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John Boitnott
Works at Entrepreneur
Attended UC Santa Barbara, St. Ignatius College Preparatory
Lives in San Francisco
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John Boitnott

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There is still a bit of a debate when it comes to how businesses should choose to collect  #data . One camp wants to rely on more "old school" data collection methods such as customer surveys, interviews and focus groups. The other is going digital, using online solutions to track and analyze customer behavior. 

Which one should you choose? It looks to me as though digital outclasses old school methods these days. Classic data gathering techniques have a high cost in both money and time, can be hard to do at scale, and leave room for significant human error, among other issues. 

Meanwhile, many startup founders and venture capitalists do recommend a degree of old school data gathering in order to develop minimum viable products for their new ventures. It has been shown that a good amount of customer interviewing and in-person surveys can help get to the heart of why customers like or dislike a new product. This helps founders make the quick pivots needed to survive in fast-paced startup ecosystems.

I go into greater detail around "new school" and "old school" data collection methods in this post -- so feel free to quick through and check it out!
+Inc. 
Inc.com
Even the smallest companies can now collect data that helps them make decisions and grow.
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In Silicon Valley and in other regions where investors help orchestrate the #startup ecosystem, founders spend years building their networks so they can make the right connections. Many entrepreneurs are hoping to meet VCs who will consider investing money in their ideas. But not only do you need the right idea, you have to not get lost in the sea of other businesses seeking funding.

One way to avoid letting that happen is by having your business fundamentals straight. A good investor will realize this very quickly. They will see that you've done your market research. They'll see if you know your customers. They'll also see that you've figured out who your target market is.

One of the things that will make it apparent that you're worthy of investment is that you've talked to potential customers and you've made changes to your product because of the feedback you've gotten. Your investor pitch is going to be tailored to some extent on the changes you made because of your customer surveys.

An investor often chooses to give your business money more because they like you than because of anything particularly compelling about your business. In talking with Robert Herjavec, one of the Sharks on #sharktank, I learned that he often cares more about an entrepreneur's story than their product.

To read more about how you can take advantage of your story - click through to the +Fortune article here.
Investors know when they have an entrepreneur in front of them who has a sense of the market.
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This is probably going to seem controversial to people who believe that engagement is the heart of #socialmedia . You are wrong. Engagement should come in a distant second in importance to distribution.

What do I mean by this? You should post more and engage less. At the end of the day, conversation isn't something that's going to happen as often, and rarely leads to more visibility like your actual posts will.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you shouldn't converse with friendly followers. Im not saying you should ignore customer service cases on social media that need attention. You need to give those all the energy you would normally give them. They play a big part in how your customers perceive you. The philosophy of your company is revealed through how you treat people. 

Just understand that on social media, the philosophy of your company is first and foremost revealed through the content you share. Engagement doesn't form the backbone of your social strategy --- distribution does.

Don't be afraid to post as much as you want -- as long as you do it with a plan that makes sense and works for you. If you own an athletic shoe company, post items about sports and running. Post health news and quotes from athletes. Of course, you'll also want to mix in stories about your company, as well promotions for your products. Check out the story for more:
+Inc. 
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Despite its importance, conversation on social media tends to happen on a smaller scale and rarely leads to more visibility.
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An new study shows just how important #customerservice  is for the new customer. The study, conducted by PH Media Group, found that 59% of customers felt that if their first customer service call was not handled correctly, they would not buy from the company again.

This highlights the importance of making sure every customer receives solid service. You should have a program in place to monitor customer support staff.

One of the key findings of the study is just how important live customer service calls can be to older customers. Of the people in the 55 to 64 age group, a bad phone experience would lead to 63 percent never returning as customers. This makes sense because older customers may be more accustomed to live customer support phone calls. They came of age before there was an Internet. Younger customers placed less of an emphasis on live calls.
+Entrepreneur 
Research finds that potential customers unhappy with their first experience contacting a company are unlikely to ever return.
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If you're running a #sales team, you have a lot to think about as you manage current prospects and future deals. It can be difficult to correctly forecast successful deals and manage time. Here are some tips that can help.

1.) Create a cadence that works for you in managing current prospects and allocating the right amount of resources to particular leads.
2.) In your weekly meetings, stay up to date on what's changing or not changing in your teams "must win" deals.
3.) Make sure you understand the key performance indicators in your CRM. These include but are not limited to: number of deals, average deal size, win rate and sales cycle.
4.) Know the rhythm of your sales people and provide the things you've learned help them reach success the most.
5.) Know the strength of your funnel. Do a monthly or bi-monthly pipeline review.
6) Remember that your past deal flow can give you insight into future success. Quarterly sales reports are helpful hear. Look at them to chart which deals are most likely to close.

Big businesses conduct deep research and analysis, forecasting sales and measuring results against projections. For a company to be successful, sales managers must perform without being pulled in too many different directions, or overwhelmed with too much customer data. One of the first things to
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I've talked to business owners think that #marketing  automation software is limited to email campaigns. Not so. There's quite a bit it can help with, from SMS messaging to social media engagement.

The key is - are you using the software properly? It's not a given that you will be successful if your processes aren't working in the first place. Make sure you create and distribute quality content in the first place, so that people don't feel like they are being spammed. Also, make sure to identify key areas of the funnel so you can send out appropriate messages to prospects.

Another problem that devalues marketing automation software is when sales and marketing departments distrust each other. That can't happen. Those two teams need to work closely and have similar goals.Studies show that when sales and marketing are closely aligned, it improves growth.
+Inc. 
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If you're not interested in generating quality new customers, by all means keep making the following missteps.
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If you want to make sure you get #customers to keep coming back, then you will have to really give them a unique, positive experience. Your product has to be exceptional, and your  #customerservice  must be exemplary. This is easier said than done, but here's what you can do to make it happen.

You need to personalize for your customers. Use tools that let you keep track of customers and their behaviors so you can tailor products and deals for them

Keep your product offerings and your marketing strategies fresh. Consider refreshing these things every 6 months or so.

Maintain an active presence in your local community. Sponsor local youth sports events for instance. You should also consider joining an industry-specific organization and staying active in it. Customers will see you more often this way and trust you more.

Keep your policies flexible. Don't lose loyal customers because you refused to bend on a product-return policy, for instance.

Finally, you should make sure you are accessible to your customers at all times, and that you offer special discounts and deals for those returning customers.
+Inc. 
Inc.com
Listening to customers is key, but are you making it obvious that you're adjusting to give them what they want?
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There is nothing less than an online revolution taking place right now when it comes to #Ecommerce. This industry is worth hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide and grew almost 16% in 2014. That trajectory isn't changing. If you want to have a successful e-commerce business, you need to do certain things that will separate you from the pack and keep you in the black.

One of those things is getting your business plan and marketing strategy straight. You need to hone in on what your primary products are, what your unique selling points are, and what your top marketing channels are.

Additionally, you must make sure your products are positioned properly on the site. You also have to gather and analyze the right customer data, remove "barriers to entry" on your site, and create a "social experience." Click on the link below to learn more about those.
+Inc. 
The business opportunities online are enormous but taking advantage of them is a painstaking process.
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Local #marketing doesn't have to be just an #SEO  affair. It's fine and dandy to optimize your site for search, but there's a lot more to getting local customers.

First, you might need a little attitude adjustment when it comes to how you approach your budget. Some executives believe that by shrinking their marketing budget, they're helping their bottom line and leading to more profit. 

That's not actually true. What you're doing is decreasing your investment in your own marketing efforts, which has the potential to harm your bottom line. You need to concentrate on ways to optimize your marketing spend so that you get more out of the smaller amount you do pay.

You also need to examine all the other channel options there are, from email and SMS text to content marketing. Read more about these, including an excellent example from Dunkin' Donuts, by clicking the link below. 
+Inc. 
Inc.com
Getting local customers is mostly about knowing your budget and goals, as well as using the right channels.
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It can be very hard to keep customers. Many businesses will lose half of them every year. Because it can be very tough to replace lost customers with new ones, business owners are smart to try and bring back lapse ones. Here are some of the best ways to do so.

It is highly important to use tools that identify customer patterns. It's great to keep track of when a customer last purchased something, but you need to be able to treat a customer who infrequently makes purchases different from one who has only recently stopped purchasing. RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) analysis let's you categorize all customers so you and do specific reengagement campaigns for each.

This post also talks about PoS systems, SMS Deals and Email campaigns. Click on the link to check it out!
Inc.com
Don't underestimate the power of a simple text message.
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My latest blog post on jboitnott.com:
There's a lot of controversy in the #content creation world around Youtube's new "Red" subscription service. For $10 per month, people can access original content there without seeing ads.

YouTube partners, the people who create content, are being strongly encouraged to sign contracts that will allow their material to be seen by "Red" subscribers. 99 percent of them have signed up so far. The videos of people who don't sign up are set to private viewing only and the public can't see them.

This obviously has some YouTube partners up in arms. They call this change a "bullying tactic" since they have no say and must comply or their videos will go private.

YouTube claims users have long asked for a subscription service. Supporters say "Red" will let partners build audiences even more easily now. Others say this could be an opportunity for rival companies to step into the vacuum and give people a chance to release content that wouldn't see the light of day on YouTube now.

I for one look forward to the coming months to see how it all plays out!
If you are one of the growing number of people making money running a successful YouTube channel, you are likely to...
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Let's be honest, #HR  is not the forte of #startups or small businesses. Most of the people who run startups are young, don't have experience in the corporate world, and don't know how to handle sensitive issues like sexism in the workplace, or even firing someone without getting sued or creating tremendous animosity.

In this article I talk about "people analytics" in making human resource decisions, and how Google's Re:Work product can help small business leaders make those decisions. 

What is "people analytics?" It's about using analytics to help make HR decisions. The more you learn about current staff performance, the better decisions you can make about hiring, training and promotion. This data is getting easier to gather. For example, turnover trends can be analyzed to determine staffing schedule changes various times of the year.

Re:Work is shaping up to become a go-to resource for small businesses. Starups don't have the huge resources that big companies have, so they need a tool like Re:Work to make better HR decisions and nurture talent.

The tool offers guides on topics like employee surveys. Businesses can learn how to set up their own "people analytics," as well as what company behaviors help the bottom line. For instance, Google lowered the number of applicant interviews when it saw that a higher number didn't increase quality of hires.

 +Inc. 
The search giant's re:Work resources provides articles, case studies and tips from experts in various industries on using analytics to improve hiring and promotion.
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  • UC Santa Barbara, St. Ignatius College Preparatory
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Paul
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Longtime Bay Area digital media consultant.
Introduction
I have worked at TV, newspapers, radio and internet companies in California for 20 years. I currently write for Inc., Entrepreneur, Venturebeat and SAP Innovations Blog. I have written for NBC, Village Voice, FastCompany and USAToday among others. I was an on-air TV reporter for 2 years in Santa Barbara, and as one of Digg’s power users, I drove millions of visitors to websites all over the world. I also now invest in startups and work with tech entrepreneurs to scale their businesses. Before that I wrote, produced, reported, edited, and a million other things for TV stations, radio stations and newspapers since 1994.

I like hiking, working out, watching sci-fi and politics, listening to my favorite band Led Zeppelin as well as classic rock in general, reading spiritual books, fantasy novels like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. I have a weakness for political and religious discussions. 

I love to draw. I love to do things on the internet. I love being with my friends.
Bragging rights
Got a Masters in Education by the time I was 23. Became a TV reporter in Santa Barbara by the time I was 26.
Work
Occupation
Journalist, Digital Media Strategist
Employment
  • Entrepreneur
    Writer, 2014 - present
  • SAP.com
    Writer, 2014 - present
  • USAToday
    Freelance Contributor, 2014 - present
  • Viralheat
    Sr. Account Manager, 2012 - 2013
  • Hasai Inc.
    VP, Business/Development, 2010 - 2012
  • Village Voice Media
    Journalist, Social Media Strategist, 2009 - 2010
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San Francisco
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Redwood City - Santa Barbara, Daly City
I've been seeing Eric for the last year or so and have made tremendous personal progress in several areas, from my personal to professional life. Eric's guidance and calming presence has played an important part for me in my journey. I highly recommend you visit him.
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It's hard to be anything other than satisfied at the Kunde Estate as they drive up up the side of a mountain (all on the estate) to enjoy a wine tasting session, with a view that stretches all the way south to San Pablo Bay. I was highly impressed with the jovial and welcoming demeanor of our hosts as they gave us tasting after tasting of lovely wines.
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I had some lung issues recently and I am happy that Dr. Lipson was available. His expertise and knowledge pulled me through some tough situations, as I had panic attacks connected to my asthma. That situation has improved quite a bit - and he is monitoring me closely. So I am happy with how it has gone so far. He is reasonably priced too - if you have insurance. He's also a kind, nice person too.
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