Sep 28, 2007

Internet Video Ads: Is This The Future of Advertising?

Have you noticed the increasing prevailing pattern of major news sources putting ads in the front of their video footage on Internet Video clips?

Is this annoying you? It bugs the heck out of me. But, they've got my eyeball attention, so why not hold those "eyeballs" hostage?

There are different methods being utilized regarding advertising on, around, and within videos played on the Web. We'll examine five of them here:

1. Ads around the box. These are the least intrusive, to me. They can put an ad next to the box, I'll still see it, but it isn't BLOCKING the content I'm trying to view. This is a friendly way of doing ads, although the ad is not interactive beyond the simple click and view. An example of ads around the box is with Yahoo, who puts their ad in a sidebar on their home page. The ad may or may not be interactive. Yahoo also uses text ads for "sponsored by" for their stock watch and also the "marketplace section" appear to be text-based ads.

2. Peeling or Rollover ads. This is a fairly new ad methodology where you show an ad that peels back from the page you are viewing. The peeler ad is not very intrusive, and the viewer only sees the total ad content if they click the peeler. One of the more interesting Rollover ads I saw came up today while looking at Ad ratings for this blog article. An example of a peeling ad includes:

I saw a "roll-over this ad" comment and moused over it, to reveal an Eye Wonder Testimonial ad campaign. I loved the ad format, with testimonials from clients, then they used my #5 strategy here, end of ad to ask "Does your rich media company deliver results like this for you? They should. Contact Eye Wonder." Brilliant! (Only Eye Wonder's website fails the rule of Google [read: load fast] and took so long to load I got bored and clicked away from their site.

Here's a page with the Eyewonder rollover, last I checked: or
(I just read that the ad won an award). According to Eye Wonder, "Video has been embraced as the future of online advertising." I tend to agree with them. Methods that work as well as theirs are likely to further that aim.

3. Ads in front of the video.
Now, here's where I was expecting to find ads in front of the video: at NBC, at their version of "The Office" show online. Guess what? Not only did I NOT find ads in front, I found NO ads at all! The shock! The Horror! So, sometimes, in life, on the Internet, we are still pleasantly surprised (note: with nagging thought in the back of my mind..."I wonder when they'll add ads to this?").

So, an example of where they DO have ads in front, see this:
Ahh. Yes. Much like I thought I'd see with The Office. Whoever is running that part of the website. Thank you. For the bionic women, I might say I missed the front part of the Bionic woman clip because I didn't want to see the Mazda commercial. (Sorry Mazda). I guess you could say that I personally DISDAIN ads in the front of my video. For the same reason I stopped watching AMC and switched to Turner. Go figure. Moving on...

4. Pop-up ads during the video. This is a strategy being utilized by Google. It reminds me of watching a show and having people walk across the television screen from an upcoming show. It is annoying, and definitely more interactive than passive, as you can click to view the ad, but you're going to see the transparent part of the ad regardless. In addition, the ad is in the middle of the clip, meaning that the ad becomes more VIRAL, as you pass the video around, everyone sees the ad. Last, this ad strategy is being auditioned by Google, who owns You Tube.

According to Regalix, "The overlay ad strategy is not new but the massive popularity of YouTube will certainly give Google an unfair competitive advantage and turn the format into an industry standard, especially for short video content.

Whether the other major video content providers like MySpace, AOL & Yahoo follow suit, remains to be seen. As the proliferation and popularity of user generated content or viewer created content increases, online video advertising seems to be coming of age at the right time." (source:

Hmm. I wish the people at Google watched The Office. But, you can't sell thin air, now, can you? Thinking back to when a friend came back from Jamaica with a can of "Fresh Jamaica Sunshine" it dawns on me that, even though it may be a gag, you CAN sell thin air. Just as long as you wrap it in a funny jar, can, or other wrapping.

5. Ads after the video or at the end of the video. This is a strategy being utilized by i-Justine, a self-proclaimed "lifecaster" who has developed a skill at both directing, producting, and starring in personal video's aimed at humor, spoofs, and technology (most notably, Apple). She hit it big with over 1,000,000 views with her "First Apple i-Phone bill in a box" video. I noticed in that video she placed an image to "save a tree" at the end of her video, clearly utilizing an add at the end of the video as a method to capture your attention and hopefully act accordingly.

Another example of "ad contained in the end" is by Human Flipbook (, who created a complete flip book video using t-shirts: This video was, without a doubt, one of the more innovative and viral campaigns I've seen from a SANDWICH SHOP online! Nice.

I actually find this model of advertising to be the friendliest, least obtrusive, because I have the right to click away to something else or click on the ad, and the ad didn't hold my eyeballs hostage either before the video or during the video. I clicked on both the sites at the end. However, that's user experience. It is possible that the ads for video may follow a similar pattern for Google AdSense ads, whereas a certain percentage will hit an add in front, another percentage will hit the ads next to the video, another percentage will click ads in the middle, and another percentage in the end.

We'll have to run a test on this and report back to you when we have more data as to which type of ad is most effective.

In the meantime, I'd suggest the following: "Do unto others as you wish it done unto you." If you want people putting ads in the front of their videos, put ads in the front of yours.

Sep 18, 2007

How To Build More Creative Collaborative Teams

There are ways to spur creativity amongst your teams. In fact, to spur creativity within your company, building COLLABORATION is critical.

A common myth amongst leaders is that competition fuels creativity. In fact, according to Teresa Amabile, who heads the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School, and one of the country's foremost explorers of business innovation, the opposite is more true: collaboration fuels creativity. It makes sense: people stop SHARING when they are competing. So, first of all, build COLLABORATIVE TEAMS to foster more creativity in your work environment.

Creative collaboration is a process to combine various team elements to facilitate the creative process and come up with better product ideas, strong service solutions, new sales techniques, and more. How do you do it?

Well, here is a list of 7 ways we suggest you can expand upon creative collaboration:

1. Opposites Attract. Hire people with opposing ways to looking at problems. Combine a "big picture" thinker with someone who processes "linear" thoughts. Combine the rational person with the abstract thinker. You may not have them agreeing on everything, but they'll come up with some interesting combinations.

2. Aliens Among Us. One of the beautiful things about the United States of America that I love most is the cultural diversity. While this is more obvious in major metropolitan cities than rural areas, nevertheless there is a wide diversity to choose from when making hiring decisions. My feeling: find people who come from different cultures, different backgrounds, and combine them to get more creative ideas. Asians think differently, in general, than Latin Americans. People from Russian think differently than people from France. Find people from different cultures, and rather the using that alien nature to divide, use it to find new explorations in service, product, and diversity.

3. Gender Bender. The most boring team I ever worked on was within a company where the management hadn't hired any women. I like women. I find their thoughts, ideas, and ways of thinking refreshing and even sometimes challenging. That's a good thing on collaborative teams. The movie "What Women Want" with Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt highlighted how entire marketing programs created by men have been dumped in favor of the way a woman might think, in order to embrace women. Embrace gender differences. It spurs more creativity.

4. Go Outside. Creativity is a two-step process that starts with collaboration. Start with a discussion with your team, your business partners, and people who can benefit the process you're trying to create. If you're finding elements of your team are competing, replace them with people who collaborate. Build upon the collaboration you start with. But beyond that, involve people who aren't normally on your teams. If you're in operations, bring in salespeople. Or, go an extra step, and invite customers and prospects to your planning meetings. You might be surprised by the refreshing ideas that occur - not to mention the empathy you'll gain from customers understanding the insights into what you're doing to meet their needs.

5. Plan Less, Do More. I'm not saying don't plan. I'm just saying plan only 10% of the time you spend on a project. Spend the other 90% doing. There are so many people who get stuck planning, and re-evaluating that they never do anything. In one job I found that for three months I was strategizing on the next way I was going to get my business. In the meantime, my co-worker signed $400,000 of business in accounts I'd previously called upon. Ouch. Get out of the office, drive out there and do what you need to do. If you want creativity, you can plan for so much, brainstorm to get things moving, then put things in action and find out if they work. It's the only way to know if you've got anything real.

6. Design Innovation. I once heard someone say that innovation happens spontaneously. Well, yes, this is true. However, innovation often comes from a spark from something someone has seen before. How do you handle a blank sheet of paper? In writing music, I find that usually, I'll start with something that feels good to me. Maybe a hook for a melody idea, or a rhythm on piano or bass. Perhaps I'll have a rhythm pattern on drums. But, I'll start with something. Do I want the song to feel Calypso? Do I want it to feel Gospel? I'll pick a genre, then try to create towards that. Some companies PLAN for innovation. Do you? Build elements that spur people to think in new ways in your own innovation teams. Is it round? Maybe square would be better. Is it red? Try making it yellow or blue. Is it faster? Maybe slower is more useful.

7. Remove Deadlines. People often think they work better under deadlines. Well, this isn't true. Just make sure people do something every time they meet to keep the idea moving forward. But deadlines don't spur creativity, they stifle it. Ever wonder why a musician can create a great CD, then once they are signed to a label, they must produce three albums in four years, and their music slips? It's because they're on a deadline. They HAVE to create. Someone is coming out with a new program enabling you to text in orders to restaurants to have your coffee or food ready when you get there. For people who like things fast, right? Well, for people who like to take their time with things, tea is better. Get your creative team in the tea modality and out of Starbucks modality. Take time with things that matter, such as creating.

You may find more ways to build creative collaborative teams in your own organization. But, for starters, try these:

1. Pair opposites together.
2. Pair different cultures, different ideas.
3. Put both genders together to spur creativity between the sexes.
4. Go outside your typical team and include outsiders.
5. Plan less. Do more. Plan no more than 10%, spend the other 90% doing.
6. Build innovation into your design. Plan ways to help spur innovation. Create tools, decorate walls, tear down closed spaces, or create labs where design or creative thought can more easily occur.
7. Remove deadlines. Give people the freedom to create within a structured environment on their own time.

According to David Kelley, IDEO CEO, "The more you experiment, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you create." So make the effort to experiment with your teams. You just might be rewarded.

This article is by Scott Andrews, CEO and principal business advisor at ARRiiVE Business Solutions, helps executives build creative, empowered, and productive teams. Learn more about Scott's dynamic SEMANTIC COLLABORATION and CREATIVE COLLABORATION models and tools at

7 Keys To Building Successful Strategic Alliances

Companies across the world are increasingly forming strategic alliances with other companies in order to increase market share or the perceived marketing strength of their products and services.

Chief Executives seek to build relationships by partnering with similar like-minded organizations. Alliances may also enable a foray into previous untapped market segments by giving the customer a one-stop-shop solution for their needs. Alliances are announced in the technology world on a frequent basis.

However, some alliances leave one or both parties disappointed in the end-results. This is often because the alliance is not established properly. Properly established alliances can help leverage business and build stronger relationships with customers. This article is aimed to help you develop, measure, and nurture your alliances to increase your success.

What is a strategic alliance?

Webster's defines "stratagem" as 'a subtle piece of planning designed to "gain an end" and Webster's defines an "alliance" as the uniting of qualities in a perceived relationship.'1 In this context, a strategic alliance is then the "uniting of qualities in a perceived relationship to gain an end-result."

I define a strategic alliance as an agreement to utilize the strengths of both companies (the strategy) to build a bridge for customers to benefit (the end) through mutual partnership (the perceived relationship).

A winning strategic alliance creates a win for Company A, a win for Company B, and a win for the customers of the companies in alliance. An alliance may be a consortium, but for the purposes of this discussion we will examine alliances between two organizations.

Successful alliances are usually comprised of the following features:

1. Clear benefit to both companies.

2. Both companies increase the sale of (defined) products and services.

3. Customers can clearly see who handles what (to eliminate confusion).

4. Both partners increase their visibility and strengthen the name of their company by forming the alliance.

5. The alliance represents a revenue flow to one or both companies that would not otherwise occur.

6. The alliance represents an outsourced cost/revenue structure in order to maximize a relationship, resource, or cost through leveraging a partner's economies of scale and ability to more successfully deliver the relationship, resource, or cost structure.

As a strategic alliance manager for my former company, I focused on technology companies with clearly beneficial reasons to partner with my company: one or some of our strengths matched their weaknesses and one or some of their strengths matched our weaknesses. Also, the economies of scale (financial benefit) of partnering outweighed the cost of keeping a service support structure in-house. An example would be a company who manufactures computer network equipment outsourcing the support of their equipment to my company, and in return, my company agrees to build a solution featuring their switches as a bundled product to the customer. The result is the customer buys from my company, receives support from my company for the products we sell AND support for the warranty from my company for the partner's products.

Every alliance has quirks to work through. For example, two companies with competing products/services will face communication challenges with their customers when they form an alliance. The customer will be confused as to who or where to buy the product. This type of alliance violates my rule number 3 - customer can clearly see who handles what. It is important to have clearly defined processes for implementation as well as account management (from both parties) to create successful alliances.

Another challenge in alliances is to define how much revenue will result and how soon it will occur -- the primary problem with alliances that break down. The break down often occurs because Company A over-promises the amount of work in order to negotiate a lower-cost pricing structure and gain commitments from Company B, the provider of the service. This causes breakdown because one party begins to mistrust the alliance partner either because the revenue flow does not match the promised amount or because service levels are compromised due to broken commitment of revenue flow, which creates a lack of adherence to service level agreements. A few mishandled escalations for support can leave Company B disillusioned with Company A's ability to support their products. This results in fewer referrals to the service alliance.

A good way to resolve this challenge is to establish defined metrics of success, monitor success, and recognize potential trouble spots to take corrective action. It is also highly important to establish pricing based upon a scale of realistically achievable levels of volume. With a pricing structure based upon a scale, both sides are fairly protected.

There is a method to create accountability within each respective company. These alliances involve employees from both companies representing the alliance within each other's organization through cross-pollination of employees. The presence of the employee from Company A on the team of Company B builds synergies and removes the potential for miscommunication. It is also important to have shared office space, regularly scheduled meetings, and maintain clear lines of communication so that surprises are minimized.

It has been said "an optimist and pessimist make the best partnership because one sees the profits while the other sees the risks."

So, the last key to a successful alliance is to make sure representatives from various parts of each company are intricately involved in building the solution. I included the law department, business development, human resources, finance (controller), administration, manufacturing, operations, and sales when building alliances for Data General and DecisionOne. I also made sure my alliance partner had representatives from each area included on their decision teams.

Strategic alliances can be beneficiary to your company's image. The last thing I would want to do is spend 6 months to a year building an alliance only to announce it the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. This is the last, and perhaps most vital, aspect of a successful alliance. Announcing the new alliance to customers at the right time leads to maximum exposure (and success). Announcing at the wrong time may have less than desired effect and draw fewer customers to the table. A good example of the right time to announce the alliance might be during the key day of a trade show. Both companies must be committed to the success of both the promotion and the delivery of the alliance. With a joint commitment to promotion and delivery you ensure the success of the program.

To recap ways to improve your strategic alliance success, make sure to have good answers for these seven questions:

1. Is there clear benefit to both companies (financial, service/product, relationship)?

2. Is the relationship clearly defined for customers to understand?

3. Are your companies networked (3 x 3 minimum to ensure a strong relationship)?

4. How much business did you promise to deliver?

5. Have you developed a thorough SLA (service level agreement) for the scope of work to be delivered? Have you developed a plan for success (with metrics to measure how you will define alliance success?

6. Do you have clear and honest communication between partners? Is the management of implementation and continuous success of the program assigned to strong parties within each organization?

7. Is the image and success of the program being promoted by both partners?

Building successful strategic alliances isn't easy; however, they add to the success and value of your company. Use these seven steps to improve your alliances. We often consult with companies on how to improve alliances and wish you success with your alliance aspirations.

Scott Andrews is CEO and Founder of ARRiiVE Business Solutions(, a leading business productivity and personal development firm based in California. ARRiiVE helps organizations launch new products and services, empower sales teams, and change businesses through innovative business models and techniques to improve success. For more information, contact, or visit http://www.ARRiiVE.

Sep 5, 2007

Team Selling in Enterprise Environments

Companies have been selling in teams since the dawn of IBM. But, with today's dispersed and global environments, an executive recently asked me: "Does Team Building work within enterprise selling environments, today?" My answer was "Yes, team selling can work, but you can only create the explosion of sales success by blasting away outdated systemic issues that block the natural flow of selling your organization to the client's organization."

I'm not providing statistics in this article. But I can tell you the challenges of selling in teams, and ways to overcome some of them.

Common problems with selling in teams include:

1. Structure of selling organization.

2. Problems with functional organization rather than team organization.

3. Job descriptions and the role of Human Resources aligning (or mis-aligning) human capital.

4. Compensation based upon functional output rather than team or cross-function output.

5. Focus on short-term results rather than long-term benefits to customer.

Now, if you drill down into each of these areas, I did a few searches on team building, and for kicks and giggles, came up with a few that I think illustrate my point well.

1. Structure of selling organization. Most problems in the business world, today, are systemic. You'll notice I said the structure of the SELLING organization, not BUYING organization. Why? Because the company you're selling to can structure however they want. A good sales team will be flexible and able to adapt to a variety of environments they sell within. The real issue is in how YOUR organization is structured to go to market.

Here (,0) is a URL with an article that is well-written, focused on team selling, and mentions key roles within the sales force team as:

  • Specialist
  • Market Researcher
  • Business Developer
  • Rainmaker
The problem with this list is it suggests team selling but only within functional roles of a the sales team function. It completely fails to consider that operations, services, administration, and management impact the sales process and half of the positions mentioned are not the mover/shakers who actually write sales deals or build customer relationships but the reporters/analysts who report on the deal or effect of the deal. The people who makes deals happen are the Rainmaker, and perhaps to a lesser extent, Business Development, but Research and Specialist are people who usually want to "see more" data before they'll move. One of the key people who can make a deal happen: Senior Executive, is missing from this list. The operations point-man and implementation expert is also not included here.

The author of the article went on to suggest bi-weekly meetings without stating an objective for the meeting. Rainmakers abhor meetings without purpose! This type of article is the reason for the problems in the current business environment with building cross-functional teams. They're only looking at the "sales" silo and missing the bigger picture. The author makes a good point about training the entire sales team, it just seems that training ought to expand outside the sales silo boundaries across the entire cross-functional team.

I've addressed this concern with my Sales Diamond Model which you can find at:

2. Problems with functional organization rather than team organization. I came across this PDF, which is a reprint from a Sales and Marketing Executive Report from Darnell (

This article hits upon two problems I see: 1) Silo by organization function (sales, engineering, administration, etc.) when organizations try to get cross-functional, they haven't blended or created any type of system that enables teams across functions, (2) Lack of pay based upon team results. People are paid individual salaries based upon their job description. And the job description is, again, based upon function (sales, HR, Operations, Strategic Planning, etc.) without inclusion or consideration of payment for team performance or impact upon team's productive results. The other inherent problem within this is the fact that job descriptions are based upon general individual contribution within the function group rather than job description for unique capabilities and contribution to the whole, with a nod to the functional aspects. If companies were to shift this payment structure in their compensation plan, they will drive team-performance and create better cross-functional teams.

But if organizations create teams only within their functional groups, then they miss their opportunity to truly build an empowered environment. I once participated in a contest, and the Director of the project was brilliant to notice that EVERYONE wanted to participate in the contest. He made sure that each functional group got enough "points" from the contest to assure them a potential prize (i-pod, gift certificate) so that every employee felt the benefit of the contest. Yes, sales people had more opportunity to win than administrators, because they had more impact and pay scale, but every person came away with something for helping grow customers as a team. What I found interesting about the contest is that administrators started calling me with leads, operations people started to discuss ways to better help certain clients, and managers worked overtime with me to help me get certain deals structured to win for the customer. In short: it worked to drive more cross-functional performance, at least for a short period of time.

3. Job descriptions and the role of Human Resources and the utilization of human capital. As referenced in the article above, if job descriptions don't describe the accurate work that you expect people to do, then you'll get what you've asked for. It is about the law of attraction. If you point people at a tall building, tell them they have to sell your business services to the organizations in that tall building, then why would you be surprised when the deals they bring in are from the companies in that building? That's the whole idea, isn't it? Now, today's customers aren't all located in one tall building, they may be spread out over multiple cities, states, or even countries. In addition, it isn't just the customer's organization we're selling to within enterprise organizations, there also is the impact of outsourcing within the enterprise that affects how to go after deals. But, nevertheless, if your organization's job descriptions describe how people will interact with organizations you seek to do business with, then you're likely to produce a better result. I'm working on a software tool that will deliver a better team structure and enable organizations to track "jobs" or team projects by key words. That way, job descriptions may be re-written to include key phrases of the team and build better results.

4. Compensation based upon functional output rather than team or cross-function output. Now, this is always where the rubber meets the road, isn't it? If you have someone that you're paying to move a brick, and he grabs a hose and pours water instead, you'd ask him "Why didn't you move the brick?" Wouldn't you? I would. Yet, how many organizations are using the same re-tried compensation models promoting individualism, private results, and functional results? Almost ALL of them are using compensation models based around the results of individual or functional programs.

I tried to find an article discussing the impact on sales that EVERY function needs to own (administrative roles, operations roles, management roles, etc.) but couldn't find one. You know why? Because people have come to associate "salespeople" as the people who "sell" and the other people "just doing work" contributing to the company. It's a fallacy that has been created over time by sales v. operations battles, and as a result of bad habits. For example, it is a bad habit to think you don't have an impact upon selling by processing billing in accounts receivable. The billing people often find some of the greatest opportunities for a sales development. It's a bad habit to think upper management need not be part of the sales team. Upper managers want to meet with other upper managers. Use the cross-functional team but more than that ALL employees need to be actualized in the compensation process to also show the benefit to creating complete win-win solutions across the enterprise.

I see a need for compensation overhaul. If the client is measuring our success by delivering the benefits we promise them, then wouldn't it make sense to build our OWN compensation programs by delivering BENEFITS to the CLIENT? It's a whole new way of looking at compensation. I'm developing a payment description model and compensation model that rewards based upon client goals, rather than seller goals. It's exciting, and drives a considerably larger result to production with each employee.

5. Focus on short-term results rather than long-term benefits to customer. I dug around and found an article on sales teams that hit this problem square on the nose: the problem is FOCUS.

I think of the Buddhist and consider FOCUS to be part of the RIGHT THOUGHT structure of RIGHT THOUGHT, RIGHT ACTION, RIGHT SPEECH. Without RIGHT THOUGHT, none of the other desired results can happen. So, if you focus upon the right things, you ought to have the right results. This article ( discussed the challenge that sales organizations are focused on hitting numbers. Those numbers are not numbers of benefits clients receive, but numbers of revenue dollars coming in from that account to the SELLING company's coffers. Focus on numbers might impact numbers, short-term; however, for the long-term it is the wrong focus. Yet, you'd be surprised how many meetings I've had with upper managers where all they look at is the NUMBERS! Crazy idiots, if you ask me. They ought to be focused on CUSTOMER BENEFITS. Because, if their organization delivers a high value of customer benefits, they'd likely hit MORE sales numbers as a by-product. Makes sense, doesn't it?

The quote that stands out to me from this article is:
"Developing a sales team can be very difficult in an environment unfamiliar with the team selling approach. The hurdle is shifting the mindset of an organization and its salespeople from lone rangers selling products to selling teams providing solutions for customers. 'Results from organizations who try this change actually show some organizations facing up to a 30 to 40 per cent turnover in their sales force,' says Barclay [the author of the article]. According to Barclay, organizations who implement true team selling must change to move from a short-term focus to a "continuous, evolving relationship with customers with the relationship building under the guidance of a selling team."

This is, in my experience, correct. Turnover may happen. But that type of turnover is healthy turnover if it results in a longer-term, more honest and responsible approach with the customer. This is the objective I've been working to implement with organizations through ARRiiVE Business Solutions ( It's about the customer, it's about their needs, and the benefits they receive. Ah-ha! I've found a modern mantra for the modern businessman. Say it again with me: "It's about the customer, their needs, and the benefits they receive."