Mike McKinney, President, comHAUS, Inc.
What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business?
After a stint as Apple student rep, I went to work on an hourly basis as an AE in a small marketing firm in Dallas—and worked my way into a salary and a client base. I am proud to boast that I have generated more money for my employer than they have paid me in wages since the week I graduated college. We wrote a strategic plan for a client who wanted to start a service bureau for Voice Mail and Fax on Demand. The day we presented the plan they told us, “Great idea. We think you should do it.” So, they paid us for the plan, we took the technology and became an interactive fax service bureau, FaxResources. In 1995, FaxResources merged with the Dallas Cowboy Insider—thrusting me into early epublishing. Then we merged with !nfaxamation in ’97, which moved me to Denver. !nfaxamation merged with International Teledata Group (ITG)—which was an enlightening experience in corporate dysfunction—causing me to launch comHAUS in ’99.
Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road.
Early in the fax business we picked up an account with BlueCross BlueShield—through the Yellow Pages no less. They had mailed out the wrong 800 number to register for a meeting, and fax was the only way to salvage the event. I stumbled onto their VP of direct markets at a DMA luncheon a few weeks later. I asked him how it worked for them, and he said in front of about 20 people, “We screwed up the mailing pretty bad and you guys really bailed us out.” Sometimes fate smiles.
In brief, describe your business/company?
comHAUS is effectively a profitability consultant that makes its money on technology services instead of billable hours. We offer a lot of communication solutions to help SIPA members communicate more efficiently and effectively—meaning more profitably.
– eMessaging/marketing (email, voice, fax, data, web, design, etc.)
– Virtual events (webinars, teleseminars, webcasts, hybrid events, conference archives, etc.)
– eLearning (registration, ecommerce, hosting/fulfillment, OnDemand audio and video, testing, certificates, etc.)
…all with a healthy dose of added value—and consultative guidance.
What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business?
– The Hippocratic oath: Do no harm. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
– Manufacturing Process thinking: Zero defects. Begin with the end in mind. Recognize that what you do now affects someone else later. Focus on efficiency, cycle time and ROI. Seek not delayed perfection but continuous improvement over time. Worship at the altar of efficient and effective.
– Focus on Profitability: If it doesn’t make money, it is not business; it’s charity. It was ALWAYS a bad idea to pay $320MM for a start-up that never generated positive cash flow. Somewhere in the ’90s we lost sight of that. We are all paying the price today.
What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now?
Video webcasts and hybrid events, coupled with ongoing remarketing and repurposing of the conference archive assets. The VAST majority of your audience will NOT be on-site at your live conferences—and is in the market for some virtual version of the content. We see some webcast clients double their money just by having a tekkie in the back of the room with a laptop. Accredited elearning and training is clearly coming of age right now also.
Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for the second half of 2011 and 2012?
Content Aggregation. We are bringing together content providers and marketing partners to deliver additional revenues for both parties under revenue share arrangements. Content providers get additional sales for free; marketing partners get additional inventory for free; readers/subscribers/students get more content and learning options. And comHAUS even makes a little.
What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team?
Access to the phenomenal level of expertise and knowledge exchange you offer. I have never been around direct competitors so willing to share what is working, what has not and how to successfully implement it all. Many associations rarely deliver much member value at all—way too many. While every SIPA session is designed to let me walk out the door and make money tomorrow. With the SIPAcademy, content we have captured over three years, SIPA is sitting on what I consider a Doctorate degree in paid content marketing. I’m not sure you guys recognize how good your content is, when compared to what other marketing and publishing associations call “education.” And of course, friendly, loyal, fiscally responsible clients.
Where did you grow up?
In the dog pen—literally. My dad raised and trained English Pointers. All kids should grow up around puppies! My parents were college coaches and health and PE professors. We bounced around Louisiana and Mississippi as they got their doctorates and did their student teaching. When I was 9, we moved back to my dad’s hometown of DeQueen, Ark. After six years as a Razorback, we moved to Dallas/Fort Worth area, where I reside today. [The comHAUS main office is in Westminster, Colo.]
What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
a) University of Texas at Arlington. Arlington is a great place.
b) At this point, I must exercise my 5th amendment right to silence—on the grounds that I might incriminate myself. Seriously, probably Apple Student Rep training at the Infomart in Dallas. They brought about 50 top marketing and technology students together at Apple’s brand new facility at the Infomart for three days of orientation and training. It was 1991. Motorola had just launched a “super chip.” The PowerMacs were about to roll out. Windows was just in Beta. I was 21 years old and hanging with some of the brightest “Mac faithful” in the world. Their tagline at the time was, “Changing the world. One person at a time.” Life was good!
Are you married? Do you have children?
My wife of 18 years, Judy McKinney. We were married on our 4-year anniversary of going together. August 28 will mark 22 years together. We have two daughters, Suzy, 8 and Lorin, 15—both of whom clearly got their looks and good taste from their mother.
What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?
Golf. There was really no choice. My dad and mom were both competitive golfers and golf coaches. My brother is a retired course superintendent. I was publisher of the Golf Insider in the mid-’90s. My best friend is a golf pro. My lawyer and direct mail guy are both scratch golfers—as is the CEO I’d like to hire. I also worked six years on a grounds crew starting when I was 15. Early morning on a golf course is magical. I bleed green.
Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?
Book: “The Owner’s Manual for the Brain” (If you are curious what drives the human brain); movie: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (I wish I had Merlin’s ring!).
Dallas Mavericks!!! Dirk Nowitzki for President.
As Mike said, “With the SIPAcademy
[SIPA’s virtual, online learning center]…
SIPA is sitting on what I consider a
Doctorate degree in paid content marketing.”
Just the sessions from SIPA 2011 alone
are worth their weight in value.
Check out SIPAcademy today!
Find the subject you’re interested in and
a session will be there for you to listen to.