Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Looking for world-class buzz? How about attempting a zany stunt to set a Guinness World Record? The Wall Street Journal writes that in the corporate hustle to stand out from its crowd, event marketing is becoming more prevalent as a promotions tool. Currently, helping events get noticed costs advertisers $8.9 billion a year on event marketing. What's inexpensive? Getting the Guinness stamp of approval. It's just $4,739 for advising from Guinness and having a judge verify the feat. Starwood Hotels recently hosted the "largest-ever resistance-band strength-training class," and Estee Lauder had the "most landmarks illuminated for a cause" (38 buildings were lit pink for breast-cancer awareness). Guinness says company requests for record-breaking have increased 250 percent over the past three years.
The Social Network dominates box office. Aaron Sorkin's depiction of Mark Zuckerberg's rise to Facebook fame raked in $23 million this weekend. VentureBeat reports that former Facebook employees have called the film "just wrong," but that didn't stop the film from nabbing the number one spot at the box office and getting stellar reviews across the board.
Rapping about happiness. Tony Hsieh and his merry band of Zappos cohorts have created a rap video promoting the Happiness Bus, which Hsieh has been riding around the country to promote his book, Delivering Happiness. The bus made a stop at the Inc. 500|5000 Conference this past weekend, and TechCrunch has the video. Keep an eye out for a micro-cameo by our very own Max Chafkin, and consider one warning: the catchy melody may cause excessive humming.
Hackathons going mainstream? If Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher can romanticize a handful of programmers coding through the night in a Palo Alto rental (and how!), perhaps the masses are starting to realize what we've always known: Start-ups are cool. And, hey, if a disruptive - or just interesting - idea gets its start at a hackathon, by extension, that's cool, too. The Chicago Tribune breaks down how marathon hackathons are gaining new visibility outside of niche tech circles, and popping up on college campuses, in co-working spaces, and in large corporations. Check out examples of winning ideas that have come from hackathons here. And please pass the Red Bull.
Google finds start-up to make Android typing easier. What do you do, Google, when Apple's touchscreen keyboard is superior to yours? Well you buy a start-up that does it better, of course. This weekend Mashable reported that Google acquired a San Francisco-based start-up called BlindType, which cleans up the typing errors caused by sloppy touchscreen functionality. On its website (where you can also watch a video demonstration of it works), BlindType says its technology supports all major devices including iPhones and iPads. With this latest acquisition, however, just how much longer that continues remains to be seen.
Life insurance and small business. Is it ethical for a small business owner to continue paying a former employee's life insurance premium without their knowledge and long after the employee leaves the business? That's the question posed to Randy Cohen in his New York Times Magazine column. Here's the answer.
Sick of being virtually stalked by advertisers? The New York Times reports today that a group the advertising industry's trade organization are introducing a program that will allow Web users to opt out of online tracking. The self-regulatory program makes use of an icon called the "Advertising Option Icon" and will affect about 5,000 companies that are represented by the trade organizations. "The organizations will provide Web seminars with information on the newly created program for advertisers," the Times reports, "and will also use donated advertising space online to advertise the program to consumers." Although this is a self-regulatory program, the Better Business Bureaus group and a marketing association group will be responsible for monitoring the program and managing consumer complaints. No word yet on the ability to opt out of pop-up ads.
Sales pitching the grassroots way. Entrepreneur and author Guy Kawasaki admits that five years ago, even he couldn't have predicted how important Facebook and Twitter would become to marketing. However, writing on the American Express OPEN Forum, Kawasaki takes a closer look into his crystal ball and tries to predict some marketing trends that will continue to grow in importance in the near future. Perhaps his biggest lesson is that, "Browbeating potential customers with slick and simultaneously insulting sales pitches is losing effectiveness." Instead Kawasaki recommends adopting a more grassroots approach, with good customer service being of upmost importance in this world of Yelp and online reviews. "In other words, do what you have to do to get as many people to try your product as possible."
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