Hot Cars, Panty-Dropping Grins & A Giveaway

The trailer for “Nothing Ventured” is LIVE!!! Just so you all know, Liam Hemsworth has jumped straight to the top of my list. Prepare to swoon, ladies! And gentlemen, there’s a bit of eye candy for you as well… =)

ENJOY! I know I have…

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to help me share the news about Nothing Ventured!

How Do You Know You’re Ready For Launch?

We all want a big-splash launch – no matter what the offering. Who wouldn’t want mountains of accolades and recognition for a job well done?

In the period leading up to your big day, the best advice I can give consists of one very important word – plan.

Planning is critical to a successful launch, so make a list of everything you can possibly do to make your event as grand as possible. Here are a few suggestions to consider:

  • Create a Task Timeline – Identify each component of your launch prep along with an expected timeframe for completion and a point of contact.
  • Prioritize Each Task – For each group of tasks you’ve outlined, ask yourself which ones will have the greatest impact on your launch. Focus on the ones that will deliver the biggest bang for your buck first.
  • Ask For Help – Reach out to all your contacts – family, friends, colleagues – anyone who can help you spread the word. Send them Facebook posts, tweets, images to share via Instagram, fliers to hand out in their towns – anything that will highlight awareness.
  •  Leverage Your Existing Fan Base – Come up with creative ways to engage your existing fans. Word of mouth is the most effective way to generate interest because of the credibility factor so ask your fans to get involved with your launch.
  • Cross-Promote – Identify potential partners who have launches around the same time as yours and augment your target audience by gaining access to theirs.
  • Maintain Your Plan – Update all notes and statuses so at any given point, you can see exactly what your progress has been in preparing for the launch.
  • Follow-Up As Needed – People generally don’t have a sense of urgency about someone else’s endeavors so a gentle nudge is sometimes warranted.
  • Get Out the Corkscrew – When you’ve fully executed your plan and feel confident you’ve done all you can do, the rest is up to the stars. So sit back, relax and have a glass of wine because you deserve it.

Red and white wine pouring on wood background

 

Can You Be Disruptive Enough To Win $50K??

TechCrunch Disrupt 2015 is upon us. It’s time to take the party to NYC, for the bargain price of $2,995. General admission gets you access to ALL – rub elbows with up and coming entrepreneurs, hear from industry superstars, check out all the cutting edge technology…maybe party is an understatement. =)

Courtesy of TechCrunch

Courtesy of TechCrunch

You may recognize the event name from the HBO show Silicon Valley. Season 2 premiered on Sunday night and although I had high hopes of being able to stay up until 10, it wasn’t happening. So Hubby and I watched last night and it was awesome. Long time coming, definitely didn’t disappoint.

Anyway, I digress.

Last season, Pied Piper presented their compression algorithm at Tech Crunch Disrupt in Cali. All I remember thinking was, how flipping cool would it be to actually GO? Answer – SUPER COOL. The Hackathon, a 24-hour event for developers and designers, kicks off the festivities and guess what? It really happens just like in the show. All the companies present their creations but only one takes home the famed Disrupt Cup and $50,000 prize. Hundreds of startups will be in attendance…only one will claim the top prize and instant stardom (okay, maybe not the last part but they’ll at least they’ll be able to keep the lights on until some VC throws some more seed money at them).

It would be AWESOME to hear from people like Ben Rubin and Kayvon Beykpour, CEOs of Meerkat and Periscope respectively, Carly Fiorina, the former boss of HP, and Dennis Crowley who’ll chat about Foursquare and Swarm.

Energy, entrepreneurship and excitement will be exploding out of the Manhattan Center in a few short weeks.

How ironic that I’ll be headed to the Valley at the same time. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Obsessing About Mr. Wonderful

I’m giggling because I’m mildly obsessed with Mr. Wonderful these days. Anyone who’s read my blog recently can attest to that.

Could it be because he kinda reminds me of Paul Emerson, ruthless and calculating CEO of Blue Coat Capital?

Check out my novel Unlikely Venture if you’re curious!!!

I found this video on YouTube…first of a four-part series…The Best of Kevin O’Leary. It’s kind of spot-on…I can totally hear Paul saying some of this stuff.

Women Make Better CEOs…Just Ask Mr. Wonderful

Women make better CEOs.
At least they do to Kevin O’Leary, the shrewd and calculating entrepreneur of ABC’s Shark Tank. But this isn’t conjecture; he’s got numbers to prove it.
According to Mr. Wonderful, female-run companies offer him greater returns on his investments and quicker exits.
“If I want high returns with low volatility, that equals a woman.” You heard it here, folks.
But why? What key attributes make these CEOs more financially successful? Why are 55% of the companies in O’Leary’s portfolio run by women???
Courtesy of www.entrepreneur.com

Courtesy of www.entrepreneur.com

“Attributes that I have observed are that they take less risk, they are more goal orientated in terms of setting targets and meeting them. If they say, ‘I am going to expand capacity or we’re going to increase distribution in the next quarter’, they deliver,” he explained. “It’s not an intuitive feeling. It’s actual hardcore results.”
Less cowboyish, less rogue, more strategic…yes, I can certainly see the rationale. =)
However, despite their obvious successes, we still don’t see a lot of female infiltration within venture capital and angel investor boards. It’s still a very male-dominated environment but one thing stands out. Networking plays a huge role and if you’re not rubbing elbows with the right people, you may not get the opportunities and visibility you deserve.
Women have always been great at networking…with other women. There are so many groups and associations and advocates for females in business but they are limiting because they only provide access to 50% of their potential partners. That’s just not good enough. Business people need to be smart and forward-thinking about their goals and understanding how all peers and competitors operate will offer significant insights for how to augment company growth.
Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice. If you’re trying to run a business or launch a fledgling company, don’t limit your networking reach. Establish relationships with everyone who can possibly have an impact on your growing business. Learn how they work and use it to help shape your own strategy.

How Do You Keep The Music Playing? How Do You Make It Last??

So you’re sitting in front of your laptop a couple of months post-launch scratching your head, thinking “What the heck should I do NOW?”

Courtesy of www.alwaysinfo.us

Courtesy of www.alwaysinfo.us

Very good question. It’s one that I’m pretty sure most small business owners have.

Launch week ROCKED!!! We sold a TON!!! But now? Two months later? CRICKETS.

You’re still a ways off from releasing 2.0 so what are you supposed to do in the interim? Twiddle your thumbs while you obsessively refresh your sales numbers? How long can you publicize your initial offering while you prep for the new one?

It’s not easy, especially if you don’t have a ton of discretionary capital to toss at promotional services. When our Krina handbags debuted in InStyle magazine and OK! Weekly, sales skyrocketed. But the problem was maintaining that momentum when those issues were off the newsstands. Sure, we tried to capitalize on the wins but it only got us so far. Everyone wanted to see what was coming next…and we were still trying to figure out how to find the funds to produce what would come next.

instyle

Building momentum takes time. So instead of panicking that sales are dropping off, consider different ways of reaching customers. Your primary goal is to keep your brand name top of mind. So get it out there to the masses and establish yourself as a source of knowledge in your industry. All of your efforts will indirectly help raise awareness of your brand. It may take time for your sales numbers to rebound but if you reach people on another level, they just may be interested enough to find out about your offerings. Don’t shove the buy links down their throats…try some new ways to build your customer base.

Consider these ideas:

  • Create a website and BLOG – Figure out what your audience wants to read and create a content niche for yourself.
  • Submit guest posts on websites where your target market congregates – This will help associate your name to a particular type of content. Say you run a handbag design company and you love fashion. Find blogs that cater to fellow fashionistas and inquire about submitting articles about topics in fashion and style. When you include your social media contact information in the post, readers will be able to see that you are also a designer/entrepreneur and maybe they’ll be interested enough to buy one of your handbags!
  • Post in forums that focus on your product and market – This is a networking opportunity, a chance for you to find fellow fashionistas who love handbags! Tell them about your faves and begin nurturing relationships (and hopefully, future fans)
  • Identify channels for cross promotion – Research owners of complimentary businesses and ask about cross-promotional opportunities. Offer to promote their brands if they do the same for you. Share the love and see how it positively impacts your business.

In the early stages of a business, the most important thing is to raise awareness of your brand. The more people that know about your products/services, the more of a chance you have to convert them to customers.

Want To Digitize Your Closet? There’s An App For That!

I am a self-proclaimed fashionista.

Clothes-horse, shoe-whore, handbag junkie…you name it, I’m all over it.

But sometimes having all the components makes assembling the perfect outfit even more difficult. Like, where the heck do you find time to sift through everything and put it all together so it looks effortlessly chic????

Ahhh, luckily for me, there’s an app for that. =)

ClosetSpace is a new application from fashion analytics company Stylitics that wants to give you a digital closet for your smartphone as well as supply you with daily fashion inspiration and access to a personal stylist for only $25.

Yikes, the thought of snapping pics of everything in my closet makes my head spin!! But to have my phone feed me daily outfit suggestions, saving me oodles of time in the morning? Well worth the money!!!

Courtesy of www.techcrunch.com

Courtesy of www.techcrunch.com

The app can even offer weather-based suggestions and “style stats” from over 140 fashion bloggers providing fashion advice and fresh ideas on rejuvenating your personal style.

ClosetSpace Brings Fashion Inspiration And Recommendations To Your Smartphone – TechCrunch

“It’s for anyone who wants to dress better, feel more organized, or do more with the clothes they already own,” says CEO and co-founder Rohan Duskier.

Additionally, ClosetSpace will work to connect users with offers and deals from retailers based on the makeup of their closets, as well as other services they might like to try, like laundry delivery or beauty services like GlamSquad.

Celebrate The Lifestyle, Not The Product

As a small business owner I was always challenged with finding new ways of reaching fellow handbag junkies who would buy my designs. In retrospect, I tried to boil the ocean and I didn’t reach my target at the right level. The primary goal was always to move units and recoup costs so I’d have funds to pump back into the business. At the end of the day, a lot of one-and-done customers didn’t do much to sustain my rapidly shrinking market share.

After some research, I determined my target audience consisted of fashion-forward females, aged 25 – 50 with discretionary income to spend. That is a pretty wide net to cast. As it happened, I was targeting a lot of different customer groups in that audience and there wasn’t much tying them together – moms, students, professionals, and even grandmothers. I didn’t connect with them on a deep enough level.

I sold a good number of units but I didn’t make the experience personal enough where the purchaser was really invested in the brand. Without that hook, it’s hard to get repeat sales. And let’s face it, that’s how you really sustain a business.

Getting a bunch of people to buy a handbag isn’t going to butter your bread forever. You need to build a customer fan base, a loyal following of people who will want to buy your latest and greatest and will tout your brand to anyone who’ll listen.

Here is where lifestyle marketing comes into play. Make it less about the product and more about the lifestyle qualities, shared activities and behaviors. Focus on the EXPERIENCE.

Courtesy of www.targetmarketsegmentation.com

Courtesy of www.targetmarketsegmentation.com

Maybe I could have reached my audience on a completely new level if I’d appealed to their OTHER interests – what kind of music they like, whether they love heels or flats, the type of cocktail they crave on a Friday night after a long week, their dream car, favorite book, hobby or actor, what color nail polish they prefer, if they like to wear false eyelashes. In creating a buyer “persona,” potential customers have more to relate to than just a pretty handbag. A focus on content that builds upon an experience will always carry more weight because the customer can see how the product will fit into their lives.

Courtesy of www.macalawright.com

Courtesy of www.macalawright.com

These are ways to connect, to really get to know your consumers on a more personal level. Because if you know your customer, you can create products more specific to their tastes and that’s how you convert a one-time buyer into a lifetime fan.

How Crafty Are YOU???

Attention all you crafty folks!!!

I’ve come up with a brilliant business idea. Let me just preface it by saying yours truly would NEVER be the CEO but I’d absolutely be a return customer!!!!  LOL.

Allow me to explain…

I have three kids. Do you know what that means?  A heck of a lot of SCHOOL PROJECTS…models of solar systems, shoebox dioramas, book jackets, crossword puzzles, etc. etc. etc. The list can go on and on, depending on the teacher.

I digress for a moment because last weekend we were at my nephew’s birthday party and my sister-in-law was making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tree ornaments. Super cute, but guess what? She pulled out a glue gun to make them.  Yep. If you’ve got a glue gun, you are serious business.

I don’t have a glue gun…I have dried up Elmer’s tubes, though I prefer the sticks – less mess!

Anyhoo, people like me would gladly pay money for people like my sister-in-law to make my kids’ school crafts!!!!

Imagine a website where you can request a project and customize it according to the teachers’ specifications?  How awesome would that be? I’d pay someone $50 to make me a solar system! It costs more than that to buy all the components I need to build it anyway!

Courtesy of www.thinkcrafts.com

Courtesy of www.thinkcrafts.com

This would save SO many parents SO many headaches.

Like I said, I’d never do it but hopefully someone will run with this one and send me their URL. <WINK, WINK>

Please Brand Me Now!!!!

Branding.

Argh.  Sooo challenging…and so permanent.  It needs to be just right.

Identifying your “brand” is kind of like going to college, where the goal is trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life.  But at eighteen, who really knows THAT?

You have to pick a major but what are the odds that in a few years you’ll even be interested in pursuing a career in the field?  Your scope of interests expands, you identify and refine your skill sets, you grow as a person. So at the end of the four years, are you where you thought you’d eventually end up?

Haha, not me!

I started out pre-law then decided to become a biology major with grandiose plans of becoming a patent lawyer.  That didn’t work too well, so I tried psychology next, then political science.  Finally, I landed on accounting.  Never used my degree, and the extent of my accounting knowledge is limited to distinguishing a debit from a credit.

The point is, we aren’t the same people at 18 as we are at 25 and then at 40.  We develop and expand our horizons.  So while it’s important to figure out how you’re going to differentiate yourself from the competition, you don’t always know out of the gate who and what you will ultimately become.  The reality may be vastly different than what you imagined.  And that impacts your branding.

Courtesy of www.born-social.com

Courtesy of www.born-social.com

I can tell you from personal experience I’ve branded and rebranded myself many times over the years, trying to figure out how I want the world to know me.  This became even more challenging for me as an author because at the end of the day, I write romance novels.  But I am much more multi-faceted – how can I reflect that in my platform?  I finally figured it out, but it was a journey.

I first did an exercise where I created a word cloud.  I wrote down every single interest and skill I have.  It became a little unwieldy, so I narrowed it down.  Way too much for a tagline and nothing of real value popped out.

More introspection followed.

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

I’ve blogged for years, primarily about the trials and tribulations of being a working mother with three kids.  Maybe that would be a good platform.  But what’s the hook?  How does that differentiate me from other romance authors?  I’m not the only one with kids and a lot of angst.

It may make me relatable but…it doesn’t set me apart.

I consulted with the experts, read books and articles, searching for inspiration.  I created a bunch of different taglines using the thesaurus app on my phone.  I blogged some more.  I made notes about themes from my books.  Nothing, nothing, NOTHING.

Fast forward a few months.

As I prepared for my upcoming book launch, I realized I needed business cards….and a tagline.  Darn it!  Back to the drawing board.  There was no way I was ordering business cards without a logo from Fiverr.  That site rocks!  And I couldn’t get a logo unless I established a BRAND!

So how can I tie my interests to my books?  I write romance…set in Silicon Valley.  Think venture capitalists, startup CEOs and IPOs…

And now I blog about innovation and entrepreneurship and…IDEAS!  My own personal business experiences combined with interesting startup concepts.

The rest, as they say, is history.  I finally figured myself out.  I am “The Idea Mama, Vogue Entrepreneur and Author.”

It was a good day…and my business cards look fabulous!

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