Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interview With an Entrepreneur - Jennifer Walzer

Jennifer Walzer says the best part of being an entrepreneur is getting to choose with whom you work.

Who: Jennifer Walzer, CEO and founder of Backup My Info!, Inc. (, which provides online backup service for companies.

Q: When you were younger, did you think you were going to be an entrepreneur?

A: I was one of those kids on the streets selling lemonade, just always wanting to figure out a way to make things happen. And I think part of the reason why is that I looked at my father, who was an entrepreneur, and I wanted to be just like him.

Q: What are the benefits of being an entrepreneur?

IA: By far the best benefit is that I get to choose who I work with. I absolutely love the team of people who work with me. And obviously the benefits are great from a financial perspective. But at the same time, it’s not easy. Everyone says, “Oh I can start a business,” but until you actually do it, you never know what you’re getting yourself into.

Q: What are the cons of being an entrepreneur?

A: It’s really stressful, and it’s not easy. If it was so easy to start a business, everyone and their brother and sister would be doing it. I think one of the biggest challenges is that when you own a business, it actually can own you too. You either need to be in it to win it, or don’t do it at all.

Q: What traits do you see in successful entrepreneurs?

A: Without a doubt, they’re extremely passionate about what they do and have learned to put their ego aside. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to be faced with a lot of challenges. And if you think you’re going to have the answer to everything, you’re going to fail. I think a successful entrepreneur knows where his limits are and knows how to ask for help.

Q: What advice do you have for students thinking about becoming entrepreneurs?

A: Go and get an internship or figure out a way to work for someone you think has a really good business. And when you get there, get involved in as much as you can.

David Mammano is founder and CEO of NextStepU. (

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Video interview with Kinko's founder, Paul Orfalea

NextStepU founder and CEO, David Mammano, interviewed Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s.

Mammano: What are some of the benefits that you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur?

Orfalea: Money. I was in my business for the money. I didn’t enjoy Xerox copying and printing and all that. I liked the money. There’s nothing wrong with saying you like the money. My best stores had the happiest workers and the most satisfied customers.

Mammano: You talk a lot about working on your business rather than in your business, can you expand on that?

Orfalea: A lot of people smoke cigarettes because they are in life, but if you’re on life you say “Oh I think cigarettes aren’t very good for me.” A lot of times when we are in life, we don’t realize what we are all about.

Mammano: Looking back now, would you change anything?

Continued with video at:

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rumors of Print's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

"Rumors of Print's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated."

Cumulative results of recent ad readership studies conducted by Signet Research, Inc., indicate that print is not dead, but very much alive and well. Analysis of B to B publication reader preference for print, digital or online media showed an eye-opening majority still prefers print.

Cliffside Park, New Jersey February 5, 2010 -- In an effort to determine the preferred format of media properties in the B to B publication market, Signet Research, Inc., an independent market research firm, directly asked subscribers of B to B publications for their feedback.

The methodology used was the inclusion of a particular question in the Signet Research AdStudies, conducted over a period stemming from October 2009 through January 2010. The question was, "In what format would you prefer to receive (publication name)?"

The results showed an overwhelming preference for print publications. Three-quarters (75%), selected print as their preferred format, either in print only or a combination of print and a digital or online format, with over half (52%) preferring print only. In comparison, overall preference for a digital edition was 30%, with 14% preferring digital only, and for online content 12%, with 4% preferring online content only.

The results of this case study are based on 2,307 respondents from varying industries within B to B media. They include Government, Airline, Electronics/Technology, Automotive, Oil/Gas/Energy, Physical Science, and Food Service Industries.

About Signet Research, Inc :
Signet Research, Inc. has been a leading provider of market research serving the publishing industry for over 40 years. The company offers a wide array of AdStudies for print, web and e-newsletter ads as well as customized audience and editorial studies for print and web in the B to B and B to C markets.

For additional information contact:
Alexander Nanos, Project Director
Signet Research, Inc.
201-945-6903 ext. 11

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Crash course on online advertising

The past 10 years has seen advertising go from somewhat of a “wing it and see” approach to more of a real science. Today’s marketer can pinpoint her ad dollars to places where she only pays for prospects that have expressed interest.

This kind of marketing is exciting and amazing. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be a waste of money. The good news is that you don’t have to be overly Web-savvy to run a Google AdWords program or to buy a banner ad.

Below are the basics to get your started. Remember, you get what you pay for. So you’ll pay more for a true lead than you will for an impression or click. Read on…

Cost per impression (CPI)/cost per thousand (CPM)
CPI and CPM are essentially the same thing. In its simplest form, you are paying for every set of eyeballs that see your ad. The standard is to measure by the thousand, thus the “cost per thousand.”

Imagine if your highway billboard company had a way to measure every person that drove past your billboard. They would charge you a set fee for every 1,000 people that drove by. Translated to online ads, this means you’re charged a set fee for every 1,000 visits to the page of the Web site where your ad runs.

Those 1,000 visits don’t necessarily mean 1,000 different people. Several people may have visited the page numerous times. Just like the billboard company would count the same car twice, cost per impression counts repeat visitors.

CPI is still a cost-effective way to do brand advertising online. Depending on the targeting of the audience, you might pay around $15 to $30 for every 1,000 impressions—not a bad price to make an impression with a targeted advertisement. Just don’t expect a ton of suspects or prospects from this type of advertising. It is purely for branding, so make sure your expectations are reasonable.

Cost per click (CPC)/pay per click (PPC)
This type of advertising costs a little more, but that’s because it has entered your funnel as a suspect. Visitors to search engines will click on an ad that comes up in a search query. (I am sure you’ve all seen paid ads on the right or top of your Google search.)

Advertisers can buy keywords that potential customers may be searching for. For instance, if a college is offering a new biotech major, it could buy keywords around this major—and even in the targeted region of your choice. Someone doing a search for “colleges that offer biotech” may encounter your Google ad, click on the ad, then get transferred to your Web site—ideally, a custom landing page that caters to their needs.

Advertisers usually bid on keywords. The more popular the word, the more expensive it is. Let’s say the word is semi-popular. It might go for $2 per click. Any time anyone clicks on your ad, you pay Google $2.

The good news is that search engines such as Google don’t use only price to determine what ads go on top. Its algorithm will also scan your site and balance your listing with its relevancy and how much volume you purchase with the search engine.

The bad news is that you pay $2 for each visitor who clicks, even if they leave your site a second later and you don’t get the chance to capture the lead. In fact, it may actually take 30 people to click before you get one person to fill out a form. That translates into $60 cost per lead. This takes me to our next point.

Cost per lead (CPL)
You’ll invest the most with CPL advertising because you only pay for actual prospects, or “deep funnel” names. Unlike CPM (where you pay for the masses to see your ad), or CPC (where you pay for suspects to visit your site), with cost per lead advertising, you pay for prospective customers who fill out a form. These prospects most likely:

Searched online for your product
Explored Web sites for the product
Read info specifically about your company or school
And after all this, was still interested enough to fill out a request info form and give you their name, phone, number and e-mail address (if not more).
They are waiting for you to contact them.

Advertisers pay various amounts for CPL advertising depending on their product, demand, industry, closing ratio and profit margins. For instance, our new company,, helps colleges recruit adult learners. We charge $50 per lead. If a college can enroll two of every 10 prospects we send them, that means they paid $500 for two students.

Some college marketers have balked at our $50 per lead price. They say things like, “I can buy keywords on Google for $2 per person.” But if it takes 20, 30 or more clicks to generate one lead from your landing page, that means you’re paying $40to $60 per lead. So the price of keywords can be deceiving.

A click is not the same as a lead for your school. Though CPC advertising offers value, the price is cheaper because the person is higher up the funnel than a CPL prospect. That’s an important difference. The CPC person is a “suspect”; the CPL person is a “prospect.”

Whether it’s a Google keyword purchase, CPC campaign or traditional ad, you’re going to pay less with CPC because you still have work do to make that suspect a prospect. CPL leads are delivered to you ready to go as solid prospects. That’s why they’re worth the extra investment.

On top of all this, I suggest you keep in mind that though some online CPM, CPC and CPL programs are awesome additions to the advertising world, they are not the panacea as stand-alone campaigns. It would be a big mistake to drop all of your traditional advertising (TV, radio, print, etc.) and fly solo with online only marketing.

To have the most effective results, successful companies continue to use all these media to create a “surround sound” to their advertising message.

I hope this crash course helped you navigate the “cost per” world. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at, or call me at
(800) 771-3117 ext. 11.

Monday, August 31, 2009

How customers complain in the digital age...

Here's some incentive for companies to have superior customer service...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Entrepreneur’s Survival Tool-Kit

No entrepreneur is an island.

That is the theme of my success as an entrepreneur over the past 14 years of Next Step’s life. I surely did not do it alone.

Because of Next Step’s incredible team, Next Step Publishing just made the Inc 5000 list for the third year in a row ( and I am very proud.

As mentioned, it’s not just me and I should be caned if I didn’t credit our team. Without them, we would never have achieved such awesome growth. A good team is the most valuable tool in any entrepreneur’s kit. Without a smart, passionate and engaged team, most entrepreneurs wouldn’t make it past running a small, local business.

We grew from a small Rochester, NY company to a nationally respected resource because of good ideas executed greatly by…OUTSTANDING PEOPLE.

But how does a neophyte entrepreneur learn how to hire, support and grow an outstanding team that helps to create an outstanding company?

I recently thought about that question!

And as I looked back over the years to examine our success, I examined what resources I have surrounded myself with that have helped me to personally grow, hire well and maximize the team’s performance, all while adhering to our standards and core values.

I started writing down the people and resources which have allowed me to not be alone as an island in the rough waters of entrepreneurship. In my opinion, I have created a survival tool-kit for the passionate, humble and ever-curious entrepreneur who aspires to grow; both professionally and personally…

The Entrepreneur’s Survival Tool-Kit:

1) Verne Harnish
Verne founded EO – Entrepreneurs Organization ( EO by far has been the most instrumental resource I have been a part of. It’s a global organization of more than 7000 entrepreneurs which hosts monthly forums (confidential support roundtables), local/global learning events, online networks/resources, executive education programs and much more. The things that I have learned and the people that I have met because of EO, have undeniably influenced the growth of our company in many, many ways.

Verne, is now the CEO of Gazelles (, a company that works with growing companies and their leaders. He has also written a must-read book called “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.” This book has become the operational DNA for our company and thousands more.

2) Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw from Zingerman’s ( These two guys went from starting a small deli in Ann Arbor to creating a vision driven, community business model that has many entrepreneurs spinning their heads with excitement! Instead of expanding their deli nationwide, they decided to create a Vision Statement detailing their future plans of creating a community of related businesses in the Ann Arbor area. The philosophies that helped them to become an Inc Magazine Coolest Small Company in America ( are now taught in one of their spin-off companies called ZingTrain ( I have been to their seminars and have implemented many of their practices in Next Step’s business model.

3) Jack Stack
The Great Game of Business ( Our newest learning adventure at Next Step is Jack Stack’s philosophies on open-book management. He has co-written two books with Bo Burlingham, (one of my favorite authors as you’ll read below) about his experiences with open-book management and giving his employees a stake in the game for optimal success. The books are called “The Great Game of Business” and “A Stake in the Outcome.” His company also holds seminars about the process.

4) Bo Burlingham
Bo is an author and editor at large of Inc Magazine. I suggest reading all his books as soon as you can. There are the two mentioned above with Jack Stack and also “Small Giants” and “The Knack” (co-authored with entrepreneur and Inc. columnist, Norm Brodsky). I read Small Giants when it first came out and it profoundly influenced me. And still does. It truly reshaped my ideas about how to grow Next Step and it continues to be a rudder of my thinking. The book has gained so much popularity that there is now a Small Giants seminar at ZingTrain and also has spawned its own community ( “The Knack” is also a must read. Norm and Bo do a great job at detailing the tools entrepreneurs need to run a business but rarely learn! I suggest all entrepreneurs read it and the earlier the better.

5) Inc. Magazine
( If you can’t tell, I do love Inc. Magazine and hope it’s around forever. It’s the only magazine of its kind that really gets into the nitty-gritty of helping small business entrepreneurs grow their company. The magazine is always full of helpful stories of real-life entrepreneurs; their struggles, successes and more. If you don’t subscribe, just buck up. The subscription price is peanuts and the content is extremely helpful. Plus they have great events like the Inc. 5000 conference. I went last year and had a blast; plus learned a ton from great speakers like Jim Collins and Norm Brodsky.

6) The New York Times
Yes, that’s right! No, not the newspaper. Their blog! They started a new blog for small business owners and it’s actually very helpful. It’s called “You’re the Boss – The Art of Running a Small Business.” The reason it’s so good is because, first of all it’s run by Loren Feldman, a former editor of Inc. Online. Second of all, many of the blog posts are written by down and dirty entrepreneurs. Like my friend Jay Goltz. Jay is an amazing entrepreneur that dispenses awesome advice whenever he talks or writes. He calls himself “The Thinking Entrepreneur.” Probably because he makes you think! I also suggest you read Jay’s book “The Street Smart Entrepreneur: 133 Tough Lessons I Learned the Hard Way.” Read the New York Times blog at:

Another one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Jen Walzer is going to start writing for the NY Times blog too. Her business is and she has some amazing stories to share we well!

7) I’ve also started to incorporate some other helpful players into my game plan:

a. Cameron Herold. Cameron has been intricately involved in exploding many businesses including 1-800-Got-Junk and College Pro Painters. He now has his own company called BackPocket COO ( and works with many entrepreneurs to help grow their companies. I have seen him speak many times, ordered his DVDs and will be working with him soon to run a strategy session for Next Step. He tells me that he has a book coming out in the near future too!

b. Simon Sinek. I saw Simon speak a few months ago and loved his message. His purpose is to help people find the “why” in their life and/or business. Once you find the “why,” you can more easily inspire action! His message is powerful. He has a great blog ( and also a book coming out soon – ( Simon’s message is so powerful, I asked him to write for Next Step Magazine (

c. Keith Ferrazzi. I saw Keith speak about four years ago when he had just finished his first book “Never Eat Alone.” His presentation was fantastic and touching. His story moved me. I am currently reading his new book called “Who’s Got Your Back” and so far it is outstanding ( Keith also has a great blog that I suggest you subscribe to (

So there you go! If you incorporate these people and resources into your entrepreneurial life, your learning curve will be reduced by 75% - guaranteed! Ok, well I can’t guarantee that but I assure you, you’ll hit the ground running a lot faster!

The best way to incorporate them is to go to their seminars, read their books/blogs, watch their DVDs and meet them! As the late, great Earl Nightingale once said “All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Great article on health care reform from Whole Foods founder