The Hardest Thing About Running a Creative Agency that Nobody Talks About

“It’s week three and we still haven’t gotten any sign-ups to our app from your activities.” – the client almost shouts into the phone.

“If we work with an expert we expect results.” – he stresses.

“But we’re only managing your Instagram with the goal of sending traffic to your blog. See that traffic went up by 50%?!” – I contest.

“I don’t care about traffic if people don’t sign up to my app.” – the client reveals.

“Well …. but that’s what you told me that you wanted and that’s what you bought…” – I think to myself.

 

 

This dialog is the PERFECT example of why it is hard to work with clients – especially in the marketing industry.

EXPECTATION MANAGEMENT.

Defining the scope of work and clearly defining the goal outcome is essential. Otherwise, the client will always resent you.

You kind of have to be one step ahead of the client. Sometimes they will tell you all they want is growth in followers – don’t believe them. Most of them will want results (sales). So make it clear that the brand will not immediately drive sales unless they execute other strategies like paid ads themselves.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hired for a low budget startup client to “just manage their Social Media and grow the community”.

Weeks later I have to deal with their anger about how their shop hasn’t been blowing up.

Of course it didn’t – we are just growing the community. We haven’t once right-hooked the community to buy nor have we been running ads. That’s not what they hired me to do.

Lesson learned: OVERCOMMUNICATE. DEFINE THE KPIs that they can hold you accountable to. STICK TO THE SCOPE OF WORK.

What VCs Are Looking for in a Pitch

From a VC who has been in the industry for over 17 years and before worked with Steve Jobs directly for more than 10 years.

The only thing VCs are looking for in a pitch is a good investment.

VCs don’t fund great ideas or great teams or great tech.

In the first place: VCs fund great investments.

I just completed a pitching class with Ronald Weissmann at Stanford and I have never left a room more mind-blown.

The most interesting thing: not once did he talk about how you should design your powerpoint slides.

It doesn’t matter.

He opened our eyes to the fact that most founders pitching VCs have no clue about what the investor is interested in.

Here are three facts to keep in mind:

  • VCs raise most of their fund from pension funds and other institutions and need to justify every single investment to their respective investors (LPs)
  • VCs NEED to make 5–10x return on their investments to keep their job, which means they need you to exit or go public within the next 5 years or so
  • VCs only spend about 15% of their time listening to startup pitches. The rest is making sure their existing investments become successful.

So try to look at your pitch from an investor’s standpoint.

The number one thing they need to hear is why your business will be a great investment for them.

If you have any doubts about the fact that it will, then there’s not even a point in perfecting your pitch.

Learn what the VC you are pitching is interested in.

Research deals they have done in the past.

So if you really want to blow a VC away: don’t spend your time on creating a beautiful pitch deck.

Spend all your time on creating an investable business.

Facebook is Killing Pages With its Explore Feed: What Now??

Rumors have been getting louder about Facebook cutting organic reach of company pages by introducing a new feature called the: Explore Feed.

While posts of friends, groups, and paid ads will remain in the “normal” newsfeed, posts by pages will be banned to a new section of Facebook called the Explore Feed. So, you’ll have to switch over to a new feed to even see posts by pages you follow.

The algorithm change has already been implemented by facebook in 6 different countries: Slovakia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, and Guatemala.

The effects are immediate: Slovakia’s largest facebook pages have reported huge drops in organic reach.

Image: FILIP STRUHÁRIK/CROWDTANGLE

It looks like the biggest losers will be SMEs and brands with small budgets. While the largest media companies have other ways of driving traffic to their pages, like through their website, newsletters or chatbots, smaller pages that have been banking on organic reach are taking the hit.

Facebook has been experimenting with the Explore Tab for quite some time but has now confirmed that it will roll out the feature globally over the next few months.

Page admins, it is time to look for new strategies.

Facebook Pages Quo Vadis — What now?

While people all over the world will be surprised by the sudden drop in engagement you can mitigate the effects it will have on your page by adopting new strategies.

Here are my top recommendations:

Implement a 🔥🔥 Facebook Ad Strategy

Paying for reach on facebook is not necessarily a bad thing if you know how to monetize your page. If set up correctly, facebook ads can have great ROI. Especially, if you already built a brand and have a product or service that makes you money you can leverage Facebook ads effectively. At that point every $$ spent in ads returns some more $$$ in revenue.

Leverage your Personal Brand

With the decline of company pages the value of your personal profile will go up again. Why not focus on content marketing and add your best leads or key influencers in your niche as friends on facebook? Many online personalities already leverage their personal profiles to build trust with their target audience. Time to stop hiding behind your company logo: personal relationships sell.

Start a Facebook Group

Just a few months ago Mark Zuckerberg announced a change in Facebook’s mission statement.

While for the last few years Facebook has dedicated itself to “connect people online” it is now focused on empowering people to not only connect but rather use the online world to build new communities and bring the world closer together.

Translated into features this means a focus on Facebook Groups. We have already seen Facebook Group posts getting a higher relevance score in global newsfeeds as the company pushes community building as its core mission.

So, instead of playing the short term game of promoting your product on your page it might be time to create an interest-based community for your niche that is all centered around value.

Posts by groups will remain in the “normal” newsfeed.

Build a Chatbot

Do you remember when Facebook separated its Messenger App from the “normal Facebook app” on your phone? People around the world have been crying out that they don’t want to download two separate apps. Anyways, that little change was the beginning of Facebook’s pushing for Messenger as its separate platform. Now, with the rise of Messenger bots it all makes even more sense. Your messenger inbox will become more like your email inbox in the early days with newsletters from your favorite brands showing up in the form of chatbots.

For the average brand, chatbots will be a way to have their audience subscribe to their content and instead of seeing it organically on their newsfeeds it will get delivered to their Messenger inbox.

Companies like Ease, NomadApp etc. have already jumped on this train.

Jump on Other Platforms

As online influencers like Gretta and Josh etc. have already proclaimed: 2018 will be the year of LinkedIn. As Facebook is cutting organic reach, LinkedIn is giving it out for free.

Of course, it is a different game on LinkedIn but it might be an interesting one to learn.

Leverage Your Email List

Marketers all over the world have been preaching “list-building” for the last few years and many of us didn’t understand why. Even though the value of traditional Newsletters has declined, email marketing is still highly effective; especially because you “own” your leads. People have been collecting emails because no matter what happens with algorithm changes on Social Media your email list is yours.

Now, more than ever it matters for brands to be able to reach their audiences differently. Can you drive them to your content through email? Can you reach them through Google? Can you make them buy from a call to action that you push to your list?

Conclusion:
All of these ideas above are based on trends that have become more evident over the last few months. Now, with Facebook Algorithm change it seems clearer than ever that 2018 will be the year that brands will either act on these strategies or take the hit.

What’s your opinion? Any other strategies? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Techniques to Actually Skyrocket your Productivity

Spoiler: getting up at 5 isn’t one of them.

 

Life is busy. Shiny objects are all around and distractions wait at every corner.

Fellow entrepreneurs know that working for yourself can make it even harder. Lack of structure, deadlines, and routines put you into the only position of authority. If you don’t force yourself to change from your pajamas into proper clothes nobody will.

The result: we over-schedule, over-stimulate — underperform. We get to the end of a day realizing we have spent most of our time on low-impact activities.

Don’t Give Yourself an Option

This article is written for you to challenge some of the common productivity hacks. I have found that many of them are nothing but hot air. They may work in theory but fail in practice. Here are the only five productivity techniques that have helped me improve the quality of work I do.

Here we go:

Don’t Set Artificial Deadlines — Make Them REAL

I’ve tried to get up at 5.30 am for a year — failing 90% of times. I felt discouraged.

Then I moved to San Francisco. All my meetings with European clients got shifted to early morning hours. Nothing is more effective in getting me out of bed than a real meeting at 7 in the morning.

If you struggle with “artificial deadlines” as much as I do — try to make them real.

I keep reading blogs that tell you to mark your work-outs in your calendar and then sticking to them. DON’T. Schedule a work-out with your personal trainer three times a week or commit to a session with a friend. The same principle works in business. Book that investor meeting for next week — I guarantee, you’ll have your business plan updated by then.

Prioritize Your To-Do List (the RIGHT WAY)

“Don’t prioritize your schedule. Schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey

Though Steven Covey is right, I have found myself struggling with know what my priorities are and should be.

Between putting out fires and getting new leads, which one do you choose? I never knew how to prioritize until my business partner showed me Dan Martell’s Focus Filters. Here is his technique:

Use a scoring system for prioritizing your to-do list

1. Activity makes money (3 Points)

2. Makes customers happy (2 Points)

3. Helps you scale/ is a repeatable system (1 Point)

Assign points to every activity on your list and for each use the weighted score. Those that get most points should be top of your todo list.

Simple, right? Simple and effective.

Get out There from Time to Time

I know the struggle: your calendar is full to the brim. You sit down at your desk and swear yourself to “knock everything out”. Next thing you know, four hours have gone by and you find yourself lost in the Internet. Don’t waste your own time: you can’t sit down and get “everything done” without ever taking a break.

Carve out time to go on walks, meet friends, meditate, call a loved one, or go out there and see something new every once in a while. I have found that traveling helps me increase my productivity and creativity in the long run.

Manager and Maker Days

Meetings are the worst. You sat down to write an article or work on a website overhaul. You’re in the zone and deep in thoughts when your co-worker taps on your shoulder from behind asking for a meeting. You cringe… follow suit…. have the meeting…. go back to your desk… and can’t get back into the flow…. you end up browsing through your emails…. killing time… until the day is over.

The problem: you tried to divide your time between two vastly different tasks. Making and managing.

Venture capitalist Paul Graham talked about this a few years ago:

There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour. (…)

Most powerful people are on the manager’s schedule. It’s the schedule of command. But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.

When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.

When I first read these lines it blew my mind: how did I not discover this earlier? What happens to me and follow entrepreneurs is that we’re both makers and managers.

How do we carve out time to be both managers and makers?

We divide our week into makers and managers days. Instead of telling clients to call you “whenever” block off whole days when you’re not available.

Jumping on Calls Instead of Texting

I learned this one from my friend Catalina. She is one of the youngest women in the US to hold a general contractor’s license and builds energy-efficient houses in Kansas City with her company Greenovate Construction. She has one habit that I totally admire: she never texts. She doesn’t even have Facebook messenger installed on her phone and you barely see her typing.

She makes phone calls for anything she needs. Canceling a phone contract: call T-Mobile. Telling a contractor that the key to the house is under the flower pot: call the worker. Asking her husband what he wants to eat at night: call him. Telling her mom she loves her: call her.

Phone calls create accountability, a much deeper human connection and are far more effective in sorting things out than just emailing or texting back and forth.

Stop Thinking Productivity Tools Will Save You

The principle is primary. The tool is secondary.

A tool is only useful if it helps save time instead of creating more work for you.

I have tried them all: Asana, Trello, Todoist… There’s also this tool that synchronizes all your todo-list with yet another planner. Yippie, now I can stream my to-do’s into another tool, which integrates with my calendar, which sends a notification to my phone and watch. Awesome. Now I will never again forget my deadlines. WRONG.

After two weeks of using any of these tools I lose the discipline to update them. All these productivity tools send notifications to my phone, which is buzzing all the time. Notifications pile up. I swipe them all away.

How I fixed it? I got a notebook. One of these dumb physical notebooks that you write in with a pen. It works like a charm.

(No hate on productivity tools though — they are awesome. They just don’t save you unless you’re disciplined enough to stick to them.)

Conclusion

Finally, please remind yourself that you are in charge of your own life. Have fun and enjoy the ride. If you struggle with productivity maybe make some changes? Do what you love and are good at — outsource the rest. You owe it to yourself, the talent you were born into, and the ones that love you to bring out the best in yourself.

I hope some of the techniques I’ve shared will help you shine.

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How Travel Will Prepare You to be a Better Entrepreneur

I never thought I’d become an entrepreneur. In college I wanted to be successful, independent and make an impact. I interned for big, international organizations, thought I’d work in Human Rights or for the UN. But then, I lived on four different continents and traveled over 30 countries in three years.

I pivoted: every job suddenly seemed too slow moving, every industry too narrow-minded, a life lost in a blur of daily routine. Unthinkable. I started my own marketing business and co-founded NomadApp, now a Silicon Valley-based travel tech startup. I am by far not “ready” to be an entrepreneur (nobody’s ever ready) but I think travel has been a big puzzle piece in preparing me for startup life and has taught me a few interesting things along the way.

Traveling Teaches you Resilience

Having a resilient team is one of the most important things in a startup. Things will go wrong — all the time. You will run out of money, lose clients, and get rejected. Sometimes, you will have to tough it out. Spend the night on buses, shower in dirty hostel bathrooms, and sleep in bunk beds with noisy roommates. But in the end, resilient travelers and entrepreneurs alike will get up the next day, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the journey.

You Learn to be Humble

Travel has also taught me to be humble. I have met incredible people all over the world that have received me like family in their homes. Random acts of kindness — often by people that had less than I did. People have shared their life stories with me making my own problems seem small and almost ridiculous. Once, I lived with a lady who has lived on her own since she was fourteen and has worked two jobs while sleeping only two-four hours each night for the last forty years. And I’m complaining about my 12h a day startup-life?? She has taught me more than all the business books I’ve ever read. The most successful startup entrepreneurs are incredibly humble and down-to-earth. I believe only humble leaders can be good leaders.

You Learn not to Sweat the Small Stuff

Thought, losing a client is the end of your world? You think getting your phone stolen is gonna ruin your life? No, it’s not. If you travel, you’re gonna lose stuff, miss a flight or a bag. Not a big deal. Life goes on. You realize that only very few things in life really matter.

Traveling Teaches you to be Spontaneous and Pivot Fast

Startup life is like landing in an unknown city. You can take an Uber to the closest hostel, head straight to the beach or rent a tent to camp out . Which one will be the right decision? Nobody knows. You can make plans, but things change ALL the time. You have to be able to read the signs (often in a confusing language), follow your guts and be spontaneous; even taking the night airfare that dropped to only $20 to get to the next destination. If you stay home all day, you’ll miss out. Keep going.

You Learn to See Different Perspectives

Traveling puts everything into perspective. You meet people of various cultures with different ways of thinking. As a startup founder (especially in Silicon Valley) it is easy to get stuck in your little bubble, creating a Silicon Valley solution that fixes only Silicon Valley problems (or nobody’s problem at all). Go out there, listen to other people’s problems, see how they see the world and tackle their daily lives — create solutions for the world’s problems.

Traveling Sparks Creativity

You ran out of money? Create a viral video about your life. Sell cereal to fund your startup like AirBnB did. There are plenty of ways to tackle problems if you’re creative. A CEO’s job is not to burn the most amount of investor money in the shortest period of time. His job is to create maximum impact with limited funds. The day our little travel tribe had to prepare food over an actual fireplace in a Caribbean National Park, we worked together best as a team. Everybody ate and it was probably the most delicious meal we have ever had. Traveling, you learn how to open coconuts without a machete and make your investment money last as long as possible.

Traveling Encourages you Live Louder

One of the best things about traveling is that it made me appreciate every single day and realize how fast life goes by unless you get out of your comfort zone every now and then. Much of being a traveler is a mindset: to be resilient, humble and thirsty for adventure. Life’s an adventure: get out there and live it! With our startup NomadApp we want to make it easier for you to go out there and see the world. We created an algorithm that shows you all the places you can go based on your budget and preferences. Get it for free here.

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Rockstar Marketing on a Startup Budget

Or: why Windows Movie maker and Powerpoint should be your best friends.

I just spent a full day trying to figure out Final Cut Pro and create a fancy intro for a client’s video.

He didn’t like it. Guess why? Every time he wants to create a quick video on the go he will depend on me and the program. I also checked out other online editing tools and alternatives… they all cost between 30USD and 70USD a month (too much if you’re on a shoestring startup budget and need to create content all the time).

We ended up doing it in a free app called Videoshop and Windows Movie Maker.

And it worked out JUST FINE. Rockstar results absolutely free.

There’s a lot you can learn from little teenage youtube stars. These 13 year old beauty queens with millions of subscribers. Do you think they started out producing their videos in Final Cut Pro and Photoshop? No, they amassed thousands of subscribers using the free tools they found on their mom’s laptop. Just look up “how I edit my videos using Windows Movie Maker”. You’ll be surprised how creative you can get just using free tools and apps.

That’s the mindset startups need to have, too. Money or expensive software won’t fix your problems. Chances are, until you have millions of subscribers free tools might do the job.

A lesson we’ve learned along the way:

Don’t move on to paid, fancy software until you’ve outgrown the free, basic tools you’ve got access to.

You might laugh but we create all our templates and whitepapers for Instagram in Google Slides. And I think I just fell in love with Windows Movie Maker. It’s free and gets the job done. I’d rather learn the workarounds to stretch the tool to do things that I need it to do than pay thousands of Dollars of our tight marketing budget on expensive software, for now.

Well, that’s it. I gotta go… watching some tutorials made by 13 year old beauty bloggers on how they create their videos in Windows Movie Maker.

And maybe you should do the same…

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The Industries of the Future — Book Review

What if somebody told you what is about to come? Would you invest? Would you study? Would you found a business in that area?

If somebody would have told you in the early 1990s what impact the Internet will have on your life you would probably have become an early adopter. If Nokia had known smartphones are gonna take over — wouldn’t they probably have gotten into it?

Alec Ross makes an interesting point right in the beginning: He wishes that when he was younger, there would have been a book that would have told him about the impact the Internet will have on his life. He wishes his parents would have had a book that told them about Globalization and how it will change their lives — how it will change Viriginia’s economy.

This is why he wrote “The Industries of the Future”. It is the book that he wished he would have had. The book that helps the current generation understand what is about to come and get prepared.

What are the implications for me? I might make different decisions about my education, the place I choose to live, the investments I make, the businesses I found…. — LIFE DECISIONS. If only I knew what is coming I would become a millionaire.

When I first read the title of this book I got excited and Alec Ross didn’t disappoint me. He gives insight into his year-long experience as an advisor to Hilary Clinton on Innovation topics. I heard the audiobook on our daily commutes from Staten Island to Manhattan with NomadApp and Alec Ross turned them into the most educative time of my day. Here’s a summary of what stood out to me.

Already the chapter headlines give a feeling of what he considers to be the Industries of the Future:

  1. Robotics
  2. The Future of the Human Machine (Advanced Life Sciences and Genomics)
  3. The Codification of Money, Markets and Trust
  4. The Weaponization of Code (and the importance of Cybersecurity)
  5. Big Data

He ends with an outlook on the geography of future markets and gives actionable advice.

Introduction

We lag behind! Education lags behind! People are still teaching how globalization will change the world and how the Internet is gonna affect our lives. The fact is: IT HAS ALREADY REVOLUTIONIZED OUR LIVES. Globalization was the revolution of the 1970s-80s. It has affected local economies. The chemical industry has moved from states within the US to countries such as Mexico or China. Coal mines were closed in the US and relocated to low-labor countries. The Internet was the revolution of the 1990s and early 2000s. I am a millennial. I grew up in a globalized, digital world. This is my reality. Tell me what is going to happen in the future.

Since then the speed of innovation has increased. Never in history have people experienced so much technological progress in so little time.

What does this tell me? We need to scale up. Tomorrow’s leaders will be fast learners. I love to learn. And it’s my generation that should set the curriculum. We should be selective about what we learn and who we learn from. Do I rather wanna learn from a middle aged Marketing Professor that studied at university back in the 1970s? Or do I rather learn from industry leaders that provide me with their content in real time, often for free on online webinars, udemy or focus classes? I tend to think that the value of our current Bachelor and Master degrees will decrease as the rate by which knowledge gets outdated increases. What we need are leaders that know how to stay on top of current innovations and trends; that are fast learners and can adapt to change rapidly. It makes sense to me to invest into personal competencies, find underlying principles rather than learn methodologies by heart — because the way of doing things will get outdated in no time. We need allrounders — people that know how to learn and navigate future industries.

Chapter 1: Robotics

Robotics is changing everything. Already today, robots are taking over a number activities in housekeeping, care, and routine tasks. They are getting smarter and will form an integral part of our lives in the future. Especially Japan is leading in this field. Due to its demographic structure robots do already play a role in caretaking.

Alec Ross jokes that robotics might be the first technology that is brought to us as consumers by our grandparents.Soon our robot house assistants will do daily chores like doing the dishes or waking us up.

Along with these developments comes an ethical question: what if humans start bonding with robots? Robots are becoming more and more human-like. Do we want to start bonding with robots like we are bonding with pets?Alec Ross mentions that it Asian societies might be more okay with this thought than Westerners.

Who will be the winners? On the one hand developed nations that lead in robotics (Japan, Germany, China…). On the other hand, interestingly, Ross argues developing countries may win, too. For them, there are fewer barriers to overcome in adopting new technology. Developing countries may have a last-mover advantage. As an example: many African countries never even built landlines for phones. They went straight to mobile and high-speed internet.

There are signs that with robotics it might be similar. There’s huge demand for education robots which are already in use. This may allow e.g. Nigerian students to access top, free, online education from the world’s leading universities while European students still learn from outdated textbooks, old professors in a society that is afraid that robots will take over. Frugal innovation is the term that Ross uses to describe innovation that thrives in situations of scarcity.

Another interesting aspect is that robots will get smarter at an increasing pace as they are connected to the cloud and learn from each other.Wow.. I think. What if we humans could do the same and tap into a pool of collective knowledge. Amazing.

Without a question, robots are getting smarter.

The Consumer Robots market will be $390 bio. market.

Alec Ross claims we are close to huge advances in Robotics. We are now where we were with the Internet 20 years ago. By 2020 Robotics will have changed our lives.

Will robots take over?

Humans and robots are distinct. There are many areas that robots suck at: emotional interpretation, strategic decision making, thinking… However, yes, many routine jobs may be replaced through robots. We’d better get used to it.