January 28, 2010

It's Not About The Tools? | Meet iPad

Standing Ovation, Mr. Jobs. Not for bringing out another new gadget but for giving us the desire to promote it. Nice work.

Will iPad change the way we use computers? Who knows.

Will we get to a point when we're all walking around with handheld computers rather than being teathered to a desk? Absolutely

Will more business owners finally discover that creativity and collaboration is not linked to rooms and cubicles and work spaces? They will if they want to succeed.

If it's not about the tools, then why are we losing our minds giving Apple all this free publicity?

strategy. marketing. social media. communications.

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January 27, 2010

Interruption | Integration | Improvement

"Your mind has a lot to talk about and it knows you can't pretend you're not at home."
Linda Solegato

In 1957, a woman is seen leaving her house, driving to work and though shocking did not speak on a phone during her entire trip.

Some 231 years earlier, witnesses claim a tall dark haired man traveled from his place of residence to the grocery store where he worked and got there without the use of motorized transportation.

"What great thing would you attempt
if you knew you could not fail?"

Robert H. Schuller

Less than 20 years ago, people all over the world were quickly discovering the ability to send electronic messages to each other over great distances on their computer.

And just this week, there were more stories written about the Apple iPad than the food shortage in Africa.

"Great minds have purpose, others have wishes."
Washington Irving

According to rumor, there was a time when the U.S. Patent Office was going to close. The claim at the time was all inventions needed were already invented. That claim seems rather preposterous now.

Every invention that has ever seen the light of day was something we had to integrate into our lives.

Got an idea?

Will it be an interruption, an integration or an improvement?

strategy. marketing. social media. communications.

image credit: i.zdnet

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January 25, 2010

Start-Ups | Venture Culturists

Realizing Your Dream.

Imagine you have developed a new software app, perhaps a new game, maybe something that will revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry or a flashing blue trapezoid with a potential customer base in the millions.

Problem: No more money.

You could take your ideas, drawings, business plan and prototype to a venture firm and see if they’ll give you some capital to develop the idea further. This does come at a cost. They become a partner in your business and they would own a piece of it.

If VCs own too much of a stake in your idea, they will have a say in decisions. If they own a majority piece of your lifelong dream they in essence already control your company.

I have met people who have had excellent experiences with VC firms and some who have not. But when I drill down to the stuff outside of the invention the puzzled looks begin.

• Who finances the creation of culture in your new company?
• Who helps you create an atmosphere of collaboration?
• Would you benefit from the services of a Venture Culturist?

Your VC has given you funds to purchase collateral or hire staff. But what happens once your invention is in full production? And if you are an idea entrepreneur and have no actual product yet, get familiar with the term bootstrapping.

Spend And Win?

Perhaps something to think about if you are working away on that next cool thing with hopes of an IPO through venture capital – not only do you need to decipher a market for it but you also need to be able to create an atmosphere for the people who will help you make it.

Are we too focused on product and not people?
Could this be one of the reasons why so many ventures fail?

sustained engagement in the relationship economy.

image credit: middlebury.edu

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January 22, 2010

Ottawa Business Summit | Clear As Mud

Coming up on February 3rd, I have the privilege of speaking at the Ottawa Business Summit.

Clearing Muddy Waters in Marketing and Social Media.

Hosted by Kathryn Schwab of PRceptive Communications

It also includes: Arash Mahin of VdoLife, Karen McNaughton from The Marketing Hub and Ottawa Business Journal’s Jim Donnelly.

Here’s an excerpt from Kathryn's website:

"This panel will speak about practical approaches to marketing and communications in the age of changing traditional media, the shifting landscape of new media and the muddy waters of social media.

The panel will discuss how business owners and managers should map marketing communications strategies to business objectives, choose the right “tools” to hit the right audience/customer, and look beyond the “band wagon” mistakes that many businesses are making.

In addition, the panel will bring valuable insights about traditional media relations and how it’s changed, why video is one of the fastest growing areas in marketing and what integrated marketing and social media really mean for SMBs."

Other speakers featured on this one-day power summit include:
Jim Treliving – the founder of Boston Pizza and someone you may know from Dragon’s Den, Stephen Beckta, Marie Boivin, Mary Cavanagh, Leslie Eisner, Pauline Fleming, Terry Ledden, Cara Rose-Brown, Garth Steele, Garry Watanabe, Rob Woodbridge and more to come.

The Ottawa Business Summit is February 3rd.

sustained engagement in the relationship economy

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January 20, 2010

Early Adopters | Stick Around A While

You Were Here First. Congratulations. Now What?

As I was preparing for a couple of presentations this week I got to thinking about early adopters.

These are the people who grab on to new concepts developed by the explorers and innovators and often champion them until the rest can catch up.

First In.
First Out.
Move On.

Too often those who are too cool for the room get bored and move on to the next idea long before they can share their experiences.

How beneficial would it be if some early adopters stuck around a bit longer? It is a fine line because often they are the types who become critical to the very thing they discovered first.

Patience and People.

Early adopters can make terrible managers because there will always be others in the room who aren't as up on the newest and coolest. Early adopters are chance takers but don't necessarily have patience like my buddy Mike who has been teaching school longer than his students have been alive.

I worked in the music industry for years and remember championing my share of new artists who became stars. There were plenty who didn't reach that status but I don't remember saying: "I was the first to support that band, they went no where."

Tired Of Talking About This Stuff?

In the world of digial advancements, while early adopters roll their eyes when talking about tools and gadgets, I happily discuss these things with clients. It's a safe guess if they knew already, they probably wouldn't ask.

We all must be mindful of getting too far ahead of the curve. If you live on the edge, you can't expect a crowd. And when they finally arrive, it may be wise not to poke fun at their lack of vision.

This is not about digital channels.

The guy who sold me my tires a few months ago was happy to spend half an hour to explain my options. No doubt, it's something he does all day long. If he was "tired of talking about this stuff" there is a good chance he'd see a significant decrease to his revenue line.

Should early adopters stick around a little longer?

business. marketing. social media. communications.

image credit: crazyjourneys

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January 18, 2010

Remembering: Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.
January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

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January 14, 2010

Do You Know Why?

We have the collective patience of a three year old.

We humans have been socializing through various mediums since we arrived on this thing called Earth.

The last two to three years have been a coming of age for social media.

If we divide 36 months by 200,000 years, we may want to collectively get over ourselves.

Many have grown tired of the discussion about this trick and that tool, this toy and that portal.

There will always be shiny things, there will always be people trying to sell us their expertise on said shiny things. We need to know why we need them.

New and Improved! Limited Time Offer! Hurry and Save!

It can be daunting when you hear about experts who can help you in a couple of days with all this new cool stuff.

This is not to suggest there isn't great help available, there is a ton, but everything you do to help and build your business must be predicated on if it dovetails in to your strategic objectives.

• Building a business is a box won't work.
• Putting layers of lipstick on the proverbial pig is doomed to fail.
• Adding activities without knowing why is dangerous.

Sleep Well My Pretty

This is what I call sleep at night metrics. You cover your butt, you have a lot of collateral out in the world to promote your offering and wonder why it fails to resonate.

ROI and Patience make strange bedfellows.

Whether you are hiring someone, looking at new office space, deciding on a new logo design, refining a line of products or any other aspect of your business, one simple question you should always ask yourself...


business. marketing. social media. communications.

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January 10, 2010

Customer Service: Important? Really?

Marketing propaganda can backfire.

I am not the type who enjoys hopping in the car and heading to the mall to have a look around.

Strategic objectives are not just part of my day job. An actual map and a plan help with such excursions. No map? Not good.

Research and strategy are requisite.
The urge to shop is rare.

I had one such day this weekend. I had two specific items I wanted to purchase. I scored the first one in about twenty minutes. Four hours later I returned home having failed to accomplish the second one.

First Store (0-1)

The first store – which I found online and researched extensively – was out of stock.

The "customer service rep" was quickly on to his next avoidance.

I pushed my cart of about $75 in impulse buys next to the counter and walked out of the store.

Second Stop (0-2)

Store number two was part of a larger chain where all items are featured on a central website. To find the location nearest you, just click the "store locator" tab on the top of the screen. Items and location confirmed.

After scouring the store for half an hour, I inquired about said item. “Yeah, we don’t carry any larger items in this location, we don’t have the room”, quipped the woman behind the counter. She was quick to get back to counting a list of something clearly more important than serving a customer.

Third Shop (0-3)

The third store was also out of stock.

The manager told me that she was expecting more “in a couple of weeks”.

I thought to ask about going on a call back list. No can do.

She walked away quickly flashing her forged half fake smile.

Busy Busy.

I have worked in retail - it is very tough to be on your feet and deal with guys like me who "saw it on the website".

But are these just strange random accidents? Is customer service alive and well? Are customers important to you? Really?

business. marketing. social media. communications.

image credits: brandingtheman | thesun.co.uk

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January 8, 2010

Facebook Changes Colors

Human Mediums.

The social networking chatter has become deafening. To some, too much of the focus has been about campaigns and add-ons, quick fixes and magic tricks.

Human networking can be exquisite.

And with that in mind, we come to the mysterious Facebook color status updates.

You may have seen them, mostly from your friends who are women.

Instead of the usual personable content added to someone’s name, there is simply a color. Red, black, white, pink, orange, green, yellow, etc.

What does it all mean?

Some suggest it is tied to breast cancer awareness. If it is, then run with it. It is a devastating disease that affects all of us. The colors are a reference to the bra they are currently wearing.

If this is all simply a worldwide event for the purpose of networking and fun, then pick a color any color and go for it.

What says you?

business. marketing. social media. communications.

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January 7, 2010

Beware of the Wall

Tactics before Strategy is Suicide.
Ready. Aim. Shoot.

The year has just begun . You feel refreshed and ready to hit things hard, get things done and make it happen. It's all good.

Enjoy it while it lasts, you will soon be facing a big challenge.

Years ago I worked for a dude who took the ready-shoot-aim approach which often caused a big mess to clean up.

The right order is ready-aim-shoot. Too often we fail to fire.

Over Planning The Plan.

Designing a road map is essential but we can run the risk of spending gobs of time talking about the plan and planning the strategy and setting up the start-up and approaching the due date. Then it stalls.

And then we hit the wall of indecision and we get stuck.

Hopes and Dreams.

It’s the first week of a fresh year, resolutions aren’t broken yet and the magical date on the calendar has given us renewed hope of new conquests.

This is exactly the time for us to get ready, then aim, then shoot.

Will we do it this time? Will we remember the confidence and hope we feel today in a few days or weeks or months when it may get difficult or we hit a snag or worse yet – a naysayer?

As the tools of social and digital media grow like a vine on the wall, it has become even more crucial for us to pay close attention to our business plans and customer targets. Growing our writers and managers is paramount right now.

Knowing how to reach clients and give them solutions has never been more important. The more things get complicated the more crucial is it to remember the basics.

Focus on the Painting, not the Brush.

The toys and tools can distract us from thinking that we have gotten ready, we are aiming and we have shot. It often turns out to be a lot of activity and very little progress.

The options available are vast. You can create an outdoor campaign with a direct mail companion that ties directly to your radio advertising that becomes a cross media opportunity with your Twitter stream.

Logos and artwork can be developed that will wow the most seasoned designer while a high priced actor can be hired to be the voice of your brand.

Job well done. Count your millions.

Activity: Meet Progress.

Pardon me while I butcher the Bard but if you take the ready-shoot-aim approach, it will amount to a giant hill of pretty pictures signifying nothing.

These are not unforeseen situations out of our control - you can brace for them only so much - these are situations we seem to somehow create on our own.

There are millions spent every day on start-up venture capitalized and bootstrapped ideas. Every single one is grown from the goal of creating noise and making profits.

Every one of them consists of a group of people who hope to end up with more at the bottom of the page than when they began.

Many won't make it.

That dreaded wall may not be a group of customers that failed to buy your product.

It may not be because of a failed launch.

It certainly won’t be because you took chances.

It will be because you lost your map on the way to your objective.

You have the chance to build a route that can take you around most walls rather than headlong in to them. Again.

What are you doing today to plan your course?

business. marketing. social media. communications.

image credits: uzar | madisonshortsales | hickletoncollectors

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January 5, 2010

Working On Your Craft

Practice. Patience. Persistence. Play.
Balancing effort and blending life.

Have you ever been to a sporting event or seen a live play or concert?

Have you watched a great movie?

Do you have any experience meeting someone else who is successful in business?

Do you find motivation from people who show talent and prowess in a particular discipline?

How does someone master their craft?
Short answer: it depends on the individual and their specialty.

When I was a kid I couldn't get through an NHL game without calling my buddies to see if any were interested in a little pick up game on the street. If you enjoy writing, reading a good book may give you more determination to work on your own novel.

You may know someone who went back to school and emerged with a whole new career path. Seeing others succeed may give you reason to study their process to improve your business.

But simply pressing our noses against the glass doesn't get us far.
Coaching from the chair adds no points to the win column.

Speaking from experience, this requires working nights and weekends, writing ideas on scraps of paper you later find in the laundry, networking well, reading incessantly while life blends with work.

Shortcuts are the legend of fairy tales.

There are many ways to be successful. What's important is to be organized and have a strategic plan. It is equally essential not to settle for good enough - that's what the other guys do.

And it's okay to get a little messy once in a while, take some chances, swing at the fence and remember the importance of passion.

What are your thoughts?

business. marketing. social media. communications.

image credit: crayola

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January 1, 2010

A New Decade | Enjoy The Buffet

I sensed a new tone wafting through the community over the last few weeks.

It was like freshly baked bread and homemade stew – the kind that you have a second helping when you have no more room.

Familiar. Inviting. Comforting.
Nourishing. Delicious. Reassuring.

We were overdue for a feast.

This required us to remove the junk food in our minds and focus. The issues we face are very real and very steep to climb but we can approach them from a much more strategic angle if we have our heads on straighter.

We were tired of hearing the bad news. The gloom was more doom than we could endure. Greed and selfishness are not welcome here.

Then the shift began to happen and perhaps it was due to a date on a calendar but the corner was near. Conversations turned from negative to hopeful to positive. There were more reminders we can decide to work and spend time with people we like while working on projects we want.

It’s A New Year. It's A New Decade. Now What?

It's just a number if we fail use this annual marker as the starting point. Baggage is a choice, so are rear view mirrors.

Nothing we do can change the past.

2010: The year to get stuff done, to stop making excuses, to ask for help, to collaborate for real and to focus on what we want.


business. marketing. social media. communications.

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© Kneale Mann knealemann@gmail.com people + priority = profit
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