Tag Archives: Marketing


by William Arrington

While most of our lives have transcended into the digital world through experiences such as social networks, friends are still very much tangible. We make friends because we share common ideals, motives, beliefs, activities, influences, communities and even consumption patterns. Social media sought to capitalize on this relationship by broadcasting our lives to the world and then selling them to the highest bidders (i.e. advertisers and retailers) for lack of a better illustration. The effects of this commercialization of our digital lives has left a divide in the purpose and utility of social networks begging to ask the question whether our friendships and connections online have become nothing more than apparatuses for advertisers and marketers to spam us through?


This year I began to take a hard look at this question and re-examine the usefulness of social media in my own life, but also how I engaged with my friends and how those relationships evolved over time through the lenses of social networks. What was meant to be a study of how my own friendships have evolved as a result of social networks however sparked an idea that has since taken on legs of its own. That sliver of opportunity that emerged is a concept I’ve dubbed hyperlocal social economies. The terms hyperlocal and social economy are not new: Hyperlocal referring to well-defined communities generally segmented geographically or demographically; Social Economies referring to the third sector of economies bridging social elements with business and politics with a common mantra of people over profits.


A Hyperlocal Social Economy (HSE) takes some elements from both concepts, but the intended function is to integrate consumption behaviors of a common group, i.e. friends, in order to benefit the group as a whole. The basic elements of an HSE include the following:

  • A well-defined group of consumers sharing similar lifestyles (i.e. friends)An HSE requires a distinct group of individuals that share similar lifestyles, routines, professions and backgrounds. This is important because these individuals tend to share common activities and consumption patterns which overlap each other.
  • A common set of goods/services consumed by the group regularly (seasonal or common intervals)An HSE requires the group to not only have similar consumption patterns (i.e. disposable income) but also common goods and services they consume. The other key element is regular consumption intervals because an HSE relies on the assumption that these groups are comprised of repeat consumers.
  • A competitive market for goods/services being consumed (some standardization or democratization of the good/service)An HSE requires that the market for goods and services has some standard or baseline value that’s common across the marketplace. For instance, going to a movie theater is relatively ubiquitous no matter the operator of the theater chain.
  • Geographically agnosticAn HSE requires that no matter the location of the group members, the goods or services encompassing the HSE are geographically unbound.


What’s the Value of an HSE?

Putting the whole picture together, an HSE provides for individuals within a collective group to leverage economies of scale to enhance individual value proposition. One may note this as being similar to group buying or purchasing, however an HSE will thrive whether the buyer is a group or individual. The value creation exists by the boundless ties to the group and being able to participate at will within the HSE yet the individual can still maintain complete financial sovereignty.

HSE’s One example of this would be in the purchase of concert tickets, where a person in NY scores 2 tickets to a show; however another person in the same HSE group was unsuccessful. As the date approaches, the New Yorker has an emergency that will prevent them from attending, so rather than sell the tickets through Craigslist or StubHub, the tickets are opened up to the other HSE group members, allowing the individual who was unsuccessful buying tickets to tap their friends.


HSE’s are micro-economies that smooth consumption among group members as well. As the above example cited there are many instances where an individual purchases a good or service only to go unused, leaving them at a net loss for the purchase. By filtering these consumables through the HSE group, losses and unused goods and services can be flattened or mitigated among the group members, because they share common traits and thus another member of the HSE group can come in to relieve you of said tickets.

This scenario begs to question why this transaction could not exist without the support of an HSE? The answer is actually yes, a person could reach out to friends or post to Facebook that they have tickets available. Where the HSE’s value proposition lies is that the members of the group are already tapped into each other and have a digital inventory of all members’ consumables allowing for exchanges, sales and purchases to seamlessly exist. An individual within the group only needs to broadcast those goods and services relevant to their HSE group, signaling to other members that they are attending these events, or buying these brands or using these services.

As this series on HSE’s continues, the next iteration will focus on the value creation for the service providers and producers of goods as we shift our attention to the benefits of business participation in the HSE model. Additionally, I hope to share updates on my current project which is applying the HSE model to the consumption of experiences.




William Arrington loves to converse on venture capital and startups. This is the first in a series on the HSE concept. Contact him at arrington.william@gmail.com

Graphic credits: William Arrington and MS Office

This article appeared in NEWS FROM HEARTLAND

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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By Erik Clausen

Several months have passed since the U.S. Presidential election, and…we’re still here, folks. After years of political rhetoric and theatrics, and a few months of uncertainty, we are starting to gain some clarity around exactly what the new administration and its policies might mean for the life science industry and, by extension, marketers within it.

Most importantly and as a wise man wrote before the election, “There is no need for panic.”

the scream EdvardMunch

Edvard Munch – The Scream

Now that the rhetoric has momentarily quieted, we need to balance Trump’s desire to make dramatic policy changes with the realities of the legislative process and with the expectations of a public that benefits from life science and healthcare innovation. Widespread policy changes take time to implement and often require strong Congressional support, even with a Republican-controlled House and Senate. The recent defeat of the health care bill is a case in point.

In other words, as we look at the major policy changes that are likely to affect life science marketing in the years ahead, we need to recognize that there will be time to adjust marketing strategies and tactics accordingly. This may even mean building multiple marketing plans to address different contingencies.

fear MS Office


Possible repatriation of US dollars

U.S. pharmaceutical companies have substantial funds tied up in accounts overseas due to punitive tax laws. The administration has proposed, as part of his economic stimulus plan, to dramatically reduce this tax rate and encourage those dollars to come back to the U.S.

In theory, by lowering the tax burden on these businesses, the economy will see an uptick as businesses are encouraged to invest. These companies benefitting from tax relief would in turn reinvest those dollars domestically in the form of new deals, R&D, acquisition and job creation.

Since pharmaceutical and instrumentation companies typically grow based on acquisition, we could see a resurgence in life science M&A and dramatic increases in the value of emerging biotech, diagnostic and tools companies. No doubt, these topics are top of mind at industry gatherings like the January 2017 J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference.

dollars MS Office

If this move does have the immediate and positive effect on the life science sector as promised, it would give corporate brand managers and marketers much to do to position their companies correctly to take full advantage of the M&A environment.

Of course, this assumes that the financial boon to corporations is reinvested or used for acquisition and not simply distributed to shareholders. Increased deal-flow will lead to increased budgets. This will undoubtedly bring increased noise in a busy economy. Therefore, we should focus on building long-term brand equity in an expanding GDP and economy.


Corporate tax rate reduction

The administration will also propose in the President’s Budget Bill, a much lower corporate tax rate. This plan would significantly reduce the cost of capital and reduce the marginal tax rate on labor.

By most analyses, these incentives could increase the U.S. economy’s size in the long run, boost wages, and result in more full-time equivalent jobs—including in the life science sector. The question remains, what the estimated reduction in federal revenue will mean for federal funding of medical and scientific research. Such grants often precipitate early discovery that soon become commercialized.


tax tax tax MS Office

The size of the proposed tax breaks for corporations are, simply put, Huge.” But if the administration can actually get it through Congress, it has the potential to give corporations exponential buying power, increase cash flow, build up inventory, and re-invest in technology. Dismissing any possibility of a bubble and or the rich simply getting richer, these tax breaks should create jobs and boost all sectors of the economy, including life science and healthcare.


Reforming the FDA

In his 100-day plan, Trump specifically cited, “…cutting the red tape at the FDA…” as among his highest priorities. In the plan, he stated that, “…there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications.” We can only assume that such reforms would also have a direct effect on approval and clearances for new medical devices and diagnostic tests, as well.

An accelerated approval process at the FDA could potentially have a positive effect—at least in the short-term—on the life science sector. With therapeutic candidates and devices moving more rapidly through review than anticipated, biotech, pharmaceutical and device companies in mid to late stage clinical phases could see increased valuations of companies with early approvals.

fda MS Office

Additionally, this could encourage earlier stage companies to get more ambitious about moving candidates to the clinic and could make would-be acquirers more bullish.

In the long term, if that accelerated review brings products to market too quickly, it could threaten public health, cause another costly set of reforms, and damage the brands of those companies.


What does the new agenda mean for marketers?

While it will take some time to feel the effects on any proposed legislation or policy changes, the administration will tie everything back to growing the economy: no small challenge. A lot has to come together with or without a cooperative Congress. The President will have to build a consensus.

marketing MS Office

For now, as marketers we need to do what we’ve always done—assess market opportunities, pinpoint our target audiences, develop smart strategies to reach and influence their behavior, and measure outcomes. Certainly, researching the impact of policy decisions is part of that research, but acting too quickly on proposed policy changes only fuels uncertainty.

And, if there is one truth in the market, it doesn’t like uncertainty.

screaming robot MS Office

In the end, even if the President is able to pass a fraction of what he’s proposing, it should lead to economic prosperity and marketing opportunity in our industry.

Now, if we could just turn off his Twitter account, we might make social media great again, as well.


chempetitive group logo

About the Author

Erik Clausen is part of the Chempetitive Group, a Chicago based marketing initiative for pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, diagnostics, and medical devices.

This article was previously posted online

Graphics: THE SCREAM courtesy www.EdvardMunch.org

All other graphics from MS Office.


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Compass 3 - John OrtbalWhere Tech Startups Come Up Short

.From the Journal of the Heartland Angels

By John Ortbal

Far too many start-ups in the technology sector launch a great product with distinct advantages over competitors but fail to gain a solid footing in their marketplace. One of the major reasons is lack of adequate investment in what I call a solid marketing infrastructure.

Establishing a solid marketing infrastructure gives the startup technology firm (software or hardware) the foundation from which to grow and expand. Without that foundation, it’s easy to become distracted in a scramble to ramp up sales—dispersing your resources and energy.

Compass 4 - John Ortbal

What does it take to build a solid marketing foundation? Here are some basic suggestions:



First and foremost is positioning. A start-up or early growth technology company has to stake a claim, define its positioning, and express it in an elevator pitch—the two or three sentence description that captures the who, what, where and most of all why your new company exists. What most start-ups don’t realize is that when you position yourself, you’ve repositioned everyone else, i.e. your competition. So there has to be a strong element of conflict in your positioning and maybe even a bit of controversy. Playing it safe just doesn’t cut it.



Content is king today as evidenced by the flood of buzz around “content marketing.” For technology start-ups and early growth companies, developing, organizing and sharing content is critical to grabbing and keeping anyone’s attention for long. There’s a reason that Google has recently urged companies to rely less on link building and more on building quality content.



How many people know that the now-famous TED conference was founded by a designer? In fact, how many people know that TED stands for Technology, Education and Design? I doubt there is a component of marketing infrastructure that’s less understood or undervalued. Without the creative genius of design, your content lacks drama and impact.


Web Presence

While anyone can put up a web site these days, that’s the problem for many startups. Their web sites look arbitrary and boring. They lack the content and design that define any brand personality, which could set them apart from their competition. In other words, their web presence fails to fulfill the promise of their positioning. That’s a huge and costly disconnect for many start-ups.


Public Relations

I lump the analyst and professional social media community under public relations. You must communicate your positioning. Flesh it out through a coordinated public relations effort that leverages ALL types of media. That means your positioning has to wear a lot of different outfits depending on which audience you’re trying to attract. Find a spokesperson who can play off your core value proposition with variety and variation using by-lined articles, blog posts, tweets and video interviews.


Customer Community

This is obviously the toughest nut for startups to crack. If you had customers, you wouldn’t be a startup. Your initial customers are really your partners and should be treated as such. Promote them as much as your product and you’ll plant the seeds of a growing customer community that will yield results for years to come.

This article is adapted from the Journal of the Heartland Angels



John Ortbal is President of Services Marketing Group http://servicesmarketinggroup.com/


NEWS FROM HEARTLAND, The Journal of the Heartland Angels, is a quarterly newsletter published as an information service to its members.  Articles may be reproduced with attribution for educational purposes. Copyright © 2013 Heartland Angels –  John Jonelis, Editor – John@HeartlandAngels.com

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CAVEAT EMPTOR – This article is for educational purposes and is not investment advice.  All investment involves substantial risk.  Please do your due own diligence.  Contact Ron Kirschner – Ron@HeartlandAngels.com

For more information, go to:



Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved







Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Consulting, Internet Marketing, investor, Marketing, Mobile Marketing, vc, venture capital


Mobile University Part 2

John Jonelis

MobiUHere’s more of the best on MobiU, put on by Heartland Mobile Council with speakers ranging from ESPN to Best Buy, all here to tell us how they do Mobile.

And all these big shots stick around THE WHOLE DAY to take in the conference. That’s something that never happens anywhere. Usually, a speaker does his talk then heads for the airport. Not here. This crowd needs to find out what the others are doing. Nobody really knows what works or why.



MULTIPLE DEVICES - Heartland Mobile Council

MULTIPLE DEVICES – Heartland Mobile Council

I get tagged as a volunteer and can’t cover the event, so I ask my old friend Donatis Ludditis for help. I’m hoping for a man-on-the-street slant on the conference. Can he do it? It’s a long shot. This guy avoids technology like rotten fish.

Ludditis catches me off-guard when he draws two Smartphones from his pockets like pistols. He’s jumping into Mobile with both feet! As he explains in his peculiar blend of Balkan and Chicago dialects: “Is wonderful—no office—no desk. I hate desk. Can talk to grandchildren. No need computer—keep everything on cloud.”

I’m amazed. Here’s this relic from the Lithuanian neighborhood in Chicago, where the Old Language was the Main Language. And he owns two of the slickest new smartphones while I still cling to my antique Palm Pilot. Even at his age he’s full of energy and I don’t think he’ll lose his wild head of Einstein hair if he lives past a hundred. This guy still cracks walnuts with his biceps.

I feed him potato pancakes and sit through a late showing at the theater he wants to see and now it’s the wee hours.  We’re walking a dark street in a part of town where I don’t belong. I’m wanting to call it a day.

“You no like it here, Yon?” Ludditis says, clucking his tongue.

I show him my wristwatch. “It’s three in the morning! Even the muggers are tucked under the sheets.”

Ludditis glances at my phony Rolex. “People still wear such things?”

Photo by Heartland Mobile Council

Photo by Heartland Mobile Council

“I know just what you need.” He nods knowingly. “I fix you up good. He stops walking and peers at one of his smartphones. “There is place open just two blocks away.” He pockets the phone and takes off at a march and as I tag along he says, “No sleep much at my age. No miss much either!”

The place turns out to be a coffee shop. We’re the only customers and grab a booth. Ludditis orders two cups—black coffee—then shoves them both across at me. “You drink, Yonulis—and listen good. I tell about conference just like you ask me to do. First, this Bieber person.”

That wakes me up quicker than the coffee. Ludditis stays current with pop culture at his age? I switch on my MP3 recorder and swallow the black java.


Ludditis Reports

“One speaker is Corey Bieber from Blue Cross Blue Shield. Maybe cousin to Justin Bieber. Maybe big joke. I not know. She do project on expectant mothers. Good place to use Mobile App. High-risk group. Lotsa monitoring. Repeat condition. Finite time. Emotional audience. Is perfect. Naturally, their study works out good. App saves the company so much money in claims, they wanna give it away free. That way, even more mothers will use it and company saves even more money. But there is internal obstacle. No real data. With no hard proof, is hard sell to upper management. They still trying.”

Somehow that seems ironic to me.  Ludditis goes on:

“Here is what I think happens. Big shot tycoons—they yusta looking at pretty color graphs. Big numbers game. Millions they spend to tell me what I must buy. No more! All big guessing game now. But they know they must play game to win. So corporations sweat bullets to find out how to get people to pay attention to them. Then they want we should tell our friends on Faceboooke, Tweetter, Leenkedin—whatever. How you predict such things in people? Where you place your million dollar bets? Ha!  Nobody know!” He heaves a sigh and smiles. “It make me feel human again—not number—not no more. Dis I like a lot.

“Then lawyer, David Almeida his name–he show us big legal mess. Old laws like square pegs. Courts shoehorn them into Mobile world. Like Cinderella’s slipper! Lawyers gonna make lotsa money like always.”

I write that one down.

Heartland Mobile

Heartland Mobile

“Two guys from Best Buy–they do case study on young males.  Customer want to know if gizmo in store is a good deal. So customer use Mobile Internet to compare price. This turn whole shopping world upside down.”

“You mean people always shop for the best price.”

Ludditis peers at me from under his heavy eyebrows like I’m some kinda idiot. “Convenience, Yonulis. Is number one today. Yusta go straight to store—see if you like product, then go to other store to check price—take all day. No more! Now people check Internet. Reviews. Ratings. Then go to store—feel product—see it. Check price with Smartphone right there. Nobody will come to store unless you make that all possible. Is new kinda service. Then special sale pops up on Mobile. Maybe even show map of store.  Maybe clerk in store show App to help customer.”

Ludditis waves the waitress down and orders a piece of pie. “You like pecan, Yon?”

I nod and sip more coffee.

“Two–with ice cream,” he tells the waitress, then turns back to me. “Here is message: Mobile Apps—two kinds work best: Time savers I tell you about already. But time wasters work good also.”

Photo by Heartland Mobile

Photo by Heartland Mobile

Time Savers and Time Wasters

He’s lost me completely.  “Give me an example of a time waster.”

“Is games. Kids, they crazy for games. Games drive people to store.”

I see what he means. Two completely divergent strategies. But there must be a common denominator. “So Don, what’s the secret sauce?”

He bursts out in a big smile. “Is easy. How do people use Mobile? You take the time to find out! Then you make good customer experience. Not rocket science.”

I recall hearing the same message in the hall. “Listen Don. Today I ran into to Andrea Leiter. She says Mobile Apps are influencing kids.  She can tell because they’re mentioning brands all the time.”

Ludditis stops in the act of forking in a mouthful of pie. “Smart, that gal—she know what she talk about. I see two young guys from Deloitte show big study. Surprising results. Half of customers use Mobile. A hundred and sixty billion dollars of sales—give or take a couple billion—all connected to Mobile. But these not online sales—these in-store!” He digs out a glob of ice cream and closes his eyes while it melts in his mouth.

“What else do you have?”

Ludditis doesn’t answer right away and I have to admit, pecan pie goes good with vanilla ice cream. I’m just grateful Ludditis didn’t order sour cream like he does with most foods.

He starts up again: “Guy from Apartments Dot Com. Everybody think people use Mobile after work only. Wrong! His study show peak time stretch is from 10am to 10pm. Everybody think GPS biggest thing in Mobile. Wrong! Most important thing is functional App.


New Nielsen Ratings

“Then I see Michael Bayle from ESPN. This is television station I watch. Football.  They can send out instant replay on Mobile—seven seconds is all it takes! This I like, too.”

Michael Bayle - ESPN

MICHAEL BAYLE – ESPN – by Ludditis

Ludditis sits back and stretches. “Then Bayle shows Nielsen ratings—numbers never seen by public before. Sports fanatics use Mobile Web more than Mobile Apps. Check scores. Watch replay. But spend time on Apps more than Web. You follow?”

I cock my head and look at him a moment before responding. “You mean they use Mobi more often but when they use an App they stick with it longer. What does he make of that?”

“I let Mr. Bayle scratch his head over that. Then they find out this: Sports nut spend forty percent more time on Internet than regular person does. But on Social Media, not sports. Could be they text with friends while watch game. Give same feel as being in crowd. This I not like.”

Too Much Jargon

Ludditis forks in the last of his pie. “Watch out for one thing, Yon. These people like big words. Not much data yet, but lotsa fancy words. Everybody wanna be scientist.”

I sip at my coffee. “It strikes me that way too. Listen, today I meet this guy named Tim Crawford and he says the jargon level is really high with nothing to back it up. At this point, the research is just in its infancy.”

Ludditis snorts.  “He is right.  Just alotta big talk.”

Tim Crawford


“But Crawford has a deeper insight. It’s great to be here while it’s all developing. It’s fascinating to see the evolution take place.”

I sip the dregs of the caffeine. “You have to be in the Mobile space, he says—that’s a given. But lacking adequate data, you need a deep personal understanding. Otherwise you spend a lot of money and fail big. He advocates spending just a little money and failing fast. Be nimble and get on the right track. It’s extremely important to fail fast.”  Ω






Heartland Mobile CouncilHeartland Mobile Council Logo

Online: http://heartlandMobilecouncil.org/

Twitter: #mobiu2012

Facebook: HeartlandMobileCouncil

Photographs and comments used by permission of Hugh Jedwill and Heartland Mobile Council.

Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.
Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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John Jonelis

So I ask, What’s the hottest marketing tool today?”  And the answer comes right back: “Gamification.” I glance left and right.  “What’s that?” 

Now the answers come at me fast.  Mike Rhodes, serial entrepreneur from AppFactoryInc and Central Street Games hits it outa the park at this session of The Tektite Group.  His marketing arm uses Gamification as their primary tool. 

Bottom line, people love to play games.  Games are the #1 activity on smartphones.  80% on tablets.  50% of Facebook logins.  Any time you offer a reward – that’s gamification.  Think about the way McDonald’s Monopoly game draws people to the store.   But it doesn’t have to be a big expensive campaign.  Turns out, the value of winning is bigger than the prize itself.  Sometimes a $10 gift card is more effective than an iPad. 

Mike Rhodes plays a guest's game

Mike Rhodes plays a guest’s game

3 Key Elements

So the question looms: ‘How do I use gamification in MY marketing plan?’  Three key elements make any interchange a game:

  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. Rewards

Mike ranks the three elements in that order, and the first two are a lot more important than the last.  Kinda counterintuitive, ain’t it?

The sweepstakes approach—awarding points incrementally—is the most economical way to host a game.  The game doesn’t need to have anything to do with the product you’re selling.  Come up with your own simple word game or trivia game and use a rented platform. 

Just keep the goal clear.  It’s amazing what people will do to win a game but no growth takes place till you bring the consumer to a call to action.  So make sure players register.  And make sure you give them questions that tell you what you want to know. 

Mike Rhode's AppFactoryInc

More Game Tips

Gamification is all about meeting the market where it’s at—and in an engaging way.  At a time when email clickthrough is below 8%, gamified campaigns are getting 30-50% because people are engaged. 

Think about giving points for activities with a weekly winner.  A player may not win this time, but points continue to accumulate.  Then you give free points just for answering 10 questions.  People are willing to do it because they actually want the points.

Think about rewards for liking a page on Facebook.  Give points for comments and comments on comments.  “I liked your tortilla.”  By the way, Gene just scored 15 points on our win a gas card game, and you can earn 10 points by just sharing with a friend.  It doesn’t need to be complicated.  Take what you do now.  Gamify it.  Put a sweepstakes element in your branding. 

Put this in your calculations:  Nobody ever stops after being involved in a 90 day game.  Keep the game going after the first winner.  Retention rates are huge. 

Want proof?   The field is new.  No banks of statistics.  Mike quotes Andy McKenna, who advises: “Invest a little, learn a lot.”

Types of Games

  • Trivia games
  • Word games
  • Action games
  • Casual games
  • Puzzles
  • Strategy games

Of all the different games, simple word games and trivia games are the easiest and least expensive to implement.

Who’s Here?

Jean Pickering of The Tektite Group

Jean Pickering of The Tektite Group

Find the speaker, Mike Rhodes at www.appfactoryinc.com.  I met Michael McConachie, from LoopDigital, www.loopdigitalus.com so the big players are here.  Kristin Tews of WIND Radio is covering the event  www.personalbestshow.com.  An investor who bought into one of my favorite startups introduces himself to me.  That company is Youtopia www.youtopia.com  and they’re integrating gamification into their platform as we speak. 

Tektite is always a small, limited crowd and I feel privileged to be here.  Sign up early if you want a spot.  You can find Tektite and Jean Pickering at www.Facebook.com/TheTektiteGroup and http://Twitter.com/TektiteGroup




Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.comComments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved


Filed under Chicago Ventures, Events, Internet, Mobile, Tektite


Verbatim—as told to John Jonelis

Last time I saw Loop Lonagan, he stuck me with a big breakfast check. Then he invited me to lunch, promising the low-down on the Zero Moment of Truth. Now, instead of lunch, he emails me an MP3 file he dictated during an event held at the Chicago Booth Alumni Roundtable. I’ve transcribed it word-for-word, exactly as I heard it spoken:

Loop Lonagan here. I’m at this event at the Gleacher Center and I’m confused. There’s only two grey hairs in the room and we’re both lookin’ like deer in the headlights but for some reason we showed up. Looks like about 200 people. Most of ‘em I never met. All these brown hairs are usin’ a new vocabulary. SEO. What’s that—a new union out there someplace? Something about sex offenders? I don’t know.

The speaker is very bright. Jennifer Howard. Regional director of sales or somethin’ for this company called Google. This is a talk on the effects on advertising and how it really, really changes. I’m in trouble. Don’t know nothin’ about Google even though I use it every day and even own the stock. Don’t know if I’ll learn somethin’ tonight or not, but we’re gonna give it a try. I figure we all shoulda gone to school to learn how to learn insteada learnin’ facts then doin’ a file dump.

Okay, Jennifer’s givin’ some background now. Turns out this stuff got defined by P&G years ago and I remember it. She draws a line with three points: STIMULUS, FIRST MOMENT OF TRUTH, and SECOND MOMENT OF TRUTH. Classic advertising looks at everything as a response to The Stimulus. The First Moment of Truth is when the actual purchase gets made—the buy point. The Second Moment is when the consumer uses it. Now she’s inserting what she calls the ZERO MOMENT OF TRUTH between the Stimulus and the Purchase.

Talk about inserting somethin’ between stimulus and purchase, this Chicago Booth is so cheap, they only charge you ten bucks to get in the room but they make you pay for your beer. Most o’ the time they charge me 35 bucks and only give me one or two beers. I guess this is cheaper. Maybe I shouldn’t complain,

Jennifer’s putting numbers on it. You know I like numbers. She says, on average, people search the Internet for 10+ sources BEFORE they make the buy.  Consumers are a lot more proactive about gettin’ input FROM OTHER PEOPLE to make a decision.  That’s a big switch.  With that goin’ on, advertising as we know it might be a dinosaur.  Can she prove it?

She asks the audience, “How many of you read reviews online?” Answer—damn near a hundred percent.

She asks, “How many have written a review?” Answer—a lot.

Now she’s talkin’ about video. She says 84% of people are looking at YouTube video before the buy. That’s huge.

Nowadays, 15% of all advertising gets spent online. That’s stuff that used to go to magazines and TV and direct mail. I can believe it. I’m surprised it’s that low, considering the way everybody talks about the Internet as if it’s the next perfect world for everything. It doesn’t amaze me. And it doesn’t matter how I feel about it because it’s happening. I can’t control it. I guess I better join it rather than fight it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle.

Okay, online advertising and social media keep getting more of the bucket. Are we past the early adopters and now in the mainstream? Didn’t Geoff Moore write “Crossing the Chasm?” Well, looks like we’re crossing it now. Anyhow, if his paradigm plays out then 50% of the spend is goin’ to the Internet in 2-3 years. But advertising only makes people aware. It’s word of mouth that moves people to buy.

So she asks, “When in the buying cycle are people asking each other questions?” And that’s the whole point.  This Zero Moment is a resource to tell you what’s good and what’s not. And the reason it didn’t exist before is we didn’t have access to it except for a very small circle of friends that we had contact with. So word-of-mouth marketing is now digital. You open one door to four or five people and all of a sudden, you open another door and find a crowd of millions of people out there. It’s hard for a lotta baby boomers to grab onto that. The Internet makes the world flat, to use Tom Friedman’s analogy. Bottom line, you gotta look at the Zero Moment to know how to influence buyers.

What she’s sayin’ makes a lotta sense. Maybe I was a too incredulous and didn’t wanna hear the truth before. Did I say incredulous? That reminds me of the old joke of why the South Dakota farmer sent his kid to Harvard. You ask me, “Whaddaya mean, why?” Answer: So he could learn to say “incredulous” instead of “no shit.”

Anyway, back to the presentation.  She says you gotta look at the Zero Moment to influence the buyer. She’s tellin’ a story about Mayonnaise vs. Miracle Whip. Mayonnaise says somethin’ about Miracle Whip and right away, Miracle Whip has a counter on Facebook. That’s agility.

Do people really follow Mayonase on Facebook? I have a hard time getting it onto a sandwich. Hey, talkin’ about food makes me hungry. They got these microscopic hamburgers here. Microsliders or somethin’. No bigger’n a thumbnail. Hafta eat a whole plate of ‘em just to get a bite. Guess they must be those fancy hors d’oeuvres or whatever you call ‘em. Gonna stop somewhere on the way home for a real hamburger when this is over.

Okay, she’s done now and people are clogging the aisle.  So what else did I learn?  Anything practical?  Yeah. Five keys:

1.) You can’t win without showin’ up. People gotta be able to evaluate your product. Start a conversation with the millions out there.

2.) You gotta answer the questions that people are asking. If you don’t, they’re gonna move on and leave you in the dust.

3.) Only 20% of sites are optimized for mobile phones. You gotta do this. If you don’t, you won’t even get one or two seconds of their time.  And don’t forget video—it’s bigger every day.

4.) You gotta be fast. It’s like an earthquake. The earth moves too fast under your feet for you to just stand there. Jump in and fail fast. If you try to make it perfect, you’ll never make it. Be biased for action.

5.) For any group o’ people, you gotta put a CMFIC in place. If you think that stands for Chief Master Fascist In Charge, you’re crazy.  It’s an old army term. The troops understand it. You gotta have somebody accountable who leads the strategy for you. Be intentional.

Anybody can download a 60 page writeup in PDF or e-book format and see video about this stuff, FREE from Google at http://www.zeromomentoftruth.com

That’s the crop, John. Hope it opens your eyes. Everybody can tell you need to do that.

Find Chicago Venture Magazine at
Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

© 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved.


Filed under Chicago Booth Alumni Roundtable


As told to John Jonelis

Cheese HeadEarly morning on Clark Street, I run into Loop Lonagan, former floor trader on the CME, venture capitalist, and man-about-town.  It’s been about two months and my feelers tell me something is wrong with Loop

“Hey, long time no see.”  That sounds awkward and I try to follow with a joke.  “Been locked up in the joint or what?”  I intend the prison reference as tongue-in-cheek, but Loop’s reaction surprises me.  He staggers to a standstill and then sidles over to lean against a light pole.  When he moans, I know it’s an act.

Then he slowly nods.  “No mercy.  No grace,” he says in a voice that sounds more like a growl.  “Prison’s gotta be better than what really happens to a man these days.  Lousy do-gooder sister.  A guy lets loose just once and next thing he wakes up in the tank.”

“Which tank is that?”

Loop cocks his head and looks at me with bleary eyes.  I’m not sure if it’s a hangover or just a typical early morning.  “You didn’t hear?” he says, “That’s right, your house burned down.  The old battle axe signed me up for a life sentence.  Detox, then my own private room.  For good.  I call in a few favors and get outa there just before the big holiday celebrations in Honolulu.”

“You always seemed to hold your liquor before.”

“That counts for nothin’ these days.  Let it rip once—just once—and they think they got you pegged.  Anyhow, I’m back.”

“What set you on a binge?”

He growls again.  “Don’t get me started on that.”

We walk into an eating establishment and shed our coats.  Loop orders bagels and lox.  I do the same.  He finishes and orders another helping, then downs a second cup of coffee.  I can see it’s doing him a world of good.

Then he looks straight at me.  “Okay John, if you wanta know about it.  But I ain’t got a lotta time.”  He takes another bite of bagel.  “Somebody keeps movin’ my cheese.”

“You mean like in the cartoon?”

“Yeah.”  The waitress fills his cup.  It steams and he slurps it carefully.  “You notice that GDP is back where it was three years ago?   But it don’t feel that way, right?”

I shake my head and wait for him to go on.

“The numbers.  They’s all back to what they was but things is different—way different.  Same numbers but the way business delivers ‘em is different.”

Loop finishes his second bagel and orders a third. By this time he looks like the old Loop Lonagan and goes on:  “One thing—access to capital is all screwed up after the housing bubble and banks got a real attitude.  We move thousands of working jobs out o’ the country.  Hell—R&D too.  The stinkin’ Internet changes way the way we do business.”

I sit there in shock.  Is it possible that this news flash takes so long to hit him?  “Listen, Loop.  Everybody knows all that stuff.  Everybody.”

“Yeah, yeah.  But here we get to the crux.  We redefine success.”

I swallow some coffee.  Redefine success—first time I’ve heard it put that way.

“Success with no access to capital gets you nowhere any more.  The lousy Internet changes delivery.  Access to information and business processes change.  People depend on referrals even more to make transaction decisions.  Everything’s different and less people needed—a lot less in the good old US of A.  So we get massive unemployment.  It’s all structural.  Ain’t goin’ away.  Everybody gets redefined.”

I take my last bite of breakfast and think over what I’m hearing.

After another slug of coffee, Loop goes on.  “That means we redefine the planning process.  That means we redefine data sets.  Those now come from outside the business as much as inside.”

I hadn’t thought about that but it’s true.  I nod.

“Goals change.  Used to be you get your capital first then build a business.  Now it’s build a business then prove that you deserve the capital to grow it.”

That rings true for me as well.

“Collaboration changes, too.  Now there’s more going on between companies than inside them.  Lots more collaboration cross-country.  Overseas.  With customers.  Platform companies like Google and Facebook dominate what goes on with information—that’s why their shares get bid so high.  Then companies put together Content Management systems—can you beat that?”

“Loop, you may have noticed that my business card reads Content Specialist.”

“Yeah, but you’re a writer at heart.  Then I finally come to grips with what that term really means.  Manage what goes in the bag.  They used to call it marketing but now it’s about information more than product.  Trust the big guys to turn it into a science.”

Loop signals for the check and I ask a question.  “You don’t like it—the change, I mean?”

“Don’t make no difference what I like.  Gotta move with the market.  Anyhow, I put the past behind me with the help of my close friend Jack Daniels.  You know where that landed me—but that’s behind me too.”  He looks at his smartphone.  “Hey, I got a meeting.  Let’s have lunch later.  Gimme a call.  I got the low-down on the Zero Moment of Truth.  Good seeing you, John.”

And just that fast, he’s gone, and the check still sits on the table.

Find Chicago Venture Magazine at
Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

© 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved.


Filed under Chicago Ventures