Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Levi's Calls on Gen Y to "Go Forth" (and buy jeans)...

Advertising has drastically evolved over the past few years.  Moving from print to digital, dealing with a widespread recession, and of course pitching to a completely different generation have all influenced the way companies choose to reach out to consumers. 

One company that refuses to get left behind is Levi Strauss & Company.  The Levi brand, known for it “501 blues” and “501 U.S.A.” campaigns is once again reaching out to the next generation.  Their target market:  Gen Y males ages 18-34.  In a recent New York Times article, “Levi’s Courts the Young With a Hopeful Call” Levi Strauss & Company’s new campaign “Go forth” is revealed and dissected.

The new campaign will attempt to reach out to consumers from every angle.  Commercials will be on television, online, and in movie theaters.  They will also use print advertisements as well as transit signs and posters.  Finally, they will utilize the power of social media sites by placing “Go Forth” advertisements on Facebook.

In the campaign Levi hopes to rally the patriotic “we can do anything” spirit of Gen Y and combine that with their brand name to appeal to the new consumer market.  As the article states Levi's goal is to deliver “the authenticity, and the price, the customer wants.”  All while keeping in mind that “A brand is worth what you pay for it.”

It is apparent that Gen Y has greatly changed the consumer market.  Levi’s new campaign is a direct example of that.  In the following Prendismo clip Elliott Garlock discusses how companies are adjusting for Gen Y's attitude.

"We're innovative.  We're efficient.  We don't believe that your performance is measured by how early you come into the office and how late you leave." - Elliott Garlock, Assistant Brand Manager, Procter & Gamble

The article places emphasis on Levi as a brand name.  Levi is a well-known trusted product and the company needs to leverage that name in their advertising.  In the following Prendismo clip, Kenneth Shields discusses the importance of making your brand relevant to consumers.

"First moment of truth is when it's purchased, second moment of truth is when it's used." - Kenneth Shields, Director, Procter & Gamble

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shedding Light On: Leadership

So we are trying something a bit different...

Instead of writing one of our usual blog posts, we've created a short video highlighting great clips from Prendismo's leadership collection.

Hope you enjoy!

Interested in watching more? Visit www.prendismo.com to access the entire Prendismo library!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Business Plan Faux Pas

So you want to start a business? Well now’s the time to do it. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, an economic downturn provides ideal conditions for becoming an entrepreneur. Low costs, talented individuals and prospective clients are abundant and available. Now all you need is an idea, a product, a team, and…a business plan. Unfortunately, poorly written business plans can make or break your entrepreneurial dream.

In his article, “Why Business Plans Don’t Deliver”, John W. Mullins reveals the five most common flaws found in business plans. Not only does Mullins accurately describe the flaws, he provides suggestions that will prevent business plans from facing a quick scan and toss into the recycling bin.

The first mistake addressed in the article, Mullins refers to as the "Here I Am Never Mind The Problem" flaw.

“In this kind of plan, the writer is smitten with the elegance of his or her technology. The plan begins not with the identification of a customer problem to resolve, but with a detailed explanation of how the technology works, why it is cutting-edge or state-of-the-art, and how it is better, faster and cheaper than current solutions.”

Just this weekend I told my dad I wanted to start a business. He began questioning me, asking what it was I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it and how my business was going to solve a problem. As I stuttered an unintelligible response he cautioned me with these words: “Don’t start a business just to say you did. You need to be passionate about it and you need to have a product that will solve a problem.” Of course he was right. Too many companies fail, because they are absorbed in the amazingly innovative technology they have. However, if they are unable to apply the technology so it has consumer appeal they won't be successful.

Mullins continues to explore the four other flaws and reveals many business plan "dos" and "don'ts". In the following Prendismo clips various speakers discuss the importance of a business plan and how a successful plan should be written. Essentially, a good business plan must be clear, clean, concise, and realistic.

"But, the first thing you look at is that executive summary, if that doesn't catch the eye and if that doesn't sell the story I don't go any further." - Richard Saltz, Principal, Business Innovative Strategies, Int.

"You rarely hit what you don't aim at." - Sharon Dauk, Founder, Dauk/Wagner Investments

"Sell the deal - that's probably as much as I'm going to read." - Anita Stephens, General Partner, Opportunity Capital Partners

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Great Mom Debate

“Should I stay or should I go?” is a question asked by nearly every working mother. In a Forbes article this week, Time Off Debate: Infancy Vs. The Teen Years author Jenna Goudreau discusses the timeless struggle of balancing both professional and personal lives as a mother.

As the daughter of two working parents, I know first hand that there are pros and cons to taking on both a career and a family. Today, some women, like Nancy Shenker, are taking an alternative approach and staying home with their children while they are teens instead of the more traditional approach of staying home with infants. Shenker, founder and CEO of theONswitch, has two children now 21 and 17. While there isn’t much research on the topic, some experts argue that it is more important to be with your children when they are going through the “rocky years of young adulthood.” The article proceeds to go through different age groups, discussing the pros and cons of working during those time periods, as well as the impact it can have on both the mother and child.

Interestingly, many moms such as Shenker, are turning towards entrepreneurship to provide more career flexibility. “Entrepreneurship has afforded me the ability to be more flexible with my schedule and to be around for times in the girls’ lives that truly matter,” Shenker said.

Ultimately, the article poses the following questions: How can I have both a family and a career? How can I be a successful businesswoman and a good mother? What is the perfect balance? In Prendismo’s video collection there are many clips of women discussing how they chose to balance their career and family. The following video clips share the personal struggles some women have had to face in learning to maintain this balance.

"In managing this work/family balance, the other thing I think you need to really recognize is that guilt sits forever on this shoulder." - Christine DeVita, President, Wallace Foundation

"I love my work, and I love my family, so there's a lot of time shifting and blending and integrating the two." - Linda Mason, Chairman, Bright Horizons

"Work is life, life is work." - Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo

Monday, June 15, 2009

Microfinance Loans Meet Higher Education...

These days, loans are not easy to come by. In a New York Times article, “I’m Going to Harvard. Will You Sponsor Me?” writer Allen Salkin tells of three Harvard graduates, Joshua Kushner, Nimay Mehta and Tanug Parikh who set out to minimize the financial burden faced by Harvard students through their development of a direct donor-to-student loan site called Unithrive. Unithrive provides interest free loans, donated by generous alumni, to “cash-strapped” students. Inspired by the Kiva.org model, Unithrive provides student photographs and biographies to donors who can search for and match up with a student, making the donation process more personal and rewarding. (Kiva is a person-to-person micro-lending website, that allows individuals to lend to entrepreneurs around the world, specifically in developing countries.)

According to the article, Unithrive, like Kiva, uses crowd-financing. In other words, multiple lenders are pooled together to meet an individual’s total request, therefore donating amounts as small as $50 up to the full amount. Currently Unithrive has a maximum request of $2,000, but they are hoping to raise this maximum in the future.

The article reveals justified skepticism about the success of Unithrive’s repayment rate. Kiva’s repayment rate is high because farmers in developing countries don’t have many other credit options. How true is this for Harvard graduates?

Interestingly, Unithrive’s loans are not purely for academics. One student, Ricky Kuperman wanted a loan so he could visit Japan, the birthplace of karate, in the summer of 2010. Kuperman told his interviewer that the loan would allow him to “stay in shape and make getting cast in films or in dance projects that much more possible.” He also noted that if he did not get the loan he would have to work longer next summer or during the academic year. Whether or not donors will be as likely to spend money on foreign excursions as they would towards a students tuition is unclear, but Unithrive is willing to provide the opportunity for needs inside and outside the classroom.

In a Prendismo lecture series, Kiva co-founder, Jessica Flannery discusses her company and explains more about micro financing and how Kiva is expanding internationally in many developing nations. In the following clip, Flannery describes how a loan via Kiva goes directly to an entrepreneur.

"These are real individuals, not marketing material." - Jessica Flannery, Co-Founder, Kiva

In the next clip Flannery talks about why Kiva works. This is true for Unithrive as well. Both organizations are providing lenders and borrowers with a personal experience and this drives people to these organizations.

"We've watched and people who have no identity, no record of identity or paperwork get Kiva because the loan officer explains it to them." - Jessica Flannery, Co-Founder, Kiva

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stanford Breeds Social Entrepreneurs

A recent Business Week article, “A Bull Market in Social Entrepreneurs” discusses students’ efforts to create businesses that will leave a positive mark on the world. The article gives hope to 2009 graduates. While it isn't financial hope, the article provides hope that Gen Y can do something positive in a rather unsettling time.

The article tells the story of 22 year old Stanford graduate, Josh Nesbit, founder of Frontline SMS: Medic, a company that develops communication systems in rural areas with the goal of promoting health. This philanthropic start-up’s focus is “less making money and more doing good.” Frontline SMS: Medic is a low budget company primarily run by volunteers and students. Even though they may not be making millions, they’re making a difference. The article explains how the economic downturn is actually providing an opportunity to students, freeing them to use brainpower and spur creativity. Startups that deliver results will grab attention.

In the following Prendismo clip, Linda Mason, Chairman of Bright Horizons tells students to “really follow your heart and your passions,” This is exactly what Stanford students are doing. They are becoming social entrepreneurs, combining intellect and their passion to help others in order to create an innovative and sustainable business.

"There's some real value in having some wandering time, to really explore different skills, different areas, to broaden your vistas." - Linda Mason, Chairman, Bright Horizons

Fortunately for philanthropic start-ups, the trend is towards more funding for companies looking to “save the world.” In the following Prendismo clip, Khanjan Mehta a Senior Research Associate at Pennsylvania State University, discusses how funding for his Mashavu Project was provided. The Mashavu Project is a similar project to Frontline SMS: Medic.

"We got some seed funding to get started and get validation, but the Sustainable Vision program really provides us the funding that we need to get to that next level..." - Khanjan Mehta, Senior Research Associate, Pennsylvania State University

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Social Networking, A Small Business Promotor

Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter are revealed to be “fast, free and efficient” tools for small businesses looking for turn around in this economic slump. In a recent New York Times article, "Small Businesses Are Taking Tentative Steps Towards Online Networking" the opportunities presented by such social networking sites are revealed and explored.

Mickey Meece's article discusses a start up business from Vermont called Brighter Planet that has begun to incorporate social networking into their business model. Brighter Planet has sponsored numerous online events through Facebook and Twitter, which have helped broaden their customer base and develop relationships. Brighter Planet is further looking to improve their online presence by creating a customer interactive site by way of a Web application where visitors can calculate the status of their carbon footprint.

Currently 260,000 business in North America use online social networking as a tool to promote their business. The online marketing industry is rapidly growing and according to the article, small businesses had better consider participating in this virtual marketing world.

Below are two clips from an interview with Willy Franzen from Prendismo’s 10GoodMinutes podcast series, which further expand upon the use of Facebook and Twitter as social networking tools.

"I actually worked with some readers in my web site to use Facebook advertising model to reach employers." - Willy Franzen, Founder, One Day, One Job

"All of a sudden you have a network of even thousands of people who are seeing interesting things and might be able to help you with your career or anything that you need." - Willy Franzen, Founder, One Day, One Job