Richard Branson

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of IER Partners, which has guided and strengthened brands of all sizes with savvy best practices for creating customers for life. Combining her passion of adventurous listening and working across diverse industries, her "outsider-insider" creative branding and merchandising expertise and objectivity has been valued by companies as diverse as Spanx, Ben & Jerry's, Celestial Seasonings, CHEFS and Boston Proper.  She holds an MBA and has dedicated more than 20 years to providing clients both domestic and international with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She is the author of  two books in which she shares her hands-on approach for both brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators, and BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants. You may reach her at asyverson@ierpartners.com.

Influencer marketing was big for brands in 2017, and will most likely continue to grow in 2018. But how about the brands with marketing influencers? They exist, and they’re impacting marketing every day. Some influenced marketers so much in 2017, we made a list.

Dawn Zier is thriving in the frenzied pace of an Internet-ruled world for at least two reasons: Seemingly impossible challenges intrigue her, and she's chosen to live by her parents' words to "be the best that you can be." So far, that mentality is serving her and the company she heads well. Zier, the president and CEO of Fort Washington, Penn.-based weight loss meal plan provider Nutrisystem, is largely credited with turning the fortunes of her company around. Taking the position in November 2012, she inherited a company that had seen sales plummet 42 percent since 2008. Under her leadership, Nutrisystem added data-driven programs and is expecting soon to see "revenue growth for the first time in seven years," Zier says.

LinkedIn is under considerable pressure from Google+ and Facebook. It is ranked third by eBizMBA after Facebook and Twitter. "LinkedIn is facing the two biggest problems that all social networks face, competition for eyes and how to monetize," said social media entrepreneur Lon Safko. … LinkedIn took the first step toward opening up its walled garden with the introduction on Tuesday of the ability for members to follow any of a panel of the 150 most influential thought leaders on its network. These super-influencers include President Obama, Mitt Romney, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, British mogul and daredevil Richard Branson and

Recently, I saw a photograph of a polar bear floating on a lonely hunk of ice in the Arctic, and the accompanying story told how these exquisite creatures will be doomed, victims of global warming. Sad.

I want to talk about the F word. Not that F word, of course, but one that perhaps conjures up just as many emotionally negative connotations: failure. We don’t like to talk about it. We don’t like to admit that it could happen to us or has happened to us. Like superstitious old wives, we even think we might bring it on by talking about it. Many of us might remember the shock and dread in the pit of our stomachs when seeing a math test or English class essay riddled with red slashes. We try to forget about failure as quickly as possible.

When I saw that the 2008 rate for a speech by Larry Summers was $45,000 to $135,000, I got to thinking.

Out of curiosity, I started prowling the various Web sites of speakers' bureaus and came to six conclusions:

  1. It seems everybody in the world is available for speeches. Included are political and show business stars, second and third bananas, and hundreds upon hundreds of people I never heard of.
  2. All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
  3. I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
  4. I was a damned fool. I was as much a nobody as anybody else and could've picked up some dough if I'd just asked.
  5. If someone invites you to make a speech, think about asking for an honorarium at the very least, if not a fat fee, plus expenses. For Colin Powell, expenses include a private jet along with his $100,000 fee.
  6. The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.

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