Happy Holidays from The Pulse Network!

For The Pulse Network’s annual holiday party all Pulse Network employees along with their families were invited to celebrate the holidays at Blue Hill Country Club.  Complete with food, drinks, awards, games, prizes and a secret Santa gift swap, we would like to thank BHCC for being so hospitable and helping us put on such a great event.

At this year’s event, TPN also crowned their first ever Above and Beyond Award recipient.  The award went to Jeff Goode who was commended for his incredibly hard work this year, willingness to help others and always stepping up to the challenge.

TPN Above and Beyond Award

This year’s party was centered on the theme of community.  In digital marketing one of the main goals is to build and grow the community around your business and through this community, drive commerce.  This party was a celebration of our success in building communities; not only for the success that we have had this year in building communities for our clients, but the communities we have built in the physical world with our partners, collaborators and internally with all of our employees.

The Pulse Network would like to take this time to wish Happy Holidays to all employees, partners, affiliates and clients.  This year was a very special year for TPN and we are so grateful that you all were a part of it.

TPN Holiday

Parent Monitored, Safe Online Purchases for Children

Many entrepreneurs have a large idea of what they want to achieve. Being able to dig deeper into that vision and make it more specific and clear is ideal.

In this interview with Dr. Jo Webber, CEO of Virtual Piggy, we explore what it takes for an entrepreneur to stay focused in order to find business innovation success.

No one said entrepreneurship was easy. How do you choose who to trust and get advice from? Listening to the people who matter is key, as well as always having that retrospect of looking both inside and outside. When advice comes from every direction, it’s important to say stop to the noise, and listen to what makes sense. How do you distinguish the difference?

How do you stay focused? Webber found success with establishing the critical aspects of the company then growing from there. Essentially Virtual Piggy enables safe kid spending with a fun twist. They made sure they were safe and compliant before getting to crazy with ideas.

Virtual Piggy has a very clear growth strategy. They know what steps they are taking and when. And finally, once you reach that pinnacle you can build upon what you already have. It’s important to have a solid marketing strategy and be conscious about brand awareness, especially in the web community.

Taking an idea, establishing the critical aspects, seeing how the market reacts, and adjusting your business process development can be a successful equation for entrepreneurs.

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 Three Key Takeaways:

  • “Listen to people that matter. Make the distinction between noise and what makes sense.”
  • “Know who to trust.”
  • “Know that you need to get to the pinnacle – that time. Establish the critical things and go from there.”

Be sure to watch the full CEO Corner with Virtual Piggy and feel free to tweet or e-mail me ssaber at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.  Interested in being a guest on CEO Corner?  Contact Bruce Karten, bkarten at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.

How Good is Your Brand Strategy?

In this interview with Larry Gulko, branding and marketing strategist, we discuss what it takes to build effective brand equity and how you can measure it.

Keeping your vision of your brand intact is not a simple task, but a very important one. Gulko believes that “Once you lose your focus, you lose your brand,” and the key to that is being very specific in who you are and what you do. Brand equity encompasses every aspect of your company: your people, your processes, your products, and your presentation.

Here at The Pulse Network we are big on telling stories, and helping other people tell their stories.  Gulko deeply believes in believing your story whether you are in the storytelling business or not. Every CEO has a story to tell.

We also are big fans of metrics. We always say, if you can’t measure it – don’t do it. However, Gulko explains how you can measure your brand strategy without using metrics. To see if your marketing strategy is effective you can ask yourself: Will that customer come back? Will the customer tell their friends? Is there a way to shorten the window by which that customer will come back? Thinking about those questions can bring up some important aspects of your brand strategy.

To create an effective brand strategy there are three important things you want to figure out:

  1. What do you want to emulate, and what you want your brand vision to be?
  2. What are the metrics you will measure it by?
  3. What are the things you need to do to implement the metrics?

You need to wrap the culture and the process inside of everything you do and everything you are part of. After you figure out how to create an effective brand strategy, you should do a brand audit.

First make sure you have the right team of people. If you do, challenge them to understand that they have the right people around them. Second, gain feedback from consumers about your brand and take that into account. Third, look at, refine, and reinforce your messaging with your brand to build brand equity. Lastly, find any situation that can harm your brand, and get rid of it right away.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Figure out the story you want to share.
  • Create an effective way to share it.
  • Make sure you have the right team of people.
  • Look at, refine, and reinforce your message often.

Be sure to watch the full CEO Corner with Larry Gulko and feel free to tweet or e-mail me ssaber at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.  Interested in being a guest on CEO Corner?  Contact Bruce Karten, bkarten at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.

Increasing Partner Success

“We are going to grow through partners. Our sales are going to come through a strong and intensive partner program.”  How often do we hear this from CEO’s?  How often is that the “plan” without something to help think it through, support it, and build it out?

In this episode of CEO Corner, John Panaccione, CEO of LogicBay, walks through just what it takes to build out a strong partner program.  LogicBay has built out the infrastructure platform, processes, and technologies to support, manage, and grow a partner program.  John explains that to be successful, a company needs to build out the right foundation.  Make sure your goals are aligned with your partners and that your incentives are aligned.  In essence, you work for the partner as much as they work for you.  You need them to grow and they need you to grow.

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So often, as CEOs we think about partners as people who are servicing our organization.  What have they done for us lately?  How much have they sold?  What are they doing?  Instead, we need to flip the model and think – How can we help you to succeed?  What can I provide to you to be of assistance?  How can I help you to grow your business which in turn helps grow my business?  When we think that way, we align ourselves more closely with our partners and ensure that we are working towards a common goal.

Moreover, partnership programs work for companies of all sizes when done right.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it works for colleges and for startups.  Often, organizations overlook a partnership program not knowing where to begin.  I recommend listening to John to learn more how to make partnership programs successful and beneficial for organizations.

Be sure to watch the full CEO Corner with LogicBay and feel free to tweet or e-mail me ssaber at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.  Interested in being a guest on CEO Corner?  Contact Bruce Karten, bkarten at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.

The Value Of Interactive Screen Savers

Often-times companies looking to innovate try to create complex solutions for clear and identifiable problems.  But what I love, when we can find them, are solutions that take the simplest and cleanest approach to a solution that provides impactful, meaningful, and measurable results.

In this interview with Andre Godfrey, CEO of EScreenz, we look at an example of just that.  EScreenz addresses the real world problem of communication to large groups of established audiences – employees or distributors or such – through a unique and innovative use of the screen saver.  The brilliance of this approach is that a screen saver is universal.  Everyone knows what it is and everyone knows what it does.  But in this case, Andre’s company turns the basic screen saver into a solution for mass messaging and outreach.  For instance, in a hospital it can be used to send out messaging about hygiene.  Also, it can be used to send out a message from the CEO or certain corporate leadership.  The implementation – simple.  The explanation – VERY SIMPLE.  Yet – the value – very valuable.

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In addition, I would recommend you take a look also at his pricing model.  We spend a lot of time talking about innovation through business models and one of the places where this innovation can happen is in pricing.  In the EScreenz case the pricing is simple – $4 per user per year.  Imagine that – teaching your sales team to talk about pricing – and only having to say “$4 per use per year”.  Simple. Elegant.

If you have a chance to watch the full episode, there are a lot of nuggets and things to learn from Andre and his experience.  Innovation is something we all strive for and in this case that innovation is achieved using a simple tool that is widely known and accepted in a new and innovative way and complimenting that with pricing and business model innovation.  Thinking about how that translates to your business is an interesting challenge for every CEO and business executive.

Be sure to watch the full CEO Corner with EScreenz and feel free to tweet or e-mail me ssaber at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.  Interested in being a guest on CEO Corner?  Contact Bruce Karten, bkarten at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.

Choosing an Investment Partner

In this CEO Corner interview we explore two very interesting principles which are often more closely related than people often think.  In this conversation with Axel Tillmann, CEO of Russian Venture Company-USA, we explore RVC-USA as a potential investment partner and also talk about Russia as a growth opportunity for an organization.  RVC helps companies that are looking to expand into Russia and leverage Russia’s assets – engineers / capabilities / etc. – and also looks at potential investments into companies that would consider an investment from a group such as theirs.

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What is interesting to me to explore here is that concept of choosing your investment partner.  So often people will say, “I want to make sure to take smart money” and “I need an investor who is more than just an investor but also a partner.” But when it comes down to it, it is unclear how to evaluate different investment partners to see which the best fit for an organization is.  Yet – as we have seen time and time again – choosing the right investment partner is sometimes the most critical decision a CEO can make.

In RVC – the blending of a strong advisory team, an investment vehicle, and the opportunity for expansion into/partnership with a group from Russia provides a unique opportunity for a CEO.  We explore misconceptions about Russia that many people still have and Axel describes well the opportunities that exist and the entrepreneurship and skillset that can be tapped into in Russia.  He also discusses how even a small company that may consider themselves not large enough to think about an RVC could find significant benefit in doing so.

My take-aways:

  1. Map out a decision model in thinking about the investment partner that works for your organization
  2. Think about not only the tangible but the intangible benefits of a potential partner
  3. Look for potential outside-the-box partners
  4. Pursue both traditional and non-traditional opportunities to partner
  5. Consider all options before making any decision
Be sure to watch the full CEO Corner with RVC-USA and feel free to tweet or e-mail me ssaber at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.  Interested in being a guest on CEO Corner?  Contact Bruce Karten, bkarten at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.

Social Media in a Regulated Industry

Social media in a regulated industry.  Is that possible?  Can I do it?  So often I get asked that exact question.  This interview on CEO Corner with John Theriault, founder and principal of Truventis, discusses that exact issue.  Is it possible – YES.  It is valuable – YES.  Can we do it – YES.  Should we do it – YES.

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How do we do it – that is the interesting question.  John has mastered the industries that he works with and has laid out in this interview some very strong and solid principles for using social media in regulated industries.  Paying attention to goals, needs, requirements, and internal processes is critical to driving success in regulated industries.  “Make sure the organization has its ducks in a row” – Step 1 from John.  Often we, as marketers, discuss this and talk about it but more often than not we ignore it.  John stresses that, discusses escalation policies, risks, and discussions around what employees can and cannot do.  In addition, the focus on “content design” is critical.  Focusing on how to pay out a program, put a strategy in place, and then implement it is the key to success.

Digital Insider

And – by the way – do not miss how John does his own Inbound Marketing.  He does his own radio show – using traditional media to grow a social media organization.  Novel concept – but watch and see how he explains his strategy, there are some real interesting correlations that drive his use of traditional media to drive his social media growth.

 

 

Be sure to watch the full CEO Corner with Truventis and feel free to tweet or e-mail me ssaber at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.  Interested in being a guest on CEO Corner?  Contact Bruce Karten, bkarten at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.

CEO Corner – Questionmine Takeaways

“Staying one step ahead.”  It sounds so simple.  It sounds so automatic.  But that is potentially one of the most critical responsibilities of a CEO.

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In this episode of CEO Corner, we talk with Gary Spirer CEO of Questionmine, where he lays out some basic principles of being a great CEO – whether you are launching a business or growing a business.  And remember – if you are not growing, you are shrinking – so for every CEO – it is always about growing a business.  For me, staying one step ahead is a mantra that every CEO needs to always be thinking about.  And take note – it is not two steps ahead or five steps ahead.  Gary does a great job of explaining that one step is the magic.  In explaining it, he tells other CEOs that it is not about seeing the future and predicting the future and being a futurist.  Instead, it is about seeing the direction of the future and pointing the company in that direction.  Customers do not buy futures – they buy in the present and they buy a company that can see the future opportunities and align themselves with that – staying one step ahead.

 

I also found this other statement thought provoking – “we do what we do well”.  In other words – yes – there are other things we could do as a company but Gary keeps the company focused on the core competencies that it can do well, not letting it or anyone get distracted.  This discipline is critical – especially when coupled with the challenge of staying one step ahead.  And with that, Gary spends a lot of time with his company focusing on demonstrating the value of what they deliver.  So often, companies fear defining and measuring the ROI of their offerings.  But more and more, that demonstration of ROI is becoming the differentiating factor for successful companies.

And finally, make the sale simple.  Customers have a difficult time if they feel they have to decipher your selling proposition and make their own determination of the value that you bring.  Make it simple, clear, and understandable.  Don’t be afraid to over-simplify it – as we talk about often on CEO Corner – in a lot of ways the elevator pitch has become even more condensed and the challenge to simplify the message even more critical.

Check out the episode of CEO Corner with Gary Spirer from Questionmine – there is a lot to learn about being a great CEO and Gary lays out these critical success factors in a very clear and concise way as he walks us through the evolution of Questionmine.

Be sure to watch the full CEO Corner with Questionmine and feel free to tweet or e-mail me ssaber at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.  Interested in being a guest on CEO Corner?  Contact Bruce Karten, bkarten at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.

CEO Corner – Market Creation Group Takeaways

Launching a business is never easy.  From the outside, it looks simple and often observers will watch the CEO and see mistakes and/or questionable decisions and critique the decisions.  But from the inside, it is a challenge and a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs and constant decisions.  In this episode of CEO Corner we talk with Brett Schklar of Market Creation Group about how he was able to launch the business and grow it into a unique and strong organization.

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Meet the Market Creation Group, a full-service marketing firm focused on B2B technology.  Market Creation Group focuses on Creative Strategies, Demand Generation, and Creative Services.

Particularly interesting in this business exploration are the principles that Brett discusses that help him in growing and driving his business.  CEOs often talk about them and express these ideas but few actually believe in them strongly enough to follow them throughout the growth of the company.

It is so easy as a CEO to get distracted and turned in a different direction because an opportunity arises that looks interesting and feels challenging.  But Brett explains a key principle for him is sticking to what you know.  As a CEO, it is your challenge to identify and know the skillsets and key capabilities of the organization.  And, when the opportunity arises to look at something else, it is your challenge to decide – is this opportunity an extension of what we know and are good at or is it a distraction better achieved through partnership and outsourcing.  Sticking to what you know and are good at is critical to making good decisions and keeping a business focused.

Likewise, listening to your customer is an old proverb that fewer and fewer CEOs follow and believe in.  But for Brett, not only was this a key principle, but it helped to shape the product offerings and solutions and ultimately the business of Market Creation Group.

And finally, we explore the key changes that happen to a business as it grows.  CEOs often are loathe to talk about the different stages of growth of a company because, while exciting on many levels, there are certain pains as well.  For any CEO of a growing organization, this conversation is worth a listen to understand how growth will cause you to formalize informal processes and to think about your employees and their growth and capabilities to see if they continue to align with the business as the business evolves.

Be sure to watch the full CEO Corner with Market Creation Group and feel free to tweet or e-mail me ssaber at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.  Interested in being a guest on CEO Corner?  Contact Bruce Karten, bkarten at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.

CEO Corner – Ackuna Translator Takeaways

Pivot.  If there is ever a word that I think about a lot and talk about a lot with other CEOs it is pivot.  Why?  Because every company needs to pivot.  From small companies to the largest enterprises, companies often find themselves in a situation where there is a critical need to pivot the organization.

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But let me be clear – pivoting a company is not easy and is often scary.  In this episode of CEO Corner with Alex Buran, we look into Translation Cloud, a company that is currently going through that pivot.  Alex launched and created a great service business focusing on translation services.  His business is both successful and deep in terms of resources and capabilities.  But Alex saw the opportunity for something bigger and in doing so launched Ackuna.  Ackuna is a crowd-source platform for translation services where the community both helps to perform the services and grades the effectiveness of others performing the services.

Why launch Ackuna?  Because Alex saw the opportunity to 1) build a platform that could pivot the business from a service business to a platform business and 2) because Alex recognized the opportunity that the new social, crowd-source platforms are creating in the marketplace and decided to seize on that opportunity.  For sure, the pivot is a scary and difficult one.  But doing so is about being calculating, knowing your threshold for investment, understanding the amount of investment you are willing to make, and making sure you have complete alignment in your organization on the pivot that you are recommending and attempting.

Be sure to watch the full CEO Corner with Ackuna and feel free to tweet or e-mail me ssaber at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.  Interested in being a guest on CEO Corner?  Contact Bruce Karten, bkarten at ThePulseNetwork DOT com.

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