The “Pay it Forward” approach to business. A powerful marketing tool.

As my 29th year in the marketing business wraps up, I felt compelled to share a philosophy of doing business that might shock you. In fact, revealing my enthusiasm for this approach may make me look like a kook or worse. I call it the Pay it Forward (PIF) approach.

What prompts me to write this article is a reoccurring circumstance that leaves me befuddled. I find myself attempting to explain to people that I’m willing to help them in some way just because I like their product or perhaps I am inspired by their story. I don’t assume that I can help or that I’m some sort of omnipotent business savant – I just offer to help if I can. Call me kooky.

As a purveyor of PIF, I expect nothing in return for making introductions, sharing knowledge or supporting their endeavor. This lack of expectation is a challenge for many people in business that are conditioned to look for the “catch” or the sales pitch. When they find none, they pass on the opportunity because it sounds too good to be true.

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Crowdfunding and Marketing. A recent report by Clarity.

Late last year I completed a research project for a client that was interested in crowdfunding. It occurred to me that others might get some value from this research and my experience raising money via the crowd. You can download the report below. The power of the crowd is shaping up to be a valuable tool for entrepreneurs. If/when the SEC decides to let people crowdfund for equity, I believe it will finally become a viable tool to raise capital. My experience with crowdfunding and my research tells me that success is predicated upon a sound marketing strategy. You’ll need to create your program to reach far beyond your friends and family if you are attempting to raise any real money. The most successful crowdfunded projects embarked on significant marketing and promotion campaigns. In other words, they didn’t just rely on word of mouth – they pulled all the levers,[…]

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Talking to 5th Graders about careers is like talking about bicycles with a fish.

According to research by Raytheon and others, America loses about 60% of its future innovators before the age of 13. These are kids who start elementary school genuinely excited about science. By the time they hit seventh grade, the majority feel that science is “boring” and irrelevant to their lives. Of course the irony of this belief is lost on the most wired and healthy generation in history. I believe one of the biggest factors is the context in which we present science to our elementary and middle school students. We are telling 5th graders they should study science so they can have a better career. The trouble is, 5th graders don’t care about that just yet.

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Where are your future knowledge workers? In elementary school right now.

I believe the person who cures cancer, solves the energy problem or invents the next insanely great thing is in elementary school right now. Over 90% of these bright young minds enter elementary school with a passion for science and an insatiable curiosity about their world. By the time they reach 7th grade, it is barely above 30%. That is a loss of 60% of America’s future innovators before they even reach high school. I think that is unacceptable so I’m willing to do something about it. [youtube -IqIe9wZe24]

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Thank you Steve Jobs

Steve, You changed the world. You made it possible for me to earn a living for over two decades by changing everything in the production of marketing communications and video. Without you, there would be no Windows GUI. (Yes, I know Xerox was doing something similar, but Macintosh made it sing).  You’ve made it possible for my independent musician friends to control their own destiny by letting them distribute their work through ITunes without a record company.  Apple has made it possible for independent video producers and animators to produce work rivaling the biggest studies. A champion of branding and a true visionary, you will be missed.

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