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What Taylor Swift's Break-Up Means for the Freemium Business Model

Taylor Swift added another famous name to her list of exes – Spotify and its 50 million users. Swift pulled her entire discography from the free music streaming service without any explanation except for a previously written op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which she claims, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.” 

The fact that one of the music industry’s biggest stars disagrees with Spotify’s business model begs the question, “Is Spotify’s business model legitimate? And how can other SaaS companies make the freemium business model work successfully?” 

Defining “Freemium” Services

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Nov 26, 2014 8:30:00 AM

How Musical Equipment Retailers Can Grow Their Business With Inbound; A Sweetwater Perspective

In my last article, I wrote about how other musical equipment retailers should emulate the Sweetwater business model. In particular, it’s their customer engagement and overall experience that makes them so special compared to competitors like Guitar Center. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some room for improvement. There are some inbound marketing tactics that even Sweeetwater could use to increase their web presence and customer acquisition.

These tips can be applicable to any music retailer that creates engaging content. Even though musical equipment retailers like American Musical Supply are creating similar free content such as buyer guides, I chose to use Sweetwater as a real-life example because they already have so much success with their great content that can be further leveraged.

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Nov 25, 2014 8:30:00 AM

8 Proven Tricks to Make Sure Your Emails End Up in Gmail’s Primary Tab


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Nov 25, 2014 6:30:00 AM

Don't ignore the second "S" in SaaS

SaaS has become a—perhaps overused—modern buzzword, but let’s face it – it’s also a go-to-market model. Software-as-a-service, by definition, means that you’re taking a product and selling it as a service. Customers no longer purchase the software the same way that they would purchase a physical asset.

When you sell software under a subscription model, the customer always has the option to cut ties and switch to a different product. The question that this brings up is, “How does this affect the sales process?”

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Nov 24, 2014 7:00:00 AM

How sales software companies can communicate value to buyers quickly

Many technology gurus are taking advantage of the growing need for sales enablement software and developing highly specialized products and solutions that they really do deliver a ton of value to sales teams. Savo is a good example: http://www.savogroup.com/. That being said, these software companies struggle to communicate that value in a way that can be easily understood by the people making the buying decisions.

If you are struggling to get buyers excited about your sales technology product during the first call, here are a couple ways you can sharpen the knife, shorten your pitch, and make it compelling, memorable and value-added.

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Nov 23, 2014 3:19:47 PM

The #1 Inbound Marketing Tip in the World

I have the #1 inboud marketing tip in the entire world. Bold claim, right? Here it is:

Don’t do it.

As an inbound marketing consultant at one of Hubspot’s platinum partner agencies, that’s even bolder – people doing inbound marketing pays my bills. I’m sticking by it, though. If you’re not ready to implement inbound marketing, or you’re not ready to hire someone to do it for you, then your money is better spent on some of the outbound marketing tactics you might already be using.

You might be wondering: “So, what does “being ready” to implement inbound marketing look like?” Here's the answer:

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Nov 20, 2014 7:00:00 AM

Five Common Inbound Marketing Pitfalls that Beginners Encounter

When you read about inbound marketing, you hear a lot about how effective it is. You also hear how, over time, you cost-per-customer-acquisition metric decreases as obtaining customers becomes easier, and cheaper, for you. You also hear about the myriad of case studies where small businesses were able to outperform much larger business with much bigger budgets.

What you don’t hear: how hard inbound marketing is. While you aren’t spending thousands of dollars a month on Google advertising, it does require a big time investment—both in day-to-day marketing activities, as well as frequent research to expand your knowledge and skill set.

Beginners, who are thrusting themselves into the inbound marketing world, can quickly find themselves flying by the seat of their pants and trying to do as much as possible. Unfortunately, jumping into the deep end means that there are some very common pitfalls that inbound marketers encounter when they’re getting started off.

Here are six of the biggest rookie mistakes to watch out for:

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Nov 17, 2014 7:00:00 AM

What Musical Equipment Retailers Can Learn from Sweetwater; An Inbound Perspective

Remember the glory days when Blockbuster dominated the movie rental market? Now, think back to when Netflix entered the playing field and how that affected Blockbuster. In case you missed it, Blockbuster pretty much became non-existent after the new contender came into play.

Guess what? The same concept of online distribution is coming back to haunt brick and mortar stores like Guitar Center, which are failing to compete. The contender that I am particularly interested in is Sweetwater Sound because it is not only a suitable competitor, but in my experience, Sweetwater provides a superior customer experience and engagement over any other musical instrument vendor I’ve dealt with.

This, I believe, is the key to Sweetwater’s success. The experience I’ve had with Sweetwater is similar to that of a local music store, except there are more options to choose from with guaranteed expert advice.

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Nov 12, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Why Click-Through Rate (CTR) is a Useless Marketing Metric


When I worked for a large digital advertising company, the gold standard on which we judged our clients’ campaigns was the click-through rate, CTR for short.

“How is the CTR on that new campaign doing?” was always the first question I was asked in the morning, even before I managed to grab my first cup of coffee.

I couldn’t help but wonder what became of the people who clicked on our display ads. Were they really influencing our clients’ bottom line? At times I began to feel a bit guilty.

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Nov 4, 2014 7:30:00 AM

Marketing Automation + CRM Alignment: Improving Marketing Decisions Based on ROI


What does aligning CRM with Marketing Automation entail?

The alignment between CRM and marketing automation is really about how the two  systems share, report, and evaluate the information they individually gather to improve process in sales and marketing to increase ROI. This can also be referred to as closed loop analytics, which is unified reporting that enables a better prediction of ROI.

The key is to make sure that there is continuity regarding both a prospect experience and information gathering that is seamless between marketing and sales processes. Prompt sharing of pertinent information in both directions is crucial.

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Nov 3, 2014 8:45:00 AM

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