Si vis pacem, para bellum

Be Prepared for Business Wars Like A Samurai
Si vis pacem, para bellum, translated  “if you want peace, prepare for war” is an exceptional mantra to adopt in both your personal and business lives.  While it sounds like something that would come from Sun Tzu’s Art of War. It does not.  Rather, the phrase comes from book three of De Re Militari by Latin author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus. A first-of-its-kind war manual for Roman troops.

Business management is often looked at as a militaristic endeavor.  We have the war room, wear suits that dictate our prestige in the company, and even give marching orders. As such, we naturally gravitate to the military leadership and wisdom from war-tested individuals such as Tzu and Renatus.

It is important to note that when you read these manuals you will notice that much of the works are devoted to preserving life and, especially in Tzu’s work, avoiding a battle until absolutely necessary. As he points out, actual battle is costly – you lose both life and wealth in the process.  Tzu is consistent in his message of continually analyzing your opponent, the battlefield, and your position relative to both so that when the opportunity or need for war arises. You are better prepared to end the matter quickly and efficiently.

This is exactly the same in business. As a leader, you should always know what is going on in your battlefield.  Is a long-time supplier suddenly providing materials to a competitor?  Are there signs of your market shrinking… expanding… or disappearing altogether? Are your employees showing signs of complacency? Perhaps, your customers are discussing other options under their collective breath? These are all items a general should not only know but constantly analyze and calculate against the firm’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).

These suggestions are not meant to create paranoid leaders. Rather, they are to remind said boardroom generals that peace in business is not achieved because you defeated a competitor. You will always have new competitors, fleeting customers, changing regulations, and world events that will impact your bottom line. Peace comes from accepting those fates and doing everything in your power to prepare for the wars that may come, so your army can win the battle quickly and efficiently.

 

 

 

The Dangers of Over-negotiation and Increasing Perceived Risk

Striking a Balance When Negotiating

 

When negotiating, be careful not to go too far. This week, I was negotiating a small sale with someone…. let’s say. Not that experienced in deals. We had both made our demands and concessions and it was clear a balance had been struck. When it came time to close, he made another demand that would have brought us back to square one. I researched my market, my position, and kindly told him of other persons selling a similar item. However, if he still wanted my product. He could get it for market price.

My ultimate position was not enacted due to emotion. Rather, this customer’s final action increased my perceived risk of the deal. The concessions he initially earned, were judged on my risk analysis that he could pony up the funds, close, and wouldn’t return a vintage item that could be harmed with further shipments. Remember, risk is part of the deal. We learn it with car insurance, health care, and mortgages. It should be a part of any decision.

Communicate Right or Get Lost in the Shuffle

Don't Get Lost in the Shuffle When Sending Emails to Grab Gigs and business

 

I get a lot of emails every day. I mean – a FREEKIN’ LOT! However, my inbox doesn’t compare with some of the people I work with. Case in point, I was having lunch with a colleague for a major cruise brand and during our hour together, he received 35 emails, a bunch of texts, and a few calls.

 

It may be difficult to understand just how complex email management can become if you have never worked in an environment based on group decisions with partners in multiple time zones that require written communication to audit deals being made. This is exactly the case for booking agents, concert buyers, and entertainment managers. In our business, the cc (and sometimes bcc) are commonplace, which quickly converts one email into double digit chains plaguing our inboxes.

 

Of course, there are programs and protocols one can follow to better manage their inbox. However, each of these emails (or at the very least the subject) needs to be read and, if warranted, investigated and responded to.

 

So, why is this entertainment blogger discussing the woes of our email management. Well, the answer is to help artists looking for work to better communicate with us, so you don’t get lost in the shuffle.  Here are a few pieces of advice I want to give.

 

  1. Keep it simple.  Remember grade school and how they taught you to outline your paragraph in the first line by dictating the who, what, where, when, and why? Follow that rule. Don’t bury the story.  Provide us with your website and video links upfront along with what you are looking for and what your act brings to the table.  We don’t need to hear your life story. How you learned to play the guitar at six. How you met John Mayer that one time and he dug your tune. Let us know what you are going to do for us.
  2. Keep it to email if possible. Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels are great, but they are not the best place to solicit a new client.  For one, if the company is huge like a cruise line. The person reading those messages probably has nothing to do with entertainment, so you are relying on them to forward your message to the right person. If the company is smaller, the person handling those messages is probably wearing 100 different hats and will likely look at your message and forget about it until they are managing the site again in the future. When you send an email, it at least ends up in the correct inbox…barring spam filter interference.
  3. Better than email… the website form. If the agency or venue has a form “specific for entertainment applicants” use that. They did this for a reason. For instance, the company I work for, Mike Moloney Entertainment, put a web application form that forwards all applicants to the email accounts of five agents.  I know for a fact that many larger cruise companies have their online forms set-up in a similar fashion.  In all instances, the forms are designed to capture the data we need to make a decision and (hopefully) a deal. Do yourself a favor and follow our lead.
  4. Don’t spam!
  5. Don’t spam! See what I did there?  This one is so important, I put it in twice.  NOBODY likes spam, so don’t be that person. Now, there are many ways you can spam a prospect through email. Sending the same message to every email address you can find within the intended agency. Including them on your mailing list without asking. Emailing them every day. Emailing, then messaging on all available social channels are all ways you become a spammer and it generally doesn’t work in your favor.
  6. Do some research on who you are emailing. Does the booking agent work in your genre of music? Are you applying to a cruise agency, but you get sea-sick? Is the booker outside of your drawing ability? It doesn’t hurt to do a little research to focus your pitch, and with so much information at your finger tips it is rather easy to be properly prepared.

As an agent, I can attest that most of us are always hungry to find the next great act for our venues. However, that is only a small percentage of our business. The largest chunk of our time is spent putting the deal together and then executing it on show day. A lot of artists feel that the “squeaky wheel will get the grease” and in some instances that is true.  However, if the driver can’t hear that squeak. Nobody will be getting to their destination. Follow these steps to increase the probability that we will hear you.

 

 

24 Hours in the Life of an Entrepreneur

This is just one day…a Monday…of my life. I want people considering starting their own company to remember just how much time and effort it takes to make it happen, because one of their competitors could be a dude like me.

 

8am: Wake-up to an email from USPTO that a legal action has been placed against one of Spirit and Groove’s® trademarks and we have forty days to respond.

8:15am: As I shove oatmeal into my mouth, I investigate the claim and the party bringing it against my company. I find it legit, but winnable. However, it could be extremely costly to challenge. A HUGE decision must be made that will be 90% on faith, impacts my entire business plan, and could hinder my personal finances for the next few years.

9:00am: My regular job begins. Currently booking and contracting nine lounges for the next three months, two holiday weekends of parties for fourteen, managing the company social and website, and fielding inbound applicants.

1:00pm: Lunch-break and P90X workout…still fielding company emails.

2:00pm: Back at the daily grind.

3:30-3:45pm: Afternoon break, contact lawyers to represent Spirit and Groove® in the claim.

6:30pm: Filming Spirit and Groove’s® weekly Drummer Challenge. I record myself drumming, then green-screen intros.

7:00pm: Editing footage and preparing social for Wednesday’s launch of the video I just shot.

9:30pm: Work on Lesson 12 from Rosetta Stone® Spanish.

10:00pm: Open a company checking account and secure a company credit card after updating finances.

11:30pm: Begin investigating Angel Investors.

12:30am: Find a suitable business plan template and get to work.

2:00am: Bed.

PR and a Drum T-Shirt Company called Spirit and Groove

Spirit and Groove Groovy Press Release

As I write this blog post, I am preparing for the first press release to hit the wire for my drummer t-shirt company, Spirit and Groove .

I chose to add a PR marketing channel to my online business to achieve a couple of marketing objectives, but before I hand those out. I wanted to explain why I chose to add this channel to my marketing mix.

First, understand that I always think “big-picture.” If I am going to do something, I am going for it. As for Spirit and Groove, my ultimate idea is a clothing brand, not just a drummer tee shirt company.  This dictates that my planning always be long-term and to properly build a brand. I must tell everyone what the heck groove is all about and why I am placing so much faith in one word.

“The goal of our first Groovy Press Release is let everyone “step into” the mindset of our brand. You shouldn’t be afraid if you are not a drummer, because as you will learn.  The beat is beyond any other instrument. It mimics the heartbeat and as such it was our species first language. We celebrate with it, we have worked in unison to it, and we have followed it into battles. We are all connected by the drum. It doesn’t matter if you play it, move to it, or feel it in your soul. We are all part of the groove.”

Second, we are building a community and that requires a very strong social presence. To achieve this organic build, we need solid backlinks to increase our credibility and reach. In addition, strong backlinks will provide increased “Opportunities to See” at a lower cost through higher Search Rankings. PR can be a cost-effective way to achieve worthwhile backlinks that Google will respect and hopefully bump us up the search ladder.

Finally, I was a newsman and enjoy writing. So why not write about something I am passionate of… the groove.

Click here to read Spirit and Groove Drum Tees first Groovy Press Release. 

My New Groovy Venture

It has been a long time since I last posted in the ol’ blog here, but there is a good reason.

Earlier this year I launched a drummer clothing company called Spirit and Groove. It is an exciting venture that is pulling from all of my professional experience (e.g. running my own company, my work as a graphic designer and photojournalist, my MBA training, and absolute passion for drumming).

I am working Spirit and Groove during my down time as a booking agent, and if you are in the business you know there is very little of that. However, I have accomplished a lot in these first few months.  We currently have forty plus drumming and groove-inspired t-shirts up for sale and a whole bunch in the coffers.  We have also established a number of “Groovy Communities” on various social platforms where we give out Groovy Cookie Comments to people we feel have got groove.

 

Is Your Groove Cookie Worthy – Spirit and Groove Drum Tees Marketing


You can join those networks by clicking on these links:

Spirit and Groove on Facebook

Spirit and Groove on Twitter

Spirit and Groove on Instagram

Spirit and Groove on Google Plus

Spirit and Groove on YouTube

Speaking of YouTube, we have also put together a groovy drumming video blog where we offer insights into best drumming practice techniques, top groovy drummers and albums, and a whole lotta’ fun.  Here is our most recent video for you to check out and you can follow the entire drum video lesson blog here.

 

Well, I’ve got to get back to designing some more drumming shirts, checking our drummer website, optimizing our SEO, working on our paid click campaign, or launching another Facebook ad among other things, but please go check out my groovy new website www.spiritandgroove.com.

You’ll be glad you did!