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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yer Welcome!

I said, “Thank you” to a server.

Response, “No problem.”

Full stop, system crash, Reboot.

By the time I got back up, she was gone. No further communication. Not much tip, either.

When someone takes the time and effort to thank you, if you can’t acknowledge their effort, you are training them not to thank you in the future, not to thank anybody. You are training them that “thank you” can be an uncomfortable behavior.

I sell.

My work is about enlarging and improving relationships. It’s hard to work with people who have decided “thank you” is uncomfortable.

If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for me. “Thank you” – “You’re welcome.”


Monday, April 12, 2010

Peter Corbett on Social Marketing

Peter Corbett spoke at Joe Shumard’s Internet Implementation Forum at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. I think Peter is one of the smartest people I’ve heard on using social media. This isn’t his whole presentation, just the parts I like best.

His company, iStrategy Labs is a “digital experiential marketing agency.” Google istrategylabs for an incredible demonstration of search engine optimization.

Peter had been in the advertising agency business when an error from his management left him with the opportunity to start his own practice. He produced an age/demographic analysis of Facebook users. Since few people were coming to his blog, he linked his piece to the Wikipedia “Facebook” page and began getting 40,000 hits a day and offers to talk on television and interview in the media.

He uses all types of social media, and as an example told how using Facebook for business has some irreplaceable advantages. Facebook advertising can get you to incredibly small markets (a specific niche in a single town) for very low cost.

Small ads to small niches burn out. You need a new ad every 2-4 weeks. Doesn’t mean people aren’t responding, it means everyone who fits your criteria has seen them! Start with 5 ads, pick the two best performing and add four more.

When one of the participants, a professional writer, was wondering if he should concentrate on his business Facebook or his personal face book, Peter said, “I would concentrate on getting the message out that you are the best writer, period.”

People and organizations track a single word on Twitter. He tells the story about someone who did a transaction with a company because she mentioned their product, and they came to her.

One local listserv is notoriously anti-promotion. Peter got excellent results by answering questions and referring others, until now he is the most referred provider in his niche on that network, and has the other members recommending him. In this case, anti-promotion also meant promote the group.

Peter creates a lot of notice by designing a physical event, promoting it, sharing it to make it bigger, and building a community of people who are getting value from the event. One is, June 11 through 20, 2010 all over the Washington DC area.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How Local Businesses Can Take Advantage Of The Internet

A Cost-Conscious Workshop For Successful Small Businesses

Spring 2010 Networking Event, Arlington Business Council

Main Ideas
What is the core creative idea that will engage your audience?
Platforms are just amplification.

The Internet is a network of computers.
The World Wide Web is a network of links.

Do you want to control the platform, or control the conversation?

How you use the internet depends on what you want to do. Whatever you want to do, chances are someone else has already done it. R&D means Research and Duplicate.

My Incoming Education

Search Engine - Take the time to learn how to use your chosen search engine. I subscribe to nine Google blogs to learn how to make the most out of their tools. Last night I saw developers searching on Twitter.

Email - The great communicator. You can quickly reach most of the world from your email. I have 6 accounts in one Gmail window because Gmail has the best spam filter.

Blog Aggregator - Replaced my newspaper. I use Google Reader, part of Gmail. I subscribe to 67 blogs. That list is posted on Through The Browser.

Getting Found
I have two free web sites, Sales Lab and I am not a programmer, and I built each in four hours from a cold start. They each come with 50 free email accounts and other goodies.

I have two free blogs, Sales Lab Posts and Through The Browser , where I post twice a week. Figure a good post is 5 paragraphs, ten sentences. Started last September, now more than 85 posts.

I have a free LinkedIn page. My linkedIn strategy is explained in Web 2.0 in Three Paragraphs.

When I change the status bar on my LinkedIn page, I notify over 500 LinkedIn contacts and automatically notify my Twitter followers.

To get my message out to my world, I am active in 25 LinkedIn Groups and a half dozen targeted Ning social networks.

When I write a blog post, I also post it to the groups I think will be interested. A full post goes to over 80,000 people. See Building Your Social Media Platform.

What Else Can You Do?
John Battelle, one of the leaders of Web 2.0 recently posted an update of his 10 year old Database of Intentions. The first concept of DBoI was what people asked search engines. He has expanded that to “What I Want,” “What I Buy,” “Who I Am,” “Who I Know,” “What I’m Doing,” and Where I Am” (or “What’s close?”).

For a chart of the top companies answering these questions, search for Battelle Database of Intentions Chart - Version 2, Updated for Commerce.

For an even grander view of tools you can use, see The CMO’s Guide to: The Social Landscape.

I don’t agree with all the choices on either graphic, and my needs are not your needs. They showed me the bigger opportunity.

What’s a small business to do?

Get email. Learn to use it. I favor Gmail as it is excellent quality and free.

Build a website you can fix yourself. Websites get better, not finished. I favor Google Apps Standard Edition as it is free and requires no programming.

If you’re a local retail business, become a Yelp guru. Yelp shows where you are and what your customers think about you. I found my barber on Yelp and he’s the best barber I have had in a decade.

If you have a business-to-business operation, get a LinkedIn Page, get 500 contacts and some recommendations.

I have 28 LinkedIn recommendations and I like them so much I copied them to my website so people I am not linked to can see them.

Join LinkedIn groups and other social networks that interest you. Start by reading, then write. Let other people read what you write. It doesn’t hurt and good feedback is wonderful.

Other Thoughts
“Hunh, Hell! Do Something!”

The new tools, the most advanced tools, that let you take advantage of the benefits of the Internet are mostly free.

These tools are “social,” so tell your
friends what you are doing. Get their help and opinions.

When you need help to do something, ask a search engine. The answers are there. The trick is which question provides the right answer.

When you are building your cyber-empire, keep a pad of paper handy. Note your ideas, your passwords, your user names, your questions.

When you get frustrated, take a break. Much of the stress is because when you try something on a computer you get an immediate response. Relax!...Rejoice! Resolve to have fun, don’t blame anyone or anything when you don’t understand, because you will be ashamed when you do understand.

In 1995, on my first website, I realized, “Websites don’t get finished. They get better.” I liked that so much, I put that on the website.

In The Mythical Man Month, Rick Brooks writes, “Software is the ultimate art form. You can make anything.”

Was this good for you? Please comment to tell us what is the best thing you learned from this presentation. (Handout)

Thank you!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Limits of government?

Last week my wife told me that college loans will now be handled exclusively by the government. I thought, "Well, that's it for education."

The problem is that government is set up on a bureaucratic model, which in the 1700's was the most advanced management system designed to control the Bureaus (regions) of France.

There is never enough money allocated for a good program. A typical bureaucratic program will have an output of anywhere from 10% to 75% of the funds dedicated to the program. In the case of 75% return, the remaining 25% of the money has to cover ever expanding oversight and management, and in the case of 10% returns, "No matter how hard you do the wrong thing, it never quite works." This is true in all types of activities, but a well funded bureaucracy never fails, it just continues to cost.

A non-bureaucratic organization has is the ability to make benefits exceed budget. Those volunteers standing in a cold parking lot selling Christmas trees actually made more for scholarships when they starting selling bags of oranges as well. After expenses they had a return of 250% of capital. That's real money, not “jobs that might have been lost if we hadn't killed the organization for it's own good.”

You won't find that kind of initiative in a bureaucratic organization. A bureaucratic organization is designed to control resources, not experiment to better results.

I spent several years as a member of a CEO group helping a local university. I can remember having 20 minute meetings in the parking lot, as the membership all had responsibilities with our real jobs. Then a state organization convinced our executive director that they should start attending this committee meeting, since we were getting big results. And they brought donuts.

Well if you're going to have donuts, you might as well have coffee, and before you know it, we were having two hour meetings with much less throughput. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what until one of my older and wiser colleagues pointed out that the (by now) four state employees were all recording the two hour meetings as a major accomplishment of their day.

What the heck, it was warm, well lit, and they were sitting with high status personages. Eventually the original members went elsewhere, but the committee has continued to meet, and results are no longer tracked.

This morning I was explaining this to my mom, and she said, “Well, the government says they are taking out the middleman, that should save money…” Eureka! The government is the middleman in commercial transactions, providing no value and exacting significant cost! Their main function is to create and punish the guilty.

In our zeal to organize and stamp out fraud, waste, and abuse, we are forgetting that organized bureaucracy leads to entropy. Sure there are mostly failures in free enterprise, but the successes are the engine that drives our economy. Government has no part in that growth.

How about a little humility and perspective from our elected officials?