Val Kilmer Collection

The Time I had Lunch with Val Kilmer…And Had No Idea

Recently, I was on the phone with a startup out of Boston, called Nextly. They had met the founder of the mobile shop that I currently do marketing for in Toronto, Alkarim Nasser, in New York. They were gathering beta testers that could make some time for feedback, and they also were curious about marketing direction, so I happily met them on Skype for a chat. During the intro chit chat we got into talking about my time in LA and experiences there (hopefully not over). I talked about working as a waitress in a restaurant in Malibu that was filled with Hollywood’s A-list, wanna-be’s, surfer locals, and tourists galore.

The Val Kilmer story starts like this: It was a really dead day in the restaurant, great swell and lots of wind meaning all the locals were out on the water (I was miserably jealous). I was one of the only waitresses on shift with only one table. The table had a dad and his son. I got to talking with them and they invited me to sit down and join them for lunch. I had a great time chatting with them. Near the end of their lunch when signing the bill we got on the subject of math and tipping. The dad told me that he was not so good at math, so I asked him what he did for a living. He said he was an actor. As usual, I assumed (he was in a floppy hat, not in the best of shape…to say the least) that he was a struggling actor in LA like the rest of us. I tried to keep the conversation flowing so I asked him if I had perhaps seen any of his work. So he started naming films. Heat, The Saint, “Batman,” chimed in his son. “I actually haven’t seen any of those films,” I responded honestly, which I haven’t. I still assumed he was some background actor that was probably extra number 350.

“Any films I may have seen?” I continued thinking that it would give me a better idea of if he was good at his job or not (not a rational thought, in the least). “He was in Top Gun!” announces his son. “Oh, I have seen that.” (Years ago, I should have added). “What character did you play?”

“I was a fighter pilot,” says the dad casually.

“He was Iceman,” proclaims his son.

“You know, I really don’t remember the film, I saw it so long ago. That is cool though.” I said it as if I was thinking, background character again, in which I was.

Anyway, we finished up lunch, said our good-byes and enjoyed the company. About an hour later, the bartender asked me how my lunch with Val Kilmer was?

“What, Val Kilmer is here! Where?”

“You had lunch with him and his son an hour ago,” he responds with a smirk.

“Oh noooooooooo.”

Just some good old fashion Canadian friendliness, probably why I do well in Hollywood; I will never be the over excited fan girl (excluding the time I met David Gravette, pro skateboarder).

In light of telling the story, I showed up to my desk at work to a box on my desk from Amazon. Gift wrapped was an entire collection of Val Kilmer movies sent to me by Eugene Mann at Nextly! Now that is a great startup, knowing how to be memorable.


Was this article helpful? If so, share me!

Acqui-hire: Why Facebook & Twitter Are Doing It

This is a post I wrote for the BNOTIONS blog a few weeks back. This seems to be all the rage right now in the tech industry, but we forget that it is something that has been happening in business since the days of true pimps.

“Zynga adds 50 people through talent acquisition of Video game maker Buzz Monkey” reads Monday’s headline earlier this month on TechCrunch (Kim-Mai Cutler). The public company acquired Oregon based Buzz monkey, not to make ‘video games’ (implying a move from social games) but rather to expand and bring on talent. A move that is not so foreign to companies in the Valley as talent becomes a more scarce resource than ever before.

Talent acquisition (or talent M&A, as it could also be termed) is not a new concept. In the tech industry, it rose exponentially during the internet boom in the late 90s and early 2000s and it is certainly happening after. As technical talent becomes more scarce in Silicon Valley (the global tech hub), finding smaller fish to eat in order to acquire talent seems like a logical play in the game. It is even rumored that companies are paying up to $1M per engineer!

‘Acqui-hiring’ is in fact a very strategic move (acquisition and hiring, yes, a combined word). Companies do not only do it to strengthen their existing team or bring on more talent, they do it to expand as well as to innovate.

Three reasons to think about strategic acqui-hiring for your company:

1. Acquire a foreign version of yourself to expand in new markets with local talent.

ex. Groupon acquiring copycats all over Europe for global expansion into the European market.

2. Acquire a company strictly for talent, no relation to product.

ex. Facebook purchasing Friend.ly.

It may seem like a seedy play to acquire only because you have your eye on their top engineer with the entire intention to scrap their product. But at the same time, we are seeing a massive shift into products that do not adhere to the       commonplace that “the innovation must make business sense,” (The Design of Business, Roger Martin). In Roger Martin’s book, he quotes Michael Dell in saying that, “still today in our industry, if you go to a trade show, you walk around     and you will find a lot of technology for which there is no problem that exists.”

3. Acquire in a new vertical or area of the market that  you are trying to lead. Places where you do not have the talent or resources to build this in a timely fashion or you are looking to expand where someone else leads.

ex. Facebook buying Instagram to grab the mobile photo market that Facebook needed to expand to. After all, photos is part of Facebook’s core business and they were in no way leading in mobile photo sharing.

Jenna Hannon | Director of Marketing | @JennaHannon

Was this article helpful? If so, share me!

How to Write a Tagline (for a startup)

The goal of a good tagline is to quickly articulate what the company does*. This is the sole purpose, although at the same time your goal should also be memorable. So, your tagline should therefore:

1. Articulate what the company does.
2. Be memorable.

Overall, your strategy should be to master both. That being said, it is much more difficult than it sounds.

To start, gather with a your team (maybe cap it at 3 to 5 people) and brainstorm all the taglines you know off the top of your head (any industry, any company). Once, you have done this go through them and weed out all the taglines that do not meet the two points above. Then, start picking out words in the taglines that could apply to you and your company. Then start brainstorming taglines for your company based on these words. (It is much easier to brainstorm when there is a point of reference or a place to start. If you try to brainstorm with no limitations, rules, or point of reference, nothing will be accomplished).

Next step, (put the last aside for a moment) now, think of your company as a movie logline (this is my favorite thing in marketing). A movie logline, tells you the main characters, storyline, and main action in one sentence. (For more information research Blake Synder, Save the Cat). The goal of a movie logline is to convince a studio to buy the script, in the beginning; then for a movie ‘goer’ to see the movie, all by reading just one sentence. Now that is a damn good tagline!

Think of your company like a logline. Who are you? What do you do? What is your story? Now write out your company logline as if you were describing a movie that you want the world to all want to see, but you only have one sentence.

For the company I am currently at, BNOTIONS, our logline:

A group of talented entrepreneurs, designers, strategists and developers build robust mobile, web, and Facebook applications on their way to building a rocket to take them to space.

Make sure your logline describes exactly what you do. For Google, for example: The world’s top engineers on a mission to search and index the world’s information with a dream of one day simplifying and organizing everything. (I made this up, but you get the point).

Now, take the taglines you brainstormed before using the reference words. Apply each one to your company logline. Do the taglines describe the logline? Do you get the same information from the tagline, as you do from the logline? If yes, then you have answered point number 1.

For point number 2, this is a bit more abstract as ‘memorable’ is exactly that. We still don’t know exactly why some things go viral and some don’t, as we still don’t know why some ar memorable and others are not. On this one, take Steve Blank’s advice and “get out of the building.” Aks every opinion you can. Ask your mom, ask your six year old nephew, ask people in line at Starbucks, and ask while shopping in produce at the grocery store. And then, ask them all again. Because, the goal is to see if people remember it. They can’t just like it, they have to remember it. They also need to be able to respond with exactly what your company does from that tagline. Ask, ask, ask.

You are now ready to start tagline brainstorming. Go.



*Please note that this is a recommendation for startup companies who need to match positioning to advertising message in one foul swoop. If you are a large brand with lots of marketing spend these suggestions will not apply to you, nor will the strategy be something for you to follow. In this case, the tagline will be a creative attraction based on positioning. In startups, your marketing will have to be closer to positioning as you will have less room for creative freedom as messaging will take precedence.

Was this article helpful? If so, share me!

10 Ways to Monetize Mobile Apps

At the Android NFC hack, I stumbled upon this while researching ideas for use cases. It doesn’t solve the ‘idea’ problem to begin the hack session, but it is a great black and white outline of the current models for monetizing mobile; something we are all thinking about these days. Here is a ‘to-the-point’ outline from Dave Stevenson.

10 Ways to Monetize Mobil Apps

  1. Paid
  2. Advertising
  3. In-App Purchases
  4. Webapp Subscriptions
  5. Subscriptions
  6. Sponsorships/Promotions
  7. Lead Gen
  8. Affiliate Sales
  9. Analytics
  10. Don’t    (I prefer to reword this into donate…Louis CK mastered this)
Was this article helpful? If so, share me!
© Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved Jenna Hannon