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Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

One of the problems with web marketing is that thousands of dollars are spent to bring in new visitors but only a small percentage of this is used to retain and nurture these visitors once they come to your sites.

One reason is the difficulty in building and targeting pinpoint messages, promotions, and campaigns to web visitors. Companies tend to focus all of their effort on getting the company message out to the public. The problem is “the public” is a very broad group so the content is watered down for consumption by the masses. This is not what most of your visitors are interested in.

Another reason is how difficult it can be to manage, maintain, and update content for individual web visitors. The people in the company who would best manage this content don’t have the tools and resources to access the web site and track how well campaigns and promotions are doing. Instead, they must fill out a web request form to get added to the queue. On the other hand, the web team is busy creating new pages for a product launches, managing Google Adwords campaigns, or analyzing web site statistics. They have tools that assist them in managing all of these tasks but they don’t have a tool for efficiently managing campaigns that are targeted to individuals.

A third reason is how easy it is to setup a Google Adwords campaign, show how many click-throughs your site is receiving, and stop there. You can get your ads out to the masses in just a few minutes. Then, every few weeks, you justify this spending because you can see the results in real time using the web interface or through nicely printed reports. This is great but it’s only half the battle. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take all of this great traffic you are getting from Google Adwords or search and continue to assist your visitors in finding what they want once they’re on your site?

This is why I built Marketing for Mavens. It’s a unique web application which puts the power of marketing to web visitors into the hands of those who are most capable of maintaining these campaigns. The web team can choose to keep control over the content management of the campaigns or give access to people in marketing programs or other groups within the company to handle this themselves. In addition, Marketing for Mavens tracks and tags each individual based on the pages they visit so now your company can ensure that your campaigns are matched up with right person at the right time. With Marketing for Mavens you know who your top visitors are and you can customize your messaging to them leading to quicker sales and improved visitor satisfaction.

If you are curious as to how this works please feel free to check out the demo. Marketing for Mavens is scheduled to launch a beta release in June so please sign up if you are interested in taking part.

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Excellent resource on re-framing questions on Squidoo. It’s amazing the impact a question can have by changing how you ask it.

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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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If I was to start an open source hardware project these are 2 that I’d would start today.

The Open Source iPod

What could knock Apple off of its pedestal? What about an open source music/video player that looked and performed like the touch-screen video iPod that everyone has been wanting for years. If Microsoft really wanted to take the leadership position in this market they would have opened the platform up to developers. There’s a huge opportunity right now to provide a sexy player with barebones software that the development community can add-on to. Look at how fast people are hacking the appleTV and adding new features. Imagine the possibilities if for mobile device that opened up it’s software to developers.

The Twitter Mobile Device

Twitter is fun an addictive tool for sharing with friends or the world what you are doing at any given moment. Now what if you had a tool to do this wherever you go? If I had any kind of hardware knowledge, I’d create a very thin device that opened like a clam shell phone only sideways. One half would be a thumb keyboard and the other half would be small screen capable of showing a whole twitter entry. The device would communicate with your mobile phone through bluetooth to keep it light weight, basically it leech what it needed from your mobile phone providing only the additional tools to communicate with twitter. You can leave your mobile phone in your pocket while you use your twitter mobile device to make posts from any place at any time. Thin, lightweight, and simple to use.

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Twitter has been receiving a lot of great publicity over the past several months from some of the most prominent bloggers on the web. This has led to them doubling the size of their community every 3 weeks and this is sure to pick up in speed. One of the reason I believe twitter is so successful is because they’ve managed to find a nice niche between being at an event/place live and reading about it on a blog. I’ve put together a quick graphic to illustrate this.

media_timeline.jpg

What I’ve tried to illustrate is how quickly you can receive your news based on the technologies you use. If you continue to rely upon newspapers, you’ll always be way behind the rest of the world. On the opposite end of the spectrum there’s the web which accounts for the top 3 quickest ways to receive your news.

Companies that find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum from the “live event” need to rethink their business model. There are still people who remember when front page headlines on newspapers broke huge news stories nationwide but this group of people is only getting smaller. Perhaps they should look at what small company like Twitter is doing and embrace it. Wouldn’t it be better to read your favorite newspaper personalities thoughts as the event is happening rather than the next day when the story has already been told from every angle?

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I apologize for the light blogging lately. I’ve been sick for the past few days. My daughter loves to bring the latest colds home from day care and pass them along to me.

Anyway, I’m getting caught up on all the action going on the past few days and came across this InformationWeek article on Enterprise 2.0.

What I find fascinating is how these technologies will get rolled out. At my company, if blogs and wikis are available for us to use, then its not public knowledge. It’s the responsibility of the IT department to make the tools available, however, I’m sure these tools would be easier to find if people were asking about them.

There is a 2 pronged challenge here…finding room in the budget for Enterprise 2.0 tools that aren’t in currently in high demand by employees and teaching employees that these new tools are available and how they can benefit them.

This brings us back to the chicken and the egg problem. When I talk to my colleagues about using a shared spreadsheet or wiki they’re confused. They have never needed these tools in the past and aren’t sure what’s wrong with the current way of doing things. Many people get set in their ways and it’s only through teaching and training that they begin to understand the benefits of changing an old process.

In order to have a successful roll out of Enterprise 2.0 tools, a company needs to have a plan for how to use such tools. Just making them available won’t be enough to ensure success.

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I love it when companies try to have their employees promote the company message using a “single voice”. Does this ever work? We’re all suppose to have the same 30 second elevator pitch ready go at any moment. My guess is that if you poll 30 people from the same company, you’ll receive 30 different answers, every time.

This, of course, isn’t a bad thing. What you receive is a pure, honest answer rather than the 4 line marketing pitch which leaves the questioner even more confused about your company.

So why is that we can continue to try to promote the company with the single voice criteria? Certainly in our cluetrain world, honesty is what the people want. Personally, I’d rather hear that company x builds software which connects databases together so management can see one report any time they want which helps them make better business decisions rather than try to figure out what a data integration company that combines disparate systems to provide a single view of the enterprise really does. In the first instance, I can visualize in mind what the product does and I relate it to my experience so can understand if it would help me. In the second instance, I’m left trying to decipher the latest buzz words thrown at me. When I’m done…I’m left laughing at the thought that a room full of people over the course of several months and meetings finally came to the conclusion that “this is it…it explains what we do perfectly…now lets have the lawyers review it”. Why do we continue to waste all this time?

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Excellent blog posting for those interested in learning more about implementing an Enterprise 2.0 environment into their business. I originally wrote my view point on this but accidentally closed my Firefox tab. Until I get over wasting the last 20 minutes, I’m only going to provide the link to Andrew McAfee’s post.

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I came across this post today by Mike Cannon-Brookes, CEO and co-founder of Atlassian.

Shared drives drive me crazy. It’s always the number one solution that IT comes up with to appease those looking for a way to share documents. It’s quick and easy to implement and gets the requester off their back in a hurry. The problem is that shared drives don’t work for all the reasons Mike mentions.

Initially they solve the users problem because the first people to use the shared drive know exactly what is on there. However, the longer the drive is used and the more information and people added to it, the less useful it becomes. There is never any documentation on what is stored on the drive and no one ever knows when the old information should be removed.

I’d love to see IT start to embrace better tools that employees can use to collaborate and share documents. This way, rather than a short term fix, a more long term solution can be used that will be valuable for years to come.

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My email is out of control. Not in the sense that I receive too much volume (although that can be a problem) but in the sense that tracking projects, archiving important resources, and keeping up with company information is not what email was originally meant for and I’m guessing there are many people feeling the same burden.

Let’s take company communication for example. I’m willing to bet that most people receive some kind of company update on a regular basis whether it’s a sales communication to marketing or an HR communication to the whole company, email is perhaps the worst way to deliver such information. We see these things, say I’ll go back to it later, and then several hundred emails later we remember we wanted to read something but can’t remember what it was or when we received it.

This is where a good company intranet comes in, especially one built on flexible Web 2.0 applications such blogs, wikis, and tagging. Companies need to deliver tools that employees can use to collaborate with online. Whether it’s a sales wiki that archives the latest documents to be shared with marketing or a blog from the VP of Sales talking about the latest trends in the field, using such tools would vastly change communication in a company for the better.

I’m tired of the weekly spam email. Instead, employees should be able to go out and find the information on the intranet that they need and subscribe to the RSS feeds that deliver this information instantaneously. Personally, I’d rather have one place that I go to for this type of company information and free up my email client to track my direct communication with my fellow employees. An RSS client is better suited for tracking this type of information and employees can use it to easily tag, and later find, the information that is important to them.

The benefits of such a system clearly out weighs the “this is how we’ve always done it” system. Just because the current system works, doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient solution. Remember, less than 20 years ago email was in such an underdog position. Now a business wouldn’t even think operating without it.

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