close to the work that our Military does for us.  While success and failure for us means winning or losing investment, for our Military success or failure can be measured through life and death.

Thanks to all those who served and if inclined check out Fisher House.   It’s a great charity and 91% of all donations goes to the cause.

About Fisher House:

FisherHouse_Logo-300x289.jpeg

Fisher House Foundation, Inc. is an international not-for-profit organization established to improve the quality of life for members of the military, retirees, Veterans and their families. The Foundation builds comfort homes at military and VA medical centers and gifts them to the government. It assists with the coordination of private support and encourages public support for the network of comfort homes known as “Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Houses.” It works to educate and inform the military and Veterans’ communities, their families and the general public about Fisher Houses and provides necessary support to individual Fisher Houses as needed. Other quality of life programs include scholarship programs, a grants program for volunteer organizations with innovative plans for quality of life projects, the Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs and individual assistance to members of the military and their families during a crisis.

5 Sales Lessons from Dr. Seuss

18 May

Dr Seuss

In March my daughters celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss all week at daycare and I learned 2 things after reading these books over and over.  First, all the books by Dr. Seuss have real world application and are insightful (Not just “Oh, The Places You Go.”) and second, we have way more Dr. Seuss books in our house than I could have ever imagined.

A couple insightful things I learned along the way:

“I meant what I said, And I said what I meant…An elephant’s faithful One hundred percent!

Horton Hatches the Egg – this is straight forward, be the partner that follows through and commit to what you say and you put yourself ahead of 40% of your industry competitors in sales

“I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true  that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.  And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch. You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.  And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

Oh The Places You Go – your job will not always be easy and un-slumping yourself is a challenge but you will work hard and get out of this “waiting place.”

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

The Lorax – Get involved and make people around you better.  Be the doer

‘The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! – Continue to learn, curiosity is your friend.  Wisdom is a gift

Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-am! And I would eat them in a boat! And I would eat them with a goat. And I will eat them in the rain.  And in the dark. And on a train. And in a car. And in a tree. They are so good so good you see!

Green Eggs and Ham – for those not familiar with the book Daniel tried to convince Sam to eat Green Eggs and Ham and through curiosity and persistence Sam does try them, and finds out he likes them.  If you believe that you have a solution that works continue to asks questions and get our partners to try our solution.

While I enjoyed the books, after reading many of these for the 10th time it starts to really sink in how applicable this is to my life.

2 Lessons My Mom Taught Me About Sales

16 May
Entire Family

The head of the clan front and center as she should be

Get Out of the House – I grew up outside of a small town in what most people called the  “country” with no cable TV and the day was what I made of it.  I remember one summer my parents had finally given in and got us an Atari, yeah that ages me.  My mom was getting upset as the summer passed by and I sat there playing pong and pac-man.  One morning I woke up and the Atari was gone.  My mother had put it away for a couple days.  My mom told me to get out of the house and go do something.  So I did, I went for a walk in the woods, went fishing in the creek and messed around with my buddy in the neighborhood.  I slowly forgot about that Atari and enjoyed that summer.

Lesson:  Get out from behind your screens.  Go talk to clients, co-workers and industry friends.  Most of sales is face to face or over phone.   

Believe in Yourself –  I was not an easy kid for my parents.  I pushed everything to the boundaries and to be honest I was a little lost at times.  While I was a in college I had gotten into some trouble, like most college kids.   I’d lost direction and I remember my mom sitting with me and talking to me about redirecting my energy and effort.  She talked about the times that when I focused in the right areas and the changes I made to other people and the impact I had.  Most of all she told me to believe in myself and live the life I wanted, not the path I was on.

Lesson: When things are bad believe in your method.  We all know the “Right” thing to do and if you focus on that and not let bad habits spiral, things will correct themselves.   

The Future of Retail is in the Store

17 Feb

The Future of Retail is Inside the Store

Do you remember that first time you walked into an Apple Store?   How could a retailer have a store with a handful of tables where you can play with the products?  Every piece of that store is made to increase sales output.  If you decided to buy a product you didn’t stand in line at checkout.  An Apple employee would use his phone or another piece of technology and run your card right there on the spot.  Now Apple is continuing to change the market with the new Town Square store that is being tested in San Francisco.  The experience they’ve created is so powerful that just this weekend my 5 year old spotted the store and immediately asked to go inside.  She loves the experience as much as most consumers.

While the hockey stick growth of e-commerce continues with the National Retail Federation reporting that 12% of sales in Q4 were online or non-store most retailers still see somewhere between 80-90% of sales occur at physical location.  In another report by Quarterly e-commerce for Q3 they identified that only 8.4% of sales were occurring online.   Every retailer is looking for ways to bring you into the store and then increase dwell time, basket size or close rate per consumer.

While marketing is still a key component to driving consumers into store, the experience at locale is increasingly important in capturing the consumer and increasing loyalty.  This is why most retailers are working to solve the omnichannel  marketplace.    Brands that are already doing this are Warby Parker, Birch Box and Bonobos.   This new approach to retailing gives customers access to samples and an experience in a store that is unique.  It also provides valuable research to these clients.  Just recently Anthropologie announced an experiential new format that allows for consumers to touch and feel and then buy online, mimicking some of these smaller companies in a larger format.

Consumers still want to touch, taste, and feel the product which increases the opportunity for a relationship with the consumer.  In the past 2 years I’ve purchased multiple appliances all at Best Buy because I could feel it, see it and experience it.  In addition Best Buy matches Amazon prices so if something goes wrong with these products I know I can walk in and talk to a customer service rep.

So retailers need to continue to evolve the in-store experience and measure the impact on the business.  Neiman Marcus Group, Nordstrom Inc. and Under Armour Inc. are among 140 retailers that have signed on with ChargeItSpot allowing consumers to charge the phone while they shop.  We all hate that dying phone feeling so consumers are actively shopping at these stores and they are seeing sales lift of 29% according to the study.

Retailers should market the product and build a moat with the experience.  In a world of “Me Too” products, and in some cases the same products, it becomes a race to the bottom.  To stand out make your store one of the stores that consumers want to walk in and increase the bottom line.

The top 5 wireless ads: T-Mobile outspent AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in TV advertisements in July

25 Aug

FierceWireless has partnered with TV advertising measurement firm iSpot.tv to bring you a monthly snapshot of the wireless industry’s advertising spending.

In July, the nation’s wireless carriers spent an estimated $183.4 million on TV advertising, down $450,000 from June. T-Mobile led the way with 23.2 percent of that total, taking over the lead held by AT&T in June. T-Mobile’s spending was spread across 12 different ads shown a total of around 6,000 times.

But AT&T came in a close second with 21.2 percent of July’s spending. AT&T’s spending was spread across 14 ads shown a total of around 10,000 times. Verizon Wireless came in third with 19.8 percent of the total; Verizon was third in June also.

Here is a breakdown of how much each carrier spent to show TV ads during July:

Although T-Mobile spent the most money during July on TV advertisements, Verizon spent the most on any single ad. Verizon spent $21.4 million across a range of channels and TV programs during July to show its “Magnificent Geese” spot. Sprint’s “Followers” ad followed with $20.5 million, and T-Mobile’s “Mobile Without Borders” was third with $14.5 million.

Here are the top 5 ads for July in terms of total spending:

  1. Verizon “Magnificent Geese” ($21.4 million)
  2. Sprint “Followers” ($20.5 million)
  1. T-Mobile “Mobile Without Borders” ($14.5 million)
  1. AT&T “Life Simulator” ($14 million)
  2. T-Mobile “Never Settle for Verizon” ($12.3 million)

Almost $80 million of the spending by wireless carriers in July on TV advertisements went to the Big Four broadcast networks (Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC), with TNT breaking into the top 5 with $6.8 million.

And what TV shows did the nation’s wireless carriers pay to put their advertisements into? That statistic generally tracks alongside the nation’s most popular TV shows, but notable examples of the most popular TV shows among the CMOs at wireless carriers included America’s Got Talent with $7.2 million in total spending by wireless carriers, followed by American Ninja Warrior with $5 million, and the 2015 MLB All-Star Game at $4.1 million.

To obtain its data, iSpot.tv said its proprietary technology tracks TV commercials, movie trailers and show promotions across the top 111 networks in real-time. The company’s software constantly watches these networks, using proprietary audio and video fingerprinting algorithms to automatically identify and extract TV commercials, movie trailers and show promos. On the digital screen, the company tracks 710.2 million explicit interactions with TV ads across 101.5 million unique consumers per month. These interactions include video plays, searches and social activity. The company also analyzes online views across YouTube and iSpot.tv, searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo! and social activity on Facebook (including Facebook private) and Twitter.

iSpot.tv said it tags over 40 different dimensions of metadata, including brand, agency, actors, products, songs, moods, URLs and other pertinent data, to create its results.

Relflecting Back – Does Viewability Matter and the Future of Check In’s?

18 Dec

My blogging has taken a real dip since the arrival of my 2 girls but as I had a few minutes I’d reflect on past posts while sharing my thoughts on 2015.

I’ve been reading some of my old blogs and I get a kick out some of things that I wrote in the past.

January 3rd of 2012 I wrote an article about viewability of the ad impressions. It was just the start of what is now a full blown issue 2 years later.

On March 9th of 2011 I talked about how Check In’s are dead, and for all intense purposes they are.  When’s the last time you did that outside of facebook.  In that same posts I talked about the move to the DSP world from Ad Networks.

I really wish I was making some investments around my thoughts.

As we look to the year ahead I think we are in for an evolution of today’s trends. Here are some observations from my side.

Programmatic is projected to grow 137% this year according to emarketer.   I’m not a huge fan of the term programmatic.  I’ve tried to shift the thinking to automated buying.  The word programmatic as defined by customers means something different to everyone.  Automated buying will fundamentally shift our industry.

In addition mobile finally had it’s year.  Revenue is still behind consumption but then again standard display never hit the appropriate portion of it’s consumption.

Native is another term that our advertisers throw around with so much different meaning which is a little frustrating.  I think we need to disconnect the terms content creation and native advertising.  These are two different things.

So what does 2015 hold:

1. Shocker – automated buying will continue to grow.  I think the change here is that more and more advertisers are going to look for a unified delivery across display, mobile and video.  Few companies are positioned to deliver on this holy grail.  I think the biggest thing we see leading marketers do, is start to look at how they can deliver on the message or creative in the programmatic space, using data as the informer.

2. Mobile will have another amazing year and we are going to hit the tipping point.  We have advertisers now looking to deliver 30-50% of the media in the coming year on mobile.  We as publishers have to make this easy.  We need to deliver on dynamic page delivery that allows our advertisers media to render correctly without creating numerous sizes.   At the end of the day it is about connecting with consumers.  We need to make this easier for our advertisers.

3.  Native will go programmatic.  What I mean is these “Feed Ads” will trade like any other media.  I’m intrigued what Nativo and Sharethrough continue to do in the marketplace.  I think these companies are well positioned to take advantage of the change coming.

4.  Content Creation for advertisers needs to become it’s own bucket.  We also need to look to solve consumer needs when creating this content.  Lines are blurring on edit and advertising and if we don’t watch out we are going to put doubt that any content online is trustworthy.

5.  OLV metrics have to change.  We are continuing to get stuck in the TV metric of success.  All advertisers are looking for delivery against key age groups.  Why are advertisers continuing to push this metric?  Data is such a beautiful thing and we need to evaluate digital video differently.  My fear for advertisers as they push partners to hit these metrics and we end up in this game of auto play and never seen ads.  We need to change the conversation.

Who knows the year holds but some of the observations from my seat.  It’s always fun to look back to see if any of this really happened.

Happy Holiday’s from my family to yours.

Dan

Do Advertisers Even Care About Viewable Ad Impressions? Not Yet

3 Jan

Finally advertisers are recognizing that a high percentage of their online ads are not being seen by consumers. So of course they will demand that all impressions will need to be 100% viewable, or will they?

In August of last year adweek reported on an adsafe study that was done around viewable impressions. Most of you have read or heard of this study, but in it they said a few things.

– 51.1% of all ads are never seen in the entirety on the screen
– 58.8% of all ads running on ad networks are never seen in entirety on the screen
– 59.7 for the same numbers when buying through exchanges

Using the same requirements above and then adding an in-view window of :15 seconds the stats go to as follows:

– 78.9% of ads never seen across all publishers
– 83% of ads never seen on networks and exchanges

This explains why you see reports of online video growing at 50% for the coming year, and the CPM’s are justified.

In the past 2 months we’ve been talking to numerous advertisers about plans for 2013 and working to create marketing solutions for those advertisers. A handful of these marketers told us they were buying mostly ad networks and exchanges. This came as no surprise based on the research I had done on moat.com

As we were talking through some of the marketing challenges we discussed eCPM’s and as I expected our solution was a little more than double the eCPM’s they were paying with ad networks and exchanges. So our solution is unique in the fact that we have 100% viewable impressions and our ads run close to :15 seconds in rotation. We aren’t the only company out there guaranteeing viewable impressions, USAToday.com announced this last year.

So as I explained that our eCPM, with 100% viewable impressions, actually delivered a more effective advertising program, I received a few comments that were concerning. One comment made reflected the thought that it must be everyone else running on ad networks not being seen because our ads are always seen. Later that week I did see this advertiser’s ad, and it was on the bottom of a publishers homepage, and no I did not send a screenshot to them. Apparently only the other advertisers on the ad networks and exchanges are not being seen. The other answer was even a more disturbing was that this advertiser need to keep their CPM’s at these levels regardless of viewability.

One of these advertisers does last view and last click attribution, which means you have platforms where people are never seeing an ad, and taking action, and these ad networks are getting credit.

As I sat back and thought about these responses a couple things come to mind
– How many of these people were able to move up the corporate ladder by driving price down and delivering perceived value
– Do they fully understand the impact on marketing in regards to viewability
– Should I just dump a ton of ads that are unviewable to drive down my eCPM (Would never do this, not fair to our partners)

I realize 2 advertisers is not a strong sample size, and I hope they are the exception to the rule, but it got me thinking what will advertisers do if CPM’s spike based on viewability. Are they going to demand the same rates? Maybe they can demand the same rates based on the amount of impressions available.

I do believe banner commoditization has occurred, and you must have unique differentiation to have any chance of selling banners at a premium. Our company continues to move to more native experiences but banners have shown to play a role in effecting consumer behavior.

The first chapter is being written on ad viewability and I look forward to seeing where the story ends. I selfishly hope that all publishers are forced to have 100% viewable impressions from advertisers because this can only help marketers at the same time rewarding companies like ours who are doing right by advertisers.

Why I left Yahoo to join Solohealth

17 Jul

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked in the past 3 weeks why I’m leaving Yahoo or where are you going, I’d be a little wealthier. That being said, figured the easiest and fastest way to address this is to add it to the blog.

First, if you came here to read about the skewering and downfall of Yahoo you can stop reading. That is not what this is. Yahoo provided me with opportunities and education that I’m not sure I could have gotten elsewhere. I’ve met some of the most intelligent people in the digital space over that time and established friendships that will last forever. I’m not naming names because honestly it would take too long. Sure, Yahoo has it challenges but a lot of companies are envious of the position Yahoo is in. This was about the opportunity that presented itself.

I’ve been working in digital media sales since 1998, and because of this my phone rings quite often from recruiters. I’ve had people reach out for opportunities big and small. Major social sites, gaming sites, content creation and others have expressed interest. I decided that when/if I moved I wanted go to a real small startup that provided me an opportunity to grow, be challenged and utilize all my interests.

Solohealth fit that criteria, plus a few others.

The things I was seeking in the next company were as follows:

  1.  Is the product uniquely differentiated
  2. Can it cause disruption in the market
  3. Is it focused

So for those wondering what Solohealth is, I will do my best to sum it up after 1 week.

“We help businesses engage consumers with precision targeted media and content integration, through various health assessments that occur inside retailers stores.” (Yes, it needs work, but that is where I’m at) Consumers are literally logging onto the web at stores like Wal-Mart, Publix, Sam’s Club, CVS and others I can’t mention, and doing health assessments on areas like BMI, Blood Pressure, Vision, Pain Management and others.

Anyone that knows me understands my unique interest in working with CPG manufacturers. I’ve always said half the battle is getting the consumer into the store; the other half is to get them to buy. Well we’ve eliminated the first barrier and depending on the studies you read 65-75% of all purchase decisions happen inside the store.

This solution can help so many businesses ranging from OTC, Pharma, CPG and even companies like Subway and McDonald’s which operate restaurants in Wal-Mart as well as I’m sure a 100 other categories I haven’t thought of yet.

The other thing that appealed to me was our ability to actually work with businesses to integrate content and questions right within the assessments. I can go on and on about the opportunities but that is for another post.

I’ve enjoyed the startups I’ve been part of before, going all the way back to Citysearch in 1998 or when we opened the WebMD office in Chicago. My passion for product development, sales, true measurement at retail, building a team from the ground up has all come together in this role.

I don’t doubt challenges are ahead, I’ve seen a few, but the team at Solohealth is amazing. When you can sit down with the VP of Product and give some feedback and he takes the feedback and starts to think how to implement quickly is an awesome experience. The team is all working, with passion, towards the same goals. They’ve accomplished so much the past 6 months and I can’t wait to help keep the pedal down as we grow quickly. I’ve got a team to build across the country and a lot of people asking to be part of the national rollout.

My tweeting has slowed and my FB surfing will be cut back, but I can’t wait to look back in 2-3 years and see how far we’ve come and think about where we started.

I couldn’t do any of this without everything I’ve learned from my first days at Citysearch to the last 6 years at Yahoo. It was hard to leave Yahoo, it was a part of me, and always will be, but I’m excited to be part of something special at Solohealth.