Studied art and fashion design at Manchester then Westminster University. In the past 15 years Colin has been part of the buying team at Burberry, an Angel Investor, corporate film and TV producer, and for the last 6 years has run his own digital agency. An online social adoptee from 2005. He’s an exhibited artist.

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$1 Billion from Social Media

Ok so some of you may have heard of a company based in a suburb of Las Vegas called Zappos.com, they are an online retailer. They originally just sold shoes – now it’s a whole different ball game; they sell a way of life.

The online myth that is perpetuated about Zappos and how they have only ever used social media as a form of marketing to go from nothing to last years $1 billion turnover – I was one of those people…

This time last year I took the family to Vegas for a week and thought… how can I put this through the business, I know, I’ll phone up Tony, the CEO at Zappos and see if I can spend sometime with them, meet their marketing and brand managers, their HR, take a tour, check out the call centre, chat to some of the suppliers – so that’s what I did.

I met the Michael Kors guys who were in selling their latest season to the buying team – did everything, it was great.

So what do they do – how did they do it – is it true – I heard they didn’t turn a profit until last year…?

I get asked a million questions about my experience with these guys and let me tell you we could all learn a thing or two about how to run a business by visiting Tony and his team.

Yes they carryout psychometric testing, yes you have to be socially experienced online, yes you have to spend the first few weeks in the call centre whether you’re going to be a driver or the new FD, yes Tony offers you money after 2 weeks training to leave ($2k at the last count) or put your heart and soul into your job. The culture of Zappos is not just a poster on the wall, it is very air that they breathe – and yes they have thousands of representatives on Facebook, Twitter and all the rest and that’s largely how they sustain their customer relations – so is it just down to social media that they have become such an amazing phenomenon?

No

It’is the way they run their business, pure and simple.

By the way if you are wondering about the profit comment – that’s true – they made a point of pouring everything into the business to make their staff, customers, anyone that came into contact with them very happy. You might say that’s no way to run a business… but then they were bought by Amazon for…

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