Aug 27

Black October

Today's post is dedicated to Peppercom Co-founder, Edward "Aloysius" Moed.


Peppercom opened Suit_1920sfor business 17 years ago this Friday.
That's when two men, burnt out by the red tape and politics of big agency life
and chomping at the bit to capitalize on a bullish economy, gave the
entrepreneurial life a go.

And, Ed and Steve had a tough slog in the beginning.

The first month was dedicated to creating an
infrastructure, so they set up a checking account, had business cards printed
and did all the other things an embryonic, two-person business needs to do.

The duo's second month was spent on business development.
So, while Steve wined and dined former clients, prospects and the heads of
global agencies (asking the latter for any morsels too small for their
digestive tracts), Ed was smiling and dialing.

Between them, the co-founders set two new business
meetings each and every week of the second month. And, sure as the leaves fall
in an Autumn storm, every single prospect canceled at the 11th hour. Ed called
it Black October. Steve opted for Bleak October. Either way, it was one grim
month to be sure.

Then, in early November, their luck changed like the
seasons (this is starting to sound like a Sinatra song, isn't it?). It began
with a memorable lunch at The Yale Club. They were there with Ben Case, a former
client at Duke University. The entrepreneurs begged Ben to give them his
account. He played hard to get, saying they'd be so focused on building their
own business that they wouldn't pay attention to his. The trio agreed on a
compromise: three free trial months. If Peppercom delivered, Ben would put them
on retainer. They did. And, he did.

Being able to name drop Duke as an existing client worked
wonders with prospects. Soon, Ed and Steve landed two or three more accounts.
And, they never looked back.

Epilogue: I liken entrepreneurship to a roller coaster
ride. In fact, we're helping a client right now to build a new website aimed at
entrepreneurs. I suggested a roller coaster visual. They agreed, and will be
using it as one of their main visuals.

The roller coaster ride came to mind because there are
far more downs than ups in business, and resiliency is critical to an
entrepreneur's success. So is preparation.

That's why I advise any Mark Zuckerberg wanna-be to read
'The Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell. It describes the importance of first
logging 10,000 hours of practice before grabbing for the brass ring.

Mozart, the Beatles and Steve Jobs, among others, all put
in countless hours of blood, sweat and tears before they achieved their
success. Ed and I did the same at two prior agencies, where we amassed our
10,000 hours of practice.

As a result, we already knew who would do what and how
we'd differentiate ourselves on day one. It made all the difference in the
world. It also enabled us to survive Black October.

Jan 04

Worst curtain call ever?

January 4 - giants curtain As a lifelong New York Jets fan, I must admit to taking special delight in the total collapse of the hated New York Giants. I especially enjoyed their curtain call at Giants Stadium two weeks ago.

The team's marketing and PR types had made a big deal about a special halftime celebration that would commemorate the team's many accomplishments in the soon-to-be-leveled edifice. But, they failed to factor in a horrific first half performance by 'Big Blue.' By half time, the game was clearly over and, with it, the team's chances for making the playoffs.

But, the celebration went on and 80,000 depressed fans suffered through highlights of the greatness that once was and was no more.

It was a horrible curtain call, to be sure. But, not the worst. That notable distinction belongs to my very own NY Mets who, in their collective wisdom, decided to hold a huge celebration at the conclusion of the team's final game at Shea Stadium in 2007. The Mets, though, had once again blown a late season lead to the hated Phillies and entered the final game needing a win to force a playoff. Guess what? They rolled over and played dead, falling behind by five runs in the first inning. The team made no effort to fight back and ended up losing by a lopsided score. Fans left in droves as each inning passed.

By the end, there were fewer than 10,000 people in the stands. Yet, some marketing whiz decided to go ahead with the Shea celebration anyway, and the team paraded the great players of yesteryear past the shell-shocked fans. It was easily one of the weirdest scenes I've ever witnessed.

So, note to sports marketers everywhere: if you have a mega, anniversary-themed event in the making, be sure to hold it BEFORE the contest begins. And, force the home team players to watch the hoopla. Maybe it'll inspire better performances than those turned in by the '09 Giants and '07 Mets, respectively.