If you were to judge the amount of Tweets you get from people who claim to be Marketing, Internet, SEO and SEM experts or CEO’s, you’d think the US economy was booming. Jobs galore. But it would all be just an illusion.
I often get Tweets from people who claim to be “Internet Marketing Experts” or “SEO Marketing Experts…” I wonder by what measure they use to give themselves this sort of classification?
The ones that immediately raise red flags for me are the ones who claim to be “CEO” of some company yet, judging by their photo, they don’t look to be much older than 25 or 30.
I’ve never met any good CEO’s who were under 35-years-old. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but the big guns and real players are not 30-year-old CEO’s of little companies with classification of LLP, LLC or family organizations.
Those are the sorts of titles I hate. Why even bother with the title of CEO? I mean, who are they trying to impress? Other clueless people? Clueless people usually haven’t much money. Why impress them?
What’s the point of being a CEO of a dinky company that has one or two employees? Bragging about it is even more embarrassing. If you do that, stop… It might be OK for picking up some witless boyfriend or girlfriend, but for picking up any investment, it is a detriment.
It certainly isn’t any credit to your worth or credibility.
Would you buy a used car from this man? How
about letting him set up your company SEO?
Do these people use the CEO title because they think they can fool someone into investing into their little company or throwing a big contract at them? Maybe. But I don’t think that will work.
Fools and their money are soon parted… Most rich people are not fools. That’s why they are rich.
I haven’t really noticed any serious CEO’s using Facebook or Twitter too often. I suppose they do, but not too much. I do know that, and I won’t say his name, the CEO of AirAsia X uses Facebook. We became friends that way… And I did arrange a few promotions for them in Japan because of it…
But I think he is the exception to the rule.
I don’t think most CEO’s have time to bother with this Social Media stuff. The CEO’s I know avoid this, if they can, and I know from experience that they try to avoid even looking at their email if at all possible…. Spending time on Facebook and Twitter?! I don’t think so.
I get these invitations for Twitter and such, and, if the photo looks like a young guy and his title says “CEO” or “SEO expert” I know it’s BS…. But I’m a nice guy, I friend them anyway… It’s just quicker that way and I don’t have to think about it for more than a second. Friending them takes one click. Deleting them takes two clicks. Friending them is faster.
I check their photo and go to their Twitter page. If I don’t see at least a blog or a company page, then I know they are bullsh*tters. That’s OK. Everyone needs to start somewhere… Maybe they will learn some useful lessons along the way. I certainly have.
One of the big lessons I learned was not creating idiotic titles like CEO for myself when there are only one or two employees at my company in order to impress people I don’t even know. Impressing people who haven’t a clue is a waste of time… People who do have a clue will know it’s BS, so it is actually self-defeating to do so.
Here’s a good test for you. I never claim that I am an “SEO or Internet expert” yet go to Google Search and search the words, “Japan China.” You will get 1 billion 380 million results. On page one of search results you will also see two articles that I wrote. See here: http://bit.ly/rjaMbu
Even with that, I do not claim to be an not SEO expert.
If you are a customer, and a guy is telling to you to give him him your business because he is an “SEO expert” then give this test:
1) Do they blog? If so, check their blog and see when they started. Blogging for six months is nothing to brag about. That’s not even a rookie. Search some generic titles and see if you can find any results where they show up at the top of the list (and, no, I don’t mean specific searches for the exact title of that particular blog post. I mean, if they write an article about, say, “Sicily pizza”… Search “pizza” or “Sicily” and see if you can find their article on the first few pages of results. If they are hot at SEO, you should be able to).
1a) If they do blog, check to see if they post everyday. Posting everyday for at least a year shows dedication and resolve. If they don’t do that, or haven’t, then they are poseurs and not players or, at best, students of the game
2) Go look at their Facebook or Twitter account. Check the dates when they began. Is there a corporate page for this person’s company? If not, forget it.
On the other hand, If you are one of the many who are guilty of making these wild claims on expertise, I suggest you stop. There are far too many charlatans running around as it is. If you get the label “charlatan” it will be quite hard to shake.
Building trust and a good reputation takes a long time… It isn’t made in an instant by creating a Twitter account and claiming, on the spot, that you are an expert. As former Soviet president Michale Gorbachev once said, “A lie told even ten thousands times never becomes the truth.”
Stop claiming that you are “Internet savvy” if you are not. Just being to do Internet searches or use G-mail does not make one internet savvy. Stop claiming you are a CEO unless you have a company that has at least, say, ten employees minimum…
And stop claiming that you are an “SEO expert” if you are not. It’s easy to find out if it is all BS or not.
You can become these things but just saying that you are or reading one book doesn’t make you one. It will take a few years of effort and study.
The fastest and simplest way? Start a blog and start writing. Use Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic to your posts. Write everyday religiously. Study why some articles get many reads and why others don’t.
It will take you between one to two years to get a basic understanding of how it works and how to jolt your writing and titles to get high SEO results.
It’s a close guarded secret by those who do know how to do it..
This stuff isn’t written in a book. You only learn through sincere and dedicated effort. A jawbone is never a replacement for a backbone. Get started.
We all have a sort of radar about people. Some of us are astute judges of character. Even so, sometimes we get burned by people we thought were on our side. We get cheated or ripped off by people who we had hoped were going to help us. Sometimes getting backstabbed by these sorts of people destroys our motivations and we veer off the course we had chosen.
We get angry that these people who we trusted could have betrayed us. They become lowlife scum… We obsess about them. We begin to get angry, resentful and maybe filled with hate.
Not a healthy situation.
Remember, also though, that it always takes two to tango so if you feel cheated or abused, part of it is your fault. People cannot take advantage of you unless you allow them to. I sound all high and mighty when I say this, but I speak from experience. I’ve felt betrayed before too and, unfortunately, done my fair share of betrayal back.
For that I will always regret what I did until the day I die. I can never make the betrayal I committed “right” or fix things. Past is past. But my regret lives on forever.
I’ve had two people who recently told me about these sorts of experiences. Both of them work in the music business. Both of them felt betrayed. The music business is famous for betrayal and broken promises. The music business and show business in general is the land of broken dreams.
But the sort of betrayal that I am talking about today is not limited to music or show business. This sort of trickery and betrayal is a part and parcel of human nature and can been witnessed anywhere and everywhere in any human endeavor. Being backstabbed and hurt by those your trusted happen in any business and in any personal relationship. We have to be careful.
A friend of mine recently quit Facebook. Her leaving Facebook is a loss for the world of music. She is instrumental in getting many rock bands the world over a chance at the big time. Of course, once these bands and artists use her to get what they want and they get their big chance (or what they perceive as their big break) they dump her and the people that helped them get to where they wanted to go. It’s an old story.
It reminds me of a time long ago when my band often played at a club in Los Angeles called Club 88. The owner was a guy named Wayne (super nice man) and he gave us our first big break and let us play at his club. Wayne was married to a Japanese woman so perhaps he felt affinity for me as his kids were half-Japanese too (there weren’t that many of us half-Japanese kids back in those days). Wayne was the only one who would let us play at a club in Los Angeles. We began playing at Club 88 once a month.
One day, after some piddling success on the FM radio in LA, my band arranged to play at another, bigger and more famous club across town. We decided that we would stop playing regularly at Club 88 (it wasn’t as cool as this new club) and told Wayne that we weren’t going to play at Club 88 anymore. As we loaded up our equipment into the van in the back parking lot behind his club, Wayne came out, looked me straight into the eyes and said, “Nice to know you guys are moving up in the world. Don’t forget who helped you when you needed help and see you on the way down.”
His words shot through my heart like a silver bullet. I was stunned, speechless.
Later on, on the way down, I was too ashamed to go see him to ask if we could play his club again. We never played their nor met Wayne again.
I was a selfish jerk. I’m sure that when he agreed to let us play his club, we said things like, “Yeah! We’ll always play your club even if we get really famous. Sure!” He’d probably heard that one a million times.
What a big lie.
It’s like this in any business. When people want something from you, they will promise you the world. But they don’t mean it.
The music business, like 99% of all businesses, ultimately is a business of trust. It takes a long time to build trust, but it takes just one action to destroy that trust. In the case, of the music business, most people come and go every 3 ~ 6 years. I think it is because the ones who can’t make either just don’t have “it” or, if they do, they are dishonest. I have met many talented people in the music industry who had talent but they didn’t make the big time or floundered because they were untrustworthy. There are so many of those, I couldn’t name them all.
In Japan, there are only a handful of people (just 5 or 6 foreigners) who have been in the music business for over 25 years and we all know each other. We may not be friends but we know each other, are respectful and can meet and have a laugh when the occassion arises.
Like I said, there have been innumberable people who came and went. I like to think most of those disappeared because they weren’t honest. They were the type of people who would use you and promise you anything in order to get you to help them and, once you did help them, they’d dump you faster than a half-eaten Big Mac that’s been sitting in the back of the car for the last week.
In the case of the music business, be wary of people who talk smooth and nice and say “Yeah! Let’s work together! You and me.” Then when it comes to what you get paid, it is little or free because they say, “There’s no money, but let’s do it for the music!”
Sure. You do the music for free. They do it for the money using your music.
Now the point of this post… In my current new business, I often talk to music people and musicians, club owners and artists. I have learned my lesson, I never promise the world. I want to share with you a tidbit about how you can protect yourself in your business, any business, and get what you want whenever a “salesman” comes to you and asks for your help in his project. It’s simple. Make every proposition a 50/50 proposition.
I don’t mean 50/50 for money necessarily. I mean, you hear them out. Listen to what they want you to do for them (ignore the part about, “Let’s work together! Let’s do it for the music!”) and then you make your requests about what it is that you want them to do for you. If they can’t do your request or are unable to politically help you out, then there’s no point in dealing with this person unless you are talking 50/50 on money. It’s that simple.
Here’s how I do it. I run a new company that helps artists promote their events and sell tickets. My company gets a commission for every ticket sold. The artists do not need to use our service. They can keep doing things the old way they always have: allow people to pay at the door. It’s worked that way pretty well for decades.
My service allows them to sell advanced sale tickets and to promote on Social media so it is a powerful marketing and advertising tool. Some artists (and events and charities) have used our service and sold over 700 advanced sale tickets. Some events were sold out in two days! Now that is promotional power! But still, like I said, the old way has worked pretty well for a long time so many are not eager to change, don’t want to think about change, and are suspicious of new things (of course).
Whenever I make a deal with someone, this is what I say,
“Here’s the deal. I help you. You help me. This is what I want. Now, what do you want in return?” (I can give them airplay or promote them other ways too). Doing this keeps everything professional and platonic. There’s none of this slimy “do it for the music” or some other lofty ideal not based in the real world.
I help you. You help me. I know where you stand. You know where I stand. None of this, “You help me out now and I help you out later” nonsense. It works out best that way. This is the professional way of handling business and the only good way to do so. If you do not handle your business this way, people will not respect you and they will think they can take advantage of you.
Also remember that trust is so important so if you do promise to do something then you had better damned well do what you said you were going to do. The only excuse for not keeping a promise would be a ‘death in the family’ and that ‘death’ had better be yours. Promises are made to be kept.
Remember, you have something they want. That means they must at least deal with you on equal terms.
There is nothing wrong with being professional and asking for remuneration (of some sort) for something that someone wants you to do for them. If, after a long time, you become friends and build trust with that person, you can begin to accept what they say at face value. Because, like I said, if they are running around doing sneaky stuff, they usually don’t last more than a few years.
Handling your business this way and knowing these things is how you can build true friendship, a true business partner or even to find your true soul mate in life.
It is give and take… If you are the one doing all the giving and the deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
You are important and what you have and can do is valuable. Protect it like a professional would.
Like Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” Exactly! So manage your stage appearance in life as any professional manager or agent would do: Professionally. Always understand the rules of give and take.
For Allison Sane. Luv!
Mike’s newest article will appear on Lew Rockwell later today. You can read it here: http://lewrockwell.com/rogers/rogers246.html
Today is September 12 in Japan. It is 9/11 for the States. This just in from my friend Steve in the USA about the glorification of the state ritual that this day has come to represent:
I made what turned out to be a very quick trip to the food store this morning. It’s a chore that I usually do on Sunday’s, but I really don’t even want to be out on 9/11 so went this morning (Saturday).
I passed house after house with their American flags and ‘Remember 911’ signs proudly displayed. I drove past the public high school and it had a huge American flag surrounded by what must be thousands of small American flags displayed on the taxpayer paid for school grounds out front. REMEMBER 911 !!!
When I got to the food store they played nationalist songs one after the other over their public address system. God Bless America – America the Beautiful – The Star Spangled Banner – etc, etc, ad nauseam…
Thus my regular weekly visit to the food store was a very short one this week. Milk – bread – eggs and out.
I expect it’s going to be even worse tomorrow. It makes me thankful that I don’t have (or want) a TV. Just the short trip to the food store today made me ill. It was enough to turn the stomach of a goat – and they can eat anything…
Actually the whole trip was kind of bizarre. It was like traveling back in Mr. Peabody’s ‘Way-Back Machine’ to Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s. It reminded me of those old news reels that you see of the endless fields of Nazi flags that were just as proudly displayed by the same cheering and state worshiping mindless masses of Germany. Their rabid patriotism (nationalism) was pretty much the same as America’s patriotism and the even worse ‘super patriotism’ today.
Completing the other half of the Nazi program – socialism – most Americans probably think that they are not socialists, but if you even suggest abolishing social security (one of the cornerstones of socialism) they will reveal their actual beliefs – even if they refuse to admit them to themselves. Ask again about Medicare and Medicaid and they will confirm their commitment to socialism.
And so history repeats itself. The new national socialists (Nazi’s) seem to be everywhere.
Instead of the anti flag burning amendment that those ‘Super Patriots’ are always whining and crying about perhaps we should pass an amendment to change the existing American flag to something that more accurately displays who we are as a people today. To this end I suggest that we simply replace the 50 white stars with 50 white swastikas. Although I agree that the very thought is disgusting, at least it would be an honest representation.
This whole nationalist – patriot – super patriot – fanatical worship of the state is beyond immature. It goes deep into an area that can only be described as ‘infantile.’
We so need Ron Paul and more like him or these new USA Nazi’s will destroy all that was once good about America.
We want our country, our freedoms, and our liberty back!
doG help us if Boobus-Americanus doesn’t awaken – and soon…
- Steve Candidus
The author, Steve Candidus, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments very welcomed.
NOTE: Let me take this opportunity to endorse and come out completely in favor of candidate Ron Paul for president of the United States (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed my writings since 2004, beginning at Lew Rockwell). I believe that Mr. Candidus is correct: the USA is doomed to failure if the current political paradigm is not changed soon. There is no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans in the USA today.
The last chance for the United States is Ron Paul. End the wars. End the US empire.
Groupon is about to go IPO in the USA. The failing stock market, the Euro problems, the faltering US Dollar and Groupon’s own consistent mistakes make me think that Groupon’s IPO will either be postponed or a great disappointment for investors.
I’ve said many times that Groupon was going to be a massive failure. The most recent was a post about how Groupon has disappeared from the face of the earth (in Japan). For more on that, refer to The Great Groupon Disappearing Act:
Recently, Groupon Japan has completely dropped off the map. I never see their online ads anymore at all (sign of over extension) yet you see their competition all over the place.
The biggest two that seem to be kicking Groupon (hereinafter referred to as “Groupoff”) in the royal behind is a new-comer called G-Market and Recruit’s own Pompare.
You see online banner ads for these two constantly. I haven’t seen an online ad for Groupon for 9 weeks in a row now (and trust that I am on the Internet constantly).
The other thing that makes me realize that Groupon Japan is almost as messed up as Groupon in the USA is the fact that, while you see no banner ads for Groupon in Japan on the Internet anymore, if you watch a minor cable TV network (I think it is J-com) you see their ads every once in a while.
Let me ask you a question: What kind of an idiot advertises an internet business on TV yet doesn’t advertise on the internet at all?
Last year, when start-up Groupon refused a $6 billion dollar offer from Google, you just knew that CEO Andrew Mason and Groupon owners must be smoking some very good weed. Couple that with his stupid followup to the Japan New Year’s Oseichi Ryori disaster, along with Groupon’s cost versus sales reports and you have a sure-fire loser.
Groupon advertised the above and delivered the below.
Then the Groupon CEO insulted people with an amateurish and crass apology.
It all goes back to a well worn stubborn and obstinate attitude that foreigners have when they bring heir business to Japan. Please refer to Groupon Ex-Partner Chimes In:
Groupon has committed the Cardinal sin that many companies from the west committed before in this country; they came to Japan and didn’t make the effort to understand the Japanese and this country well enough. Now they will pay the price for that mistake. I’ve written before in an article entitled, “How New Companies Can Succeed in Japan – and How They Fail.” It’s about how, in spite of the fact that giant players from the west came to Japan, with great products and a successful track record in the west – such as Pepsi Cola, Universal Studios, E-Bay, Carrefours, etc. – they failed miserably because they didn’t take the time to learn the intricacies of Japan and how to do business here.
The companies that do well here, Disney, Coca-Cola etc. Did bother to understand the market and now they dominate. McDonald’s, in fact, even changed their name to fit in with Japanese pronunciation! McDonald’s in Japan is not McDonald’s. It is “Makudonarudo.” Go up to any Japanese and ask them where a McDonald’s is and they won’t have any idea what you are talking about.
But I digress…
Groupon, I predict is the next in a long line of failures in Japan. In fact, today I met with a friend who is the head editor of one of the biggest magazines in Japan and this editor said, ”There’s no way for that company, Groupon… Their reputation is already shot. And, in Japan, reputation is everything. The women don’t trust it.”
This was the first time that someone who knows how the average Japanese woman feels telling me what I had already suspected; Groupon Japan has a terrible reputation with the women in Japan and it’s getting worse.
Now, today, once again, we have another example of Groupon gross mismanagement.
When a company files for the right to sell Initial Public Offerings (IPO) they must, according to SEC rules, go into a “quiet period” whereby potential investors are able to go over their company reports and sales, etc. to come up with ideas of potential value. It is against rules for that company to be making public announcements that may slant or create unjust publicity for that company.
But, just as with the inept handling of the Japan New Year’s deal, Groupon CEO Mason has gotten himself in trouble again with making company announcements that he must have known would be leaked to the public.
Commentary: Has the company run afoul of quiet-period rules?
Daily-deal pioneer Groupon Inc. appears to be hell-bent on becoming the poster child for business schools and budding entrepreneurs on how not to go public.
Since the company filed its IPO prospectus for potential investors on June 2, Groupon appears to be close to running afoul of the “quiet period” that is required of businesses once they file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Last month, Chief Executive Andrew Mason wrote a memo to employees about a story he had read (in the car, while driving alone, apparently). The report, one in a barrage of negative stories in recent months, wondered whether Groupon is running out of cash. Mason wrote a long defense of his company’s business model, its stance against rivals and an explanation of the bizarre accounting metric used in Groupon’s financials that raised eyebrows with regulators. (His message to the troops was obtained by our colleagues over at AllThingsD. Read Mason’s full memo.
Last week, an outside PR person for Groupon pointed another reporter in the direction of that same email, fueling speculation that the memo was written by Mason knowing that it would be leaked. Read Private Equity Hub’s run-in with Groupon.
Let me predict right here that the Groupon IPO will either be postponed or a failure. Couple this bad publicity and inept management with the current serious decline in stock prices and you have the ripe situation for Groupon IPO to be valued at something like $20 a share. That would be a massive failure.
The situation gets worse when you see that the recently hired PR expert by Groupon has already quit and you can just smell the scent of an organization that is demoralized and in disarray.
In addition to the furor over the email sent to staff, Silicon Valley PR veteran Brad Williams, hired only two months ago as Groupon’s head of corporate communications, recently quit. A Groupon spokeswoman said it was a mutual decision; Williams did not return calls, but reports indicate that he may have butted heads with Mason.
“It just doesn’t seem to get uglier than this,” said Rocky Agrawal, an entrepreneur who advises start-ups, of the company’s IPO process so far. Agrawal has found serious problems in Groupon’s financials and has written about his concerns.
Attorneys appear to be split on whether Groupon has violated the SEC’s rules, and whether employee communications can be considered speaking to potential investors. In 1996, San Francisco-based Wired had to pull its IPO after magazine publisher Louis Rossetto wrote a similar rally-the-troops email. In 2005, the SEC revamped its rules, albeit slightly.
It is reasonable to think that Mason wrote the memo purely to spur morale, feeling frustrated by the restrictions imposed by the SEC. But how he handled this communication is calling attention to his leadership.
Seriously? After all these screw ups, with the Super Bowl ads, Japan, etc., etc., people are just now figuring out that something isn’t quite right with the CEO? You’re kidding me!
Mason has fashioned himself as a sort of David Letterman CEO — quirky and funny, with an odd sense of humor that pervades the company, its deals and even its poorly received Super Bowl ads in February.
But he cannot be so naive as to not realize that sending out a lengthy, defensive-sounding email to thousands of employees would not end up in the press eventually. There are other, more concise ways Mason could have communicated. He also barely reminded employees of the regulatory restrictions that Groupon is under, only to say “we’ve refrained from defending ourselves publicly,” and that “for now we must patiently and silently endure a bit more public criticism as we prepare to birth this IPO baby.”
Under the harsh spotlight of the IPO, when companies are required to refrain from actions that might be seen as pumping up the stock ahead of the debut, Mason’s behavior seems childish and impetuous.
“I have been doing this a long time,” said Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at the IPO Boutique, about following the market for initial public offerings. “That IPO really bothers me.”
Sweet’s concerns include the issues that have been noted in recent months: the firm’s high marketing costs, major competitors and heavy losses. But he is also now calling out Mason, Groupon’s eccentric chief.
“No matter how the CEO spins it, he is not talking to the choir,” Sweet added. “He is talking to his ego.”
Whether this brouhaha will affect how Groupon is received by investors has yet to be seen. The company has not yet started its road show to tell its story. But so far, it’s serving as a textbook case on what not do to during the IPO process.
Here’s a few more tidbits that I have gathered about Groupon that alert readers may be interested in: Groupon grossed $700 M (USD) but spent $413 M (USD) on advertising.
What is the Groupon business model? It is SPAM. Send people spam. In the day and age of Social Media and Social Media Marketing the utter idea that Groupon would attempt to grow their business without a marketplace or social media component and just email seems to be to be absurd. This is a massive failure.
Groupon in Japan has over 600 people employed in sales going door to door trying to get deals. They use email to sell. That they wouldn’t create a marketplace, not have any plan to, shows a lack of understanding of Internet 2.0 and today’s Internet users.
Groupon was a great business model two years ago, when there were no competitors. But now, there are many. And those competitors have or are building marketplace portals. I cannot comment too much about the rest of the world, but, at least in Japan, Groupon is dead.
There are also stories all over the Internet about Groupon shady accounting practices and these all point to Groupon painting a much rosier picture than reality.
Like I said, the failing stock market, the Euro problems, the faltering US Dollar and Groupon’s own consistent (and constant) mistakes make me think that Groupon’s IPO will either be postponed or a great disappointment for investors.
Of course it will. There’s too many bad factors running against Groupon.
Come to think of it, have you heard anything good about that company in the last 6 months? I haven’t.
Groupon, I predict, will be the business world’s poster child for these turbulent times; a highly touted and very visible new company jumps from the starting gates on the crash headlong into reality and the real world. Throw in shady business and accounting practices and you have a model reflection of the US government…
Shady business and accounting practices? US government? Everyone knows how well the US government is doing!
Hello Groupon! welcome to IPO in the stock market crash of Autumn 2011. As with everything you’ve done so far, your timing is impeccable.