Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Don’t Stop Selling

Posted: November 24, 2013 by Zach Taylor in Leadership, Marketing, Selling, Social Media, Startup

“You don’t find customers anymore – they find you”

— Chief Marketing Officer at an SEO Marketing firm

Zach-Taylor-3A C-level marketer presented this extremely controversial and dangerous idea to B2B service providers at a recent conference.  According to the presentation, social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) is how you inform customers, generate inbound leads, then sit back and watch the money roll in. Allegedly, cold calling and sales reps are disruptive, unnecessary, and wasteful.  Unfortunately, too many of today’s marketing leaders are buying into the death of cold calling and outbound sales. Believing that content marketing is the almighty god of gods is… maddening. How many dozens of marketing/creative fads have come and gone since the Mad Men era? Just a few years ago, PepsiCo proclaimed that television advertising was dead and dedicated their entire media budget towards digital advertising (the trend du jour of the time).  Guess how that worked out?  PepsiCo quickly discovered the errors of their ways and diversified their ad spend with a mix of TV and digital.

If I could run a sales operation without ever having to make another cold call again, I would do it in a heartbeat and not look back.  Many are the days I dream of a room full of ringing phones with rock star sales reps fielding calls from interested, qualified prospects. Closing 80% of the people we talk to and getting better, more qualified referrals from the 20% that can’t afford our solution.  I think about the types of vacations, watches and expensive meals to which I would regularly treat my marketing team.  If there is a company out there with this luxury, please point me in their direction — I want to go work there.


Too Much Information

Posted: July 22, 2013 by Bill Cunningham in Culture, Marketing, People, Social Media

Bill Cunningham BioMark Twain EntrepreneurI didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one

– Mark Twain
Every morning I wake up to an inbox full of great knowledge and inspiration. 25, 50, 100 emails magically appear overnight to catch my attention. Yet, they don’t.

At the GCVA presentation committee, some entrepreneurs bring 60 slide Powerpoint decks to make sure they cover all the information.  Yet, they don’t.

As part of the baby boomer generation that invented Attention Deficit Disorder and called it multi-tasking, I agree with Shakespeare’s thought “Brevity is the soul of wit!”

To that end I recommend you think about how subtraction can increase clarity!

My business communications professor showed us how to write succinctly by crossing out throw-away words, phrases and even paragraphs. He simply advised: “If you deleted it and still got your message across, then leave it out.”


Conferences and Trade Show Marketing

Posted: January 27, 2013 by Bill Cunningham in Marketing, Social Media, Startup

CarolynPioneMicheliBill Cunningham BioConferences and trade shows bring thousands of like-minded people together and make it easy for companies to build awareness, acquire new leads and sell products. Right?

Not so much anymore. Conferences and trade shows have become less attractive because the decision makers may not attend, the cost of travel, booths and admission fees steadily increase, while budgets are decreasing disproportionately.

When you gotta go, then you gotta go. Here’s some thoughts to take with you.

Go Big or Go Rogue

If you can’t afford a prime spot, and a killer booth, think of other ways to attract customers. In one of my startups, we couldn’t get into a conference, so we rented a restaurant down the street, hired limos, and gave out free backstage passes to participants at the show (we had a mole deliver them inside the conference.) We were able to attract 60 of the 300 attendees to the conference and have them all to ourselves. The total cost was much less than having a booth and standing around for 2 days hoping someone will talk to you.


Thanks to Mark Zuckerburg, it is not necessary to define a social network. Whether through the movie, the recent IPO filing news or the many different businesses (such as LinkedIn) developed around the concept, nearly everyone understands the potential value of a social network. While the concept is understood, the process by which players are attracted to, retained within, and connected to other parts of the social network are less clear. Yet, these processes of attracting, retaining and connecting are critical if the entrepreneurial network of Greater Cincinnati is to realize its full potential.

Attracting Players to the Entrepreneurial Network
Many different organizations in the entrepreneurial network of Greater Cincinnati contribute to bringing new entrepreneurial individuals and organizations to the area. For example, funders and accelerators often require start-ups to re-relocate to Cincinnati. Both the Brandery and CincyTech act as magnets that attract excellent ideas and people to the region. Venture for America, thanks to the work of Eric Avner of US Bank / Haile Foundation, will bring talented college graduates from around the country to connect them to the entrepreneurial scene in Cincinnati. And universities – including three in the area ranked in the top 25 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the country – attract younger entrepreneurial talent from across the state and the country. One important question is whether the area is attracting and / or training the necessary technical skills. As longer term solutions emerge, shorter term solutions may include the growth of programs such as Code Academy. (more…)

Start Me Up

Posted: January 15, 2012 by Bill Cunningham in Innovation, Planning, Social Media, Startup

In 1995 Bill Gates personally asked Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones what it cost to license their 1981 hit, “Start Me Up” to launch Windows 95. Jagger suggested a ridiculous number, but Gates agreed to it on the spot – and a historic marketing campaign was born. Like Bill Gates, entrepreneurs need to start it up – take action – go on the offensive. Thousands of great ideas never see the light of day because no effort or action happened to turn it into reality.

Why Ideas Never See the Light of Day

Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of hard work, fear that someone will steal the idea and on and on. Fear prevents us from giving up the day job and take the risk. So how do you overcome this fear? Break it up into small bites – don’t try to eat the elephant all at once.

Experience a Startup

As you read this, the NKU Startup Weekend journeys into day three, where companies get designed and launched. Like the InOneWeekend events in 2008-2010, startup weekends give participants the chance to experience a start in fast-forward. While the participants believe they will create the next Google by Sunday night, they may not realize how much experience they build by going through the startup process. Take advantage of these events that give hands-on experience with other entrepreneurs. You’ll receive more benefits by doing than by reading a book, watching a podcast or attending a presentation (although these are good, too.) (more…)

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.” However, teaching a man to fish may not be enough. Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, suggests, “Social entrepreneurs are not content until they revolutionize the fishing industry.” This statement raises at least three questions. What is a social entrepreneur? What does it mean to revolutionize the fishing industry? And finally, how is social entrepreneurship expanding in Cincinnati?

Defining Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship can be defined broadly as developing innovative solutions to persistent social problems. In this way, social entrepreneurship borrows the creativity and imagination from entrepreneurship, but applies it to address social problems such as hunger or poverty. According to Greg Dees at Duke University, “a social entrepreneur is of the genus entrepreneur and the species social.” In this way, an entrepreneurial mindset identifies opportunities, marshals resources and creates value, but the primarily focuses on the creation of social value – value often for the marginalized of society – rather than private economic value.


Welcome to Volume 1, Number 1 of Entrepreneurship in Cincinnati. This column first  appeared in the Cincinnati Post from 1998 to 2001 as SmallBizIdeas- a collaboration with the late Sutton Landry of NKU, Dr. Chuck Matthews of University of Cincinnati and Bill Cunningham of Xavier University. Since that time, the greater Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem expanded exponentially. The Greater Cincinnati Venture Association presented more than 100 startup plans over the last decade. Queen City Angels, Bad Girl Ventures, CincyTech and a growing number of private investors have fueled the fires of entrepreneurship. The Haile Foundation increased entrepreneurial visibility by sponsoring InOneWeekends, Cincinnati Innovates, CEOs for Cities and most recently, Springboard — an entrepreneur bootcamp for artists, artisans and creative entrepreneurs. The time is right to relaunch the publication and stay on the leading (bleeding) edge of all things entrepreneurial in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati’s entrepreneurial  ecosystem is alive and well — with many organizations doing the heavy lifting by encouraging, coaching mentoring, funding, connecting and collaborating with many entrepreneurs, investors and smart people who can help! CincyEntrepreneur will curate the progress of this journey, offering helpful insights, thought leadership and innovative ideas from our ecosystem and beyond.