Jeff Zelaya

Thank you Florida International University

Jeff Zelaya Public Speaker FIU Marketing

Presenting Keynote for the FIU Sales Club

This past week I got the opportunity to do what I do best and am so very passionate about: teaching college students about business. FIU recently hosted me as a guest lecturer and I  spoke at 5 events in 3 days (my throat was quite hoarse after that)!! The topics that I taught are the ones that I love oh so much: Social Media, Marketing & Sales.

Saturday, October 26th was the “Unauthorized Marketing” lecture series at the Ocean Bank Auditorium in the FIU College of Business.

In this three hour lecture I covered the following topics:

  • Must have marketing skills for the new business graduate
  • Social Media’s future (very engaging discussion, seems to be a lot of mixed opinions and concerns, especially about privacy)
  • The importance of online reviews & marketing automation plus why we need to consider influencers (I was really interested in the discussion that sparked about the juxtaposition of Yelp! & Google)
  • and a whole lot more

What topics did you enjoy hearing about or discussing the most?

Share them with me in the comments area below. I welcome and thank you for your feedback.

Here’s a quick rundown of  the rest of my FIU Speaking Tour: 

On Monday, October 28th I visited Professor Rauseo’s B2B Selling Class to give a special sales lecture, that included discussion about choosing a career in sales, sales negotiations, lead nurturing and relationship building using tools like social media and inbound marketing.

On Tuesday, October 28th I visited Professor Rauseo’s Personal Selling Class and conducted a hands on training exercise that was focused on sales call preparation and best practices along with prospecting and lead qualifying techniques.

That afternoon I also visited Professor Maria M. Garcia’s Social Media Marketing class. I shared my Broward Outreach Volunteer non-profit marketing case study with the class and discussed the topics of Content Marketing and Event Marketing. (On a personal note I am elated to hear that FIU finally has a Social Media Class!!)

Lastly I did the Keynote Presentation for the FIU Sales Club and moderating their panel which consisted of Sales Executives from Ashley Furniture, ADP and Pepsi. I was very happy to hear that this was one the #1 most attended events of the year and the best reviewed!!

FIU Sales Students

So you might asking yourself Jeff why did you do all these speaking events?

Here’s my answer:

“It is my duty to pay it forward”

Those to whom much is given, much is expected, therefore I make it my mission to help college students succeed at business and life. I know how much education changed my future and I want the same for the  next generation of students. If I can help touch a couple of lives and inspire students to become the best at marketing, sales and business then my work and sacrifice is all worth it! 

As you know I am results driven and glad to report the following:

  1. The “Unauthorized Marketing” event generated $668 towards a scholarship fund to help two students represent FIU at the American Marketing International Collegiate Sales Competition that takes place April 10, 2014 in New Orleans
  2. Over 15 applications were submitted for the FIU Sales and CRM Certificate Program
  3. Recruited new FIU Sales Club Members
  4. Tons of positive comments and reviews
  5. A future visit is currently being discussed
  6. #FIUSOCIAL local trending topic

(Winning 1st place at the AMA International Collegiate Sales Competition helped to build my confidence and launch my career.  My goal is to help our college students financially so that we can help support them in getting to New Orleans.

If you couldn’t make the event but would still like to donate (any amount is appreciated) to the cause click here.

Special thanks to Nancy Rauseo, Jose Nunez and Daniel Torrens for inviting me to speak to the FIU Sales Club. They are one of the fastest growing organizations at the FIU College of Business and have helped in growing the Sales & CRM Certificate at FIU by 300%. The FIU Sales Club will be competing in multiple upcoming events and has already made a name for itself with alum snagging job offers from companies like Eli Lilly, Pepsi, Proctor & Gamble, ADP & of course Vocus.

Special Thanks are also in order to Tim (Dugan) Birrittella, Guy Monticello, Pierina Pineda, Kimberly Taylor, Maria M. Garcia and all the AMA and FIU Sales Club members that helped to make this event a HUGE SUCESS! See you all at the top.


Instagram Cake - Unauthorized Marketing - FIU Social Media

Pierina’s sister makes an Instagram cake for the event #NoFilter

AMA onesie

The AMA gets my son the cutest onesie ever! Big thank you!!!




  Some of my favorite moments!





What were yours?

and of course a BIG THANK YOU TO:

Amaray Rodriguez
Andrea Peralta
Armando Cardozo
Ashley Treichel
Barbara Ward
Linda Ward
Brandi Mercado
Byron Vega
Carolina Roldan
Catalina Torres
Chris Gutierrez
Claire Robert
Dania Collado
Daniela Rivas
Daniela Rodriguez
Diego Delgado
Diomyre Aquino
Felipe Gutierrez
Glorimar Abreu
Gregory Rigaud
Hayley Miller
Javier Morales
Javier Sotomayor
Jessica Ulacia
Jose Izquierdo
Joseph Obeid
Karla Pappaterra
Katharina Pajic
Kevin Kleinman
Kristine Monforte
Laura Dettman
Manuel Pozas
Maria Haggen
Melissa Cortina
Michael Cimino
Miles Charlton
Morris Feierabend
Olivia Mor
Ricardo Arana
Robyn Weiniger
Saidelis Mejia
Sandra Lainez
Sarah Chang
Virna Roa
Joaquin Cuadra
Alfred Navarro
Laura Jimenez
Tim Hoyt
Alejandro Fernandez
Manuel Pozas
Felipe Gutierrez
Byron Vega
Isabel Peralta
Angela Gers
Cindy Galdos
Nicolas Patino
Camila Londano
Andrea Mendoza
Marcela Restrepo
Roldon Torres-Moure
Randy Mercado
Joelle Ayala
Mateo Elorza
Javier Herrero
Tatiana Castellanos
Raquel Sanchez
Diana Hoyt
Kim Taylor
Juan D’Arce
Johanna Vasquez

Thank you to all the donors!

We appreciate your gift and know that it will help in giving 2 students the opportunity of a lifetime.

(If you would like to make a donation click here)

Press Release


Recommending Your Competition – When is it ok?

Marketo recently featured this article on their blog:

The #1 Best-Kept Secret in SEO

In the article, authored by Susan Payton at Modern Marketing, she cites PRWEB (owned by Vocus) as a “great little ball of SEO” and shares the many reasons why.

As an employee at Vocus, I found this article refreshing since most companies I talk to wouldn’t so openly praise or recommend the services of their competitors. Ironically, Marketo is the only other company to top Vocus on the Forbes Top 15 Marketing Software list.

Should you be recommending your competition? 

I know what you are thinking….Jeff why the heck do I want to recommend a prospective client of mine to the other guy?

Now, I understand it might be counter-intuitive and it’s not something that you should make a habit of, but there comes times when recommending your competitor is the best thing to do for all that are involved.

Two benefits that I’ve personally seen from recommending a competitor to a potential client of mine are:

1) You shift from a “salesperson” to a “consultant”

Your prospects should be receiving insightful, truthful and useful advice instead of just being “sold to”, nobody likes being sold. So when you recommend a competitor for a valid reason you will earn the trust from your prospect. They no longer see you as someone that is just trying to sell them something but rather a trusted consultant that has their best interests at heart.

2) You save yourself from a “bad client” 

Not every one you talk to will be a fit for your services or product. Not being afraid to tell your prospect this is crucial. Once you determine that their needs might not be a great fit, let them know and send them somewhere else where their needs might be better serviced. If you know it’s not a good fit and continue pursing the sale over the client’s best interest you will lose that client forever and they will probably share their bad experience with others. Do not try to fit a square peg into a round hole! Instead a much better approach is saying “sorry I can’t help you because of XYZ  reason and I recommend you go see ABC if those are your needs.” Your prospect will remember this and might come back to you when their needs change. They will look at you as an expert in the space because of how well you know your capabilities and those of your competitors.

I’m not the only one that feels this way, check out what some of my clients said about recommending the competition:

Kristen Erickson Profile PicKristen Erickson, Content Strategist at Wildboy Says:

“We try to “recommend” competitors when it makes sense to do so, and the company in question is actually a good one. We really do try to help our clients (ha, I know, it sounds like it should be obvious but some companies aren’t all that helpful), so if we are working with a prospective client and it’s just not the right fit, for either of us, we’ll suggest other agencies we feel would work better for them.

We know we’re not the only marketing agency in the world, and we’re certainly not the only good one. We’re not going to win everyone’s business, but we try to be helpful and accommodating so everybody who interacts with us, on any level, has a positive experience and will possibly think of us in the future. Or even recommend us to others.”


Eileen Perez - Profile Pic - Optime ConsultingEileen Perez, Communications Manager at Optime Consulting Says:

“I think it takes more than a phenomenal product for me to recommend a competitor. I also take peer reviews and customer service into account. I need to feel like I’ve been “won over”. It also helps if the competitor actually offers something neat that I wouldn’t be able to receive with my current company.”


Sam Morales - Instagram - CigarSam Morales, Marketing Data Scientist at Drew Estate CigarsSays:

In terms of me recommending my competition, if you follow me on Instagram you’ll notice that I smoke pretty much anybody’s cigar regardless of whether its gifted to me or I have to make an effort to buy it, and on top of that I have no problem publicly praising the cigar on my social channels. I don’t do it because of “Market Intelligence or the façade of Research,” I do it because at the end of the day its something I am passionate about, and quite frankly its pretty hard for any brand to be the best at everything. I’m also humble enough to understand you can’t possibly know what is the best, or in this instance tastes the best without trying everything – but at the rate I smoke cigars I’m trying pretty damn hard to find out! So if you would like to join me on my journey to finding the best cigar in the world, I’d be glad to have you aboard @DrewEstateData.


Rack n Road logoNate Carnahan – Director at Rack n Road Says:

“Recommending a competitor is a good thing and we do it all the time on the Rack N Road side because if you truly want the best for your customers its making sure their needs are met even if you can do it yourself. If done correctly, that customer will not forget and will still return and most likely will have an even more favorable impression of you.”


Crystal Kimpson Roberts

Crystal Kimpson Roberts – Founder of Mountain Top PR Says: 

A competitor would have to be tops in order to get my endorsement. I also believe that nobody is good at EVERYTHING, so knowing where to find excellence is key to ensuring that our clients get the high quality services they deserve and need where referrals are in order.


Eve Horne, Marketing Manager at Stics says:Eve Horne STICS

I guess there are a few reasons:

1. What’s my brand? If my brand personality is about sincerity, honesty, and integrity, then I would be honest about who is the best. But it comes with the value of building brand consistency, and encouraging customers to flock to our brand based on values over best.

2. Also a good brand and marketing is built on the differentiators and value that your company brings over competitor. If this is done well, then recommend another competitor, it shouldn’t affect your company, because you have already clearly stated why you are different.

3. They are not the right customer…. yet! Some companies need prequalifies to use a service, for example you need a  database to purchase BI and analytics services. If a customer doesn’t have these things now, doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually, there may be a competitor that can help them now, and build your brand recognition now.
Your turn! Answer the question in the comments below, best answer wins Seth Godin’s book “The Dip“:

When is it ok to recommend a competitor?  


The AMA Northwestern Mutual Sales Competition Champion!

My flight was scheduled for 4pm on Thursday, it was then pushed back to Friday at 10am then pushed back once again to Friday at 10:55pm and if that wasn’t bad enough the 10:55pm flight was delayed and didn’t leave Miami International Airport till 1:30am on Saturday. Tired, exhausted and hungry we arrived at New Orleans at 3:30 am and still had to drive to our hotel (30 minutes away) and then go grab a bite to eat. Long story short we didn’t go to sleep till 4:30am and try sleeping when you have to be back up at 8am.

But even the sleepless night and the excessive delays didn’t prevent us from walking away victorious.

The AMA Northwestern Mutual Sales Competition began at 9am sharp – so we woke up put on our game faces…

The competition was fierce out of 50 students by 12pm only 5 were left. But it wasn’t over — at 12:15pm we begun the final round and had to do our presentation in front of a large audience and in front of a panel of five judges that will scrutinize your words, tone and body movement. After each contestants went the judges would furiously scribble down their notes and whisper among each other. After we all went the butterflies in the stomach were still not over..they wouldn’t announce the winners till that evening at 6:30pm.

ama northwestern mutual sales competition jeff zelaya

Jeff Zelaya wins 1st place at the American Marketing Association Sales Competition

6:30pm finally crawled along and it was show time. As they got ready to announce the winners, my heart starting beating super fast – I felt like it would give up at any moment and then it came 5th place – Jonathan Santana – my team mate snagged up 5th and I immediately got worried but still held on to hope. 4th Place…..3rd Place and so I knew I was in the top 2 since they had yet to call my name and then 2nd place was announced and my team went nuts.

You would have thought they were screaming for the 2nd place winner but 2nd place was won by someone else so they knew that the only name left unannounced was JEFF ZELAYA and so they called it and up to the stage I ran to take pictures with the big $500 check and claim my…

FIRST PLACE victory for the American Marketing Association Northwestern Mutual Sales Competition. 

An incredible moment and a very happy moment in my life. All the hard work had paid off. But the celebrations weren’t the award ceremony winded down there was still one more big award left unannounced and it was for the AMA’s Top Chapter of the Year AKA the Platinum Award…which FIU WON!!! The crowd once again went wild – everyone wanted to congratulate us and take pictures with us and so the trip that almost never happened concluded in the best finish possible. It was meant to be! Thank you for everyone that made this experience possible. Thank you to our ‘ama’zing AMA family and especially to our Advisors Tim Birrittella and Nancy Rauseo. Love you guys!!

Check our my very prophetic words in this video below…”FIU AMA will be number one!” Whatever you believe you will achieve!