16 Sep 2015

How borrowing a projector turned into a dream calling

No Comments Networking

6 years ago, JD Lasica, a high-power journalist who runs socialmedia.biz, reached out for an interview.
I was so busy running Facebook ads that I was pondering whether to do the interview or get an hour of much-needed sleep.

I’m so grateful I chose to forgo that hour of sleep.
And when you look back on your life journeys, you’ll find the small choices that made all the difference.

That interview to share expertise on how Facebook ads led to his invite to speak at the Social Media Club in Oakland.
We didn’t have a projector, so JD asked his buddy, Kenny Lauer, if we could borrow his projector.


In meeting Kenny, I had much respect for the guy who ran events such as DreamForce and Oracle OpenWorld.
And unforeseen to both of us, a few years after that, he ran digital and marketing for the Golden State Warriors.

And then he pulled me in to help him with social ads and analytics, even gave me the wonderful compliment of “Dennis has not only been amazing with us at the Warriors but someone I consider a great friend” – wow!
All based on that seemingly random encounter 6 years ago to ask someone if we could borrow a projector.

Kenny was then able to hire Daniel Brusilovsky, founder of Teens in Tech, and co-founder at Ribbon and Imoji.
That led to me being able to work more closely with Daniel, which brought me into his network.


And that’s how I met Christine Stoffel, founder of the SEAT consortium, the highest power network of sports executives and tech.

Then being able to share our experience with the Warriors– how we used social to drive provable ticket revenue.

A close friend of mine, Spencer Taggart, who I also met because of these experiences, has spoken of similar encounters. Spencer once told me…

“I randomly met a famous chef at a trade show and we quickly became dear friends. (Chef Art Smith) Because of this one relationship, we each have new friends, and business partners that have dramatically changed the course of our lives; more than once. I have no clue where my life would be if I hadn’t been willing to step out of my comfort zone and befriended this mountain of a man. Chef’s life has changed in phenomenal ways as well. Follow your gut, eliminate fear, and believe in the power of relationships.”


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The chain of events, butterfly style, goes on.

Every decision you make creates your domino destiny, amplifying your future in ways unforeseen to you now.

So the moment you think you’re amazing, consider the folks who have made your journey possible.
I sit with awe and gratitude of the mentoring and friendship I’ve been so lucky to receive.


Yet had I not gone all in on Facebook ads– to literally spend thousands of hours making campaigns,  JD Lasica wouldn’t have reached out.
So it starts with you openly sharing something you’ve learned, investing time to get good at it, and building your personal brand.

Share what chain of events created something amazing for you.

31 Aug 2015

Good people and good profits- my secret revealed

No Comments advice

I’ve labored 20 years in business. Two decades.

PicMonkey Collage

And here is a simple lesson I learned the hard way…

The quick buck from shortcuts is a mirage.

I’ve dabbled in affiliate marketing, toolbar installs, online gambling, dating sites, and many perfectly legal, but questionably ethical endeavors.

Made millions on a couple, but usually lost my shirt and created heartache. Certain fields draw certain people. And soon you find what was supposed to be easy is now a complex mess with unsavory people out to cheat you.

We were doing over $80,000 a day in revenue selling questionable products on Facebook years ago. But eventually got shut down when Zuckerberg himself got mad.

It didn’t last. It never does.

I was at Disneyland with Neil Patel and Harrison Gevirtz one day. We were joking how we were making $10,000 in the hour that we stood in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean.


Even the 5 minutes that it took to go the bathroom and come back- well, that was about $500, you figure.

I bought our guys cars as bonuses.
Flew them first class to New York to celebrate.
Spent money on stupid things just to show off, like other teenagers with sunglasses and gold chains- I had neither of those, by the way.

The campaigns ran by themselves on Facebook pushing the IQ quiz and reared mobile offers. Totally legal, but still ethically wrong.

And I regret ever wasting the years playing in that space. I’ve made a number of enemies since then in the affiliate space. You can imagine what the various people said when I exited years ago.

How I cost some people a lot of money by writing articles about how spam works and consulting for the FTC. How I was holier than thou, but no better than them. That I was rich and deserved to be robbed or killed. I had death threats.

Not worth it.

Wrong industry and wrong people.
Learn from my mistakes.

So save yourself the pain. There are many ways to make a profit. Choose the right people and the right areas.

If you’re doing it for the money, that’s a sign something is wrong.

If you are trying to please someone else to be who you are not, reconsider what you are doing.

Ask yourself if your labors are creating wholesome value for people or if you’re tricking people somehow.

If you’re in the affiliate space, which is a mix of good and bad (like anything), it’s easy to just call it marketing and justify it.  Beer commercials promise the girl of your dreams while that free credit report isn’t really free.

But that’s not what I’m talking about.

The test is if you would feel okay if your grandmother or significant other clicked on your ad and bought.

Would you feel guilty?

It took me over a decade to realize that using my skills to teach young adults how to optimize digital traffic, then applied to sports teams, lead gen, and whatever, was far more rewarding.


Whether it’s more profitable in the long run doesn’t matter, since the pleasure is in being with good people.

In part 2, I’ll tell you about how I learned to do PPC, what tactics generated profits, and some crazy things that happened when I started my first business.

24 Aug 2015

7 things I learned at ESTO about social media

No Comments Thought Leadership, Travel
  • Attendees love micro-brews in Portland. Why have a travel conference in Little Rock, Arkansas?  Just kidding.
  • Social media has advanced to where influencers matter– and you can’t treat them like ad networks. You must cultivate content in their voice to appeal to their audience authentically.
  • Henry Hornecker is a 21 year old up and coming social media star that will work for one of the NBA teams by this time next year.
  • DMO (destination marketing organizations) know they need to be on social and to connect with influencers, but they don’t know what to do, how to do it, and how to measure it. There is fuzziness around how much to pay influencers or whether to just give out free travel, hotel stays, and the like. We released a guide at blitzmetrics.com/esto.
  • CPM is a good starting point to measure earned media value, since we’re looking at traffic to the properties. However, we need a qualitative measure for relevance and perhaps to sales where quantifiable.
  • Influencers, who are content marketers with distribution, too, need to create their own material to resonate with their fan base.  The management and organization of these influencers is loose, so agencies like Instabrand and others are creating networks to enable the buying and selling of influence.
  • There is fear of “selling out”, since influencers legally must disclose they are getting paid. But with strong branding, meaning influencers being picky about who they choose, fans won’t be disappointed.IMG_0194

Thank you, Bill Karz, VP of Digital at the LA Tourism and Convention Board, for the invite to the panel!

30 Jul 2015

On This Day – Facebook

No Comments local advertising

Dennis Luggage Post
I awoke from a dream and didn’t know where I was. The hotel room looked like any ordinary Hilton, but when I peeled back the curtains, I saw the sprawling, dirty metropolis of Beijing.

And I remembered that I was 13 hours ahead– how far I had come, literally. Jetlagged, disoriented– not like the fantasy George Clooney in “Up In The Air”.

Another time, I’m in Minneapolis in my own bed, but it takes a few moments to wipe away the slumber and realize where I am. Being an entrepreneur is sometimes like a horror film that you don’t know the ending of, nor can publicly admit is scary.

My TravelPro carry-on remembers these cities and experiences, but is forever silent.

The “On This Day” feature of Facebook helps me relish the journey. It gives me balance– low moments when I need a dose of humility and reminders of past success when I need cheering up.

One year ago, you were doing something you probably don’t remember well today. But when reminded, the details come back in full HD.

It’s better than the times you move, pausing to rummage through stuff you hadn’t seen in a while. You cherish these memories and remind yourself to follow up on them.

Are you getting these flashbacks from Facebook more frequently in your newsfeed? Do you wish life was not a slideshow that would only accelerate faster and faster with no pause button.

Go to facebook.com/onthisday and remind yourself of how far you’ve come, my friend.

28 Jul 2015

I am still waiting for your reply

No Comments email marketing

Thus said friend.seocompany@gmail.com, who wants me to post their blog in exchange for a token payment.
Apparently, I didn’t respond to them within 2 minutes, so they had to follow up.

So I was curious what sort of spam they engage in.
Googling that email address (you should use your domain, not a freemail address, by the way, if you want to be treated seriously), we find:


Looks like “Anna” is buying and selling links on her site:


And doing this with a lot of folks:


Notice the keyword stuffing in the blog sections and tags.

Anyone who has to cold-call to drive business doesn’t have enough to keep them busy.
It means they can’t keep clients or care more about growth than quality.

Be an inbound marketer, not a desperate pitchman.

10 Jul 2015

How Business Insider creates decent Facebook videos with ease

No Comments local advertising

9 things you didn’t know about Air Force One: http://read.bi/1FW0pEJ

Posted by Business Insider on Sunday, July 5, 2015

Here is an organic video from Business Insider, a publisher of broad-ranging content that uses BuzzFeed-like techniques.
Better content and not as far as the linkbaiting spectrum, so a good player to watch to see what social sharing tactics are working.

This video is a listicle (an article that is a list of things), which is the easiest to create.
Take any existing article you have (a top ten list, for example), associate one picture per item, and turn it into a video.

Instead of posting the entire video to Facebook, have the first 20 seconds be native and make the call the action at the end like this:


If you’ve done a good job in making the video super interesting, you’ll get the follow-on click to your site.
Facebook recently changed a video view to be counted as at least 10 seconds, up from just 3 seconds.
So make the video just long enough to be super interesting, but not long enough that the drop-off hurts you.

If you do a good job, you’ll get 25% of viewers to click through.


In this case, Business Insider is using their own url shortener, but you could you link directly or use bit.ly, too.

Look in your video analytics in Facebook insights and compare it with your Google Analytics.

Then you can see this funnel:

impression > view > Facebook reported click > bitly click > Google Analytics visit > conversion

Pro tips:

  • You’ll need sitewide SSL on your site to measure referral traffic from Facebook.
  • Set up url parameters in your call to action link so you can track it as a campaign.
  • Amplify this post with ads at a dollar a day.
  • Make sure you have conversion tracking in Facebook and Google enabled so you can see if viewers took further action.
  • Have remarketing in place (Google and Facebook) so you can show follow-on videos and articles in sequence to these viewers.
  • Get a FancyHands, Fiverr, or student to do this at $20 a pop to help you assemble your listicles (then turned into a video) and execute this process.

If you have your plumbing in place, then you’ll methodically be able to drive engagement traffic (like this) sequentially to conversion.

Consider what Owen Hemsath, who’s an expert at video marketing on his YouTube channel VideoSpot, and runs thevideospot.net, has to say:

2ea23d0Short-form video content will win over Facebook users who are used to thumbing through their news feed. Ask for a few seconds of their time to earn the click and take advantage of remarketing strategies to engage your viewers long term. Businesses using Facebook video will excel with short-form content. All of our tests show that users want to preview your content before committing to the full post.  We’ve found that on Facebook shorter videos with a clear commercial message outperform “content-based” ads promoting the same offer. In other words, if you’re selling something- sell it and do it quickly. The talking head videos may perform well if you’re a clearly established personality but for most brands, that won’t be the case. Give the audience a visually impactful video that leads to your funnel. 

In other words, have multiple nurturing steps by delivering content via email, Facebook, and otherwise to an eventual conversion.

29 Jun 2015

I just don’t have enough

No Comments advice, personal branding, promoting yourself

Not enough time. Not enough money. I don’t have enough in every aspect of my life.

And so I adopt a scarcity attitude, justifying my rude behavior towards others.

After all, if there isn’t enough to go around, it’s a dog eat dog world, right?

There are only so many client dollars, so I must outmuscle my competition.

I’ll growl when any other dog comes near my food dish when I’m eating.

Zero sum game, red ocean– I need to be tough and distrustful, as life is nasty, brutish, and short.

That’s what other people say as an excuse to not share their expertise, which guarantees failure in their attempts to do content marketing.

So content marketing becomes illogical– why would you give away your food in a famine?

For some, the hot sand evokes a barren desert, but to others, a tropical beach


If you want to be the “best” at something, you have to surround yourself with others at the best.

Crawl out from the “safety” of your Platonic Cave and into the illumination of the brightest stars.

Those who you once thought were enemies now become allies you seek for reciprocal value.

I’m not threatened by folks like Larry Kim, who can probably run circles around me in PPC.

Or Mat Morrison, who can mine social data deeper than I can imagine.


These folks I respect, but am not afraid of and definitely don’t see as competition.

Who are the Larry’s and Mat’s that you’ve avoided because of the fear of not enough?

Fear is the silent killer

I might think that I don’t have fear, but disguise via my busyness, call it irrelevant, or deflect it with excuses.

Like an alcoholic, I’ll be in denial– cover it up, be defensive, and then hide.

When there is love, fear cannot exist.

Love is focusing on the needs of others, while fear is self-centered concern.

When others are being mean to us, look beyond their immediate behavior to see a heart in pain.

They are in pain like a bear with her paw in a trap or a friend who has suffered a physical injury.

You can reframe anger, rude behavior, and criticism into a cry for love, like our friend Will Franco talks about.

And usually, their situation is caused by a mentality of not enough and zero sum, which is what’s causing them to barely get by.

What they view as the problem is actually the symptom and vice-versa.

If you believe strongly in your business’ mission, where is your love manifested?

How are you giving of your knowledge and time freely, knowing it will come back to you one hundred fold?

If not, how will you transform your mentality of being a sole provider fending off the world, unable to come out to receive love?

Who are the folks you view as enemies and competitors, whose strength they’d gladly apply in your favor?

I’d argue that you believe you have any direct competitors, you’ve not thought through your mission deeply enough.

The exception is if you operate in a regulated or commodity environment– but then consider how to not differentiate further.

17 Jun 2015

Don’t do this if you want to speak at a conference

No Comments Conferences



Putting on conferences is increasingly harder, so organizers are resorting to trading speaking slots for sponsorship dollars.
The result is that most conferences devolve into pitchfests, where vendors shamelessly sell, like above.

Here is one example of where they reached out and I replied asking for more information:


So my assistants reached out 7 times over the course of 3 months and never got a response:



In fact, each time I’ve replied to WBR folks, they have trouble responding, even though they initiated conversation or called me first.
Here is one of many:



In fact, over the last couple years, they’ve sent me 110 emails and phone calls:



Attendees smell the foul odor and don’t come back the next year, creating increasing pressure to rely on sponsors to make ends meet.
Do you see this happening at the conferences you attend?



“I agree that many are becoming a pitchfest. I think those conferences who limit the numbers of exhibitors do better from an attendee’s point of view. If I wanted to see what people have to sell, I’d go to an exhibition. I go to conferences to learn, network and share what valuable insights that I have myself”

says Facebook Marketing Professional, Jenny Brennan. She continues,

“On the other hand, I think most organizers would argue that they need the revenue – I don’t know what it’s like to be on that side of things so I am unqualified to give an opinion – I just know that for me, it feels sort of slimy to be sold to at events and I avoid the booths as much as I can.”

This problem is only getting worse, since the big networks like Google and Facebook actually have the upper in producing content on how to use their platforms.
Same is true for Adobe Analytics, Marketo, Infusionsoft, and other vendors that are now putting on their own shows.

HootSuite has their HootSuite University and Facebook has Facebook Blueprint– plus Google has their certifications.

There is only going to be more technology, not less of it.
And the inevitable result is that you’ll see increasingly more tool-focused presentations, but less independent speakers.

Back to the original issue, if you’re good (I mean really good) at what you do, you’ll not need to pay to speak at a conference.
They’ll pay your travel expenses and give you a modest speaker’s fee.

I hear Guy Kawasaki gets $50k to speak and Seth Godin is over $100k.
You don’t see these guys or even the smaller guys ever paying– we certainly don’t.

Paying for content is like paying for sex– it’s dishonest on multiple levels.
You can see this sales guy’s message offering up the audience like raw meat– encouraging pitching.

In the last year, I’ve been hit up every week for paid speaking gigs– I turn them all down.
Some conferences have aggressive sales guys that offer “free” passes if you buy a discounted booth.
The booth is supposedly $10,000, but if you get selected (everyone gets selected), then it’s only $2,000.

We have to be picky about what conferences have alignment with our mission so we create joint value– helping young adults get jobs.

Consider your opportunity cost in addition to any hard costs.
Pay to attend a conference to learn, but never pay to speak.

15 Jun 2015

He raises a good point

No Comments email marketing, Spam



04 Jun 2015

Cold caller follows up incessantly on me, so I follow up on him

No Comments email marketing, Spam

IdSuPAOv1xyiimKC5hfKNpTK66x5kd6DhvCCjCEQRO4 This sales guy cold blasted me 6 times, asking if I was interested in his services.

On his most recent follow up, I decided that I would follow up with him to ask if he could unsubscribe me. Then I set a 7 day boomerang (one of my favorite services) to come back back if he still hadn’t responded.

He didn’t. So I’ve followed up with him to see if he’s been able to stop the spam.

I don’t believe in cold calling for a variety of reasons: you are wasting your time interrupting people who aren’t interested, it makes you look desperate for sales, you’re dumping spam into the ecosystem, and it creates negative word of mouth.
Sales are important- don’t get me wrong- but we must be smarter about it. Be consultative, create value. Make it about them, not you.

Are you building a relationship in your email campaigns, or pointlessly spamming in hopes for a sale?