February 23, 2010

The Wonderment of Children

It was refreshing to be in a client meeting this week where ideas were flowing freely on both sides of the table. If you are unsure of the social channels and digital options, this may help.

In reference to many social web opportunities someone in the meeting said: “Treat me like I’m an 8 year old”.

The intent was to outline their perceived lack of knowledge in this space but the deeper meaning and the smile on their face created a wide open door of possibilities. They wanted to learn and explore.

Maybe the next time you or someone you know begins to tense up while worrying about instant results and return on investment, the reminder of what is possible can replace doubt?

A kid resides in all of us.
Perhaps we need them to run the meeting once in a while?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: sidhere

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February 22, 2010

Misguided Talent

Download This

The weekend began when I was updating my anti-virus software. Clearly because I wasn't paying attention my system was unprotected for about two minutes.

And like the sharks that circle Seal Island, there was an attack.

Pay Attention

Vista Internet Security popped up asking for me to scan my system. This is not a Microsoft application, this is a virus. This is where my Apple friends begin to point and laugh. Go ahead, it’s well deserved.

After some excellent help from contacts on Twitter and a good buddy who is a computer whiz, I quickly found out that the attack was malware.

If you pull the same stunt as me and get something called Vista Internet Security, do a complete system sweep with your current anti-virus software and get rid of it right away. The creators just want your credit card number.

I applaud the talent it takes to create this but often wonder if the same aptitude was put toward something legit would we all be better off?

Computers Don't Hurt People

The weekend also included conversations with several colleagues who in each case are going through some weird stuff at work.

Each was similar because there was another person who was going out of their way to create a difficult situation when that same amount of effort toward positive behavior would vastly improve the circumstance.

Some enjoy writing computer viruses, others enjoy creating human ones. Our choice is ensuring we don’t download either.

Here's to a great week!

strategy. marketing. social media.

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February 19, 2010

Do You Know Your Company?

Survey Says...

If you are a manager or owner of a company, here is a quick way to get a snapshot of the landscape inside your organization.

This is a short survey that should be done anonymously and done by everyone in your company.

Here are three simple questions:

• What does this company do?
• Who is our target customer?
• What do you need from us?

The answers will surprise you.


photo credit: bre

Additions to the list:

Susan: I would add to that list "What problems do we solve?"
Iris: This is good, I'll add one more question: Why are you here?
Elliot: And add, "What do you do?"

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February 17, 2010

Stop Selling | Start Building

It Takes a Community to Raise a Relationship.

If you have spent time on the social web, you have seen and read about relationships and sharing, building trust and giving more than receiving. If you participate - really participate - something will begin to happen. People will show up.

Others will begin to give back and ask for help (not freebies) and you really will build trust with people you may not have otherwise met.

Just Like The Real World.

These things take time and hard work. It also requires getting off the social channels and meeting others face-to-face or speaking with them on the phone. Or as a Mike Kujawski calls it - taking it offline.

Social media can eliminate the cold part of the call and open up opportunities to warm up a potential new relationship.

I am not a social media expert and neither are you.

Real conversations and actual collaboration with other humans remains the best way to network socially. The door can open to new possiblities through the social web but then it is up to us to decipher between an opportunity to build another real human relationship and junk mail for the recycle bin.

Keep building your community and let me know how it's going.

strategy. marketing. social media.

image credit: bspc

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February 15, 2010

Google Buzz or Beta?

Last week, CBC's Doc Zone aired a documentary feature entitled Google World.

It is a brief flash at life at world headquarters where think tanks and creative minds meld. It's a human experiment forever in beta.

The film describes life at Google as a neverending co-creative place to work.

Collaborative teams embrace emerging technologies and encourage ideas. Everyone walks around with laptops creating and devising. Sounds cool.

In the documentary, Google CEO Eric Schmidt talks about the importance of trust. No argument here, we have to trust these companies with our information.

The question remains, do have a choice? It's okay, it's in beta.

The company is busy. It introduced Wave last year and their purchase of Aardvark last week. And let's not forget all the others.

Google Buzz has been introduced as the company’s latest leap in to the social web but it has been anything but smooth. Last week, the news cycle was jammed with stories of Google Buzz and its privacy issues.

The company was quick to respond with claims that they figured we wanted it this way and they are working on the problem.

Google is a company that gives us the impression they are always working on the problem, always in beta and experimentation. They want our input through their collaborative products and we are to trust them, right?

As a publically traded company employing thousands of the best and brightest, you’d think they would iron out these hiccups before rushing to market. It was a simple mistake, right? Sure, it's in beta.

The Search is ON.

The company is in a heated battle with Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo for digital supremacy. Strange things happen when greed creeps in to design and collaboration.

I use Google products and I like them but to say that privacy is a top priority would be among the biggest of all understatements. Do we really know who has our stuff? No worries, it's in beta.

A company that houses zettabytes worth of personal information in thousands of acres of secured server farms all over the world claims it was caught off guard on this little privacy glitch on Google Buzz.

And we believe them, right?

(editor's note: this blog post is in beta)

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: google earth

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February 13, 2010

Vancouver 2010 | Make Us Proud

The Games Are On

Last night’s opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games were not perfect but still did Canadian’s proud. The Twitterstream was buzzing with second by second accounts and opinions of every detail.

Ghost in the Machine

There were some technical glitches and you’d think that a team that worked on a production for years would be flawless, but that’s what you get when you have hundreds working on a project where mechanical malfunctions happen. Nothing is perfect – not even hydraulic torch extensions.

Tragic Event

The Vancouver Games are clouded by the tragic loss of Georgian Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili who was killed instantly going 90mph in an unprotected sled on ice. Tragedy has happened before at the Olympics but surprisingly not as often as you would think considering the often dangerous situations in which these world class athletes perform.

Paying Tribute

Billions watched the opening ceremonies last night and when paying tribute to Kumaritashvili it was as if billions of people in hundreds of countries around the world were silent giving respect to a young life cut short.

Head Held High

As a Canadian, I was proud to see numerous accomplished Canadians included in the event last night. The Canadian Olympic Team – from a country of only 33 million has 206 athletes at these Games. Our American friends have 215 athletes from a country of ten times the population.


Let's dedicate the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games to a 21 year old man from Borjomi, Georgia who did what selected few get to do – become an Olympian.

Controversy, tragedy, discussion over sponsorships and doping are all realities of this storied event.

Have your opinions, I’ll have mine but for the next couple of weeks I choose to be proud of my country as it hosts its third Olympics in thirty-four years.


photo credit: nlptechnologies

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February 12, 2010

Marketing | Metrics and Minutiae

Pre-Sets and Programming

In my former life, I programmed radio stations for a living. I loved my time in radio but one of my biggest grievances remains today: measurement.

Will this work?

I Want It Now!

• To measure ratings in radio, a tiny percentage of the population is asked their opinion to speak on behalf of the masses.

• The newspaper industry claims each paper (!) is read by several people.

Television polls the same people and calls it consensus.

Direct Mail response rates higher than 3% point to a resounding success.

• External advertising industries claim the billboard will be seen but you must remember the three second rule.

Yet companies remain sceptical that an online strategy can help them.

It's important to note that if you own a business and you are unsure the best solution for you - be careful of those who will drown you in metrics and doublespeak. That is especially important when delving in to the online world.

I am not bias toward particular media though I do lean to some more than others because of effectiveness. This won't be another article about relationships and two-way conversations. It must be based on strategy, not theory. All media has its place and I have clients who use them all. This is more about paying attention to what is important to you and your business. It's about managing your expectations.

You can’t ask everyone and there is no such thing as the perfect shot. Every industry has its metrics yet often business owners when introduced to digital solutions want documented results at the beginning.

It is valid to want to know the expected results of marketing dollars (after having a great offering and a well focused plan and message) but running a business like an ad campaign is dangerous sport.

Living By Numbers

I’m not anti-research or anti-metrics but if you want a guaranteed solution chiseled in granite every time you may be waiting a while. I don’t condone running your business with wild abandon but balance is good. Numbers can be a deterrent. Numbers can intoxicate you. Numbers can be deceiving.

In Other News...

The Vancouver Olympics start today. Years of planning, training and hoping culminate in a two week event that costs billions and is seen by billions. And the biggest story right now is whether the weather will cooperate.

Something no amount of planning could have affected. Go Canada!

Do you ever leap before you look?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: i.ehow

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February 7, 2010

Is That Charity or Service?

According to Wikipedia:
Charitable is the act of giving money, goods or time to the unfortunate, either directly or by means of a charitable trust or worthy cause.

The name stems from the most obvious expression of the virtue of charity is giving the objects of it the means they need to survive.

What's The Difference?

A few weeks ago a colleague asked if I thought there was a difference between charity and service. I said it is up to the individual.

Often we give both.

We all do stuff for others without financial compensation, that’s what makes us human. Look at the outpouring of support for Haiti right now. Sadly there are people looking to profit from this tragedy as well.

There are many types of service.

Civil service | Career employees of government.
Community service | Volunteer service for the benefit of a community.
Customer service | Provision of assistance to customers or clients.
Domestic service | Employment in a residence.
Public service | Carried out with the aim of providing a public good.
Selfless service | Performed without any expectation of result or award.

My colleague pressed further and asked if I thought there were parameters for charity and service and again same response - it depends.

Then she went for the big one.

If you willingly giving your time or resources and the other party begins to ask for more than you are able to give - is that charity or service? Neither. It's time to examine the relationship a lot closer.

Companies toss around phrases like customer service but they are empty without meaning. Do you mean it? Does your company mean it?

Why? Why? Why?

Do you give to the less fortunate for the tax receipt or for how it makes you feel to help another? Do you smile so the customer thinks you are giving them service but you are simply trying to get to their wallet?

Companies need to make a profit, we all need a hand at some point but the question may not be as simple as it may seem.

What is the difference between charity and service?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: i.ehow

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February 5, 2010

Do You Know a Good Plumber?

This week I had the privilege of speaking on a panel at the Ottawa Business Summit.

Spearheaded by Kathryn Schwab, our topic was Clearing Muddy Waters in Marketing, Communications And Social Media. My fellow panelists were Arash Mahin, Jim Donnelly, and Karen McNaughton

As you may imagine, social media was the hot topic.

During the Q&A we had a question from someone who runs a construction company. His question: “Are the Yellow Pages dead?”

I then told the audience about my new plumber. Last Friday night, it was apparent that the water pressure doohickey needed replacing and the thingamajig wasn’t going to make it either. After some fun clean up, I began to search for someone online.

Saturday afternoon when the plumber arrived he immediately asked me how I found him and whether it was through an online search engine. I was impressed. He continued by saying; “I really want to keep my ranking up.”

Search and Deploy

After assessing what was needed he confirmed he would be back with the right parts to fix things on Sunday morning. As he drove out I saw something in my driveway. It was a copy of the new Yellow Pages.

A plumber who is running a sole proprietorship with and an apprentice is concerned about his search ranking and the phone company lobbed their book on to my driveway. Yes, they have a website and some still prefer to use the phone book but that's still a lot of trees.

Many have doubt that social media is for real or will work for them. There is constant droning on about return on investment and misconceptions that these channels are reserved for wedding pictures and lunch choice status updates.

If you haven't spent time in the space, that would be your first step.

Do you know how your customers find you?

strategy. marketing. social media.

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February 1, 2010

Strategy | Clearing The Clutter

There Is Too Much Content.
And There's More On The Way.

There are nearly 1.7 billion of us online sending about 200 billion emails a day and uploading close to 8 billion pieces of content every week on Facebook.

Apparently there’s more than 12 billion websites and somewhere around half a billion people have at least one social media profile.

Those are the estimates.

Pour The Concrete.

If you run a business, before you rush out and start a LinkedIn group, set up a Twitter feed, add a bunch of friends on Facebook, create a YouTube channel, design microsites, add an rss feed and wait for the self-ringing phone to do its magic, let’s cut through the clutter and get back to basics.

That activity can help but the first subject I discuss with clients is their strategy. It’s not enough that you want to do better than last year. We all do. Your product may be superior but it won't beat your competition simply because it's what you want. There's more to it than simply 'having a page'.

Need a hand? Let's chat.

I'm always happy to meet business owners and managers who may need some help. You know your business well, but it's that strategy and marketing stuff that can get overwhelming.

I often hear the phrase: "We're not ready to do any marketing". Marketing is much more than picking a few social websites and doing a bit of advertising. Marketing and strategy are in everything you do.

It's amazing to watch the transformation when a company simply has a look at running things more efficiently and having a co-creative work space. That doesn't sound flashy but more should realize it helps the bottom line.

You Want ROI? Yeah, Me Too!

Everyone wants positive return on their investment. Everyone wants instantaneous positive results. And everyone seems to want infinite growth. Perhaps that's the reason the lottery industry is alive and well?

If you know anything about construction you know that the house is not just resting on the cement foundation, it is physically bolted to it. So replace the word strategy with the word foundation.

Instant Success? Squirrel! What?

It may be easy to be wooed by social channels with someone who says their social media expertise will get you there. You could waste time moving in the wrong direction on any tactic if you don't have a road map.

What says you?

strategy. marketing. social media.

image credit: home workshop

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