Finding new biz during the summer slowdown

Anyone who knows me will eventually learn that I can’t sing the praises of people I know and trust enough (although I probably should). One of those organizations I’m always happy to tout is Sales Results. If you’re a person who knows how to provide a great service but doesn’t know how to sell himself very well, you’re not alone. Most people I come across are like that. They’re very good at what they do, but they freeze up at the thought of giving a really compelling “pitch” to others over 30 seconds or more.

Jim Sheehan of Sales Results was an extraordinary help to me in this regard and I have a feeling I’m not done learning from Jim either. I’m certainly not done learning from his partner, Steve Fretzin. That’s why I hope you’ll join me this Friday for a great networking event and seminar that Steve is giving called “The 1-2-3 Punch: Finding, Selling and Closing The Deal.”

You’ll learn about some fantastic new strategies for getting clients through methods that aren’t too “sales-ish.”

Steve will be talking about areas such as:

  1. Challenges and inhibitors to obtaining new business
  2. Why clients want to “buy” as opposed to being “sold”
  3. Ways to measure business development success; the cycle
  4. Leveraging the “low hanging fruit” to obtain new clients
  5. “It’s all about the relationship” – trite but true
  6. The role of a coach – including planning, implementing a process, and accountability
In short, if you come away with as many useful tips as I think you will, it’s going to be the best $15 you ever spent.
To register for the event, just follow this link – is limited, so get in while you can.

Hope to see you there.

State Farm Next Door helps VCs and entrepreneurs connect with “Amplify’d”

It’s time to find out once and for all if that new business idea of yours was meant to fly. Or rather, get “Amplify’d.”

Next Door, the new concept from State Farm launched last year that’s part innovation lab, part community space and part café, is giving aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their ideas to several venture capital groups and angel investors.

The one-day lightning round on Thursday, June 14 called “Amplify’d” will consist of 20-30 pitches from startups, each selected based on their online submission of a game-changing idea that will shape an industry.

Says Brett Myers, Next Door’s program director: “We figured ‘why not help the next big idea instead of waiting around for it?’”

Each participant chosen will have about five minutes to pitch in front of potential investors. The event will also feature guest speakers throughout the day.

Next Door was designed to be a launching pad for entrepreneurial ideas long before this event.

As Mr. Myers explains, “We’re excited to see more and more startups using Next Door as one of their hubs. We see them brainstorming on our whiteboards, making connections through our events and holding meetings in our conference rooms.”

Passing by the location near Clark and Diversey in East Lakeview, it’s not unusual to see many laptops open and lattes sipped in the ample-sized lounge and café area. Next Door is even looking to add more bands to play in the space this summer.

Of course, there’s customer interaction at Next Door, too. However, it’s more of the financial planning variety than traditional insurance. If visitors so choose, they can meet with State Farm’s Financial Coaches in stylish and portable “pods” that keep the conversation private.

I’ve maintained that this kind of “co-working, community space that also happens to house a business” concept is a very fresh, low-pressure approach to selling financial products. People don’t often make decisions on complex products in one sitting, so why design an environment with the assumption they’re already at that final decision point?

In fact, other traditional settings (i.e., banks) are modifying their environments to be more inviting and multi-functional. In the process, brands like Next Door are learning about the specific needs and challenges of a demographic in their 20’s and 30’s coming through for complimentary financial classes and one-on-one coaching. Undoubtedly that should have an impact on the way the audience is communicated to.

Submissions for the chance to be selected for “Amplify’d” are due by Monday, May 14. And really, with only a few questions to answer on the online application, the process for throwing your hat in the ring to be potentially chosen couldn’t be easier.

You must submit your idea through Next Door’s “Amplify’d” website. You’ll find more details there.

Original Post:

Quick Reminder: The Art of Marketing Conference

Since there’s just a week remaining, time is ticking down on your opportunity to get into the Art of Marketing Conference on Tuesday, April 24th at the Chicago Theatre. If it isn’t already sold out yet, follow this link to read our past post on further details and see how you can grab a special discount off the ticket price as a Chicago Brander reader. Should be a great day of social media insights from Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Mitch Joel and others. Can’t wait!


Idea for your next event: 3D Projection

3D projection technology is a big deal in Europe and South America as there have been shows done on all kinds of iconic buildings and statues. But lately I’ve seen it adopted gradually more here in the U.S., which is cool to see. Here’s one that my friends at Metropoly put on in the West Palm Beach area.

Fitting to think about this now if you’re planning a special event for the Spring or Summer in Chicago (or beyond that if you’re lucky enough to have great outdoor weather year-round). I can easily see this used before, during or at the conclusion of an event that gets people talking, big-time. Hotel managers, restaurant owners, property managers, chamber of commerces and more could easily benefit from delivering a 10-minute show like this as part of the entertainment.

I happen to know the fellow who did this one, so I’ll be glad to put you in touch with him. Let me know by just emailing me at

Special rate for our readers to see Seth Godin, Gary V. and more!

Seth Godin. Gary Vaynerchuk. Mitch Joel. Randi Zuckerberg. Keith Ferrazzi. Avinash Kaushik.

Hearing one of these influencers in the world of social media and marketing is rewarding in itself. Hearing from all of them in one day is what I call one awesome intelligence download. Which is exactly what you can do when you join me in attending a special conference called The Art of Marketing, coming to The Chicago Theatre on Tuesday, April 24th.

If you want to get a better handle on metrics and analytics, creativity, brand development, marketing strategy and where social media is headed next, this is money well spent.

Especially since you can spend less of it as one of my readers.

That’s right. I’ve just been offered a special preferred rate from the event’s organizers to pass along to readers of Chicago Brander. Drum roll, please……

Special Offer:

Readers of will receive a savings of $50.00 per ticket or $100.00 per ticket when registering 3 or more people at the same time. This is a great deal as the regular price to attend The Art of Marketing is $399.

The promo code you can use when registering online is SK23 or by using this link:

To learn more about this incredible event, visit the event’s main link at:

For questions, call 416.479.9701 / 1.866.99.ART.OF

Hope to see you there for what should be a sold-out event!