Fortune 500 Digital Marketing Executive with offline/online integration, brand personalization, ecommerce experience. Fluent in organic, natural search, search engine marketing and social media optimization (in particular blogging, vlogging, comment marketing, social network marketing, etc.). Here is my experience map.
ThoughtLava has transitioned from a Web development, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) company to a Software as a Service (SaaS) company over the last year. This is a brief story of our success and my role:
I founded ThoughtLava and built a base of clientele from zero to over 50 within four years, with an average annual revenue per client greater than $20,000. My method of closing new business is to quickly identify three or four business drivers (activities that will increase revenue) and show how the Web can partner to achieve those objectives. While, in my opinion, the most important function for a website is lead capture, the conversion of a visitor into a prospect is critical. I have found the higher the relevance the higher the likelihood that a visitor will provide contact information. To that end, we developed patent pending technology enabling websites to recognize representatives of specific market segments upon arrival and deliver a more meaningful experience. We began marketing our technology - Semanticator™ - as a license in February 2008. We now have more than ten companies licensing from industries like automotive, floral, publishing, hospitality and transportation/storage.ThoughtLava is a virtual operation with personnel scattered across the United States, India and Australia. Through our use of technology, we have been able to build strong relationships with public, global companies as a unified organization. I led our company to adopt 100% Web 2.0 applications to operate our business - project management, communication, customer relationship management, accounting, etc. Even our presentations are delivered via Web applications. This enables us to be effective on any computer connected to the Internet. With regard to managing our developers in India, we initially experienced 70% accuracy due to misinterpretation and ambiguity within requirements. To resolve this issue, we began using another Web application that enabled us to create rapid prototypes for each Web project which increased developer accuracy to 95%. This is successful for two reasons. First, it allows our clients to become more involved in the process - they find it easier to contribute when playing with a functioning prototype versus reviewing business, functional and technical requirements. Second, our Indian developers deal with less ambiguity when a prototype accompanies the traditional requirements documentation.We use guerrilla marketing to accomplish our client acquisition goals. Each of the three principals have been extremely active in social media networks like LinkedIn and Plaxo - having networks in excess of 400 contacts. Our only rule: don't connect unless you know them. These networks have resulted in the majority of our business opportunities. In addition, I participate in other social networks like Twitter - by following those in my target market, I have found that 80% will begin following me. This gives me direct, instant access via computer or smart phone to hundreds of opinion leaders that not only find what we do interesting, but can take action. I have also found "Comment Marketing" to be a fertile activity. I monitor hundreds of blogs read by my target market using Google Reader. On a daily basis I look for opportunities to be relevant. Several times each day, I contribute comments on blogs that are related to our work - always promoting our product, albeit subtly. This has resulted in significant qualified traffic to our websites (http://www.semanticator.com and http://www.thoughtlava.com) and my blog (http://thoughtlava.typepad.com/mindflow/). I am constantly on the look out for press opportunities, using services like ProfNet and HelpAReporter.com. Recently, I was published in "Website Magazine" for my work in the Semantic Web or Web 3.0 (http://tinyurl.com/4al8tx).
Jun 2000 - Jan 2004
SVP Marketing and Ecommerce
Insight is a public company positioned as a trusted advisor to its clients, helping them enhance their business performance through innovative technology solutions.Upon returning to Insight Enterprises (NSIT), my directive was to set marketing strategy across the parent and its subsidiaries; lead Insight further into Ecommerce; participate in prioritization of IT resources and definition of IT policy; and participate in mergers, acquisitions and consolidations. I was part of the Executive Management team that set strategic direction for the entire company - the team was comprised of CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, President, SVP Human Resources, SVP Sales, SVP Marketing & Ecommerce.Insight had been growing by acquisition, as a result the brand had fragmented. This method of growth was likely to continue, making a solid brand architecture imperative. My team created and implemented a process to maximize the transfer of the brand equity of each acquired company to Insight Enterprises over time. This included the communications plan, both internal and external, as well as the transition path for the various corporate identities.For our largest subsidiary, Direct Alliance Corporation (annual sales of greater than $65 million by offering outsourced sales and account management services that help the Fortune 500 efficiently serve small and midsize businesses), my team packaged a complex array of related, but separate services into a more cohesive set of branded offerings that followed a more natural sales progression. This enabled the Direct Alliance sales organization to more clearly communicate the offering and close significant new business, including Xerox, HP, Okidata and IBM. Insight was interested in improved performance with the goal of divesting - Direct Alliance was sold to Teletech in 2006 with annual revenues in excess of $77 million.During my first engagement with Insight Enterprises, I created and launched the initial Insight.com in the Spring of 1995. In the first month, the new website was responsible for more than $50,000 in revenue. Before my departure for Sprint PCS, annual revenue for Insight.com would exceed $50 million. Two years later, upon my return, the annual revenue had grown to nearly $90 million. At the end of my tenure in 2004, Insight.com had annual revenues in excess of $300 million. The key was and continues to be the removal of "friction" from the sales process. The most successful initiatives my team is credited with are the enablement of a simplified process for routine purchases by businesses, and the creation and implementation of a sophisticated search system based on user-guided navigation (enabling easy, accurate navigation to any one of more than 300,000 SKUs) - this would ultimately drive the search processes for our competitive set within the technology industry.As part of the due diligence team for our 2002 acquisition of Comark (a computer products and services reseller to large enterprise with annual revenues in excess of $2 billion), I recommended the integration of Comark's online business onto our Ecommerce platform, while we simultaneously adopted SAP for the underlying operational platform. This was a challenging approach, but we had seven years of investment and know-how in our Ecommerce system - the SAP solution was not adequate. The challenge was maintaining sufficient IT resources to continue to meet the existing market demands as well as those placed on us by our new Fortune 500 clientele. I engineered an IT resources prioritization schema that anchored to our corporate objectives. This was adopted as a fair method of determining what should be worked on next. As a by-product, it reduced IT prioritization meetings from two to three hours to less than 30 minutes a week.
Sep 1998 - May 2000
Sprint/Sprint PCS is a leading telecommunications company delivering comprehensive communication services from personal to corporate.When I arrived at Sprint PCS, the website was 100% focused on customer care. My charge was to transition the website from merely facilitating post-sales interactions to one that would increase Sprint PCS subscribers and ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). It's hard to imagine, but prior to my work at Sprint PCS, you could not buy a mobile phone online. The majority of my time was spent either convincing other executives that displaying price and allowing online purchases would increase revenue or coordinating with product management/distribution. In addition to SprintPCS.com selling online, I assisted in the negotiations with key vendor partners (Radio Shack, Best Buy, Circuit City, TelStreet, Brightpoint, etc.) for their online support.I also managed Sprint PCS telesales with annual revenues of $115 million. This included an in-house staff of five and two outsourced call centers (over 400 hundred telesales professionals combined). As part of my role, I reviewed vendor contracts resulting in a $1,000,000 refund with a non-compliant vendor to be paid over a two year period.Within six months of my employment with Sprint PCS, the parent company requested that I lead the integration of all seven major business units into a single cohesive website. The initiative was called 'One Sprint'. I created and directly managed a cross-functional team of seven individuals (one delegate from each MBU). As a team, we secured the commitment and cooperation of the top 30 Ecommerce individuals across the organization. Our team transitioned the home page of seven separate websites into a single unified experience within first 90 days of operation. This provided Sprint customers a view of the full spectrum of services for their particular customer type, re-establishing an implicit message of "Clarity" consistent with the core brand message. We accomplished this goal without the use of outside agencies (minimum $100,000 in cost savings). We also began the migration of all Sprint Web sites to a single development platform by persuading each MBU to purchase and implement Blue Martini.One of the most rewarding experiences during my tenure with Sprint was participating in the Advanced Management Program. I assisted in recruiting candidates from the top business schools in the country (this included on-site visits). I also mentored three candidates (six month rotations). Those individuals are now part of senior management in other technology companies, and we remain connected.
Aug 1999 - Dec 1999
I proposed an Ecommerce course to the Dean of the Henry W. Block School of Business. My goal was to identify and recruit local talent into the Ecommerce division of Sprint/Sprint PCS.I designed the course description, syllabus and schedule (The course was filled and closed earlier than any other business course for that semester. The roster included both undergraduate and graduate business students.) While I have certainly attended my share of college courses, and have had the opportunity to speak to large groups of college students since - I was amazed by the level of interaction throughout this course. It really helped to push my thinking - an unexpected benefit. Part of the course was taught via crude online, private chat rooms created by the University. As part of my duty, I administered semester and final exams and assigned grades.
Feb 1994 - Aug 1998
Insight was transitioning from a private to public company. In the mid-1990's, Insight was positioned as the best source of computer products and services for small to medium-sized businesses.At the beginning of my career with Insight, I reported directly to the President. He plunged me into all sorts of situations where I would learn the guts of the business. As an example, during my first week, he told me to report to the distribution center in old jeans and a t-shirt. When I arrived, I was greeted by the Vice President of Distribution (who would ultimately become the President of Insight Enterprises). He gave me a brief tour and then asked me to think about how we might improve the RMA (Returns) process while I cleaned old computer cases. At first, I was indignant, but what I soon realized is that they had made me invisible, like the proverbial "fly on the wall". If I had been introduced as a manager, people would have reacted differently toward me, masking what was really going on. I was able to spot inefficiencies in the process and help to redesign the flow over the next month. It was an amazing lesson!In 1994, I was named Insight's first Manager of Electronic Media. We launched Insight.com three months later and did over $50,000 in online sales in the first 30 days. I was given complete autonomy. Over the next couple of years, we would relaunch the site on a monthly basis, looking for ways to increase sales or catalog subscriptions. For example, we created 3-D imagery on Insight.com and provided a form to get Free 3-D Glasses. Those 3-D Glasses were bound into an Insight catalog, beginning a new subscription with each request. For about a year, Insight became the largest distributor of 3-D Glasses in the world!In 1996, I became Director of Electronic Commerce. That year I began to recognize that improving the online customer experience was an important component of our success, but the support of the Insight sales force was critical. So, I volunteered to teach an Ecommerce course as part of Insight University (actually was named Faculty of the Year) to help our sales people understand the Internet opportunity and suggest ways for them to take advantage of Insight.com in their sales process. The single most important lesson that I taught sales people was that Insight.com can take orders from your customers when you can't, that included vacation. What I found is that most hadn't been able to take vacation for fear of losing accounts. Insight.com helped eliminate that issue. Ultimately, we formed a Webmaster's Club to celebrate the successes of those sales people that had embraced the Web as a sales assistant.When I departed in 1998, Insight.com had annual online sales in excess of $50 million generated by a team of 35 programmers and designers.