The Wisdom of Ace Greenberg for Website Owners

July 28, 2014  |   How to Buy & Sell Websites   |     |   Comments Off on The Wisdom of Ace Greenberg for Website Owners

Alan “Ace” Greenberg, former CEO and Chairman of Bear Stearns, passed away on July 25, 2014. He led the investment bank as its CEO from 1978 to 1993 and chaired the board until 2001. J.P. Morgan Chase acquired Bear Stearns during the credit crisis of 2008.

Ace Greenberg was known for his very unique business style. He entertained friends with magic tricks and he shunned the Wall Street convention of hiring Ivy league graduates. Instead, he recruited what he termed “PSDs” which stood for Poor, Smart individuals with a deep Desire to get rich.

Most of all, he was famous for his gems of timeless business wisdom which he sent out as memos to Bear Stearns’ employees. These memos were compiled in his book “Memos from the Chairman.” I have owned this book for about a decade and highly recommend it to all business professionals. Following Greenberg’s passing, a few of his words of wisdom come to mind that apply especially to website owners and managers.

1. Make decisions based on common sense and avoid the herd mentality.

The huge advantage that Internet-based businesses have over traditional businesses is the speed with which information flows.

For example, visitors to a website can share the information on that website with their professional and social networks within seconds. People share articles and videos with friends everyday. As such, website visitors can be a website manager’s marketing reps. They work for free. And he can have an unlimited number of these volunteers on his marketing team.

Of course, website managers are also Internet users. Like everyone else, they’re bombarded with new information everyday, specifically web marketing ideas, tools, and jargon that promise to bring them more traffic and revenues. The avalanche of information can be overwhelming to any manager.

Should the manager do PPC advertising or article marketing or search engine optimization or social media marketing or email marketing or software marketing, etc.? The list goes on and on.

This confuses website owners who try to do everything, and do no one thing well. For example, some website owners start writing articles or producing unique content for their websites regularly. Then, they get distracted by some new marketing idea and invest their limited resources in it too. As such, there’s no way for them to gauge whether article creation was the right marketing method for their website. They never gave it enough time to produce measurable results.

Website owners do this all the time. They hear about some new “hot” marketing method that someone, somewhere, used to make big money and they believe they should jump in too.

Each website is different because each website manager (or webmaster) is different. Some people write good articles, others don’t. Some managers are good at SEO, others are not. Some managers can develop software for marketing, others can’t. The successful website owner uses marketing methods that work well with his strengths. Not every website owner has the same strengths.

The herd mentality is so prevalent in the website business because news travels so fast. The new idea gets out to everyone within seconds. And with a few clicks, it’s often cheap and easy to jump on the bandwagon.

As a website owner, your website marketing strategy must begin with you. Not what others are doing. You have to take inventory of your strengths and interests. Then, build marketing plans that take advantage of your strengths. Avoid the herd mentality.

2. Stick to thine own business.

One of the most common questions I get from website buyers is “What are some hot profitable website niches I should get into?” My answer is always the same “I don’t know.”

Unfortunately, a very common website investment strategy out there is the idea of buying or building websites in “hot” niches. People jump into website niches that they know absolutely nothing about. Article websites, for example, are very popular. Website owners write articles and monetize the websites with Google AdSense. As I mentioned in a previous article, today there is article creation software that enables these website owners create articles in minutes. They are generally poorly-written low-quality articles written for search engines, not people.

People build websites in niches that they do not care about. Niches they have zero interest in. The secret to website success is passion. Passion for the product or service you’re offering to the world. If you don’t care about your product, no-one else will. It’s evident to website visitors when they see a poor-quality product that the website owner doesn’t care. So the visitors move on to websites with better-quality products produced by owners who do care.

Ace Greenberg said “Stick to thine own business.”

If you already own websites, stick to the niche that you love. You don’t have to diversify into other so-called hot niches. Invest more time and energy in your current niche. Add more content to your current websites. Or acquire websites in your current niche and cross-promote each website. In this way, the knowledge you build in your niche can be shared among all your websites.

If you don’t own websites yet, ask yourself what your passions are, and build or buy websites in that niche. Don’t jump in the new “hot” niche. People make money online selling tons of diverse products and services. You’ll make money in a niche that you genuinely care about. This applies to online and traditional businesses.

These gems of wisdom shared by the late Ace Greenberg are timeless. It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in. Apply these words to your business & career today, tomorrow, forever.

R.I.P. Ace Greenberg


Kris Tabetando provides mergers & acquisitions (M&A) advisory and brokerage services to Internet companies. He also partners with investors to acquire & manage Internet businesses.

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