Tag Archives: new york times

OWS Stands Divided

As predicted, the leaders and achievers are standing out from the OWS crowd.

GlobalRevolution.tv has moved from a tarp in Zucotti park to a second floor office in NoHo (North of Houston), and is being led by a former Wall Street derivatives trader, Vlad Teichberg.

On the other side of the country, OWS protesters are depriving the working class of their pay checks by blockading ports.

As surely as oil floats over water, and cream rises to the top of milk, it is inevitable that leaders stand out in a movement. Even while they’re insisting that it’s a team effort. In this case, it’s Vlad Teichberg who has become the face of GlobalRevolution.tv.

GlobalRevolution.tv started out under a tarp in Zucotti park. After weeks of frustration due to equipment theft and fighting the elements, they made the wise business decision to seek a secure – and weatherproof – site for their budding media outlet.

They found what they needed on the second floor of a building owned by the A.J. Muste Institute. Rent is a bargain at around $400 per month. It’s no palace, but it gives them a reliable working space for their enterprise. You can get an idea of what it looks like in this video of an interview they did with CNNMoney.

Vlad Teichberg's caricature in The New Yorker

The media has definitely caught on to this enterprise. Vald has been featured with his own caricature in The New Yorker, and media from Huffington Post to the New York Times are covering their efforts. If all goes well, Vlad hopes this media enterprise will take off and provide him with the means to get a home for himself and his pregnant wife.

Contrast this organised, productive enterprise with the efforts of OWS participants on the west coast.

Although their video content is being streamed through GlobalRevolution.tv, that seems to be where the commonality ends. Rather than trying to build anything, or even be constructive, they’re attempting to block ports in Alaska and the Western U.S.

Even the unions these OWS participants claim to be supporting have come out in opposition to the blockades. They want their members to be able to go to work safely, and get a full pay check at the end of the week.

OWS Participants blockading access to ports

In a recent USA Today article, one trucker was quoted as having lost $600 – a day’s wages – because the protesters succeeded in closing the port facility.

“This is joke. What are they protesting?” said Christian Vega, who sat in his truck carrying a load of recycled paper. “It only hurts me and the other drivers.

“We have jobs and families to support and feed,” he said. “Most of them don’t.”

Thomas Ryan has written an interesting post on Big Government that reveals the agenda of many OWS participants. It’s well documented with a complete archive of e-mails from OWS. The tone of the e-mails aligns with activities on the west coast, but seems quite different from the enterprise happening in New York.

OWS, protesting about inequality, is experiencing a practical lesson in reality. Every group divides out into 80% followers, 15% achievers, 4% leaders and 1% celebrities.

In Brooklyn, Vlad Teichberg is the celebrity and his team are the leaders. The citizen journalists are the achievers, and then there’s the rest. People who take action simply to feel powerful; even when it harms those they claim to be helping.

The efforts at GlobalRevolution.tv have been so successful that Livestream is providing them a channel free of advertising. It turns out that some advertisers didn’t want to be associated with the OWS channel, and rather than weed them out Livestream simply removed all advertising. That’s a huge benefit to an organization trying to communicate their message.

Ustream, another online video streaming service, has provide two citizen journalists with better camera equipment. Tim Pool in New York, and Spencer Mills in Oakland, both provided consistently good content so Ustream has loaned them better video equipment.

Livestream and Ustream both claim to simply be supporting their platforms rather than specifically supporting the OWS movement. You can read more about GlobalRevolution.tv and their successes in a recent New York Times article.

The question that remains is: How long will it be before OWS participants turn on Vlad and his teammates as being part of the 1%?

It’s only a matter of time before GobalRevolution.tv gains the attention of advertisers able to align themselves with OWS. When that happens, it’s going to become a profit-generating business. Will the 80% who have built nothing claim a share of their success?

Small Business Conquers The Corporations

Article first published as Small Business Conquers the Corporations on Blogcritics.

Little Dudes and Divas is going head-to-head with the likes of Nordstrom, Macy’s, Babies “R” Us and even Diapers.com.

This small business does 90% of their sales through the internet and the rest through their brick-and-mortar store in Rockaway Park, N.Y. Even with the bulk of their business being done online, the founders of this company say their greatest strength is relationships with customers.

Steve and Susan Karasanti founded Little Dudes and Divas seven years ago. They sell clothes and accessories for infants and toddlers – everything from diapers and stroller blankets to diaper bags car seat covers – and now have 3 employees. They ship around the world and are always ready to help a customer find what they need.

The Homepage for LIttle Dudes and Divas

When a call comes in from a customer wanting to know how to pack a particular bag in a certain way, the staff at Little Dudes and Divas makes a video. They walk through how to pack each item, special tips for preventing leaks or breakage, and then make it available to everyone on their site.

I spotted the Karasanti’s and their business in Gabriel Shaoolian’s column (You’re The Boss) in the New York Times. There are two things in particular that he’s looking at with Little Dudes and Divas – the trust factor, and reasons for buying. In addition to what I share here, you can listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy to discover the one mistake Gabriel is making that will truly make the difference between massive growth and stagnation in any business.

Competition has certainly stiffened since they started seven years ago. Mr. Karasanti says “It’s very hard to compete with the bigger online companies on price, but we can compete by giving our customers personal attention.”

That personal attention is a key element in business success at any time, and it’s becoming increasingly important in today’s marketplace. We’re experiencing a crisis of trust – everyone is sceptical of everything (even this statement) – and business owners are feeling the pinch.

Here are 3 strategies for to make your customer relationships stronger, and help your business stand out from the competition:

Show Appreciation

One of the simplest things to do is run a birthday program in your business. Simply ask customer for the month and day of their birth so you can give them special attention on their birthday.

The same thing can be done for anniversaries, customers who bring in referrals, frequent shoppers or any other criteria you care to use. The key to all of these programs is choosing the behaviour you want to reward then building a program to reward that behaviour.

Encourage Communication

Restaurants do this all the time. I’m always spotting comment cards at the table in restaurants, and you can use the same approach in your business. All you have to do is make the cards available and give customers an anonymous way to drop them off.

Blogs and social media can be good ways to encourage communication if you actually listen and respond. Like a comment card, you have to be seen to be taking action on what people say.

Reward Referrals

Your existing customers are the easiest people to sell to, and the person they refer is the second easiest. This alone is a great reason to encourage referrals.

When someone refers another person to your business, they’re also increasing their commitment to do business with you. Now that they’ve told someone else how great you are, part of their personal credibility becomes wrapped up in continuing to do business with you. For this reason, you also want to treat referrals very well. As easy as a referral is to turn into a customer, getting it wrong just as easily means losing the referral as well as the referrer

Another way to strengthen your customer relationship is through cross-promotion. This one takes a little bit of time and effort. It also yields multiple benefits to your business.

No one business can satisfy every need of their customers. So to help you be more important to your customer – and more appreciated by them – connect with other business owners who fulfill your customers’ needs. Whether that be a hair salon, landscaping, or dentist, the objective is to make your customer’s life easier.

For example, I know a painter who advertises on a local pizza joint’s boxes. They both serve new-movers, and this cross-promotion has paid off handsomely for both businesses.

In the case of Little Dudes and Divas, they could easily cross-promote with another shop that sells strollers and car seats. That’s an obvious one. What other businesses can you think of that would make good cross-promotion partners for Little Dudes and Divas – or for your own business?

OWS Gets Capitalist Enterprise

Vlad Teichbert and GlobalRevolution.TV are the first capitalist effort of OWS. And Vlad is getting the media attention to make it work.

Having been covered by the New York Times and Huffinton Post, and even getting his own caricature in The New Yorker, Vlad has gone from being a derivatives trader working for Deutsche Bank to OWS pariticpant to budding media mogul. Although he currently lives in a squat with his pregnant wife, Vlad hopes the media project takes off and provides an income.

GlobalRevolution.TV started out under a tarp in Zucotti Park. But after weeks of frustration due to equipment loss from theft and rain, they were able to relocate to a building in NoHo (North of Houston St.). They’re now in a second floor office space and getting organized.

Here is a video from CNN Money that shows the GlobalRevolution.tv media headquarters and two of the team members.

This budding media mogul and his outlet, Global Revolution.tv have become the switchboard, or clearing house, for video related to OWS. The channel is hosted – apparently ad free – by Livestream. It seems more than one advertiser didn’t want to show up on this particular channel, so Livestream seems to have removed all advertising from the channel.

How long can it be before OWS turns on Vlad and his media outlet for the success they are achieving?

Personally, I think it’s great that the group involved with GlobalRevolution.TV has found this opportunity. They’re getting organized, supporting a cause they believe in, and attracting support. For now, the donations are just trickling in. Give it another week or so, and it’s likely they’ll attract the attention of donors – possibly even one or two of the millionairs who agree with OWS.

This is proof in action that populations consistently divide out into 80% masses, 15% achievers, 4% leaders and 1% celebrities. In this case, Vlad is becoming the celebrity, his team are the leaders, the citizen journalists are the achievers, and then there’s the rest.

It’s too bad that “the rest” are turning from protesting to harming the people they claim to serve.

Over the last week, USA Today has reported OWS protesters have managed to close several ports along the west coast. They claim to be targeting ports where Goldman-Sachs has an interest, yet they fail to accept the real consequences of their activities.

By closing the ports, the only people being hurt are the workers who can’t work. They’re losing a day’s pay. Since the corporations carry insurance to protect them against lost production, they’re coming out doubly ahead whenever a port facility is blockaded. Not only do they get to collect on their insurance, they’re saving the cost of paying employees.

Many congratulations to Vlad Teichberg and his team. Let’s hope they’re able to lead their fellow OWS participants to better pursuits and higher achievement.

Small Business Marketing Reality Check

This week’s stories have me just a wee bit angry. So you might want to prepare yourself to be offended.

Start listening now to Social Media: Cheap and Easy

Small business marketing is far easier than most business owners make it out to be. But you do need to do some work, and professional advice is often helpful.

Have a look at www.SkyRoll.com. It’s the subject of our first story. More accurately, the bozo that owns it is the subject.

I meet way too many business owners who ask for advice on small business marketing, like this guy, and then disagree with me. It makes me want to scream “Are you KIDDING?!” This is why I’ve learned to weed out the problems by making business owners jump through hoops to get to me.

After I go to town on SkyRoll, we take a look at Facebook’s upcoming IPO.

Like Groupon, Facebook’s IPO is like to be successful. That is, Facebook and the investment bankers are going to make a whole lot of money. Also like Groupon, those who buy in are going to lose money.

Listen to hear WHY Facebook is doing an IPO – and HOW they’re preparing for it. It’s definitely odd, and should be screaming DANGER to every investor in the world.

Hear it all this week on Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Then we’re wrapping up the show with a look at Occupy Wall Street. If I haven’t offended you by this point in the show, I probably will with this story.

After more than a quarter century of owning my own business, becoming a master carpenter, and writing 5 books in 19 months, I have little patience with anyone who whines about life being hard. Have you noticed a lot of the people getting press coverage over Occupy Wall Street are college professors? Talk about professional underachievers.

If you think lawyers are bad, we should stone the people who train them. That’s right, college professors.

I’m all for being social, but socialist is just insane. I’m a dedicated capitalist – everyone who listens to Social Media: Cheap and Easy knows it. And by the way, that means I’m first in line to put crooked bankers and corporate executives in jail. They give capitalism a bad name.

Just click the Instant Download link at Social Media: Cheap and Easy. And when you’re good and riled, come on back here to leave your comment. Just click on the post title to go to the comment page.

Does Social Media Impact Retailers?

Consumers are starting to dislike Thanksgiving Sales.

More than one consumer is considering skipping the Thanksgiving Sales this year. That’s because, instead of starting at 4am Black Friday several retailers are planning to start their sales at midnight Thanksgiving Day.

As you might imagine, lots of folks are speaking up about this on blogs, Twitter and Facebook. They’re not happy, and they’re using social media to voice their displeasure.

Now, we all have to admit that big sales are somewhat less than social occasions. Sometimes they resemble mass riots or war zones. But Thanksgiving is definitely a social occasion (even if we’re not entirely thrilled with Uncle Fred or Aunt Edna). That’s what has a lot of dedicated Black Friday shoppers saying they’re ready to throw in the shopping bag.

Target, Macy’s Best Buy and Kohl’s are planning to open at midnight Thanksgiving Day. Wal-Mart is planning to start some of their sales at 10pm.

These sales are a big deal. The shop-‘til-you-drop crowd often start lining up 3 or 4 hours before the stores open just to be in a good position when the sale starts. As recently as last year, shoppers could be at Toys “R” Us for the 10pm opening Thanksgiving Day, get to Wal-Mart for a wrist band at 2am (guaranteeing a spot for their 5am sales start), the hit Kohl’s at 3am, Target or Macy’s at 4, and wrap up with Best Buy after stopping off at Wal-Mart.

Now that all these stores are kicking off their sales at the same time, shoppers are going to have to pick and choose which sales to participate in. And that is going to have negative consequences. After all, shoppers who went to 5 stores last year simply can’t make all 5 this year. That means somebody has to lose sales.

And how does this fit in with social media and the impact it has on retailers?

The answer lies in a recent study from Market Tools.

Market Tools recently published the “Social Media and Customer Feedback” survey. They found that 44% of retailers surveyed believe we do not comment or complain about their products and services online. Another 22% don’t even care enough to have found out whether we’re complaining about them.

Based on those results, I was very surprised to read the rest of the survey and find a high percentage of companies responding to customers through Facebook and Twitter. According to the survey, 54% of retailers using Facebook always or often reply to out comments and complaints. That number falls a little to 42% on Twitter.

So on one hand we have 66% of surveyed retailers either not believing we talk about them, or just not caring whether we do. And on the other hand, of those that are paying attention, many are making an effort to respond and interact. So what is social media’s impact on retailers?

While we hear a lot of the cow-pattie gurus touting the praises of social media for business, it’s clear that businesses are quite a bit slower to accept social media as a credible source of information.

Wal-Mart is an excellent example. The New York Times presented them with evidence from Facebook, Twitter and blogs that customers are unhappy with sales starting Thanksgiving Day. Their response was “customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early.”

There’s no question that “social media” is here to stay. Heck, what we’re calling social media is only a technological progression of all the gossip, rumor-mongering and press that has been around for centuries. So far, very few individuals and companies are using it in a coordinated and effective fashion.

So far, the impact of social media on retailers is minimal. (As an interesting side note – even e-commerce accounts for only 1% of the world’s economy according to the CIA Factbook.)

Rather than pay attention to the squawking that’s going on in social media, retailers are going to pay attention to sales figures for Thanksgiving Day. After all, we know that most of the folks making a lot of noise now are still very likely to be standing in line for sales come Thanksgiving Day.

Actions count far louder than conversations.

So when you’re looking at how to incorporate social media into your marketing mix, take all the hype and hoopla with a grain of salt. While I certainly recommend making the effort to respond to customers who complain – regardless of whether it’s in person or through social media – always give more credence to what people do than what they say.

There is a distinct possibility that retailers are going to lose sales this year. But that loss will have very little to do with social media.

Last year, the sales started in staggered fashion. This allowed people to shop at multiple stores. Now most of the sales are starting at the same time – midnight Thanksgiving Day. So the retailers are going to lose because people simply can’t be in two places at once, and there’s an ingrained perception that a sale is only worthwhile when you get there at the beginning. This is why people line up four hours early for Black Friday sales.

And let’s keep in mind that we’re in a poor economy. Although some may not be able to participate in the sales the way they did before, most who can afford it will participate to an even greater extent. The stupendous bargains of Black Friday are an excellent way to stretch a dollar.

What we would all do well to listen to is the message that customers are displeased with two things:

  1. The change to cherished holiday shopping traditions. Waiting for sales to start is often a very social time.
  2. The inability to fully participate in the social nature of shopping because it now overlaps with Thanksgiving Day.

The retailers likely to come out on top this year are toy stores (because parents shop for their kids before themselves) and the J.C. Penny’s. J.C. Penny is keeping its usual 4 a.m. opening time, so they’re going to stand out from the crowd.

What do you think? Do you care when stores open for Black Friday sales? Should retailers immediately cave in to complaints, or wait to see what people do?

Facebook and Groupon Losing

Facebook and Groupon losing ground with the government and investors.

The FTC  has already reached agreements with Google and Twitter over privacy issues. Now they’re close to reaching a deal with Facebook.

Unfortunately, the privacy problems seem to run a little more deeply with Facebook. That might be why the New York Times article indicates part of the deal includes Facebook submitting to privacy audits for the next 20 years.

In a follow-up piece to last week’s anticipation of Groupon’s IPO, we take a look at what happened after day 1.

Although the IPO was a success for Groupon – and for the investment bankers who raked in $50 Million in fees – it has been somewhat tempered by losses starting on day 2.

And we wrap up the show with a look at how social media is impacting social media.

It begins with a look at how people are responding to the announcement that several retailers are intruding on our Thanksgiving by opening at midnight Thanksgiving Day. Then we look at a study published by Market Tools that shows most business owners are not listening to what we have to say through social media.

And that leads us back around to Facebook, and their persistent reluctance to listen to user dissatisfaction with their privacy policies.