Friday, April 27, 2018

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

How to Turn LinkedIn into an Effective B2B Marketing Tool

How to Turn LinkedIn into an Effective B2B Marketing Tool!

1. Choose contacts very carefully (no family and friends here), zeroing in on the decision-makers. For example, if you offer financial services to banks and other financial institutions, constrain your re/search to the decision-making vertical, i.e., VP-SVP-EVP. 

2. Expect 20-30% effectiveness. Could be higher or lower depending on the mutual interest and compatibility. Regardless, try to align with the decision-makers. 

3. Contribute frequently, preferably daily. Content is king so do not waste time on unrelated issues/themes (stick to your business and competition). Instead of sharing articles from various news agencies, place your own articles and commentaries so your business stands out. Originality is greatly rewarded. 

 4. Unless specifically requested, avoid all direct marketing. Do not spam your contacts with unsolicitated literature. It's a serious turn-off for the busy business people.  

 5. Define the target population you would like to achieve within a specified timeframe. High-water mark is critical. Quality is more important than quantity; for instance, 1,000 vertical-level decision-makers (quality) are more valuable than 2,000 random bankers (just quantity), most of whom are non-decision makers. Set a timeframe, say within 6 months, to achieve this goal. Spend an hour each night – religiously – reviewing candidate profiles and sending out invites.

 6. As liquidity increases, intensify your marketing efforts. At the end of the day, it's a numbers game. 1-2% effectiveness becomes significant when the underlying population is large and impactful. In other words, if you have a contact population of 3,000 decision-makers, 1% response rate (or 30 leads per day) is significant – initially!

 7. Considering it's a "100% targeted" environment, minimize the use of automated or impersonal campaigns. Instead of placing a marketing flyer in front of your contacts, write a meaningful introductory piece, followed by a set of links to your flyers. When leads are self-enticed (after having read your piece), they are already half-sold.     
 8. Just the way you would grow your business, keep your LinkedIn base growing as well. The growth pattern must be collinear, meaning they must grow in tandem (as they complement each other). As your base grows, you will receive more requests. Remember, it’s your business so do not unnecessarily relax your acceptance rules. On the contrary, now that your base is liquid, try to tighten it a bit. For example, roll up your original VP-SVP-EVP vertical to SVP-EVP now.

 9. Finally, here is an optional consideration – an exception (to the stringent acceptance rule) I personally follow. Now and then, when I receive requests from certain rule-breaking yet deserving candidates like the mothers trying to return to work, new STEM graduates looking for jobs, etc., I wholeheartedly welcome them into the network.

 Good Luck!

 Sid Som, MBA, MIM
President, Homequant, Inc.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

How to Develop an Automated Valuation Model (AVM)

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A Market AVM is developed using a group of recent arms-length sales, generating an econometric solution (blue graph). 

1. If the sales sample (must be representative of the population it is derived from) comprises an extended timeframe, say 12 to 18 months, sales are generally time-adjusted. 

2. Time-adjusted sales, rather than the Pure Sale (as originated), therefore becomes the dependent variable, while Size (Land and Bldg), Bldg Age, Land & Bldg Type/Quality (Site Elevation, Type of Lot, Bldg Grade, Condition, Exterior, Style, etc.) and Location (Value influencing Fixed Neighborhoods like School Districts, Assessment Districts, etc.) serve as the independent variables in the Multiple Regression Analysis (MRA) equation that usually defines the model structure. 

3. Of course, the most efficient models are generally built around multiple stages (Additive=Quantitative /Continuous Vars; Multiplicative-1=Qualitative a.k.a. Descriptive Vars; Multiplicative2=Fixed Location Vars) AND multiple cycles (Cycle-1=Outliers Defined/Removed; Cycle-2=Residuals Analyzed and Corrected; Cycle-3=Final Model Developed post Hold-out Testing). 

4. As the model gets further fine-tuned (requiring the aforesaid iterative cycles involving removal of outliers and correction of residuals, which are not shown here), the model R-squared tends to approach .90 and the COD/COV falls below 10, thus convincing technicians to apply the model on to the assessment population in order to generate the assessment roll (or on to the mortgage portfolio to have it re-priced in line with the current market).

5. Of course, it's always wise to test the draft model on to a hold-out dataset (cycle-3 as mentioned above, with the hold-out having very similar attributes as the population dataset) before applying on to the actual population. This interim hold-out test helps identify and correct any model errors and inconsistencies, instead of having to discover and correct them post population application which is very time-consuming and cumbersome. Since this test must poduce very similar results as the model's as well as the population's, this is an excellent QA/SQC step as well.

-- Sid Som, MBA, MIM
President, Homequant, Inc.

Link to our Trend-setting AVM Book on Amazon (Kindle/Paperback)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

How to Pre-launch a B2B Start-up

How to Pre-launch a B2B Start-up

"I have been toying with a B2B concept for a while. I think it has great potential. How do I take it forward?"

As an entrepreneur, I often get this question from the budding entrepreneurs.

First off, B2B Service (where we operate) is one of the hardest segments to penetrate. Consider these steps (necessary but aren't sufficient) to pre-launch a B2B start-up:

1. If you have a good job, do not jump ship. Instead, take some time off and try out a pilot "live." If your concept/invention pertains to the same industry where you are currently employed, have an Attorney review your employment contract for “conflict of interest” and “no compete” clauses. Since start-ups do not qualify for SBA loans, hire a qualified consultant to review your financials (both business and household), type of business formation (S, LLC, C, etc.), liability insurance, etc., etc.   

2. Make sure you implement your own marketing plan (from the actual business plan) to promote the pilot (as if it were the real launch!). I would rather have an average concept backed by a super-duper marketing plan (recipe for success) than a super-duper concept backed by an average marketing plan.

3. If it is a local service, start networking. Run several live campaigns (with your real money) to get a good feel/reaction from the future clients.

4. If it is a national service, mobilize your marketing rolodex (LinkedIn, FB, etc.), with an announcement that you are open for business.

5. Simultaneously, implement your marketing campaigns on Twitter. Fine-tune campaigns based on Twitter Analytics. Re-implement the plan.

6. Seek advice from the like-minded B2B entrepreneurs - both successful and struggling - to avoid having to reinvent the wheel. It will save you many trips to the ER, so to say.

7. If you have written a book highlighting your concept/invention, join the Amazon Marketing Service to beef up its sale, bolstering “indirect” marketing. The Kindle version alone is not enough - the Paperback is equally important.

8. If it is a Business IT concept (like ours), copyright it, leading to patenting; otherwise, you will have zero protection (read my prior posts for details).

9. Analyze the results as they come in. If you think (preferably in collaboration with a marketing consultant) the results far exceed your (and your consultant's) expectations, initiate a much larger pilot with the updated service coupled with an upgraded marketing plan - i.e., adequately factoring in the inputs (+/-) from the initial pilot. If the follow-up growth curve is exponential (at this point, linear growth is not good enough!), you are "on to something."  

Good Luck!

-Sid Som, MBA, MIM
President, Homequant, Inc.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How to Bail Out the Ailing Local Governments

Bailing out the Ailing Local Governments

Need a total re-invention of the Local Governments, in line with the private sector.
1. Replace the existing Pension system with a 403 Matching System (match up to 6%), thereby preventing any unfunded liability.
2. ​All Paid Time (Vacation, Sick, Personal days, etc.) must be reset each year (use it or lose it). No carry over!
3. All Overtime & Comp Time must also carry the same annual reset, with no cash conversion whatsoever!
4. Introduce Mandatory Retirement at age 67 (when Social Security and Medicare come into effect), with an early retirement incentive at age 62 (first allowable SS).
5. Minimize Civil Service hiring. Use "Temps" to fill seasonal and "Leased" employees to cater to long-term requirements.
6. Outsource! Outsource! Outsource! Start outsourcing all non-essential services including analytics/modeling, research, assessment, appeals review, data collection, etc. (those private vendors face true competition so they are forced to hire the best and the brightest, hence much better value to the taxpayers!).
7. Take away all decision-making powers from the senior Government employees (pertaining to high value projects, outsourcing, etc.), minimizing fraud, nepotism and post-retirement revolving door options.
8. All Civil Service Interviews must be conducted by a duly elected/selected external body (Professors, CEOs, EVPs, SVPs, etc.), with right to reject ALL (needed!).
9. All Civil Service jobs requiring a college degree must have two-part tests: Part-1: College level Math & English, leading to Part-2: Regulation.
Of course, the counter case could be equally compelling. As long as these Governments have unrestricted access to the "eternal" cash cow called homeowners, none of this might matter.

-- Sid Som, MBA, MIM
President, Homequant, Inc.
9 Enhancements to Make Existing Property Assessment Fair and Equitable