MobiTV Hits 500,000 Subscribers

USA Today profiles MobiTV, the company that provides dozens of TV
channels to cell phone subscribers. More than 500,000 customers are paying $10
per month to watch TV on a 1-2 inch screen.

Does anyone know how MobiTV markets their service? I’ve never really seen
it advertised. Do the carriers themselves promote it? And if so, how?

The company also announced MobiRadio (50 satellite radio channels) as a
separate subscription at a conference in San Francisco this week.

Why you have to rank #1 in natural search engine results

Jakob Nielsen’s latest newsletter
reports on a study that shows that a huge percentage of people click on
the #1 search result and a much smaller number click on #2. Search
engine optimization is extremely important in your internet marketing
strategy. Long term, it is even more important than your pay-per-click
strategy, since natural search delivers 6 times more sales than paid search.

Utah Entrepreneurs Lead a Happy Life

Steve Gibson, whose license plate is MENTOR, is a successful business
man who spends most of his time and resources giving back. He has
backed some of the most successful startup companies in Utah. He
teaches entrepreneurship at BYU. And he and his wife founded my
favorite philanthopic organization, the Academy for Creating Enterprise, which trains entrepreneurs in the Philippines. He has faith in people and tries to help them succeed. He is one of my heroes.

He is also an accomplished writer. His recent Deseret News column
reports on research that his BYU students have done surveying
successful Utah entrepreneurs to see what they value and what makes
them tick. The bottom line: the vast majority are happy at work and at
home and feel that their religious faith has helped them in business. 100% of the entrepreneurs surveyed enjoy their work.

Thanks, Steve, for pointing out through research how fulfilling the
life of an entrepreneur can be, at least for those who are in
fast-growing companies. Let’s hope that entrepreneurs who are still in
the struggling phases will study, work, and perserve until they too can
achieve business success.

If you an entrepreneur who is unhappy or struggling now, just remember
that things will change, things will improve. As my brother says,
you’ll be an overnight success after 10 years of hard work.

MyFamily Hires New CEO

This week MyFamily.com announced that Tim Sullivan has been appointed as the company’s CEO.
Tim’s background includes time with Walt Disney, Ticketmaster-Online
Citysearch, and most recently as CEO at Match.com. From the press
release, he seems ideally suited for the job of growing Ancestry.com
subscriptions worldwide. He has significant international experience.

I am now an observer and not an active participant in the genealogy
industry. I left MyFamily.com in February 2002 and am not at all
involved in day to day operations or company strategy. I am an outsider. So please understand that whenever I blog about MyFamily.com it is based on public information or on my personal opinion.

I love the company and hope it does well. But I also love our original
mission statement for Ancestry.com: to digitize the genealogy records
in all nations and make them accessible over the internet. And I love
our original mission statement for MyFamily.com: to provide a free
family web site for every family in the world.

These statements from 1996 and 1998 respectively may or may not reflect
at all what the company is doing now. But they are still ideas that I
believe in and want to see materialize, whether by MyFamily.com or by
other companies or organizations.

So please don’t mistake my blog as anything official from the company!

MyFamily Acquires Heritage Makers

MyFamily.com has acquired Heritage Makers
a company with 1,200 distributors who help families print heritage
books. I remember meeting the company founder years ago when it was
called My Family Tales. [Here's an old article about My Family Tales.] I even have some of their early products.

Chris Lee, one of my favorite people from the early days of
MyFamily.com, is now the GM of this business unit. It will be exciting
to how fast this division will grow. It uses a “party-plan direct
selling business” where distributors set up in-home demonstrations. The
Pampered Chef uses this sales model as do dozens of other successful companies. I just found this Party Plan Directory site that lists many others.

Note: I am no longer involved in MyFamily.com, but am still an interested observer of the genealogy industry.

Entrepreneurs: Save Money with Free Legal Docs

Many entrepreneurs can’t afford to pay $200-300 per hour for legal
help, especially with simple things like incorporating and simple
contracts. There are many online libraries of legal docs, including
some that exist and generate revenue because of Google AdSense.

Today I found a consulting agreement on www.lectlaw.com and used part of it for a new contract. Lectlaw.com has 40,000 pages indexed by Google. If you run this query:

site:lectlaw.com consulting

it returns an okay consulting contract.

Use the same syntax to find other types of legal forms and documents.

I have visited many other legal sites before, but I can’t remember the
URLs. If you are an entrepreneur that finds free legal docs to save
money, tell me which sites you have found most helpful.

I’ll add the best sites to the Bootstrapping Section of
StrategyTree.com, a wiki for entrepreneurs where we hope to collect
thousands of good ideas from entrepreneurs about how to create business
success.

FundingUniverse.com

We are making serious progress with our FundingUniverse.com
business. Soon we’ll announce some new capital, new leadership, and
some significant partnerships that will help this company move forward.
I love how the internet can create so much visibility for a new
business idea. What used to take years in business formation now takes
months.

If you know any angel investors or VCs, please encourage them to signup for FundingUniverse.com (it’s free) and look at some of the 543 business plans that have been posted there in the last few months.

I’ll be on a panel at the National Association of Seed and Venture
Capital conference in Philadelphia next week, primarily to demonstrate
the new DealFlow Suite (TM) which we make available to organized angel
investor groups around the country.

It’s nice to start getting both traction and trajectory with this business.

Best Practices in Email

I’m always amazed when I see studies that show that the majority of marketers are not doing things right.

Most companies don’t understand search engine marketing; most don’t use
web analytics well. But the numbers reported by Silverpop surprised me,
because email marketing has been around for so long. I thought more
retailers would be using it effectively.

Most marketers don’t use common email features such as
personalization, dynamic content and advanced layout/design, according
to Phase II of Silverpop’s “2005 Retail Email Marketing Study,” which
compared message content and creative design of 175 major retailers’
email campaigns, writes
ClickZ. Personalization, among the easiest tactics, was used in fewer
than 5 percent of emails; and 27 percent of messages did not have a
specific call to action.

Also, only 25
percent of messages included a discount offer; and fewer than 20
percent of messages sought to persuade recipients to buy an item for an
event or holiday.

First question to ask yourself? Am I using personalization in my
emails? It is “among the easiest tactics.” I once saw personalization
(of both the subject line and email content) increase response rates by
400%. So personalize!

Shop.org Takeaways

Last week Shop.org held their annual
conference in Las Vegas. This week it’s the Electronic Retailing
Association, same place. If you haven’t been to an internet conference
recently, it’s amazing how big things are getting and how fast things
are moving.

I visited every exhibitor at the Shop.org event last and met at least a
dozen companies that I hadn’t heard of before that are doing
interesting things in online marketing, comparison shopping, search,
and web analytics.

Here are a few impressions:

  • Omniture Site Catalyst version 12 is awesome. You can
    import cost of sales and call center data so you can get more complete
    ROI reporting. The new client software features an OLAP engine which
    enables unprecedented data mining.
  • I asked Yahoo’s search people if they allowed XML data feeds to
    be uploaded to Yahoo like Google’s Froogle. They told me about their
    Product Listings feature that allows you to upload your product catalog
    to Yahoo Shopping and pay per click when visitors search for your
    products and click on your ads. This isn’t as good as Froogle’s free
    upload, but Yahoo Shopping gets far more traffic than Froogle, so any
    good merchant will include this in their online marketing strategy.
  • RSS can be a great way to get your information to consumers
    (since most online merchants say their biggest concern is whether their
    emails are getting delivered) but only 2% of adults use RSS today,
    while 5% of consumers age 12-21 use it.
  • According
    to eMarketer, 56.3% of US households will have broadband by 2008
  • Broadband
    users spend 40-50% more money online than dial-up users
  • 3/4ths
    of consumers browse online, then shop offline
  • Pay-per-call
    will grow from $162 million in 2004 to $3.38 billion in 2009. Even local
    businesses without web sites can use pay-per-call.
  • 70% of consumers use the internet to
    search for local stores and merchants, while 62% of consumers use the yellow
    pages. (BIG WOW)

Gotta run. I’ll update this post later with at least a dozen more thoughts/impressions.

Lunch with LoveSac Founder Shawn Nelson

So I met Shawn a couple months ago at a rural economic development
summit put on by Senator Bennett. Both of us were breakout speakers. We
decided then to get together for lunch sometime.

Monday I drove to the LoveSac world headquarters. After a few minutes,
Shawn limped out. He told me he tore his ACL wakeboarding and had
recently had surgery. So here’s one of my most embarrassing moments
ever: I asked him how they got him down from the mountain.

He looked at my kind of funny and said, “I was wakeboarding.” Duh.

It doesn’t get any worse than that. What was I thinking?!?

Okay, but the lunch was excellent after that, and we discussed LoveSac,
building companies, online marketing, blogging and more. Shawn is a
great guy. He is building a world class brand, with almost 70 stores,
venture backing, and great ideas. The first, of course, was to create
and own the “oversized bean bag category” but a more recent brilliant
idea is the concept of building customized furniture in your home using
“Sactionals” — changeable, washable, DuraFoam / Memory-Foam furniture
building blocks. This is awesome stuff. Here’s a little news blurb about Sactionals.

This is a great company to watch. Shawn is amazing. (Check out Shawn’s blog.)

And they’ve got some great consumer trends on their side.

At Shop.org’s annual Las Vegas meeting yesterday I learned in the
Consumer Trends session that teens are more likely than the average
internet user to shop online, and get this: they are 2.9 times more
likely to buy furniture online than the average internet shopper.

According to Retail Forward ShopperScape, this is how the shopping
habits of the young are different from average online shoppers.
(Legend: 100 means same as average online shoppers.)

Furniture 292
Shoes 208
Everyday personal care products 202
Cosmetics/beauty care 172
Fine jewelry 160
Online music downloads 153
Clothing 142
Home accent pieces/housewares 138
DVDs 125
Consumer electronics 125
Personal computers/computer peripherals 122
Books 111
CDs 101
Computer software 66
Sporting goods 50
Toys 47

Since the whole LoveSac brand and lifestyle appeals to young people
already, LovSac’s online opportunities with their Sactionals furniture
lines are huge. (I think both the furniture category and the home
accent pieces/housewares category bode well for LoveSac.) This data is
not promising for software companies.

Microsoft has a nice case study about LoveSac, which focuses on their accounting and information systems.