For real marketing impact, go offline and old school

We are all digital marketers, and we perceive the older generation of marketers as old, outdated dinosaurs. marketing

The traditional marketing conventions; a physical booth at a  tradeshow, printed brochure, mail (that’s right, as in actual mail, not email)  seem to have passed from this world.

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But sometimes, it makes sense to go back to the roots, go offline and old school. Not for ordinary marketing activities, the ones we carry out for our customers.  No, I reserve this high value, high impact, resource- heavy approach to marketing the one thing I care about the most- myself. So several months ago, just before the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana (Jewish new years’) I’ve done something I haven’t done in a decade. I sat down and wrote a letter. It wasn’t a lengthy piece, nor an informative one. It was more of a greeting card/ thank you note combo. I bought 10 greeting cards and envelopes and wrote a thank you / happy New year note to all my clients.

I included ones I’ve stopped working with a while ago and ones I was talking to on a daily basis. I wrote that I wanted to thank them for trusting me with managing their marketing activities (even if it was brief, and ended long ago).

The process was harder than I thought. First, I had to write down the text a word document (just to make sure I don’t miss anything and don’t make any gross spelling mistakes). 

Then copy this to the paper, seal the envelope, glue a stamp, walk to the nearby mailbox (which was hard to find) and mail these. 

The actual act of writing a note, word for word, took me forever. My handwriting was never a pretty sight and it has deteriorated over the years to this ugly mess. Still, I wanted people to be able to decipher what I wrote so put great effort into writing. I delivered half of these envelopes myself. 

I didn’t trust the mail service to deliver these on time, and I also wanted to see the expression on people’s faces when I showed up at their doorstep and handed them a hand written note.

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That proved to be amusing and rewarding indeed– most people were surprised , even baffled when I handed them the envelope, but when they opened it and read they lit up, smiled and thanked me.

I think it’s the combination of the effort, attention and the physical object that laid in their hands which made all the difference. I have never received a response so warm to an email, I can tell you that.

So if you haven’t done so yet, grab a pen and a piece of paper, some decorated card and a nice looking envelope and start writing. 

It’ll feel awkward at first but after the first letter it will get easier. The effort shouldn’t “cost” you more than 2 hours, but the benefits you can reap will be huge:

1.      Positioning

You will forever be remembered as the guy who cared enough to write a note. If that’s not a great positioning for a marketer I don’t know what is.

2.      Care

You showed (in actions, not words) that you care about your clientele.

3.      Rekindle older leads

You can actually use this activity to touch base with old leads. Who knows? they might be so impressed by the effort they will hire you again.

4.   Creativity and confidence

Everyone is trying to be cool, innovative and novel. But going old-school proves you have guts and creativity. It’s so easy just to send a mass email with some stock image, but you are going to do more.

Try it this holiday season. Even if the card arrives after the holidays it will still delight and impress your clients. After all – isn’t this what marketing is supposed to do?

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No ideas for content ? here are 10 suggestions for you

It happens to all of us, content marketers. We are faced with a deadline and need to generate a piece of content, but we simply have nothing to write about. Sure, some would say that if you don’t publish content which is super-interesting, valuable and engaging you really shouldn’t be publishing at all. I respect this but most client won’t, and most marketers will be forced at some point to force themselves to generate content. For some its even worth than lack of inspiration or writer’s block- some unfortunate souls have the daunting task of writing for and about companies and products which are not that interesting.

Whatever the reason is, we all need some help with generating content. Here are 10 tips for generating content when you having nothing to write about:

  • Re-use

Perhaps the easiest thing to do is to take an older piece and re-edit it to look and feel like something new. You can take a lengthy article and turn it into list (10 tips for XXX) ot groups items from multiple items to form a new one (https://intsights.com/halloween-special-creepy-finds-on-the-darknet/). You can revisit old articles and explore their validity in regards to new developments. Do try to avoid making only cosmetic changes and reposting unchanged old materials- that that’s recycling.

  • Go visual

When you have nothing to write about, try to create a visual post. Turn a list into an infographic or make a post completely out of visuals (this also works well when reusing older materials, as it can be views as some sort of expansion or elaboration on a topic you’ve already discussed).  In addition to being the easiest way to generate content, it is suited for publication directly on social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  At this humoristic Halloween post, we dressed the team of a cybersecurity company as hackers: http://resec.co/halloween-is-a-time-for-mischief-but-traditional-cyber-stock-photos-are-just-a-bad-joke/

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  • Shoot a video:

Instead of doing another piece about your technology, make a short clip to capture the usability, user experience or workflow. Video is easier to consume, share and will certainly boost your SEO rankings. Plenty of cheap or free editing software around, and you can easily combine footage from your smartphone with screen capture video and record voice commentary directly on your laptop. Here- instead of writing a boring post inviting people to meet them at a conference, the CEO sends a short video message:

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Video

 

  • Comment

Find a relevant research or news item and write a commentary article, which will show the audience that you’re aware of what’s happening in the industry and not afraid to speak up. Make sure the commentary is not to harsh or self-promoting. Here ReSec CEO comments on the state of phishing as reported by another vendor:

http://resec.co/spam-returns-to-2010s-record-numbers-but-now-with-a-new-trick/

 

  • Summarize

Same idea as commenting- find a lengthy piece of research that no one will read and write a much shorter post focusing on the highlights. In addition to providing great value to people (including executive who don’t have the time to read these 70+ pages research paper) you can chose which angles to highlight and focus on- naturally the ones which strengthen your messaging. Here is an example, aptly titled: “We Read the 70 Page 2016 Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment Report So You Don’t Have To”.

 

  • Write about the non- professional aspect of your company

You are allowed to stray off-topic if you uncover an interesting angle and provide something unique to your audience. Instead of writing a very mundane post notifying customers that one of my clients has moved to a new office, we turned it into a piece on how their CEO uses constant engagement to keep motivation high and attrition low (he basically rented and renovated new offices in complete secrecy, and took all the employees there under the pretense of an off-site lunch. The employed were surprised and delighted to find new, cool offices instead https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/work-space-environment-dotan-bar-noy?trk=mp-reader-card)

  • Though leadership

You can project thought leadership in many aspect of business and life, not just these which are related to your specific product or market. If a CEO is volunteering at an animal shelter and encourages other employees to follow him, it sends a powerful message, regardless of their line of business. It’s also very easy to produce and can be shared in many places, according to theme- Leadership, management, HR, etc.

  • Interview-

When there’s nothing better to do, just interview the CEO or the employees. You can gain terrific professional insights (what are the customer’s pain points for example) and show your company’s diversity and culture. Big plus- it also serves as a great source of pride and motivation within the organization.

  • Guest post

Zero effort to generate (other than several emails), can add diversity and external expertise and drive traffic from audiences which are not usually within your reach. The downside? You will either need to buy it or reciprocate in one way or another. At CyberDB we have a roster of guest bloggers and find their posts to be of great quality:

http://cyberdb.co/iot-ddos-will-learn/

 

  • Write about something else

This post for example, links to several other post which will now gain traffic and exposure. You can even write about the content production process itself (like I’ve done here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/some-vital-tips-making-corporate-clip-staying-alive-yotam-gutman?trk=prof-post)

 

I hope these suggestions will help you get out of a slump. As always, remember that your content/ publication calendar is your friend and try to stick to it- it will save you the last minute rush and the need to innovate and be creative- Something which I’ve found to be in want specifically in times of crisis.

 

 

The Gig economy is coming for your job. This is how you will cope

This is not some dystopian dream. Nor is this a fad. The so-called gig-economy is coming and will be a significant part of our lives very soon (if it isn’t already). The “Gig-economy” is a phrase coined to describe the “Uber-ization” of the workforce in the coming decades. It basically means that every service which could be outsourced will be, and will be done so on a demand basis. You need to go to the grocery? You’ll have someone do that for you. You need to drive across the city? Someone will pick you up. You need to submit a complex excel sheet by tomorrow morning? Someone will create it for you. Everything will be price by the deliverables, making almost everyone an ad-hoc service provider. We all realize that the job security of yesteryears is forever gone. No assurance of employment until our retirement. But we still hope to have at least a steady monthly income.

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But with the “on-demand” trend raising, many jobs will shift to a more flexible base. The services sector (including government) is the largest in all modern economies (after most of the manufacturing and agriculture have been mechanized). But this is exactly the sector which will suffer the most from this shift- no need to have so many people on the payroll- an employer can simply hire or order services on demand, reducing fixed costs and increasing his flexibility. Even sophisticated jobs like software development, IT and legal will suffer- these can easily be outsourced and consumed on demand using the global network of talents and freelancing hubs such as upwork or Fiverr.

While it is easy to dismiss the above as a simply a worrisome prediction, but it isn’t just a dystopian view of the distant future, it’s a process that is happening before our eyes, and only gaining momentum. So unless you are a barber, plumber or chef’ (these professions can’t be perform from remote and it will take many years before robots will be able to perform these tasks) you should be concerned for your occupational future.

But concern isn’t a great action plan, so instead, try to see how you can adjust to this new, albeit scary reality. In the following section I will describes the mental shift and skills required to survive this shift, and offer some tangible advise to “hack” this trend

1.      Think like a freelancer

This mind shift is extremely hard for people who were employed in full time jobs for most of their grown lives. It requires one to embrace uncertainty and forgo the monthly paycheck and job security. But it is surely better to develop this mental toughness independently and not be forced into it by layoffs. This as job as something temporary, and always think about your next one. Acquiring this mindset is hard but once it settles in it will ensure you greater flexibility and an open mind to seek new and interesting opportunities an employee is oblivious to.     

2.      Develop skills which you can sell as a service

Or even better, skills which you can sell as a service from remote. Can you write? Paint? Teach? Then there’s definitely something you can offer others. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a real “profession” or something you’ve learned in university, just something you are good at, can deliver to other and (hopefully) charge for.

3.      Find your USP- Unique selling point

This is unfamiliar for an employee, but something a freelancer knows how to articulate very well. What is it that you do that is different and better than your competition? If you provide pre-visit tips and planning services for people visiting your hometown, in what ways are you different than your competitors? Are you a foodie? Can you hook people with the coolest, under the radar restaurants? Then you’ve found your USP… now all you need to do is market it and sell it.

4.      Online presence and marketing

Ahh, marketing and sales. Most people hate these aspects of business and are happy someone else in the corporate is handling these “uglier” sides of life. Guess what? As a freelancer it’s 100% up to you to market and sell yourself and your services. The marketing is easier for most- in today’s world all you really need is a solid online presence, like a blog, facebook page Pinterest profile. You need to invest resources in making this presence as professionally looking as possible  and update it regularly. One tip I can provide- be very clear about what it is that you provide, don’t assume other people will guess that you are a designer just by vising your uber-cool blog. Create something like this which will make them wanna hire you on the spot:

http://www.rleonardi.com/interactive-resume/

5.      Sell

This is a skillset most people lack. At least on the professional side, most of us don’t deal with the actual sale and even less than that- selling ourselves. But the ability to price your service, negotiate the price, bill and charge becomes critical when your income is determined by it.  

I realize that what I’m talking about is scary and required time to digest. I’ve made this transition myself, knowing full well it will not be easy. But I’ve done so freely, without any outside pressure. I wanted to prepare myself for the complex future which lay ahead, and I preferred doing it on my own terms and not being pushed into it. Sadly, this is a luxury not many people will enjoy in the future, so it’s best to do and practice what you can now, and be as ready as you can for the day you step out of the office carrying a brown cardboard box and wondering what you’re going to do next…

How to make better introductions

Introducing people is what I do on a daily basis. It’s an essential skill that supports your networking strategy. But it is also down to earth and tangible.

The math is simple- I know 1 guy and I know another guy. Apart their sum to me is two. Each is worth exactly one to me, and they contribute nothing to each other. Add them up and the number ascends to three and upwards, depending on the result of the engagement.

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Firstly by making the introduction I would make one or two of them happy and grateful. 

Secondly they can work things out and create some new venture which might benefit me in the future.

Lastly, They now have an incentive to introduce new people to me, which makes my network bigger and more influential. I’ve written in the past about the benefit of maintaining a large network of connections, and introductions are an integral part of the successful use of this network.

One amazing example is that I approached a guy I did not know for some professional advice via LinkedIn. I went to his place, sat for coffee and had a great talk. For the sake of easy tracking we’ll label him “A”. We kept corresponding and talking on the phone.

One day he introduced me via Email to another friend looking for a new position. I met the friend (labelled “B” from now) and promised to help him in finding a new position. I didn’t had any concrete lead but I was certain that one will introduce itself soon.  In the meantime, a partner in a venture capital firm I knew briefly (a true “loose” connection- we’ve met here in there when I was working for one of his portfolio companies) introduced me to third guy who needed some marketing advise. I met that guy (his actual name was indeed Guy, but let’s tag him as “D”) and dispensed some advice. I did notice that he was working at a startup with an amazing potential which really needed an experienced business development leader. Following the meeting, I realized they could be a perfect fit to “B”. So I made an introduction (It was to “C’s Boss, the Startup CEO, whom I’ve met by then), he went over there, got the job and has been working there since.

Amazing.

3 very loose connections (4 if you count the VC guy), who created a job opportunity which would not have been filled in any other way. Needless to say everyone is happy with the outcome, and at least 2 of these people are now very grateful to me- “A” who’s asked my help and “B” who got a perfect job due to “A” hustling.

But this whole affair would not have materialized without everyone involved receiving and acting upon well thought after introductions.  I will now provide some tips for email introductions, which in my experience in the most effective means of introducing two people (I will explore the reasons for this in a separate post. Suffice to say that Email is longer lasting, easier to retrieve and store, contains all the information and is non- intrusive).

1.      Understand why you are making this introduction

Usually one side will ask you to make the intro to the other, sometimes you will identify a good match which just “needs to happen”. Make sure you understand the motive behind the approach and that it suits your goals and overall strategy. I tend to help anyone looking for a job but less so for sales purposes.

2.      Provide the context
Explain to both sides who is the other person, what is he doing that is relevant and any other detail which will make their first interaction frictionless as possible. Full description of one’s academic history is not required, as well and the history you have with that person. It is sufficient to write” please meet X, CEO of startup V. I’ve been working with him for a while and he could really use a great marketing person such as yourself.

3.      Explain why you think there’s a match

If you think there’s business synergy- say. If you think there’s a great employment match, say it. If you think these two need to get together because they are like-minded and will enjoy each other’s company- say it.

4.      Provide the contact details, including phone numbers
Ok- this one took me years to perfect, and I think it the difference between a good and a great introduction. At the end of the email, juts add the name and cellphone number of each person. This allows them to simply follow up with a call (remember, they have been properly introduced by you) and saves at least 2 additional futile emails:” Hi “T”, how are you? My phone number is XXX, what yours?” and vice versa).

5.      Conclude the compensation you are expecting to get BEFORE making the introduction.
Ok, some people will be angry with me now, but I’m juts going to say it. If you expect something back for making the introduction, it is sooooo much better to discuss and determine it BEFORE actually making the introduction. Otherwise you’re opening an array of possibilities, all of which would be less friendly and potentially devastating to your relations with the people you’ve introduce to. I don’t expect anything in return for helping someone find a job. Maybe a beer or lunch, but that’s up to them. I do expect something if a company asks my help in finding the perfect candidate. Same goes for friends- If I introduce 2 friends from different circles, I don’t expect anything concrete in return if they hit it off. But if a commercial company benefits from my introduction, I’d like to be compensated for my know how and efforts. This could be anything from a 3% commission on a mere “intro” to a potential customer, to a much more substantial amount or promise for future role in the engagement. All depending on the conditions and all concluded before I hit “send”. This is not me being a wise businessman, this is me learning from my mistakes….

But even if you don’t make any tangible profit from the introduction, you’ve certainly benefited from it-  You establish yourself as a great networker, a person who’s willing to help and an overall great guy. People remember this and when the time comes to call in a favor they won’t hesitate to help you in return.

Startup marketing- how soon is too soon?

In every startup lives comes a moment when it needs to let the world know what awesome product its developing, how cool a company it is and why it’s would make a great investment for VCs. But most startups fail to get the timing right and miss a lot of potential market grab and attention by starting at the wrong time.

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I used to think that there’s simply no such thing as starting too soon.  Given that digital marketing costs today are near zero and that with minor resource allocation startups can create great traction, it seemed foolish not to start early. I’ve witnessed firsthand the alternative- companies who started too late into the marketing game had to fight an uphill battle- they had no social media followership, no Google/ SEO visibility so generate little traffic to their website, their (by-now) established competitors already had the public and media attention and they controlled the discourse. But many startup founders I’ve spoken too were reluctant to begin marketing activities too early, mainly since they were afraid their idea will be stolen and replicated by others. But other than this fear (which could be purely irrational) – what could startups or lose by starting early? This was my view until yesterday, when I met a brilliant CEO of a promising cybersecurity startup (I will not name him since he’s company is still in stealth mode). We talked about marketing for startups and timing. He was very clear he wasn’t going to hire me (or anyone else) for the next 6 months. I told him I respected him but was curios why. He replied that in his eyes startup marketing has 3 goals – employ recruitment (and later, retention), generating leads which will be converted to sales and attracting investors. He said that he was fully manned (reaching 8 people in his team) and is not interested in hiring anytime soon- so attracting employees was not a priority (anyway, in startups in this early phase most recruiting is done using the social network of the founders, and they don’t lack talents to recruit from). Customer acquisition was also not a priority he said. How come, I queried? He said that the product was still in development, and that he was already committed to several proof of concept projects. There is no way he could handle more projects at this point in time, so what’s the use of piquing the interest of potential customers if he can’t follow up?

And lastly, he raised a sizeable seed round not too long ago, and had some 6-8 moths of runway ahead of him, so he wasn’t worried about attracting the attention of VCs. It was way more important for him to complete the initial product, to deploy and test it and have the some customers before reaching out and kicking off the next funding round. All in all, he concluded, it felt too early for him to actively engage in marketing activities. I agreed, and even added that on top of everything he mentioned there was the additional matter of allocating resources to support these activities, and more importantly, attention. I’ve seen many startup CEOs spend countless hours debating (rather meaningless) marketing issues such  website design, specific phrases in the company brochure and color scheme of the presentation, that they both waste their most precious of resources- their time. I now believe their time should be spent elsewhere, at least until there’s a solid product and some initial sales.

So what should startups do at this stage then?

1.      Mark their turf
You may not be ready to begin with social media activities, but it’s crucial that you grab the right twitter handle, LinkedIn company page and Site URL. You don’t have to use these right away, just to hold on to them (much better than finding your precious name being used by some grocery deliveries service).

2.      Build a basic marketing kit
Before you start blogging, before you even have a website, before you even raise money, you need to have a basic marketing kit. You know- a one- pager, a basic presentation, maybe a product page. These are materials you’ll be sending to investors, potential customers and media from the onset. If you have some money to spend don’t hesitate and bring a professional marketing writer and graphic designer to create these for you.

3.      Check what the competition is doing
This is really an ongoing commitment, but make it a habit to check what your competitors are doing online. You might be “inspired” by them, or at least understand what’s working and what’s not.

4.      Prepare and record
There will be a time when you will need to push forward with your marketing. The more materials and ideas you have by then- the better. Just keep a shared folder and dump everything there- ideas for posts, brochures and designs you like, links to industry research. It will serve you well one day.

Basically- do whatever you can do to build the infrastructure to your grand launch. If you do so you are guaranteed a more significant impact than if you choose to wait and start marketing activities only then.  

What 6 months of freelancing has taught me

I took the plunge and start my own consulting business 6 months ago (see my post summarizing my first full week as a freelancer:Three things I’ve learned on my first week as a freelancer ). It feels like it was only yesterday… time sure moves fast when you’re enjoying yourself, and it was sure a very interesting period for me.  I will admit, it was not all fun, but I’ve learned so much, made lots of new connections and really feel I’ve made a significant progress in my career, that it was all worth it.

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My new office- The coffee shop

 

Through trial and error, and sometimes through good fortune of instinctively making the right decision, I’ve learned some valuable lessons I’m happy to share we you all:

  1. Choose your customers
    this is a tricky one. As a first time freelancer it’s really tempting to take on any client that is willing to pay you. But in addition to making sure you are well compensated for your hard work and not stretching yourself too thin, you need to make sure you and clients see eye to eye. If not, you will constantly defending your work, or worse, apologizing. Two actionable tips I can provide here are to set the expectations up front, in writing, and be VERY SPECIFIC about what you are expected to deliver. The second is to trust your instincts. If your gut feeling is that a certain client will be a pain in the neck, he will probably be (telltale signs are clients who negotiate hard over your pay and insist on being hand-on throughout the process). It is better to forfeit an annoying customer in advanced than to untangle a contract halfway through.   
  2. Price yourself right
    a tricky issue. At first you will agree to dismal pay only to start rolling, but you must quickly adjust and resist “discounting” yourself in order to gain another customer. The reasons being that this client is most likely of the negative type (see first article), but more importantly, as a freelance consultant you are really selling yourself- your time and know-how. You cannot scale these things, so if you agree to charge less you are effectively eroding your own value, which, unlike in product sales, you cannot compensate by volume.  
  3. Don’t over commit
    at first, assessing how much time and effort a task will take is very difficult since you don’t have enough experience. But after you’ve gained sufficient experience, make sure you don’t load yourself too much. This serves 2 purposes: it makes sure you deliver the goods and that you don’t burn yourself- both of which are detrimental to long term business.  
  4. Always be scouting
    keep in mind that all your current, paying customer could be gone tomorrow, and actively look for new prospects. Some people estimate they spend 20% of their time looking for the next business. That may be too much, but make sure you divert at least some of your attention to scouting for new business. You can outsource this to a degree- ask others to offer your services to their friends and business associates, and ask your current customer if they would be willing to serve as a reference or even refer you to other companies in the field.
  5. Don’t forget that managing the business is part of the business
    many people focus on deliver the professional output they are hired to deliver, and forget that they are, in fact, business owners. If you don’t negotiate, sign a contract, submit an invoice and make sure the money is wired to your bank you are effectively working for free. Do not compromise on any business aspect of your activity- submit all your invoices on time, check your bank account on a regular basis and make sure you plan ahead to maintain positive cash-flow. If someone fails to pay or delay a payment- stop all activities at once. Be polite yet determined- people need to realize you cannot be pushed around. This does become easier with time, and you learn to hedge yourself in advanced (take some of the money up front, insist on better payment terms and negotiate cheaper credit from your bank).
  6. Be frugal and agile
    The beauty of starting an independent consulting business today is that you don’t need to invest much capital. All you need is a laptop, mobile phone, an accountant (which can be a virtual one) and you are good to go. Do not make any investments (like a new computer, latest iPhone model or car) until you are 100% sure you need it. I work from home, cafés, at the customers ‘offices, public library and other places and avoid expensive rent or fee for places like Wework. I use public transportation as much as possible and have not bought any piece of equipment. I’ve learnt to make do with much less than I had working in a corporate office, and happy I don’t have to pay and worry about long term lease and out of pocket expenses I may never be able to recuperate.
  7. Always deliver value- in the end, this is what matters. Clients won’t pay you (or would stop working with you) if they don’t feel they are getting their money’s worth. That does not mean they own your time, but it does mean they expect you to be responsive and attentive, deliver what you committed to deliver (and more, if possible), and help their business thrive. If you can deliver value in way they don’t expect- even better. I’m usually hired to help with marketing, but if I spot a business opportunity I try to help and make it happen, as I feel the client’s success would also mean my own. Clients sense this and are thankful for this.
  8. Remember the end game- Being a freelancer isn’t for everyone, and is pose challenges a full time employee might never encounter. So make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and occasionally ask yourself if this is still working for you. I decided to take this as a trial year and then decide if I want to continue this way, commit to a single customer or found my own company. I have not decided yet, but I feel at the end of this year I would have gained enough knowledge of my own preference and the industry to make the best decision.

And try to have fun! remember, you’ve started on your own because you wanted to rid yourself of pesky bosses and mundane 9-5 routine. This is your chance to test if this lifestyle works for you. Even though it’s not always easy, it sure is more exciting and motivating, so try to enjoy the ride!

I’ll check in at the end of the year, to let you all know how my first full year felt like.

What I’ve learned from arranging my first Meetup

It started as some kind of joke or a dare- a guy I don’t know asked on Quora if there are any meetups for local Quora users. The replay was that it sounded like a good idea but it was never done before. So I thought to myself- why not?

So I started a new meetup group called the Israeli Quora meetup (neatly labeled “IQ”) and set a tentative date for a meetup.

IQmeetup

I published the existence of the group and the meeting on social media and Quora itself and waited. Pretty soon people started joining the group and RSVPing to the meetup. Now that it became more tangible I had to actually find a place and set an agenda for the meeting. Finding a location proved more difficult than I first expected. All the places I knew that could host us for free were unavailable. I didn’t want to start collecting money to fund this activity. Through open discussion we’ve reached the conclusion that it would be ok to hold the meeting in some public place, as long as it had ample parking and access to public transportation. 

I then came across an unexpected hurdle- I originally set the date to 7.7 to make it memorable, but it turned out my wife had to be abroad that day and I had no one to look after my kids. So I postponed it one week to the 14.7. I booked us a large table at a local beergarden and waited. 18 RSVP, but I was almost certain not everyone would show up. It didn’t bother me much since I knew at least several people were actually going to make it and I would not have to sit at a table set for 18 people all alone.

Long story short- they came, we dined and drank beer, talked and talked and had a great time. We said goodbye some 2.5 hours later and everyone, self-included, were pleased. I took some notes (written and mental ones) during the meeting and I’d like to share these with you here:

1.      Quorans (that’s insider jargon for Quora users) like to talk. A lot.

2.      Quorans interesting and merry folks. There were people from all over the country (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other places) aged 18-60 (I think, I never asked but some were fresh from high school and others had gray hair. I dare not guess the ladies’ age…)

3.      “If you arrange it, they will come”- People like to meet like-minded people. Period.
No professional agenda is needed, no high profile speaker or hip location…  just provide people the platform to meet face to face and they would gladly come.

4.      Networking works better face to face (and over beer)- Sure, I’ve been following and corresponding with these people over several months on various platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and meetup inmail platform) – but 5 minutes sitting next to them were so much more meaningful.

5.      People really appreciate others who take initiative- all the participants thanked me and people that I didn’t even think of praise me for arranging this meetup. In reality all it took was 5 minutes to setup the Meetup accounts, some 20-30$ for the account fee, a few emails and phone calls. Nonetheless, people see you as the facilitator and acknowledge you’ve done something they’ve only dreamed or talked about. 

And they respect you for it.

So what am I taking from all this? Will I arrange another meetup?

You bet.

I just extended my subscription to Meetup and moved to unlimited account, which means that more than 50 people can actually join the online group. I will certainly push for another meeting in the fall, and make sure we will be meeting in a more convenient location. And yes- I will delegate most of the work to others. There are at least a dozen of IQ members that know how fun such a meeting can be and will surely help me arrange the next one.

One last note- I’m looking at 2016 as a year in which I experiment and try new things. Arranging this meetup, while not planned or thought of as part of this experience, was a great learning experience for me, and I’m really glad I’ve made the effort to pull it off.

And I know my fellow Quorans are grateful, too.

How I used social media in real-time to support a sale

As part of my role as a marketing consultant, I support my clients during live events. This support includes twitting, posting Facebook and LinkedIn updates and engaging with the event audience online.

This usually results in some buzz, better traffic to the site and increase in social media followership. But sometimes, I can actually support the sales process in real time. Last week o a cybersecurity company I work with presented in a conference in Washington, D.C.

I monitored the online chatter and discussions around it and made sure my clients were active and present. I posted pictures (sent back to me by the sales guy on -site) and updated the audience about events happening at the booth. Then I saw a person I didn’t know tweet about being targeted by a phishing attack. He found it funny this happened during his visit to a cybersecurity conference. I was this as an opportunity. It was, in fact, a terrific opportunity, because my client was selling a product which could have blocked this same attack.

social media support in RT
Tweet and response

 

I tweeted back to him saying he should visit the booth to see how their solution could help him. I then checked his profile on LinkedIn, and sent a quick email to the sales person on site advising him to contact the gentleman ASAP.

He did, the guy visited the booth and was impressed with the product, and no less than that- of us “hunting” him so quickly.

Hearing a sales guy rave about the marketing’s performance is unusual, but that’s exactly what happened. He thanked me and said he will definitely continue the dialog with this prospect.

All in all, a great example of the power of social media, amplified by the power of real-time action to achieve maximum effect.

 

Someone tried to Social engineer me on Quora

 

I’ve been phished, spearphished and trolled via Email, facebook, LinkedIn and whatsapp. But even I was surprised to find someone trying to social engineer me on Quora.

 

How do you know you are successful? You draw young, exotic women… this maybe true (and positive) for James Bond, but in the online world, the more people want to be close to you the more suspicious you should be. So one day not so long ago I received this comment to one of my answers on Quora:

 

quora phishing
Yep, Zanita Joy does not sound like a credible name

 

 

Two things caught my eyes- first of all, people don’t usually respond to answers, let alone with a “glad meeting you” header. Second- People on Quora usually use the platform and it’s built in messaging system to communicate. So someone asking you to contact her on email (and a Hotmail account nonetheless!) is highly suspicious. Lastly- people don’t usually take a “romantic” angle on these type of semi-professional platforms (LinkedIn included). So I declined, deleted and reported this.

While I don’t think this is any serious security threat to my safety or privacy, it is an alarming development- it means fraudsters realize there is a new hunting ground for fresh meet, and I’m sure this is not the last we’re seeing of it. The next phase usually evolves to cybercrime, and I can imagine several innocuous looking methods to trick and infect Quora users (I will save these to myself- no one said we need to make the hackers lives easier).

I advise you all to be vigilant and don’t let your guard down even on such trust evoking platform: don’t reveal personal information, don’t connect and interact with people you don’t know and don’t do anything which feels suspicious. If you encounter any suspicious activity- you can always ask the community what people think about it. Worse case- you’ve raised awareness. Best case? You prevent fraud. Good luck!

 

How one post generated tremendous traffic to my blog.

One blog post generated almost 20,000 visits to my blog. More than all others combined. How did I achieve such fit?

Simple.
I’ve asked people for their help.

original post
The Original post dated 3/5/2015

 

About I year ago I started to write more consistently at my blog. I was wondering how to boost traffic.  I read a little and understood that the best way is to generate interest and engage people. Since my blog was about me and my experience I didn’t know what to do. In the meantime I played with the idea of improving my blog and making it look more professional. I decided I was going to design a logo for the blog and the brand “Owntrepreneurship”. I posted this on a freelance platform and got several designers interested. One of them (which I eventually contracted) offered several drafts for me to choose from. It then dawned upon me that this was a perfect opportunity to “crowdsource” my decision? So I wrote this post, labeled

Please help me select the new owntrepreneurship logo!

 (https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/05/03/please-help-me-select-the-new-owntrepreneurship-logo/)

I then published it in multiple places, including Quora.

https://www.quora.com/I-need-to-design-a-professional-logo-for-my-new-startup-Whats-the-best-way-to-get-a-really-good-logo

And what do you know? The number just dazzled me.

all time stats
The stats – over 18,000 visitors

 

Overall this post saw nearly 20,000 visitors over the past year. I haven’t been able to replicate these numbers since, even though I’ve tried to ask a similar questions. I think what really did it for people was the fact that it was sincere ( I really didn’t know what I was doing in terms of both logo design and working with freelancers), it was engaging (they had an easy survey to participate in- just select one of four options) and it was visual.

So asking for help really did make a difference in this case, and I will definitely think of ways to replicate this in the future.

And the decision for the logo ? it’s the one I was rooting for, proving the wisdom of the crowd…