Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on Marketing for Mavens. This has drastically cut into my time on this blog but I wanted to post a quick note to highlight what I’ve been up to.

Back in June, we launched a beta web application called Marketing for Mavens (MfM). MfM allows companies to match their web content, promotions, and offers to the needs of the web site visitors. This is done by setting up section(s) of your web page(s) where you want MfM to control the content. As people visit your site, MfM tracks the pages they go to and tags them based on those pages. These tags help MfM analyze what visitors are looking for and display the most appropriate content/promotion/offer based on this analysis. There are several benefits to this:

  • Multiple promotions and offers can share the same real estate on a web page. You no longer need to build generic promotions that need to cater to all of your visitors or figure out how to balance or rotate several promotions on a crowded home page.
  • You no longer have to track all your promotions and offers. It is done automatically and the most appropriate content is delivered to your visitors in real-time.
  • Improved web site usability. Your visitors have a better chance of finding what they want since MfM is displaying content, promotions, and offers based on their history with your web site.
  • Better results. People are more likely to respond to your promotions and offers if they are inline with their needs.

Currently, MfM is in beta and will continue to be in beta through the end of the year. During the beta, registration and use of the MfM application is free. You can try out the service for as long as you want, on as many sites and pages as you want.

We also continue to add new features every few weeks which is where a lot of my time is going. In September we added:

  • Better Sales Lead Targeting: You can target content and promotions to select visitors. MfM allows you to customize web promotions that will only be seen by an individual visitor. You select how many times you want this promotion to be shown and it will be displayed the next time this person visits your web site.
  • Referrer Tracking: You can now see where your visitors are coming from and the search terms they used to find you. This gives you even more valuable insight into targeting your visitors, ensuring that you target them with the right promotions at the right time.
  • Link Tracking: You can now track which promotions are the most effective and eliminate under performing ones. A/B Testing of your promotions and offers can now be done as well.

If you’re interested in more information please check out the Marketing for Mavens web site. You can also sign-up for the free beta.

As things calm down on the MfM front, I hope to get back to blogging more frequently here.

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I love this post by Seth Godin. Too many entrepreneurs sprint out of the gate thinking they’ll be the next big thing. They see Robert Scoble doing video interviews and TechCrunch praising the next “product x” killer that have seemingly come out of nowhere. The problem is that these success stories tend to be the top 1% of the thousands of successful companies that are started each year and sprint tends to be exactly what leads to failure. What get lost in all this are the other successful companies that didn’t receive the same publicity, venture capital, and quick success but over time made solid business decisions, spent wisely, and stuck with their strategy and tactics to win in the long run. It’s these companies that most of us should model our own business practices after and then let everything else take care of itself.

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I’m finally getting caught up on all the zefrank videos I’ve missed. I came across this one where I just love the analogy.

the show with zefrank – February 5, 2007

Having a 1 year old, it bothers me when people try to teach kids the “right way” to be creative. Who is to say what a sand castle should look like? Being a kid is about exploring. If we all did things the “right way” we’d be riding around on horses and rubbing 2 sticks together to make fire.

The same goes for the business world. It’s filled with people ready to show everyone the “right way” to do something. Like the world is filled with formulas that we just need to follow to be successful. The problem is, there are no magical formulas. If there were, we’d all be millionaires living the grandest of life styles. Instead of assuming there is always a “right way” and following what everyone else is doing, explore your creative side. Find new processes. Take risks. Not all of them will work out but in the end the learning process will be invaluable for you and your business. It’s that learning process that sets companies apart, just look at Wal-mart, Amazon.com, Apple, etc.

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Wherever you turn on the web these days you’re constantly hearing about the next social web 2.0 site. Whether it’s twitter, Facebook, or MySpace or the next big site or technology destined to conquer the web, everyone is after the hearts and minds of the individual trying to build the largest social network. What I’m wondering is why someone hasn’t started the MySpace or Facebook equivalent for local businesses.

Despite all of the improvements to the latest search engines, it is still very difficult to receive great results for the local companies you would normally use the phone book to find. The only way Google, Yahoo, etc. can return these results is if these business have a web site which many of them still don’t.

To solve this problem, I’m proposing a simple low cost (or free) alternative to creating a web site and that would be to create a site similar to MySpace for local business. This Local Business site would focus on what local businesses need to promote themselves; address information and maps, contact information, and coupons. It would allow ratings for services, blogging by business owners, and event information. Most importantly it would allow businesses to connect and partner with one another similar to how people connect on Facebook or Linkedin. Think about this for second. How powerful would such a feature be?

Here’s one example, I recently purchased a new gas fireplace insert. The company I purchased the fireplace from also recommend two different plumbers and a mason that I could call for estimates. Recommendations like this can be priceless to local businesses and simplify my search. This information could be readily available on the Local Business site. What if I needed a plumber and didn’t know where to look. If I go to the phone book, I just start calling people based on their ad or their business name. Wouldn’t it be better if you could look up a plumber on the Local Business site and see what other local business have partnered with them?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The potential for such a site would be enormous especially when you factor in advertising, perhaps a Google Adwords type system built into the site. Certainly, like all social software, it’s only as good as the people (or in this case businesses) that join but I think the advantages of joining such a network would be huge for many businesses. It would also save me, and probably thousands of others, from wasting their time randomly choosing people from a phone book.

Now I just need a team, a business plan, and some funding 😉

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This quote comes from Seth Godin’s blog on “The Dip”.

“Reject the idea of being almost good enough to get in to Harvard and embrace the idea of being extraordinarily good at something else.”

People do this a lot but it’s also a problem with many companies. They are so focused on being all things to all people that they lose focus on what they do best. It’s not about having the most features. It’s about having the best features people really want.

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Hopefully my employer doesn’t end up seeing this but it’s time for a job change. Commuting through traffic over 3 hours a day is just too much. This is about 15 hours a week that could be better spent with my family and friends. If you know someone who is looking to hire a web guru (marketing/design/development), preferably northwest of Boston (the Lowell/Burlington/Waltham area) please let me know. My portfolio is available here. I’m looking for the following in no particular order:

  • A company that is still small but looking to grow
  • A company where everyone pulls together for the common good…no “that’s not my job” type culture
  • No more than 30 minutes from my home…ability to work from home once and awhile a plus
  • A company that wants to be great…yes, a lot of companies say this but it’s a rare place where the people in the company actually believe it
  • A company that blogs, uses wikis, or embraces Enterprise 2.0 or at least realizes it needs to use these technologies and wants to start using them now
  • A company where its people are its second greatest asset right behind its customer base which it respects and talks with openly

I know I’m asking for a lot and there’s probably only a handful of companies in the world that fit into this criteria, let alone within 30 minutes of my house, but I’m going to go big and then take it from there. So what would you get from me in return?

  • Someone whose willing to do just about anything to see the company succeed
  • Someone with a broad range of knowledge in web technologies and corporate communication
  • Someone who enjoys change and is always looking for the next “big (or small) thing” that can be leveraged to give a company a competitive edge
  • Someone with 8 years of experience doing all things web who wants the chance to change the world
  • Someone whose tired of all the marketing spam and mass-advertising waste and just wants to “get real” and have real conversations with people about a company’s service or products using the web

Thanks to everyone whose taken the time to read this far. I appreciate your help! Please feel free to comment or email me any related information.

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I consider Hugh MacLeod’s blog a must read but I really enjoyed this post on his blogging speech at Edelman. It’s the kind of post you’ll want to print out and distribute to everyone at your company.

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Here’s a post worth reading on wikis over at the Socialtext blog. Just like we’ve evolved proper email etiquette over time, so will proper wiki etiquette need to evolve as well. This will be dictated by the culture of the company and will involve a feeling out process before standard practices and habits become the norm.

Many are familiar with the Wikipedia etiquette where everyone contributes to a single document on a particular topic. In the work place, employees will be able to contribute but the way in which the editing is done will vary from a Wikipedia style to more of ownership mode where one person owns the wiki and others make suggestions on updates to that wiki by posting drafts that don’t alter the main page.

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Here’s why Apple is the brand every company wishes they had. When people outside your company are willing to spend hundreds of hours not only recreating one of you stores in every last detail but also your products and advertising in an online virtual world, you have the greatest advertising machine in the world.

Companies each year try to figure out ways to get people to create such content. Apple just has to build a new store or put out a new commercial. A following such as this doesn’t happen often and it clearly shows why a company should embrace user generated content and not try to shut it down. Apple probably receives millions of dollars in free advertising each year through such content and I’m sure it puts some healthy sales numbers into their bottom line.

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I like this excerpt from Shiv Singh’s The Workplace Blog regarding Information Week’s recent Enterprise 2.0 article.

Companies say collaboration and information sharing is important and as we saw in the 1980s and 1990s have been willing to invest a lot of money in it. But the article does not discuss why specifically it is important and why employees will be motivated to collaborate. In my experience, the unfortunate reality in most organizations is that employees don’t believe the benefit that much when they go out of their way to collaborate and communicate. Organizations need to make the case for collaboration more strongly before implementing any technology.

This is an excellent point. Today, business collaboration is done in one hour blocks in a meeting room with 1 person typing on a laptop or by passing a document between a couple of people through. Both could be considered collaboration but both are limited by time and tools.

Unfortunately, this is the business model supported by most companies and used by most employees. This is where Enterprise 2.0 comes in. To have real collaboration and information sharing, every employee should have the tools to view a working document and edit it from any where in the world while also seeing other employee edits in real-time. No longer would different versions of documents be floating around in people’s email boxes. A small team or company with thousands of employees could all see one document, talk about it, and it edit it all at the same time. No more emailing a document to the team and having each person on the team make their changes and pass it back to the team leader who then has to figure which edits to keep and which to get rid of. With Enterprise 2.0 real collaboration starts with everyone working together in a single space that isn’t governed by time and place. However this shift in thinking and process requires

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