April 30, 2011

What's In It For You

How Can I Help?

I have spent 27 privileged years working in marketing and media. The people I’ve met and learned from, the projects I’ve overseen and worked on along with the invaluable experience I’ve gained has certainly not felt like work. It is my passion.

CMO for Hire

In short, I help business do business better. I work closely with business owners and managers and stakeholders on the improvement of marketing efforts and results.

My first task is to simply get a sense of the current situation. Then together we work on solutions. There are no preconceived or prepackaged solutions. Everything is customized to each situation.

Strategist. Writer. Speaker. Consultant.

We all want our companies to grow. The common shared wish is for the process to be painless and swift but we know that is not reality. Growing your business takes work, time and patience along with precious resources. And that’s where I can help.

From the highest level, I am a business consultant who specializes in marketing with a finer focus on digital media. Through careful analysis, I can outline affordable options for you to see more results from your outbound marketing.

Analyze. Plan. Implement.

It may include overseeing the redesign of your website or training your team to navigate the social web. It may be taking a closer look at your current marketing efforts to suggest a more effective way to reach your targets. It is up to your situation, not my past experience that will determine how we will work together.

I can create workshops for your team to ensure they are equipped with the necessary tools to embrace these additional activities.

The result is that you and your team will have a repeatable process you can integrate with your current and future activities. Your return on investment is the implementation of a refreshed plan focused solely on your revenue goals.

I’m always happy to talk about how I can help. Let’s do that.

Kneale Mann

image credit: demitrineyt

April 29, 2011

Yell and Sell

Do As I Say

No one likes to be told what to do. As children, our parents may remind us who sets the rules and cake before dinner is not permitted. In school, it was frowned upon to not show up or fail to complete homework.

In the workplace, there are few employers who allow for poor attendance or spotty output. They all expect so much of us throughout our lives. Deadlines and rules, dress codes and protocol, stated or implied, we have to follow the constraints of others.

Cross Media Assault

We are hammered constantly from radio, television, print, outdoor, email blasts, social, like, tweet, blog, podcast, did you see our deal, it’s all about relationships, numbers don’t count, for a limited time only.

It has gotten the point where we actually see none of it. The mad dash to create a false sense of urgency continues and we have become masters at blocking, deleting, ignoring and dismissing.

How about we stop telling each other, selling each other, interrupting each other and start helping each other?

Kneale Mann

image credit: usaimage

April 27, 2011

Business with Cans and a String

It Starts with an Idea

There is endless chatter about gizmos and gadgets, channels and websites, mobile and digital. Many are consumed with the self-publishing world and the ability to lead our own tribe and be linchpins. Seth Godin has always been ahead of his time in his ability to cut through the layers of clutter to see the essence of life, business and marketing. Technology may accelerate our ideas but it does not create them.

In 1439, Johannes Gutenberg introduced the printing press. He did not invent writers. In 2006, three guys named Biz, Evan and Jack introduced a new microblogging website based on text messaging called Twitter.
They did not invent text messaging.

Thinkin' About Thinkin' About It

Right now, you have an idea for something that has been rolling around in your head for a while. It may be money, time, confidence or the endorsement of others that may be constraining you but for some reason you have not acted on this idea.

Make a list of the roadblocks. Make it as long as you need. Then look at each of the issues separately and add the word “how”. So for instance, if one of yours is ‘time’ then turn it around to say: “How can I find more time to develop this?” Open your mind to possibilities and look at your vast network. There will be someone who can help you.

Budget Zero

In 2004, I had just overseen my first of two new radio station launches. I was working on the extensive multi-platform cross media marketing plan when my cell rang. It was my General Manager who informed me that head office was cutting our budget. I inquired by how much and he said – all of it. The budget went from several hundred thousand dollars to zero. Zero!

I didn't own the radio station and it wasn't my money so there wasn’t much I could do but take a breath and think about how we were going to accomplish this necessary task.

Now What

The next morning, I gathered my team and we hashed out ideas. Sure it was tough at first, there was some anger but I kept reminding them of three things – it is what it is, we’re a smart bunch and we will find a solution. Out of that meeting came five ideas that we rolled out over the next twelve months. Each of which required some help from our kind sponsors and buy-in from the entire staff. It made us stronger.

We were no longer resting on corporate money or fancy artwork. We were relying on each other. And a conversation I've had to recall quite a bit lately was with one of my announcers. He said: "We will make this happen if they take away our transmitter and we have to broadcast with two cans and a string".

We all have to clear those excuses. What's stopping you?

Kneale Mann

image credits: stcule | wikipedia

April 25, 2011

Collaborative Business Growth

Let's Have a Meeting

You don't need to spend much time in the social web before you see someone mention the importance of collaboration. It is the essence of networks and groups. It is why we form teams and clubs. It is the reason we live in cities and towns. It is the driving force behind commerce. It is why most iPhone owners prominently display the device rather than leave it in their pocket. It is our need to connect, be accepted and belong.

Imagine working where ideas are shared and appreciated, each and every person in the organization is valued and progress is measured not by empty promises and well crafted corporate speak but by the accomplishments of everyone involved. For real!


Boss Breaks Tie

When you have a roomful of opinions all fighting for a voice in a decision making process, the result is often a lot of indecision. Each of us is entitled to our thesis but this is where the water gets murky.

Some people get special treatment, some rank higher on the organizational chart and others don't care. So if a team environment is the goal, optics certainly won't be enough to carry it off. No one is buying "our people are important" if they're not.

The View from Here

Each of us brings our own set of sensibilities for collaboration. In my case, I like being in a creative environment where people can back up their stuff. I don't want them to feel cornered if they are proven wrong or shown something they don't know. I want to be in a room where everyone in the room wants to be there. Life is a lesson so why on earth do we try and give the impression we know it all?

When I meet with a business owner who wants to improve the bottom line, it's often much more than a revenue issue. I like to examine how digital opportunities can enhance - not necessarily, replace - what they're doing. But it begins with internal customer service. How are they collaborate to give great customer service is essential.

Less Talk More Action

The average person is working 1,800 hours each year and that number is growing. One way to improve your work environment would be to have less meetings and pamphlets about teamwork and prove it through action.

What steps can you take within your organization right now that can improve collaboration and in turn increase revenue?

Kneale Mann

image credit: inetgiant

April 23, 2011

Brace For Impact

Humans are the only beings on earth that can even conceive the past or the future.
We spend much of our brief time on earth fretting about upcoming presentations and dragging the events of our past along like a trailer behind our car. Our need to be right, our bloated egos, our chase for finances will mean nothing on that inevitable day.

On January 15. 2009, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 experienced a catastrophic explosion three minutes after take-off from La Guardia Airport in New York . Three minutes later, the plane was in the Hudson River and all 155 occupants survived. Six minutes to sum up your life. One tenth of an hour to make sense of what you've done right and what you will miss. The unimportant things with which we fill our minds become irrelevant.

Passenger Ric Elias explains what he learned about his life
during those six minutes. [video]



Kneale Mann

video credit: TED

April 20, 2011

The Powerful Social Web

Will It Work?

I'm often asked if diving into the deep end of social media will work. It's akin to hoping the dusty treadmill will get you into shape by looking at it. Participation is essential or all the tools in the world are irrelevant.

Just yesterday, I had a moment between meetings and checked for messages. There was one from a colleague who inquired whether I might be available for something on short notice - like, in a few hours. I quickly scanned my to-be-done list and felt confident things could be moved around.

Can You Help?

I contacted the person who needed the hand and I quickly found out yet another colleague had been involved and suggested me as well. I have spent time with both colleagues but our original contact was online. Two hours later I was ready to go. It turned out the emergency was averted but it got me thinking about all those conversations I have about the power behind the social web and that is the people.

We have gadgets and channels, blogs and podcasts, websites and technology all to choose from when deciding how to enhance our business. Many will claim that if your website is well written, with all the right search words, you will get more juice when potential customers are looking for your solution. Others will claim that their big shiny solution will help you despite paying much attention to your potential needs. And all the while, no amount of lipstick will pretty up an ugly business.

Do You Know?

My colleagues Mark Blevis and Bob LeDrew were conspiring on my behalf. We have those people in our lives - no matter how we may have met them - who want us to win, who want us to do well and who understand the value we bring to a situation. Those people could be friends, colleagues, customers, suppliers or all of the above.

There is a lot of chatter on the social web about the slow shift toward social business and I strongly agree we need to move there. But many individuals and companies are still grappling with how to engage. If you step back and look at things from your customers' perspective, you may get a better handle on how you want to proceed. If you look at things from a stance of helping rather than selling, you may gain more insight into the process as well.

Did You Win?

No matter where you are in your evolution, the digital landscape should be looked at as a compliment to your current business strategy. It will not save bad internal and external customer service nor will grow the revenue line if there is no commitment to solid business practices. Social media are not lottery tickets.

Print, outdoor, radio, television, mobile, digital or social all can be utilized to help you grow your business. But without people, they are just channels. I met two guys over the last few years who became friends, who shared business ideas with me and while going about their busy day mentioned my name to someone who needed a hand. There is no channel that will create that for you without connecting on a human level.

Who are you conspiring to help?

Kneale Mann

image credit: iwritealot

April 18, 2011

Digital Time Off

Spill in Aisle 5

Friday began with a review of a packed but exciting schedule. Meetings, calls, clients, prospects and even an hour off to think. My kinda day. At around 9:35am, the phone rang and something happened that hasn't happened in probably a decade. My freshly brewed coffee was on the left side of my laptop, instead of its usual right. The land line, which was ringing, was on the the left as well.

I wasn't aware that my cat-like reflexes were still so sharp but as steaming hot coffee (with milk and sugar) nipped the edge of the laptop and continued to flood my desk, the computer was unplugged and in my hands. I chose not to bow to what was probably my fate until I mopped, wiped and vacuumed the laptop. Desk was cleaned after that.

@knealemann: Coffee meets laptop. How's your day?

I don't usually share such silly things on Twitter but chose to on Friday and a wonderful flood of great advice and help came through. Never underestimate your friends and colleagues' ability to help out.

After returning from an afternoon of meetings, I saw an email that suggested putting the laptop in a bag of dry rice. It was 8-hour old (now dried) coffee so my hopes weren't high but what was the downside. So off to the store to buy two large boxes of rice.

Give it some time

I let the laptop sit in the dry rice until Saturday afternoon when I took it out, dusted it off, vacuumed the excess and hit the power button. No such luck. It would turn on but the keyboard was gone. There was a moment of silence. All data is backed up twice a day so nothing was lost. Well, except a laptop that will eventually hit the recycle bin.

One of my client's computer guy sent suggested replacements while a colleague offered me their backup laptop and a client offered to help with data transfer.

Lessons Learned

Keep everything far away from electronics.
Remember you have great friends who want to help.
Back up your data daily.
Always keep rice in the pantry.


Kneale Mann

image credit: istock

April 15, 2011

Making Quick Decisions

Try a New Gear

Years ago, I worked for a guy who proclaimed loudly and often that he subscribed to the “ready – shoot – aim” approach. He would get red in the face and start to vibrate when I deliberated too long on a decision. He would remind me that the most successful people decide, fix mistakes and get the right answers fast while most get lost in thought. However, he often missed the 'fix mistakes' part, that was for the rest of us to mop up.

It is empowering when you listen to your gut and go for it. You just know it’s the right thing to do. A customer or client wants it a certain way and all of our being is so sure they are going on the wrong direction. But you hesitate and the opportunity is lost. Shoulda coulda woulda wins the day.

Navigating the Customer/Supplier Relationship

It doesn’t matter if you run a burger restaurant or a consulting practice, there are usually two choices when working with customers. You can tell them what they want to hear or you can show them what they need to do. The customer is not always right or they would be doing the very services they seek from others. It’s clearly not always that cut and dried but it’s a good place to start.

The social web has given us the impression that we need to make quicker decisions. It’s a world full of non-stop content that is flying at us like a non-stop fire hose. We are skimming more than reading. We are firing from the hip when we feel like it. Companies are grappling with how to navigate – and more importantly harness - the power of almost two billion people online. We all want attention. We all want quick wins. It is unrelenting and overwhelming. Funny to note, my old boss simply “doesn’t get” all this social networking stuff which is rather humorous.

Keeping Up with Quick

One way to approach it would be from inside your organization. Shut off the noise for a while to allow for some actual think time. Ready shoot aim may be flawed but ready aim shoot can be just as dangerous. We can fire too quickly or deliberate too long.

As the world seems to get more complicated and technical, we need to cut it to the core and look at the basics. Tweeting, blogging or podcasting will not fix a bad business idea. No amount of design expertise, SEO, meta tagging or mobile app development will save a company that has weak internal and external customer service. But the tools often mask as a way to acclerate the process.

Is it possible to make quicker decisions by slowing down?

Kneale Mann

image credit: 123rf

April 12, 2011

Simple Business Strategy

It might be your biggest ally

There is non-stop chatter about this strategy and that tactic to improve business in every industry and walk of life. It happens in this space almost daily.

There have been countless surveys and research pieces examining why one company thrives while others struggle and it is quite often not about money or the idea. It can simply be a matter of those ideas getting stuck in the mind numbing process of everyday business functions.

Beating Yourself

The minutiae of day to day meetings and poor internal customer service can crush a company faster than a nimble competitor. We watch with amazement while companies like Google and Facebook seem to thrive within a hyper creative environment. This is not to suggest these companies don't make mistakes - in fact, many make them in front of the world in spectacular fashion.

It is not also to suggest it's all rosy and fun every moment because real work is being done. But what is the difference between the companies that many read, write and talk about compared to the businesses we pass by every day?

Perhaps successful business owners and managers keep these ideas fresh in the minds. .

Stay curious for learning.
Stay curious about improving.

Stay curious through searching.
Stay curious like a child.
Stay curious about now.

Be curious, not judgmental.
Walt Whitman

Stay curious in life.

Stay curious for questions.
Stay curious in discovery.
Stay curious for you.

Stay curious through listening.
Stay curious in business.

Be less curious about people 
and more curious about ideas.
Marie Curie

Stay curious about others.
Stay curious with think time.

Stay curious for next.
Stay curious in leadership.
Stay curious toward answers.

Curious people are interesting people, 
I wonder why that is?
Bill Maher

Stay curious about possibilities.
Stay curious about your strengths.

Stay curious for what drives people.
Stay curious and motivate.

Stay curious. Always.

Do you stay curious about ways to improve your business?

Kneale Mann

image credit: ioffer

April 11, 2011

Digital Demo Dollars

Age is More Than a Number

It's alarming when someone claims the online world is for “the kids”. It's often someone who is more immersed in digital than they even realize. They have email, a cell phone and a Facebook profile. But they claim that the email and phone are for work and the social web is to connect with friends.

We don't need ten social profiles to capture the power of the digital landscape. In fact, that is often when people get distracted by the tools and get away from the entire we reason we connect in the first place.

eMarketer just released a telling survey featuring how baby boomers interact on the web.

The report covers U.S. numbers only but you could make the safe estimate that the percentages for most developing countries where Internet penetration is more than 50% of the population are similar. And with over 76% of North Americans having online access, it's clear it's not just "the kids". How can that affect your revenue line?
__________________________________

The Report Explains 
"Boomers' lives are going in many different directions, as empty-nesters, step-parents, grandparents and caregivers. For all of these roles, the Internet and digital media are absolutely essential. eMarketer estimates 78.2% of this cohort is online, nearly 60 million adults. Even as their numbers decline, that penetration rate will remain high through 2015. And they control more than $2 trillion in annual spending."
__________________________________

We can discuss connections and relationships but companies won't invest their time and resources on an altruistic gesture void of potential revenue. Relationships are crucial but wallets are as well. But it is clear that online spending from all demos continues to increase.
__________________________________

More from eMarketer Report on Boomers
"Boomers spend more time and money online than any other demographic. Younger boomers (ages 47 to 55) spent an average of 39.3 hours online per month in 2010, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Older boomers (ages 56 to 65) averaged only slightly less, at 36.5 hours. A lot of that time was spent shopping -- and buying. Forrester Research reported that boomers spent an average of about $650 online over a three-month period in 2010, compared with $581 by Generation X internet users (ages 35 to 46) and $429 by Millennials (ages 18 to 34).

Boomers also stay connected on the go. eMarketer estimates 86.9% will have a mobile phone this year, and 16.9 million boomers will access the internet from a mobile browser or installed app. In 2015, that number will reach 25.4 million, or nearly 40% of boomer mobile users. This is a market that content providers, game publishers and brand marketers should not pass by."

__________________________________


It's often said that most people dislike being marketed to which is clearly not supported by their behavior. We will buy into something if it resonates with us and since most – if not all – purchases are conducted on some emotional level, doesn't it make sense that we don’t stop buying at a certain age? 
__________________________________

eMarketer's Lisa Phillips summation
"Boomers are immediately turned off by association with old age, infirmity and decline. Most brands do not want to 'age' their products with blatant appeals to older consumers. The win-win is to create an overarching brand message that gives a nod to boomers, but also includes younger adults and even grandchildren."
__________________________________

If your target customers are in the older demos and you are not utilizing digital and mobile channels, is it safe to say you may be leaving revenue on the keyboard?

Kneale Mann

image credit: silicon
source: emarketer

April 9, 2011

The Share Economy

If you spend any time making, creating or consuming media, you hear the word ‘share’ more and more every day. We are mobile, we are engaging, connecting and exchanging ideas. What happens when we look at the share business model?

Think Netflix or ZipCar. Think social networking.

Lisa Gansky is the author of “The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing” and talks here about the future of business that's about sharing all kinds of stuff, either via smart and tech-enabled rental or, more boldly, peer-to-peer.

This is from her recent talk at TED@MotorCity.



Kneale Mann

visual credit: TED

April 8, 2011

Will All This Webby Stuff Work?

Money Back Guaranteed

The job starts Monday. New city, new gig, new apartment and nerves are sparring with excitement. It’s what you have been working toward during all those long hours, weekends and late nights. The money is good, the benefits and vacation time is cool, the company seems solid and now there’s only one concern. You hope it will work.

The team at the agency promised the campaign is going to nail the perfect customer. The target of men 18-25 will eat this up. The focus groups loved it and the cross media approach was the way to go. But you can hear that voice deep down pondering just one question. You worry if it will work.

Smart People Converge

There are two excellent events going on this month. One right now is Social2011 in Boston and next week it’s SOBCon in Chicago. It is inspiring to see how the discussion has advanced.  Fifteen to twenty ears ago, those of us utilizing the Internet on a regular basis were looked at as weird geek people who needed to get some fresh air.

Now the discussion is with business people conceptualizing the digital future. It’s nothing short of amazing yet there continues to be one issue tugging at the consciousness of many people. Will it work.

Now is the Time

Perhaps we need to listen, collaborate, experiment, have fun, take chances, make mistakes and understand there is not just one way to navigate all this web stuff. Maybe with some time your company can gain some traction through commitment to the channels. And the effort will subside the desire for instant wins. It might just work.

Do you hope it will work or do you work at it every day?

Kneale Mann

image credit: tiltedpixel

April 6, 2011

Your Biggest Business Advantage

Nice to Tweet You

If you work hard, remain open to all possibilities and build a connection, it is astonishing how many people will help you. Each connection is a person, not just another number to add to our LinkedIn profile.

The digital universe can connect us with people who can help us, work with us, hire us, befriend us and collaborate with us. In the last 48 hours
I inquired about three projects with a small handful of people.

I met all but two of them online, I have spent time with three of them in person and four were strangers a year ago.

Digital Will Only Help So Far

You may say it's the power of social media but that is just the starting point. We bump into hundreds, perhaps thousands of people every day and make no connection. It is when we set up a call or meeting and get to know each other outside of the busy online world and connect as people that the power begins to be realized.

The in-person meeting or phone call will never be diminished and should never been removed from your business plan. It is the single tactic that can crush you or help you.
I can't speak for you, but I know I need to pick up the phone more often!

Often companies don’t put forth the effort because they don't want to put forth the effort. They can point to other reasons but perhaps they don't care to hear what customers are saying about them. The world is shrinking yet the basics have never been more critical – reading, writing, partnerships, service and being human.

Do you think it might work?

Kneale Mann

image credit: gruntled

April 4, 2011

Your Idea Could Save a Life

That may sound like a provocative notion but think about all those ideas that are rolling around in your mind. Yesterday we discussed thinking big versus doing big.

Sebastian Thrun is a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, where he also serves as the Director of the Stanford AI Lab. His research focuses on robotics and artificial intelligence.

He led the development of the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. Stanley is now on exhibit at the Smithsonian. Sebastian has been working toward a time when we no longer drive our cars. You may think this TEDTalk is about technology and gadgets. It is about a far more important idea.

It's also really freakin' cool! [video]


Kneale Mann

visual credit: TED

April 3, 2011

Big Ideas. Big Plans. Big Business.

"You have to think big to be big.Claude M. Bristol

There is nothing wrong with having lofty goals and big dreams. They help us improve in life and in business.

But how often do we follow through and see those big ideas to completion? How often does it get difficult and we fall back to our usual tactics and habits and explain it away because we’re busy or our industry has changed or some other lame excuse?

Doing what it takes to get it done is where the work resides.

No one wants to fail. No one wants to aim low. But something happens between the big dream, the big plan and the big result. Some may point to resources or expertise but long before those become a factor is the one element that prevents us from executing the big idea most - ourselves.

You can live in theory and spend all day thinking big. It’s an entirely new level to do what it takes to deliver big results. I have many big plans that remain comfortably tucked inside the safety of my mind. I'm sure you have some too. That way we can find solace in the fact that they 'could' work someday with flawless execution.

Tweet This. Theory That. Blog This. You Should do That.

The social web has ample examples of big game talk. It's good to dream big and reach for new heights but articulating it and accomplishing it are vastly different activities. We've all tried to shift the excuse to an external catalyst but we know that's simply not the case. Being honest about our effort is where growth occurs.

Fear of success can paralyze us.

Most (all?) of us have talked big and probably meant it but haven't done the work to actually see it happen. Perhaps it's because we don't know how to take theory and make action. Maybe we aren't as interested as we thought. Or possibly we are simply blowing smoke - even at ourselves. And as I write this, I see the long list of grand plans I have made and it's time to get rid of the list or get off my butt and get it done. Maybe you now feel the same.

You may think big but do you do big?

Kneale Mann

image credit: drjeffadams

April 1, 2011

Not Everyone Loves Social Media

Here We Are Now. Entertain Us.

If you spend time on any of the online social channels, you know there are myriad choices. You can visit one of the larger aggregated sites such as QQ, LinkedIn, Twitter, FourSquare, Facebook, YouTube, Quora, Flickr and more. There are consumer review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Flixster.

You can join social bookmarking spaces like StumbleUpon, Mixx and Digg. Create a profile on special interest channels such as Patients Like Me, SocialVibe and Crowdrise. Or you can generate your own social network depending on your interests.

Hands on the Wheel

One of my concerns is when a company hires a social media director and is unsure why they are in the space or how it will tie into the overall strategic plan. So they give it to someone as part of their gig or create a junior position and give it to that funky kid with the Mac who has a lot of followers. This is dangerous.

Hire new talent but ensure they know what you want as a business. Asking someone to curate your digital voice should be done with great care. And a digital engagement policy - even if it's a few sentences - is wise strategy.

Living by Numbers

There are over half a billion profiles on Facebook, Twitter is approaching 250 million, more than 100 million of us are on LinkedIn, over 75 billion annual downloads on YouTube, mobile is exploding  and the list goes on.

We want to connect, we want it to be convenient and we want it just to work. We are reading blogs, listening to podcasts, exchanging ideas through our websites and telecommunications technology, we are wired up. But do we represent everyone?

Less Than a Third

Approximately 28% of the world’s population is online. And even if every single one of us with an Internet connection also had at least one social networking profile (which is not true) there are still over two thirds of the planet are not on these channels. Not everyone is glued to hashtags and topic trends. We must be patient with each other.

A friend was commiserating this week about all the paper forms she had to fill out for some program her son was doing at school and that is proof that we are not all wired up, mobile and digital. These are still early days and without contribution, we can't really expect results.

Why do you like social media?

Kneale Mann

image credit: istock
 
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