Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Building Your Social Media Platform

Social Marketing is “The Next Big Thing!”
What is it?
How do I do it?
Is it for me?
Yes, it’s working!
Yes, it’s getting great results!
Yes, you should be using it!

“Markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.” The ClueTrain Manifesto.

“I get more out of your shorter posts.” Comment from Joe Tedesco.

The core of internet marketing is getting audience focus. That takes conversation.

People aren’t sold. That’s arrogant. Sales managers talk that way. People buy.

Over time, buyers develop an appreciation for what they need…for what I offer.

Different people are ready to buy at different times. I want to be present to be considered when they are ready.

I have developed a process where I touch over 67,000 people twice a week. Takes about 30 minutes. Here is how I do that. (Click graphic to expand)

I started with Gmail on a Firefox Browser. That gives me access to Google Reader, where 50 bloggers share their posts. (You can see my blog roll at Through The Browser.)

Next I got on LinkedIn. Why? Someone asked. I had no idea how I would use it. We have grown together so it is my main outbound channel. The good news about LinkedIn is it has a community of 60 million. The bad news is I have to be linked to communicate with someone.

Twitter is a recent port from LinkedIn.

When I sold my software company, I knew I wanted another blog, so I built Through The Browser on Blogger.

“Dick, that was the greatest post about the internet on your blog! Can I steal it?” (High praise!) It's good to steal as long as you acknowledge where something is stolen from.

Finally Steve Dorfman wanted me to use “” email, so I built a Google Apps Standard Edition Website over a weekend. That story is on my blog.

Your comments at will give future readers a better idea of how to build their social media platform.

Please comment. Thank you!

Presented by the:
Leadership Breakfast of Maryland
December 4, 2009
7:30 - 8:30 am

Sponsored by:
Paradigm Mortgage Services
Bill Van Dyke, Proprietor

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Alexandria Experiment

Joe Shumard and I are planning an experiment to encourage the members of the Alexandria, Virginia Chamber of Commerce to adopt Web 2.0 technology for their businesses. Joe was one of the original Sales Lab Irregulars and now does Membership for the Alexandria Chamber.

Joe found me when he was developing a tag line for the Chamber. He remembered my tagline and searched to see whether it was still being used. I was all over the page. That search and Joe's deal-making skills produced this assignment.

I think we are in a renaissance of how business is being done, and as more and more people use the internet for research, mastering internet marketing becomes increasingly important.

We both believe that asking business owners to invest in untried technologies is hard on the salesman, so we will be showcasing successful free and low cost ways to build new business channels.

My post Friday on the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce LinkedIn Group was about how I built a free website using Google Standard Apps.

We will be discussing how websites, blogs, and social networks are used together to create extraordinary marketing. The technology is here. Let's use it now!


Friday, November 20, 2009

What is the Difference Between a Customer and a Salesman?

A customer starts with opinions. A salesman leaves with the commitment.

If you're not leaving with the commitment, check to see who starts with the opinions.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Key Concepts for Surviving Organizational Change

Start with “Why change?” Change is expensive, dangerous and uncomfortable. The only thing more expensive, dangerous and uncomfortable than changing is not changing when necessary and trying to live with the results.
One key is first understanding our current mental model for how we work, and then fashioning a model that addresses how our work is changing. Repeatedly defining the best way to work makes the definition process easier, faster, and more valuable. The ability to create a new model when needed is a significant competitive advantage.
“It's my conviction that slight shifts in imagination have more impact...than major efforts at change.” Thomas Moore - SoulMates (Preface)
Automation is cutting the time required for repeating processes. The time saved is used for better customer contact.
• What does more valuable customer contact look like?
• What skills are required for better customer interaction?
Peter Drucker says, “You manage things, you lead people.”
Don't change old habits. Replace them with new activities.
Communication is an area that is changing rapidly. Communication is not just talking. Communication is transferring information in usable form to get a desired result at best cost.
Casually asking a busy person to do something for you has less than a 50% chance of success. What can you do to increase the chances of their remembering, understanding correctly, taking appropriate action, and getting you what you wanted?
Eli Goldratt in The Haystack Syndrome defines “information” as “the answer to the question asked.”
I find a lot of opportunities for improving communication come from social media. Thinking through and executing a social media strategy can have impressive results. We are developing standards for effectively using social media, which remind me of developing standards for email ten years ago, and voicemail etiquette ten years before that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Get The Right Start

Why do some projects win and some projects fail?

I have seen back-to-back projects with a great team, in the same area, get opposite results. Several times. I was involved.

I never noticed anyone working less hard, or the window of opportunity changing, or even bad luck.
What I noticed was that in each case, the initial solution idea was either right or wrong.

A wrong idea makes success much, much harder. The principle reason to keep playing with a wrong idea is to try to stumble upon a right idea. If you didn’t get it the first time why would you get it the second time?

I think there is a process to increase your chances of getting the right start.

First of all, there is a concept of work. When I was an industrial plumber I was told to show up with work shoes, a belt, a pocket notebook, a pencil and a knife to sharpen the pencil. I was amazed how many guys couldn’t do that for a week. I favor the classic Architecture, Design, Execution, Evaluation process unless someone is really attached to some other model.

Then there is a way of thinking. Merlin Mann says, “Innovation is starting where the last guy stopped.” I am a big proponent of finding and using contiguous processes that we have used before. I haven’t ever seen a new theory successfully applied by teams the first time they use it.

Frame the problem differently. Very often when a customer has a problem he can’t solve, the problem is not stupid customer syndrome, it is we are defining the problem in an unsolvable way. Taking the time to define the problem differently often means you can get the desired result without inventing anti-gravity. And not having to rent that anti-gravity box saves a lot of money.

My friend Bill Van Dyke says, “Most golf games are won before the first tee.” Unfortunately too many golfers arrive late and hung over and lose right there.

Do you spend enough time getting the right start?


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yes, And...

In standup comedy, one of the learned skills is entering during someone else’s monologue. That can mark the end of a routine, or using more firepower with dual monologues.

I attended a class for comics and the most valuable thing I learned was that when entering someone else’s performance, the correct thing to say before launching is

“Yes, And…”

That phrase has since worked really well for me in many different types of meetings.

Try it.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Is Moore’s Law Disrupting IT Services?

I had a fascinating meeting with a Big Five Integrator strategic planner. He is seeing that IT support per user will be diminishing as users take more of a role building and maintaining their information environment. He said that in Afghanistan, some troops make increasing use of their social networks for tactical information rather than the DoD furnished systems.
Users who have mastered social networks expect a customized, more useful information environment. Here are some ideas.
If you make your own environment you are either satisfied with it or you improve it. Complaining about support may no longer be a core job skill.
Ernestine, Lily Tomlin’s telephone operator, was at one time THE high tech job. Direct dial ( a newer technology) was her downfall.
Help desk work has been moved to socioeconomically disadvantaged companies, lower cost countries, and automated tools. Help desk is also focused largely on the Microsoft universe. I have some experience with Microsoft, and they seem to be part of a paradigm of highly compensated blue collar staff positioned between the people doing the work and their computers.
Disembodied “IT staffs” who don’t have an interest in the mission of the organization often don’t do a good job and seldom know what the problems are and why they hurt the users so much.
At my gym the electronics on the machines don’t get fixed unless the users explain the problem because the maintenance staff doesn’t exercise, and doesn’t seem to understand why a broken headphone jack should be replaced.
I was talking with the CIO of a Web 2 Healthcare company. He kept referring to his staff as “druids.” I told him that was more accurate than he knew, because not only were the druids wizards, knowing things common people didn’t know, they were also the group responsible for deposing the king when his time was over.
Having just sold an open source company, I have seen that open source development is much faster (because you start building from an existing proven piece of software) and accurate (because as the customer gets a better idea of what they want, they can get it. Users often make the changes themselves) than traditional development. I always felt that freezing the architecture to move to design while necessary, was often done before the customer really knew what they wanted.
Stewart Brand, of the Whole Earth Catalog, has a series on BBC TV about how buildings age, and shows one architect who is still learning from a house 25 years after he built it.
So what happens to all those people who now reset your passwords? What will they do?
Many of them have an aptitude for technical problem solving. Demand for people who can create something new or improve something is always good.
Think about journalism. Journalism is exploding. There are now more working journalists than ever before. Dead tree newspapers and television networks are new uses of journalism.
Are you concerned about amateurish mistakes and outrageous fraud? Remember Sturgeon’s Law, “90% of everything is crud,” and go find the wonderful.

The Myth Of The Turnaround Employee

A great post by Mario on GovLoop!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Will The Real Customers Raise Their Hands?

After the bars closed, a cop sees this guy on his hands and knees crawling in an empty parking lot. He asks the crawler what he is doing and learns that his keys were dropped and lost as he was getting into his car in the back of the parking lot.
“So why are you looking for your keys under this streetlight?”
“I can see better here.”
I heard that story about selling several times recently.
Yesterday I was talking with a strategy consultant who said a small company was going to sell to government agencies by going through integrators who held program contracts.
I asked him why an integrator would sell his customer’s offering. He said there was a legal requirement. I said there were a lot of solutions for that requirement, and the least expensive was ignoring the requirement. I knew it had been ignored for over a decade.
Years ago I was with another small company. One of the salesmen prided himself on getting us on “the best teams.” That meant that we had to participate in a lot of proposals. It also meant we got very little work from this effort, usually not even a task order. Management was thinking about legal force, since “we were on the team!” That never went anywhere.
I was privileged to bring a unique solution to a global integrator. However, that was not apparent to them at the beginning. I broke in by bringing them a project they badly wanted that I had won. The salesmen loved it. Their management was furious.
As we learned to work together, on two consecutive years my guy working civilian agencies was the top salesman on the globe the first year. The next year the DoD rep had the honor. For me, that was like winning the Superbowl two years in a row.
From them I learned that they had eight account reps in the federal space. Seven were totally focused on getting in to agencies. They never made a sale. The eighth was in charge of integrator relationships. He would get an inbound phone call, go over and make all the sales.
The company had come up with this organization when they realized that without penetration to the end customer, there was no demand for their product. Salesmen wanted to spend time with the integrators. That was where the sales came from. But the sales were usually created by the agencies.
I have seen similar in commercial sales. Someone represents that they have a “connection,” and want to get paid to use it. Months and years are lost by rookie sales teams that fall for that. Sales managers are trying to “recruit rolodexes.” Two problems with that. One, who still uses a paper rolodex? Second, people hold jobs for short periods of time. You want to be able to see the person holding the position, not the person who formerly held the position.
One time my boss wanted me to go to a networking party with my sales peers. I asked him, “Why, will there be any buyers there?”
Tom Peters said, “Networking is helping someone,” and I have given and been given referrals that resulted in sales. However, even though they are harder to get, the majority of my time is figuring out how to get the focus of the end users. Once I get their interest, it is much easier to work back to funds, end user permits, budgeting, agent networks, and whatever else their culture requires.
Build your machine to interest real customers.