About: PPC Ian

(PPCIan.com) is a top online marketing executive who has had direct P&L responsibility on over $150 million of search engine marketing spend during his 9 years in the industry. Currently, Lopuch is Vice President, Search Marketing at a large publicly traded company. Previously, Lopuch held online marketing leadership positions at Inflection.com, QuinStreet, and Nextag. Lopuch holds his BS in Computer Science from Stanford University. In his spare time, Lopuch is an avid domainer, web developer, and blogger via his company, IJL Productions LLC (IJL.net). Residing with his wife on the San Francisco Peninsula, Lopuch is passionate about empowering and educating online marketing professionals. You can follow Ian via his online marketing blog, PPC Ian.

Maui 2014, It Was Amazing

Sep. 07

"At the Sheraton, they treat you like a King," one of my good friends from Stanford once said. Well, this has never been more true than at the Sheraton Maui at Black Rock. Nicole and I just got back from a fabulous 7-night vacation and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. We try to visit Hawaii every year, and this year’s vacation was one of the best. (We actually visited the Big Island of Hawaii last year for an amazing 7-night stay at the Marriott Waikaloa Village. Unfortunately, I was so busy at that time that I never got around to blogging about it. Not this time… It’s time to talk about incomparable Maui, Hawaii…)

Kaanapali Beach, Where It’s At

I love Kaanapali beach. A truly magnificent setting, Kaanapali beach is home to some of the best hotels on Maui. Kaanapali is special for a multitude of reasons:

Sheraton Maui Buffet

Breakfast Buffet at Sheraton Maui

  1. It’s quiet but also offers a lot to do, all within walking distance.
  2. The waters are calm enough for a novice/intermediate swimmer, but also offer some waves for more advanced swimmers (I really enjoyed boogieboarding last time I was on Kaanapali). You experience a diverse array of wave conditions spanning this incredibly long beach. Right near Black Rock, for example, waters are generally calm with amazing snorkeling. Further down, however, waves are large enough for boogieboarding and surfing.
  3. The hotels are literally right on the beach. The ocean is right at your fingertips. Nicole and I enjoyed a few pool and beach days. We’d get a cabana at the pool and rotate between going in the pool and the ocean. (Cabana days are a great way to relax, more on these later…)
  4. The beach boardwalk path allows you to walk the entire beach, connecting all the hotels and attractions. A stroll on this path never gets old. The scenery of the Island of Lanai (just across the water), the incomparable sunsets (unlike any sunset I have ever seen), or simply the waves crashing will truly make your day.
  5. For those that really love shopping (like Nicole and myself), Whaler’s Village Shopping Center is amazing. I enjoyed shopping at one of my favorite stores, Tory Richard. They also offer outstanding restaurants like Leilani’s (more on this later).
  6. For those that like earning loyalty points at their favorite hotel chain, you’ll find many major brands such as Sheraton (where we stayed this time), Westin (where we stayed last time), Marriott, Hyatt, and more. I was delighted to earn Starwood points while relaxing in paradise.
  7. There is so much here and so much to do, but it’s also incredibly relaxed and quiet. I mentioned this back in point number one but want to reiterate because that’s the true magic, in my opinion. And, given the number of hotels and attractions, it’s hard to believe, but incredibly true.

Highlighting Our Favorite Experiences This Time In Maui

As I get older, I have come to realize that it’s all about special experiences. Special moments spent on vacation with your loved ones are worth every last penny, and are the times in life that I truly cherish. Over the years, I have learned that these breaks are mandatory to recharge my batteries, and stay healthy. I encourage you to also take time for yourself! In the spirit of priceless memories, I want to transition into some of my favorite moments from our 2014 Maui, Hawaii vacation.

Cabana Days

PPC Ian Sheraton Maui Cabana

Maui Pool Cabana Day

The Pool at Sheraton Maui offers an array of cabanas for rent. Knowing that the sun in Hawaii is strong, cabanas offer shade while enjoying the pool and ocean. Not to mention, they offer a bit of privacy, better cushions/comfort, and come with great food and drink service. Nicole and I enjoyed two different cabanas on this vacation, one facing the pool and one facing the ocean. We really enjoyed these lazy days of resting at the cabana, swimming in the Sheraton’s "lazy river-style" pool, and enjoying the ocean. The Sheraton offers cool oversized drink containers that can be purchased and refilled with your favorite beverage. I enjoyed my fair share of lava flows, a delicious tropical mix of Pina Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri in one delicious drink. As incredibly busy marketing professionals, I feel like these days allowed us to recharge our batteries. Getting a healthy dose of UV rays was also very welcomed and refreshing.

Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

Surfing Goat Dairy Maui

Ian and Nicole at Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

We have seen so many amazing things on Maui over the years. Each time, we search for new and special attractions. One of this year’s favorites was Surfing Goat Dairy. Maui (and the Hawaiian Islands in general) attract some of the best farmers around. Not only are the conditions pristine for farming, but the talent is unparalleled. This year, we were captivated by this boutique goat dairy farm. We especially enjoyed feeding the goats and sampling the goat cheese. Our tour guide was really great and even took a picture of us with a cute baby goat in our lap, too cool!

Ocean Vodka Tour

Have you enjoyed Vodka on Hawaiian Airlines? Chances are you have had Ocean Vodka, the official vodka of the airline. While this Vodka producer has been around a while, they only started doing tours a few years back. I was incredibly impressed with the vodka (delicious), the facility, and more than anything the vision. Ocean Vodka was started by the son of a long-time construction family on Maui. He had a unique vision: Create the best vodka around from hand-harvested cane sugar, while leveraging his family’s construction background in building a world-class facility. He found a way to create a special product, build a dazzling facility/operation, incorporate his entire family into the business (even his mom was working there), and achieve true success. These are the types of businesses that impress me the most; Ones that develop top-notch products, and live the dream while doing it.

Dinner At Leilani’s and their Hula Pie

Leilanis Maui Hawaii

Dinner at Leilani’s Maui

The food on Maui is unparalleled. Nicole and I enjoyed dining out at a variety of restaurants. We enjoyed following Yelp which took us to Paia Fish Market in the surfer town of Paia. We enjoyed casual dining at the Sheraton pool while watching the sun set. We enjoyed Kimo’s, an old favorite in downtown Lahaina. We enjoyed the lavish breakfast buffet each morning, offering everything you could ever hope for. Most of all, we enjoyed Leilani’s, a staple of Whaler’s Village. The fish at Leilani’s was so good we want back twice! Tip for those going: Bring back your receipt from the first night and you may be eligible for a free Hula Pie, one of the best deserts I have ever had. The fish and fresh fruit/vegetables on Hawaii are the best in the world, in my opinion.

Chilling In The Ocean

I recently wrote a blog post about the calming power of running called Running Is Clarity. Well, there is an equally calming force out there, the ocean. I enjoyed swimming in the ocean at the end of many days. I’d go out, swim around, tread water for a bit, and see the sights. All the hotels on Kaanapali beach look so incredible from the ocean. It’s so calming in the ocean, and a wonderful way to relax and unwind. If I lived in Hawaii you’d probably find me starting and/or ending each day with some chilling and thinking out in the ocean.

The Road To Hana

There were so many delightful highlights on this year’s Maui trip that I could go on for a long time. However, I’ll continue with just one more, The Road To Hana. if you’ve been to Maui or heard about Maui, you’ve probably heard about The Road To Hana. It’s famous! This incredible road is truly windy and breathtaking. You better bring your best driving skills to The Road To Hana, as its very windy, with many one-lane bridges. We had so much fun seeing the picturesque landscape, stopping to hike and see the sights, and enjoying the beautiful nature that is Maui. We especially enjoyed stopping to hike to waterfalls, and also exploring a beautiful tropical botanical garden.

Sheraton vs. Westin, Two Special Kaanapali Beach Hotels

PPC Ian Banyan Tree Maui

Chilling At The Banyan Tree In Lahaina

Are you thinking about taking a trip to Kaanapali beach? Are you a fan of Starwood properties but unsure which to choose? Having stayed at both the Westin and the Sheraton, I’m here to say that you really can’t go wrong with either, although we slightly prefer the Sheraton. They are both tremendous properties. The Westin offers a super fun waterside (it’s really fast and tall), the Westin name, a central location towards the middle of Kaanapali, proximity to Whalers Village (it’s literally right next door), cool birds (especially flamingos) right in the lobby, and more. However, it’s more of a high rise feel, rooms seem smaller, and self-parking can be incredibly competitive. The Sheraton (the original/first hotel built on Kaanapali) offers a relaxed lower rise feel, very expansive grounds, the best beach on all of Kaanapali, an open feel to the buildings, better/newer rooms, and location near picturesque Black Rock. I only have two areas where the Sheraton could improve: We didn’t get a preview of our hotel bill under the door the night before checkout and they didn’t restock the bottled water in our room. Overall, we slightly prefer the Sheraton, and hope to visit again very soon. Please note that Starwood also offers the Westin Villas further up the coastline (you need a shuttle to get there), but we have not yet visited (other than for dinner) so I’m unable to compare the Villas in this post, but hope to visit one day in the future.

Thanks for reading! Do you enjoy Hawaii? Any unique experiences in Maui?

Want to read about some of our other Hawaii adventures? Make sure to check out some of these blog posts:

More Pictures From Maui, Hawaii

Sugar Cane Maui

Ian and Nicole Maui

PPC Ian Sheraton Maui

PPC Ian Maui Hawaii Tropical Plantation

Maui Sheraton Beach

Maui Hawaii Waterfall

Maui Hawaii Sunset

All images in this this post © PPCIan.com

Running Is Clarity

Aug. 25

If you’ve been reading PPC Ian for a while, you probably know that I enjoy running. You’ll find me running a good 10-12 miles per week. From time-to-time, I enjoy participating in 5K charity races (I’ve even done a 10K and half marathon too). I’m not very fast, but I sure have endurance. More than anything, I enjoy running after a long day of work. For the busy business professional with a demanding schedule and hectic life, running brings clarity.

RunnersI’m here to encourage you to get out there and run! Do you find yourself so busy at work that it’s difficult to take a step back and think strategy? I’m not talking about business strategy here. I’m talking about your life. I’m talking about your future. I’m talking about building your dream life. Thinking about your future requires clarity. It requires slowing everything down. Running brings that clarity and slows the world down.

Some other reasons I recommend running:

  • You get to listen to your favorite music while running, as loud as you’d like! And, you know PPC Ian enjoys bumping that rap music while running (and blogging).
  • Running is an investment in your health, and there is nothing more important than your health. Your health is your longevity. Your health is your energy. Your health is your ticket to living a long life, providing for your family, and getting the most out of your workday.
  • Running helps you sleep better at night. After a long run, I’m so exhausted that I cannot wait to get a solid night’s sleep. Most of us digital marketing professionals probably don’t have problems sleeping anyways (since we work such long hours) but the extra solid sleep is definitely nice.
  • Running is a sport for winners. I cannot tell you how many awesome, amazing people I have encountered at various charity races. Running brings out the best of the best, the real leaders and positive winners.
  • Running is something you can do almost anywhere: Before work, after work, on vacation, during business travel. Running is almost always possible.
  • Running eliminates stress. Difficult workday? Get out there and run your stress away.

Next time you are looking to slow things down and experience clarity, get out there and run as fast and as far as you can!

Image of runners © iStockPhoto – petrelos

Associate With Great People

Aug. 17

Who do you associate with? Is your inner circle uplifting your life and career? Are they pushing you forward and challenging your mind? If your answer is “yes”, you are on a great path. Associating with great people, and great digital marketers, will push your own potential to the maximum.

However, what if that is not the case? What if you’ve got a few bad apples around? They could be in your business/professional life or personal life. If you’re not associating with great people, your progress could be stagnated or, even worse, reversed. While most professionals in digital marketing are great, I have run across a few bad apples over the years.

Today, I’m thrilled to share some tips on how to Associate With Great Digital Marketers. To read my tips, you’ll want to click the previous link and head on over to my friends at 3Q Digital, one of the top digital marketing agencies around. If you’ve been a PPC Ian reader for a while, you may know that I have the honor of guest posting over at 3Q Digital from time-to-time. I’m a tremendous fan of 3Q Digital and hope you enjoy reading today’s guest post. Above and beyond the world of digital marketing, I hope today’s tips help provide food for thought around your overall business and life strategy!

3Q Digital Guest Post Associate Great People

Image in this post © 3Q Digital

Don’t Own Stocks? You Should (With Loyal3)

Aug. 04

This blog is all about careers in marketing. Why then, do I spend so much time on personal finance? First and foremost, I love personal finance. Second, I believe personal finance is key to your career (it’s a great topic to discuss with executives) and your longevity (invest wisely now and you could retire while still a relatively young marketing professional). I’m truly excited to introduce Loyal3 today, a disruptive game-changer.

What is Loyal3?

Invest

Loyal3 is an SIPC member stock broker that makes investing accessible to everyone (including you). Ever want to buy an individual stock but don’t want to pay commissions? Loyal3 charges no commissions by batching your order with others (they execute fewer trades this way), and receiving compensation from companies. Brands pay Loyal3 because smaller, loyal shareholders mean less volatility in share price and consumer brand loyalty. (Hmmm… Wait a minute, I think I have been drinking more Starbucks since I started purchasing SBUX via Loyal3. Loyal3, you got me!)

Ever want to buy stock but don’t have enough money to buy a single share (especially for more expensive issues like GOOG and AAPL)? Loyal3 allows you to buy fractional shares, starting at a minimum investment of $10 per trade. Ever want to buy stocks, but don’t know where to start? Loyal3 offers only the biggest and best brands (about 50 stocks are offered for purchase. (While some may see this as limiting, I see it as pure clarity. I’m personally all about the big brands that pay big, growing dividends. Maybe it’s because I’m a marketer and truly admire a great brand…)

In other words, Loyal3 removes all barriers that have ever kept you from owning individual stocks. In my opinion, no business professional should say, "I don’t own individual stocks", with this cool new invention called Loyal3.

Loyal3 also offers the ability for small investors to participate in IPOs. I wanted to call this out because it’s incredibly cool, but didn’t want it to be the focus of today’s post because I prefer a brand-driven, long-term strategy. (Many are in IPOs for a quick gain, only to sell the issue later.)

PPC Ian’s Personal Loyal3 Strategy

So how am I personally leveraging Loyal3? As a long-time investor and finance enthusiast, you may be thinking, "PPC Ian probably already has a broker. Does he really need another one?" My answer is, "Yes and yes!" Here’s why:

I can buy via credit card and earn rewards points. You read that correctly: Loyal3 allows investors to purchase stock commission-free via credit card. Due to the rewards points, not only am I avoiding commissions, but I’m essentially being compensated to buy stock in my favorite brands. Loyal3 limits credit card-based trades to $50, however you can execute as many as you like. I’m actually in the platform buying stock almost every single day, sometimes multiple times in one day. (I see this transaction size limit as another benefit, see my later point about dollar cost averaging.)

Before we move on, two incredibly important points about credit cards. First, always pay your balance in full each and every month. Leverage your card for points, but do it responsibly. You don’t want to go into debt to buy stock. If you’re in debt already, pay your debt off first.

Second, please don’t use Loyal3 as a churn-and-burn platform. I have read some blog posts about how some individuals are buying stock via credit card and then selling as quickly as possible. They are using Loyal3 to hit their spend thresholds to achieve sign-on bonuses for credit cards. I feel like this type of activity is against the charter of Loyal3 (creating loyal shareholders) and is a deceptive practice that could hurt this cool, little brokerage. Get those points, but only do it if you’re a real, long-term investor and plan on holding your stock. Let’s do the right thing here so this credit card option is around for a long, long time (for those of us who use it responsibly).

As hinted at above, another big aspect of my Loyal3 strategy is dollar cost averaging. It’s difficult (impossible perhaps) to accurately predict the future of the overall stock market, and individual stocks too. Dollar cost averaging is all about risk mitigation. With no commissions to hold you back, I like to buy many smaller lots on a very frequent, recurring basis. Odds are, I will be buying when prices are high, medium, and low (my favorite scenario). It’s the average that matters, and I’m not going to buy the absolute market top in one big lot this way. Moreover, dollar cost averaging creates discipline. I’m buying rain or shine. This is possible with traditional Internet-based discount brokerages on perhaps a weekly or monthly basis, but definitely not a daily basis, at least given the size of my investing budget. (The fees would be way too high Asa percentage of my dollars invested.)

The final pillar of my Loyal3 strategy is one of simplicity and record keeping. In other accounts, I already own some of the stocks that Loyal3 offers. I was very close doubling down and setting up some recurring buys in Loyal3 as well. However, I then realized the record keeping would get too intense: (Recurring) buys of the same stock across different brokerage accounts. I concluded to simply focus on stocks I wanted to own anyway, but didn’t already have in other accounts. Why not keep things easy on myself? While I don’t plan on selling, I’m very much an advocate of impeccable records.

In sum, I’m really excited about Loyal3. I guess I’m a finance geek at heart, with new innovations like Lending Club and Loyal3 topping my list of favorite inventions in the last few years. Now, combine a Loyal3 strategy (stocks) with a Lending Club strategy (loans), and you’ve got a really rockin’ portfolio strategy!

Disclaimer: Long SBUX
Disclaimer: I’m not a financial advisor. This is not investment advice. This is for entertainment purposes only. Please contact your financial advisor before making any investment decisions.
Image of invest © iStockPhoto – frankpeters

Acquisio Bing Ads Promotion Ends Soon (7/31)

Jul. 27

I’m a huge fan of diversification. Whether we’re talking about investments, digital marketing, or life in general, it’s all about diversifying away risk. Are you newer to digital marketing? Do you allocate all of your digital marketing budget to Google AdWords? This is how most people start, and makes total sense. However, as your business grows (or even if you’re in a happy steady state and are looking to lower risk), you may want to consider branching out beyond Google. The best place to start, in my opinion: Bing Ads, the platform that powers Yahoo! and Bing.

Today, I want to feature a special promotion from my good friends at Acquisio, a leading performance marketing platform. I have been great friends with the Acquisio team for a number of years. They are amazing and offer one of the best digital marketing technologies around. Acquisio is leveraged by advanced marketing operations, and is the platform of choice for digital marketing agencies. Also, they offer client services from industry experts. Combining a solid technology platform plus seasoned digital marketing client services support is the winning combination for success in today’s complex online marketing landscape.

Like yours truly, Acquisio believes in the power of diversification. They are confident that Bing Ads is a great opportunity for digital marketers. In fact, they are so confident that they are offering up to $2,500 Bing Ads free advertising. Make sure to head on over to Acqusio to learn more and, if interested, move quickly. This particular opportunity ends July 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST.

Here’s why I’m such a fan of this particular promotion:

  • Bing Ads works! I have been a long-time advertiser on Bing Ads and its predecessors (such as Microsoft adCenter, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Overture) since the early 2000s.
  • In many verticals, Bing Ads tends to be less competitive than Google. (True, search volume is lower on Bing Ads, however the lower level of competition makes it easy to drive high quality traffic to your business.)
  • Just like Google, Bing Ads offers world-class technology and support. They have a great desktop editor application, cutting-edge features, and a super support team (powered by Yahoo!).
  • Acquisio is an amazing technology platform and company. I have learned so much from them over the years (via their speaking at industry conferences, personal friendships, and their industry-leading whitepapers and eBooks). Aside from the free money, this is simply a great opportunity to work with very smart people in building your Bing strategy. The value you extract from this opportunity should far exceed the simple monetary benefit.
  • Have you been considering Acquisio as the platform of choice to power your digital marketing operations? This is a great time to audition their platform while taking advantage of a sweet deal.
  • Every dollar helps. I’m a very frugal digital marketer. I drive the best possible results with the lowest possible spend. I’m scrappy. I have found that the scrappy, frugal approach works wonders for any business. I very rarely pass by free money, and here’s your opportunity to get some free money. You have to spend money to get the free credit (check out Acquisio for more info on the details), but free money is free money. And, if you wanted to test Bing anyways, why not get free money and special support from an incredibly successful platform and client services team?
  • It’s all about testing and diversification. If you’re not on Bing Ads, you really should be, in my opinion. Leverage this opportunity to diversify your digital marketing mix.

Thanks, Acquisio, for sharing such a special deal!

Acquisio Bing Promotion

This promotion is being run by Acquisio. Restrictions may apply. Please make sure you check out Acquisio’s website (and contact them) to learn the full details.
Image in this post © Acquisio

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