New Jersey Backing Up Angel Investors

New Jersey has a new economic development program that guarantees up to 1/3 of the investments made by angel investors in startup companies. More details here. Members of the Jumpstart angel investing network (a pretty forward looking group) are the first to receive this government guarantee, for a $285,000 investment in software company Knowtions. Interesting concept.

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Grow Traffic by Syndicating Blogs

One of the fastest ways to build a high-traffic revenue-generating content-based web site is to get permission from hundreds of bloggers to syndicate their blog. Most bloggers write for the love of it, more than for money. So companies that syndicate have a great opportunity to pick up a lot of traffic at no cost to them.

I’ve been syndicated recently by a blog network called The Money Blogs, and they’ve asked me to link to them, so I am.

I used to be syndicated by GoBigNetwork also, but I’m not sure they switched to my new RSS feed.

I wanted to be syndicated by another blogging network, but they asked me not to blog about certain topics, and I wasn’t willing to do any extra work to get more syndication. I blog what I blog when I blog it. Don’t have time for extra work.

World Vital Records will be aggregating some great genealogy blogs, so you can see that I believe in this strategy. I think it can be a great internet marketing tactic, since content drives traffic and blog content can be aggregated at little or no cost.

Blog on.

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Ancestry Ups Affiliate Commissions

I just got an email from Ancestry announcing new affiliate commission and better support for affiliates starting on August 1st. The new commissions include 5 tiers and get top affiliates up to 50% commissions. Plus, the call center now has a way to track phone calls and credit affiliates for generating the calls.

This is probably the best marketing move I have seen make in the past few years. This should really motivate the top affiliates. Years ago, when I was running all the online marketing, our affiliate channel was our biggest channel and our lowest cost source of new customers. Rewarding affiliate partners with better commissions and credit for phone orders is a very good move.

Kudos to whomever championed this change in affiliate commissions!

(I hope some of the top Ancestry affiliates will comment on the changes…)

(Note: Although I founded and and initiated affiliate marketing there, I am currently not affiliated with in any official role, and my opinions are simply private thoughts.)

While I’m blogging about MyFamily (for the first time in a long time), I might as well mention that I found it very interesting that the Seattle office is trying to hire Web 2.0 engineers for a long-overdue MyFamily site redesign. At a recent family reunion I fielded all kinds of complaints from relatives who are having problems with the current site (which really hasn’t changed much in five years.) I get pretty excited when I think about what could be doing with this property. It’s going to be exciting to watch. Seattle is also looking for a marketing director (for this property) that also has affiliate marketing experience. I tried to spearhead the launch of an affiliate program for more than five years ago, but it never got a high priority from the company.

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Microsoft Considers Moving HQ to Utah

Okay, not really…

But in a big vote of confidence for all of us Utah guys, here’s the real news. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be the keynote speaker at the October 27th Utah Technology Council Hall of Fame dinner at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. I didn’t believe the email I got until I confirmed the truth of this in the Deseret News article.

This UTC Hall of Fame dinner is my favorite event in Utah every year. This one will be especially exciting, especially if Ballmer gives a rousing keynote. (He’s a great performer, from what I’ve seen on TV and some web videos of him.)

I’m totally stoked for this event, can’t wait to see Steve Ballmer in person, and I’ll definitely put this on my calendar right now.

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Getting Offline PR

I’ve been doing internet marketing so long that sometimes I forget about all the pre-internet marketing possibilities that exist to help companies grow. I started a Library Science Masters Degree at BYU before dropping out to run Infobases. I used to have dozens of extremely valuable reference books in the BYU library that helped me with direct marketing, public relations, and media planning/advertising. So I’ve been digging in my 1990s knowledge base to see what sources I can draw from now to help promote a new product.

I rediscovered one of my favorite sources — the Gebbie Directory by Gebbie Press. It’s a low cost directory for small businesses who want to do their own PR.

I hope we can get a lot of media coverage for the new Children’s Miracle Music product that we are promoting. (My blog post last week got a bump in the site’s Alexa traffic–kind of fun to see.)

So here is my question: have any of you used the PR Pro CD software from Gebbie Press, which, when combined with their databases of all the TV stations, radio stations, magazine editors and newspaper editors in the country, allows you to get your press release to any subset of that audience. I guess you can email most of them, or, if you want to mail your press release, you can use the software to print mailing labels.

Tell me what you think of this software or other do-it-yourself PR solutions for small companies. What is your favorite tool for reaching the offline media?

(Of course we’re going to use as well to reach journalists and consumers online. But I need to know what the best offline services are these days. It’s been years since I did anything like this.)

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US Market Mobile Content Will More Than Triple by 2010

If you run a business with an internet strategy, hopefully you’ve started thinking about a mobile strategy as well. You need to skate where the puck is going and not where it has been.

IDC estimates that 24 million US mobile phone users will pay for some kind of TV/Video content or services by 2010, up from 7 million this year. That is a sizeable market share. And it will only get bigger.

Provo Labs has two investments in the mobile space: one is Commerce Fly (pre-beta), a mobile SMS alert system for consumer product pricing alerts. If you are interested in stocking up on sugar from your local grocer when it hits a 52-week low price, Commerce Fly will enable that. We are looking at applications in potentially dozens of vertical markets. Grow Utah Ventures is our partner on this startup. I am especially looking at using mobile alerts in the real estate space, to give home buyers and real estate agents an edge.

The other is a recent investment we made in an ebook publishing company, with thousands of ebook titles (including a popular Bible Study suite) that can be downloaded from various mobile content websites, such as Handango.

We also have 10Speed Media with its innovative online video distribution strategy where corporate video content and advertising can be downloaded to video iPods and other mobile devices.

Now the strategy will be to use CommerceFly and Packard Technologies to enable other Provo Labs portfolio companies to implement mobile content and mobile alert strategies, when it makes sense for each of them.

The question for you is, what is your mobile content and mobile software strategy?

One of the biggest challenges with mobile is that the carriers control so much of what happens on phones. I have a Google Alert for “off deck” and one for “off portal” because those are the keywords that describe how content and software companies are able to go around the mobile carriers and find ways to sell directly to mobile customers. At CES in January there were lots of discussions in the mobile phone panels about off deck revenue growth both in the U.S. and Europe.

Let me know what your thoughts are about how to develop a mobile strategy, and who the best partners are for web companies trying to extend their reach.

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Mom: Miracle Music Helps Kids Do Chores Without Nagging

I know my blog title sounds like an infomercial. Well, it kind of is.

We recently discovered an amazing product for Moms that we liked so much that we bought all the inventory we could and are starting to promote it online for its inventor (a mother of six).

It’s called Childrens Miracle Music. The web site has a short video clip from the Mom who developed the product to help kids do all their daily chores automatically, prompted by a musical CD and motivated by a chart and point system.

I told my best friend about the product. His face lit up and he gave me a testimonial on the spot! He said he bought it for his wife after reading about it in Meridian Magazine and they are using it with their three youngest kids. He said it totally works!

I’m getting copies for some of my sisters and sisters-in-law (all of whom have young children.) Check it out and let the Moms in your life know about this wonderful new product.

I normally don’t ask my blog readers for favors. But in this case, I need to make an exception. We have a goal of selling 800 copies of this product by August. It’s never been marketed, with the exception of three advertisements in Meridian Magazine, an online newsletter. We are trying to earn the rights to market this product around the world.

Will you please email people you know about this wonderful product for Moms and kids? Or blog about it if you can? Anything you can do to promote it will be greatly appreciated.

All you have to do is get people to the web site at The short video clip does the rest. I will greatly appreciate anything you can do to help!

(Also, if you know someone who might want to become a distributor, buying 10 copies at a time and selling them to Moms they know, there is an opportunity for them as well. We’re especially hoping to find a few webmasters of high-traffic web sites for Moms who could become distributors or affiliates.)

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When I Need Help With PPC

A recent MarketingSherpa report shows that more than half of online sales at high-growth e-commerce sites come from search engine marketing (that includes PPC and SEO). Here’s a quote:

According to MarketingSherpa 2006 study data, high-growth ecommerce sites get 19% of their overall traffic from search engine optimization (SEO) and 32% from paid search ads. That’s 51% of ecommerce site traffic driven by a handful of search engines.

Search engine marketing is a *key* driver of success online. But it is still used by relatively few businesses.

Last fall I taught more than 50 students at BYU how to do pay-per-click management on Google. This was part of my internet marketing course. Then each student joined a team and we actually ran a campaign for one of a dozen or so companies that paid us between $100 and $500 to set up and management their campaign. It was a good hands-on experience for the students.

One student ran a campaign that was amazing. Starting with hundreds of keywords which were quickly eating up the PPC budget, he used analytics and common sense to narrow in on the keywords that would be most profitable for the company. Within a month he had turned a loss into a $800 or $900 profit. The company was so impressed they offered him a job after graduation.

But I was impressed too and recruited him to join WebEvident, an internet marketing company that does SEO and PPC Management.

Now, when my portfolio companies need help setting up or managing a PPC campaign, they turn to Francisco and WebEvident.

Read Francisco’s recent blog post about how he turned around the PPC campaign. He has saved the company a ton of money and has optimized the PPC campaign so that it is profitable and revenues are growing.

Francisco is very, very good. He is extremely focused and delivers results. He is a Google AdWords Qualified Individual.

If you want the best, affordable Google AdWords campaign manager that I know of, Francisco is available to help you build a profitable pay-per-click strategy.

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History blogs

About a month ago I was reminded that many famous people in history are overlooked these days in our public discourse. The best ideas from the past are often ignored. Our modern culture doesn’t integrate them into our media, and even some history textbooks devote more space to celebrities like Madonna than to important leaders like George Washington. Sex sells. History doesn’t.

So I decided that maybe hundreds or thousands of historic figures should become bloggers, or that someone should start blogging on their behalf, using their own words.

So Blake Snow (who blogs for Weblogs, Inc. and is over our Provo Labs blogging networks) set about to make this happen. And in the past month we have found editors for more than two dozen historical blogs. Our concept is to say what they would say if there were still with us, if they were observing current events and participating in current debates.

We ask the blog editors to be faithful to their original words and intent. We aren’t trying to spin their opinions to prove our own points. But, whether our editors are faithful or not, the fact is we will see more great ideas from history coming into the blogosphere where the ideas and opinions can be discussed and debated. I think this new history blogger network will be a great contribution to the blogosphere.

You can become a history blogger by visiting and clicking on the bloggers wanted link.

Or check out some of the history blogs that have already launched:

Abraham Lincoln Blog
Confucius Blog
George F Kennan Blog
John Locke Blog
Plato Blog
Queen Elizabeth Blog
Benjamin Franklin Blog
Charles Darwin Blog
Franklin D. Roosevelt Blog
Gandhi Blog
H. G. Wells Blog
John F. Kennedy Blog
Joshua A. Norton Blog
Martin Luther King Blog
Napolean Blog
Robert Browning Blog
Thomas Paine Blog
Thomas Jefferson Blog
Woodrow Wilson Blog * * * * *

* denotes pending content

So what do you think of this idea? And how well are the blog editors doing so far? Are they being true to the historic figures they are blogging for?

Which figures in history would you like to see blogs for? And which would you like to add to your blog roll?

We welcome your feedback!

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