April 27, 2010

The Language of Business

In This Day and Age

Every industry and generation makes its mark on the language of the day.

Each claims that uniqueness was founded upon the dawn of its existence.

If you are in sales, you may have a better way to close business like no other in history.

Buzz and Fix

Some in marketing think embracing social media is the golden bullet and the 'old ways' are no longer effective. They may also fail remind you that your sustained contribution is essential as it is not about a particular website.

If you run a business you are always looking for new customers or clients. As a business owner, it’s a part of my life every day. This process used to be called prospecting but today it is often referred to by many as lead generation.

Bootstrap or VC?

You may have an idea but need time to let it roll around in your head. This process was once called brainstorming but now referred to as incubating.

For decades, people who worked in the same company or on the same project were known as co-workers or team members but that has been replaced by the catch-all term – stakeholders.

Choose Your Medium

If you produce material that will be used to help with your marketing campaign, that is no longer simply a bunch of pamphlets or flyers, billboards or television commercials, micro sites or mobile applications – that can now fall under the handy phrase – marketing collateral.

Business owners or managers often get defensive if their business plan is questioned. The issue can be that it is not shared with those expected to execute it. A more fluid word that suggests dialogue and flexibility is one of my favorites – strategy.

Keep In Mind

So your co-workers (stakeholders) may be working on material (marketing collateral) for your new business (start-up) but need to time to brainstorm (incubate) on how to find new customers (lead generation).

The important element to remember is that your activity (tactics) must be in line with your plan (strategy) in order to realize profits (bottom line).

What is the language of your business?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: 101cm

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April 23, 2010

Customers and Other Relationships

We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it.
Cluetrain Manifesto April 1999

No matter if you own the company, manage the company or work at the company, you have customers. You are a customer or client too.

There is an internal client network also known as stakeholders. The presence of a cash register is secondary to the importance of these relationships.

You either sell your goods or services to another company or to the person who will use your stuff. They are customers either way.

Who's Buyin'? Who's Sellin'?

You may do e-commerce, create widgets, provide advice or build things but you always have customers.

We are both providers and consumers and often at the same time. Think about that the next time you’re pumping your own gas.

Your company may help another company improve their offering by increasing the quality of your part of the equation that makes the final product better. No matter what service you provide, you eventually need others to help.

Whether you live in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer space, you need your customers to help you decipher how to improve it .

You need people inside your organization. You need suppliers and buyers. You need feedback and teamwork. And most of all, you need relationships. We reside on both sides of the proverbial counter.

How important are the relationships inside your organization? Are your suppliers crucial to your success? Is the feedback from customers essential for your advancement?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: almightydad

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April 22, 2010

Is Your Business Earthy?

Befriending the Environment.

Today is Earth Day as you know. It’s the one day where it seems almost everyone is a bit more environmentally conscious.

I could recycle everything and live in a mud house and still not do all that some of my friends do for our planet.

How Green Are You?

A couple of decades ago, it was a daunting task to become more planet friendly but there are more recycling options, greener products available, it’s cool, it’s cheaper. But how green are we, really?

There is progress every day with those little things we can do – like turning off the laptop every night and refusing to eat take-out from any place that uses Styrofoam! We could all drive smart cars and eat organically grown food but will we do it?

We still have wars over oil and an unrelenting desire for stuff.

How Green Is Your Business?

There seems to be a story every few months about someone protesting big business or government about their waste of energy as they keep a full office tower of fluorescent lights on at night where there isn’t a soul in the place. And often the spokesperson coughs up some lame reason tied to security for why thirty floors need to be lit up like it’s noon at 3am.

I consult on marketing, social media and overall business strategy. Often managers or owners have items in their budget listed as an “expense” rather than money better spent on marketing or staff or training or other useful things. Those expenses can also be paper and pens and waste.

What Can We Do?

So as we all get warm and fuzzy about the Earth today, look at your budget and see where you can cut costs. Take a look at the wasted items that do nothing to advance your business strategy.

You may even save a few trees and lessen your carbon footprint while you’re at it. Do you think you can do it?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: nasa

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April 20, 2010

Stuff For The Stuff

Communications tools don't get socially interesting until they get technologically boring. Clay Shirky

If you like toys, we live in exciting times filled with 3D televisions and computers the size of a paperback.

We can send complicated documents to the other side of the earth with a press of a thumb and pizza places still deliver.

There's An App For That.

Line ups were seen all over the U.S. (soon to be repeated in Canada) filled with excited Mac users waiting to purchase an iPad minutes after the store opened.

Online discussion forums got heated over whether the BlackBerry 9700 was superior to the 9000 while Android was also gaining new fans.

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
Carl Sagan

There may be a nominal charge in addition to the carry-on fee, the shoe removal surtax and the baggage handling service charge but on some flights we can now get Internet access. Tax not included.

One day, cars will be equipped with voice activated Internet browsers and drop down top gun instrumentation technology. Laptops will be a gift with purchase while plasma screens and Wi-Fi will be in every bathroom.

We are becoming the servants in thought, as in action, of the machine we have created to serve us. John Kenneth Galbraith

I have friends who reside in the hi-tech world and do fantastic work. They develop things that go on things that make other things go faster or look cooler.
But without the human, doesn't the car just sit in the driveway?

How can you help create content worthy of uploading, downloading or buying to put on all this stuff? Maybe something to think about while in line to get the latest coolest newest?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: wired

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April 16, 2010

Social Media? I Don't Get It.

What's Your Opinion?

Conversations seems to fall in to two camps these days. This week it happened in the same meeting.

On one side was someone having a discussion about the pros and cons of Twitter’s changes and on the other was someone who “doesn’t get it”.

You Are Right.

There are many business owners, managers, directors of not-for-profits and those in the public sector who fail to see the value of adopting channels that can be used to research their industry, decipher customers' needs and desires while direct competitors are doing it. That is their call.

If you don’t see the value, it has no value.

If you don’t understand why someone would “waste” time on all this “stuff” you are right. If your heart isn’t in it, no amount of stats will change your mind. If you want more evidence, here's an article from Fast Company.

Two conversations in the same meeting about Twitter. One person who is adamant about their feelings toward third party apps and promoted tweets while the other person simply doesn’t see the value of “wasting” their time.

Is it more important to "get it" or keep an open mind toward ways to integrate new opportunities for business growth?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: addogaudium

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April 13, 2010

Strategy | Lead or Follow?

How Can You Help?

I enjoy spending time with business owners and managers. Their passion is palpable, their desire irrefutable.

I'm on a significant 'meet new people' run right now and it's fantastic to get to know what is going on in the minds of those who are working so hard to build their business. It's not easy.

I’m often asked how I can help, but I can't offer solutions if I don’t ask questions. The first step may not be marketing or social media – it may be a view from the top.

Do you know where the company should be?

Imagine there are no competitors in your channel. Would you run the company the same as you do now? Imagine one well financed competitor who can do it cheaper and faster and is coming after you. What is your plan then?

All too often we measure our companies against larger brands. Without knowing their strategy (or lack of) how can you compete against their tactics?

We see this in television all the time. Sitcoms make a comeback and suddenly there are 30 new ones. Then it’s doctor shows or prime time game shows. It’s the same with the music and movie industries.

We sometimes follow someone's lucky break and call it genius.

The world is a distracting place which makes strategy even more crucial. Once you have a clear picture of objectives, you can measure your success against them versus the activities of others.

This is not to suggest you fail to be aware of competitors or trends in your industry but simply watching what others are doing can be a dangerous sport. You don't have it all wrong and they don't have it all right.

While you are following them, could they be following you?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: tonynewlin

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April 8, 2010

Integration Happens Every Day

The Power of Horses

Today’s automobile stems from a steam powered vehicle introduced by Ferdinand Verbiest who was member of a Jesuit mission in China in 1672.

There is currently a car for every eleven people on the planet, We burn 600 million gallons of fuel each year.

Print and Save

Johannes Gutenberg is credited with introducing the printing press in 1439.

Despite the rabid move to online and mobile, we have somehow quintupled our paper consumption since attempting to create a paperless society.

Play The Hits

Despite numerous disputes over many decades, Guglielmo Marconi was credited with introducing a radio telegraph system in 1896. Thomas Edison, David E. Hughes and Nikola Tesla were influential as well.

There are now more than 45,000 commercial radio stations in the world covering ever format imaginable. Satellite radio has opened the floodgates wide enough to feature such niche programming choices as uncensored comedy, extreme sports and polka.

Laptops and Memory Sticks

In 1968, Douglas Englebart hosted what was later called The Mother of All Demos as he outlined how individuals were going to be able to create and transmit content through word processing, hypertext and video conferencing technologies.

Since it was introduced last weekend, Apple sold close to a million units of their latest portable device. News stories on the iPad flooded both the blogosphere and traditional news agencies as if they had just invented the wheel.

A Series of Tubes

In 1958, the United States government developed the Advanced Research Projects Agency in response to their then Cold War adversary the Soviet Union’s space program. The ARPAnet gave the U.S. a technological edge in electronic intelligence.

Now more than 1.7 Billion people in the world have Internet access and over 76% of North Americans are online.

All That You Do

Forty years ago, a word was created to describe the creative way in which companies and individuals promote, sell and communicate their products and services while understanding the needs and desires of a target audience.

The word Marketing was an American invention and is the same translated in to any other language. Today it represents every aspect of business and culture and is no longer limited to advertising or promotion.

Did You Get My Voicemail?

Originated from the Greek term “far voice”, the telephone was another controversial invention because many had their hand in its early progress. Canadian Alexander Graham Bell, American Thomas Edison and various other inventors around world had their part in developing this historic gadget.

And just this week, more text messages were sent via cellar telephone than there are people walking the earth.

Watch Your Thumbs!

Dating back as far as 1973, messages were transmitted electronically through an intricate encoded system wired through a series of computer servers all over the United States.

And if you are running a company, email is just a part of everyday life today.

Human Networking

Thirty years ago, there was no Facebook or LinkedIn, no one was tweeting or friending and the idea that you would actually meet a complete stranger you had only previously met online was laughable.

The chance to connect with people from every possible crevice of the world who share similar ideas and work remotely on projects and build businesses through the social web was an old idea that has become a new buzz.

Acceptance and Belief

All too often our lens is pointed at the advancements in our own personal lives. Those which were invented before we were born seem to be accepted without question.

None of these and thousands of other inventions matter without two important elements – our ability to create and share.

Perhaps before discarding something new, we should give it a little time to see if it’s worth keeping?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credits: apple

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April 5, 2010

Are You A Cobbler?

Taking Your Own Advice

As someone who consults clients on marketing, social media and overall business strategy, I have run in to more and more people suffering the fate of the cobbler.

It's the story of the shoemaker who works so hard he has no time to make shoes for his own children.

Can I Help Me?

I was at a lunch last week and there was a similar tone, most knew they had to get to certain tasks to advance their business but simply ran out of time to do so. There was always something 'more important'.

The cobbler's children had the most tattered shoes in the village and most small to medium sized business owners realize the importance of integrating a digital strategy but where is the time?

Reading the Room.

The circles in which we travel can garner interesting perspectives. If I’m with those who are completely immersed in social media and wired up with gadgets and doohickeys, discussing aggregated web presence bores them. While others struggle to improve their website and begin the eye glaze at the mention of seo and social networking.

The cobbler hunched over his bench shaping leather with callused hands from dawn to dusk to keep up with the demand for his services and the small business owner returns that final email seconds before falling in to bed.

You Told Two Hundred Friends.

The cobbler tries to incorporate technology and new tools but it's difficult to do and slows him down. If he spends too much time trying to learn and not work, customers will be waiting.

All too often we get caught up in busy work and discussion only to find that we have let ourselves down in areas that will help us in the long run.

Is there a cobbler in all of us?

strategy. marketing. social media.

photo credit: flickr

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April 2, 2010

Counting The Beans

Perspective Is All Yours

It doesn’t matter what we read or see or share; no one has our experience.

No two experiences in the history of humankind have been identical.

I may not know what you mean; I cannot understand what you’re saying. I am not you.

John Percy once said “We judge others by their actions but ourselves by our intent.” This is important if you manage people or own a company.

You can threaten life or limb but if someone doesn’t want to be on time for the sales meeting, they will not be on time for the sales meeting.

If you're a parent, you may not fathom why someone would be angry that you have to leave the shareholder’s meeting to pick up kids from day care.

Your passion may be golf and you could be outraged that someone bought the land at your favorite club to build homes for hundreds of families.

It may suck to line up tomorrow for your iPad but it sounds a lot more appealing than living in a box in earthquake ravaged Haiti.

Too Much Perspective Is Not Good.

You can't worry about everything you enjoy in your life because others suffer. But you can be compassionate and understand that life is a lot more that all the crap we spent far too much time obsessing about.

If Jim is late for the sales meeting again, take him aside and remind him the importance of being on time and how it is disrespectful of the team. If Jim disagrees, you may need to free up his future.

Tote Board Says...

We love numbers and validation but should that really be the priority?

I read someone’s bio on their website the other day. They were boasting about the money they made but it wasn’t about the money and how they built their “following” but it wasn’t about the numbers. They listed all the cool stuff happening in their life but said it's not about them. Right.

Here’s an suggestion: The next person you meet for the first time, ask them how they’re doing. And actually wait for the answer.

If it wasn’t about the numbers, why do we spend so much time counting the beans?

strategy. marketing. social media.

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