March 31, 2010

Proximity + People = Profit

I was talking with a friend recently about a friend I had known for twenty years who passed away last summer. Many of us who hadn’t kept in touch got back in touch.

Proximity is a strange thing.

Sometimes you feel close to people, then you move apart. Life and lame excuses get in the way.

As we navigate all the new gadgets and social circles, argue over usb connectors and web browsers, stand on the PC or Apple side of the room, it all make sense. Without us, this is irrelevant. Without people, your business or circle of influence is vapor.

Your customers are not revenue, they are people. Your business is not built with bricks and mortar and desks and chairs, it is built by people.

The next time you get caught up in all the stuff we talk about here and many other places, think of the people you work with or work for you. They are not numbers, they are not cogs in the wheel; they are people.

Gadgets and doohickeys are fun - I love my new smartphone - but without the people, who really cares? Technology has given us instant proximity if we want it - to other people!

If we paid closer attention to people, wouldn't that improve the bottom line?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: skydiveorange

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March 29, 2010

Pack Your Social Media Toolkit

Hittin' The Road

You’re about to head out on a trip. An oil change and a quick check of the tires is a good idea.

You should give the car a once over and top up the fluids. You need clothes, toiletries and provisions.

Then you need to put coordinates in the GPS or check a map. Then hop in the car, gas up and go.

What do you need on your digital trip?

Are you traveling online on behalf of your company or simply searching for a new car? Do you want to contribute to a conversation through a social networking site or read up on the latest recipes? Perhaps you like to just hop on board and let the ideas flow freely.

Always on the record.

It's wise to have a social media employee toolkit for the trip to navigate the online journey and keep everyone prepared for what's down the road.

The level of social media knowledge is not the same across your organization. Many may not think they need to follow any rules of engagement or guidelines. Those assumptions can hurt your company.

Social media policies and guidelines should be linked directly to the company’s code of ethics. This will cause less confusion when Jim in HR decides to post those Vegas pictures on his Flickr account while company details are prominently displayed.

Doohickeys and thingamajigs.

The online world is no longer an add-on or tactic to use for advertising. It is an integral part of your company’s objectives. Your presence online is as important as your physical location. And without a map, accidents will happen.

Does your organization have a social media employee toolkit?

strategy. marketing. social media.

image credit: handycons

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March 25, 2010

Have You Found Your Fans?

Earl "Curly" Lambeau was an employee of the Indian Packing Company and got the idea to start a football team. Curly needed some bucks to get gear so he asked his boss for help.

His employer agreed to give him $500. The only condition was that he incorporated the meat packing company’s name in the team name.

Curly was general manager and head coach for the next thirty years and is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.

Launched on August 11, 1919, the Green Bay Packers have a record twelve championships and remain the only non-profit community owned American professional sports franchise. For years, NFL rules stated that each team must be owned by one individual. In the case of the Green Bay Packers, the entire city of Green Bay, Wisconsin owns the team.

When the Packers are playing at Lambeau Field, the city of Green Bay is a ghost town. Residents are either at the game or watching it. The franchise is as much a part of the community as any person or major company.

Line Up and Wait.

If you want tickets to a game, line up, for a very long time. If you want season tickets, you have about a forty year wait and you have to prove you are a permanent resident of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Green Bay Packers are celebrating their 91st anniversary. The team has not won the championship in 79 seasons since 1919.

Content Context Community.

Fans happily wear a wedge of cheese on their heads - a tradition that began when fans in rival Illinois attempted to insult Wisconsinites. Instead of turning the name calling in to something ugly, they embraced it and the sight of cheeseheads at Lambeau is as common as beer.

Buzz phrases such as “brand evangelist” come to mind but in this case, Curly Lambeau simply wanted to start a football team and asked his boss for some cash to pay for some gear. And nine decades later, Packers’ fans will virtually defend the green and gold with their lives.

What can you learn from the Packers to apply to your business?
Have you found your fans or still looking to sell a few tickets?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: goinglikesixty | wikipedia

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March 16, 2010

SXSW | Austin City Unlimited

For years I looked forward to my annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW).

It was an embarrassment of new rock riches. Days and nights filled with tunes, delicious food and wonderful people. The Texan hospitality was something that stuck with me all year. The memories of past years will be with me for life.

Experience It For Yourself.

If you’ve never been to Austin, you must make a point to do so some day. Sixth Street is a music lover’s dream. It has bar after bar of live music all day and night. It’s a great set up because during SXSW each establishment has 4-5 sets every night and the proximity of all the venues gives you the chance to actually see 4-5 different bands every night.

SXSW also features a convention portion for music industry related issues, panels and presentations. For years it was a chance to check out new bands, learn stuff and catch up with colleagues from all over North America. And sample the aforementioned great food!

South Goes North.

I was then privileged to be on the organizing committee to replicate SXSW in Toronto. The result was the North by Northeast Festival (NXNE). Like SXSW, it has also expanded past music. The 2010 edition in June features 650 bands, 50 venues and 40 films over 7 days.

Go to NXNE if you can. The city is gorgeous in the summer and the downtown core is exciting and alive. It's the most multicultural city on the planet so there are plenty of fabulous places to eat and experience.

Brothers In Arms: Alive and Well.

Today, SXSW and NXNE are thriving. Both continue to support hundreds of up and coming new bands while attendance remains strong. But as the world goes digital and the music industry goes portable, things have changed. SXSWi was introduced a few years back and the event now has sessions, events, presentations and panels about all things digital.

I had expected to join the festivities this year but with CEPSM [client] Canadian government clients’ year end March 31st, that plan was quickly changed. I will keep hope that the 2011 edition is in the cards.

Social Media Onslaught.

Despite the seemingly endless temptation for those attending this year to give a lot of client love and sponsored shout out tweets, if you have ever wondered whether SXSW can be a fun time, mark it down for next year and find out for yourself. The music and media stuff may pique your interest, the people will make it memorable.

If you are at or attended to SXSW this year or any year or wanted to go this year or any other year, please share your thoughts.

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: flickr

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March 11, 2010

What Does That Button Do?

Follow Us!

Have you seen that around a lot more lately? It’s all the rage, everyone’s doing it. It's so cool, where have you been?

Companies, agencies, not-for-profits, consultants, lawyers, teachers and people from all walks of life are joining Twitter.

What's the URL?

Some think Twitter a website – it is not. Some think it’s a way to simply bark out deals and sell some stuff – wrong again. While others have discovered it is a place where other human beings are actually sharing usable information that can help each other’s bottom line and knowledge base while expanding their personal community to a worldwide scope.

As with all things, the late majority arrives some time after the early adopters have populated the idea, taken it for a few test runs, poked holes in it and given feedback to its creators. More than three years later and the process continues.

Will It Go Bankrupt?

I have lost count the number of people who seem to be concerned about Twitter’s business plan and revenue model. These are people who are afraid that if they engage in this channel and it goes out of business, all their hard work will be gone. Wrong yet again.

Microblogging has nothing to do with a particular website. Twitter is the biggest right now but five years ago, MySpace was on top of the social networking world and now the horizon is looking mighty crowded.

Adopters and Naysayers.

The loudest crowd seems to be congregating on soap boxes outside of the space. They are lobbing ill advised and uneducated views of its effectiveness. It’s a little difficult to assess something without trying it.

There also seems to be a growing crowd near the “I don’t get it” booth in the parking lot. It's okay, I don't get how rocket ships get to a space station but I accept it.

There have been over 2 billion tweets since Twitter’s inception, there are over 50 million users, 62% of Twitter use happens in the workplace, almost one quarter of tweets are generated by computer bots and roughly 75% of all human tweets are generated by 5% of the users.

Numbers vs. Reality.

Now before you wave the “I told you it was a waste of time” finger, let’s compare to real life. About 5-10% of the people (depending on the industry) control 75-80% of the wealth and about a quarter (or more) of the workforce is mailing it in most days.

Twitter is not about mass, it is about quality. It's not about splashing everything with the same bucket of paint, it is about finding influencers. It's not about barking and yelling, it is about listening and building. And that takes time. If you don't have time or want quick results, buy a direct mail campaign and hope for the best.

Buttons and Widgets.

It’s interesting to watch as companies are trying to get in on the new thing (again, which is as old as humans have been alive) with “Follow Us” buttons on their websites. There is a recognition that microblogging has value to their organization. The problem begins when you click on the button and see very little activity.

I won’t name names and only as an example, a prominent Canadian entity with national scope is following less than 20 people, has less than 100 followers and is using this robust dynamic two-way tool as a one-way broadcast channel. What a shame.

What are your thoughts?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: handycons

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March 9, 2010

Strategy Is Boring

The eye glaze often happens soon after the question "what is your business plan?"

Instead of a strategic plan many want to hope last year's plan which was a variation of the previous year's plan will work out.

That is unsound thinking.

Building a strategy requires thought and work.

You need to map out objectives, write down realistic tactics, decipher roles and responsibilities, define target demographics, identify opportunities, exploit competitors' weaknesses, develop ideal customer profiles and execute a business plan.

Bored yet?

All too often you can hear the moans from miles around when the topic of strategic planning is brought up. There is fear that it will mean endless days locked in a boardroom hashing out the future of the company. After all, the world is changing so fast how can you keep up?

I actually had a business owner raise his hands to his ears and utter the "la la la I can't hear you" phrase which was my cue to escort myself out of the building. He was clearly not ready for a plan.

Strategy is Your Foundation.

Many find strategy unnecessary because it takes patience and time. What is more dangerous, some think they have a plan when it is clear they do not.

A common mistake is failing to grasp that it is an evolution, a process and something you refine constantly. But too many simply want to do the tactics without the strategy which might be the beginning of the end.

But who really needs a plan or a strategy?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: gawker

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March 5, 2010

Experience + Help + Time ≠ Free

Can You Spare An Hour?

One issue that has been coming up more and more is free.

Give It To Sell It.

This is not about being there ahead of the sale or building a strong community, this is about allowing vultures to pick away at your gray matter with wild abandon.

Lovely image, isn't it?

If you don't give your time and experience value, who will?

Social networks have given us the wondrous opportunity to meet people we would not have otherwise met. It gives us a chance to get to know each other. It's far superior to cold calling by ten to the power of infinity.

Business Over Coffee.

If you and I met for an hour to talk about your business, it would not be an hour, it would hour plus twenty-six years of marketing, media and management experience overseeing multi-million operations. It's also an hour of your time plus all of your experience.

But I buy most of my music. The album only has two good songs. The band already makes plenty of money.

The music industry continues to deal with the issue of free. After all, there are hundreds of thousands of songs being illegally downloaded every minute. They have tried watermarks, law suits, embedded code, threats, public relations campaigns and people are still stealing their stuff. Why? Because they can.

The Doors Are Wide Open.

If you owned a clothing store and told the world that Thursdays were free night, how's the lineup on Fridays?

If you are planning to redecorate your office, the manager at the hardware store is probably not going to let you bring home the paint so can decide if you want to pay for it later.

But it's much tougher to quantify our time. It doesn't fit in a glass, it's gone and there's more in its place so how do you value it?

It's Just a Doodle.

A colleague recently reminded me of the story about Pablo Picasso having lunch in a restaurant. Another patron approached the master and asked for a quick drawing on a napkin.

Picasso quickly informs the man that it will be $1 Million. Shocked, he questions why a simple drawing would be that much. Picasso replies that it took him thirty years to perfect that talent and that is not free.

We are all Picasso in our own way. We need to celebrate that and stop giving our time away like it's in endless supply.

Three posts about free from three brilliant colleagues who continue to give away plenty for free. You can read them here, here and here.

And feel free to add your free thoughts.

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: echostains

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March 4, 2010

We Are Them

We are fascinating creatures.

We are shy and scared, arrogant and boastful, fascinating and smart, creative and inquisitive.

They are you. They are me. We are them. They are the source of our frustration and joy, happiness and fear, collaboration and teamwork.

Far too often we forget they are us. They have bad days. We have doubtful moments.

You and I try our best to keep up a strong face even on those days when it’s tough to do so.

Walk in to a bookstore and just look around for a moment. Those aren't books, those are ideas and dreams and toil and sweat and emotion and stories from people.

The other night I was having a conversation with someone on Twitter who said he didn't have a a website, he wasn’t an expert and he was just an ordinary guy. He thought because he wasn't a marketing consultant or didn't have a blog he wasn't qualified to be in the conversation. Wrong!

Anyone can participate and everyone should. The conversation is happening with or without you so hop in anytime. You are not more special than me and she is not more important that you.

We don't need fancy profiles and shiny pamphlets to participate. We just need to participate.

We are all extraordinary guys.

Something to think about if you are running a business. They are not bots, they are people. Just like you.

What's your story?

strategy. marketing. social media.

image credit: bookandbyte

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March 2, 2010

The State of the Internet

Mitch Joel shared this video a few days ago, I thought I’d do the same.

It was done by Jesse Thomas or as many know him JESS3. If you are having trouble grasping the explosion of the Internet, social media, mobile and digital, this may excite you, this may scare you.

This is about human behavior not theory.

Watch. Share. Discuss.

strategy. marketing. social media.

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March 1, 2010

Opinions Are Opiates

Our views can be intoxicating.

If you read this space, you know there is always an opinion given - hence the title. But I am always open to hearing yours.

We all have the ability to publish our thoughts through electronic means or personal interaction. The adage rings true: if you and I always agree then one of us may not be necessary in the conversation.

There is a difference between having an opinion and being opinionated. Someone who is opinionated rarely wants to hear the other side of the story or listen to evidence that may challenge their opinion.

\ə-ˈpin-yən\ noun
• a view, judgment, or appraisal formed about a particular matter.
• belief stronger than impression.
• formal expression of judgment.
• advice by an expert.

\-yə-ˌnā-təd\ adjective
• unduly adhering to one's own opinion or to preconceived notions.

Take that and apply it to your business. You know what you’re doing, it’s your business! You have worked hard to accomplish a lot. You drink, eat and breathe it so you are entitled to have an opinion on its results. But how close can you be before you become opinionated about your offering?

Opinions are crucial to move thoughts from ideas to action. You digest information and move. It's dangerous when we have a preconceived notion and simply search for evidence to support it and miss the better solution.

The drug companies do it with case studies when they throw out the participants that may skew the results. You witness it in the boardroom when the boss is clearly asking a bunch of 'yes' people simply to hear his great ideas parroted back to him.

That's just my opinion. What's yours?

strategy. marketing. social media.

credits: glasbergen | merriam-webster

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© Kneale Mann people + priority = profit
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