your shot of strategy

Partner Jam: Creating Equal Business Partnerships (2/4)

In our second installment of Partner Jam, Jeremy Schwartz and I weigh in on equal weight:

How do you make sure business partnerships are equal, especially when there is no money involved?

JEREMY: The key is recognizing that money is valuable only because it is easy to exchange for other things. Put differently, money is a means to a business end; it is not the end itself.

So if you want to do a deal but nobody wants to lay out actual cash you should ask yourself two questions: (1) If I received money from this deal, to which ends would I use it? (2) Is this partner able to deliver any of the ends which I’d otherwise plan to achieve by spending cash?

The answer to question (1) should be an easy one if you have a good handle of your business and your business model. Question number (2) is much harder and you can only answer it when you have a good understanding of who your prospective partner and the types of non-cash value they can provide. Great social presence? They can do some marketing. Great relationships? They can make some introductions. Great design? They can spruce up your logo.

CIARA: It’s vital to write out exactly what is expected of each party. When things are in black and white, it’s easier to see if one party is carrying more weight. If elements of the partnership carry value, ie free show tickets or comped advertising, do the math and make sure it’s equitable. You can apply numbers to most in-kind products and services which definitely helps.

Last Week: Building Strong Relationships
Next Week: Sweetening the Deal

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Partner Jam: Building Strong Relationships with Potential Business Partners (1/4)

Announcing a very special series: Jeremy Schwartz of Squarespace, blogger and business growth savant, has generously offered to do a blog jam session with me on the topic of strategic partnerships.

Jeremy is one of those people who makes doing business even better. He’s smart, he’s well-connected, he has a diverse background, and above all, he’s kind and generous. Exactly the kind of business (and blog) partner an entrepreneur strives to know – and become.

For the next four weeks, we’ll post our best, most useful advice on building strong partnerships that can build your business. Enjoy!


Hey Jeremy! How do you meet and build relationships with your best partners?

Given that you can’t partner with someone who does exactly what you do, it’s important to find opportunities to meet people who are different than you. One way to do this is to attend networking events outside of your industry. It’s great for an insurance broker to know all the other insurance brokers in her neighborhood; it’s even better for her to know all the realtors in her neighborhood.

Once you’ve met someone, building a relationship will be about developing sincere and long-term connections. Here’s how I do it: I ask questions when I meet people, I pay close attention to their answers, and I make notes about the people I meet. Taking notes is the key step in developing continuity in relationships when weeks or months go by between contact.

Ciara! What about you? How do you meet your potential partners?

Definitely through my other best partners. Not all audience is created equal; every professional or business should identify its MVPs: the people who go out of their way to connect you, to promote you, to sell for you. These are the people who get personal updates from me, event invites, holiday gifts. Good people run in the same circles as other good people. Then we go out of our way to reciprocate favors like intros or cross-promotion.

Next Up: Making Sure Partnerships are Equal – Tuesday 11/18. Stay tuned!

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Fall Updates

Hey guys – apologies for the blog post absence. It’s been a season full of great projects over at PresslerCo, we’re dropping new episodes of The Audience, and I’m getting an early start on the 2015 Goal Guide – you won’t want to miss it.

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Behold the Marketing Brilliance that is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Mockingjay Marketing Campaign

I arrived back at the office after my appointment at the brilliantly-branded Bling Dental, where mouth numbing is offset by a TV in the ceiling that plays The Hunger Games (win!), only to stumble upon this awesome digital campaign for the forthcoming third installment, Mockingjay.

Check out Capitol Couture

My heart is a-flutter: On brand, both visually and verbally? Check. Beautiful design? Check. Innovative and creative? Check. I’m fulfilled both as a fan and as a marketer.

The moral of the story: If you are blessed with crazy-good content, loyal fans, and a more-than-healthy marketing budget, you best turn out something remarkable.

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Beware of Lexmark Printer Pricing

Remember Lexmark printers?

They sold for less than other printers, but the ink refills cost a fortune. So at the end of the day, Lexmark was making just as much as other companies (or more) off of their printer business.

Too often in business, we make buying choices based on price instead of long-term value. Take websites for example: you might find a cheap web designer, but if you’re paying for every tiny update and edit after the initial design, or if the website is only good enough to last for a year until it looks outdated, your “cheap” website may end up costing you more than going with a great designer who trains you on how to update the website yourself. (And that’s not even counting the potential customers who decide not to buy from you because of mediocre design or poor website user experience.)

Please, I beg you, make your business purchase decisions based on value instead of price. Isn’t your business, your idea, your customer worth it?

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The Game Before The Game

When was the last time a commercial really – like, REALLY – inspired you? Adweek is calling Beats by Dre the new Nike for its spectacular World Cup spot. Huge kudos to R/GA for this fantastic production. Ole!

World Cup Beats by Dre Ad

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Finally! New Audience Episodes this Summer

Everyone on our team for The Audience is in high demand, working on their own entrepreneurial and creative ventures (not to mention my own client work), so it’s no small task to get everyone together for a shoot. But last week we jammed five new episodes into one day, so stay tuned for new, better, faster, strategy-er eps coming soon!

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Brandemonium! Supreme & Creating a Cult Following

Supreme Soho

Last week heading uptown, I was blocked by a mob of hyped-up teen/20-something guys spilling into the street at Prince & Lafayette. I stopped one of them and asked: “Supreme?” Yes, exactly.

Often on the walk to my Soho office, I pass the Supreme store and its inevitable crowd of identical dudes, the line often stretching around the block. Like Air Jordan releases in the 90s, Supreme’s skater-inspired wear has such a following that their customer will spend hours in line just to shop the new collection. Who is that customer? Overwhelmingly, it’s the board-skating, Beats-by-Dre-listening, graphic-tee-wearing, oversized-word-on-baseball-cap sporting, 17-25 year old male who probably has the latest smartphone (or the oldest, for ironic effect) and knows Facebook is so over, did you catch my Vine?

With such demand, classic business rules dictate that Supreme should stock more merch, open more stores, do a capsule line for Walmart. But they don’t. Why?

Because shortage creates demand, and demand dictates desirability.

Here’s more background on Supreme.

Of course, shortage isn’t the business model for everyone. But if your brand goal is to be regarded as aspirational, don’t shy away from saying no to some clients, putting others on a waitlist, limiting inventory, or pricing at luxury level. Because the second you make your brand accessible to everyone, the tastemakers will hop on their skateboards and find a new brand to worship.

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What It Feels Like to Be Internet Famous

This morning, rolling into work with a spring-induced spring in my step, I was met with an alert that someone had tagged me in their Instagram post, which was a graphic treatment of a quote from my most recent HuffPo editorial, The Myth of Overnight Success.

How cool is that?! When I put content out into the universe/webiverse, I never really know who’s reading it, much less who’s impacted by it. So this was an incredibly special treat. Thank you to (complete stranger/awesome person) @LynetteAstaire for making me feel cool & quotable.

Here’s the quote in an updated graphic referencing the article — of course, feel free to pin, tweet, share. And don’t forget to shout out the creators of your favorite online content through Twitter, Insta, etc – it seriously makes our day.

The Myth of Overnight Success - Ciara Pressler

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New HuffPo: The Myth of Overnight Success

In my latest article over on The Huffington Post, I tackle a very delicate topic: is Passion the key ingredient to creating a successful business?

Spoiler alert: No.


(And in case you missed it: no.)

In my work with entrepreneurs, those who stay in business the longest tend to prioritize a very different character trait.

Check out the article for my run-down of entrepreneurial ups & downs, including the qualities that carry founders past the proverbial five-year mark. (60-second read)

Too many of us fall into the trap of believing that there is a “magic pill” for success — that any single step or campaign or award or client or funding round or hire will permanently tip a business from obscurity to celebrity. This dangerous mentality motivates far too many questionable decisions made in moments of desperation, from spending too much on a one-time ad to building a whole business around one client who could disappear in the wake of a weak quarter. Instead, the best business moves eschew emotion and rely on wisdom from experience, market conditions, expert guidance, and common sense.

Like any healthy portfolio, your investment in your business must carry a diversity of resources, people, growth strategies, and revenue sources. If you can handle enormous risk, fine, bet the farm on a single shot — but if you’re like most of us and want the maximum probability of a reliable return, balance it all with a long-term approach.

Full article.

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