Creating Advertising Hooks That Work on Facebook

The following excerpt is from Perry MarshallKeith Krance and Thomas Meloche’s book Ultimate Guide to Facebook AdvertisingBuy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound A hook is the front-facing message that your would-be customers see prior to becoming customers. It’s the thing that intrigues them and reels them in. It’s the primary reason why people want to take you up on your offer.

That first line that’s the prospects’ first point of contact with you has to be so knock-their-socks-off good that they feel compelled to read all the way to the end. At that point, they do what you ask next in your call to action, namely, give up their contact information (become a lead) or plunk down their credit card and buy (become a customer).

How to find the right hook

First and foremost, to write a good hook for your product or service, you must first identify your target market. For established businesses, this is fairly straightforward and can be answered in one question: Who are my customers?

We also ask ourselves an alternate question, which is “Who is our most valuable customer?” Your most valuable customer is usually your best customer. Your best customers are people that you’ll actually pay more to acquire. They become your best customers because they spend far more and generate the highest number of referrals.

Once you’ve answered these questions, your next job is to figure out what they want the most. What are their pain points, what are their fears? Then identify an easy-to-implement solution that you provide in your product portfolio that will immediately solve that problem or fulfill that desire.

The reason why it’s so important to identify your ideal customers is that a hook has to be highly specific. The more specific your hook is to your audience, the better. You’re going to have a very hard time selling a “Learn to play like Eddie Van Halen” guitar product to someone who wants to learn how to play classical guitar. But, put a “Learn to play Eddie Van Halen’s Top 10 Guitar Licks” message in front of a guitarist who loves to play hard rock guitar, and you probably have a pretty good hook.

Move toward desire

To get even deeper into the mind of your prospect, ask a follow-up question on why they really want your product or service. Ask it enough times until you get to the desire behind the desire.

When you’ve identified the specific desire behind the desire, think about the end benefit that fulfilling that desire brings. From our rough ad copy above, this now becomes: “Learn how to play like Eddie Van Halen so you can impress your friends” or “Learn how to play like Eddie Van Halen so you can steal the show at the next family reunion.”

You’re now starting to craft the actual ad copy you’ll be using in your ads. The formula looks like this:

They want [specific desire] so they can [benefit].

Write out about a dozen of these and keep writing — even if they’re really bad at first. With enough brainstorming, you’ll find the perfect match of a specific desire and benefit you can use for your hook.

Move away from pain points

What is your target market’s greatest problems? As motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said, “People will do more to avoid pain then they will do to gain pleasure.” Keep this in mind when you’re researching and writing your hook.

Going back to the guitar player target market, one of the simplest problems could be: “I don’t know where to go next on the fret board after the A note.” This is a problem because maybe Fred, the solo guitar player, wants to play the Bob the Builder theme song to his kids, but he doesn’t know what to do after the A note and because of this, both he and his kids are frustrated.

This brings us to the second question, “What are they most afraid of?” In this case, Fred might feel afraid that he won’t live up to be the father he wants to be for his kids if he doesn’t learn this part of the song and his legacy as a great dad will be tarnished.

I’m being somewhat obviously melodramatic, but you should always ask this question with regard to your target market’s biggest pain: Why do they want to change? At the end of all this, Fred wants to be able to play the song because that would make him and his kids happy, and at a very deep level, he would then feel like he’s being the father he always wanted to be.

 Here’s what to ask for your reference:
  • What are your target market’s greatest problems?
  • What are they most afraid of?
  • Why do they want to change?

When you find the reason behind the problem, behind what they are most afraid of and behind why they want to change, you can then embed your solution inside the hook and cure it with your offer.

Find a solution

Go back and review your notes on your market’s desires and pain points. When crafting a solid hook, this is the most logical starting point. Then, force-rank those pain points and desires. Next, start coming up with solutions that your hook will promise and your offer will fulfill. Be careful to separate out wants from needs. They’re not the same.

When you think about a solution that fulfills your target market’s desires or pain points, your end goal is for the offer to fulfill the promise of the hook, but in order for it to work for your business, it must be incomplete, so the bigger solution is the one your paid product delivers.


Don’t Lose Good Employees to a Bad Commute

Most of us are familiar with the idea of flexible work because we’ve experienced it firsthand. Whether it’s checking emails from home in the morning so that you can come into the office a few hours late or booking a WeWork when you’re on the other side of town for a meeting, the daily routine for what people consider a productive employee has changed.

While employers have embraced flexible work trends, most haven’t paid much mind to the commute and how it’s impacting employee productivity, happiness and even retention.

New York’s governor declared this past summer the “summer of hell” for commuters, voicing the national disdain for frustrating commutes. And the commute conundrum is more than a personal annoyance — it’s also a business problem.

Already, 10 percent of employees spend their workday commuting and nearly 80 percent of people drive to work alone, according 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data. Time spent traveling continues to increase with commute times in 50 of the largest U.S. cities jumping by 3 percent between 2009 and 2014 and the average commute jumping 20 percent since 1980. More notably, the long commutes are on the rise. According to data from Pew Charitable Trust, between 2010 and 2015, the number of people who commute 90 minutes or more to work has skyrocketed.

There is a huge pool of untapped potential and lost productivity locked up in these commutes. Imagine this: A 45-minute, one-way commute equates to 1.5 hours a day on the road and over two full weeks of the year commuting. These added minutes come with added consequences with 17 percent quitting their jobs because of the commute, according to a survey by

It’s time for companies to rethink the daily commute.

How employees are getting to and from the office every day isn’t something most businesses spend a lot of time thinking about, but that could change soon. With employees’ new expectation for flexible work and the toll that commutes are taking on productivity and retention, it’s an issue that can no longer be ignored.

Offering free transportation to public transit hot spots not only shortens commutes and supports environmentally friendly modes of transportation; it also allows businesses to set up their headquarters in more locations.

With car ownership estimated to taper off over the next decade, perks like complimentary parking are no longer appealing or possible in metropolitan cities where parking space is limited.

Subsidizing commutes, whether on public transit, car-sharing services or free shuttles, takes some of the pain away. In some cases, when employees aren’t behind the wheel it allows for more time to take calls, work on projects, check email or simply relax.

Businesses should get ahead of these changes and set up the right protocols and technology to ease commuting pains. Most importantly, businesses need to consider their surroundings — what is most efficient in San Francisco may not succeed in Seattle or New York.

However, 80 percent of the country still drives alone to work every day. In some cases, employees may need to continue to rely on personal vehicles to get to work. If so, business can make employees’ lives easier and their days more productive by tweaking hours to avoid rush hour. Other options include allowing employees to work from home on certain days, providing satellite office access or compact workweeks.

With today’s pace of change, businesses can’t afford to hold on to outdated management structures and workplaces. As the workplace is reshaped and companies pursue new efficiencies, the best place to start is with one of the most inefficient aspects of workers’ lives — their daily commutes. Companies will thrive if they can adapt to the changing demands and habits of today’s workforce.


Entrepreneurs, Here Are the 5 Ways to Throw the Best First Event Ever

Every business leader loves it when a marketing event goes off without a hitch, but the momentum shouldn’t end when the last guest leaves. Statista reports that 79 percent of marketers in the United States use events to drive sales. Events give a brand’s personality a platform to resonate with attendees.

Take Bud Light’s 2015 “Up for Whatever” campaign. The Anheuser-Busch brand used a festival-like atmosphere — including performances by Snoop Dogg — to attract Millennial consumers and encourage them to share their experience on social media. As Bud Light’s vice president Alex Lambrecht put it, “We want to reach more than the 1,000 people that are here.”

But companies selling a physical product aren’t the only ones that can benefit from event marketing. The Detroit Lions, a client of ours, turned to event marketing earlier this year to make sure the launch of the team’s new jersey went off without a hitch. That meant a massive lion head presiding over the stage, players hosting, cheerleaders performing, fog machines filling the stage, three vertical screens showcasing the team’s legacy, and a full lights and pyrotechnic show to accompany the unveiling of the new jerseys.

Wow everyone the first time around.

Events don’t come with a rewind option — a successful first event means the hosting company and audience alike will be eager for the next event. When a first event falls flat, the team behind it is likely to pull back and either avoid investing entirely or — worse still — cut corners in an effort to save capital. For many companies, events are the biggest area of marketing spend. In its Event Marketing 2018 Benchmarks and Trends report, Bizzabo found that the majority of companies devote between 20 percent and 50 percent of their total budget to hosting events.

Ensuring this investment pays dividends is critical to future buy-in and success. That may be why 63 percent of the event marketers Bizzabo surveyed are putting more resources into hosting live events. Businesses following suit to maximize visibility and lead generation from the very first event should keep the following tips in mind:

1. Communicate every step of the way.

Whether sponsoring a bag drop at a trade show, sending an email to a customer or employee list, or filling social channels with chatter about the event, it’s crucial to do just that: Talk about the event. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Bizzabo reported last year that marketers spend only 10 percent of their budgets on marketing for an event.

Social media is a great tool for keeping event marketing costs down while maximizing awareness. Creating awareness early on and building up to the event day will ultimately drive traffic. This gives any company time to dazzle existing and potential customers with its passion, excitement and hosting abilities.

2. Provide live updates during the event.

Once the event has started, social channels still play a vital role in visibility and attracting more traffic. In today’s digitally focused world, it’s fairly common for event attendees to be monitoring the event’s hashtag just to keep up with what’s going on. In fact, Event Manager Blog reports that 60 percent of people with smartphones use them when at events.

For events in line with a brand activation or a pop-up shop, social posts that leverage local hashtags can spread the word about the destination experience that everyone in the area should check out. It boils down to this: Providing content or commentary can help bring attention to both the event and the company behind it.

3. Bring the right personalities.

Bizzabo found in its 2018 event marketing report that 95 percent of marketers find live events to be great opportunities to form in-person connections. The context of an event will determine which types of personalities should be on deck. If the aim of the event is sales, more outgoing personalities are probably the right call. If the event is more about a product demonstration or sharing knowledge, an engineer is going to be needed.

Not everybody fares well in social settings — remember that. A marketing event planner may be great with logistics, but she might not be well-suited for helping out on the day of the event itself. So make sure to choose the right person to be present on the day of.

4. Follow the framework: content, space and technology.

Content is the most important element of an event, followed next by the details of the space or location of the event, and finally, the technology being used to amplify the message. As with Bud Light’s event, content is the core component of any event — whether it’s video, text or images. Over the weekend of the “Up for Whatever” 2015 event, 37,000 content items were created. And only 50 of those were created by Bud Light.

The order of these three elements is critical to ensure the right message is being spread in the right place with just the right amount of disruption to capture everyone’s attention. Tech may be advancing and gaining attention, but most of the tech used at events is about increasing the audience’s awareness of the brand and its message. Event Manager Blog reports that 30 percent of event-specific tech created in recent years is focused on live interactions.

5. Keep it simple.

When the focus of an event is on capturing leads, the key is to keep things simple. Scanning badges, exchanging business cards or having attendees provide their info through a survey of some sort are all valuable ways of gathering info and capturing leads.

Make sure not to ask for too much info or create an information exchange that’s too complicated. Too much of anything will push attendees away from providing the information that turns them into valuable leads.

Event marketing presents companies of all sizes with a great opportunity for exposure and capturing leads, but there are no second chances for knocking the first event out of the park. Follow these five tips to ensure your event is unforgettable — in a good way.



5 Tricks to Instantly Connect With Any Sales Prospect

Old-school sales trainers love to tell salespeople that they need to build rapport with prospects. These gurus say things like, “Your prospects need to like you. People only buy from people they like.” This approach is not only shallow — it’s also completely untrue.

People buy from those they trust and respect. If you can quickly connect with your prospects on a deeper level than just making them like you, you’ll start to build genuine relationships based on trust and respect. And those genuine relationships will lead to more sales.

Here are five tricks to instantly connect with any sales prospect so you can start to crush your sales goals. Check them out:

1. Ask a provocative question.

When you’re trying to get someone to like you, you’ll do or say anything to make the other person happy. Prospects don’t trust salespeople like that, whether they like them or not. Instead, they trust salespeople who challenge them to look at their problems and objectives in a new way. The best way to do that is by asking your prospects provocative questions.

Start your next conversation by mentioning two or three challenges you’ve observed in the industry, and then ask your prospect if any of those challenges resonate. If the answer is yes, the prospect will immediately view you as an expert and someone to be trusted. If the answer is no, and your prospect isn’t experiencing challenges you can solve, then you know right away that it’s not a good fit. This frees you up to move onto another prospect who will actually need your product or service.

2. Turn off your enthusiasm.

The typical salesperson greeting is one we’re all familiar with. “Hey! How are you today? I’m so excited to meet you and tell you all about how we can help your company!” This over-eager, cheesy greeting is the kiss of death for sales, yet most salespeople don’t even realize they’re doing it.

To see what I mean, try recording your next few prospecting phone calls. Play them back and listen carefully. Does your voice go up a few octaves when talking to prospects? If so, you need to drop the sales voice. Prospects pick up on that immediately, and it destroys any trust or respect you might have been able to establish. Instead, focus on being genuine. There’s no need to sound smooth or polished. Prospects find it refreshing to talk with a real person, and they’ll be more open to truly connecting with you.

3. Make it all about the prospect.

Prospects only care about themselves. But what do most salespeople focus on? Their products and services. This is a huge disconnect that prevents salespeople from establishing strong relationships with prospects.

You may be thinking, “No, not me. I’m always focused on the prospect.” But there’s a very good chance you’re wrong. If you ever talk about your product or service, then you’re not always focused on the prospect. It’s as simple as that. Great salespeople gain prospects’ trust by focusing on them 100 percent of the time.

4. Seek to understand key challenges.

As I said before, prospects only care about themselves. More specifically, they only care about the problems they’re currently facing. When you’re talking to a prospect, you’re only relevant to them if you can demonstrate how you can help solve those challenges.

Ask intentional questions that focus completely on your prospect’s biggest frustrations. Dig deep to understand how those frustrations are affecting the prospect. You can even try to get a dollar value for how much those challenges cost. Few salespeople are willing to dig in here, but when you do, you’ll start to nurture a relationship built on trust and respect.

5. Talk less.

This is straightforward and simple. Talk less and listen more. However much you talk during a conversation with prospects now, it’s safe to say you can stand to talk even less. Prospects should do the vast majority of the talking in any conversation. Keep this in mind while you’re engaging with new prospects, and you’ll set more meetings for successful sales.


18 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

This year saw the release of new technologies like Google Home and the iPhone X. Digital advertising expanded gains made last year over television advertising, and markets rewarded brands that bet big on innovation and customer service (think Teslaand Amazon).

As 2018 approaches, there are a number of new marketing trends poised to make a significant impact on go-to-market strategy. Here are 18 of the most important trends to look for in the coming year.

1. AI takes over website messaging.

Thanks to tools like Intercom and Drift, marketers can already use artificial-intelligence-powered live-chat tools to communicate with customers. As this technology gets ironed out, it is likely that more brands will embrace AI live chat to better service website visitors.

2. Personalization goes to the next level.

A key tenet of account-based marketing (ABM) is providing content tailored to specific accounts or account types. As ABM principles go mainstream, look for content personalization to proliferate. Platforms provided by Adobe and Optimizely make it possible for marketers to recommend specific pieces of content similar to the way Netflix suggests shows.

3. Quant marketing goes mainstream.

The rise of quantitative-based marketing is upon us. Organizations like Unilever and Kraft, which previously relied on marketing “soft skills,” are now taking a playbook out of the tech world by building data-science teams to work hand-in-hand with marketers. Next year, quantitative-based marketing will continue to surge as organizations that focus on the data find it easier to grow.

4. Marketers begin developing augmented-reality content.

With the release of the iPhone eight and iPhone X, Apple has made it clear that they are betting on augmented reality (AR). As these new devices go mainstream, brands will begin experimenting with AR-sponsored and -branded content.

5. In-car ads become a new marketing channel for some.

Self-driving cars are on the horizon. The Waymo fleet of self-driving cars has driven three million autonomous miles and simulated over one billion miles. Uber recently ordered 24,000 Volvo SUVs to be outfitted with the latest self-driving tech. The Tesla Models S, X and 3, the Audi A8 and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class are all self-driving to some degree.

What will happen when drivers no longer need to pay attention to the road? They’ll consume content, of course, and with that content will come in-car ads. Watch for some brands to begin experimenting with this new marketing channel in the coming year.

6. Brands start to develop voice-optimized content.

Last year 20 percent of online searches were conducted through voice search. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 50 percent. Just as marketers have optimized content for web 2.0 and mobile, they will start optimizing content for voice search as well.

For example, because voice search is easier than typing, searches tend to surface more long-tail content. By comparison, text search tends to surface sorter phrases.

7. Privacy protection becomes a major selling point.

There have been a number of high-profile data breaches in 2017. From the DNC email hack to the Equifax breach, cyber security has had a considerable impact on many aspects of our world. Moving forward, consumers will begin to favor products that protect their privacy.

If consumers don’t prioritize privacy, some government associations will, and many are already doing so. For example, a new law passed by the European Union called GDPR will have a major impact on what businesses must do to protect user data. Because of a confluence of factors, marketers will begin using privacy protection and data security as a value proposition across industries.

8. Instagram becomes a more valuable channel than Facebook.

Instagram is growing at an incredible clip. In 2017, Instagram announced that approximately 800 million people use the platform each month. Their latest tool, Instagram Stories, became more popular than Snapchat just one year after going live.

Since brands tend to see better engagement on Instagram than any other social media platform, and because of great advertising controls, Instagram is poised to become the go-to channel for brands interested in social media marketing.

9. Leading brands invest in live events.

Approximately two-thirds of marketers say that they will increase the number of live events they host in 2018. This is because marketers recognize that live events are one of the most effective marketing channels.

There is a reason that some of the world’s most successful organizations, including Salesforce, Airbnb and Google, host an annual event designed to bring existing customers, prospective customers and the press together under one roof.

10. B2B marketers create multichannel cold-outreach campaigns.

The average cold email response rate is low, and it will continue to decline as email clients get better at filtering out junk mail. The best marketers develop integrated marketing campaigns that use a combination of email, digital ads and other channels to engage prospects in new and exciting ways.

For example, by using Twilio marketers can send text messages in addition to email. They can then retarget highly qualified prospects with custom audience ads offered by platforms like Facebook and Google AdWords.

11. Twitter dies a quiet death.

Twitter has been unable to grow users in 2017. The platform has focused on user acquisition rather than on making improvements to their ad platform. As a result, marketers are already using other social media platforms to connect with prospects. This trend will continue in 2018 as Twitter continues to struggle.

12. LinkedIn sees new life among B2B marketers.

While Twitter struggles, LinkedIn has made a number of great improvements to their platform. A site-wide revamp refreshed the LinkedIn user interface in 2017. The platform also saw good improvements to the LinkedIn ad platform. Thanks to these and other changes, B2B marketers will utilize LinkedIn more in the coming year.

13. Machine learning changes how marketers manage ads.

Why pay a digital marketing agency thousands to manage ads when a machine-learningplatform can do it better? New platforms like Acquisio and Trapica promise to optimize ad spend through advanced machine-learning algorithms. Marketers simply need to set basic campaign parameters, and the platforms then do the work of identifying ideal audiences and effective creatives.

14. Predictive lead scoring makes marketers rethink lead routing.

Using predictive lead scoring, marketers can identify the prospects that are most likely to convert to customers. All that’s needed is an email address, and tools like Infer crawl the web looking for buying signals. Leads are then scored and sorted, so that only the most qualified people are passed to sales

15. Virtual reality is called into question.

A few years ago, virtual reality was predicted to be the next big thing in content. While VR is popular in the videogame community, it has not gone mainstream. This is probably for the best, as it can be difficult for brands to produce content with a controlled point of view. Instead of virtual reality, augmented reality is slated to make waves next year. Look no further than Apple’s rumored AR glasses.

16. Consumers expect more from brands.

Thanks to a confluence of services, consumers will have increased expectations from brands of all kinds. Voice assistants, same-day delivery and on-demand content will mean that both B2C and B2B marketers must find innovative new ways to delight prospects and customers with nearly instant service.

17. Influencer marketing remains a useful strategy.

Nearly 95 percent of marketers who use an influencer marketing strategy believe it is effective. Brands interested in connecting with prospects via social media will continue to turn to influencer marketing. Influencers create compelling content that appears to be organic in many cases.

Consumers, especially younger ones, prefer content that feels less “staged” and more natural. The world of advertising is changing. It is moving toward subtle sponsored content promoted by influencers or micro-influencers.

18. Gated content falls out of vogue.

In the B2B world, gated content is how many marketers generate leads. But, some of the best brands, including Hubspot and Zendesk, are un-gating content in order to develop a stronger organic search presence in an increasingly crowded content landscape.


Unknown marketing surprises await in 2018, and some of these predictions will probably fail to come to fruition as technology and the expectations of consumers change. Nevertheless, many of the trends outlined here are likely to come to pass.

Based on current trends, marketing is likely to become more analytical, and more focused on digital marketing through organic search, voice and social media. In addition, new content formats like augmented reality and in-car ads will probably go mainstream.


Why This Media Entrepreneur Wants You to Rethink Your Definition of Legacy

In this series, Open Every DoorEntrepreneur staff writer Nina Zipkin shares her conversations with leaders about understanding what you have to offer, navigating the obstacles that will block your path, identifying opportunity and creating it for yourself and for others.

Beatriz Acevedo has been a fixture of the entertainment world since she was just eight years old. Driven and goal-oriented as a young girl, she got her start as radio announcer in her native Mexico by marshalling her father’s connection to a local station and getting herself an interview.

“I had a crush on Ricky Martin when he was a kid in this group called Menudo. I had a plan. I thought if I get a show at the radio station when Menudo comes to town I can interview them. So I can meet Ricky, we’ll fall in love and marry each other,” she recalls to Entrepreneur. “So I brought my demo tape of my McDonald’s and Toys ‘R’ Us commercials that I had done voiceover for. And I made a plea to [the station owner] that I was the demographic that they were trying to reach. Why did they have an old guy being the deejay?” Acevedo’s moxie made an impression, and she became the station’s young sidekick, learning the ropes of what would become her career every day after school.

In 1995, she founded a production company called HIP Entertainment Group, where for more than 20 years, Acevedo created and produced more than 1,000 hours of television programming in English, Spanish and Portuguese for networks like the Travel Channel, PBS and MTV. Her work across genres, ranging from documentaries to game shows to music specials, won her three Emmy Awards.

Acevedo is on a mission to empower the voices of Latino creators and change how Latinos are represented in the media. To that end, in 2012 she launched her latest venture, a digital media company called mitu , to make content for and by Latinos, especially for U.S.-born millennials.

Over the course of five years, the company’s programming has grown to reach nearly 100 million people in the U.S. each month. Every month, the work she and her team produce generates 400 million content views and over 120 million video views. The company has partnerships with platforms like Spotify, YouTube Red and Paramount TV, and brand partners such as Honda, Toyota, Pizza Hut and State Farm. In the US, the company has 111 employees, of which 51 percent are female. Her team has produced seven original series this year with plans to double that figure in 2018.

Today, her goal is simply to pay it forward. “The creative community that didn’t have have a place to go, we’ll take a chance on them,” explains Acevedo. “We actually have a program called the mitu accelerator, where we find the next generation of [creatives] from animators to writers to directors. We are building a brand that stands for a community, that opens doors and provides opportunity.”

Acevedo shared her insights about the importance of not going for the obvious choice and always taking chances.

Why is your work with mitu meaningful for you?

Being a woman, a Latina and an immigrant entrepreneur, I was always pretty puzzled about the disconnect between the Latino creative community and Hollywood buyers. I was lucky enough to get these meetings with networks and studio heads, and they would say, ‘We can’t find the writers, and we can’t find the talent.’ Then, I would go back to my office, and there’s 20 people that are so talented, who tell me, ‘Nobody takes our calls. We can’t get an agent, we can’t get a meeting.’ That broken bridge was always pretty puzzling to me. Even when I would make an introduction, [the buyers] wouldn’t know what to make of them. [If they met with] a writer that had a really authentic story to tell, they’d be like, ‘We don’t know if this will be commercial enough, or it’s going to turn off our core audience.’

So with mitu, I think what we do really matters and can really change the narrative. Thanks to digital, you have a phone, you have an opportunity. We see these kids making movies from their phones and uploading them and finding audiences that have been so underserved for so many years. But, we can’t just be waiting for somebody to give us a chance. My dream is that mitu becomes the voice for this generation. It’s a very big and hefty dream. But, every day we try to do it. We’ve found an incredibly loyal audience who always say, ‘Oh, finally, a brand that gets me, where have you been all my life?’ We’re striking a chord.

Can you talk about a moment in your career that you had to advocate for yourself? How did you approach it?

I’m always advocating for myself and for my community. I’m usually one of the few token female Latinas speaking at these [industry] conferences. I feel that every time they invite me, they sort of want like the quick three tips on how to not be embarrassed as a company [if it isn’t] diverse. You have to stop thinking about multiculturalism or diversity as a good deed or charity. Because you are really missing out on a big economic opportunity. Women represent half of the population in the U.S. How could any company think that without their insights, you are going to be able to thrive and survive? It’s the same with Latinos. [I’m asked] ‘how do we up our numbers? How do we make it not look so bad?’ But, you’re completely missing out.

[You need these] diverse ways of thinking in order to thrive and survive as a company. That is something that I’m constantly advocating. Don’t invite me [to speak on a panel], because you have a panel of all white men that look the same, and you’re desperate to have a woman. Oh, and double check: She’s a Latina, and we know she’s vocal. It’s almost like a show. So my plea always is: I, or any of my colleagues who are not here, could add to this conversation [beyond my presence] making you not look bad on a panel. I’m educating the marketplace all the time about why this matters to them as a business.

What was a mistake you made and how did you move forward from it?

Five years ago, when we started the company, the biggest mistake mistake we made was to do the obvious. We thought we’re building a digital media brand for Latinos, so we’re going to do it in Spanish. So we assumed that because we were going on digital platforms, we would have a very young audience based in the U.S., because we were based in Los Angeles. Very quickly, we discovered we would get 50 plus-year-old people in the U.S. [and younger viewers in Latin America].

We felt we knew the market really well. But, this demographic is U.S. born and speaks English [first] and consumes their content in English. So, we quickly pivoted into doing our content in English and really addressing U.S.-born Latinos who were the most underserved. Univision and Telemundo do a really good job of catering to [the older demographic] and that’s a generation that’s TV-first, Spanish-first. Now, we fully know we want to be English-first and digital-first. We’re trying to superserve a demographic here that’s not served at all.

How have you grown and changed as a leader throughout your career?

I’ve learned to be less of a perfectionist. And I’m doing my best everyday to learn to delegate. I think that I come from being a very scrappy, money-conscious and creative entrepreneur from my own country of origin, where you have to make a lot with very little. So I’m used to filling 10 roles and not one. I’ve tried to trust that people can do their jobs and be there for anything that I can support. But that’s definitely been my biggest challenge. As I come from a very let-me-roll-up-my-sleeves-and-do-everything mentality. I can’t say that I’ve mastered it fully but I try every day to be to be more of a delegator and a support. Hopefully, I’ll continue to learn, and people will feel empowered to do their job without me helping them out.

Over time, how has your view of success and failure changed?

I won my first Emmy when I was in my early 20s, which nobody in Mexico had ever won. For me, success back then, was all about me. Today, now that I am much older, it’s so different. I see the kids in my office, and now, for me, success is seeing them succeed. I have such pride, especially for the women in our company, who are so amazing, talented and smart. As much as I can, I bring [my female employees to the company’s] board as a spotlight, so they can talk about what they’re working on. It makes me beam with pride.

My view of success is, If I can be that catalyst, if I can be that person that opens doors for the next generation of Latino leaders, with a very close place in my heart for women, that’s success to me. In my 20s, it used to be, ‘How do I win another award? How do get on another cover of a magazine?’ It was all me. And, now, it’s all about seeing how I can have a hand in opening doors, mentoring the next generation.

What do you say to yourself to keep going during tough moments?

For me, it’s very hard to balance work and personal life, especially because I have 12- year-old twins that would love for me to be there for them and pick them up at school, like all the other moms do. For me, what makes me feel like the tradeoffs are worth it is knowing that what I do everyday potentially can really make a difference.

And I see it everyday, whether it’s a kid from a very low-income community who is so deserving of an opportunity that nobody else was giving him, and we see how we can change lives by giving [that kid] opportunities and [him] giving back to us, as a company. Building a company that matters, that stands for my community, that can really change the narrative of how we’re perceived — that keeps me going for sure. As hard as it is, knowing that you have that power to contribute is really exciting.



Is it Time to Cut Back? A Minimalist Approach to Social Media Marketing.

Social media marketing is beneficial for a number of reasons. It improves brand awareness, brings new leads to your website, improves search engine rankings and provides excellent market research opportunities.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that 92 percent of marketers say that social media is important to their business. However, since there are so many ways that you can use social media every day, it’s easy for social media marketing to become unfocused. Instead of benefitting your customers, excessive social media usage can detract from more urgent revenue-generating activities.

Social media is crucial for generating awareness, but a business cannot survive on awareness alone. It also needs sales. If you’re spreading yourself too thin with your social media activities and your business is suffering, it may be time to explore a minimalist approach to social media.

Cutting back on social media will enable you to spend more time on directly driving sales — cold emailingPPC advertising, etc. Additionally, a minimalist approach forces you to carefully consider the objectives and execution of your social media marketing — which can lead to greater long-term profits.

Here are some steps you can take for a minimalist approach to social media marketing.

Create a schedule.

Because social media marketing is an ongoing process with no definitive start or end point, managing the amount of time you spend on each channel can be difficult.

It’s easy to log into Twitter with the intention of answering customer service queries and find yourself — several hours later — crafting new branded images for Instagram in Canva. Even worse, you might come across some interesting content and become completely distracted with activities that don’t benefit your business whatsoever.

For this reason, it’s imperative to schedule blocks of your day specifically for social media and related tasks. You can achieve more than you think in 30 minutes of concentrated work every day. During this time, don’t answer calls or respond to emails; solely focus on social media. And once time is up, don’t log in again until tomorrow.

Pick your channels wisely.

There is no rule that says you must be active on every social media channel. You can achieve much better results by focusing on one or two channels where your prospects are active, rather than trying to cover every platform.

Make a list of the channels you’re currently using, then rank them in order of importance to your business. The level of engagement your posts are getting should play a factor, as should the number of followers on each account. Additionally, Google Analytics will tell you which networks are bringing you the most traffic.

Double down on your top one or two channels and allow the others to atrophy. You can always reverse your decision if things don’t go according to plan after a month.

Publish killer content.

If you’re cutting back on the amount of time you spend on social media, your number one priority should be publishing killer content.

If you’ve researched the buyer persona for your business, you should know the desires, aspirations and pain points of your ideal customer. Promoting one blog post per week that provides highly specific, actionable advice for your ideal customer is far more effective than using social media every day in a generalized, unfocused manner.

Utilize automation.

With tools such as PostplannerBuffer and Hootsuite, you can automate the sharing of content to your social media channels.

Instead of going through the tedious process of logging into each individual account, posting your link, looking for relevant hashtags and resizing images every time you publish a new post, it’s far more time efficient to schedule these tasks weeks ahead of time.

In order to automate your social media sharing, you need to plan your posts in advance. This can be challenging if you have other daily tasks to handle, but it’s worth it if you want to save time in the long-run.

Delegating routine tasks, such as image creation, to freelancers is another way of automating your social media.

Track your results.

When you cut back on social media, it’s important to track your results on a monthly basis. If you’ve streamlined your social media activities but are maintaining the same net profitability, congratulations! In fact, it’s very likely that your profitability will increase as a result of spending less time on social media and more time driving sales.


VC Funding Doesn’t Always Equal Success — Here Are the 4 Things That Do

Unless an entrepreneur plans a rogue one-red-paperclip-for-a-house trade as the foundation for his business, he or she is going to need seed funding to get started. Yet buckets of Benjamins don’t necessarily equate to success — just as limited capital doesn’t necessarily lead to failure.

Consider Boll & Branch: The organic bedding company raised a modest $12 million total in four years. However, it apparently used the cash wisely: Its founders expect net revenue to exceed $100 million in 2018. Turns out these entrepreneurs played things scrappy and savvy, focusing on staying lean and spending with fast returns in mind.

Most startups could learn a lesson from Boll & Branch: A well-executed business plan dedicated to the success of the organization is a stronger predictor of startup success than unlimited financial support.

Who cares if you have deep pockets if those pockets have big holes? Founders owe it to their teams and supporters to think beyond venture capital investments and to obtain guidance from seasoned “been-there, done-that” mentors. Never has this been truer than now, considering that in the past two years, according to CNBC, the amount of investor funding has dropped between 24 and 40 percent.

In other words, it’s time for startups to get real about their success, rather than betting on what they might collect from the coffers of others.

Money isn’t the harbinger of entrepreneurial happiness.

Any entrepreneur who channels Scrooge McDuck and counts his/her gold instead of making good planning decisions will discover two dismaying realities.

The first is that time is not a renewable resource. Startups that spend and spend but take their time getting traction can lose momentum quickly. If your business is based on technology that’s not yet on the market or is relevant only in relation to another product that’s already available, your success window is going to be increasingly narrow. Fall behind, and your product might be obsolete before the first sale.

The second dismaying reality? Quality isn’t a sacrificial lamb.

Your reputation for excellence will be built on products, customer service and overall satisfaction. Sure, your gadget is cool, but if it breaks easily and you offer lame solutions, you won’t have to worry about tweaking it — you’ll be out of business first. Rather than spending money on fancy office furnishings, focus your funding streams on improving customer confidence.

For an example of a company that didn’t heed this warning, look at Beepi. Investors loved the business concept: a car-buying marketplace with everything at the customer’s fingertips. Sadly, the business leached about $7 million monthly, but not on product development. Instead, Beepi grew its personnel roster, incurring tons of unnecessary overhead; and, despite its more than $500 million in funding, it died a lonely death.

Beepi’s Achilles heel was rooted in its misdirection of money. Had the company taken a minimalist approach by employing a modest staff, knowing the importance of time management and using every ounce of internal talent available before outsourcing anything, it might have been successful. Would it have experienced a tremendous workload? Of course, but the company would still be alive to tell the tale.

Startup success factors beyond funding figures

Getting investors makes sense, but it doesn’t automatically put wins on the board. Paying attention to the following areas creates a culture of startup success:

1. The clock on the wall. Hear that “tick-tock” sound? It’s telling you that it’s time to work harder. Dreaming of being an entrepreneur and heading to fancy power lunches in your high-end vehicle? Wake up and smell the grind. Entrepreneurs who succeed sacrifice meals, celebrations, holidays and sometimes even family milestones. Glamorous? Only if you think 12-hour days are akin to diamond-studded cufflinks.

Of course, the upside to all this hard work and hyper-focus is that you could get your business to a level where cashing-out is possible. Then, you can ride on your jet toward the Isle of Early Retirement. Until that moment, you’ll have to do as SoundBetter’s CEO, Shachar Gilad, suggested during an Entrepreneur interview and work “five times harder than you ever have while working for someone else.”

2. The true value of less. You’ve heard the adage “Less is more.” It’s correct. Having fewer distractions means not getting all the bells and whistles that eat up cash. An illustration of this principle in action is my kitchen at home, a veritable museum of gadgets. Truth be told, it’s too much: We could make do with two knives, not 20. But we’ve already purchased 20, so we’re left holding the bag.

Such is the case with businesses that overhire, investing in the latest office furnishings and stocking up on unneeded supplies. It’s wiser to hire by tasks than by titles. Do you really need a chief marketing officer, or do you need someone qualified to take on those responsibilities plus a plethora of others? Instagram could answer that question. The company had a modest 13 employees when Facebook snapped it for $1 billion.

3. The benefit of serendipity. You’ll want to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to your launch. Delays could mean the difference between first or last to market. Serendipity doesn’t happen through miracles, but through hustle. Adopt a “never be denied” mentality that keeps you on your toes.

This intense go-getter attitude is pervasive among successful founders, from bloggers such as Jon Acuff to entrepreneurs such as Natalie MacNeil. Moguls in all industries find ways to make their 24 daily hours more productive, putting them in serendipity’s way sooner rather than later.

4. The element of surprise. Although most product launches happen over time, there’s nothing wrong with a blitz attack. Beyoncé did it when she dropped a new album without any prior fanfare — an album that became the fastest-selling one on iTunes in just three days.

Think about emulating Beyoncé’s style.

This falls into the less-is-more theory: if you have to rely on hype, maybe your offering won’t stand on its merits. It’s like an overhyped movie that receives so-so reviews when it’s finally released. Juxtapose that experience with Hollywood hits like Split, which opened at $40 million and Get Out, at $33.3 million. Both films piggybacked on the wonders of mystery.

Is startup cash necessary? Of course. But it’s just one part of success. If you take time to strategize, you’ll be better positioned to finish first.


Turn Instagram into an Effective Funnel Step for your Business

Once you’ve got a good grip on Instagram metrics and performance of your account, you should take a look at the traffic coming from Instagram to your website and examine people’s behavior once they land there.

The first thing to take care of is to set up the right tracking. A majority of analytical tools often report Instagram traffic as “Direct,” because all referrer information gets stripped away when switching between apps.
To truly get all the data you’re after, employ URL shorteners. Now, every time someone clicks on the link in your Instagram bio, you will have all the information you need about them. You can compare that number to the number of clicks reported in your Instagram analytics, if you do have access to them.

Another strategy I highly recommend is to build a special landing page just for Instagram traffic. Most likely, your homepage paints a very broad picture of your brand. While it may be a good starting point for people who randomly stumbled across your site, it is not ideal for people who are already on your site and had some sort of previous interaction with your company (even if it’s on Instagram).

Now that they’re on your website already, you want them to take the next step, whatever it may be for your business: whether it’s scheduling a call, signing up for a webinar, or placing an order. Homepages tend to have a lot of information and links crammed onto them. This results in informational overload and choice fatigue to a point where they feel lost. Take them through a clear path of the obvious next steps.

So, now that you have a dedicated page and a special link that is trackable, you are all set to dive deep into analytics. The referrer information will travel with them everywhere they go on your website, so you can slice it and dice it however you want.

So, what do you want to pay attention to? How long have they’ve spent on this page, what percentage of them bounced? These numbers will indicate how engaged they are on your website.

How many pages on average they’ve visited per session and where exactly have they clicked? This will give you a good indication of what they’re interested in and looking for.

Finally, you can see how many people with Instagram as a referrer purchased something on your site and even know how much they’ve spent. This is the best metric to justify Instagram as as an effective business tool. If you have a lot of people who come from Insta and convert into customers, you will instantly know that you’re doing Instagram right.

You can also reverse-engineer your sales funnel to see where the disconnect happens and which parts need the most work. If not a lot of people from Instagram visit your website in the first place, you need to craft a more engaging bio and a more enticing offer for them to click in to. If they land on your landing page, but don’t spend enough time or don’t go anywhere — rework and optimize your landing page.

Finally, if they spend time on the page and wonder around your website without converting, then you need to polish your sales message to them or simplify the sales funnel and make it shorter, with fewer steps.

If you want to ensure that it’s an effective tool in bringing highly qualified and engaged audience to your website, you need to track and analyze all of the data available to you.


2 Problems and 3 Strategies Wall Street Just Isn’t Talking About

The following excerpt is from Mark J. Kohler and Randall A. Luebke’s book The Business Owner’s Guide to Financial Freedom. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound Let’s get to the heart of why you and I can’t get independent advice from Wall Street advisors: They’re too addicted to the fees and the love of money. And while making moneyis why we own our businesses, consumers need to know the truth about how this industry works and what’s going on behind the curtain.

In the investment industry, there are two cost structures, or powers at work, that consumers know very little about. These two combine to undercut the average investor. This is why you feel like your retirement accounts and any such goal to use Wall Street products is a waste of time and money!

1. Annual fund operating expenses (fund fees)

In America today, there are an estimated 9,500 mutual funds, with more created every day. The internal fees associated with these investments vary just as widely. I’m not bashing fees per se. Certainly, everyone needs to be paid, and no one’s opposed to paying for value. The problem is, most of these mutual funds charge a lot of fees but don’t deliver an equal value The fees taken by the mutual fund managers and companies can be off the chart!

Based on a 2011 Forbes study titled “The Real Cost of Owning a Mutual Fund,” author Tony Robbins summarizes that “If the fund is held in a nontaxable account like a 401(k), you’re looking at total costs of 3.17 percent a year! If it’s in a taxable account, the total costs amount to a staggering 4.17 percent a year!”

The result is that your “carefully chosen” mutual fund, selected by your advisor or broker, can barely exceed the market returns of a no-load index fund. In fact, Robert Arnott of Research Affiliates reports that 96 percent of mutual funds failed to beat the market over a 15-year period in large part due to these excessive fees!

Bottom line: We’re doomed before we even get started when we trust in the investment advice of our so-called “independent advisors.”

2. Administrative fees (plan fees)

If you didn’t think mutual fund fees were bad enough, let’s add talk about the administrative fees of a 401(k) (the vehicle that holds your mutual funds). Again, Robbins exposed this scheme, stating, “You’ve got to hand it to these providers: They’re truly ingenious when it comes to dreaming up different ways to siphon off the money in your 401(k)! Just to be clear, we’re not referring here to the absurdly high fees you’re being charged by the mutual funds in your 401(k) plan. These are the additional fees that you’re also being charged by the plan provider that’s administering your 401(k).” Administrative fees can range from 1.6 to 7.75 percent or more, and again, that’s on top of the actual mutual fund fees.

Three strategies your advisor won’t talk about

You’ll never hear your advisor discuss the following three strategies, at least voluntarily — and if they do, they will downplay, disregard and outright discourage you from considering them. And yet, these three strategies will allow you to build for your future while growing your greatest asset of all: your business.

1. Investing in your own business more aggressively

Your business can be your most valuable asset, at present and/or potentially in the future. We believe it will become the vehicle that drives you to your financial freedom. Why not maximize its value cautiously and carefully? You need to find ways to optimize your business more fully and feed, or “fund,” a diverse array of assets that will give you financial flexibility and ultimate freedom.

Real estate is such an important part of wealth building. More specifically, rental real estate has incredible tax benefits, generates cash flow and builds tax-deferred equity, and it can even do so using leverage and the bank’s money.

Real estate should be included in your portfolio (and I’m not talking about a REIT), but your investment advisor won’t tell you that. They don’t get a commission for recommending you buy a building to rent back to your business operations, a duplex where your child is going to college, a real estate project next to your parents where you travel twice a year or a few houses to rent in an upcoming neighborhood.

3. Self-directing your retirement accounts and investing in what you know best

One of the best-kept secrets on Wall Street is that you can self-direct your 401(k) or IRA assets in vehicles of your own choosing. But, the last thing the large brokers/dealers want you doing is taking over your IRA or 401(k) and investing in what you know best. If Wall Street was really looking out for your best interests, they’d give you this option.

Sometimes you’d be wiser to redeploy your 401(k) or IRA in investments you know more about rather than a mutual fund. That’s right, invest directly inside your retirement account maintaining the structure and continue to make annual contributions within your overall tax strategy.

Here are just a few ideas of what you could do inside your retirement account without taxes, transfer fees or penalties:

  • Purchase a rental property and even borrow up to 60 percent from a bank in a nonrecourse loan. This can ensure cash flow going back into your retirement account with no personal guar­antee with your own credit
  • Invest in a racehorse, ranch or farming operation
  • Buy gold, silver or other precious metals
  • Invest in small business, real estate development or an online business, primarily owned and managed by someone you know personally and trust.
  • Start your own franchise owned by your 401(k) where you are still allowed to work in the business for a salary under the ROBS strategy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Original