Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member
Breaking: SEC Will Review Decision of Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF Rejection
The securities and exchange commission has granted a request by the Bats BZX Exchange, Inc. to review its decision of disapproving the bitcoin ETF back in March this year. According to a document signed by Eduardo A. Aleman, Assistant Secretary at the SEC:
“The petition of BZX for review of the Division’s action to disapprove the proposed rule change by delegated authority be GRANTED; and It is further ORDERED that any party or other people may file a statement in support of or in opposition to the action made pursuant to delegated authority on or before May 15, 2017.”
Aleman is the person who, through delegated authority, made the decision on March the 10th which some in the bitcoin community saw as an intentional slap. In a fairly angry article back then, I wrote
“How can one man have so much power? We were told there will be a vote, but apparently, the SEC commissioners didn’t think this decision was important, delegating it to Aleman. Then, what’s the point of the commissioners?… Delegating this decision to a faceless bureaucrat is an insult. For them to hide behind an Assistant Secretary, not even a Secretary, is an intentional slap.
The decision document mentions a specific date, data analyzed by the 28th of February. That’s almost two weeks ago. Could he have not released the decision then? Did he have to allow so much speculation? Was it an intentional insult to the entire bitcoin community for this clearly already long ago made decision to be released at the very last hour? Who knew of the decision before it was released? Did any of them trade the market?”
Aleman’s reasons for rejecting the ETF was because he wanted a surveillance sharing agreement between exchanges and because he said much of the trading was carried out in unregulated Chinese bitcoin exchanges.
The latter part was out of date even at the time of the decision. PBoC has moved in, laying out some red lines for Chinese exchanges. Aleman further said Gemini lacks liquidity, but that’s mainly because traders naturally go to exchanges with futures and margins, two necessary facilities that CFTC continues to deny to regulated American exchanges such as Gemini and Coinbase.
It is surprising, however, that the decision is now to be reviewed. Even more so because the person who rejected the ETF, Aleman, has approved the review of his own decision. It is still too early to say how this review will be carried out, but one thing I hope we can say for sure is that Aleman will have no further part in any of it.
That’s for obvious reasons which do not even need to be stated. One can’t review their own decision in an institutional context. It’s like carrying a judicial appeal in front of the same judge who clearly has already reached a decision against you.
This review should be carried out at the commissioners’ level. To them, I say what I said just a day before Aleman’s decision, a day when I thought it was the commissioners who were to decide, specifically the acting chairman of the SEC:
“Dr. Piwowar, open the doors for business. Welcome innovation. And not by default approval. Stand in front of the world and show that America has two parties, show that this administration means free market capitalism, hail the geniuses who bring new things to this world, lift the spirits of this great nation.”
Chris Corey CMO MarketHive Inc
Andrew Quentson on 25/04/2017
Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member
Tips for Combining SEO and
Gone are the days when search engine optimisation was enough
to land your website onto Google's good graces. Now you must to add content marketing to your arsenal of digital marketing tool if you want to gain search engines’ approval and ultimately win the heart of online users. Given the important role content marketing now plays in the success of an online business, it's time that SEO ties the knot with content marketing.
The two digital marketing tools that were once viewed as separate entities are now an inseparable couple, promising to inch businesses closer to the proverbial “overnight success. ”The amazing duo can greatly help your online business reach the pinnacle of success and outwit your competitors. Here are ways you can ensure that the two digital marketing tools work in harmony:
Set common goals.
Setting common goals is the first step to make SEO and content marketing work together to bring additional revenues. Ask yourself what activities overlap between the two digital marketing techniques. Is it increased online traffic, rankings or links? How can you align the activities to achieve common goals? The answers to these and other similar questions will give you a starting point in creating an integrated SEO and content marketing strategy with clear and focused goals and strong communication.
Establish key performance indicators.
Another way to optimise synergy between SEO and Content Marketing is to establish key KPIs that will track performance, and ensure that it is on track for achieving common goals. These KPIs include content sharing, links to content, online user engagement, call-to-action conversion rates and several others.
Understand your target audience.
Understanding your audience is the key part of an SEO and content marketing strategy. Create personas of the target audience and develop a unique digital marketing strategy for each group. The personas can be based on age, location, gender, hobbies or interests. Don’t undertake any digital marketing activity without considering what your audience wants, and also what you want them to do in return of fulfilling their demand.
Create SEO-optimized content.
Google places great emphasis on quality content. You can make the content more relevant for the search engine by incorporating high-impression keywords. Optimising the content in this way will allow your Web pages to become visible to online users by appearing in the search results. Avoid overstuffing keywords into website content. In order to play it safe, limit the keyword density to 1 percent or less. This will ensure that your site doesn't get penalised by the search engine, decreasing online traffic.
Research high-impression and relevant keywords.
Include high impression and relevant keywords in the website. Each keyword that you select should be researched properly using online tools such as Google Planner, Google Trend, Word Stream and other similar tools. optimising your content in this way will ensure that your online content is able to attract maximum number of online users.
Attract online consumers through link building.
Another way you can make SEO and content marketing work together is through link building. Link building is a pure SEO strategy that results in a distribution of online content to a large number of targeted, qualified audiences. You can greatly increase your content’s effectiveness through these efforts. The links pointing to the published online content is placed on various high authority and high page ranked sites. These sites attract thousands of online visitors that can be diverted to your site by placing targeted links on the site they first visited. Enlist SEO professionals to enhance your link building strategy. Here are some reputed SEO companies, based on user reviews:
- TIS India
- SE Media Online
- Anpee Media
Focus on internal link building.
Internal link building works wonders in increasing your website’s ranking along with your published content. Moreover, creating internal links will also result in improved user experience due to easy navigation around the site. Internal link building is simple to implement and should be part of your digital marketing arsenal. This will help to improve your ranking and guide users with the content that is relevant to them.
Optimise your website content’s title and headings.
Your website content’s title and headings should also be optimised using relevant keywords and phrases. The title is displayed on top bar of the browser, and headings are included inside the content. Your title should be descriptive, persuading users to click. Headings should be catchy enough to make the content readable. Both must also be SEO-optimized to make your content more visible in the search results page.
Measure your results.
Make use of various online tools to measure the outcome of your combined SEO and content marketing efforts. Google Analytics can track changes in search volume over time. You will also know which pages and content attracts the most visitors, and the keywords they type to enter the website. The information gathered can help you fine-tune your content.
Keep your efforts going.
Combining SEO and content marketing must be an on going effort that should not stop at any time. Make the most of the opportunity and watch the extraordinary combination of SEO and content marketing work wonders for your organization or client. It will position you perfectly on the fast track to success.
Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member
Essential SEO Strategies to
Incorporate in 2017
Essential SEO Strategies to Incorporate in 2017
If you do great work with your search engine optimisation (SEO), it could mean a significant amount of revenue for your business. At the same time, however, it is also an ongoing initiative. Once you generate a steady stream of traffic from SEO, you need to constantly be maintaining and improving your SEO in order to keep those rankings you worked so hard for.
Generally, the two most important items needed to rank well in search engines are links to your website and content — the hard part is creating great content and generating those links. It is also important to note that Google, the largest search engine, has hundreds of ranking factors with some factors having more weight than others.Here are important SEO strategies outside of the basics, that are critical to getting to — or staying at — the top of the search engines in 2017.
Create an influencer who is a subject-matter expert.
An influencer is someone who people listen to online. When it comes to search engine optimisation, having an influencer in your corner will mean more people link to your website, share your blog posts and trust your content. If possible, have an influencer who is a subject-matter expert head up the content creation on your website. This person can be you, someone from your company or someone you align with.
Develop a content marketing strategy.
Every website should have a content strategy focused around your top keywords. When you create content such as blog posts, videos, whitepapers, research reports and webinars, it gives people something to link to. In addition, the content you create can rank by itself in the search engines. For example, if you write a blog post on “How to Pick an SEO Company,” there is a possibility it will rank for some of the keywords you use in the title and in the body post, especially if the post gets linked to from other websites or shared a lot on social media. It also helps if your website as a whole already has significant high-quality links.
This results in high domain authority, which translates into better rankings for all of your content. In addition, regular content creation shows Google that your website is alive and active. By sending this fresh content signal to Google on a continual basis, it will result in better rankings for your website as a whole.
Generate powerful backlinks to your site and pages.
Having an influencer and content marketing strategy will help you develop backlinks to your website, but it is also important to actively be seeking ways to get people to link to you. Some of the best ways to do this are to write for a large publication, do industry interviews and recommend your powerful content to people who matter. You can also hire a public relations (PR) company or an SEO company that has a strong digital PR division to help you with this initiative.
In addition, you can also use tools like Majestic SEO to see who is linking to your competitors. Once you identify the links to your competitor’s sites, you can analyse these links, learn how they got them and implement a similar strategy for your website. For example, did they donate to a charity causing the charity to link to their site? You can do the same thing.
Get your website mobile-ready.
In 2015, there was a major Google update known as a Mobile addon. This meant that if you did not have a mobile version of your website by April 21, 2015, you lost a significant amount of your rankings in the mobile version of the Google search listings.
Moving into 2017, your website needs to be mobile-ready. There are three types of accepted options for a mobile site in Google’s eyes: responsive design, being set up on a mobile subdomain or use dynamic serving. Google also now ranks websites higher that apply SEO for their apps. So if you have an app, make sure you are taking the time to implement application SEO.
Move your website to HTTPS, a secure site.
Google’s Gary IIIyes sent this tweet on August 18, 2015, saying that, “If you're an SEO and you're recommending against going HTTPS, you're wrong, and you should feel bad.” The “S” in HTTPS stands for security, and if your URL leads with HTTPS (https://example.com) instead of HTTP (http://example.com), then your website is secure. Google wants you to move your site to HTTPS so badly that they are now giving a ranking boost to websites that are secure. As we move into 2016, we will be seeing many new websites transferring to HTTPS.
Add schema.org markup to your website.
Schema.org is a type of markup that you can put in the code of your website. Using schema.org, you can tell Google which picture on your site is your logo, where your reviews are, where your videos are, what type of company you are, where you are located and much more. Google has hinted over the last year that schema.org will help your website rank better in Google search. Recently, Google’s John Mueller said in a Google Hangout on Sept. 11 (at the 21:40-minute mark) that “over time, I think it [structured markup] is something that might go into the rankings as well.”
When it comes to SEO in 2016, these are some of the most important items you can focus on. Make sure you are adding fresh, high-quality content and generating backlinks. Also, make sure your website is mobile ready and fully secure. Outside of this, it is also important to follow normal SEO best practices. Good luck to you in your SEO in 2017.
Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member
Steps to Building a Winning Brand Strategy
In their book Start Your Own Business
In their book Start Your Own Business, the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc. guides you through the critical steps to starting your business, then supports you in surviving the first three years as a business owner. In this edited excerpt, the authors explain the three-step process of creating a branding strategy for your business plan.
In addition to all its other parts, your business plan should include a branding strategy. This is your written plan for how you’ll apply your brand strategically throughout the company over time. At its core, a good branding strategy lists the one or two most important elements of your product or service, describes your company’s ultimate purpose in the world and defines your target customer. The result is a blueprint for what’s most important to your company and your customer. Don’t worry: Creating a branding strategy isn’t nearly as scary or as complicated as it sounds. Here’s how you do it:
Set yourself apart.
Why should people buy from you instead of from the same kind of business across town? Think about the intangible qualities of your product or service, using adjectives from “friendly” to “fast” and every word in between. Your goal is to own a position in the customer’s mind so they think of you differently than the competition. “Powerful brands will own a word—like Volvo [owns] safety,” says Laura Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing consultant and co-author of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand. Which word will your company own? A new hair salon might focus on the adjective “convenient” and stay open a few hours later in the evening for customers who work late—something no other local salon might do. How will you be different from the competition? The answers are valuable assets that constitute the basis of your brand.
Know your target customer.
Once you’ve defined your product or service, think about your target customer. You’ve probably already gathered demographic information about the market you’re entering, but think about the actual customers who'll walk through your door. Who is this person, and what is the one thing he or she ultimately wants from your product or service? After all, the customer is buying it for a reason. What will your customer demand from you?
Develop a personality.
How will you show customers every day what fulfil’s promises and provide value and service to the people you serve. If you promise quick service, for example, what will “quick” mean inside your company? And how will you make sure service stays speedy? Along the way, you’re laying the foundation of your hiring strategy and how future employees will be expected to interact with customers. You’re also creating the template for your advertising and marketing strategies.
In the Loop
Many companies large and small stumble when it comes to incorporating employees into their branding strategies. But to the customer making a purchase, your employee is the company. Your employees can make or break your entire brand, so don’t ever forget them. Here are a few tips:
Hire based on brand strategy. Communicating your brand through your employees starts with making the right hires. Look to your brand strategy for help. If your focus is on customer service, employees should be friendly, unflappable and motivated, right? Give new hires a copy of your brand strategy, and talk about it with them on a regular basis.
Set expectations. How do you expect employees to treat customers? Make sure they understand what’s required. Reward employees who do an exceptional job or go above and beyond the call of duty.
Communicate, then communicate some more. Keeping employees clued in requires ongoing communication about the company’s branding efforts through meetings, posters, training, etc. Never, ever assume employees can read your mind.
Your branding strategy doesn’t need to be more than one page long at most. It can even be as short as one paragraph. It all depends on your product or service and your industry. The important thing is that you answer these questions before you open your doors.
Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member
Low-Cost Marketing Strategies Every Business Should Know
Let’s be real. Marketing can get expensive. With such a strong emphasis on digital marketing, it can seem like the only way to be successful is through buying ads or paying for SEO. While both of those are very popular and useful ways to market a business, there are also many marketing strategies that come at a low cost, if not for free. These four low-cost marketing strategies create organic traffic and exposure for your business, and they all place an emphasis on the most important factor of marketing: the people you’re targeting.
Networking is one of the most effective marketing strategies that everyone has access to, and there are plenty of ways to do it. First and foremost, LinkedIn is a platform entirely devoted to networking. As a rule of thumb, you should be adding everyone you shake hands with or speak with, including customers, a similar business, and more. In building a personal brand through LinkedIn, you can promote your business brand. To make networking even easier, you can make a group page for your business, or join a local business group and participate with the existing members and audience to boost the exposure of your business.
LinkedIn is far from being the only way to network. Networking is a mindset and an approach that prioritises people rather than positions and businesses. In putting people first, you can determine who matters most that you need to get to know and what you can do for them. Then you can market your business to a broader audience in a less obvious, more effective manner. The best part about networking is that you can essentially do this anywhere, at any time, with anyone. Is there a local business association that holds meetings? Join it. A chapter of a marketing association in your city? Join that, too. Start utilising any and every opportunity that brings you in contact with new people.
Build a partnership.
Ever heard the saying “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”? That’s exactly how a partnership works. Let’s say you own a car dealership and there is an auto detailer and repair shop down the road. If you partner with the auto shop, you can refer people there for maintenance and keep their business cards or flyers in your dealership. In return, the auto detailer can refer people to your dealership when they need to buy, sell, or trade their vehicle and they can also keep business cards or flyers in their shop. Maybe there’s even a discount if they mention that the partnering business referred them.
Building a partnership can market your business to the customer base of another business, and vice versa. This works especially well for local businesses, as it fosters a sense of unity and support within the community. People are exceptionally receptive to recommendations that come from businesses they already trust and have had positive experiences with, and you can use that to your advantage through a partnership. It’s cost-effective, marketing-savvy, and will build your reputation.
Ask for reviews.
The only things people pay attention to more than what it says about your company on Google are the reviews that previous customers have left you. I once found a rental property I was interested in, and upon searching for reviews of the real estate agency I found an entire Facebook page dedicated to very passionately written bad reviews about the company (and that was in addition to a low Yelp score). I was horrified after reading all the negative experiences other customers had with the agency, and have since warned many friends to avoid renting or buying any properties from them solely based on those reviews.
What your customers have to say about you is the clearest indication of the kind of experiences future customers will have with you. By asking customers who have had positive experiences to write a quick review on Facebook or Yelp, you can accumulate endorsements and vouchers. Plus, if someone is willing to take the time to write a review, it’s likely that they’ll recommend your business to their friends and family for future needs. All of this comes at little to no cost and lets your customers do the marketing for you. According to Carlos Fearn, a Marketing Consultant at Rankology, “Consumers trust online reviews nearly as much as if it were a recommendation from a friend. It is imperative in today’s online society that a business encourages their customers to leave reviews on the major social networks and portals to show their satisfaction with your company.”
Helping people before they actually need anything from you is a marketing tactic that A) might not even be a “real” marketing tactic and B) has great returns. An easy way to do this is by adding a blogging component to your company’s website where you can offer useful tips and insights about things related to your business. The only thing it will cost you is time, and by blogging about the topics you’re already knowledgeable about, you can market a friendly credibility that’s in the interest of the customer. For example, if you’re a bakery, share some easy recipes around the holidays, or offer tips on baking for people with food allergies. By providing a real utility to the kind of customers who have a use for the information you’re providing, you create a relationship that establishes your business as a helpful authority. People tend to value helpful over pushy and if someone has used tips or recipes from your bakery’s website, you’ll probably be their first thought when they need a sweet treat on their lunch break.
Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member
Essential Inbound Marketing Strategies for Every Startup
Essential Inbound Marketing Strategies for Every Startup
Inbound marketing has become increasingly popular in the marketing and advertising world for the last several years, and it's no surprise why. While traditional outbound ad campaigns attempt to persuade unfamiliar audiences with sales-y messages, "inbound" campaigns focus on the value they can provide users. And that prompts those users to naturally gravitate to those businesses when the need arises. Generally, inbound marketing strategies are less expensive, hold a wider range of benefits and, over the long term, will generate a higher rate of return. So, if these benefits resonate with you, consider the following inbound marketing strategies, which are among the most popular. At this point, they're essential for all new startups:
On-site content marketing.
On-site content marketing is useful in a number of ways. Not only does new content drive new readers to your site, it keeps your existing readers and customers engaged with your brand, allowing you to maximise client retention. You'll have to provide highly detailed, original and valuable content, which isn't always easy or straightforward; but, with a steady stream of high-quality content, you'll find that the advantages can be enormous. Content marketing also provides syndication fuel to your social media and email campaigns and boosts your search rankings (more on this momentarily). In a recent survey I conducted, of 357 marketers, 93 percent of respondents said they planned to increase or keep their on-site content marketing budgets the same. That's pretty high praise for the power of on-site content!
Off-site content marketing.
Your off-site content marketing campaign will function in a similar manner, prompting you to provide well-written, targeted, valuable content, but instead of publishing it on your own site, you'll be publishing it on another site (hopefully, a major media publication!). The advantage here is the opportunity to gain visibility with new audiences, who may not have heard of you otherwise. You'll get referral traffic, and your brand reputation will steadily grow as you work your way up to bigger and better publishers.
Search engine optimization (SEO).
On-site and off-site content marketing will provide you substantial fuel for increasing your search visibility. On-site content attracts inbound links, while off-site content directly builds links to your site. The more high-quality, valuable inbound links your website has, the higher it will rank in search engines. In fact, a recent report from Google noted that two of the top three ranking factors in the algorithm were content and inbound links. But there are other, more technical components to SEO you'll need to implement to boost your inbound traffic from search engines. These include optimising for mobile devices, improving site speed and targeting strategic niche keyword phrases. It's a time-intensive strategy, but it pays off in spades.
Social media marketing.
Organic social media marketing has taken its fair share of hits, but it remains one of the most effective strategies for generating new visibility. You have the power to engage with almost anyone in the world through social media, gradually building up a loyal audience (as long as you're consistently providing valuable insights and material). Throw your on-site and off-site content into syndication here, and your followers will have even more reason to stick around. Alone, social media can generate a steady stream of traffic to your site, and build your brand, but its real power is amplifying the effects of your other inbound marketing strategies. According to the same survey referenced earlier, 65 percent of respondents — the highest percentage across 10 marketing strategies included in the survey — said they believed that social media marketing was poised to become even more effective in the next five years.
Influencer marketing is relatively simple in concept, but it's a little more difficult to carry out practically. The idea is to target "influencers" in your industry –these are thought leaders, movers, and shakers who hold the best reputations and the biggest portions of audiences in your niche. By working with these influencers on joint content projects or even just innocuous exchanges on social media, you'll cross-pollinate your audiences (oftentimes for mutual benefit), and earn a better reputation by proxy. The hardest part is identifying the influencers most likely to benefit your brand and persuading them to engage with your campaign. Influencer marketing seems to be the most cutting-edge strategy on this list, evidenced by the highest percentage of marketers (38 percent) agreeing to a statement on the survey — in this case saying they were "not currently using this strategy, but plan[ned] to in the future."
I hesitated to include email newsletters on this list, since email marketing in general, might be considered an outbound strategy. However, email newsletters usually revolve around the provision of content to subscribers, increasing their loyalty and retention while simultaneously setting up a recurring traffic stream back to your site. Because your content is providing value to your readers and subscribers, and you're not just using it as a way to advertise your products and services, it can be considered a form of inbound marketing. Additionally, email marketing may be a relatively low-hanging fruit: In the survey, email marketing was reported as the second-easiest tactic to perform, but one that provided the fifth-highest ROI of the ten strategies included.
Finally, personal branding may be used in conjunction with almost any of the strategies above. For example, you might have some of your upper-level team members post more on-site content and reach out to major publications for guest-posting opportunities, or even to become contributors in order to fuel an off-site content strategy. Of course, you'll want to syndicate that content on social media. You can make a more personal appeal in your influencer marketing campaigns as well. By tying your corporate brand to a number of personal brands, you'll make your company more accessible, human and trustworthy — three qualities that are hard to come by for consumers these days.
There's an almost magical quality about these strategies, not because of how they work on an individual level, but how they work together. All of these strategies have the power to enhance and complement each other, increasing your total return by multiples if you end up using them together. Pool your resources to conquer these tactics, adjusting and refining your approach along the way, and nothing will be able to stop your startup's marketing momentum.
Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member
Becoming the Expert
The difference between success and failure
is often not in knowing what to do, but in doing it. One of the areas where the getting it done problem routinely arises is in living the firm’s positioning. When working with a firm I routinely see this pattern: We’ll narrow the focus of the firm, we’ll craft a consistent claim of expertise, we’ll identify the assets the firm has to support the claim and begin adding those it’s missing. Then, when it’s time to start selling, the business development person, whether principal or employee, will continue to bring back all the wrong types of engagements – from tiny tactical projects to assignments that have nothing to do with the firm’s new focus. The positioning has changed in language only; not in reality.
It’s in Business Development where the firm begins to live it’s new positioning (strategy) and transition from order-taker to expert. You can only reinvent your firm one new client at a time, and if the size or nature of the client engagements is not moving you toward your positioning, you’ll never get there. Sometimes the challenge is rooted in the innate hard-wiring of the individuals involved – asking them to do things they just cannot, but most of the time the challenges are institutional.
My colleague Cal Harrison at Beyond Referrals sites the 85-15 Rule from William Edwards Demming, the father of Total Quality Management. “Demming’s rule suggests that when things go wrong, there is roughly an 85% chance the system (management, machinery and rules) is at fault. Only about 15% of the time is the individual employee at fault.” So, what is it about the system (firm, management, policies) that is impeding success in implementing the strategy?
For employees, it could be their compensation (pay) plan. I’ve previously written that the incentives in most business development employees’ pay plans are not properly aligned to the goals of the firm. But there’s more going wrong than poorly constructed pay plans. What is that keeps people and firms from making the positioning real?
Thankfully, the guru of all professional service firms has written a book on the question and its answers. David Maister’s Strategy & The Fat Smoker is all about, as the subtitle says, Doing What’s Obvious But Not Easy. For you as an agency principal and for me as a consultant, the million dollar question is How do we get you and your people to do what we both agree needs to be done? The short answer is meaningful measurement and a willingness to incorporate that feedback into performance appraisal and rewards. The shorter answer still is the Business Development Scorecard, described below.
For every new client you bring in, large and small, ask yourself these few questions and grade the client/engagement to see if it’s moving you toward or away from your strategy. At the bottom, I’ll explain how to ensure that the feedback from the scorecard keeps moving you forward.
Does doing this work add credibility to, rather than detract from, our consistently articulated claim of expertise (positioning)?
Everything you and your firm does – everything – either sharpens the perception of the firm as an expert or muddies it. Generalist firms can try to claim that pretty much everything they do adds to their positioning, but they’ll suffer when answering the remaining questions. Any firm that has properly declared a true specialization will have less leeway when answering this question, but this is the gut-check question: does taking this work deepen our expertise or does it merely broaden our focus?
Is this client aware of our minimum level of engagement (MLOE approx. 10% of annual fee goal) and is he likely to meet it over the first 12 months?
Meet our Minimum?
This one is tricky to score; there are two variables. First, is the client aware of your MLOE, meaning, did you tell him that you’re not in the project business? Did you tell him you’re looking for a small number of new clients who will spend $x with you over the year? If yes, then you get to score at least zero. The second variable is the question, Is he likely to meet that minimum? If this is a one-time project that will not lead to other work or meet your minimum but you did tell the client about the minimum and he understood you made an exception for him, then score a zero. If the client understands your minimum and has committed to meeting it or says he is likely to meet it, then give yourself a point. No and no equals -1.
Were we able to direct or affect the buying process, instead of being forced to follow the client’s?
Affect the Process?
You can answer this question in one millisecond. Little control in the buying process means you were not seen as the expert and you will have little control in the engagement. Any short-term gains (money) came at the cost of impairing the firm’s ability to do it’s best work and move it toward the expert firm. You’ve probably left margin dollars on the table, too. If the client didn’t allow you to lead and didn’t make concessions in his own process for you then your firm wasn’t seen as different enough to merit the inside track. If you did lead or the client did make concessions in the buying process, score 1.
Were we able to secure the engagement without parting with free or poorly compensated strategic or creative advice?
Be honest. Free strategy is free pitching, too.
Did the engagement begin with us being paid to first diagnose the problem and recommend a strategy before we developed creative?
Paid to Diagnose?
If you were allowed to lead in the buying cycle then you will be allowed to lead the engagement, and it will show up right here. Were you allowed to begin at the beginning or were you forced to jump right into a creative brief and execution? Did the client dictate the working process or did you? The real proof is in your first invoice. If the amount billed ended with anything other than three zeros, then you were billing tactical work by the hour.
Using the Numbers
If you really want to live your declared strategy, simply use this report card for every new client, publish the scores within the firm, and tie incentives to it. Track your annual average and your moving 12-month average. Further, if your business development people have any incentives in their pay plan, make sure they are at least partially tied to the scorecard results.
The goal isn’t necessarily to score perfect every time, rather, it’s to drive continuous improvement, and to be aware of how each new client is either moving you toward the strategy of living your positioning or taking you away from it. There will always be compromises – project work, even when not actively pursuing it, and occasional prostitution where you do something just for the money. But the scorecard should help to reduce the compromises and keep your occasional prostitution from becoming your career.
Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member
Poloniex Altcoin Exchange Review
Poloniex Certainly Has Its Merits
Poloniex is by far the superior altcoin exchange, base don trading volume and the number of users. The customer support is its Achilles heel, though, and the verification procedure can take longer than needed. Moreover, a few recent server and API outages have caused a fair bit of issues.In this day and age of cryptocurrency exchanges struggling with their partnering banks, the number of platforms unaffected by issues are fairly limited. So far, the Poloniex exchange has successfully avoided most problems, which allows them to continue generating significant amounts of trading volume. They are also the premier cryptocurrency exchange for altcoins traders, but is everything as good as people want the world to believe?
Trading on a cryptocurrency exchange is always a matter of positive aspects and compromises. For the Poloniex exchange, it appears the benefits far outweigh the downsides as of right now. They list a good amount of alternative cryptocurrencies and also actively remove trading pairs that are no longer relevant. Poloniex is also offering multiple exchange markets, including Bitcoin, Monero, and Ethereum. Alternative trading markets are always interesting to take notice of, even though not all coins can be traded against these three currencies.
Poloniex has been around for some time now and even underwent a major overhaul in early 2015. Ever since that time, some notable features were added, including cryptocurrency lending. Speaking of the lending service, not all supported coins are listed here either, but it does cover the most prominent currencies as of right now. It is a useful feature for traders who want to earn a passive interest on their Poloniex balances, although one should never store too much money on an exchange in the first place.
On the security front,
Poloniex seems to check the right boxes as well. Two-factor authentication is possible – and advised – which is a positive touch. Then again, nearly every cryptocurrency exchange offers this feature, as 2FA has become somewhat of the norm in the crypto world right now. Volume-wise, Poloniex seems to generate a fair amount of revenue every single day, as it is way ahead of its closest competitor Bittrex.
Unfortunately, no cryptocurrency exchange is without its issues, and Poloniex is no exception. The platform has suffered from slow trading, order book issues and even plain outages every time there is an unusually high trading activity on the exchange. Most recently, the site and its API utterly crashed when Ripple was seeing significant trading volume all of a sudden. This affected quite a lot of traders and a fair bit of money was lost due to trades not executing properly.
Moreover, some users have complained about horrible customer support from Poloniex staffers. Exchanges have a big problem in this regard, as it appears a lot of platforms suffer from bad customer support at all times. That is not acceptable by any means, and we can only hope things improve sooner rather than later. Especially considering how the platform supports fiat currency support, aiding customers in a quick and convenient manner becomes even more important.
Speaking of support,
Poloniex conducts a thorough AML and KYC procedure for all users, even if they do not deposit or withdraw fiat currencies. This means users will need to upload documents to verify their identity, a process that can take days, if not weeks, for some users. It seems evident everyone’s mileage will vary when dealing with the Poloniex exchange. For the most part, the company does the job just fine, but there are obvious areas that need improvements.
Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member
This Is How Cryptocurrencies & Blockchain Could Solve Asia's Financial Inclusion Issue
Experts see remittances as an area that could be ripe for VC disruption. The Philippines is not the only country with a high population of overseas workers whose families depend on their remittances. High transaction fees and slow or inconvenient transfer services create extreme hardships on people who can’t afford to spend hours claiming one payment, or who live far from banks or shops that manage remittance payments.
“The costs of these transactions
which can average as high as 12% in Sub-Saharan Africa – hit the poor the hardest. Technological advances like cryptocurrency and distributed ledgers may offer a solution,” Dr. Garrick Hileman, a cryptocurrency researcher at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, told Phys.org. "It would be surprising to me if in 30 years from now we aren't looking back and saying yes this was a watershed moment for financial inclusion, and that cryptocurrency and distributed ledgers played a significant role in opening up access to the financial system in developing economies."
A 2016 KPMG article indicated that more than 70 percent of the population in Southeast Asia is unbanked, leaving hundreds of millions at steep disadvantages for achieving financial security. Not having a bank account excludes people from a range of financial products, but fintech companies see mobile technology as a means of closing that gap. Startups like Coins, which use cryptocurrencies behind the scenes to offer fast, low-cost services to their customers, may be on the front lines of improving financial inclusion in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. Thanks to growing mobile phone penetration, even low-income consumers can take advantage of their services.
“One of the important ways to increase financial inclusion is facilitating the transition from people being purely cash-based to be able to access and use [their] money online. In this regard, cryptocurrencies work very well as railways for seamless fund transfers and being able to pay for services,” Leow said. “The advantage that cryptocurrencies provide relative to other closed-loop systems is that anyone can be connected to the payment network very easily and services can be made available to anyone else on the network.” Remittances and mobile payments aren’t the only ways blockchain technology facilitates inclusion.
“I think payments will continue to be a key functionality for blockchain technologies with adoption continuing to increase as more businesses recognize its advantages,” Leow said. “At the same time, I think that there are also a lot of application-specific solutions using the blockchain for purposes such as digital identity management and smart contracts that are actively being explored that are causing us to rethink how many (typically expensive) business processes are being done.”
For instance, Acudeen, a Filipino fintech startup that helps small businesses by streamlining the invoicing process, uses blockchain technology to ensure that its clients’ contracts are secure. If cryptocurrency does become mainstream, it will likely do so quietly, at least as far as the average consumer is concerned. Luis Buenaventura, chief technology officer of Bloom Solutions and author of Reinventing Remittances With Bitcoin, told me for a previous article that Bitcoin is “probably best off as a backend technology." Similar to the protocols behind email systems, blockchain technology may drive common services, but users won’t ever interact with it.
Leow shared a sentiment similar to Buenaventura’s. “The challenge from a financial inclusion standpoint is how to facilitate access to these technologies in such a way that easily transitions people from using purely cash,” he said. “We should remember that at the end of the day, people want to get things done and generally care less about the actual implementation of how that happens.”
Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member