Business Management

Lil Wayne files $51 million music contract lawsuit against Cash Money

IMG_0091Hip hop artist Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. (better known as Lil Wayne) filed a federal lawsuit in New York City against his label, Cash Money Entertainment, to the tune of over $51 million on January 28, 2015. Carter’s music contract suit includes eight causes of action, including breach of contract, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment.

Paper Trail
Carter signed with Cash Money in 1998 at the age of 18, and his popularity grew rapidly. In 2003, “Weezy” reached a separate agreement with Cash Money to form his own subsidiary label, Young Money, whose roster now includes Nicki Minaj and Drake.

Over time, Carter renegotiated his contracts with Cash Money to include more favorable terms, such as bigger cash advances, larger ownership interest in his sound recordings and more funding for the Young Money label. According to his complaint, the 1998 and 2003 contracts were amended at least six times between 2005 and 2012.

2009 BET Awards - Show
Music Contract Mishaps
In this week’s lawsuit, Lil Wayne claims that he was consistently short-changed by Cash Money. The label allegedly underpaid Carter by millions of dollars and failed to provide him with monthly accounting statements. Cash Money purportedly racked up seven figures in marketing expenses without seeking Carter’s required approval. In addition, according to Lil Wayne, Cash Money failed to maintain a million-dollar escrow account or make $200K quarterly overhead payments to Young Money, as were required by contract.

Carter alleges that Cash Money violated numerous other provisions of their agreements, including requirements that the label list him as a co-author on sound recordings, give him a say in signing new artists to the label and provide him with access to the company’s books and records.

Protect Yourself
Having a well-drafted label agreement in place with a recording artist is the best medicine for reducing headaches and avoiding conflicts with your talent. However, as Lil Wayne’s recent lawsuit demonstrates, no contract is dispute-proof. For music companies encountering problems with their artists or agreements, experienced and attentive legal counsel is essential.

About the Author:
David Klein is a Managing Partner at Klein Moynihan Turco LLP and one of the most recognized attorneys in the technology, Internet marketing, sweepstakes and telecommunications fields. Skilled at counseling clients on a broad range of technology-related matters, David Klein has substantial experience in negotiating and drafting complex licensing, marketing and Internet agreements. He has an in-depth understanding of Internet and new media law and is established as a leader in structuring and implementing major technology agreements.


Interested in Crowdfunding? Online Class for Artists, Enterpreneurs, Inventors, App Developers via @GA

Interested in raising capital using the internet but don’t know where to begin? Here’s a great Online Class from General Assembly.

Social media and platforms like Kickstarter and Indie Gogo have made it easier than ever before for inventors, entrepreneurs, and artists, to seek funding for their projects. There are over 530 online platforms available to assist with raising capital and donations. In this quick introductory class from General Assembly, Arie Abecassis will give a brief overview of the industry and offer a few practical steps to launching a successful campaign.

As a founder of AppStori, and a Venture Partner at DreamIt Ventures, Arie has worked closely with a number of amazing founders and companies, including SeatGeek, Adaptly, BiznessApps and MAZ Digital. In addition to spending time with the General Assembly community, every now and then, Arie contributes his thoughts on the state of technology and entrepreneurship in various tech blogs.

While this pre-recorded session originally aired on September 17, 2013, Arie Abecassis will be available live to answer questions via chat. To participate in the live chat, simply enter any username of your choosing, login in via Facebook or Twitter and contribute your questions or comments to the public chatroom. All attendees have access to the chat, and your fellow classmates may be able to help you as well.

  • Learn enough about the industry to make choices about how to obtain funding.
  • Learn the first steps to starting your campaign.
  • Understand the dos and don’ts of crowd funding.

Need capital for a tech product or service?  Try AngelList, SeedInvest or FundersClub. Most indie films are crowdfunded through Kickstarter and Indiegogo. On the equity side, there’s a platform that focuses on indie film called Slated‎.

Have questions during class? Join the conversation in the chat, or tweet them by mentioning #GALive and @GA.

Watch General Assembly’s online class here and comment. Download the Deck here. For more classes from General Assembly on crowd funding and raising capital, click here.

crowdfunding screenshot

Watch live streaming video from ga_premium at

Tips to Start Your #Tech #Startup at #CES from #Livio's @JakeSigal #smallbiz via @theDS3group #diCoverage


Armed with a fresh stack of business cards, I started Livio on Jan. 7th, 2008 in Las Vegas at the International CES. Back then, our country was full speed into the Great Recession, business was down and it couldn’t have been a better time to start a new company.

CES is the only place to start or launch a new business in the tech space. With more than 100,000 attendees and thousands of exhibitors, you’d have to stay in your hotel room to avoid getting new business going.

Here are some of my tried and tested tips and tricks:

  1. Pre-show
    1. Print 1,000 business cards. I recommend having the back of your business card blank or with lines so you can take notes. At a minimum, use a white background. Our Livio cards have lines for notes.
    2. Plan your trip to the show by hall. Figure out who you need to meet and write their info down. Go there first. Use the CES website to find the companies you want to connect with and write their booth numbers in your Moleskine. Have a plan. CES is too big to go row by row. Your days will be long. Having things written down will save your phone’s battery.
    3. Practice your elevator pitch with a few vendors. Explain what you do. Try it with your friends. Just be honest, let people know what you are looking to do and/or who you want to meet. Avoid making it sound like you have an army of engineers. Just be honest.
  2.  At Show
    1. Gear
      1. Wear a sports coat. I’m a big fan of the sports coat with jeans and a button-down shirt. Even if you want to wear a tie, use the sports coat as your toolbox. Everything you need for the show should fit in its pockets. Check your pockets to make sure your notebook will fit so you don’t have to hold it the whole time.
      2. Also, disable the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections on your mobile phone. Kill all unnecessary apps to maximize your phone’s battery life.
      3. Travel light and leave your bag, laptop or iPad in your hotel room.
      4. I carry two pens, business cards, Mophie, travel-sized deodorant, floss and mints at the show. I even downsize my wallet for the show to keep the weight down. I start at breakfast and end after midnight without having to drop anything off.
      5. Don’t forget your Moleskine with the plan.
    2. Business Card managemen
      1. Write on the business cards with follow up items.
      2. Have two pockets for business cards: one for “recycling” and one for follow-ups.
      3. If someone “doesn’t have a business card,” ask to take a photo of their badge. You can also write their email address on your business card and put that one into your “keep” pocket.
    3. How to approach the big companies
      1. Get names of the people you are trying to meet.
      2. Find the reception desk and look for the friendliest admin there.
      3. “Hello, I’m Jake Sigal from Livio. I am looking to meet John Smith, your program manager. I don’t have an appointment. Is John available?”
      4. If not, ask, “Who would be the best person for me to speak with about [business development, API access, distribution, etc.]?”
      5. When you do get in front of the big guys, repeat the basic elevator pitch. Remember to smile and start off with, “Hi, I’m Jake Sigal with Livio. Thanks for the time. How’s your show going so far?” Then get into what you’re trying to do and be specific. Limit your discussion to one specific item. Don’t drift.
      6. If you’re talking to a program manager or a product manager, you may want to ask for a demo to get them talking and make them comfortable.20140106-180344.jpg
    4.  End of Day
      1. Send out your emails every day and file all of your key business card info into your CRM or address book. I use Highrise and highly recommend it for a startup. It’s cheap, and it can scale. Doing this will take about an hour each night, but it’s absolutely worth it.
      2. b. At a minimum, write more notes on the back of the business cards because you will probably forget the details of your appointments after a couple of days when everything mixes together. You can also use the voice recorder app on your iPhone to take notes. I don’t recommend using Evernote or anything that requires an Internet connection at the show. It could fail to save, and will most certainly kill your battery faster.


I’d wish you good luck, but you probably don’t need it. Hustle Hard!

Here’s another article with great tips and an infographic for successful networking at conferences.

About the Author:
Jake Sigal mashed-up music and tech to make Livio Radio, which quickly established Livio as a leader in the car Internet radio industry. It also made Jake an accredited young entrepreneur. Through partnerships with venture capital firms and angel investors, he raised millions to fund the Livio Radio brand born under his own roof. When he isn’t inventing cool tech products, you can find Jake fist pumping in his office to electro, house and dubstep, or battling Baldini in foosball. Jake is married and has a cat cool enough to be on the box art for the Livio Radio featuring Pandora. Jake also loves riding his fixed-gear bike, letting loose at national electronic music festivals, and playing ice hockey for Team Livio.

7 Great Ways to #Network at #Conferences #infographic via @theDS3group #diCoverage

1. Look for what you can freely give

The best way to receive at conference is to give freely without expecting anything in return. One of the greatest, lasting rewards is the joy of helping someone else.

Instead of looking for who can benefit you or your business, look for how you can help people without trying to start a business relationship with them.

2. Watch the official hashtag

Twitter is a powerful tool for consuming and sharing content during a conference, and it also creates great community. I recommend TweetChat for monitoring and participating in the conversation with the official Twitter hashtag.

This works easily by joining a “room” on TweetChat with the hashtag. You’ll see everything shared with that hashtag, including replies and retweets (although you can filter these). The timeline will automatically refresh on computers and mobile devices.

You can even use TweetChat to easily participate in the conversation because it will automatically include the hashtag you’re following in every tweet you send through the TweetChat room.

3. Change your Twitter profile photo

You may have invested big bucks into a professional portrait photo and worked hard to use that photo everywhere. That’s great, but that’s most likely not how you look today. (I’m now sporting more facial hair than a mere goatee, and I’m experimenting with longer head hair.) Update your Twitter profile photo with a much more recent photo, even if it has to be a “selfie.”

Take this one step further and help others network with you by updating your photo daily with how you are dressed on that day. It will be easier for people to find you and talk in person if they know exactly how you look on that day.

4. Bring business cards, but don’t hand them out

We all hate spam. We hate it everywhere and in every form. If you go to a conference and start passing out business cards like a ninja throwing stars, then you’re essentially spamming potential relationships.

Bring your business cards, but be intentional about when you hand them out and to whom. If your card is irrelevant to the recipient, it will be wasted. And you won’t know whether it’s relevant until you have a conversation.

I usually carry a collection of four different business cards to all events. I make it a game to see if my conversation with the person warrants all four cards. If it seems like I don’t have a connection with the person I’m talking to, I don’t give them a card because they wouldn’t care about me anyway unless they asked for your card.

When you give a card, offer to write something, such as a website or tool, on it for the recipient. (Hint: this also means you should leave some white space on your cards.)

As an aside, consider making niche business cards that highlight specific aspects that may appeal to people you meet. If you already have a lot of niche cards, consider consolidating them into a “conference card” that focuses on your name and includes the other things you do.

5. Write on business cards you receive

Regardless of how someone else has handed you their business card, don’t just pocket it! Keep it in front of you or in your hands. Have a pen or marker ready to write down something about that person.

• Where you met them
• A tool or website they mentioned
• A reminder to followup with them
• Something that stood out to you about them
• A specific action to take (call, send a proposal, etc.)

Writing something on someone else’s card demonstrates a great respect on your part and greater engagement in your conversation. The simple act of writing will also help you remind the person and conversation better.

6. Use your the Conference website or mobile app

Most conferences have profiles that you can setup and mobile apps which contain useful tools like booth maps, press releases and session schedules. I love it even more when I can print it or export the schedule to my smart phone or tablet calendar. Visit the conference website often to see what interactive options are available. Some conferences even have social media and contact details for fellow attendees and speakers so you can reach out right away and engage in social conversation. When I see an event using Sched or Eventbrite I get excited because I know I will have offline access to the session schedules and tickets to save on battery life.

7. Use your smartphone

More often than not I find myself stuck with hundreds of business cards and flash drives after a conference. I bring ziplock bags and a sharpie to keep them all separated. I also aspire to enter them all into my smart phone CRM on the plane ride home.

What I have found most useful is entering those top contacts I meet into my phone right away. I love using Evernote Hello because I can connect with them instantly on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, view their profile, send them an email with my contact information and store them in my address book with a few clicks. I also like to use Cardful for Evernote (for iPhone) to scan business cards in my hotel room at the end of the night or on the plane. The free plan scans 30 business cards per month and the OCR is capable of scanning 300 cards in 1 hour. Evernote Hello is great for mapping when and where you met someone and including it in the contact notes. We have featured the Evernote bundle of apps several times. Click here to read those.
Special thanks to Daniel Lewis for some of his conference networking tips.

Check out this infographic “3 Phases To Networking Success” by the team at @BostonTweetUp
How do you network at conferences?
What about you? What tips or tricks can you share for being a friendlier networker at conferences? I’d love to hear your stories of success, failures, and pet peeves, so please leave a comment.

3 Factors That Matter When Building Your #Brand from @PamMktgNut #SmallBiz #DS3

20131207-142408.jpgDid you know that it takes at minimum 6-7 brand
touches before someone will remember your brand? Every impression
counts. Each brand touch with a potential new client, current
customer, brand advocate or even those who know nothing about your
brand is leaving behind an impression. It’s an impression that is
going to be positive, neutral or negative. Your goal is to make
each and every brand impression as positive and memorable as it can
be. 1. Consistency Consistency is key
when it comes to social branding. Consistency doesn’t have to equal
boring. It simply means you have a consistent representation of who
you are, what you do and how you portray it to the world. Your tone
may vary based on the audience you are engaging with but there
should be a foundation of consistency for which you leverage to
build relationships. It is important to also understand the
definition of authenticity and transparency which many confuse.
Being real and authentic doesn’t mean you have to share what you
had for breakfast, lunch and dinner on all of the social networks.
Transparency is how much information you share with different
audiences. 2. Relevancy Relevancy is
how you connect and are able to relate to human beings. You must be
relevant to them as a human. You must treat, speak and engage with
them as humans. You must speak in a manner and choose words which
mean something to them. They must understand what it is you are
trying to say and why. Your words and actions should inspire them
to connect and engage with you. 3.
Building trust with your communities and
audience via the social networks is going to take time. As you can
see from the diagram below, initially your community members are
going to start out as lurkers, new members and people who are
“checking you out.” They are deciding if they want to engage with
you. They’re deciding if they want to click, like, read, share and
invest themselves in your brand. It is up to you to move them from
being a “free member” to a loyal evangelist or paying customer. The
combination of consistency, relevancy, value and trust are going to
help ignite this movement from the left of the diagram you see
below to the right.
20131207-142341.jpg About the Author: Pam
is the CEO & Founder of Marketing Nutz
as well as an entrepreneur, speaker, trainer and coach. Pam has 15+
years of experience helping small startups to Fortune 100
companies, budgets teeny tiny to big in both B2B and B2C markets
build brand awareness, grow new markets, develop communities and
master ROI across all mediums.

Quick Guide to Setting Up @LinkedIn For Your #Business #smallbiz #tech #branding

LinkedIn’s Company Pages feature is a tool that businesses can use to promote its professionals, products and services, attract qualified prospects for job openings or to engage with clients, potential clients and referral sources.

When you create a Company Page it is different from a personal account. Log in as your personal account then add your company profile and details. You can tag employees of the firm who have Profiles on LinkedIn. When they accept they will automatically be attached to the firm’s Company Page, giving those Profiles additional exposure. Having a Page for your firm on LinkedIn provides a vehicle to provide company-wide information, not specific to any individual, as a supplement to or an extension of your firm’s or organization’s website.

Elements of the Company Page
Company Pages are comprised of four sections: Home, Products and Services, Career, and Insights.

The Home page includes a cover photo and company description, recent Updates posted by the Page, the people on LinkedIn who are connected to your firm or organization, and any featured Groups. Visitors may choose to follow your Company page from here; they can also “like,” comment on, or share your Company’s Updates.

The Careers section is only available with a paid subscription. Here, your company can list jobs, include employee testimonials, and add multimedia elements to attract potential candidates to work at your firm. Visitors can apply for jobs at your organization directly through LinkedIn.

Visitors to your Company page can click on the Insights tab to see former employees they may know, as well as a list of other Company pages viewed by those who also viewed your firm’s Page.

The Products and Services section of your Company page provides a place to describe your areas of expertise, products and services in more detail and give individual links directly to specific pages on your website for more information. If you have created YouTube videos about your company or what you do for clients, you can link to those videos directly from Products and Services. You can also add logos and images to each product or service to make your descriptions more interesting.

Individuals can write Recommendations for your services which can be displayed on your Page as well. Depending on your industry there may be some jurisdiction ethical rules which prohibit recommendations (attorneys, dentists, doctors, etc). Sharing is also enabled for Products and Services, allowing others to share information about your services with their network.

For each service, you can identify an employee contact, which will allow you to let the individual group leader or department head within your organization to be contacted directly. You can also change the title of this section to simply Services, if you prefer.

A key feature not to be overlooked is that you can even add a disclaimer in a designated section if you determine that you need one.


Your firm or organization can post Updates on the Company Page. Updates can be a great way to point people to items on your website or in your company’s newsletter that you might send out via MailChimp or Constant Contact. Company Updates can be up to 600 characters long (including spaces). Shared link titles and descriptions can be up to 250 characters each, which is plenty of room to provide summary information, links, and details about upcoming events.

LinkedIn also now allows you to post Targeted Updates. When you create an Update from your Company page, you will see a Share With box pop up. That box provides two options: either All followers or Targeted audience. If you click on Targeted audience, LinkedIn will provide you with several criteria to choose from under Company size, Industry, Function, Seniority, and Geography. After selecting your criteria, you may choose to send your Update to employees and non-employees or to non-employees only. Your firm must have at least one hundred followers within the selected target group to post a Targeted Update.

LinkedIn members can comment on, “like,” or share a Company Update, the same way they would with an individual Update from a Connection. But now LinkedIn Company page administrators can also comment on or “like” Updates as the Company page, rather than just as individuals.

Tips for Company Pages
The keys to making Company pages work for you are to get creative about what you post and to actively engage on a consistent basis. You can benefit from increased interaction with other lawyers, strategic alliances, referral sources, and prospective clients.

As more and more businesses begin using Company pages on LinkedIn, users will begin following these pages, just as they do on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other platforms. Given that LinkedIn is known as the professional network, however, followers of the Updates on your Company page are likely to be those interested in your practice or your professional associations. LinkedIn provides a tool to create a Follow button that you can add to your website.

Post Updates regularly and promote your business Company Page by adding a Follow button to the you organization’s website or blog. Feature the Company Page in e-mails, firm newsletters, and other marketing materials to encourage all of your audience to make it part of their LinkedIn experience.

About the Author:
Allison C. Shields is President of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc. She provides practice management and business development coaching and consulting services to lawyers and law firms in the areas of practice management, productivity, client service, business development, marketing and social media. Allison is the co-author of Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers and LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, both published by the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association in 2012.

Whether you are an established law firm, hotel, medical practice or starting a new business, allow LinkedIn to work for you.

Here are 5 tips to make your Company page great on LinkedIn.

4 New Apps to Help Attendees to Engage w/ Your #Brand at #Events | #DS3 #Tech #Mobile

By PJ Douglas Sands, Events & Branding Strategist

Mobile apps are no longer an expensive option for planners with big budgets and tech-savvy attendees. Now there are choices that work for events of all sizes and types. As an Event Planner and Consultant, these are four of the newest products which help  digitize the event experience and engage attendees to showcase your branding strategy. Often my small business clients seek advice on how to best implement technology to make their events and businesses run smoother, so I am constantly looking for apps that are cost effective and useful across multiple platforms.

When exhibiting at a convention or expo, I find it is most useful to make the customer experience engaging. Your elevator pitch is usually no longer than 30 seconds, and capturing their contact information to continue the conversation at length to pitch your brand is priority. Whether you are running the convention, expo or conference or exhibiting, here are some amazing apps to engage attendees and exhibitors alike. The goal always? Increase ROI.


EXMO launched in early October and is targeted at events with fewer than 1,000 attendees. The app is self-service: Planners log into a Web site, input information regarding location, schedules, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors, and the system creates the app and a simple Web page that planners can promote in emails and through social media. For ticket sales, EXMO has a partnership with EventBrite so attendees can purchase tickets and planners can track sales through the app.

EXMO Event Organizer Software

The system offers interactive features including real-time polls, feedback forms, push notifications, and integration with social networks. During an event, organizers have the option to share content on an “Activity Wall,” a large screen display of information such as announcements, polls, tweets, and photos. The app is free for attendees, and planners pay nothing to use the system if their events have 50 people or fewer. For larger events, planners pay $2 per person (and less as numbers increase) using a credit system that can be rolled over to future events.

E-proDirect’s EventAccess

EventAccess launched in early October and is the newest app from E-proDirect, a marketing and technology company focused on the meetings and convention industry. For $2,500, EventAccess provides a multi-platform (Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry) native app and a Web app in as few as three days. Planners provide content to customize the app, for example: a welcome message or video, venue information, links to registration and surveys, maps, schedules, and as many as 12 social media links. The app can become a source of revenue through the sale of banner ads or by charging exhibitors a fee to have an enhanced listing that could include a product video and contact information for a company representative. E-proDirect provides a revenue calculator to help planners estimate the earnings potential.

E-Pro Direct Event Apps

EventAccess also includes information about dining, attractions, and transportation within a five-mile radius of the event, using information from Yelp. Once the app is created, planners use a dashboard to update content and track data such as downloads and ad click-through rate. Clients also receive marketing support that includes templates for press releases and tweets, screenshots, QR codes, and a mobile-optimized landing page that can be shared in emails and on social networks.


Pathable has just released its Event Experience Platform, which C.E.O. Jordan Schwartz says is intended to help planners facilitate engagement at events and build a year-round community. “We have the desktop and integrated mobile experience, so we don’t drop you at the door of the conference and we don’t meet you at the door of the conference. This is a long-term engagement,” Schwartz said.

Pathable creates a custom URL that can be embedded into a client’s existing Web site. Planners use the system to manage the agenda, exhibitor listings, private meeting scheduling, interactive facility and trade show floor maps, and surveys. It’s also integrated with several event registration systems, including Cvent, RegOnline, and Etouches, to capture new registrations in real time.

Pathable - Multiple Platforms for Event Management

When attendees register, they can tag their profiles with keywords related to their industries and interests, search for other attendees with similar tags, and initiate private conversations. Profiles can also be linked to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to identify existing connections at the event. Exhibitors get a landing page with instructions on how to customize it with their logo, company information, and more. An upcoming update will turn the system into a revenue source by inviting exhibitors to upgrade their presence to receive lead retrieval data and an enhanced listing. Pathable pricing starts at $4,250 for single events and is based on the number of attendees, exhibiting and sponsoring companies, and events planned. Discounts are available for larger events, multiple event contracts, and nonprofits.



AtEvent provides a suite of apps that are intended to facilitate lead retrieval and prospect nurturing at trade shows and conferences. The four apps—Card Scanner, Fishbowl, Attendee, and Check-In—can be used independently or in tandem, and all feed information into a single system so brands can capture a holistic view of each interaction that occurs with a prospect. Using the Card Scanner app, exhibitors can take a photo of business cards, add follow-up actions, and then transmit that information to their marketing automation system. The Check-In app is used on a tablet to track people as they arrive at a booth. If a person is already in the company’s marketing system, the app will pull in contextual information so the interaction is more meaningful.

AtEvent mobile apps

The Fishbowl app is a self-service option for attendees to input contact information to be entered in booth contests, sign up for newsletters, and request information. Finally, the Attendee app provides a digital view of a brand’s physical presence at an event. Attendees download the app to get access to product information, videos, photos, surveys, contact information, and more. Since launching in April, AtEvent has worked with companies such as Rackspace, SAS, and Adobe.


Luxury Hotels Use #SocialMedia, #Instagram Contests to Measure Impact

Can hotel brands benefit from social media and measure impact? Yes they can.

By Joe McCarthy, Luxury Daily, New York

Instagram contests can allow luxury hotel brands to measure the impact of their social media channels and gain a deeper understanding of guests’ interests.

With the ubiquity of mobile phones and social media engagement, providing fans and guests with a creative project attached to prizes seems like a simple way to stay relevant. However, beyond the immediate fun, such contests can arm brands with insights into how consumers respond to their social media pages and how they can structure future offers.

“With everyone having a phone in today’s world, and the overall popularity of social media, these photo contests have become increasingly important for hotels,” said Damon M. Banks, director of DMB Public Relations, New York.

“This engagement with past, current and future guests is yet another way to maintain a connection with them directly, while also gaining added exposure through the guest’s social media community,” he said.

Is the power on?
Perhaps the most visible benefit of an Instagram contest is the venue it establishes for interacting with prospective guests. Since most contests are tied directly to a brand’s main Instagram feed, participants can seamlessly learn about it and then submit.

Figuring out how to garner as many submissions as possible, while still keeping the contest relevant to the brand or specific property can be a tricky issue. Some brands choose to go with a broad rubric, thus ensuring a large response.

For example, Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ St. Regis upped its credibility as a fashion-minded marketer and established a new channel on Instagram via a contest that pushes its Grand Tourista Bag designed by brand connoisseur Jason Wu.

St. Regis asked its mobile-savvy followers to share what they would carry in the Grand Tourista Bag via an Instagram image for the chance to win a vacation package and their own bag. The brand seemed to target millennials through this mobile effort since it created the bag to reach a new generation of travelers (see story).

St. Regis Grand Tourista Instagram contest
St. Regis Grand Tourista Instagram contest

Contests that are location-neutral will likely shed light on how well brands are connecting with their target audience. If submissions are meager, then it may be time to rejuvenate social media approaches.

“Social networks are constantly evolving,” Amanda Rue, strategist at Carrot Creative, New York. ”A year ago, we may have asked fans to submit a photo, where now brands can call for richer content via Instagram video and Vine.

“Now with a dichotomy existing between Facebook and Instagram versus Twitter and Vine, it’s important to understand which networks best serve the objectives of the campaign,” she said.

“There are nuances to each network that can be addressed by understanding the objectives and key audiences of the photo contest.”

Highlighting the map
Some Instagram contests are location-based and instantly shrink the potential pool of participants. However, fans may be more inclined to submit when they notice a contest is exclusively designed for them.

For instance, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong interacted with a diverse group of young consumers by inviting Instagram users to capture views of the cosmopolitan city.

The summer contest sought to bring new visitors to the hotel and invigorate current visitors with a creative mission. Instagram competitions of this kind breed memorable ties by spurring entrants to make new experiences (see story).
Four Seasons Hong Kong #OURHK contest
Four Seasons Hong Kong #OURHK contest

Through this particular contest, the property can discern which areas of the city received the most attention and use this information to shape future offers.

Other contests leverage an area’s love for a certain object or idea. For example, Four Seasons Hotel Seattle is inviting citizens and tourists of the city to marvel at the sunset during an Instagram competition beginning Aug. 1 for a chance to win prizes and raise awareness for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Fund.

The “My Seattle Sunset” contest encourages fans to explore the city for an original view of the sunset and get to know the property’s surrounding environment. Using the ensuing proceeds to help the fight against brain tumors and brain cancer is a good way to breed solidarity within a community and remind guests that the brand has aspirations outside of commercialism (see story).

Such a contest bonds with fans by showing appreciation for a cherished, communal image. Further tying the contest to philanthropy will likely increase its pull. If the contest does well, the brand may bind future contests and packages to philanthropic endeavors.

“It will be very interesting to see the future of these contests, and how brands continue to develop new ways to connect with their guests,” Mr. Banks said.

“From a financial perspective, the amount of added exposure seen digitally from the interaction with the guests in these cases are well worth the investment of a $100 gift card or complimentary night at the hotel,” he said.

“While many of these brands take advantage of the seasons, current blockbuster films, popular television show or sports to develop these photo contests, it’s also important to include themes very important to many of their guests, such as their pets and kids.”

Mixing metaphors
Since fans are competing with one another for prizes during these contests, they are likely to spend more time considering submissions. Consequently, those who enter may submit a photo with emotions behind it.

Increasing the possibility for meaningful encounters that arise from Instagram contests can help secure future guests as these positive memories will be bound to the hotel.

Regardless of all the potential benefits of hosting an Instagram contest, hotel brands should thoughtfully consider potential repercussions.

“Luxury brands especially have to be aware of devaluing or diluting the brand with cheap or kitschy ploys to engage fans,” Carrot Creative’s Ms. Rue said.

“Engagement can increase with a low barrier to entry, clear rules and an attractive incentive that resonates with the audience,” she said. “Contests can also become more interesting and more engaging by defining new mechanics to the contest.

“Tactically, this can manifest in a variety of ways based on the objectives of the campaign but can include variations in audience voting, submissions that serve a higher purpose, or new uses of hashtags.”

Are You a Manager or a Leader? 5 Key Differences #smallbiz

By Ilya Pozin, LinkedIn


It’s time to face the music as a manager: You don’t always have all of the right answers. Your “it’s my way or the highway” approach to management isn’t going to encourage anyone to help you in your problem solving endeavors.

Managers and leaders are often referred to synonymously, but only leaders allow their employees to solve problems with their own insight. The truth of the matter is this: Every leader may not be a manager, but every manager should be a leader. It’s easy to see that leadership and management aren’t the same thing, but a manager who lacks effective leadership traits will drive a business into the ground faster than you can count to 10.

Change doesn’t happen overnight when it comes to transforming managers into leaders. It takes time and energy to improve the way you manage and utilize more leadership characteristics on a daily basis.

Here are some tips to help you make the necessary improvements:

1. Managers give answers, leaders ask questions. There’s nothing certain to turn your employees against you faster than shouting orders at them. Why not spare yourself the impending resentment and simply ask your employees this: “What would you do?” or “What do you think of this idea?” Allowing people to participate in the decision-making process will not only transform what could have been an order into something more easily swallowed–it also inspires creativity, motivation, and autonomy.

2. Managers criticize mistakes, leaders call attention to mistakes indirectly. It may seem more efficient to point out your employees’ mistakes directly, but this will only leave them feeling embarrassed and frustrated. You should really be giving them the chance to learn and grow from through your critiques. Instead, give your employees the chance to address their mistakes.

For example, say a project was sent to a client and you receive back a disgruntled message. Calmly ask your employee about the clients concern and whether they feel what was provided was on par. This will give them a chance to provide their input, while also improving for the future.

3. Managers forget to praise, leaders reward even the smallest improvement. Praise pays off when it comes to increasing the overall success of your company. Finding time to recognize your employees for even the smallest accomplishment will only increase their interest in what they do. If you’re interested in ensuring your employees take pride in all that they do, regular feedback and recognition is certain to do the trick. Everyone wants to be genuinely appreciated for their efforts.

4. Managers focus on the bad, leaders emphasize the good. This really comes down to seeing the cup half empty or half full. If you’re only willing to point out the flaws of a project or an employee, you’re not giving them much interest in learning or improving. Instead, create a sandwich effect. Start with some form of praise, follow with the criticism, and end with praise.

5. Managers want credit, leaders credit their teams. Managers who lack leadership abilities are always first to take credit. But effective leaders understand the importance of crediting their teams for the big wins. This pays off in the long run for creative a workplace with a more positive company culture and employees who are driven toward more successes as a team.

Management shouldn’t be approach through force, but rather through influence. Put these techniques in place to improve the way your employees perform.

What do you think? Do you ask questions instead of giving answers?

#Branding #BobMarley: @RoMarley Introduces Premium Ready-to-Drink Jamaican Iced Coffee #MarleysOneDrop

Did you know that $1.1 billion worth of ready to drink coffee beverages were sold in 2012? Apparently Rohan Marley and the Marley Family noticed.

Bob Marley’s music and message of peace, love and unity continues to inspire generations. With those same core values in mind, his family created Marley Beverage Company, makers of a wide range of healthy, natural drinks.

Marley Beverage Company recently announced the launch of Marley’s One Drop, a premium ready-to-drink iced coffee made with Jamaican Coffee. Marley’s One Drop is available in three flavors – Original Coffee, Mocha and Vanilla Light. The suggested retail price for one 11 oz. can is US$1.99.

“Jamaican coffee is considered by many to be the world’s finest,” said Rohan Marley, coffee expert, businessman and son of reggae legend Bob Marley. “Our father was a farmer and an entrepreneur as well as a musician, and we’re pleased to deliver the fine taste of Jamaican coffee and our family’s heritage to people everywhere through Marley’s One Drop.”

Marley’s One Drop is a proud supporter of, a public charity created by the Marley family to promote youth, planet and peace. encourages all of us to change the world. With every sip of Marley’s One Drop you help continue Bob Marley’s timeless message. has interviewed Rohan Marley several times as he is also the family lead on their technology side and the House of Marley electronics brand.

According to SymphonyIRI, a consumer packaged goods market research firm, consumption of ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee jumped 6.2 percent in the last year, resulting in sales of $1.1 billion. Starbucks, the major player in the category, currently accounts for approximately 80 percent of the market.

“The ready-to-drink coffee category is dominated by one major brand and we’re thrilled to bring this premium Jamaican alternative to coffee lovers everywhere,” said Kevin McClafferty, President and CEO of Marley Beverages. “Marley’s One Drop is the natural alternative for the coffee connoisseur – and Bob Marley fan – in all of us.”

Can’t wait to see a can of Marley’s One Drop in my local store amidst a shelf of other coffee beverages to see what consumers think and how the market share shifts. Right now you can purchase them on