Why does Silicon Valley ignore people based on age?

Go into any creative industry (such as a startup or an advertising agency) and it is absolutely impossible to find anyone over the age of 40.  And yet, in many creative fields, older people completely dominate.

  • Steve Jobs reinvented industries from age 21 thru 56 and the world would agree that he would still be surprising us with his creativity today if he was still with us at age 60
  • Albert Einstein was working on the Manhattan project at age 61
  • Thomas Edison filed for more than 200 patents between 60 to 73.
  • Andy Bechtolsheim was the first investor in Google, age 54
  • The average age of the five Best Director Oscar nominees is 62.
  • The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to Jennifer Egan, age 50
  • The Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded to Bruce Norris, age 52
  • The Noble Prize for Literature went to Tomas Transtromer age 83.
  • The Emmy for Best Comedy went to Modern Family creators Christopher Lloyd, age 52 and Steven Levitan, age 50

And I am sure that NONE of these people would get an investment, or be hired by ANY company in Silicon Valley.  Dan Sheinman (the original investor in VMWare) is one of the only exceptions to the Silicon Valley bias.  He says “Older entrepreneurs are the mother of all undervalued opportunities.

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The latest buzz word in retail is “Clienteling“.  This is where stores are getting their sales associates to proactively communicate with previous customers to inform them of news.  From a customer’s perspective, this means that you will soon be getting “cold calls” from MANY stores in the very near future !!  I’m sure that some stores will do clienteling correctly, but most stores will do client telling.

Here is my definition of the two terms:

Clienteling:  The act of contacting a customer for the purpose of mutual benefit. (two way)

Client Telling: The act of contacting customers to TELL them about irrelevant and trivial info. (one way)

So how should REAL retail clienteling be done correctly ?

1) An honest introduction to the concept – Sales associates need to be honest and inform the customer that their role is being expanded so that they can contact customers directly (if the customer agrees).

2) An introduction to the sales associate -  The sales associate needs to communicate exactly who they are and why they are worthy of being a “point of contact”.  A picture, a short career bio, and some insight into the sales associate’s expertise and personality will make a huge difference when building a relationship.

3) A written statement of benefits – Give the customer an itemized list of the benefits that they would get by participating.   If they are NOT convinced of these benefits in the early stages of communications, they will always view these contacts as annoying.

4) A formal opt-in process – The customer should fill in a form with their preferred method of contact (email, text, phone), and their personal interests (sales, new product introductions, events, etc), and any other requests regarding the associate-customer relationship.

In conclusion, I recommend that EVERY sales associate needs to have their own personal flyer that contains the four elements above.  This is how one starts a professional two-way relationship.

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Mobile Phones Influence Gravity

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OK… bear with me here…  this might get a bit technical, but I think I can explain this in a way so everyone can understand what GRAVITY and MOBILE PHONES have to do with each other !

When a store owner is looking to open a retail store in a particular geographic region, they perform an analysis on the surrounding shopping options to determine how many shoppers will potentially visit the proposed location.  They use a formula called the “GRAVITY MODEL** which calculates the size of the retail area around a specific location based on a comparison of shopping alternatives, driving distance, and population size and demographics.   This analysis identifies a “ring” around any given location where potential shoppers reach their “breaking point” (BP) and make a decision to go to store B instead of store A !

For this example, lets assume that one is evaluating a retail location in a densely populated city with evenly distributed customer demographics.   In this case,  the main factors that get plugged into the “Gravity Model” equation will be:

- Competitors Strength – A popular brand competitor or a larger grouping of stores exert more “pull” and gets consumers to visit from a greater distance.

- Distance to walk / drive – If everything was equal, a consumer will tend to visit the store that is closest.

- Product Offering & Price – Each product type generates it’s own “gravity ring” showing the number of potential buyers in each product category.


Well…   one thing that is NOT mentioned in the existing gravity equation but should be are MOBILE SALES, MARKETING, and SUPPORT APPS.  These APPs are able to put influential store services in the palm of your hand.   This is a strong factor when comparing the attractiveness of “store A” vs “store B”.   Consumers will shop at a store that is further away if it offers superior OUT-OF-HOME services such as better product information, greater convenience, relevant discounts, personalized solutions, and reduced time spent on non-essential tasks.

In my example city (densely populated), it is easy to imagine that adding mobile services might make your “circle of potential customers” grow from 1/2 MILE to 1 MILE.  Calculating the increased area of these circles results in a 400% increase in potential customers !   That is an extremely powerful opportunity for ANY business to increase their revenue.  So…  I rest my case… Mobile phones really do influence gravity (and have a great ROI ).

** The Law of Retail Gravitation, William J Reilly

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I saw an article about individualized targeting of ads and thought to myself… it sure is a fine line between creepy and cool !  But I guess we experience this every day in movies and even rock bands (KISS !)

Is GPS location tracking creepy or cool ?   Is tracking of where you are, what you click on, or what you buy creepy or cool ?   That depends…

A professional consumer survey created by public policy and law experts from Univ. of Penn, and UC Berkeley found that consumers are very concerned about these issues. Some of the conclusions of this survey were:  1) companies must take their privacy policies seriously, 2) consumers must be given the right to object, delete or withdraw information collected, and 3) companies need to show respect for their customers. The entire report can be read here.

So… lets say that location and behavior knowledge technologies are going to be a fact of life.  How can it be done correctly ? What if you could receive the advantages of “location-based services” while keeping FULL CONTROL of your location data ?  Maybe companies will pay you for this info (giving points or discounts) ?   What if you had the ability to communicate your interests and needs to your favorite brands so they send you relevant information and incentives ?   Can you imagine a potential WIN-WIN scenario ?

GeoHelp is forging a path through this field with real alternatives. Our GeoHelp Platform lets customers be anonymous.  We do not share personal data with businesses.  We identify all info as being public or private.  We let customers delete their own community posts at any time, and much more !

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The GeoHelp web site is where customers can safely follow local brick & mortar businesses.  Unlike ALL traditional social / advertising platforms, GeoHelp lets you control your communications, and we do not share your private information.

1) RELEVANT NEWS:   What if you could get information about a new product delivery, or an upcoming sale, or an event discount ?   Or become familiar with the REAL PEOPLE behind the brands that you enjoy.

2) QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: The GeoHelp app lets you get answers to your questions using your mobile phone.   Businesses can answer questions such as “Do you carry Gucci sunglasses?” or “Are Goodyear tires better than Firestone?”.  These real-time questions (and more) from ALL of their customers are visible for you to read.  So a type of business specific “chat session” gives you much more information about that business.

For example:  When you are hungry, you can look at the business’s GeoHelp Community as see questions and answers from many customers.  To ask your own question, just write a text message (or use our voice entry).

To follow a favorite business, just use the Business FOLLOW checkbox !

GeoHelp Business Directory

The GeoHelp by 2du® platform lets you choose EXACTLY what companies you are interested in communicating with (or receiving info and specials from).  The directory is international and can be sorted by name, distance, city, and more.

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New research by the consumer research company Communispace (http://communispace.com) shows that connected consumers want control over the cadence and content of messages sent to their mobile phones. This conclusion is contained within a report entitled “Connecting with the Connected Consumer” which is the exact opposite of what is currently being done by most mobile marketers I know of very few brands that give their customers a way to express their preferences and give them the ability to edit or modify how they are contacted.

Other conclusions in the study were:

1)  Companies MUST respect the privacy of consumers.  Treat people like you would want to be treated.  Instead of YOU tracking your customers, why not enable customers to track you!
2)  Offer something of value - Mobile consumers are ready and waiting for contact with familiar brands on mobile devices; awareness and willingness is there, but few brands have cracked the code for providing consistent value via mobile technologies.
3)  Hand over the reins – Mobile users want control over when, where, how, and how often they interact with brands on mobile platforms — the more personalized, the better.
4) Create custom, relevant experiences – Untargeted and irrelevant content will be shunned by mobile consumers. Specialized, personalized and exclusive rewards suggest an aptitude for giving customers what they need and want.

As a part of our GeoHelp Platform, we included a USER PORTAL FOR EVERY CUSTOMER so  everyone can control how they are contacted, and when it is ok to contact them.  Our system gives businesses the ability to send relevant information and rewards IMMEDIATELY to customers at the exact time when they want to engage.   Perhaps adding customer control portals might be the secret to creating a lasting relationship with your connected “followers” ?

Click here to read the full study.

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If you are a retailer considering a move into mobile marketing, or you’re a marketer trying to nudge that retailer, you may be battling a perception that MM is the equivalent of that obnoxious telemarketing call that happens precisely when your family sits down to dinner.  Won’t people get tired of your message program…like, quickly?

The answer is yes…if you’re obnoxious about it.  But, what does that mean, exactly?  How much is too much?  Are there any standards to go by?   Actually, there are, as provided by the Mobile Marketing Association.

The six “C”s of an Ethical Mobile Marketing Program

These correct way to do mobile marketing is to offer customers:

  • Choice - Your consumer has a right to privacy, and must first “opt-in” to a mobile marketing program.
  • Control - Consumers should have control of when and how they receive your message, and be able to easily terminate or “opt-out” when they choose.
  • Customization - You should tailor your message to reflect the data and preferences supplied by your consumer. This results in more useful messages and less spam!
  • Consideration – You should offer your consumer something of perceived value in return for receiving your message.
  • Constraint – You must manage and limit mobile messaging to a reasonable number of programs.
  • Confidentiality – You shouldn’t share consumer information with non-affiliated third parties.

In the end, these six “C”s boil down to one thing…  treating your customers with respect.  It takes talent to strike the balance between a prominent, effective message…and obnoxiousness.  At 2du, there were a LOT of design decisions that went into trying to protect the concept of the six “C”s…  we are trying our best.

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How does one turn good ideas into successful corporations ?  A large number of entrepreneurs start this path every year and become a significant percentage of the world economy.  The existence of entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson are known, but do people really understand what they accomplished ?  Does the “man on the street” really realize what it takes to go from working 20 hour days in a garage (surrounded by old pizza boxes) to being the richest man in the world ?  Their riches were not due to ancestry, they were not due to conquest, they were not because they owned natural resources.  This great wealth was due to the creation and execution of a GOOD IDEA !

Note the sentence above… creation and EXECUTION.    Executing on an idea requires that you first create a vision of the future What is your goal ?   How big will your company be ?  What markets will you be in ?  What problem categories will you be solving ? What environmental factors will be affecting your business in the future?  This vision should not be a straight-jacket though…  this is based on information that you have right now… as you get more information, your vision can change…  but at ALL TIMES, you must know what the end game is or you don’t know what steps are needed to get there.

With my 2du company, I have a pretty aggressive “vision”.  The reason that I think this is attainable is primarily due to my opinions concerning the future of new media technologies.   I think we are in the first phase of a “perfect storm” where a combination of events are going to dramatically change the way that businesses communicate and create value for their customers.   Radical changes are happening all around us… sales, marketing, and support techniques, the ways that we pay for goods and services, the visibility and power of individual opinion, and more…  all of these are being enabled by NEW MEDIA technologies.  I think this is a business tsunami that will effect ALL business (world-wide) !  This is NOT a niche, this is ALL business (world-wide).  Think about it… I can’t even say what that dollar value is or people will just roll their eyes !    I really do believe that new media technologies will be purchased and integrated into EVERY business in the coming years.  The NEW MEDIA opportunity is one of those situations like the early days of electricity…   very few people have it and EVERYONE needs to be connected !  

As long as we  execute our WIN-WIN ideas…    well….   I better get back to work !!

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Browsing through the RSS feeds today and I see an article about a “press court” ruling in UK…  it seems that an employee of the Department of Transport made some comments about “not liking her job” and she was “nursing a hangover” at work…  well… it is not unusual to hear these things in face-to-face conversations but when they are on twitter it just might be tomorrow’s headline !

“Worker Confession – Trains are unsafe !”   could have been the headline from those “minor comments” in a public social medium.   Well, that doesn’t sound fair, isn’t there some way to stop journalists from using your tweets in their stories ?  “I was just tweeting to my followers” sounds like a good defense in court, but this “press court” in UK made the following ruling:

“In reaching its decision on the case, the Commission judged that the publicly accessible nature of the information was a “key consideration”. It was quite clear that the potential audience for the information was actually much larger than the 700 people who followed the complainant directly, not least because any message could easily be retweeted to a wider audience.”

To her credit, she had included a clear disclaimer on her Twitter feed that the views expressed there were personal, and were not representative of her employer but the court still ruled that one can reasonably assume that this information will become public !   Ahhh…  reminds me of the wiki-leaks case as well !

So in conclusion, if you are in a PUBLIC FORUM then you are speaking PUBLICLY.  Your only alternative is to participate in a forum that both implements technical security measures and  states that the purpose of your account is to conduct PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS with followers.    These exist !

Click here to read the entire PCC ruling article.


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I was reading a study by “Marketing Sherpa“  which gives a lot of details about how Businesses are using new media technologies such as blogs, social networks, multimedia, and more.  Since GeoHelp uses a Real-time Business/Customer microblog, it jumped out at me that they found that microblogging was judged as “most effective for the least effort” new media technology for businesses… very interesting !

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