Special Report: 80 Years of Ideas – Advertising Age (2)

Advertising Age: 80 Years of Ideas

Advertising Age: 80 Years of Ideas

We Look at the Events, Brands and Trends That Have Shaped Marketing — and the Ones Still to Come

When Ad Age published its first issue in 1930, the stock market had just tanked, and a Great Depression was only beginning. Consumer spending plunged 41% from 1929 to the Depression’s 1933 nadir. A problem for consumer marketing, media and advertising? Actually, a remarkable opportunity. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Ad Age Video

Covering the Mad Men: Advertising Age at 40

Covering the Mad Men: Advertising Age at 40

Recounting Ad Age’s History in 1970

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Back when Don Draper was swilling Scotch in his corner office, debating how to solve Lucky Strike‘s marketing conundrums, Ad Age was all over in the industry. And it was no young pub — in 1970 the publication was already 40 years old. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

From the Great Depression Through the Great Recession: A Brief  History of Marketing

From the Great Depression Through the Great Recession: A Brief History of Marketing

A Look at 80 Highlights From Ad Age’s First 80 Years, Compiled From Our Archives, Ad Age’s Encyclopedia of Advertising and Additional Research

Ad Age’s Bradley Johnson presents a timeline of marketing, media and ad agencies, showing advertising industry developments from 1930 through 2010. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Back to the Future: Have We Lived Up to Expectations of  Advertising?

Back to the Future: Have We Lived Up to Expectations of Advertising?

From 1977, the Late Biochemist and Science Fiction Legend Isaac Asimov Foretells the Ad Future in 2000

In 1977, Ad Age ran biochemist and science-fiction author Isaac Asimov’s piece forecasting what the advertising “future” would be like in 2000. We’ve reprinted it for our 80th birthday. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

The Cold Truth: No One Does Veggies Quite Like Birds Eye

The Cold Truth: No One Does Veggies Quite Like Birds Eye

Brand’s Identity as a Leader in Frozen Vegetables Stands the Test of Time, and It’s Done So With Little Marketing

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — Clarence Birdseye didn’t just invent the commercialized flash-freezing process that kept garden greens tasty and convenient for weeks on end; he built the frozen-food category and its infrastructure, including grocery freezer cases and insulated train cars for their safe transport. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Motorola's Longevity Lies in Its Simple Approach

Motorola’s Longevity Lies in Its Simple Approach

Brand’s Unique Ability to Produce Wide Range of Products Is Secret to Success

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — Given it’s been around for 80 years, sells to businesses, governments and consumers and has also historically been best-known for many products it no longer makes, Motorola’s brand continues to offer a surprisingly simple — and enduringly effective — proposition. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Value Of McCann's Industry Influence? Priceless

Value Of McCann’s Industry Influence? Priceless

Groundbreaking Global Strategies, Innovative Operations Set Pioneer Agency Apart From the Rest

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — From the start, McCann Erickson proved itself a pioneer in the ad business, beating other networks to the globalization trend of the 1980s by several decades. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Snickers Uses Humor to Satisfy Generations of Hunger

Snickers Uses Humor to Satisfy Generations of Hunger

World’s Best-Selling Candy Bar Has Differentiated Itself With the Idea That It’s More Than Just a Chocolate Snack

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — Talk about a depression baby with staying power: Snickers, introduced in 1930, is a $2 billion brand proposition today. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Fisher-Price Plays, Laughs and Grows Into Global Brand

Fisher-Price Plays, Laughs and Grows Into Global Brand

Toy Company Founded in Depression Has Evolved Into ‘Children’s Product Company’ With Multiple Integrations

YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) — For Fisher-Price, what began as toddler toy-making has grown up into a global brand that is now part of the Mattel empire. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Fortune Rides the Booms and Busts of Business

Fortune Rides the Booms and Busts of Business

Once-Ambitious Idea Has Consistently Covered the Ups and Downs While Feeling Them Itself

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Much like Ad Age, Fortune began life at about the worst possible time for a new business: the dawn of the Great Depression. But it was born, in reality, of success, namely the recent triumph of Henry Luce’s then-young Time magazine, founded in 1923. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Tums Brand, Like Acid Indigestion, Is Timeless

Tums Brand, Like Acid Indigestion, Is Timeless

Antacid Thrives in Its Journey From Accidental Remedy to Trusted Household Name Remembered Fondly for Jingle

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — “Tums, Tum-Tum-Tum, Tums!” That famous jingle, set to the dramatic opening bars of the theme from the TV show “Dragnet,” just might be what people remember most about Tums, the famous antacid that was born the same year as Advertising Age. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Twinkies: Sweet Treat Continues to Delight

Twinkies: Sweet Treat Continues to Delight

Though It’s Had Its Share of Criticism, Cream-Filled Snack Still Takes the Cake When It Comes to Consumer Demand

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Twinkies have inspired love, curiosity and criticism, not to mention a cookbook, campaign reform and plenty of urban legends in the 80 years since James A. Dewar created them. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

The Most Influential Brands of 2090

Media Guy’s Grandson Reports From the Future (No Hot-Tub Time Machine Required!)

Apparently “Media Guy” Grandpa Simon wrote a lot of so-called listicles. So when Ad Age asked me to come up with a list of some of the most influential brands of 2090 — and to look back at where they were 80 years ago (if they were even around back then) — I jumped at the chance. <!–FULL ARTICLE–>

Up in Smoke: Documents From the Annals of Tobacco Marketing

Up in Smoke: Documents From the Annals of Tobacco Marketing

A Collection of Internal Memos, Press Releases and Reports That Changed the Way Cigarettes Were Sold

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — Advertising Age’s 80th anniversary report includes three major tobacco-related events. Here is a sampling of documents related to those events.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Advertising Age: 80 Years of Ideas – Advertising Age – Special Report: 80 Years of Ideas

We Look at the Events, Brands and Trends That Have Shaped Marketing — and the Ones Still to Come

When Ad Age published its first issue in 1930, the stock market had just tanked, and a Great Depression was only beginning. Consumer spending plunged 41% from 1929 to the Depression’s 1933 nadir.

Ad Age's first issue, from 1930.
Ad Age’s first issue, from 1930.

A problem for consumer marketing, media and advertising? Actually, a remarkable opportunity.

In this report, we profile great brands that made their debuts in 1930 and went on to be market leaders: Fortune and Fisher-Price, Motorola and McCann Erickson, Twinkies and Tums. And in an accompanying timeline, we assemble 80 highlights from 80 years.

The past offers key lessons. First: There is never a bad time to launch a great product or company. (The biggest opportunities on the internet were born of or after the dot-com crash. Just ask Google and Facebook.)

Second: Failure is a cost of business. When Apple‘s first wireless device (1993’s Newton) flopped, Ad Age noted, “The category may give a new twist to Newton’s law: Products may be falling now, but the category is still poised to soar — eventually. … Smart money still is betting on long-term prospects for wireless portable communications devices.” Apple came back with iPod (2001), iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010).

Third: The best marketers, media firms and agencies boast an outstanding ability to reinvent themselves and lead their changing markets decade after decade.

The best example is Procter & Gamble Co.; see our 1931, 1980 and 1994 entries. And just last week, P&G rightfully became the first corporation inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Fame.

Ad Age has covered the rise of new media — again and again: Radio, which went from essentially zero to 55% household penetration in 12 years; TV (0.4% to 55% penetration in six years); cable (6% to 50% in 19 years); internet (broadband penetration soared from 1.7% to 54% in eight years).

We’ve tracked the emergence of new technologies: Refrigerators (from 15% household penetration to 50%-plus during the 1930s); wireless phones (a 22-year ride from 1983 debut to 50% household penetration). We’ve also witnessed how innovators can build remarkable businesses around emerging media and technologies. Cable? Ted Turner. Refrigerators? Birds Eye frozen foods. Computers? Bill Gates’ and Paul Allen’s Micro-Soft.

Ad Age’s 12-page debut issue mentions some now-faded brands such as Saturday Evening Post and Plymouth cars.

But the issue also notes brands that are very much in the game today: Time, The New Yorker, Quaker Oats, Buick, NBC. And Gillette, which at the time was preparing to launch a new-and-improved razor and blade.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Marketers: It’s Your Fault if Your Ad Agencies Flounder – Advertising Age – CMO Strategy

Forrester Study Finds Client Companies Must Take the Reins in Digital World Rather Than Wait for Shops To

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Eighteen months ago, Honda‘s chief marketing officer Steve Center wanted to curtail what he felt was the company’s overemphasis on print marketing materials to communicate with customers.

STEVE CENTER: Honda CMO prodded his agency to think more  digitally.
STEVE CENTER: Honda CMO prodded his agency to think more digitally.

But rather than hunt for a hot new digital shop, Mr. Center requested that his lead agency, California-based RPA, restructure to replace its brochure-marketing group with a digital-marketing hub. “They saw that brochures can come out of all digital assets you’re creating, and that’s not to mention the digital brochures and things you’re doing online,” said Mr. Center. He’s now convinced that his relationship with RPA is stronger and that Honda is using its creative assets and messaging more efficiently.

While it sounds like a simple request from a client to its agency, the Honda-RPA example is a sign that brands may need to take charge of their agency partnerships. Simply put, if marketers are counting on their agencies to lead them into a world of changing consumer behaviors and media habits, they should think again.

As digital-marketing channels multiply, agencies are struggling to figure out their own businesses, and a recent Forrester study suggests that marketers may need to force their agencies to evolve rather than wait for them to do it themselves.

Ad Age got a peek at the 16-page study, called “The Future of Agency Relationships,” for which Forrester spent nearly four months interviewing agency and marketing executives.

In it, Forrester says that over the past few years the already-complex agency-marketer relationship has been significantly altered by factors such as the recession and the rise of social media, resulting in agencies quickly trying to expand their offerings, sometimes promising capabilities they are unable to deliver, and even more agency partners at an already-crowded marketing table.

Sean Corcoran, an analyst at Forrester and lead author of the report, said one of the biggest challenges marketers face today is how to know who to turn to when they want to change their ad strategies. He said it’s further complicated by the fact that the unbundled world of traditional, PR, interactive, media and direct agencies, in some cases, are trying to “bundle themselves back up” to become jacks of all trades.

“It’s up to marketing leaders to change the demand,” Mr. Corcoran said. “They can’t just flip a switch and have things change. But they can lay some groundwork for the changes happening in marketing today.”

Peter Stringham has worn both hats as the current CEO at WPP’s Y&R Brands unit and the former CMO at HSBC Bank. He recalls a huge disconnect between marketer and agency when he was on the client side and believes it is exacerbated today thanks to the rise of new media.

“Clients really have to accelerate quickly up the learning curve and get involved in social media,” said Mr. Stringham. “As a CMO you want the agency to stick to what they can do and not promise things they can’t accomplish. They will tell you they can build a rocket ship and fly it to the moon. But especially today, with the specialized skill sets that are required, you’re better off saying you don’t do this very well … let’s go get someone else to help us handle this.”

Moving forward, more often than not, marketers will have a slew of shops managing their business, and it’s imperative to get them to play nice together. Bob Greenberg, CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned digital agency R/GA, said only some marketers are doing a good job of this, but the future of the business requires all of them to improve in this area. “Agencies have been designed to be fiercely competitive, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it makes it more difficult to collaborate,” he said. “Not only does the client have to lead the relationship, but they also have to force collaboration.”

According to Honda’s Mr. Center, in many cases, stubborn or shortsighted marketers have been the cause of the lack of progress or results that are often blamed on the agency.

“Agencies are exposed to much more than us, and they have to bring in raw ideas, market reconnaissance and intelligence,” he said. “But they will not tell us how to organize our company to accomplish our marketing mission. That responsibility should always fall entirely with the owner of the brand.”

How to lay the foundation for your agency house

Redefine the role of agencies. Strip away above- and below-the-line restrictions and allow ideas and leadership to come out of any agency you have under contract.

Test partners from the non-agency world. Try letting companies like Google, Sapient and Akamai Technologies deliver media and marketing services. Having resources that continually monitor the space and looking beyond traditional “agencies” for help is important. Have an internal resource stationed between marketing and procurement that can regularly evaluate outsourced skills and tools that can be used for marketing.

Create a productive relationship with procurement. The complaint voiced by many agency people today is that procurement teams treat them just like the vendors who clean the carpets. “If you grind the margin out of your agency you will get a marginal agency,” Honda CMO Steve Center said.

Test incentive-based compensation. Eventually marketers will have the ability to more easily quantify an agency’s performance but until then Forrester recommends testing incentive-based compensation so the agency has more skin in your business. “They will be more likely to help you hit your overall goals than just focusing on their world only,” Forrester’s Mr. Corcoran said. This way the agency wins and loses when the brand wins and loses.

Start the process in more advanced markets such as the U.S. and U.K. Different regions move at different speeds through the globe and Forrester believes it’s important to start restructuring agency relationships in markets that can handle it. Marketers can then take those lessons and apply them in other markets such as China, India and Brazil.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

22 Useful Online Chart & Graph Generators | Tools

Have you ever encounter situations where you need to create a simple yet good-looking chart, graphs or diagrams and all you have is your browser? Charts are good and effective way to show relationship between entities but sometimes creating one can be pretty challenging especially when your favorite word processing software is not around.

online chart generators

In today’s post, we want to highlight some of the best web services that allow you to create various charts and graphs online on-the-fly. Most of them are easy to use and don’t you even worry about the design. Your output will be as good as what you see in the screen shots below. Full list after jump.

Rich Chart Live
Create enjoyable and captivating Flash Charts from your web browser.


DIY Chart
DIY (Do it yourself) Chart is a Web-based, simple and powerful online tool to create interactive charts and graphs from static or dynamic data which may be generated using any scripting language.


Online Chart Generator
The best online chart and graph generator tool, Generate amazing 3D graphs instantly in few seconds.


Chartle.net tears down the complexity of online visualizations – offers simplicity, ubiquity and interactivity online chart generator.


ChartGo allows users to create charts online quickly and simply paste your data in the chart data area and hit the create chart button.


Create A Graph
You can really make a detailed graph at Create A Graph and see how it might look, and then print, download, or email what you’ve created.


JS Charts
JS Charts is a JavaScript chart generator that requires little or no coding. JS Charts allows you to easily create charts in different templates like bar charts, pie charts or simple line graphs.


Pie Chart Tool
Pie Chart Tool creates a pie charts based on the data you provide. All you have to do is to type your data and the name of the categories.


Piecolor is a tool that creates pie chart with colors very easily.


Hohli Charts
Hohli Charts lets you dynamically generate charts.


CSS Chart Generator
CSS Chart Generator generates your charts on the fly.


Google chart API and chart generator tool.


Chart Maker
Generator for the Chart Server API.


Google Chart Tools
The Google Chart Tools enable adding live charts to any web page.


amCharts Visual Editor
This editor allows you to use amCharts as a web service. This means that all you need to do is to configure the chart and paste the generated HTML code to your HTML page.


Pie Chart Maker
This free tool outputs your pie chart as an image that you can save to your computer.


With your free account from ChartGizmo you can now create charts for your website, blog and social network profiles.


On Onlinecharttool.com you can design and share your own graphs online and for free.


OWTChart Generator
The OWTChart Generator is an on-line tool to be used to produce charts. A GIF image of the chart that you specified will be displayed on the screen.


Highcharts is a charting library written in pure JavaScript, offering an easy way of adding interactive charts to your web site or web application. Highcharts currently supports line, spline, area, areaspline, column, bar, pie and scatter chart types.


iCharts is a web-services company that makes data publishing and distribution simple.


Google Chart Generator
Create a Google chart in seconds!


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

5 Excellent Text to Voice Free Applications @ SmashingApps

// //

Many computer users take advantage of text-to-voice programs to make their computer tasks easier. With a voice command we can execute a task which otherwise might take a combination of keyboard-key presses and mouse clicks.

For my readers who have not yet tried out text-to-voice applications or are looking for something better than what they are already using, I have gathered a list of 5 great options they can go for. Read each entry in my list, find out which one interests you, and use the comments to let me know how it went for you.


email  marketing software

You are welcome if you want to share more text to speech applications that our readers/viewers may like. Do you want to be the first one to know the latest happenings at  smashingApps.com just subscribe to our rss feed and you can follow us on twitter and do not forget to become our fan on facebook as well.

Windows Speech Recognition


I am placing Windows native speech recognition at first place because I believe it will be the easiest to use for most Windows users. You will not need to install anything extra and the voice commands will be easily integrated into other Windows functions. For Windows users new to text-to-voice, Windows very own speech recognition is a great starting point.

To Enable Windows Voice Recognition tool click Start > Control Panel > Speech Recognition Options



NaturalReader is a great text-to-voice option to go with. Some text-to-voice programs work by taking as input text files of a specific format. With NaturalReader however, all we have to do is highlight the text in any document (or webpage), click on the application’s hotkey, and have the text read back to us. Voice options are also adjustable: we can choose to hear either a male or female voice, and adjust the voice’s quality and speed.



Users who, for whatever reason do not want to or cannot install any new applications, iSpeech will serve beautifully. This is an online text-to-voice application. A signup is required before we can use this browser-based service. Once we login, we can either upload a document file of the supported format, or paste in any text we want in the assigned area.



eSpeak, although a tiny sized program, supports many languages other than English. The program includes different voice with modifiable characteristics. WAV files can also be produced of the generated voice. eSpeak has versions compatible with Windows and Linux operating systems.



The last entry in my list is DSpeech. Not only does this program offer us the option to choose from different voices the text is read in, but also allows us to combine the voice or compare them. This way we can even form a dialogue between the two voices. The outputs can be saved as WAV, MP3, and OGG files. Once you have already familiarized yourself with basic text-to-speech techniques, this program will allow you to have quite some fun in your free time.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Asia Digital Map

On March 21st, 2010, on behalf of Ogilvy Health, I delivered a presentation “Social or Media” at the seminar “Social Media and Hospital PR.”  The seminar was a part of KIMES(Korea International Medical & Hospital Equipment Show), the largest event of its kind in Korea, and sponsored by Korea Medical Doctors’ Weekly. Dr. Yang, Kwang-Mo, CEO of Healthlog, the most successful health blogger in Korea, was another speaker, and he talked about Health 2.0. While I uploaded my presentation file at Ogilvy Health blog, since it is in Korean, let me summarize my key messages towards medical doctors and hospital marketers at the event.

I have observed and talked with many people who want to use “social media” for corporate purposes. What I noticed is that there are two types of approaches. 1) The first type has the emphasis on “Media”: they try to leverage social media as ‘PR’omotional media. A big mistake for this type of people is being “too much promotional” and they approach social media like homepage. 2) The second type, which is a much better group, has the emphasis on “Social”: they try to ‘being social’ with stakeholders via this new media. They do not just throw out their promotional messages, but, listen, and engage with people.

Many medical doctors ask their PR staffs or PR agency “I don’t know(care) what the social media is, but, just open it, fill with a lot of information, and I hope much more patients will visit our hospital.” Wrong. The leader of the hospital should spend their time to being “social” with patients and community. Sometimes, they open a hospital blog, and just transfer all the contents from their previous homepage. Wrong. While the homepage is about hospital information, the blog/social media is about story.
From a communications perspective, “being social” is about exchanging stories, not just dry facts and information. So, if someone wants to use ’social media’ that means the owners(e.g. medical doctors, corporate executives, etc.) commit themselves to be SOCIAL.

p.s. According to Webster.com, the definition of ’social’ has the following meanings:

“involving allies”

“pleasant companionship”

“relating to human society



“cooperative and interdependent relationship”


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Murdoch cumple su amenaza de cobrar por las noticias online : Marketing Directo

El magnate de la comunicación Rupert Murdoch está decidido a poner precio a las noticias de sus periódicos online. Hacía tiempo que venía amenazando con imponer el cobro por el acceso a las páginas webs de sus medios y ahora las amenazas se han convertido en realidad. Desde el próximo mes de junio los contenidos de The Times y The Sunday Times dejarán de ser gratis. A continuación, The Sun y The News of the World podrían seguir esta misma estela.

Los lectores de las versiones online de The Times y The Sunday Times tendrán que pagar una libra diaria –aproximadamente lo mismo que cuesta el periódico en los quioscos– o dos libras semanales por el acceso a sus noticias. Los suscriptores de la edición impresa de los diarios podrán acceder gratuitamente a los contenidos de la web. Por otra parte, quienes quieran tener acceso a las noticias online de The Times y The Sunday Times desde otros países europeos distintos de Reino Unido tendrán que abonar 1,50 euros diarios o 3 euros semanales.

La introducción del nuevo sistema de pago en los portales de The Times y The Sunday Times ha forzado a una remodelación de sus respectivos sitios web, que estarán listos para principios del mes de mayo y se someterán después a un período de pruebas.

News International, la compañía de Rupert Murdoch, no es la primera empresa editorial en introducir una estrategia de contenidos online de pago. The Financial Times y The Wall Street Journal también han puesto precio a sus noticias en internet. Y parece que The New York Times está pensando también en cobrar por el acceso a su sitio web.

El objetivo es rentabilizar económicamente los periódicos online, hasta ahora sustentados únicamente con los ingresos procedentes de la publicidad, que en los últimos años se han tornado cada vez más insuficientes. “Estamos orgullosos de nuestra manera de hacer periodismo y creemos, sin avergonzarnos por ello, que nuestro trabajo tiene un valor”, subraya Rebekah Brooks, CEO de News International.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No Barriers | ANidea – powered by the minds at AgencyNet

Me: “Exploring ideas…”
Rich: “
Write about that.”

The Internet presents no obstacles to creativity. It’s an outlet where all the restrictions of daily life are relaxed and, for the most part, I can do whatever I damn well please.

When I first got this assignment, I struggled for a long time. In early drafts, I went down some egotistical paths, writing about my various online projects, and so on. But reliving my success isn’t why I love the Internet – nor does it explain what I get out of its madness.

The fact is, I love the Internet because it’s playtime. Recess. Recreation. Other synonyms for unencumbered activity.

What do I do?

I take the ideas that I have all day and see how far I can push them. Start a blog based on jokes, post some flash fiction and see where the story ends up, review some movies in character. Whatever. The Internet lets me maintain a level of creativity comparable to that of a child.

Think about it. Say you’re 12 years old, outside for recess. All your buddies are around and you organize an impromptu game of tag and see who’s best. Maybe it’s a game of blob tag.  Maybe the rules don’t exist yet.  Anyone up for a game of cloud tag? How about dinosaur tag… or ninja tag?  Or maybe you ditch tag entirely and try to one up each other with knock-knock jokes.

The web is like that playground, it’s immediate interaction and feedback gives you a forum to do that sort of thing all over again, to test your ideas against the community in real-time. To see what sticks (and what’s lame.) This sort of connection was previously limited to water coolers or… I don’t know… bowling leagues.

Where’s the beef?

This grownup playground allows us to explore our ideas without any say-so from someone else.  It’s a place to recharge our creative batteries. It’s hard enough to be creative on demand. The pressure and weight of being tasked with “coming up with an idea” is immense. The controlled panic is usually something I try to compartmentalize, siphoning the nervous energy into the idea engine. But when I get home and the pressure’s off… executing ideas keeps me from burning out.

It seems counter-intuitive to revive yourself from the hard work of creative thinking by coming home and doing it some more. But it helps. The unstructured environment lets you spread your wings and reinforces the gut feeling that you’re creative and prolific. If you don’t believe me, give it a shot. Or go do some research. There are studies showing that kids with more recess and unstructured play do better in class and develop better problem-solving skills.

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

The upshot of all this is that while you’re decompressing, you’re still practicing ideation and execution; becoming that much sharper (perhaps even expanding your skillset).

I’ll give you an example: I have a pet project drawing maps of make believe places. I told an Art Director friend of mine that I considered this a part of my “writing process.” Naturally, she didn’t follow; so I explained to her that it was an action that fueled my ability to imagine, and was therefore a component of any written work that might come out of the world I was creating. In that sense, fooling around in Illustrator was “writing” for me because it was a step along the path… Llke moodboards before a website or blueprints before a house.

When you get home from work, fire up the computer and play creative director for a while. It’s the difference between redlining and cruising. Take it easy playing with ideas tonight so you can hit the finish line with some tomorrow.

Image Credit: John Spence
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Startup Strategy Roundtable: Validate Your Ideas – ReadWriteStart

tableI started doing my free Online Strategy Roundtables for entrepreneurs in the fall of 2008. Based on this work, I’ve been able to draw a few conclusions.

First, a good percentage of entrepreneurs don’t bother validating their ideas. Another percentage are immediately interested in raising money. Raising money without validating the business is pretty much impossible. If we can address some of these patterns we have a chance at significantly reducing infant entrepreneur mortality.

At this morning’s roundtable I worked with four new entrepreneurs, and this is what I learned.

Sramana Mitra is a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. She has founded three companies and writes a business blog, Sramana Mitra on Strategy. She has a masters degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her three books, Entrepreneur Journeys, Bootstrapping, Weapon Of Mass Reconstruction, and Positioning: How To Test, Validate, and Bring Your Idea To Market are all available from Amazon. Her new book Vision India 2020 was recently released. Mitra is also a columnist for Forbes and runs the 1M/1M initiative.

Mel Marten presented ClaroConnect, described as being like a match.com for financial advisors and clients.  There was a discussion about the best way to monetize the business, whether charging an annual fee is preferred to monetizing every lead. Then the conversation turned to affiliate marketing.

Albert Santalo with CareCloud was next.  This Internet-based service simplifies the many tasks of the modern medical office. While this business has been validated by a growing list of clients, the positioning of their service needs to be more sharply defined in order to scale the business.  Through much give and take, the importance of segmentation and focusing on the strongest segment of their market was emphasized.

Martin Linkov presented Favit, a product aiming to personally curate and simply present online content.  As a blogger and potential customer, I said I am looking for a service to curate and prioritize what other bloggers are saying about a topic I am blogging about to give my readers a fuller perspective.  But Martin is not looking to answer that need.  He demonstrates how difficult it can be to explain a complex service, while being pressed to succinctly define who the user is for this service, and what is the value proposition for the bloggers who are the stated channel.  The most valuable selling proposition for this service still needs to be defined and validated.

Mark Hernandez pitched his business, After COOL Fitness.  I liked this business idea, there is clearly a need to fill in as physical education and recreation programs are being cut from school budgets.  Currently they are paid by grants and parents.  When I learned of the lopsided ownership structure of the business, I felt Mark’s main priority should be to rework the capital structure of the business while continuing to organically grow the business regionally.

The roundtables are the cornerstone programming of a global initiative that I have started called One Million by One Million (1M/1M). Its mission is to help a million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond, build $1 trillion in sustainable global GDP, and create 10 million jobs.

In 1M/1M, I teach the EJ Methodology which is based on my Entrepreneur Journeys research, and emphasize bootstrapping, idea validation, and crisp positioning as some of the core principles of building strong fundamentals in early stage ventures.

You can find the recording of this roundtable session here. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here. You can register for the next roundtable here.

Photo by Laurent Cottier.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Are Incubators and Angels Gaining Leverage On Larger VC Firms? – ReadWriteStart

ycombinator_logo_mar10.jpgBeing a resident of the Phoenix area, which is a significant distance from Silicon Valley, I wasn’t able to attend the Demo Day show-and-tell pitch-fest at the end of Y Combinator (YC), but luckily, other reporters were there and have been slowly releasing stories about the companies and the event. Peter Kafka of All Things Digital published a video interview Thursday with YC co-founder Paul Graham from Demo Day in which he provides some interesting insights into how the investment community is rebounding and possibly how incubators are beginning to have influence on the larger VC firms.

This group of YC grads included 26 companies, of which 20-25% Graham would expect statistically to go on to receive Series A funding. However, this number could potentially be higher with this newest class as Graham has seen a drastic change in the attitudes of the investors.

“Judging by the reactions of investors, the recessions seems to be over,” Graham said in his interview with Kafka. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a batch that had so much investor interest so early as this one.”

As Graham points out, some of the companies had spoken with or secured angel funding well before demo day – another surprise, he says. An interesting opinion he shared in his interview included the idea that it is hard to place a statistical number on how many companies emerge from YC to become “successful” businesses. Who defines what “successful” is?

paul_graham_mar10.jpgGraham says that historically, 70% of YC companies have raised additional funding since leaving the program, or have not needed to because they managed to become profitable without additional help. But how does Graham truly gauge success for the entrepreneurs? “The founders end up rich, basically. That’s the definition,” he says.

The other interesting quote Graham gave during his brief interview sparked an interesting thought in my mind about the state of the start-up and investment community as a whole. When Kafka suggested that angel investors tend to get squeezed how by more powerful VC firms that flood companies with cash in future rounds of funding, Graham replied that firms would be foolish to attempt this with YC startups. To paraphrase, Graham basically said, “The firms wouldn’t dare squeeze out the angels on YC companies because that would mean they would be squeezing us too, and that wouldn’t be wise if they wanted to continue to have access to our alumni.”

What this got me thinking about is how the growing popularity of incubator programs like Y Combinator and TechStars is affecting the venture capital community. Are firms less likely to squeeze out angel investors from these kinds of companies because the incubators continually graduate companies with high potential? Is Graham saying that if the VCs want continued access to the best startups around that they had better play nice with the angels?

If so, is this good or bad for the startup community? If this is really having a significant impact on how VC firms approach these companies, then it surely benefits the angel investors, but do the startups ultimately gain anything from it? I wonder if there has been a case of VC firms deciding not to invest in a YC company because they would rather be able to have more control over term negotiations.

I would think that a VC firm would be more interested in the opportunity to work with high-potential companies than in a power struggle in the board room, but I could be wrong. Or I could just be over analyzing a simple quote.

Photo by Flickr user pragdave.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Weekend Reading: Social Networking for Businesses, by Rawn Shah – ReadWriteStart

social_network_mar10.jpgWe have talked about the power of utilizing social networks for businesses before in our Weekend Reading series with books like The Facebook Era, by Clara Shih and Crush It!, by Gary Vaynerchuk, and this week we’ve got another book under a similar vein. Published just last month, Social Networking for Businesses: Choosing the Right Tools and Resources to Fit Your Needs, by Rawn Shah is a guide for companies looking to take advantage of the collaborative communities of social networks to improve their business.

Author Rawn Shah has plenty of experience in this very subject as he is the Best Practices Lead on the Social Software Adoption Team at IBM. In Social Networking for Businesses, Shah breaks down the essentials and methods of modeling social experiences for businesses to get the most out of their users and customers. One of the most important factors to the success of social business experiences is the leadership of those experiences, says Shah, who points to the success of blogs and Wikipedia as examples.

“The success of each blog is a result of the leadership of its owners, who independently set the rules for what to publish and who can contribute,” says Shah. Wikipedia, he says, only succeeded when its leadership structure changed to let anyone to contribute, allowing the best content to rise to the top and be curated by public editors.

shah_cover_mar10.jpg“This defining change in how people could make decisions on the content and direction of the site — a leadership model that allowed anyone to become an editor and leader — drove Wikipedia’s overwhelming success,” says Shah.

Other topics covered by Shah in his book include building skills to create and manage social experiences, building a social culture within your business, collaborating with customers and users on ideas, and measuring the results of social environments.

“Online communities and social computing software are rapidly appearing both on the Internet and within organizations as a means to allow people to collaborate, although quite frequently without a plan or a link to organizational and business value,” says Shah. “By framing collaboration around specific goals and methods instead of herding people towards generic ideas, social computing can help develop and direct innovative development in an organization.”

This book is a little more of a deep-dive than some of the other books we’ve recommended over the last several weeks. If your startup is looking to encourage unique social interaction between your users and your business, this could be a great book to check out.

Disclosure: A review copy of Social Networking for Businesses was provided to ReadWriteWeb by Pearson Education and Wharton School Publishing.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

ReadWriteStart Weekly Wrapup – ReadWriteStart

In this weeks edition of the Weekly Wrapup, we discuss the implications of the recently passed health care reform bill on startups and small businesses, as well as some hiring tips, and 6 venture capitalists weigh in on what they look for from an entrepreneur‘s pitch. We also discuss how to make better use of email, and we look into lingering concerns about the stability of Facebook‘s application development platform.

What Does Health Care Reform Mean for Startups and VCs?

stethoscope_mar10.jpgIn the waning moments of Sunday evening (quite literally the eleventh hour), the U.S. House of Representatives passed was some are calling the most comprehensive changes to the American health care system in over 100 years. The bill passed by a narrow margin of just seven votes, and could be signed into law as early as Tuesday after the Senate passes a small amendment known as the “fix-it bill,” though many changes won’t be seen for several years. For entrepreneurs, startups and venture capitalists, the legislation ushers in an entirely new set of circumstances and opportunities.

5 Hiring Tips for Startups

RealtyHandshake.jpgFrom knowing who to hire next, to ethical and legal concerns, to how to interview the best candidates, to how to evaluate them once they’re hired – startups have their work cut out for them when it comes to hiring.

If you can afford to hire a trained professional, someone who’s skilled in evaluative testing, do so. But if not, you need to learn as much as you can about how to hire the right people. Here’s our contribution to your endeavor.

The Art of the VC Pitch: A Roundup of Advice from 6 VCs

pitcher_mar10.jpgI have a few different friends who are trying their hands at entrepreneurship; some have met with investors already, while others are closing in on their meeting date with anticipation and uncertainty. Based on hearing some of the things they were doing to prepare for their meeting, I thought it would be wise to roundup some of the best pitch advice I’ve come across not only for them but for the other first time entrepreneurs out there who may not know what typical VC pitches are like.

How Entrepreneurs Can Make Better Use of Email

full_inbox_mar10.jpgInvestors get lots of emails. Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group wrote just this morning on how he wishes email were slower so he wouldn’t suffer from what he calls “Email Compulsive Disorder.” That being said, there are ways to write better messages when communicating with investors (or anyone who receives a lot of email daily) that will make the process simpler, quicker and will better your chances of hearing back from them.

Is Facebook Having Problems Scaling Its Development Platform?

facebook_browser_mar10.jpgThere is a significant risk and reward that comes with developing products that leverage third-party application programming interfaces, or APIs. Twitter has used its API to let others spread the word for them; applications like Tweetie and TweetDeck help Twitter reach a broader audience on a variety of devices while making money for themselves. However, downtime for a service offering their API to developers means downtime for every service that relies on it for its API data. In the case of Facebook application developers, continuing reliability issues with the platform have become a cause for concern.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Cómo implementar un plan de pensiones para retener personal clave -MATERIABIZ

Los planes de pensiones son herramientas importantes para retener talento directivo. Veamos algunas pautas para su implementación…
Por Ana María Weisz

Los sistemas de pensiones complementarias son planes voluntarios de ahorro en los que el esfuerzo suele ser compartido entre empleado y empleador (matching).

La insuficiencia de repago de la seguridad social global lleva a las empresas y las personas a realizar un esfuerzo adicional de ahorro para la jubilación. En algunos países, el porcentaje de prevalencia de uso puede ascender a 60 o 70%.

En Argentina, alrededor de un 30% de las empresas relevadas por Mercer (381) tiene un sistema de pensiones complementarias. Cabe destacar que a partir de la reforma previsional a finales de 2008 se han triplicado las consultas sobre esta modalidad de beneficio.

Las empresas ofrecen este beneficio como política de retención de sus ejecutivos y de empleados en puestos clave. Si bien, el 65% de los planes tiene como destinatarios a directores y gerentes, hoy se registra una tendencia a extenderlos a otros empleados considerados talentosos.

Las personas con salaros superiores al tope son quienes se muestran más interesadas en ingresar a algún sistema de jubilaciones complementarias.

Esto se debe a que, en este segmento, la sustitución del salario a la hora de jubilarse es insuficiente. Los aportes previsionales se realizan hasta el máximo salario imponible y consecuentemente la porción del salario que excede al tope salarial queda desprotegida.

Paralelamente, la jubilación máxima en Argentina hoy asciende a $6.558,06. Este tope implica que, independientemente del cálculo previsional, la jubilación no podrá superar dicho importe.

Hay entonces sobrados motivos para establecer un esquema de ahorro adicional para mejorar la jubilación.

La planificación de un plan de pensiones

A la hora de planificar un plan de pensiones, es importante concentrarse en los distintos segmentos de edad y perfiles de las personas.

Un esquema de ahorro ilíquido hasta la edad de retiro podría ser atractivo para un Baby Boomer (55 a 68 años) pero no tanto para un integrante de la Generación X.

Entonces, deberíamos preguntarnos: ¿Cuáles son los intereses presentes de los potenciales participantes según su edad, perfil y cultura? ¿Cuáles son las aspiraciones futuras de mediano plazo? Y, finalmente, ¿qué papel juegan los riesgos de largo plazo?

Ante la implantación de un plan de pensiones en una empresa, habrá un gran atractivo inicial impulsor de la decisión de suscribirse: casi todas las compañías hacen un matching uno a uno.

Es decir, por cada dólar que aporta el empleado (hasta el tope estipulado) habrá otro dólar que aporte el empleador. Esto es un rendimiento de la inversión del 100% al momento de efectuar el depósito. Nada mal.

No obstante, para que el participante no se sienta “encarcelado” en el plan, se aporta al diseño cierto grado de liquidez a través de un esquema de vesting.

Vesting significa “dar derecho a” y ese derecho está sujeto en general a segundas condiciones.

Así, por ejemplo, a los cinco años el empleado puede acceder a un porcentaje de la contribución realizada por el empleador sujeto a segundas condiciones como la renuncia, desvinculación por restructuración, etc.

Adaptando el plan a las necesidades de los trabajadores

Los intereses relevados en distintos segmentos etáreos pueden inspirar un diseño a medida para la empresa de que se trate habilitando distintos elementos que satisfagan esas necesidades.

Por ejemplo, los vehículos de financiación podrían explorar el otorgamiento de préstamos con la garantía del fondo individual para satisfacer necesidades del presente sin traicionar el espíritu del beneficio, una característica de diseño atractiva para el joven y probablemente también para la cartera de inversiones conservadora del fondo de pensión.

Esta liquidez podría satisfacer necesidades de la vida activa del trabajador de distitntos perfiles y edades.

Cuando existen segmentos de mayor edad, es posible plantear algún tipo de reconocimiento de servicios pasados para compensar la ausencia de plan de pensiones durante una buena parte de su vida activa en la empresa. Aquí el empleador podrá hacer aportes retroactivos a favor de su empleado o diseñar un matching más agresivo.

La inversión de los fondos

En cuanto a la inversión de los fondos, es posible elegir una compañía de seguros de retiro, un fideicomiso o una compañía de seguros de vida con capitalización.

La selección del vehículo de financiación puede estar relacionada también con los segmentos etáreos y perfiles. En general, se aprecia la elegibilidad del riesgo de los ahorros individuales prestando atención a las recomendaciones del proveedor.

Aquí la edad interviene nuevamente ya que el mayor plazo para el retiro permite colocarse en carteras algo más volátiles.

La comunicación del plan

Los planes de pensiones cuestan mucho dinero y son difíciles de “visualizar” dentro de la compensación total, especialmente en el corto plazo. Por eso, es muy importante que los empleados comprendan su valor.

Una estrategia de comunicación exitosa contribuirá a que los empleados comprendan las características y ventajas del plan. Si los empleados compran la idea, valorarán el plan. Si lo valoran, lo tendrán en cuenta al ser tentados por otra empresa.

En síntesis, para diseñar un plan de pensiones que sirva como herramienta de retención, debemos en primer lugar establecer los objetivos primarios y secundarios tanto del empleador como de los empleados.

En segundo término, comprender que es fundamental la adaptación a las necesidades de las distintas generaciones.

Por último, establecer una estrategia de comunicación efectiva al empleado para reforzar su valoración del plan.

Ana María Weisz
Directora de Servicios Previsionales de Mercer


Los portales Web de los bancos apuestan por herramientas Web 2.0

Los portales Web de los bancos apuestan por herramientas Web 2.0

La mayoría de los bancos que piensan invertir en sus portales de banca corporativa durante el próximo año, se centran en pasar al siguiente nivel y ofrecer la funcionalidad a medida y fácil de utilizar característica de la Web 2.0.

Las empresas disfrutarán, a través de los portales de la banca, de los beneficios de estas aplicaciones que ofrecen interoperabilidad, interfaces diseñadas por los usuarios y aplicaciones de colaboración.

Los usuarios no solo podrán gestionar su cuenta a través de un portal seguro y altamente avanzado -o mejor aún, a través de su propio sistema interno que está directamente vinculado a dicho portal– sino que además podrán ver las cosas como quieran, obtener informes personalizables, tener todos sus datos reunidos en un solo sitio y contar con enlaces a todos los servicios de su banco a través de un solo sitio.

Algunos bancos ya están proporcionando a sus clientes un portal de banca para empresas que realmente aprovecha todo lo que ofrece la Web 2.0: personalización, interoperabilidad y funciones inteligentes.

Una serie de bancos están poniendo los recursos necesarios para mejorar la experiencia de sus portales para clientes de empresa.

Las empresas que utilizan los portales de banca podrán utilizar miniaplicaciones (widgets) de transacciones seguras para gestionar sus cuentas desde cualquier lugar o cualquier dispositivo que elijan, ya sea desde un ordenador de escritorio en el trabajo, un ordenador portátil en casa o un teléfono móvil mientras viajan. Disfrutarán de una experiencia única específica para sus trabajo, sector y preferencias individuales. Esa es la promesa de la Web 2.0.

Fuente: Ciozone