We called the multi-millionaire fashion mogul to glean his tips on how to promote your product like a shark. Here are his top seven:
1. Know what your customers will want.
Your first step when launching a new product is to think backwards, John says. Brainstorm on ways you can make the product something your target customers would want to buy in the first place.
“Like I did with FUBU, we created a product for people who understood us and who were just like us, people who love rap music and who love rap culture,” he says. Envision your ideal buyers — what they generally like and dislike, what pains they have that need to be solved — then build your initial product concept in a way that will “speak to them.”
2. Directly involve your target customer in the creation of your product.
“You don’t build it and they will come,” John says. “You have your target customer be an integral part of your entire launch, from concept and beyond.” For example, when he came up with the concept for his latest book, he polled his followers on Twitter and other social media platforms on what color they’d like the book cover to be and which topics they’d like to see broached in individual chapters.
“I gave them choices so they felt part of the launch process, rallying them around the product and driving up the likelihood that they’d actually want it,” he says.
3. Build a vocal community around your product ahead of launch.
Brand ambassador community-building is key long before you launch, John says. Like he says he did with The Power of Broke, if possible, send out early versions of your product to potential brand ambassadors, influencers on social media with large follower counts who can amplify news of your coming launch. The end game is to preemptively build brand loyalty through early brand ambassadors.
John did this long before social media came on the scene, in the heart of his stomping grounds in Queens. “Before FUBU got to the LL Cool Js of the world, before we became official and before social media got big, I made sure all the coolest kids in my neighborhood that everyone respected had my stuff on,” he says. “They took a bullhorn and talked it up in the rap community, which then influenced the influencers and maximized our reach — from neighborhood to city to world.”
4. Gather as much feedback on your product as you can. Then gather some more.
To attract brand ambassadors who get behind your product and promote it, John suggests collecting their first impressions and making any necessary tweaks before you launch. “To get people who will truly love your product and spread the word, make them proud of it and make sure you don’t embarrass them by putting something out there that isn’t 100 percent,” he says.
Be sure to ask the brand ambassadors you recruit what they do and don’t like about your product. What would they like to seem improved and why? “Pay attention to what they say because it’s critical to your product’s success,” John says.
5. Cross-promote your product with power players.
O.P.M. doesn’t just mean other people’s money, John says. “It can also be other people’s momentum, other people’s mind power, other people’s marketing and other people’s manpower.” You should strategically latch onto all these things when releasing a product via power players in the realm or industry you’re selling in.
For example, John tapped marketing pro and Entrepreneur contributing writer Jeffrey Hayzlett to cross-market his new book when it launched. “I say cross-market because this is where it really goes both ways,” he says. “I promote Jeffrey and then he promotes me, on his Twitter on his podcast — wherever is going to make the highest impact. I borrow his audience where they live and the same goes for him. We’re in a mutually beneficial relationship. My book is being moved and he’s passing value on down to his readers and listeners.”
6. Get your product on local retailers’ shelves first.
Think locally, aim globally. The reality, John says, is that small mom-and-pop shops will promote your product far more than a larger, big-box retailer. “Neighborhood boutiques and small, local retail shops are the fabric of communities,” he says. “Important conversations happen there. The owners typically have trust with the neighbors who shop there and their endorsement of your product goes far.”
If your wares become successful from initial small-store sales and the buzz grows loud enough, the big retailers will eventually come knocking. “They’ll see that they don’t have to risk too much because they’ll see and know that your product is working and they’ll want to back it as well,” he says.
7. Don’t forget to say “thank you.”
The final step in promoting your new product is to do something your mom taught you to do: express your gratitude by saying thank you often and genuinely. “Once people are part of your brand tribe, show them you’re thankful for their purchase, then show them you mean it,” John says. One way John did this with his FUBU customers was to send them free products when they’d bought a certain amount of items.
More recently, with his newest book, John personally thanks people who buy the business how-to at his book-signings. “I look them in the eye, connect with them and say ‘thank you.’ They then snap a picture and spread the moment on social media,” he says. “They’re going to remember me over the person who just took their money and said an empty ‘thank you.’ At the end of the day, the reward is loyalty.”
When Robert Herjavec wanted to start his own company, people discouraged him. They said he couldn’t do it. He had zero experience, he didn’t have a business degree and he knew nothing about running a business.
The headstrong Shark Tank star investor steamrolled ahead anyway. In 1990, he launched his first company, BRAK Systems, which he later sold to AT&T.
“I only knew that I loved what I do and how to work hard,” Herjavec told Entrepreneur. Today, Herjavec Group, his Toronto-based Internet security firm, has grown from three workers in 2003 to 220 employees strong, and it’s on pace to bank $150 million in revenue this year, according to the company.
Herjavec’s commitment to taking the risky entrepreneurial leap — despite the naysayers, and he had plenty of them — has more than paid off. So what if he didn’t have formal training? He also didn’t possess the needed marketing know-how, at least not at first and not all on his own. But that was fine by him.
“Like many entrepreneurs, we didn’t really know what to do at first,” he says. “As a startup, it’s almost overwhelming. I learned that’s where a third party comes in to help you. They take the marketing pressure off so you can do more of what you love to do — your business.”
Countless marketing agencies the world over aim to do just that. One such company is Deluxe Corporation. Herjavec announced a new partnership with the Shoreview, Minn.-based firm last week. Together, they unveiled a series of small-business marketing videos. The short “Behind the Business” vignettes feature the multi-millionaire celebrity entrepreneur alongside a few of the companies he’s invested in on Shark Tank.
The videos share tips on how to best market your startup. We picked Herjavec’s brain for a few, too. Here are his top five:
Simply having several social-media accounts for your company isn’t enough. To fully leverage the potential for acquiring new customers on social media, you must also market to them where they live online.
“With Facebook and other social platforms, you can have highly targeted marketing campaigns to attract customers who are interested in the product or service that you have,” Herjavec says. “Find the user groups they meet up in on social and win them over there.”
As an example, he points to The Natural Grip, a fitness product startup he invests in. The company makes special gloves for people who do Crossfit, gymnastics or lift weights. “That community, athletes, really likes to hang out in certain places on Facebook and we went there to find and engage them,” he says.
Marketing direct to potential customers on active fan pages and buzzy user groups within the popular social-media mecca turned out to be a smart move. It gained the sporty startup a grip of new customers, according to Herjavec.
Even as the ecommerce economy continues to surge, many small businesses old and new still don’t have shopping carts on their websites. Herjavec says failing to sell directly online is “foolishly leaving money on the table.” He believes that if your customers trust and believe in your brand, they’ll buy what you sell on the Internet.
Of those that do offer online shopping, the feature is often set up so poorly that it frustrates and confuses customers. The result: Potential buyers end up abandoning their shopping carts altogether and the sale is dead on arrival. “It quickly becomes such a hassle to go through with the transaction that they say ‘forget it,’” he says. “Don’t let that happen.”
If you don’t know how to set up an online shopping cart, Herjavec suggests leaving it to the pros. “There are lots of great companies that can handle it for you.”
“People are very busy and the first thing that hits them in any marketing communication is a really pretty picture, not words,” he says, “and I know that sounds really trivial but that engages people and gets them to look at more of your outreach.”
Herjavec’s onto something here. Visual imagery is often more immediately engaging than monotonous walls of text, as the brain is widely believed to processes visuals thousands of times faster than text. Images transmit messages in an instant, not only making your marketing messages pop, but also rendering them more memorable, too.
“Your customers have a certain amount of information they’re willing to absorb about your brand and certain ways they like to receive that information in over a certain amount of time,” he says. It’s your job to pay attention and learn how they are best marketed to.
How much information can they handle with each outreach? How do they prefer to be communicated with (via social-media updates, e-newsletter, text notifications, etc.)? How much communication is too much and how much is not enough? If marketing email subscribers start dropping off, find out why and adjust accordingly.
When it comes to Herjavec’s own contact preferences as a consumer, he feels being marketed to by email once every couple of weeks is more than enough. “I’m a big car guy, so a lot of the car companies market to me, but they’ve learned when enough information is enough for me and that’s once or twice a month,” he says. “Once a day is too much.”
Outsourcing your marketing needs to an agency dedicated to taking your brand awareness to the next level frees you up to get back to business. If you don’t have the budget to hire a marketing firm, Herjavec suggests partnering with someone you trust who has successfully marketed their own business.
Whatever you do, he says, don’t take the whole job on yourself, not if you don’t have the experience to back it up.
“I always say, if you’re not a marketing person, you didn’t start the businesses to do marketing, so don’t do it,” he says. It’s crucial that you focus your energy as a small-business owner on the core reason you started up in the first place.
“You wanted to take on the world with the product or service you had, that did something better than anybody else. And that was what you were passionate about, that that’s what caused you to quit your job, get a second mortgage or whatever the reason was.”
Building great businesses, achieving massive goals and rising to the top of your profession doesn’t just happen by accident. It happens through a ridiculous work ethic and consistently showing up every single day.
Here are 20 quotes to help motivate you to hustle like never before:
1. “You can’t have a million-dollar dream twith a minimum-wage work ethic.” — Stephen C. Hogan
2. “When I was young, I observed that nine out of 10 things I did were failures. So I did 10 times more work.” — George Bernard Shaw
3. “If you have an idea of what you want to do in your future, you must go at it with almost monastic obsession, be it music, the ballet or just a basic degree. You have to go at it single-mindedly and let nothing get in your way.” — Henry Rollins
4. “Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” — William James
5. “Many people think they want things, but they don’t really have the strength, the discipline. They are weak. I believe that you get what you want if you want it badly enough.” — Sophia Loren
6. “Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” — Swami Sivananda
7. “If a man is called a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and Earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
8. “All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.” — Pope Paul VI
9. “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” — Stephen King
10. “God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.” — J.G. Holland
11. “Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more.” — Edward H. Harriman
12. “The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.” — Marvin Phillips (or an unknown author)
13. “The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirt sleeves.” — Garth Henrichs
14. “Those at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” — Marcus Washling
15. “If you feel you are down on your luck, check the level of your effort.” — Robert Brault
16. “You’re either changing your life or you’re not. No waiting for this or that or better weather or other hurdles. Hurdles are the change.” — Terri Guillemets
17. “Be not afraid of going slowly. Be afraid only of standing still.” — Chinese proverb
18. “He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” — Dutch proverb
19. “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near.” — Margaret Thatcher
20. “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” — George Bernard Shaw
Read these quotes. Analyze these quotes. Most important, adopt these quotes into your everyday life.
Something that has worked wonders for me over the years is to write at least one really moving quote on a note card and carry it around with me everywhere I go. Whenever I am feeling unmotivated or in a slump, I take a glance at this card and instantly get right back on track again.
Make it your personal business to never let anyone outwork you.
Mark Cuban is turning his eye to the eSports world.
The entrepreneur, Shark Tank star, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks is part of a team that has invested $7 million in Seattle startup Unikrn (pronounced “Unicorn”), which offers wagering on competitive video game tournaments. The round, led by Binary Capital, brings the company’s total secured funding to $10 million.
“I did an interview with CNBC a couple of months ago and within two minutes of the interview, Mark Cuban called me,” says Rahul Sood, co-founder of Unikrn and creator of the gaming PC company Voodoo PC. “We exchanged a couple of emails back and forth and within two days he said ‘I’m in’.”
Cuban has had his eye on eSports for a while. In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session two years ago, he said he had spoken with people in eSports and had looked at Major League Gaming. At the time, he called it “interesting,” but said he hadn’t had time to do a deep dive look at the business.
Cuban joins several other notable names who have invested in the company, including media executives Shari Redstone (daughter of Sumner Redstone) and Elisabeth Murdoch (daughter of Rupert Murdoch), says Sood, who previously served as CTO of HP’s global gaming business and founded and led Microsoft Ventures.
Unikrn was started last November and launched publicly in April. Players can bet on tournaments for games likeLeague of Legends, DOTA 2, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Sood says the company plans to use the money from this round to add to its staff and boost marketing and partnerships.
At present, Unikrn’s wagering services are not legal in the U.S.—the company gets most of its customers from the U.K., Ireland, and Australia. (Domestic customers can still access the site to see odds and chat.) However, Sood says the company does plan to find a way into the U.S. soon—though he won’t say how he plans to work around legal hurdles.
“If you are in the U.S., Unikrn Arena will be made available in the next month and it’s going to be awesome,” he says.
eSports has quickly been gathering an audience. Last year, 27 million people tuned in to watch the finals of the League of Legends World Championship. And on game streaming service Twitch viewers watched an average of 16 billion minutes of live gaming streams per month in 2014.
With this growing enthusiasm, Unikrn does not plan to limit itself to its current focus on wagering, says Sood. And its media-centric investors and partners may play a role in that expansion.
“There’s a lot more we’ll offer in the near future,” sais Sood. “We’re clearly partnering with these people and there’s a reason for it. And it goes above and beyond the betting side.”
Cuban, for his part, seems ready.
“The rapid growth of eSports has created an entire new category of competition and I am proud to partner with Rahul Sood and his team to help bring eSports to an even greater audience,” Cuban said in a statement. “I’m excited to be involved with a new sport just as it’s poised for huge growth.”
When Daymond John was in elementary school in Queens, N.Y., he had to read books four times over to retain what they said. Now, at 46, he says he still has to reread them several times — often two to three times each — for the information to really sink in.
The sharp-dressed Shark Tank star and veteran investor/entrepreneur doesn’t habitually reread books as a result of being too busy or distracted the first go-round. He chalks it up to being dyslexic, something he only discovered as an adult with the onset of texting and social media.
“Because I’m dyslexic, I’ve had to read books many times,” he says. “That’s why I focus on reading ones that are high-impact and incredibly useful, full of important lessons that I can apply to my life and business.”
Despite how challenging reading is for the multi-millionaire celebrity business mentor, he forces himself to do it regularly, soaking up pearls of wisdom from contemporary and past thought leaders and leveraging them to up his game.
We recently caught up with the Infusionsoft and Shopify brand ambassador on the Sony Pictures Culver City, Calif., set of Shark Tank, where we asked him which books had the greatest impact on his life and career. Remaining humble, the FUBU co-founder didn’t seize the opportunity to plug his own books, though he easily could have (other Sharks did). He didn’t even mention them. Instead, and without a moment to prepare ahead of time, he quickly rattled off the names and authors of six books that forever changed him and that he thinks all entrepreneurs will benefit from reading, too.
“They’re smart choices not only for hopefuls, but for seasoned business pros as well,” he says. They are:
In this step-by-step-style financial literacy classic, multi-millionaire entrepreneur and motivational speaker Robert Kiyosaki shares how he used lessons from two dads — his own fiscally poor father and his best friend’s rich father — to shape his opinions around money and to build his fortune.
The business theorist authors of this data-rich international bestseller lay out an innovative systematic approach to obliterating your competition witho
ut competing with them at all. Drawing on a decade-long academic study of more than 150 strategic business moves spanning more than 30 industries over 100 years, they detail how to build what they call “blue oceans” — new opportunities in markets that are ripe for disruption.
First appearing in print way back in 1937, Napoleon Hill’s motivating classic is the result of 20 years-worth of research and interviews with more than 40 famous millionaires. Think and Grow Rich is indeed rich with the secrets to success from world renowned historic magnates like Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, John D. Rockefeller and Theodore Roosevelt. The exceptional life lessons packed within are still relevant today.
Veteran executive coach and presentation strategist Tony Jeary has taught countless executives at big-name global companies how to deliver knockout, persuasive public speeches. In Life Is a Series of Presentations, he reveals his expert strategies in a series of practical, easy-to-digest tips and techniques, including how to boost your confidence and credibility when facing one of life’s most terrifying things for many — a live audience staring back at you, hanging on your every word.
Management consultant Spencer Johnson’s 96-page literary attitude adjustment winds readers through a simple yet potent parable that unfolds in a maze. The maze is occupied by four characters — Sniff and Scurry, mice that will stop at nothing to get cheese, and Hem and Haw, mouse-sized humans for whom cheese represents much more than merely sustenance. The characters learn to adapt to changes in the cheese, a symbol for our jobs, career paths, relationships, etc., and they set out in search of new sources of cheese when their cheese runs out. The key takeaway: Adaptability, perseverance and a positive mental attitude are critical to success in any endeavor, especially in the cutthroat world of business.
In this allegory-filled oldie but goodie, widely revered management experts Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson share how to manage others in ways that can increase their confidence, pride and productivity. The book maps out three powerful one-minute management “secrets” — employee goal-setting, employee praisings and and employee reprimands. For a freshly updated version of this executive staple, check out The New One Minute Manager (William Morrow, 2015).