Tag: Next-Student

Stay Hungry

Are you successful? Are you pleased with your personal and professional achievements? If the answer is yes, you may have a problem.

If there is one thing I learned from my experience in the workforce, it’s that “good enough” is NEVER good enough. If you are satisfied with your status, your cash flow, your market position, or anything for that matter…. it’s just a matter of time until the next dude who is more hungry knocks you off your high horse.

I head up web marketing at NextStudent– currently director and angling for a VP position (and feeling good about the probability). To be honest, I never, ever thought I would be corporate. I just assumed I would be a dotcommer who eventually sells a few start ups and rides off in my yacht a la P-Diddy white party style. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, and if you adjust your swing, you can hit it out of the park.

But one home run does not make a hall of famer.

I get a lot of credit for NextStudent’s rise to the top end of the student loan industry, but credit where credit is due, Chris Sauer runs the operations. He’s my boss’ boss. He’s the NextStudent’s COO, and a guy that probably none of you know (except my employees who read this blog).

There are other guys at our company who are probably equally as impressive (like our CEO Don Fenstermaker for his vision and sheer brainpower, Jack Wallace for his connections and ability to insert the phrase “boom boom” and / or “sloppy seconds” into any corporate meeting without getting even an eyebrow raise, etc). But Chris Sauer probably had the most influence over my ability to push NextStudent’s market position. He’s the guy who decided to pay me on performance, which basically converted me from a consultant / contractor to a pretty dedicated corporate marketing dude. Subsequently, that’s also the reason for my personal successes which are driving this very blog post.

So why is this post titled “Stay Hungry” and it’s basically a fan boy post for my boss’ boss? Well for one, if he reads this I might get a nice cigar out of it. But more importantly, it’s because he is the hungriest dude out there. Even if his 8 digit bankroll (*note- that figure is pure speculation) could / should pacify him, he keeps pushing us to keep getting better personally and professionally.

He might be a hard ass, but it’s because he’s a bad ass. On a daily basis I leech off of him the following lessons:

  • Never accept sub par performance. Never.
  • It’s better to rub somebody the wrong way then to let them bend you over
  • Math is easy, and everything is math if you can figure out the variables and work out the solution
  • Most importantly: Stay Hungry.

Being in the top of our marketplace is not enough. Being well known is not enough. Having personal wealth is not enough. If I’m not building a legacy for my future family, then why the hell am I even working a day job?

Fact is I am building something big here, so I have something to be proud of and somebody helping steer the ship who doesn’t let us get fat and lazy when we see good results.

So cheers to the guys who made my success in 2006 possible. Here’s to doing bigger and better things in 2007. I’m hungry.

10 Reasons Why I Love My Job

Everybody who knows me knows I love working at NextStudent.  It’s the coolest place I have ever worked, INCLUDING my own company.  Once I started posting these reasons I love my job, I quickly realized I could go on forever… but I decided to keep it succint because nobody wants to hear 100 reasons why some random web guy likes his job. BTW- the word succinct rocks.

Here’s ten off the top of my head:

  1. The environment is hard to explain- Almost everybody is friendly with everybody else and we’re all having a great time almost every single day-  It’s amazing
  2. They pay well
  3. They are sending me to Las Vegas for a week to attend PubCon next week (and they send me to pretty much any conference I ask them to)
  4. My boss is a really good dude, and so are the top execs
  5. I have the most amazing team any web marketing guy could possibly imagine
  6. When I have a good idea, I implement it, and everybody supports it
  7. I help people afford a college education, then when they are done I help them save money
  8. I also help make a bunch of cool people lots of dough
  9. I get recognition, raises, promotions, bonuses, and other neat perks because I’m pretty good at what I do *pops collar*
  10. It’s the place where I made a name for myself, and when I come to work I get to be larger than life (or at least they let me get away with thinking that way lol)

There’s 10 quick reasons why NextStudent rocks.  I’m feeling good, and thought I’s share it with my huge fan base of readers.  All 3 of you, enjoy!

New Tools For Competitive Online Research (Thanks SEObook)

A recent post on Aaron Wall’s blog had me toying with a few services I had never thought to mess with before. Recently there has been an introduction of website services which are adding competition to Alexa’s research tools. Most feel these newer sites provide data that is not as skewed as Alexa’s results. I thought it would be interesting to share the results here. For this blog I chose to use NextStudent’s corporate website as the focus of my tests.

Check it out:

Compete.com provides a snapshot of your website showing everything from the amount of traffic your website receives to the average minutes a person spends on your website during each visit. Interesting seasonal traffic trends plotted there eh?

Quantcast.com is a site resource composed of web analytic experts that give users a picture of their website, providing valuable demographic information. Quantcast includes a break down of your site visitors and traffic volumes.

There are also some neat tools that have been introduced that show which keywords your competitors are ranking for.

For tough keywords such as student loan consolidation (score!), a website called SpyFu shows adword, organic, and related term results. SpyFu also displays your competitors organic and advertisement results when entering your website. Our competitors would have a field day with this info if it where more accurate! (not to say his site / service is bad, it can easily do the trick to give you some rough ideas on what is going on in a certain vertical)

Urltrends.com provides a trend report for your domain as well as your current rankings on the major search engines. Very cool graphs and data.

At a glimpse, it seems all of these tools can be valuable resources for tracking your competition in the online market. Compare with Alexa and with each other and see if you notice differences.

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Loving Publicity Part II: Where’s the Link?

The reason I wrote an article named Loving Publicity Part I is because I found a neat quote on a pretty big site that day, and I knew another, larger article I was involved in was going to be posted in the NY Times today. I thought it was the ultimate, Tiger Woods-esque link acquisition, and I thought I would be able to see my name in a major paper.

Neither happened.  No link, no quote. :-(

The article, Dispute on Loan Consolidation, written by Jonathan Glater, was about some serious controversy currently happening in my industry.  I talked to this guy for about two weeks and gave him a bunch of great information and quotes, and politely asked him if he could just shoot a lil link in his article to NextStudent.  After all, we are the biggest student loan consolidation company (aside from major loan holders and banks), and also because we spent so much time helping him develop his story.  He said he would try.

A few days before the article was to publish, our Executive Vice President of Finance got involved with the reporter (and then stole the spotlight!).   I can understand why a reporter would rather quote and Executive Vice President than a Director, but still, it kinda stinks.  I wanted to be the in NY Times!

So that’s it in a nuttshell.  I thought I was going to get a great link from a major website and I was going to be published in print all over the world.  And now, I feel like a little kid who didn’t get the bike he wanted for Christmas.

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The billion dollar baby

A billion dollars is a LOT of money.  A thousand million dollars to be exact.  Since I took over web marketing at NextStudent last year, that’s how much student loan volume funded through my advertising channels.  Actually, I’m currently at about 1.1 billion dollars funded with a few hundred million in the pipeline.  Not to toot my own horn here, but I am NextStudent’s FIRST billion dollar marketer!

When I first took over web marketing at NextStudent, there was a big mess to clean up from the old marketing department.  Know that saying “You gotta spend money to make money”?  They didn’t really get the second part of that statement.  Their efforts put us in a dangerous cash flow crunch. 

First thing I did was fire some expensive consultants, then I focused on natural search engine rankings (paid search marketing and traditional advertising is quite expensive, and we needed business that did not require a lot of cash to feed the fire).  I got the website to #1 on all major search engines for the phrase “Student Loan Consolidation”, which brought a windfall of volume which basically saved the business last year.  Big time.  In fact, we did so well, the company now has a beautiful new building and 3 airplanes.

Knowing that the peak season of our business drives that kind of volume, I put together a plan to maximize the opportunity for 2006.  Because of careful planning and execution, the company drove 1.5 billion in ONE MONTH- far exceeding last year’s ENTIRE YEAR END TOTAL.

It is amazing that we count money in the BILLIONS now, and we expect money in the BILLIONS.  Not only a year ago we where fighting an uphill battle to stay in business.  This year we are one of the strongest student loan companies in the nation.

What a difference a year makes!


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