Buddy Media's Michael Lazerow: 'You Don't Want to Be Too Early'
How I Did It: Buddy Media
Long before Michael Lazerow sold Buddy Media, his social marketing firm, to Salesforce.com for $745 million, it took him many months to even get a client to try it.
00:07 Michael Lazerow: And so, our gut was that this is big and we wanted to be a part of it. We had no idea how big.
In 2007, Michael Lazerow co-founded Buddy Media, which helps businesses connect to consumers using social media.
At first Buddy Media focused on Facebook, which was only three years old--and not hugely popular.
00:25 Lazerow: We always thought that if we were the thought leader in this space, if we were the evangelizer of this space, if we helped define the space, we'd be so far ahead, it would be hard to catch up. The problem is, the world is set up to work against you. It's a lot easier to say "no" to people then to say "yes". And so you go into these meetings and you basically bang your chest, "Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, it's the way of the future and old media is TV, and the printing stuff on dead trees, and driving in these gas-powered vehicles, that's dead. And Facebook is the new way. Instead of all of these pages, we have this people-based world and it's all about conversations and streams." And we get blank stares. I mean, people would be like, "What are you talking about? I can't understand you. I can't follow you."
Michael met with about eight companies a day.
None of them were interested.
01:18 Lazerow: It really wasn't 'til end of first quarter 2008, so March, April, that we actually got some of our first clients onboard. When I say "first clients", companies just willing to try it out. And so that early success, it took a few months but we didn't know when this was gonna go mainstream. We always thought that it was gonna happen, but what if it takes five years? What if it takes 10 years? You wanna be early but you wanna be on just the bleeding edge of the change. You don't wanna be too early. But what happened was, eventually, Facebook got into a public consciousness, that you had on CNBC and CNN, stories about, "Oh, this Facebook, the thing that all the kids are doing. They had now opened to be on college." And I remember we walked into Starwood and we said, "You have a thousand hotels and all of these hotels are gonna need to talk about what's going on at the hotel and all the events and the exciting things that are going on." So, we started a trial with them and we went out and talked to P&G and we talked to a lot, Coke, a lot of these big brands, and they realized that they had to get there but they didn't know how.
By 2010, Buddy Media had more than 100 clients, and revenue had tripled.
02:35 Lazerow: Once you get a little success early on, that's what fuels your fire. So, entrepreneurs can get a hundred "no's" and then one "yes", and all of the sudden, you've forgotten about those hundred "no's" and it's about that one deal which kind of propels you forward. And if you are certain in your mind, which we were, when we went into Starwood and all of these early clients, we said, "This is what's gonna happen", that breeds success. People started believing that.
On August 13th, 2012, Salesforce.com acquired Buddy Media for $745 million in cash and stock.
Today, it works with eight of the top 10 global advertisers, including Unilever and Ford.
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