What happens to Amazon’s second HQ now?

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The saga of Amazon’s second HQ location seemed to be a done deal by the end of 2018, with Arlington, Virginia, and Queens, New York, being the two locations picked. But, fierce opposition to placing the HQ in Long Island City in Queens has led the retailer to pull out of the decision. Once again, a slew of cities have begun the process of submitting requests that Amazon move to their city to set up their second HQ. While Amazon has stated that they are not actively pursuing the search for another city, that hasn’t stopped states and cities from around the USA submitting their proposals to host the next HQ.

Why does it matter where Amazon’s second HQ is?

Amazon is traded on the stock market, so whatever market capitalization affects the stock will likely affect the local economy. Should the stock tumble, employees in the area may be out of work – or if it improves, there might be more job opportunities, pay increases, or other ways for the local economy to benefit. This could be seen after the acquisition of various arms of the company, including Whole Foods and Twitch, as the stock market fluctuated and the tech giant showed its loyal followers how well it could do. Indeed, more people are invested in decisions that big companies like Amazon make because they are able to trade on them themselves, with CFD trading account platforms allowing people to speculate on the rise and fall of a stock value without owning it.

So the decision for the second HQ won’t just affect local economies, but potentially wider economies too. Some cities have been eager to show why they should host the tech company, while others have been vocal about not wanting it for various reasons. Indeed, Amazon moving into an area could turn it into an Amazon-centric place of business and residence.

Who are the new contenders?

While Amazon have remained tight-lipped about any decisions, there are no doubt some contenders who think they have a shot at being New York’s replacement. Nearby Newark, New Jersey, has thrown their hat in as one of the 20 finalists in the original search. Miami was also a possible contender, and Mayor Carlos Gimenez has already spoken up about wanting the HQ. Chicago has also made a point of wanting to be reconsidered for Amazon’s HQ. Despite not being a finalist, Warren, Michigan’s Mayor Jim Fouts reached out to the corporation – using the logic that several highly skilled workers had just been laid off by GM, while the Cadillac world headquarters was attracted there.

Other areas in New York have also expressed interest, during a time when the residents of Long Island City, Queens, are in a difficult position of rejecting the company. There are beneficial reasons for and against turning a small region into another Amazon location, but with such a wide range of companies begging Amazon to consider them, they shouldn’t have trouble finding somewhere suitable.

While Amazon’s decision is still under lock and key – or hasn’t even been made yet – cities around America are calling for the tech giant to consider the riches that they contain to set up its second HQ.

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Smartphones and Voice-Assisted Devices Create Opportunities for Modern Customer Experiences

disadvantages of robo advisors

Anyone who uses a smartphone can attest to the incredible power of real-time, in-the-moment discovery that leads to decisions and outcomes. But, now in an age of voice-assisted devices, we are further empowered to command information or purchase on-demand. “OK Google, Alexa, Hey Siri, what are the best bluetooth headphones for me?” Or, “Please reorder groceries from last week for delivery tomorrow afternoon.” Like mobile shopping, voice-assisted behavior is also becoming second-nature. Brands must now reimagine the customer journey and design for always-on, continuous and assistive engagement…dedicated for voice and mobile screens.

Every day, customers are becoming more and more mobile and as a result, more informed, empowered, demanding and impatient. Mobile devices and smart assistants are now the first point of reference for a rapidly growing share of your market. These devices add a new dimension to the shopper journey while also introducing new shopping behaviors. For example, in its research, Google learned that mobile searches for “where to buy” grew over 85% in the past two years. And, 44% of those who use their voice-activated speaker at least weekly say they use the device to order products they need like groceries and household items at least once a week.

Modernize the customer journey for mobile and voice.

This is where everything changes when it comes to customer experience (CX). Consumers who depend upon mobile and voice-assisted devices are introducing new opportunities for engagement. They are seeking next-level assistance. Brands must now modernize touchpoints to greet customers in the context of their device and intent. In the case of mobile and voice-assisted devices, that takes delivering useful content and simple touchpoints to help them achieve their goal productively and seamlessly.

For example, 1-800-Flowers.com CMO Amit Shah, shared how these new engagement opportunities allow companies to get back to its roots of delivering immediate, personalized customer service. According to Shah, “Our job is not to tell customers they have to call us or visit us in a certain way, but to actually be where the customers have chosen to be. And, if we can make it a one-stop shopping experience, we must.”

Shah sees mobile and voice as investments in improving customer experiences and outcomes. “Our goal is to remove all the drag coefficients between you and your purchase. From the customer’s point of view, it provides a very seamless multichannel and multi-mindset experience,” he said.

Shah continued, “Everything that we’re seeing flourish today—mobile, voice assistants, machine learning, AI—it’s all taking us right back to our DNA of having one-on-one relationships with customers.” While mobile has and continues to completely disrupt the shopping landscape and introduce new customer behaviors, voice is following suit. “The volume of engagement we see already suggests that conversational commerce is not a horizon outcome. Customers are shopping with their voice now,” he observed.

Help customers take action…their way.

More and more intelligent platforms, such as Google’s Shopping Actions, are starting to connect the dots between customer intent, discovery and outcomes across devices/channels. As such, brands need a new blueprint to compete differently on different devices, as touchpoints and the customer journey continues to evolve. Beyond websites and landing pages, mobile sites and apps, brands must now develop a dedicated vision and architecture for seamless, on-demand mobile and voice experiences. The goal is to assist and to stitch-together divergent behaviors, regardless of device, and to listen to and guide consumers as they jump channels, devices and transactions.

With so many devices and choices, the journey has never been so complicated. But, brands have no choice but to be present. The value and competitive differentiation comes down to assistanceand how brands simplify and integrate fragmented touchpoints. Doing so…

  • Ensures brands are present during mobile and voice search.
  • Converts customers based on matching intent with desired outcomes.
  • Integrates collaborative shopping lists, portable carts, instant checkouts and mobile wallets.
  • Introduces on-demand shopping based on historical purchases-linked through personalized, relevant information—specifically designed for mobile behavior.
  • Increases loyalty by simplifying decision-making and also makes journeys more instant and intuitive to mobile and voice-assisted devices.

There is now a real need and bona fide competitive advantage to modernize the customer journey for a mobile and voice-prompted era of assisted consumerism.

Doing so greets and assists customers in ways that are pleasantly intuitive and useful, while introducing immediate competitive advantages.

The shopping journey has been and will continue to be disrupted. The brands that win will be those that understand where, how and why customers are making decisions, cater to what they need in critical moments of accelerated decision-making, and deliver utility and value in each moment (regardless of device). And, the brands that win compete to assist. In return, they gain more than conversions, they also earn trust and ultimately, the prestige of becoming an advisor brand.

Are you listening?


binary copy trading

binary copy trading is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design.

Please, invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire colleagues and fellow executives/boards.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
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Transcript of Questioning Best Practices to Do Great Work

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Transcript of Questioning Best Practices to Do Great Work written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Everybody loves best practices. Give me an example. Give me a template to follow. Well, I think that that practice leads to mediocrity. In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I speak with Jay Acunzo. We’re going to talk about breaking the wheel, questioning best practices so that you can do your best work. You’re going to want to check this out because this might be the ticket to innovation for your business.

Klaviyo logoThis episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth-focused eCommerce brands drive more sales with super targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing. Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

This is your host John Jantsch. My guest today is Jay Acunzo. He is the founder of Unthinkable Media and the author of Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work. Jay, thanks for joining me.

Jay Acunzo: Thanks for the invite, John. It’s good to be here.

John Jantsch: Now, you also spent a little time at Google I think, didn’t you?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. That was actually my first foray out of where I started, which was sports media and into tech and marketing.

John Jantsch: I’m doing a couple episodes today and my last guest was a head of engineering at Moz. I’m not going to lie to you, we did a little bit of Google bashing.

Jay Acunzo: Look, there’s a reason I’m not working for any of the large companies I worked for before.

John Jantsch: Actually it was more dang it, we have to play. You know? It was more of that. You know?

Jay Acunzo: Sure.

John Jantsch: Let’s get into the book. One of the lines that jumped out at me really from the very beginning, stop obsessing over other’s right answers and start asking yourself better questions. That’s really in some ways the premise to the entire book, isn’t it?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. You know, work has this tendency through a number of reasons that I explore in the book to regress to the mean. We look at content marketing as a really easy example because it’s so public. You look at a lot of blogs. I came out of the marketing tech world. Every marketing tech vendor, marketing trade publication, if you see a list article of tactics on a given channel, six ways to drive leads from LinkedIn for your business, I’ve seen that article in 17 other places and it looks identical. There’s this glut of average or commodity work out there, which is becoming a real problem for marketers.

In writing the book, I wanted to explore in a world where that’s table stakes where knowing just the basics of how to do anything is instantly available, how do you go not from zero to average, but from average to exceptional?

John Jantsch: What are some examples of ways that people because … I mean I think most people get that, “Okay. Yeah, I’ll ask better questions,” and then the next thing is like, “What does that look like? How?”

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. Well, in the book, I propose a two by three decision-making model, which is basically a fancy term for like I think there are six great questions to ask, but it’s about what you ask those questions of that truly matters. I think if you look at commodity work, especially from marketing teams, what tends to be missing is the variables found within your own specific context. Because what we’re so obsessed with doing is finding some existing playbook and repeating it or guru or expert or best practice or new trend to glom onto. We’re looking for these generalities or what works on average and I’m using air quotes because I know this is a podcast here, but we look for what works on average or in general.

Really that’s a dangerous way to make decisions because it doesn’t take into account your context. If you just break down your context into three different things, I think investigating those things becomes paramount to making really good decisions. The decision here isn’t what works on average. It’s what would work for us. Your context is basically you, the person or people doing the work, your audience, especially key for marketers, but the people receiving the work, and then your resources, which is your means to make that work happen.

If you ask really good questions and I propose two apiece of those three things for a total of six, ask good questions of those three things, your context. All of a sudden you have a lot more clarity than just trying to grab at all those general bits of wisdom swirling around our industry and there’s more than ever before.

John Jantsch: Here’s the problem though, of course, it worked for them and I won’t get fired if I do that. People are scared to make a decision that maybe breaks the wheel. I mean would you agree that that’s part of what holds people back?

Jay Acunzo: 100%. I always say two things. One is I wanted to take thinking for yourself out of this realm of the rebel and hand the ability to do that to the practical individual working in business where it’s not like I’m bucking the trend for its own sake. I’m not different for different sake. I’m not running in an opposite direction or counter cultural direction because it’s cool or because I have an idea and I disagree with my boss or client. No. I think it’s very practical to do these things. It’s just that we’ve never really been taught how to do this. Finding best practices isn’t actually the goal. Finding the best approach for you is.

We’d all agree with that, but we don’t really have a practical system in place for how to make those decisions and more importantly, John, how to vet any best practice or precedent to ensure it’s working for you in the here and now. Our main skill as marketers need to be not finding someone’s answer, but vetting on all those possibilities to work for us or to throw out the ones that don’t. The main answer I would give you is I wanted to take that scariness and make it practical, but part of me honestly wants to say what’s deep in my bones here is there is a certain type of person that this book is not for.

This book is not for somebody who just wants to follow a blueprint and clock out sharply at 5:00 and doesn’t care about the results and doesn’t care about serving their audience. That is not who this book is for. This book is for somebody who really truly is bothered by shipping it when it’s terrible or mailing it in because whatever, I don’t really care about my work. That’s not who I’m speaking to.

John Jantsch: I was with you completely on the practical side until you threw the word intuition in there. Now, I’m picturing the crystal ball approach to making decisions, but that’s not what you talk about, is it?

Jay Acunzo: No. I hate that idea. I’m a creative person. I run a business, Unthinkable Media, that makes original series for brands. I think about big ideas and big picture creativity all the time. I can get lost in the fluffiness of all that stuff very easily and be fine with it. But I know when we enter the real world, A, that’s not everybody, and then B, we have work to do, results to get, clients or customers to serve. If you look at the history of that word intuition, it’s really been twisted. It’s embedded in this idea of like the mystical muse. But all intuition means, if you look at the root of the word, is to consider. It’s from the Latin intueri. That’s all that means, to consider.

I like to think that these visionaries that we laud in business, the ones who seem to react to their intuition effortlessly, the Elon Musk’s of the world down to the creative individual on your marketing team, these people that we call visionaries they don’t see the future. They don’t have the gift. They’re not like visited by the mystical muse. They just see the world for what it actually is. They just have this incredible ability to consider their environment and make decisions based on that, based on reflection and testing and learning instead of somebody else’s general idea. That to me is what intuition is about.

It’s about understanding how to ask good questions, how to contemplate and consider the world in a critical way, which might be slow at first. What I’m trying to do in the book is propose a system to make it faster for you. So that if you leave the book, if you go and implement what I researched for a couple of years here, the product of that is you can start making better decisions faster, and your first impetus is to investigate your environment instead of to glom on to what some expert said you should do.

John Jantsch: I’m going to pile on your intuition idea because I think one of the missing ingredients quite often is you actually have to care about the people that you’re trying to serve. I think that that’s a part that’s often really missed. I think when you really care about the people you serve, then you start looking at … That’s part of what to me drives this looking at the world in a different way. I’m looking at the view through the lens of my customer or who I’m trying to serve and I think that allows me and I think allows most people who have done anything innovative to say, “Hey, there’s no new ideas. But if we combine them this way, it’ll serve this group better.” Would you agree that that’s a missing ingredient?

Jay Acunzo: Totally. One of my favorite examples of someone who did that in the book, and it seems radical or innovative what he did, but when you hear this story it’s like, “Oh, it’s really logical what he did because he just focused more of his time on the people he served,” is a guy by the name of Paul Butler who if you’re an environmental conservationist is like a rockstar and has a nickname, which I love, The Parrot Man of the Caribbean. Best nickname ever, The Parrot Man of the Caribbean. Here was a guy in the ’70s who went to the island of St. Lucia to try and save a species of parrot. He did all the usual things you’re supposed to do as an environmental conservationist.

He wrote a big essay to the government and demanded all the people locally stopped killing the bird or capturing it for pets or for food. Very little result, just handing out facts and demands, as you can imagine, but it was all based on this convention in conservation called homo economicus. Actually it’s a term from economics which means the rational man. The idea here is people are rational, so target them using rational argument. Any marketer worth their weight in clicks here knows that people are emotional. They’re not solely rational. In fact, we mostly don’t make decisions rationally.

By talking to the local people he served, these native people who killed these birds not because they were just being terrible people, but because they were poor and had mouths to feed, or they were growing crops and they were ruining those crops, or they ran a tourism business and these giant noisy creatures were disrupting that, whatever the case was. The commonality was these people had pride in their home and pride in their profession. Paul created this icon, which turned in to a mascot that he actually dressed up as called Jacko the Parrot. He associated this parrot not with a problem or a nuisance or a thing to discard, but it became a symbol of national pride and all of a sudden they stopped killing them.

They agreed, “Okay. This region is for the bird.” They made all these decisions that he was demanding of them as a population before that they didn’t respond to. But just by understanding their world and seeing that this was an emotional group of people that cared about national pride, he flipped his approach and it worked. If all you see is the mascot and the songs and the t-shirt and the content and the videos, you’re like, “This guy’s creative. He has the gift,” but to hear his story is just to see him actually investigate in his own environment first and put aside the precedent in his industry for a moment to see how much if any of that actually applied in his shoes.

John Jantsch: I want to remind you that this episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo helps you build meaningful customer relationships by listening and understanding queues from your customers. This allows you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages. There’s powerful segmentation, email autoresponders that are ready to go, great reporting. You want to learn a little bit about the secret to building customer relationships, they’ve got a really fun series called Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday. It’s a docu-series. A lot of fun. Quick lessons. Just head on over to Klaviyo.com/beyondbf, Beyond Black Friday.

You’ve been podcasting for a while now and a great deal of … I won’t put words in your mouth, but a great deal of the book and these stories come from your interviews and your storytelling that you’ve done on your show.

Jay Acunzo: Oh, yeah. 100%. It was kind of my sneaky advantage of the last couple of years for my show and my speaking is actually I just aerate these ideas and these stories with a real community. I get to hone my craft and the ideas before I actually put it into a book.

John Jantsch: The book Break The Wheel you self-published, right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I did what’s called a hybrid publisher where I actually owned all the creative and then the production parts or the backend and the distribution came from a publishing service that offers that.

John Jantsch: But the point that you just made about … I think where a lot of people who look at and they go, “I want to write a book or, I want to have a podcast, or I want to do videos and have a YouTube channel,” and I think the folks that have really built something that is a true asset, I mean obviously they’re people that do something like that and it blows up and goes crazy, but regular practical people that built something like that as an asset, you really kind of look at how all of these things can work together, don’t you?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I mean I look at your work with Duct Tape. I look at people that came before me in the marketing world like your Jay Baer’s and a dear friend of mine Andrew Davis who helped mentor me throughout my career. I look at some of these people I admire, Ann Handley’s another good example, and I think there’s only really two ways to ensure you’re, A, building an asset with compounding value, and B, serving the audience in deeper and deeper ways, A.K.A., ensuring the thing works. You can do an idea tour or an idea journey.

I don’t know if these words exist and maybe you’ve experienced this too, Job, as someone who speaks a lot, but an idea tour is I have proven in, in my example, a podcast episode that this story is really resonant with my audience. I’m going to take it out of the episode and put it in more places. I’m going to bring it with me into a speech on a stage for example. I’m touring around with this idea. I’m doing that right now. Arguably, the book tour is a type of idea tour, but then the idea journey is I’m going to see how deep this well goes and ask a lot of questions, and I’m inviting the audience to join me, which is what I’ve done for years on my podcast Unthinkable.

I’m like I’m exploring this big idea with lots of questions underneath it, and I’m going to necessarily tell stories and pull out insights from them over time. I don’t have the answers. Come with me as I explore. For a while, it was what’s the difference between average and exceptional? How do we avoid creating commodity work? Now that we’ve broken the wheel, now that we’re questioning conventional thinking, it’s like, “Okay. Well, how do you create consistently creative work?” That’s my 2019 on the show is how do you do that. You can do an idea tour or an idea journey.

I think what that that does is it unhooks you from this idea of like a newsletter versus a podcast versus a blog versus Twitter. It’s like I’m using all of these things in a coherent connected way.

John Jantsch: I guess the next book is fix the wheel, right?

Jay Acunzo: I have this thesis I’m working on which is like if you’ve broken the wheel, the attempt might be to like keep just swinging at something that’s no longer there. It’s like okay, cool. I’m not following the best practice. I’m doing things on my own. Well, now you’re at risk of like manufacturing stunts essentially or what I call random acts of creativity. Just make the numbers go up right now faster. I don’t want people to do that. Next book maybe it’s … I don’t know if it’s like rebuild the wheel. It might be like refresh the work. It’s sort of like break the wheel, refresh the work.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I like it. You’ve already shared on story of the Parrot Man. You want to give us another one of your favorites from the book because essentially the book’s about a lot of stories.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I mean I know nothing if not story. That’s what I want to build a career on. Another great example, one of my favorites is … Well, let’s actually go to something timely here, which is Howard Schultz from Starbucks, whether or not you agree with his stance on politics or the fact that he’s going to run for president apparently. There’s this tactic or this moment rather under his reign at Starbucks when he was their CEO and chairman where looking at the audience and pulling out a better more human insight than at first glance the data revealed or any best practice showed them turned around the company in China.

Not a lot of people know this story. As he leading the company, they were doing what you would expect when you move from region to region like wildfire. They were taking the playbook that was proven and trying to apply it with incremental changes to fit each new market and that had worked except in China. They encountered a really odd problem. Their employees, unlike a lot of coffee shops, the employees of Starbucks, historically anyway, were very educated, decently paid and they had a lot of great benefits offered to them.

They were able to provide exceptional service at Starbucks because they hired exceptional people who weren’t just like there for a paycheck and they were either burned out or looking to do their next thing. They weren’t like the proverbial L.A. barista who wanted to be an actress.

John Jantsch: Except for the ones at the airport. I’m just going to throw that in.

Jay Acunzo: Oh my goodness.

John Jantsch: Go ahead. Go ahead.

Jay Acunzo: You and I could share more stories about coffee shops in airports. Oh my gosh. Don’t get me started. But for the most part, in general let’s say, most of these employees were taught to provide exceptional service because they were treated exceptionally well. In China, they kept losing these employees and they couldn’t figure out why. Then when Schultz talked to Jack Ma, creator of Alibaba and another billionaire who probably has political influence, that’s a different podcast though, he told him, “Well, look, in China, if you actually talk to these people and investigated this context instead of America’s context, you’d realize that the parents have more of a say in these individual’s careers.

They spend good money especially because they can only have one child because of that rule in China, that law in China, they invest very heavily in that child’s life. They spend good money to bring them to college and university and they don’t want to see them working for Starbucks. They want to see them working for Alibaba or Google or all these other notable tech companies or what have you.” What Starbucks did seems radical, but it made a logical sense in this situation, in this context. They started giving not just the employees great benefits, but the parents of those employees.

They had an annual summit, almost like a shareholder meeting, with all their employee’s parents where they could attend, see the great work that Starbucks was doing, help them understand that this is a great corporation to work for and have a say in the direction however little it might have been in that room. This is a radical thing. It’s a very expensive thing. It seems crazy in Seattle, but it doesn’t seem crazy in China at all. The difference is that Starbucks was willing to investigate and ask good questions of a different context instead of just rerun an old playbook that was proven elsewhere.

John Jantsch: Jay, where can people find out more about your work and obviously acquire a copy of Break The Wheel?

Jay Acunzo: The website jayacunzo.com/book has way more information than you’ll need, including some behind the scenes stuff about making the book because I make stuff for marketers who love to make stuff. Jayacunzo.com/book, and then my podcast is Unthinkable.

John Jantsch: Jay, I should have asked you this at the beginning of the show, where are you located?

Jay Acunzo: I’m just outside New York City.

John Jantsch: New York City. All right. Well, Jay, thanks dropping by. We’ll have links to all the things we talked about today in the show notes and we love those reviews and tell us who else you want me to interview. Jay, hopefully we run into you next time in the just outside of New York City area.

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, John. I appreciate it. To every listening, thank you for getting this far.

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Questioning Best Practices to Do Great Work

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Questioning Best Practices to Do Great Work written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jay Acunzo
Podcast Transcript

Jay AcunzoToday on the podcast, I speak with author, keynote speaker, and founder of Unthinkable Media, Jay Acunzo.

Acunzo began his career at tech giants, including Google and HubSpot, and he now travels the world as a public speaker and the creator of documentary series about people who do great work, which he builds with B2B brand clients.

On today’s episode, we discuss his latest book, Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work, which is about how people make better decisions, faster, when they’re surrounded by conventional wisdom.

His work has been cited by various publications including the New York Times, the Washington PostFortuneForbes, and FastCompany.

Questions I ask Jay Acunzo:

  • What is the process for asking better questions to find solutions for your business?
  • How does the fear of breaking the wheel hold people back from asking the necessary questions?
  • Where does intuition factor into the questioning process?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why you need to focus on emotions, not rationality, when thinking about marketing.
  • How to get your marketing assets working together to ensure your long-term success.
  • Why focusing on what works “on average” is dangerous.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jay Acunzo:

  • Learn more about Jay Acunzo
  • Order a copy of Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work
  • Listen to the Unbreakable podcast
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Follow on Instagram
  • Connect on LinkedIn

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Klaviyo logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to klaviyo.com/beyondbf.

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8 Business Trends That Will Make Waves In 2019

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Technology has been one of the essential elements that makes a business more effective and successful. It changes continuously, adapting to advancements and innovations in order to constantly improve. In business, the primary driving force is to be able to accommodate the needs and demands of society.

Here are eight business trends that you need to watch out for and will continue to grow this year:

1. Technological innovations to improve logistics.

Previously, managing a business entails a lot of processes. Tasks like product inventory, dispatching, delivery, and shipping are handled separately. The consolidation of files and data are done whenever reports need to be generated.

Technology has made logistics more manageable, allowing for the production of real-time updates and reports. Automation of inventory and adapting systems like POS Systems, and delivery and tracking systems, enable the business run more efficiently and effectively.

2. Digital technology in handling data and transactions.

In a workplace, you might encounter management policies aiming to digitize and store everything in a database. Although it’s not new, the trend will still gear towards the digitization of almost anything—data, transactions, and record management.

The trend will continue to shift to electronic files, reducing paperwork. Moreover, files and data will be condensed to databases that can be accessible by users within the network. The main difference in this trend compared to the previous years is the increased ability to store massive amounts of data in enormous storage capacities. Database storage will be similar to that of a smartphone, but it will be more significant compared to the previous ones.

Use of social media as a business platform.

Gone are the days when you need an actual market for you to be able to introduce and sell your product. Business has completely shifted online due to the rise of social media, and marketing strategies are more focused on using these platforms to generate more potential clients and customers.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram have integrated an additional feature that lets business owners put up a virtual shop directly in their accounts. This year, the trend will continue to revolve around those features. Previously, a business owner will use social media as an avenue to advertise their products and services, with a separate website or client-customer communication platform that handles the transaction. Nowadays, you can shop through social media accounts and pay using online payment systems.

4. Face and fingerprint recognition for business transactions.

Whether you’re making a purchase for a product or making bank transactions, it’s imperative to keep your money and accounts secure. That’s why financial institutions like banks and online payment systems make it a point to provide its users accessibility while simultaneously practicing stringency for the protection of their clients’ valued assets.

To make the transaction more secure, especially when dealing with smartphone applications, integrated features on smartphones such as face recognition and touch ID are now adopted by web and app developers when performing logins and transactions. In 2019, more innovations involving these security features will be prominent in the world of business, especially in e-commerce.

5. Use of artificial intelligence (AI) for higher productivity.

The threat of technology and modernization is often associated with the idea of robots taking over the human workforce. However, you have to keep in mind that the human brain is a very complex organ and not even technology will be able to compete with the complexity of this network.

To achieve growth in a business, the increasing demand for products should always be fulfilled, which is why AI is implemented to make production more efficient, with the primary objective of generating a product in greater quantities within a short period.

6. Generating profits through subscriptions.

The rise of mobile apps and their services, whether they cater to fitness, health or leisure, will continue to soar this 2019. It’s a very promising strategy to increase profits. Let’s say you’re into fitness and you’re thinking of creating an app that offers daily workouts, and also updates new exercises each month or adds new features from time to time. For potential consumers, the appeal of this type of app lies in the fact that it costs much less than going to the gym and availing the actual services of a fitness instructor.

You have to be innovative in terms of what you’ll be offering. Business trends are also more focused on making people’s lifestyles a lot easier.

7. Vast knowledge expansion through online learning.

Another business trend that will continue to grow this 2019 is online learning. With the advent of technology, any internet user can easily and quickly access information. Moreover, they can even acquire certifications and diplomas in almost every field they are passionate about. It’s a great business trend, especially for those in the academe since it’s straightforward to do, and you earn from every student who wishes to enroll in your course.

Academic websites like Udemy and Coursera, along with online instructors, are soaring high in terms of profits. Their services are a lot cheaper and even faster compared to attending traditional universities and schools, where students need to complete years of study before obtaining a certificate.

8. Improvement in customer management relations (CRM).

Previously, customer service provided by businesses is very slow and weak in terms of quality. If you have concerns regarding your product, you might have experienced reaching out to them and receiving an automatic reply that they will get back to you in three to five working days. Thanks to technology, you don’t have to wait that long to receive a response from the customer service team regarding your concerns.

Therefore, another business trend to watch out for this 2019 is the improvement in CRM. Most businesses nowadays have multiple channels where their clients or customers can reach out to them, and customer service is continuously being improved to create a faster response. Real-time client-customer feedback can also generate reports that will enable the business to improve their strategies and system performance.

Final thoughts.

Business trends in 2019 are always geared towards improvement, which can be achieved by implementing the available technology and adapting to innovations. Businesses are expected to make more growth in major aspects in terms of production, security, and even customer relations. New approaches aiming to generate more profits, such as mobile app development and subscriptions, will also continue to make waves this year.


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Tips For Starting Your First Business

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If you’re planning on starting your own business for the first time, don’t let the statistics put you off. As the saying goes, it’s better to fail than have never tried. Skill vs. Luck in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital: Evidence from Serial Entrepreneurs, a Harvard paper, noted that first-time entrepreneurs have an 18 percent chance for success, but by following these tips you can help increase those odds whether you plan to launch your startup in Edmonton, Vancouver, Boston or anywhere else.

Research, Research and More Research.

Before you even begin it’s a must to understand the industry you plan to be involved in. That means knowing everything about your potential competitors, no matter how unique you think your business idea is. If you can’t offer something less expensive and/or better than the rest, it’s probably time to start rethinking that idea. You’ll also want to look at your target demographic – your potential customers should be a priority. You won’t be successful if you can’t deliver what customers want.

Understanding your target demographic provides insight into their buying decisions and can prevent potential mistakes. Talk with similar business, watch your competitors and take a look at their websites. Find out what their customers are saying about them in various social media networks too.

Create a Well-Designed Business Plan.

A well-designed business plan should lay out a vision of growth as well as the steps that need to be taken to get there. It serves as an essential communications tool when it comes to attracting financing as well as staff as your business grows. Clarifying the purpose and direction of your business not only helps you to understand what needs to be done to move forward, but it will allow you to answer the questions of potential lenders and investors so that you won’t leave their offices penniless. A good business plan shows whether your business has the potential to make a profit. By including facts, figures, statistics and a detailed plan in writing you have a much better chance of getting the capital you need to get started.

Start Small.

It’s best to self-fund your business and then seek out funding when you have a growth story. Many people get capital through friends and family, but you don’t want to risk their savings or retirement accounts. When it’s time for financing, consider angel investors and venture capitalists. If that doesn’t pan out, then apply for a business loan through small business associations and banks.

Think About Timing.

Timing is an important part of starting a business. The best time is when you have the time to devote your attention to it, but there are other elements to consider. Your financial situation is a key consideration – how much risk can you currently tolerate? Other than personal aspects, the ideal time to start a business varies depending on the type of business. It’s a common misconception that starting one up in a bad economy sets you up for failure as certain industries thrive during poor economic conditions, although others do depend on the strength of the economy. The more important question to ask is whether your business is the best type to open at the current time.


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Welfont’s Unique Journey Results In Top Honors From Inc. Magazine And Entrepreneur Magazine As One Of The Best Entrepreneurial Companies In America

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On August 15, 2018, Welfont Companies was awarded with the top spot in the real estate brokerage category of the INC 5000 Awards. They did this by being the fastest growing real estate brokerage company over a three year period.

To earn this ranking, they had to beat out 86,000 other real estate brokerages who were competing for this award.

Welfont was also ranked #16 overall against every privately held business in the U.S., not just real estate brokerages.

Additionally, Welfont earned the top spot in real estate brokerage category of the Top 360 Entrepreneurial Businesses In America ranking from Entrepreneur Magazine. In the overall ranking, they were ranked #20.

More astonishing, Welfont was one of only two companies that made the top 50 overall in both the Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine rankings.  Both magazines use different metrics to determine the best entrepreneurial businesses in the U.S., so this is proof that Welfont really does stand out from the crowd.

The numbers help explain why Welfont performed so well in all of these rankings. They were 52nd out of all commercial real estate brokerages in the U.S. by annual transaction volume, and they also grew at a rate of 11,350 percent over a period of three years, which is four times the growth rate of any other company competing in the real estate brokerage category.

But the numbers don’t tell what makes Welfont so special. For that, it’s important to understand the Welfont approach. Read on to find out more.

What Is Welfont’s Biggest Differentiator?

When asked what makes Welfont unique, representatives from the company cited their approach to the market.

In an industry where most brokerages specialize in either local, retail, office or industrial markets, Welfont did something different. They selected a specific client with which to work:  the undeserved and overlooked non-profit sector.

As a result, they soon found themselves in an untapped marketplace. And unlike other brokerages, they were not competing with the big names in Commercial Real Estate (CRE), which made it much easier for them stand out.

Competition Put Against Cooperation

As the other real estate brokers realized that Welfont wasn’t a direct competitor, they eventually became quite receptive to what Welfont was offering, i.e. access to the non-profit market. Or, perhaps better put, access to a group of motivated buyers.

Welfont also started sharing their approach with other brokers, and this gave everyone the chance to grow and get better.

The immediate benefit of this step was that agents started closing deals with Welfont’s clients, and most of these deals involved sizeable commissions.

Then, as the deals continued rolling in, outside agents started qualifying their list of sellers to find the perfect deal, and it’s from these referrals that Welfont makes most of its deals.

The Policy of ROR (Return on Relationship)

Welfont developed an internal philosophy called Return on Relationship. It’s based on the concept of cooperation instead of competition. This means that the Welfont agents are asked to put their main focus on a the relational and not transactional aspect of a deal.

This was first initiated by Rob Blakely, one of Welfont’s National Acquisitions Directors, but it eventually became a mantra for the entire marketing team. They started believing that a transaction takes place due to the relationship, but they never forgot that the relationship also occurs because of the transaction. In other words, the Welfont team never loses sight of the fact that helping people meet their needs is always a good way to start a relationship.

Welfont also puts heavy emphasis on treating people right, and this helps to foster even more positive relationships.

As a result, whether it’s building trust or creating strategic differentiation, it can be safely said that Welfont takes their clients and business peers seriously.

Overall, running a business on these principles has helped Welfont earn a solid reputation. They have a bright future, and they’re undoubtedly the rising star in the world of real estate.


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How Entrepreneurs Get Inspired

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by Peter J. Strauss, founder and managing member of The Strauss Law Firm and author of “The Business Owner’s Definitive Guide to Captive Insurance Companies“

Entrepreneurship starts with an idea. One of the challenges once the business gets off the ground, though, is coming up with more ideas that push the company forward.

An idea often stems from inspiration and lacking that, some business owners say, can result in stagnation or a failed enterprise.

Without innovation and forward thinking, no business can succeed. But being a business owner is very demanding, and you’ll hit a wall where you can’t seem to come up with new ideas.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to stay on the search for the next idea, and that requires inspiration. If you just wait for that to happen, your doors eventually will be closing. You have to try different ways to find and bottle inspiration.

Here are some questions to ask about where to locate inspiration and, just as importantly, how to turn those revelations into resolutions that drive business.

Discussion topics:

  • What do you tell business owners who are overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations and don’t have time to meditate over ground-breaking ideas?
  • Does lacking a long-term vision for the business in effect limit an owner’s ability to find inspiration on a regular basis?
  • Does lacking inspiration, or running out of it, correlate with an owner losing passion for his or her business? How do they prevent that from happening?
  • Is “the big idea” often right under an entrepreneur’s nose in the form of existing problems at the company that need fixing?
  • While at work, what are some good ways an entrepreneur can find inspiration?
  • How can peers or even competitors help an entrepreneur find inspiration?
  • Does “getting away” – a long vacation, long walks on a daily basis – fuel inspiration, or is there a regular regimen that can spring a fountain of ideas?


Peter J. Strauss is an attorney, captive insurance manager and author of several books, including most recently “The Business Owner’s Definitive Guide to Captive Insurance Companies”. He is the founder and managing member of The Strauss Law Firm, LLC, on Hilton Head Island, S.C, and also the founder and CEO of Hamilton Captive Management, LLC.


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4 Effective Tactics to Sell Your Property Listing in a Buyer’s Market: Tips for Real Estate Agents

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After several years of steady growth, the real estate market is showing signs of another downturn: an oversupply of available properties, stagnating prices, and increasing “days on market” are some of the signs that we are shifting to a buyer’s market.

Are you a real estate agent who has taken on several listings and has been working for weeks or months to get them sold? After a long period with no results, your sellers are likely to start calling you. Why hasn’t their property sold? What are you doing to market it? What else are you planning to do to make the sale?

I would like to share with you a few effective practices and ideas that have helped my own company get our listings sold, and hopefully these tips can help you, too—whether you need to revive a stale listing, or you need to convince a new seller why they need to list with you.

1. Start marketing the moment you sign the listing agreement

Once you’ve got a contract and secured your position, it’s time to get to work.

Harness the power of social media

Share a short preview of your new listing “coming soon to the market” across all your social media channels.

I applied this strategy in one of our most recent property flips, posting periodic updates on the renovation and its progress on Instagram (an ideal platform to share property photos), being sure to always tag the location, the neighborhood, and a combination of other pertinent keywords, as well as using the hashtag #miamirealestate.

On the day I announced we were ready to list, I got a call from a young woman who had been following my updates closely. She was looking to move into the area and wanted to know when we were hosting our first open house. Amazingly, this first caller and her husband ended up buying the home—all through the power of Instagram.

Let your fellow agents know

If your brokerage offers an intranet for agents to communicate, post a sneak peek of your property listing with the address and price for your fellow realtors to see. They might be already working with buyers who are looking to move into the neighborhood.

Don’t dismiss the good old real estate sign

Install your real estate sales sign as you walk away from the listing consultation. Add a “coming soon” sign to it, and make sure your contact information is prominently displayed. Anyone driving through the neighborhood will be alerted that the property is coming to the market soon, and they’ll have a chance to contact you for more information.

You can also be creative with your signs to make them stand out, like the one I saw recently that read “For Sale … Honey, back up the car!” It worked on me—I made my husband back up so I could read it.

2. Stage your listing to make it stand out

In those days when properties are flying off the shelves, sellers might be reluctant to consider the option of staging their home for sale, as it can be significant up-front investment. However, when competition is fierce, can you really afford to not stage and let the empty property sit on the market for months?

From the moment a buyer discovers the home online to the time they walk it during the showing, home staging provides many benefits:

  • It creates an impeccable first impression in professional photos.
  • It highlights the best features of a property (and can help to hide its shortcomings).
  • It allows the visiting buyer to connect with the home on an emotional level and imagine themselves living in it.
  • On a completely practical level, the presence of furniture allows the agent and the buyer to sit down and have a conversation, and remain on the property longer.

Imagine these shelves with nothing on them? It would make for a sterile and unappealing environment for the potential buyer:

staged property

photo credit: Mike Butler Photography

We started staging our flips and it quickly proved to be an indispensable strategy. We have sold homes within as little as 6 days, at or over the asking price, while similar homes sat on the market for 90 days or more, forced to reduce their prices over and over.

Today we stage every one of our flips and I recommend staging to all my real estate clients. We started to offer our home staging services in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area last year and the results have been very positive. Our latest project scored a cash offer in just two weeks on the market.

3. Hire a professional photographer who understands architecture and interiors

Hiring a professional photographer to take photos of your property listing is essential. But beware: there are wannabe professionals and there are real professionals. The first is the kind who might take photos with the window blinds closed or at unflattering angles; the other is someone who knows how to make an interior shot look as good as possible.

Don’t just hire someone with a DSLR camera and who knows Photoshop; hire a photographer who understands interior design, layout, light, and composition.

What do I mean by that?

A true architectural photographer does not just come in and shoot photos of the space and its elements as they are. He or she moves, adjusts, and places pieces so that the pictures look just right. The image below is an example of a shoot at one of our staging projects:

staged property

photo credit: Mike Butler Photography

The dining table decor as well as the mirror are typically not in the position you see in this picture, but a skilled photographer knows how to rearrange things in order to compose an interesting shot. Photography is both an art and a science—invest in someone who can capture a feeling in their photos.

4. Give your listing as much visibility as possible

Of course, don’t forget the basics: publish your listing on the MLS (multiple listing service), syndicate with major real estate platforms like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, and claim those listings to follow statistics. However, there is more you can do to get more views on your listing.

List on Facebook Marketplace

If you’re targeting younger buyers, post the home for sale on Facebook Marketplace. You’ll be surprised how many enquiries you get from potential buyers!

Use email lists

In the United States, where collaboration between real estate agents is very common, do not underestimate the power of your email list. Make it a habit to send the property to your contact list on a regular basis. In the case of our local MLS, I’m able to pull realtor contact lists and add them to my email base. Make sure you keep the subject line interesting and relevant to increase your email open rate.

Change the featured photo regularly

This might not be obvious, so I will explain my reasoning. More than 90% of buyers use the internet to search for properties. They will use platforms like Zillow to do so, and they will only see the basic information of your listing and one main photo. Here’s the trick: change that cover photo periodically to attract new attention to your listing. The kitchen may appeal to one person, but the living room to another.

Host open houses

Open houses have always been and will always be essential when selling a property. They not only allow potential buyers to physically experience the space, but each time you hold one, it makes your listings pop on all online portals and gives your property renewed attention.

Broadcast on Facebook and Instagram Live

For those who can’t make it in person, offer a livestream tour of the home. Give your viewers a virtual view of the property and answer their questions in real time. It isn’t just a tour of the property, by the way—they are also getting to know you (and perhaps considering you for their future realtor).

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Japan Push Continues For MGM With Title Sponsorship Of MLB Opening Series

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MGM Resorts announced this week its title sponsorship of Major League Baseball’s Opening Series in Japan.

The deal adds another log to the fire of the gaming giant’s ambitions to earn a casino license in Japan. The country legalized limited casino gaming in 2018, authorizing three licenses that major casino companies covet.

Following passage of that legislation, MGM CEO Jim Murren gave us a cautious but hopeful statement:

MGM is proud to have provided academic research and economic analysis as well as facilitating numerous study sessions with experts from around the world.

Today’s passage allows us to advance our relationships with key stakeholders and together create a coalition of Japanese business partners who will collectively define a vision for a uniquely Japanese, world-class integrated resort.

Marketing end of MLB deal on display

The MGM-MLB sponsorship for the Tokyo games extends from the larger marketing and data agreement inked in November.

“In just a few months as partners, MGM Resorts has really embraced this relationship and expanded their presence in the league,” said Noah Garden, MLB Executive Vice President, Commerce.  “MGM Resorts will have a great opportunity to engage with and experience the extraordinary passion of baseball fans in Japan.  We’re excited to have our new partners become such a significant part of our games in Tokyo.”

MGM also partnered with the NBA and NHL in similar sports betting arrangements last year.

What the MGM-MLB Japan deal entails

The gaming behemoth will put forward a significant fan-facing presence at the Opening Series. According to information released by the company:

As a new league partner, the 2019 MGM MLB Opening Series will be MGM Resorts’ first major marketing activation around an MLB event.  MGM plans to activate at fan-facing events outside the ballpark, while also having its logo on a jersey patch on the Athletics’ right sleeve during the Opening Series.

The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners will play two regular-season games March 20-21 at the Tokyo Dome. The teams also will participate in exhibition games against Japanese teams Yomiuri Giants and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

The series will be a homecoming for legendary Japanese baseball superstar Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle. Ichiro is one of the most successful players in the history of baseball in Japan, and will play in the games for Seattle in what could be his final appearance.

MGM playing all the angles

Japan will be new to traditional casino gaming once it opens its integrated resort concepts. And MGM, like others, wants to gain a foothold from the start.

Here’s more from a July MGM statement:

MGM Resorts has a full-time development team in Japan and for the past four years has been engaged in discussions in Japan’s cultural and business communities.

The company believes it is well-positioned in Japan and has been preparing for this possibility by becoming immersed in Japanese culture to better its understanding of Japan’s unique history and heritage.

MGM Resorts has also embarked on enhancing its cultural commitment to Japan in the United States through the sponsorship of two world premiere Kabuki events with the famous Shochiku entertainment company and by showcasing established and emerging Japanese artists in the Company’s art collections across the country.

The post Japan Push Continues For MGM With Title Sponsorship Of MLB Opening Series appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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