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Monday, January 25, 2010

Top 8 Ways To Use Social Media (Video)

Lewis Howes,, a record setting arena football player, college All-American, and social media explorer has his own YouTube Channel and made a great video.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Four Big Myths of Profile Pictures

The OKCupid blog measures the response rates of different types of photos on their site. Cool data!

I especially liked learning about the power of the "Facebook photo."

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Dreaded Process Diagram

I had coffee with one of my hero consultants last week. Over a decade ago, I watched him work with a customer, and he was magic. In an hour he gently gave the customer a better understanding of how to operate his business that lasted for years.

So now he’s older. Just talking to him I can see he is wiser. I am so happy.

Sure, sales are harder (for everyone I know), he has restructured his offering, gone downmarket.

The next day he sends his brochure and I am shocked. It’s a diagram of his process!

That’s not what he does! I saw what he does! He does magic!

Since I am basically a six year old with a hammer, it got me thinking about sales.

Why do so many presentations displace a sales opportunity with a process picture?

The idea for the sale develops in the prospect’s mind.

If I provide a diagram, it probably won’t match the mind picture. I should be working on THEIR picture.

But I like my diagram. It’s how I won the last war. I am secure I can do that again. Who cares what this new guy needs!

If the diagram doesn’t sell, I’ll add more pages!

Here’s a question. If you truly wanted to help your prospect define what they want to buy, what would you do?

I think I would ask questions to make that mental image as vivid as possible.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fail Forward Faster!

Attended an impressive meeting of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Small Government Contractors Consortium. Had some 20 companies represented.

We developed a series of ideas for integrating Web 2.0 into existing businesses and I was amazed by how everyone seemed to like someone else’s idea better than their own.

This was practical thinking by people running operating companies. None of the solutions would take more than a day to implement, and they seemed to be ideas they had been considering for some time.

The biggest hurdle was writing the page of what to accomplish.

My favorite ideas were how to strengthen a LinkedIn page,
Joining the AlexChamber LinkedIn group, and
Setting up a web page.

If you had one thing you could do to improve your business, what would it be?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Feature to Benefit to BENEFIT!

Emory and I were talking yesterday. He is a thought leader at a prestigious boutique management services company. We came to the point where we were in violent agreement that the benefit of a product or service has to keep constantly changing for the better…if you let it.

Typically we start with a feature, something the piece was designed to do. Then someone from marketing defines what they think the benefit is for an imaginary customer. That feature/benefit combo is the norm.

The magic occurs when a prospect corrects you on what they see the benefit is for them. Often I have seen the provider push back with, “Oh you don’t understand…” and try to force the conversation back to what they expect.

My experience is that when the customer prevails, the transaction gets bigger, the competition is left behind, and the supplier has the opportunity to push through to a new level of play.

Years ago, during Y2K, we were selling a tool that would automagically parse COBOL code and identify the areas for a Y2K conversion.

My technical partner and I were invited to NYC to show it to the Postal Service. The product did what it was supposed to do and they were impressed. Then they told us that their real problem was another flavor of code. Would we try our tool on that?

Wayne got excited and set up an experiment on the spot. It wasn’t a demonstration because neither the prospect nor the sales team had any idea what would happen.

Lights flashed, drives hummed and in a half hour we had the results running through a projector to show on the wall. It wasn’t perfect, but the customer said not only was it better than anything they had tried, just the graphic representation gave them a much better understanding of what else they would have to do.

Now our services organization was insulted and protested. That tool was not designed to solve that particular problem. We should not let the (now) customers use it. We should tell them to find something else.

We went through a half dozen rounds internally before we were “allowed” to help our customer solve their problem.

An unintended consequence was that the news spread through the market, and I was getting calls to create cross platform analysis of large software portfolios, which led to making recommendations for getting more use out of their COBOL in over a dozen enterprises.

We were using our tools and products for things we had never imagined. No one else had imagined those uses either so there was very little competition for the work.

In a perfect world, the seller should know the features and work with the customer to define the real benefits.

Can I get some "Amen" in the comments?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rethinking Quality of Knowledge

The other day Joe said, “I like your posts. I was there when some of the events you write about happened, and the others fit my philosophy. People need a philosophy to understand what they learn.”

Stoat told me about a study that showed that a high percentage of Marine Corps officers never achieve the same level of responsibility and compensation as their final positions in the Corps. They had a framework for the Corps that didn’t transfer to civilian life.

An IDE (Integrated Development Environment – Software where programmers build code) costs about as much as a car and lasts about as long.

I step in front of education as much as I can. I find I get the most value when it is practical and when it is something I care about.

Saint Bumpersticker had two pronouncements on knowledge. First, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance,” followed by, “The problem with ignorant people is not that they don’t know enough, but that they know too much that is not true.”

I think we are in a time when our roles and responsibilities are changing at a speed we have never seen before. Think about what it means when your last name is Carpenter, Fisher, Mason, or Farmer. Families were doing the same jobs for generations.

We may be working more hours than we imagined, but there is so little physical exercise, we have to schedule that separately or lose health and mobility.

We have to rethink our acquisition and use of knowledge.

What are the best parts of your knowledge strategy?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

“Makers” by Cory Doctorow

The reason the steering apparatus is in the back of sailing ships is so the helmsman can keep the wake between two pegs on the taff rail. You keep going straight forward by paying attention to where you’ve been.

Most of my navigation is the same way. Great insights usually come from blinding flashes of the obvious lubricated by perspiration.

Makers, a book by Cory Doctorow, is a much easier glimpse of the future. The book is a near future business fantasy, a half dozen interrelated stories covering different types of businesses.

As the characters play out, I kept thinking, “I know him!” or “I’ve met THAT guy many times,” so the activities portrayed are part of today’s reality. What is different is the perspective of the environment people are playing in. Seeing this was disquieting, believable, and reading it offered some strategies.

My favorite William Gibson quote is, “The future is already here, it’s not evenly distributed.”

Makers provides a welcome context for the current future.


Monday, January 4, 2010

First Order Producers

After a meeting last month, one of my customers called and said, “Did you see all those really accomplished senior managers in the meeting who are either unemployed or underemployed? We should figure out a way to make money with that kind of asset!”

I had noticed, but my thinking was a little different.

Yes, they are senior, they are accomplished, and they are underemployed.
I think that is because in the course of their work, they have gone from first order producers to second and third order producers.

Since I am making these terms up, let me explain them.

First order producers grow, make, sell, or count work.

Second order producers organize, manage, or administer first order producers.

Third order producers find ways to improve the growing, making, selling, counting, organizing, managing, or administering process.

In a recovering economy, we have more of a need for first order producers. The growth of second and third order producers during the boom was an attempt to “do more with less.” That may not be as desirable in a restart as growing, making, selling and counting.

The best second and third order producers I have worked with started as first order producers and were moved to leverage their efficiencies. Of course, many others found themselves in higher order positions and used that as an excuse to consume coffee.

There are new breakthroughs to be discovered and used, but as work changes, we need a face-to-face familiarity with it to improve it. I suspect the next crop of second and third order producers will have experience with new types of growing, making, selling, and counting.

Your thoughts?