Blog Posts by Dan Lyons

  • Negotiating a Job Offer? 15 Rules from a Harvard Business Professor

    So you've been through a few job interviews and now you're down to brass tacks -- you're negotiating the offer. This can be complex, tricky business, and costly, too, if you don't do it well. But complexity also creates opportunities, at least for people who have done some homework. Deepak Malhotra is a professor at Harvard Business School who teaches negotiation skills. He's put together a pretty thorough list of 15 rules to follow when you're negotiating a job offer, which I highly recommend.

    "Every situation is unique, but some strategies, tactics, and principles can help you address many of the issues people face in negotiating with employers," Malhotra writes in a must-read article in the Harvard Business Review.

    After reading the article you might also want to watch a one-hour video where Malhotra gives a presentation about how to negotiate a job offer. I'll also embed the video below.

    Malhotra's first rule, "Don't underestimate the importance of likability," may not come as a

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  • 3 out of 4 Sales Reps Have No Idea What They’re Doing

    Clown Sales?Have you ever dealt with an incompetent salesperson? Of course you have. We all have. It turns out there's a good reason for that, which is that nearly three-quarters of people who work in sales simply cannot execute, according to Kurlan & Associates, a sales training consulting firm. "For lack of a better word, they suck," says Dennis Connelly, vice president of business development at Kurlan, based in Westborough, Mass.

    Kurlan's conclusions are based on Objective Management Group evaluations of 700,000 salespeople over the past 24 years. Objective Management Group is a testing and evaluation company affiliated with Kurlan.

    At first glance it seems shocking that there could be a profession in which three-quarters of practitioners are inept. If the same ratio were applied to medicine, we’d have patients dropping dead all over the place.

    But the numbers make sense when you consider that most people who go into sales have no formal training about how to sell. They didn’t major in sales

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  • Neetzan Zimmerman is a genius at creating viral content. For the past two years he’s worked at Gawker, one of the world’s biggest blogs. Month in and month out, he generated more traffic than all of Gawker’s other writers combined. He just got poached away from Gawker by Whisper, a hot social networking startup in Los Angeles, where he will be editor-in-chief.

    Not bad for a guy with no background or training in journalism, who started out by simply creating his own blog where he could post funny videos about cute cats and other crazy stuff.

    “It’s the best job in the world,” he says. “I get paid to have fun.”

    I asked Zimmerman to share some of his secrets. Some things he does are downright surprising, and go against the conventional wisdom in the world of marketing. For example, Zimmerman has a Twitter account (@neetzan) but he rarely posts anything there. For another, while he’s a master at creating content that spreads like wildfire on social networks, he never goes on Facebook or

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  • Contently, Riding Corporate Media Wave, Raises New Funding

    Content Marketing

    Corporate media has been a booming business in recent years. Now it also represents an attractive investment, at least in the opinion of venture capital firms that today are pumping a new round of funding into Contently, a New York company that connects freelance journalists with corporate media gigs.

    The new round is worth $9 million, three times what Contently has raised in total over the past three years. It represents a vote of confidence from investors, and an indication that demand for content inside big corporations is not a fad, but rather represents a growing and sustainable business.

    “This is a big one,” says Shane Snow, one of three co-founders. (He's the guy in the photo.) “We’re really committing to taking a big swing.”

    Contently is still a small outfit, with only 30 employees. But it has a network of 30,000 freelancers who provide services to A-list clients like American Express, Philips, Ghirardelli, Coke and Pepsi. Contently says 40 of the Fortune 500 companies are clients

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  • Leo Grand’s story might be the best thing you will hear this year at Christmas, a real-life version of "It's a Wonderful Life."

    Better yet, if we all work together we can create an incredible ending for this story. We can help a homeless man get off the streets and back on his feet. We can, in fact, give Leo Grand the best Christmas ever.

    The story goes like this. Leo Grand used to work at MetLife, but in 2011 he got laid off and had to move out of his apartment. He was living on the streets.

    Back in August, an idealistic young software programmer named Patrick McConlogue made Leo Grand an offer — take $100 in cash, or get lessons in how to write software code.

    Grand chose the lessons. McConlogue bought Grand a few books on computer programming, and a Chromebook. They met every weekday for an hour each day. They did this for 16 weeks.

    McConlogue is 23, a recent graduate from Pepperdine University who moved to New York last fall. A lot of people made fun of him (see here and here) and called

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  • As chief technology officer at Huffington Post, Paul Berry led the development of a piece of software that played a huge role in that site’s success — its content management system. HuffPost gained an edge on others in online publishing with a CMS that was “one of the best and most advanced systems on the Internet," as I wrote in Newsweek in 2010. HuffPost’s system was especially advanced when it came to social media and SEO.

    Now Berry seems to have created a second hit program, with RebelMouse, a next-generation publishing platform that is catching on in a huge way with big brands and marketers. And not just any marketers, but the really smart ones, like Beth Comstock, the CMO of GE, and Bonin Bough, the consumer engagement guru at Mondelez. Bough, in fact, recently said he’d like to stop building websites and rely instead on RebelMouse. Others signing on include Pepsi, Adidas, MTV, Patagonia, Red Bull and Burger King.

    "Over the last couple of years GE has connected with millions of
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  • SEO Guru: Google Is Abusing Its Monopoly Power

    As we reported last week, Google is going to start encrypting all search activity except for clicks on ads. This has huge (and very bad) implications for marketers, who will no longer get valuable keyword data from searches.

    Google says it is making the change to protect people’s privacy when they conduct web searches. Some speculate Google also may be trying to make it harder for the NSA to spy on people.

    But one leading marketing guru says it's something else altogether. Rand Fishkin, a leading SEO expert and founder of Seattle-based consultancy Moz (formerly SEOmoz), says Google is choking off keyword data in order to strong-arm marketers into buying ads through Google’s AdWords program, where keyword data will still be available.

    “If the true goal were to protect user privacy, Google would also remove keyword data from paid search referrals through their AdWords product,” Fishkin says. “However, this is not the case, nor is it planned. Hence, we know that Google must have other

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  • What Is CRM? [FAQs]


    Today’s question of the day: What is CRM?


    Everyone in marketing tosses this acronym around. If you run a small business or work in sales, you've probably heard of CRM. But maybe you're sitting there wondering what those letters could possibly stand for.

    Crazy Red Monkey? Champion Runner Man? Corn Row Marketing? Can’t Read Maps?

    Well, no. It’s Customer Relationship Management.

    See? That clears things up, right? Er, no. The annoying thing about CRM is that even when you find out what the letters stand for, you might still have no idea what this stuff is.

    But fear not, dear reader. Hang in for a few hundred words more, and all will be revealed.

    What Is CRM?

    Customer relationship management refers to a set of software programs that let companies keep track of (that’s the “management” part) everything they do (that’s the “relationship” part) with their existing and potential customers.

    At the simplest level, CRM software lets you keep track of all the contact information for these

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  • With Social Media Networks Constantly Changing, How Can You Keep Up?

    Evaluate Social Media

    Facebook just rolled out changes to its News Feed, along with policy changes that will make it easier for marketers to stay on top of what Facebook is doing with its algorithms. And that’s great, right? More information, greater transparency – that’s always good.

    But something occurred to us here in the HubSpot blogging team boiler room as this was happening: How do marketers keep up with all this stuff? Facebook has made a bunch of announcements this year that rose to the level of being billed as an “event.” Facebook’s platform is constantly changing and evolving -- so much so that keeping up with it could be a full-time job.

    And Facebook is only one platform to worry about. If you're a marketer you're also no doubt dealing with Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, and maybe Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and others.

    How do you cut through the clutter? How do you learn new things? More important, how do you learn which new things are worth learning? How do you develop a BS meter to determine

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  • Nate Silver and the Rise of the Free Agent Journalist

    Statistics wizard Nate Silver, a keynote speaker at HubSpot’s INBOUND conference in August in Boston, made news over the weekend by deciding to move his FiveThirtyEight blog from The New York Times to ESPN and ABC News.

    Losing Silver will be a blow to the reputation of the Times as well as to its bottom line, as Silver’s popular blog has at times contributed 20% of total traffic to the Times website. Silver’s three-year contract with the Times expires next month, in August, but media companies have been wooing him since last year, as Politico reported in a fascinating story about the behind-the-scenes wrangling that took place.

    What’s more amazing is that six years ago, Silver was an anonymous blogger posting predictions on Daily Kos. His growth into a media powerhouse shows how radically the media business has been transformed by the internet, in two main ways:

    1. The rise of the “free agent” journalist.

    2. The power of inbound marketing.

    Let’s do those two items in reverse order. Nate Silver is

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