Archive for June, 2008

Now That’s Using Social Networking!

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I logged into LinkedIn this evening to post a question to their Answers section and was surprised to see that Barak Obama is using LinkedIn to get answers to his questions.

Now that’s using social networking to make change!

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The Web 2.0 Media Group Demystifies Using the Internet to Build Business Relationships

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Where web 1.0 was a monologue, web 2.0 is a conversation. Ultimately, web 2.0 is about building relationships online through blogs, social networking websites, online reviews and wikis.
Web 2.0 is a good thing but it’s also created overwhelm and confusion in non-techies trying to figure out how to apply it to their own business. I equate it to being born and raised in the cornfields of Iowa and then moving to New York City. All the sights, all the sounds, and all the options are fascinating but they’re pretty overwhelming too.
I’m all for any effort to help demystify web 2.0 which is why I was thrilled to be invited to join the Web 2.0 Media Group. The purpose of the Web 2.0 Media Group is to help non-techies get a clear, jargon-free overview of new ways to market and manage their business using online media.
The Web 2.0 Media Group was conceived by Wayne Bishop founder of Arbutus Software which produces Joint Contact project management software. Wayne co-founded the Web 2.0 Group with Mark McLaren owner of McBuzz Communications an online communications firm.
I met Wayne through Biznik (my favorite social networking website) when I responded to an article her wrote. I had recently signed up for BaseCamp to manage client projects and wanted to know how Joint Contact was different than BaseCamp. In minutes I got a reply from Wayne with a list of about a dozen ways Joint Contact is better than BaseCamp. I gave Joint Contact a try and am now using it to manage all my projects. Now that’s leveraging the internet to build business!
Wayne, who is based in Seattle, got the idea for the Web 2.0 Media Group after noticing that there was a disconnect between the business community and the tech community. I’ve noticed it here in Portland too. “Business People” and “Tech People” network in their own little worlds and rarely do their paths cross. It’s as if they live in parallel universes. Wayne is one of the few who lives in both worlds.
Wayne also noticed that there were dozens of tech start ups with great ideas and products that didn’t get talked about because they didn’t have VC funding or angel investors. So he decided to start the Web 2.0 Media Group to help non-techies learn how to leverage new technologies in their own business and get tech start ups in front of a new audience.
The Web 2.0 Media Group is getting the word out in a variety of ways. There is a free introductory in-person seminar called “Introducing Web 2.0″ designed to give the attendee an overview of the various technologies and how they can be used to build a business. There is a half or full day paid seminar that goes into more depth about exactly how to use the various technologies. There are also plans for an online community dedicated to answering the questions that come up as people try out web 2.0 technologies.
One of the goals for the Web 2.0 Media Group is to make a connection between cyber-space and physical space which is why it’s offering in-person seminars. Currently the seminars are only offered in Seattle but I plan to bring them to Portland in the fall. Email me if you’re interested in attending and I’ll keep you posted.

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Business Struggling? Stop Doing Favors!

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

I met with a new client yesterday. She’s a great lady with a great product. She’s got a good looking website, beautifully produced instructional DVDs and no sales.

To figure out why her products aren’t selling, I asked her a series of questions about what she’s been doing and what she thinks she needs to do. Part of the problem is that she’s overwhelmed by everything she needs to do. She’s trying to get sponsorship deals with some of the products she promotes in her DVD’s. She’s trying to get distribution deals in stores. She’s trying to write articles for print and online publications. And she knows there’s a lot more she needs to do to promote her business online.

But that’s only part of the problem. She knows she can’t do everything so she’s trying to delegate some of the work but her last two assistants have quit in the first week. This was intriguing to me. She seems easy to get along with and fun to work for so why are assistants quitting on her? As she told me about the people she’s hired, the reason became clear.

She, like many of us, likes to help people. Both of her assistants were acquaintances who were down on their luck and she saw that they needed some help. If someone would just give them a break (and some money), they could get back on their feet. They weren’t bringing many skills to the job but she was willing to train them so that she would have an assistant and they would have a new skill set.

Ahhh! The problem crystallizes.

She was making a mistake many small business owners make and can be fatal to the success of their business. I told her “I know this is going to sound harsh but you have to stop doing favors for people.” Her eyes got big and she slowly said “I have to stop doing favors for people?” I could tell it was a radically new concept to her so I explained.

Many of us – especially people with a background in service professions – get a boost from helping people. We like helping people. It makes us feel good. Many times that’s why we got into the business we did. The problem is that we forget to help our business first. When your business is new or at a growing stage, it needs all the help and support you can give it from people who are bringing the right skill set and mindset to the job. At this point your business is fragile and vulnerable. You wouldn’t let someone with the flu kiss your new born baby! So don’t give people without the right skills and attitude an important job in your business!

It’s great to want to help people. Personally, a strong motivator for me to be successful is so that I can donate time, money and expertise to the causes I care about. However, I won’t be able to do that if my business just bumps along. My business has to be strong before I can help other people improve their lives.

So think about it. Is there someone (or “someones”) you’re giving an important job that isn’t qualified or committed to doing the work? Are you spending time teaching someone how to do their job instead of doing yours? Are you trying to figure out how to motivate them so they will have the right work ethic?

Now is not the time to take risks with your business. When your business has exceeded your revenue goals, you can give them a chance with a job that is not going to seriously impact your bottom line. But until then, you need to quit being “the nice guy” and invite them to be successful elsewhere.

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How NOT to Use Articles to Improve Your Rankings

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

The company that ranks #1 for “internet marketing articles” has quite a few articles on the subject. I’m sure it took a lot of work to write all those articles but I’d be willing to bet all that work hasn’t paid off. Why?

First, consider the words used buy people looking to buy a service versus people looking for information.

When people want to find a service provider, they use words like:
Consultant
Consulting
Strategy
Expert

When people are looking for information, they use words like:
Articles
Case studies
Examples
Information
Data

Second, the articles tell you how to do something but they don’t show you why you should hire this search engine optimization firm. The author could argue that the purpose of the articles is to build the perception of expertise. Providing good information is one way to do it but these articles aren’t particularly well written or all that helpful.

If you’re going to try to improve your website’s rankings with articles make sure your articles demonstrate your expertise AND subtly show the reader why they should hire you to do the job. Otherwise, you will just wind up with a bunch of looky-loos and no customers.

(*I’m giving them a link for “internet marketing articles” as a consolation prize for being my “how not to do it” example.)

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