Max and the Importance of Memorable Storytelling

A story: I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was 20 years old, cutting lawns on Cape Cod for a summer job with a college buddy.  It was 92 degrees in the shade, with the mid-day sun beating down we still had about a half-acre of Mr. Berman’s backyard grass still to mow.  My lawnmower sputtered to an unceremonious stop—and after unscrewing the knob at the machine’s base, I realized the gas tank had run dry.   I hurriedly refilled the mower with gasoline, over pouring the small tank a bit. Then it happened.  Mr. Berman’s cat, a small grey tabby named Max, somehow had escaped from the house and was licking the side of my lawn mower where I spilled the gas.  Max slurped at the mower for a while before I could stop him.  He pulled away from the mower and shifted into a faster gear than I had ever seen a cat run. Max sprinted up and down and across Mr. Berman’s property in a frenzied path that resembled a pattern a child using an Etch A Sketch toy would draw. He circled the house a few times, taunting us to chase, then came to an abrupt stop yards away.  Max took off before we could grab him, scooted up the trellis on the side of the house, scampered over the porch, then proceeded to make his way to the highest point of the roof.  He surveyed the chimney, glanced down at my friend, and me and decided to shimmy up the outside of the brick chimney to the very top. Max looked, pondered and waited.  Then he jumped…

Storytelling has been around forever in verbal and visual form.  We’ve all heard that it started with the cavemen who told of the dangers of mountain lions and bragged about their hunting conquests to their fellow dwellers.   And we learned in grade school of the ancient Egyptians using hieroglyphics to graphically chronicle the highlights of the era.  Today storytelling has evolved and the tools we use to share our tales are more sophisticated.  But the reasons why we tell the stories we tell are still very much the same.  We share our adventures, triumphs and tribulations to entertain others, to teach and to pass along our legacy.

From small start-ups to fortune 500 corporations, the importance of brand and business story telling is equally essential. Well-crafted business stories take shape in written, graphic and video forms. They are integrated across company presentations to customers, internal meetings for employees, landing pages on websites, copy on sides of packages and videos on social media platforms.  Stories help internal (employees) and external (customers) audiences formulate a response or reaction.   Corporate tales should be woven into the fabric of the company and answer among many questions, Why did the business get started?  What challenges had to be overcome? How did the passion of the founder guide the direction of the organization?  How and where is the product made? What is the problem or challenge that the entrepreneur was trying to solve?  Why does it matter that the product is produced?

As Paul Zak, professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University wrote for the Harvard Business Review , business stories “make information persuasive and memorable.”   Zak studies brain activity and neural reactions and adds, “scientific work is putting a much finer point on just how stories change our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.”   There are many benefits to effective business storytelling:

  • Creates an emotional connection with customers and internal staff
  • Provides the essence of the product, brand and founder
  • More effective than boring bullet points on a power point presentation
  • Differentiates you from the competition
  • Makes for good content marketing (and isn’t a sales pitch)
  • Humans remember stories

Personal, informative and memorable stories are critical in this environment where our attention span is measured in seconds.  The well-told tale is invaluable in setting a strategic path, acquiring talent, building customer awareness, creating avid followers and ultimately making a sale!

And every good story has a beginning, middle and end….What happened to Max you might ask?  Did he fall to his demise?  No….He just ran out of gas!

About the Author

Matthew Golding

Matthew Golding is the principal and founder of GCI Marketing and partners with InSightPicture to develop memorable brand stories.

4 Building Blocks for Digital Marketing Success

We’ve talked about sales funnels for years: prospects arrive at the top of the funnel, we sprinkle magic sales dust on them, and they proceed out the bottom of the funnel and become clients. Simple, right? Wrong. With the staggering amount of marketing we encounter (between 300 and 700 marketing messages per day), it’s hard to get anyone to SEE the funnel, let alone read our material. And without those getting the audience in and having them pay attention, online marketing and sales are dead on arrival. You may have read about AIDA, an acronym for Attention – Interest – Decision – Action. AIDA represents the four building blocks of website success. Here’s how you can use AIDA to grow your revenue.

1. Building Block of Digital Marketing Success: Attention

Without website visitors, you cannot easily sell anything online. Traffic is essential, and it’s not easy to generate. You can try a number of traffic building techniques. Do you have a newsletter? Do you publish articles regularly to your blog? Do you run online pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns? Do you drive website traffic with your social media accounts? Even if you’re doing all these things and your content (or your product) sucks, you won’t get traffic. Even if you do those things once or twice, you won’t build substantial traffic. You must REGULARLY offer HIGH QUALITY content to build website traffic.

Our agency sees it all the time. We see sites that publish one blog post and disappear, and their web traffic reports are flat. We see companies that put out mediocre or weak content regularly in newsletters and blog posts, and their web traffic charts are flat. Conversely, we work with clients that publish great content every week, and their web traffic charts go “up and to the right”. Why does it work? Because Google and other search engines reward sites that publish, promote and update content regularly. You cannot set it and forget it.

If you pay for traffic, which is sometimes essential to get the ball rolling, you need something good when the prospect arrives at your door. We recommend that you create some good “top of funnel” (TOFU) offers, like free checklists, white papers or how-to videos. We may be getting ahead of ourselves (offers are more a part of Interest), but it’s worth noting that your attention devices must have a correlation to what you offer next. For example, if you run a pay-per-click ad for $500 off, the landing page that the visitor arrives on must start with that offer.

2. Building Block of Digital Marketing Success: Interest

It’s super challenging to get attention and keep it. Headlines matter. Your first sentence matters. Images matter. Your offer has to be interesting. You have to connect to some emotion, or…SQUIRREL! Visitors bounce. Let’s look at a sample of a landing page, with before and after views, to see what works.


Landing Page Example A

Landing Page Example A

Landing Page Example B

Landing Page Example B

Can you see the differences between Landing Page A and Landing Page B? Which design would you be more likely to trust and pursue?


Landing Page Example A

3. Building Blocks of Digital Marketing Success: Desire

At the next stage, a website visitor has a choice to make, largely driven by desire. Do I keep reading or do I bounce? The decision is typically based on an emotional appeal. At the core of creating desire is trust – if your visual cues indicate your business proposition is valid, you may have earned enough trust for the visitor to continue. How can you build trust like that? How about using trust symbols like awards, ratings, logos, testimonials and case studies featuring your clients?

Desire is also impacted by your offer. We recommend using small offers at the top of the sales funnel. If they are relevant and good, downloadable checklists, case studies, special reports and educational materials are ideal – capture an email address in exchange for something small but useful. It’s difficult to get someone to sign up for a 30 minute consultation or a 20 minute demo if you haven’t established enough trust, so split the ask into a smaller stepping stone. If your material is good, you’ll earn more credibility. Then you can begin nurturing the leads you get with bigger offers, such as that 20 minute demo.

4. Building Blocks of Digital Marketing Success: Action

Your ‘Call to Action” (CTA) is absolutely critical. Every page on your website should be designed around a specific CTA, whether it’s downloading material, subscribing to your newsletter or calling to learn more. We recommend using one and ONLY one CTA on a page. If you offer three or four choices, the visitor will probably skip over them all. It’s also advisable to show the same offer more than once on the page to ensure the visitor sees it. Most online marketing specialists suggest that the CTA should be clearly marked and illustrate the benefit of choosing the action.

Which CTA do you think will be more effective?

CTA Button Example A

CTA Button Example A


CTA Button Example B

CTA Button Example B


Testing the 4 Building Blocks of Digital Marketing Success

Success is a fickle beast. Online marketing fads come and go – what works today may not work as well next fall. You should monitor your online marketing metrics regularly to determine if your techniques are effective. You can set up Google Analytics for free, and with a little help from your website developer, you can monitor how well your pages perform.

You should also test variations of your AIDA tools – traffic should grow over time and ultimately deliver more revenue. If traffic or conversions are flat, you’re overdue to test and make changes. When we ask questions like “which do you think is better?”, it’s completely subjective. Testing will prove or disprove your hypotheses. Then you can truly know about digital marketing success.

About the Author

SBEC Director of IT: Scott HerringScott Herring is the SBEC’s Director of IT. He has been a software developer for almost 30 years and is a serial entrepreneur. Scott is currently focused on his digital agency Twisted Puppy, helping small to mid-sized businesses grow using ultramodern online marketing techniques.You can find out more about Scott’s business on his company website.

Ready Capital: A Look at Equity Crowdfunding via the JOBS Act

In the December 2016 & February 2017 issues of Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine, SBEC mentor and board member Mark Hiraide wrote about the potential impact of the addition of equity crowdfunding to the JOBS Act. He shares it here with SBEC entrepreneurs…

While the JOBS Act makes it possible for nearly anyone to raise venture capital, it also raises the stakes for business attorneys as gatekeepers. Opening up unprecedented investment opportunities, the JOBS Act’s lack of registration also engenders potential risks…

The final stages of a major shift in federal securities laws took place in May 2016 when entrepreneurs and companies gained unprecedented access to capital. For the first time in the history of federal securities regulation in the United States, businesses may raise capital from the general public without registering a securities offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission and state securities regulators. This expansion of the funding universe is due to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012,1 designed to spur job creation by easing regulations governing “private” securities offerings to help early-stage companies grow. The JOBS Act removed previous restrictions on advertising securities offerings. Under the new law it is significantly easier for entrepreneurial clients to fund their ventures using other people’s money (OPM). However, lawyers must remain vigilant as regulators view lawyers as the gatekeepers who will fill in the regulatory void.

Ready Captital: Mark Hiraide on Crowdfunding

Branding Strategy Success: X Marks the Spot

Branding Strategy Success: X Marks the Spot

“X” is the spot only your brand occupies: it stands alone in terms of what you provide and to whom.

Before you start a new business or  or decide your current business needs a makeover and re-branding, it’s imperative to define your brand. Clearly being able to describe your brand, in words in visuals, so that others easily understand (and can tell others!) what your business does. Here is a simple branding strategy that will help you brand or re-brand your business.

Keep in mind that re-branding shouldn’t just be about a new logo; it’s really about a new way of doing business.

Before you brand your business, you should first determine why your business exists (its purpose on the planet) and how it can stand apart from other businesses in your same space…a.k.a. the competition.

If you don’t stand apart, you are a commodity and your only differentiator is price.

Step 1 – Develop a Branding Strategy:

  • How are you going to approach branding?
  • Who’s in charge of the branding initiative?
  • Will you hire a consultant, graphic designer, copywriter, brand strategist?
  • What’s your timeline?
  • Do you have a budget?

Step 2 – “Decipher” Your Brand:

A Mission Statement:  in 100 words or less, says Who you are, What you do, Whom you do it for, Why you do it, Where you do it and most of all:  What’s your BIG IDEA? What do you do that no one else does? Why should they buy from you instead of someone else? This is also known as the differentiator. Your Mission Statement will be the “touchstone” for your business – use it as a guide to decide what work to pursue; what projects to take (and what projects not to take); all to keep the strength of your brand.

A Vision Statement – the sky’s the limit: an in-house document that describes where you’ll be in 1, 3, 5 or 10 years. How you’ll get there. How big is your staff? Where are you located? Do you want to sell your business? This document can evolve but it is Your Destination Roadmap.

A Value Statement – “the Guiding Principles” or “core beliefs” of your business (many companies want to buy from those with shared values). Words like sustainability, diversity, creativity, excellence, community, innovation, etc. are found in value statements.

Positioning works hand-in-hand with branding.

Step 3 – Your Positioning Statement sets out:

  • What Product or Service you offer
  • Who Your Ideal Client is (client profile) –  Know your audience before you ever begin to market!
  • What Benefits you offer those that work with you
  • What Needs your ideal client has

Brand positioning is crucial: clearly describe your product or service, define your ideal client and their needs and wants and finally, highlight the benefits of working with your company. Where those four factors intersect is at what’s called your “brand essence.”  Once you’ve determined your brand essence or “truth,” you can incorporate visuals, written content, testimonials, case studies and FAQ pages to convey the personality of your business, your industry knowledge and expertise and showcase your product or service solutions.

Spending the time on developing and executing branding strategy pays off in greater brand recognition, memorability and effectiveness. Definitely time well spent.

This article originally appeared on


Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based branding and marketing expert. She is the author of The Cure for Blogophobia: How to Easily Create, Publish & Promote Your Business Blog.

Certificate in the Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship Program

You can learn Entrepreneurship. In the Certificate in the Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship program at California State University-Dominguez Hills, students will have the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills to assist in the development of a start-ups or existing businesses. The cornerstones of the program are learning, applying, engaging, and inspiring.

The certificate is offered jointly by the South Bay Entrepreneurial Center (SBEC) and CSUDH College of Extended and International Education (CEIE). The pgoram is open to everyone. Participants will receive inspiration from successful, practicing SBEC mentor entrepreneurs and existing California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) faculty members who are passionate about teaching and mentoring.

You can learn more on the registration website.

SBEC Pitch Night (August 2016)

SBEC Pitch Night was another fun, inspiring and interactive meeting of entrepreneurial minds. After a brief introduction from Executive Director Gary Polk and Lead Mentor Mike Manahan, the pitches began. All three companies showcased are currently working within the SBEC cohort program. First, Alina Ugas, co-founder of The Final Step, shared her vision for their program called The Needs Based Method. Next up, Annie Vonheim, the Chief Juicer at Smart Pressed Juice, dazzled the audience with the company’s plan for dominating the juice and cleanse market. And closing the evening was the charismatic Lonnie Wade, who explained how Eat Better Today can bring healthier, affordable meals to EBT cardholders.

Pitch Night is a friendly environment for companies wanting to improve their presentation skills and potentially raise capital (you never know who is sitting in the audience!). Those in attendance offer feedback on the presenters and presentation – and on this evening, the three pitches were outstanding.

Online Marketing: Mapping Your Customer Journey

If you want to build a business, you won’t go far with a bad product, poor customer service or a negative customer experience. To get your brand off on the right foot, we start with two critical pieces: customer personas and mapping your customer journey. A customer journey is comprised of a number of elements, including your product/service positioning, offers and tactics used to engage customers.

“Mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”
Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks

In 1996, Michael Shrage of MIT famously described “Provices and Serducts” as an emerging trend. The blending of product and service is essentially creation of a more engaging customer experience. If you sell a product, it better be perfect, because the moment there’s trouble, the customer wants service! If you sell a service, you’ll have longer-lasting relationships if you also have some form of anchoring product (otherwise you’re dispensable at the drop of a hat).

Regardless of your business model, you should strongly consider mapping your customer journey. It can help you find snags in customer experience, smooth out rough spots in your sales or service processes and ultimately lead to lower costs and higher revenue.

How to Start Mapping Your Customer Journey: Research

If you’ve been in business a while, you may not even know what your processes are anymore. You may have changed personnel, updated offerings or winged it all along. You should review how everything works from start to “finish” with your marketing, sales and fulfillment. How? Interview your staff, take notes, draw diagrams, take customer surveys and collect documentation. Research is a key building block, and it doesn’t have to take a great deal of time. Get the basics and delegate to individuals responsible where you can. The Customer Journey Map below should guide your research.

A Key Element to Understand: Voice/Tone

You may think you have a brand represented as “light and happy”. Your research should unearth the reality. If customer surveys indicate it’s “dark and dreary”, you may want to move into the core mapping exercise with an eye toward instilling the right brand message. Your company voice plays out at every step on the journey. What story do you want your customers to hear? Note, internal messages matter too – what employees say to one another also matters. You’ll want to reduce friction wherever it appears.

SBEC Blog: Mapping Your Customer Journey

Drawing the Map

Customer Expectations

A customer wants to interact with your company with ease. For example, on your website, they want to find information easily and understand what you do and why you’re a credible source. If it’s at an in-person event, they’ll want access to useful information and a helpful staff member. As they engage further with you, they’ll want more evidence that your offering is a reasonable value – where price and product intersect. Proof may come from a number of sources, from data sheets to social proof. The more you can provide evidence with ease, the more you meet customer expectations.

Buying Process

The key steps in the buying process are Thinking About, Exploring, Understanding, Getting Assurance, Decision/Purchase, Post-Purchase (which could actually be its own map). You’ll fill in elements for each step based on the next few items. These stages of your funnel(s) should be easy to divide.


What is the customer feeling at each step of the buying process? Curiosity, fear, anger? Your goal is to make it happy!

Customer Goals

What is the customer trying to do? What do they need to make a decision to continue to the next step?

Touchpoints & Emotional Response

Describe the interaction, whether internal or external. What is the event (website visit, phone call, download, order processing)? What does the customer want and get? We like to color-code (red, yellow, green) to convey the emotion of the customer. Are they mad? Red. Are they happy? Green. The less red and more green the better.

Customer Thoughts

Empathy is critical in mapping your customer journey, and the kinds of questions you anticipate are essential to a solid customer experience. We prefer to ask sales teams directly what questions they get (like FAQs). It is amazing what you can learn from the trenches: if your persona is right, if your messaging is right, if your collateral is sufficient. Look at emails or explore notes from phone calls. They all tell a story of the customer’s buying process.

Ideas to Improve

What can you add, change or remove to turn emotional response reds to yellows or yellows to greens? Is it a new document? Is it a change to the product? Is it an improvement to your process? Make a checklist and prioritize it. The more you can reduce friction, the faster your customer experience will improve.

Tools for Mapping Your Customer Journey

One size does not fit all, but we’ll share our template (100kb zip PowerPoint file) as a starting point. You can also check out some of our additional reading to find in-depth research and tactics from industry experts. Mark Cuban once said, “Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.” Mapping your customer journey can help do just that.

Jeff Bezos went one step further when he said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Has Amazon done that? Apparently they’re crushing it, based on today’s $350 billion market cap, making Amazon a top 10 company worldwide.

Take a look at mapping your customer journey. You may not own the Dallas Mavericks or be a huge international company, but you can probably streamline your flow, reduce friction and convert more business if you try.


This article first appeared on the Twisted Puppy blog.


About the Author

SBEC Director of IT: Scott HerringScott Herring is the SBEC’s Director of IT. He has been a software developer for almost 30 years and is a serial entrepreneur. Scott is currently focused on his digital agency Twisted Puppy, helping small to mid-sized businesses grow using ultramodern online marketing techniques.You can find out more about Scott’s business on his company website.

Scott will share practical insights for creating a solid foundation (strategy, tactics, metrics) for your online marketing at the SBEC Friends of the Center Networking Luncheon on August 24, 2016.

Recipe for Great Customer Experiences

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Sam Walton

One of the keys to longevity for any business is repeatedly providing a good (or better yet, great) customer experience. Without customers, businesses fail – finding and engaging customers is lifeblood. Perhaps one of the greatest masters of customer experience, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame, said, “The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.” Sounds reasonable? Well it isn’t so easy to implement, so we’ll dig into it deeper and share our recipe for great customer experiences.

What is Customer Experience?

So that we have a clear idea of the goal, Customer Experience (sometimes abbreviated as CX) is where your customers’ desires intersect with the services you deliver.

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.”
Steve Jobs

One component of customer experience is customer service, which is what most customers associate to customer experience. Customer service typically involves an exchange with a company representative via email, chat, phone or in person. In the exchange, the representative has the opportunity to deliver excellent customer service and a memorable customer experience. But your business may have numerous touchpoints, from online conversations to phone calls to trade shows. Any place you interact with a customer contributes to that customer’s feeling about your business.

Why Does Customer Experience Matter?

In a nutshell, your service is your brand. A product or service only has to be 10% better than a competitor’s to generate 50% more sales and 100% more profit.

When you think of Four Seasons Hotels, you probably associate the brand with ultra-comfortable accommodations and four-star service. Contrast that with Motel 6, where your customer experience is no-frills but inexpensive. Expectations of customer experience are set in advance.

What you believe about customer experience may conflict with reality. A couple of years ago, Bain & Co. surveyed 362 leading companies, finding that 80% of those companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience. In reality, only 8% of their customers agree. Your actions speak louder than your words.

Recipe for Great Customer Experiences

Now that we have a better understanding of what customer experience is and why it matters, we can look at ways to improve our delivery. Here are some key ideas to consider.

  • Define your ideal customer personas

    We start with personas, which are fictional characters based on real customers (or desired customers). We typically write them up in short (1-2 page) documents. A good persona creates a narrative that describes their skills, attitudes, environment and goals. Having a persona document creates a foundation for mapping your planned customer experience and the language you want to speak to engage ideal customers.

  • Map your “normal” customer journey


    Where do you interact (visibly) with customers? Where do your employees interact with each other (e.g., handoffs) that affects the customer? Each touchpoint offers the opportunity to be successful (or not) in engaging customers. Factor in your website, social media, telephone calls, in-person meetings, advertising and other transaction points. Drilling down, for example, on your website, are the pathways to the most common tasks obvious?


    What would you expect to be the customer mood at each stage? Curious? Nervous? Mad? Happy? Like obstacles, setting up the challenges helps you manage the flow.


    It’s useful to document potential obstacles. For example, if you’re selling an expensive product, “trust” may be an obstacle, or if you’re selling flowers, “timeliness” may be a challenge. Knowing the hurdles will help you reduce friction during the customer journey. To overcome them, you could offer a money-back guarantee or provide testimonials about how great your products are.

    Visible & Internal Interactions

    Some touchpoints are visible, but others are not. For example, accounting sending an invoice or products being shipped are not entirely an interaction, but they affect customer experience greatly (e.g., what if the invoice is incorrect?). Mark touchpoints with their visibility.

Create Goals and Track Applicable Metrics

Getting things right at each customer touchpoint requires an adaptive, iterative approach. What works today may not work tomorrow, and one customer’s satisfactory is another customer’s unacceptable.

We’re proponents of capturing, measuring and analyzing data at each customer interaction, preferably from the start. Whether you are with an individual, small business, large corporation or multinational operation, chances are good that you can improve customer experience. You’re probably engaging customers through direct mail, phone calls, in-person meetings, your website and social media, which provides a checklist for measurement areas. You need to add in feedback loops to know what customers like or dislike.

  • What systems capture data?

    If you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, there are certainly reports you can tap to measure performance, such as leads captured, contacted and closed. Your website should have analytics baked into every page so you can track online performance. You may have other customer support systems, like help desks or return authorization tickets.

  • Is there a scorecard?

    Chances are you collect a great deal of data, but many companies do nothing with it. You should consider having a dashboard or reports that make it easy to understand what is happening. It’s a great idea to have varying levels of detail (high to low) for those who need to examine them. For example, the CEO needs high level information to make decisions, but frontline employees may need to know specific details.


Implementing Customer Experience Plans

Customer experience is best viewed as a continuous feedback loop. Set your plan, measure what’s happening, review the metrics, and adjust accordingly.

  • Set expectations with your customer (messaging)

    Before you ever officially interact with your customers, you’re creating the customer journey. Through your advertising, public relations and social media, customers develop an impression. That notion gets accentuated with any prior experience, word of mouth or events where they interact with your business.

  • Be consistent

    Be “Steady Eddy” with your customer experience practices. If one employee does things one way and others use their own philosophy, customers will feel it. It starts with your company’s culture and relies on regular internal communication.

  • Respond to mistakes

    Stuff happens. Own it. Respond with compassion and you can turn it around. It can actually work in your favor to do something unexpected and appropriate to a mistake.

  • How can you maximize good experiences? How do you communicate successes?

    Do more of what works! Let your team know that certain items are having positive impact so they can re-purpose ideas in other areas. For example, marketing sent a reminder email before a trade show that brought in many new visitors. Why? Find out and share.

  • How can you minimize bad experiences? How do you communicate problems?

    Fix issues as soon as possible and do less of what hurts customer experience. Share problems with your team (don’t blame, just explain). For example, shipping took longer than expected, which turned out because the order wasn’t processed before a holiday. How can you adjust to avoid this happening next time? Seek input and share ideas.

  • How can you reduce friction?

    If you can make it look easy, your customers will rave about you. Four Seasons Hotels keep a dossier on guests, and when they return, they use it to make the stay better, without anyone asking.

Customer Experience Is About Satisfaction

The result is either customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction (or ambivalence…). With metrics in place, adjustments can be made. In the past decade, the company that has “written the book” (literally) on customer experience is Zappos. The online retailer’s dedication to creating “wow” experiences has impacted many industries by showing what is possible. Their reputation sets a high expectation, and simply stated, they’re magnificent at each touchpoint in their customer journey. They measure, communicate, iterate and, as a result, prosper because of their CX. You can implement a recipe for customer experience that does that too.

About the Author

SBEC Director of IT: Scott HerringScott Herring is the SBEC’s Director of IT. He has been a software developer for almost 30 years and is a serial entrepreneur. Scott is currently focused on his digital agency Twisted Puppy, helping small to mid-sized businesses grow using ultramodern online marketing techniques.You can find out more about Scott’s business on his company website.

SBEC Crowdfunding Trends in 2016 Breakfast Event Panel (Part 1 of 2)

The South Bay Entrepreneurial Center in Torrance, California presented “Crowdfunding Trends in 2016” on May 15, 2016 at the Toyota Auto Museum. Topics included new legislation around crowdfunding (JOBS Act), what entrepreneurs have learned from past campaigns and more about service providers in crowdfunding.

MODERATOR: Mark Hiraide
SBEC board member Mark Hiraide is a Corporate and Securities Partner with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. Mark represents companies listed on national stock exchanges and privately held businesses and defends individual officers and directors in corporate and securities law matters. During his 30-year career, Mark worked as an attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement and Division of Corporation Finance and as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. In private practice he has handled both courtroom litigation and business transactions representing entrepreneurs, startups, publicly traded companies, directors and officers, broker-dealers, investment bankers, investment advisers, accountants and investors. He is an authority on the federal JOBS Act, having testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee evaluating the law designed to help startups raise money. He is the author of a book on crowdfunding just published by Thomson Reuters. And he is working with the California Legislature to pass a state crowdfunding law he drafted


James Lin
James is a co-founder of SBEC cohort company ZenMount. Having been struck by an idea for a tablet holder, James sought out and worked with local product designer Matther Tarnay to transform the abstract idea into a working prototype, initially using Kickstarter funding. ZenMount designs and manufactures device mounting systems for tech gadgets such as tablet, smartphone, and e-readers. Their “Origin” product is the first tablet mount with Simul-LockTM , which makes it easy to use and infinitely adjustable.

Taylor McPartland
In 2010, Taylor, a Northern California native, co-founded CrowdfundX, a leading crowdfunding agency which has leveraged crowdfunding technology, as well as the implementation of the JOBS Act, to raise funds for innovative organizations ranging from automobiles (such as Elio Motors) to non-profits. Assuming an advisory role in the company in 2015, Taylor refocused his energy on evangelizing the benefits of crowdfunding and how its strategies can be applied at local, state, and federal levels. Most recently, Taylor founded the Lincoln Federation, an organization focused on bringing together Los Angeles entrepreneurs with elected officials to collectively create positive change for a sustainable future.

Allen Jebsen
Allen is the Director of Business Development at StartEngine, the premier equity crowdfunding platform, connecting Millennials and aspiring investors with tomorrow’s progressive companies. StartEngine aims to revolutionize the startup business model by helping individuals invest in private companies on a public platform for the first time in history, thereby helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.

Dean Quiambao, CPA
Dean, a Partner at Armanino LLP helps numerous private companies, as well as private schools and social service, performing/fine arts and faith-based organizations address their tax, audit and outsourced accounting needs. Boards and finance and audit committees appreciate his laser focus on bringing to life the audit items that matter most, including his proven method of benchmarking data and key financial operating ratios.

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