Letter from Reid Hoffman: I'm LinkedIn Member #11,147
Very cool, check out what LinkedIn sent me in honor of its 100 millionth member:
The text of that letter is:
"I want to personally thank you because you were one of LinkedIn's first 100,000 members (member number 11147 in fact!*). In any technology adoption lifecycle, there are the innovators, those who help lead the way. That was you.
"We hit a big milestone at LinkedIn this week when our 100 millionth member joined the site.
"When we founded LinkedIn, our vision was to help the world's professionals be more successful and productive. Today, with your help, LinkedIn is changing the lives of millions of members by helping them connect with others, find jobs, get insights, start a business, and much more.
"We are grateful for your support and look forward to helping you accomplish much more in the years to come. I hope that you are having a great year."
Cool. Thanks, Reid!
Running the Numbers on the Best Buy "Buy Back" Program
Let me state my bias up front: I really like Best Buy. I think that they have consistently demonstrated a savvy about the consumer electronics business that other companies only dream about. It's a tough market too, littered with big failures, most recently Ultimate Electronics. But somehow, the savvy Best Buy team seems to nail times time and again.
Which is why it's very interesting to see that they've introduced a "Buy Back" program that lets customers sign up at point of purchase to guarantee that their consumer electronics will have some sort of value down the road when they're ready to upgrade.
But is it a good deal? Let's run the numbers...
Note: this is based on what information I can find online. Best Buy hasn't done a good job of cleanly and clearly explaining the exact terms of the program yet.
Let's say that 11 months ago I bought my shiny Apple iPad from Best Buy. $699 would have bought me a 64GB wifi unit and for 11 months I would have been happy with the device. Until a week ago, when Apple announced the iPad 2. Ohhh, time to upgrade!
Now if I were smart, I would have enrolled in the Buy Back program. That would have cost me $69.00.
The terms of the buy back is that they'll guarantee you 50% of your purchase price for the first six months you own the product, then 40% for 6-12 months, 30% for 12-18 months, and so on. This comes as a gift card to Best Buy, not cash or a check (typical Best Buy savvy: you have to turn around and buy something else from their store).
That iPad would have cost me $699.00, and 11 months later, the tradein would have been 40% of that value, $279.00. But remember, I also paid $69.00 to enroll in the program itself, so we're really talking $219.00.
Not so great a deal, really. You'd have lost approximately 70% of the value of the product in less than a year. That's like your fancy $35K Toyota Prius dropping down to $10K less than a year after you drove it off the lot. Yikes.
Here's the other wrinkle: A quick search of Craigslist reveals that people are selling their 64GB first gen iPads w/ 64GB for $550-$600. Yes, it's a hassle to sell your used equipment, but if you can get $600 for it instead of $219, well, you can do the math.
Given that, I won't go as far as to say that the Buy Back program is a bad deal. Instead, I'll call it a convenience tax: if you want to go through the hassle of selling your used consumer electronics equipment (and a big TV, for example, is a lot more trouble to sell than a compact laptop or personal device) then you are clearly going to get more money for it. That's true of anything used.
As with everything, as with extended warranties, calling cards, and even gift certificates, go in with your eyes open. Run the numbers yourself and ask yourself honestly, are you really going to be upgrading your gear in a short enough time period that it's worth the enrollment fee? Note that it's not refundable: if you don't sell your gear back to Best Buy, you're just out that $$.
I'm again impressed with Best Buy's savvy in this situation. They have run the numbers and understand that for many of their customers, it's in with the new, push aside the old and let it just collect dust. If you are - realistically - going to just have your old laptop, TV, cellphone or music player just sit in a drawer, heck, even 25% of its value as a gift certificate is better than it slowly depreciating to zero and being eventually discarded.
Further reading on this subject: Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee, Time Magazine Blog and Time's Money Blog.
Writing Copy that Targets Affluent Boomers
What's that thunderous sound?
Every time the biggest generation reaches a milestone, you can feel the ground rumble.
In 2011, boomers start reaching Medicare age. There's one turning 65 every nine seconds.
At every stage of life, their buying and work patterns have rocked whichever market they went into or created.
According to investment expert Harry S. Dent, author of The Great Depression Ahead, in the late nineties and early into this millennium we saw one of the greatest booms ever due to the climaxing of the boomers' high consumption phase of their lives. The boom ended when they neared the end of raising families, started retiring and began looking for ways to fund their retirement.
Affluent Boomers make up about a third of the generation and of that third, about half could be considered 'wealthy'. They already have all the 'stuff' they want. What they are happy to pay good money for is services. And most advertisers are missing the boat in their ads aimed at this crowd.
The key to their hearts, and their business, according to Ken Gronbach, author of Common Census: Counterintuitive Guide to Generational Marketing is to give them what they want. And at this point in their lives, they only want three things:
Entrepreneur Magazine lists the senior market as one of the ten best opportunities in 2011 and my guess is we are just beginning to see this trend.
So here are a few tips for adapting this strategy to your business:
1. Remember they own a lot of stuff already - they are more interested in services and don't mind paying for them. They feel less and less patient with time wasted and so have an ever diminishing tolerance for incompetence and inferior performance of services. Make sure you that in your business you do what you say you will at every step of the way and then communicate that message clearly and concisely.
2. Provide extraordinary service, raising the bar on convenience. If you a dry cleaner, offer to pick up, if you are a restaurant, offer free birthday planning, if you provide consulting and advice, find ways to provide information along with experience, such as cruise lines have done for years. Where else could you do something similar in your arena?
3. Dan Kennedy, marketing expert and author of No BS Marketing to the Affluent says, "Boomers still think in terms of "classic credibility", while younger consumers do not. So for instance, brand names, professional affiliations, years in your field of expertise and access to live human beings matter to these folks. You will need to build and maintain a superior level of credibility to win and maintain their business.
The good news is, they stick with you when you maintain and develop the relationship. And that represents a golden opportunity.
Guest blogger Mike Connolly is a long time sales pro and serial entrepreneur who works with solo and small business and professional practice owners, helping them build outrageously effective client attraction systems for fast growth and lifetime equity. For more sales-boosting copywriting tips, best practices and dirty little secrets, join Mike on March 10, 2011 at 6:00PM at Boulder Digital Arts, for a life-changing, hands-on intensive workshop that will have your copy singing with results you can take to the bank.
Has LinkedIn Become a Time Drain?
This is a guest article by LinkedIn book author Wayne C. Breitbarth.
Getting the most out of LinkedIn in just 15 minutes per day
You set out to quickly check your LinkedIn inbox, and an hour later you wonder where has the time gone? Sound familiar? Without a clear strategy for making the most of the time you spend on LinkedIn, it is easy to become frustrated. Get in the habit of setting aside 15 minutes per day to follow these six easy steps, and watch LinkedIn go from time drain to time well spent.
1. Respond to any messages in your inbox -- I can't emphasize enough the importance of being timely when someone is reaching out to you. Always think about how antsy you get when someone doesn't answer a text message in a minute or two. The world we live in has really amped up this expectation; so don't let a day go by with something sitting in that box. If the item doesn't require a response, like a mass invitation to an event, place it in archive so you don't spend another minute thinking about it.
2. Invite people whom you met yesterday to join your network -- Timeliness on this step is important for a couple reasons. First, you want to make sure the person you met will remember the meeting or conversation you had with him/her that led to the invitation to join your network. Second, being the aggressor and sending the invitation shows that you care and are very good at timely follow-through. This will make a good first impression and suggest you are punctual and efficient in all your business dealings.
Always be sure to invite people from their profile page so you can write a personal invitation. Don't take the easy way out and use the standard LinkedIn invitation when you are trying to begin what should be a long and beneficial relationship.
3. Review the previous day's emails of group discussions you are following -- Don't select the option of following a discussion unless you are really interested in the topic or the person who started the discussion, because you will be overwhelmed by the quantity of these emails. Be selective. This will save you time and allow you to keep tabs on the most important discussions.
4. Review the status updates from your network for the previous day -- This is your chance to be a part of or comment on what is most important in your friends' lives. Remember--when you share a comment, you are sharing it with all the people in their network, and that is great marketing for you.
5. Post a status update of your own -- Don't miss this great daily opportunity to share information with your entire first-level network and also remind them that you are still out there doing business and looking forward to their help. You want to stay top of mind with your friends, and this is a super way to do that.
LinkedIn etiquette allows you to do some self-promotion from time to time, preferably crafted in a question type format, but do not make this your focus. Remember -- LinkedIn is a networking platform, and that means giving, sharing, and helping first and foremost.
6. Review "Recently Connected" -- Is there anything more important in the networking world than knowing who your friends just met? I have received more benefit from this section of my home page than any other part.
Good luck in grabbing that 15 minutes a day to LinkedIn success!
Written by Wayne C. Breitbarth, Author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-Start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search (March 2011, Greenleaf Book Group). You can find Wayne on LinkedIn at Linkedin.com/in/waynebreitbarth.
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