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Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Links

Rather than write a full blog post I thought I'd share a couple of BizSugar articles I enjoyed reading this weekend.  Yes, it's kinda lazy on my part, but that's what 3 day weekends are for!  Seriously, both articles are well worth reading.  Enjoy!

Ten Great Lessons Learned from Business History: The 1970s Harley-Davidson/AMF Fiasco!

What's In A Name?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Permission Marketing Is NOT Quid Pro Quo

I'm a big fan of Seth Godin.  I subscribe to a handful of blogs, and his blog is probably the one I enjoy reading the most.  So when I heard someone misuse the concept of permission marketing this week it bothered me.

I was listening to a lecture, and the presenter was telling us about a marketing campaigns he ran.  His client sponsored an event where people could have their pictures taken with a particular celebrity.  Once their picture had been taken the client would ask for an email address where they could send the picture.  The presenter claimed that their client now had "permission" to email the client, and they could then begin sending them promotional offers.

I don't agree.  The people only wanted their picture, nothing more.  Maybe a few of the people at the event would have been willing to receive promotional information from the company, but they were never asked.

There's a big difference between permission marketing and quid pro quo.  Of course nobody explains the difference better than Seth:

Permission Marketing

Quid pro quo (santa math)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yahoo!'s New Location-Based Tool

A couple of weeks ago I admitted in a post that I don't see the value of location-based social media.  There were some great comments posted on this blog and in LinkedIn discussion posts.  Some had examples of effective location-based marketing campaigns (like Starbucks discounts given to Foursquare "mayors").  Many others recognized that while there may not be apparent marketing benefits yet, location-based media is fun and therefore relevant.

It looks like Yahoo! agrees that location-based media has great potential.  Yesterday they acquired Koprol, a location-based social network in Indonesia.  This article on explains the possible implications of the acquisition:
This acquisition is especially interesting in the context of Yahoo’s new partnership with Nokia. Yahoo says it plans to continue to invest in the evolving Koprol service, including mobile applications, like its newly released app for the BlackBerry.
I'm still not convinced that location-based media has any value today, but there are enough powerful companies interested enough to make it effective tomorrow!

Monday, May 24, 2010

What Is Your Goal?

I just finished reading The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement.   It was an assigned reading for an Operations Management class, and I wasn't looking forward to reading it.  After all, how interesting can a book about business operations be?

Turns out it was quite insightful.  Originally written in the early 1980s, it introduced the Theory of Constraints, a management philosophy that can help organizations to work toward their goal.  It made me wonder how many companies know what their goal is?  How many have identified their goal, but don't effectively work toward it?

Do you know what your goal is?  Are you doing everything you can to achieve it?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Don't Talk TO Your Customers; Talk WITH Them

Social Media gives companies the ability to build customer relationships like never before.  Customers can share positive experiences they've had with a company, and when they share negative experiences companies can address them proactively.  Companies can use social media to provide their customers with information about new products or upcoming events.  Customers can ask questions and receive helpful feedback.

Or social media can be used as just another form of advertising.  Many companies use Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, and social media tools simply as a way to drive traffic to their website.  They post information about their products and services, but there is no opportunity to interact.

Does your company's online presence help build relationships?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Social Media With A Busy Schedule

Social media can open a lot of doors for those that are willing to put time into learning and using the tools.  I enjoy the social tools that I use, so keeping current doesn't always seem like work.  However, there are definitely times when social media can make an already busy day, week, or even month seem unbearable. 

I'm having one of those week myself, so I looked to the web to find some advice on how to manage my social media time more effectively.  I found a link to an eBook that I really enjoyed:

Social Media Time Management: Strategies for Tackling Information Overload

It's an insightful, well-written eBook and I'm glad I took a few minutes out of my busy day to read it. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Silo Effect

Every business, no matter how big or small, has three primary functions that are essential to it's success: operations (production and services), accounting, and marketing.  As a business grows other functions are established like customer service, human resources, shipping/receiving, and more.  These functions are usually grouped into departments, each with their own sets of concerns and procedures.

Departments often have trouble working together to achieve common goals.  The people in these different departments have been given objectives that sometimes conflict (marketing wants to improve quality; accounting wants to reduce costs).  This is called the silo effect, and it can destroy a company.  When something goes wrong in a business, many managers try to determine which department screwed up.  Often it's a failure in how the company processes its products, services, and information.

Blaming a department manager is easy; fixing the system is much harder.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why Use Location-Based Social Media?

One of my personal goals for 2010 has been to increase my knowledge and use of social media.  The year is not quite half over, and social media has become a useful and enjoyable part of my life.  I've been able to keep in touch with friends, make new business contacts, and share my ideas with the world.  I've also been able to read some thoughtful, often provocative material, and it's all been at my fingertips to read when the mood strikes.  In all I've thoroughly enjoyed most of the social media experiencs I've had.

There is, however, a newer trend in social media that I don't quite understand: location updating.  Applications such as Foursquare are a way for people to let their friends know where they are at, and by looking at updates they can see where their friends are (or were recently).  You can also post reviews for a particular place you've visited, and you can potentially get rewards from establishments for mentioning that you were there.

Is there a real value to this?  I'm sure some people find it fun to use, but for the most part it seems like a hassle.  Also, some of the more powerful social media users may not want their thousands of followers to know where they are at all times.  So what benefit does this technology provide that might interest mainstream users?

This article on Mashable examines some of the issues with social location tools going mainstream, but believes there are upsides:
One of the ultimate promises of location-based checkins is more accurately targeted advertising. For some users, the privacy concerns of sharing their location might be trumped by the potential utility of receiving highly targeted advertising and promotions.
I'm not so sure targeted advertising will appeal to a mainstream audience, at least not in the next couple of years.  The article also mentions that Facebook and Twitter have thrown their hats in the social location ring, so perhaps they can figure out how to add value to the average user.

What about you, do you use location tools such as Foursquare?  If so what do you enjoy about it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Microsoft Joins Google In The Clouds

Today Microsoft will finally launch its newest software package, Office 2010.  One of the most highly anticipated features of this latest version of Office is the ability to store and share documents online, making collaboration easier.

While this may be a breakthrough for Microsoft users, Google Docs has offered this service since before most people knew what cloud computing was.  An article on shows a great comparison between the two offerings:
Check out the full article here: Google compares Office upgrade to Docs.  It's well worth reading.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Another Sales Failure

Last week I wrote about a door-to-door sales experience that bothered me (posts here and here).  This weekend another salesperson knocked on my door, and it didn't go much better. 

The salesman said he was from a well known cable company whose service I had used in the past (I'll save them the embarrassment of mentioning which one).  I let him know that I'm happy with my current cable service, WOW.  I told him it's a great service, there are almost no outages, and I pay a reasonable low rate.  When I told him how much I pay each month he said it was a shame that I didn't qualify as a win-back customer, because if I did he could have offered me a lower rate than what I currently pay.

What a horrible thing to tell a prospect!  He just interrupted my weekend to tell me that I'm not a priority to his company!  Unlike last week's sales rep this guy was an adult, so I didn't feel obligated to explain his error to him.  Instead I said "well, that would've been nice" and closed the door.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Social Media Networks for Business Use at Web 2.0 Expo

PC World posted a great video that explains three new social media offerings from the Web 2.0 expo: itDuzzit, Engage, and Socialtext.  All three of these tools are designed to make it easier for companies to use social media to improve their overall business.  Click the link below to view the video.

Social Media Networks for Business Use at Web 2.0 Expo

It's great to see applications like these bringing businesses over to social media.  This is where smart developers will be focusing much of their efforts for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Who's To Blame?

Monday I wrote a post about a teenager's use of shady sales tactics.  I got several comments here and on LinkedIn, and everyone agrees that it's incredibly sad that teenagers and young adults are taught to use sleazy sales methods.  I couldn't agree more.  There will always be companies that view sales as a zero-sum game, and unfortunately they often hire eager young people to do their dirty work.

But shouldn't the kid take a share of the blame?  After all, he's the one tricking people to into buying magazines they don't want. 

We don't overlook an adult's use of rotten sales methods just because that's how his company trained him, and I think the same standard applies here.  If a 10 year old tries to trick me into buying candy bars I can blame her age, but a teenager should know better than to manipulate people for his own gain.

Does anyone agree with my assessment, or am I judging this kid too harshly?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Shady Salesperson

Friday a teenager rang my doorbell.  Usually when kids come to my door they're trying to sell me crap that I don't want, but as I prepared to say "no thanks" he let me know that his motives were not financial.  He told me he was in a group for young entrepreneurs, and as part of an effort to practice speaking in public his assignment was to go door-to-door and introduce himself.

They were having a contest, and if I voted for him it would help him win a trip to Europe.  He was very charismatic, and since entrepreneurship is near and dear to my heart I agreed to vote for him.  I figured he'd then direct me to a website to vote, and he could then begin planing his European vacation.  That's when he informed me that to "vote" I would need to purchase a magazine subscription! Not surprisingly I turned him down.

There will always be individuals and companies that are willing to do anything to make a sale.  This kid tried to dupe me into purchasing a subscription to a magazine I didn't want, and I'm sure his methods worked on plenty of other people.  I'm guessing the kid was duped into believing he has a real shot at winning an all expenses paid trip to Europe (assuming there is a trip) if he can sell more subscriptions than anyone else. 

I hope the kid learns one day that tricking people into buying from you doesn't make you a salesperson; it makes you a con artist.