B2B companies are turning to the potential of lead scoring — the automated process of qualifying and segmenting leads on your website — to identify valuable customer prospects, recognize those people who need a little more attention and determine visitors who just aren’t a fit with your company. A welcome side effect of this process is the alignment created between sales and marketing.
Dell often holds sales on its computer hardware and accessories, you just have to keep your eyes open until the gadget you want is discounted. If you don’t mind refurbished gear, you can possibly get what you want even cheaper by regularly pointing your browser to Dell’s Outlet site. More »
Inside 3D Printing Conference attracted 3,000 attendees and top exhibitors like MakerBot and 3D Systems to its inaugural event in New York. Now, after months of exponential growth and tremendous 3D printing coverage in the news, the conference will head to Chicago this July 10-11.
The topic has piqued the interest and involvement of government officials, including Congressman Bill Foster of the 11th Congressional District of Illinois who will discuss digital manufacturing and its connection to policy, education, and jobs at the event.
Industry players, innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors will meet in Chicago to discuss the impact of 3D printing on various fields. Speakers include Scott Crump, Founder and Chairman of the Board at Stratasys, Ralph L. Resnick, President & Executive Director of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing & Machining (NCDMM), and Cydni Tetro, Entrepreneur in Residence for Disney.
The event will even feature the designer and architect who created style icon Dita Von Teese’s famous 3D printed dress to discuss 3D printing’s influence on fashion and art.
Sessions include Industrial Scale Additive Manufacturing Technologies, 3D Printing and the Future (or Demise) of Intellectual Property, and The Printed Athlete: How 3D Printing is Changing the Nature of Sports. View the full program here.
PERK: VentureBeat readers will save 15% on Gold Passports to the event with code BEAT. Register today.
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Filed under: Entrepreneur, Gadgets
VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
Foursquare this morning has launched a pretty new visualization feature called Foursquare Time Machine, which offers a new way to view a history of your check-ins on an interactive map. And oh, it’s also an advertisement for Samsung’s Galaxy S4 smartphone. Hey, look, Foursquare is trying to make some money by using your data! How clever!
The company has long since allowed users to delve into their check-in history through a searchable timeline it offers on the Foursquare.com website. And while the new Time Machine offers a briefly fun diversion for bored office workers looking for a little escapism, there’s not much value to it as a real product feature that you would return to again and again, following your first, more curious exploration.
As the Foursquare blog post explains, Time Machine lets users view their history and “zoom through time and space” to visualize your check-ins and “discover all the places you should head to next.” On that latter point, it appears to be referring to the images at the bottom of the Time Machine page which suggest other venues near your top check-in spots, which you can click on and save for later if you choose.
Users can also compile and then share their stats as a custom infographic to networks like Facebook and Twitter, which it seems many are excited to do.
But all this is really just a front to allow Foursquare to show you (and generate some revenue from) a large Samsung Galaxy S4 ad. The site is branded on the left side and on the top right (upon first launch), and, after clicking “fetch my history,” the middle of the Time Machine’s top navigation teases “The Next Big Thing.” As that experience loads, Samsung Galaxy S4′s branding shows yet again. There is literally nowhere on this micro-site where you can’t see the word “Samsung.” To be clear, this is not a Foursquare product or feature, this is only an ad.
The company has been busy in recent weeks beefing up its online experience at Foursquare.com in an effort to get more users to consider visiting its site on the web where it could monetize better through ads. This is tough, since Foursquare is still generally known as a mobile check-in app, and not the Yelp alternative it now wants to become. In addition, Foursquare has been opening up its platform to more businesses and advertisers, striking deals with the major credit card companies for member discounts, bumping up its sales force, and more, all in an effort to finally make some money. And it has bought itself a little more time to figure things out, too, thanks to its recent $ 41 million round, closed this spring.
It’s a timely move for Samsung as well, as the branded Time Machine experience comes on the heels of a recent Reuters report stating that Galaxy S4 sales were going to disappoint. Brokerages downgraded Samsung, citing weakening profit growth for the company. Though the S4 became the fastest-selling smartphone since its launch in late April, that momentum has now slowed, leading Samsung to a need for bigger and more creative ads.
You know, just like this.
TechCrunch » Social
Low-cost commercial carrier IndiGo and Naresh Goyal-run Jet Airways have launched a novel sales strategy of allowing customers to buy air tickets through credit cards with payments stretched out over equated monthly instalments of two months.
Adi Tatarko is chief executive of Houzz, an architecture and interior design Web site.
NYT > Entrepreneurship
If you are trying to find the best social business tool for your organization or simply looking to glean best practices and insights from those who have been there, there was a lot to learn from our recent webinar: How Social Business Tools are Accelerating Sales and Marketing. Read on for the webinar summary and the full event recording.
When I decided to quit my job as a receptionist, I was exhausted and burnt out from making my job a number one priority — and to top it off, I could barely pay my bills. I loved what I did, but I didn’t care for the people in charge who showed no appreciation and no passion. I felt I had enough experience and fresh ideas to start my own company and work for myself.
Although I faced a multitude of long days and nights, time away from friends and family, missed gatherings, and the overall feeling of being an overworked lunatic at times, it was well worth it to go from wages to profits — and from being told what to do to running my own show.
Whether you’re thinking of starting a company from scratch or buying into one, you need to be ready for the challenges ahead. Here are seven essential character traits that led me from my cubicle to entrepreneurship:
I began my career in staffing as a receptionist. I was given a multitude of tedious tasks and took every chance I could to ask for more work. I worked hard and I was given more assignments, but with what seemed like little appreciation and acknowledgement from the management team.
Because I truly loved my job, I didn’t let that get me down. My heart was in it to win it. I continued to take on payroll, sales and recruiting tasks, and within a year, I was promoted to a recruiter. Success is not easy, but when you love what you do, the stress, challenges and bumps in the road are easier to overcome. Passion serves as a driver, the thing that sustains you when things get tough.
There were over 30 staffing firms in my local market with a maximum of three sales reps in the county per company, and I was just one person from an unknown mom-and-pop company that turned national.
I worked long hours and heard “no” many times. The VP of Human Resources at one company — a company that eventually became my biggest client — told me never to come back, that they’d never use my service. I spent hours researching and practicing different pitching techniques, and I continued to call the VP of Human Resources and finally decided to show my face again.
I found the HR manager, pitched my seminar and, to my amazement, she signed right up! Less than a month after that meeting, we had placed 20 temporary employees and were working on filling 30 more positions. The lesson? Never give up, even when faced with negativity.
Become an information junkie. You cannot be successful without reading. I read as much as I could to develop my skill as a speaker, writer and salesperson and staffing industry expert. It’s important to invest in yourself. There is always something you can improve on; make daily deposits in your personal development bank.
As a business owner, your biggest potential gold mines are often closer than you think — it’s just a matter of knowing where to look. By going beyond what’s worked in the past and being open to new strategies, you’ll be surprised by how many untapped profit centers are just within your reach.
Uncover Hidden Gold Mines
You already have one major profit source at your fingertips — your customer list. Tap into this often overlooked gold mine by implementing the following strategies:
- Reengage lost customers. Most of your customers, clients, or patients don’t stop doing business with you because they’re dissatisfied; more often than not, life gets in the way. In my business, we created a three-step strategy for regaining them (our Customer Re-Engagement Strategy™). This tactic generated over 100 percent increase in sales in less than five days. How? We simply created an email for our client’s list of existing customers, expressed our gratitude for past business, and expressed concern for having not heard from them in a while. We then made a time-limited, preferred customer offer and followed up on that.
- Upsell and cross-sell. If customers are offered a complementary product, service, or add-on during the time of purchase, they would happily invest in it. For example, our team helped a client recognize the potential to offer a free, one-month trial for ongoing service and support. Approximately 65 percent of people who purchased the original product agreed to the trial, which added tens of thousands of dollars in additional profits in the subsequent months.
- Tag team. Some of the biggest companies in the world owe their success to joint venture partnerships. Look for opportunities to leverage the trust and goodwill you’ve created with your customers, reach out to a company that offers a complementary product, and make that product available to your customers for a share of the profits. When I owned a real estate development company, we did something most of our other competitors were not doing — we struck deals with related businesses to provide “preferential pricing” to our clients. Pairing up with furniture suppliers, security companies, and other related industries resulted in one of the largest profit margins in the industry.
Fix the Leaks
Most entrepreneurs believe the only way to grow a business is by acquiring new customers. Meanwhile, their existing customers are being ignored.
The truth is that your competitors are working every day to win over the hearts of your customers. People want to feel valued, special, and appreciated — if you’re not communicating this to your prospects, they’ll find someone who does. By taking time to engage in an ongoing dialogue with your prospects, offering them valued information, and providing them with incentives to return, you’ll see a better, more consistent flow of income.
Convey Your Value
Choose advertising and lead generation opportunities that make sense for your business, and position your product or service as the obvious choice in your market. In addition, ask for references from your happiest customers. Simply asking for — and rewarding — referrals will engage current customers and instill confidence in new ones.
When it comes to increasing profit centers, the outcome is dependent upon your approach and strategic thinking. Continue to pursue new strategies, seek fresh ways to engage current customers, and capitalize on opportunities to increase the perceived value of your products.
Because when you do strike gold, everyone wins: You’ll experience reduced business costs and increased profits through more efficient operations, and your customers will get exactly the experience they were looking for.
Charles Gaudet’s controversial marketing insight has earned him the title of “The Entrepreneur’s Marketing Champion” by both his clients and Insiders’ for his ability to help them out-compete, out-market and out-earn their competition. As the founder of PredictableProfits.com, he’s an expert at helping entrepreneurs radically improve their profits through a series of effective marketing strategies.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
Young Entrepreneur Council
The latest data for online retail sales have shown once again the digital world is faring better than bricks-and-mortar, providing some hope despite recent lacklustre industry results.