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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

The New Small: Gain Leverage Through Technology

By John Joyce on February 16, 2011 - Comments 0

How a New Breed of Small Businesses is Harnessing the Power of Emerging Technologies

The New Small:  How a new breed of small businesses is harnessing the power of emerging technologiesPhil Simon offers a comprehensive view of technology past, present and future as it pertains to empowering small business owners to compete, adapt and grow as effectively as possible.  Many of the stories and examples highlighted in the book include lessons learned from Simon’s past experience working with big companies – mostly how NOT to operate your business.

The New Small takes a holistic view of working smarter  by identifying major technology trends and explaining how the landscape has changed and why you need to understand the impact on your business.

Employees can be only as productive as their company’s tools let them be.  Even the hardest working person who requires zero sleep cannot move heaven and earth.  Many New Small founders know from their previous jobs the frustration of having to make do with outdated technology.  As such, they do not want their employees to struggle using inadequate tools.  The New Small wants -and needs- their employees to be as productive as possible.  Emerging technologies are crucial in this regard, especially collaborative ones.

Before giving you examples of successful New Small business owners (and there are plenty of great stories in the book), Simon explains the evolution of technology and the impact it can have on your business.  Simon refers specifically to “The 5 Enablers” as follows:

  1. Cloud Computing
  2. SaaS
  3. Free and Open Source Software
  4. Mobility
  5. Social Technologies

Once you understand these “game-changing” technologies and the impact they can have on your business, and combine that knowledge with the real world examples in the book, you’ll be ready to enter the realm of the New Small.  Kudos to @philsimon for combining technology and business insights in one book that is well written and so densely packed with nuggets of insight and inspiration that it will certainly become more of a “operational reference guide” in the future.

I recommend this book to any small business owner that embraces the fact that change is inevitable/ongoing and you must be ready and willing to adapt to the uncertain world around you.

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Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part VII: Feedback And Comments

By John Joyce on March 16, 2010 - Comments 0

If you want to develop the “persona” of your small business, you have to make sure your audience is easily able to interact and share their thoughts and feedback with you. It’s also important to deliver engaging and, in some cases, polarizing and provocative content that will motivate people to interact. Finally, once you spark conversation and debate, you still have to maintain some semblance of control over the process so I have listed several tools available to help with this process:

Comment Management Tools

Click on Image to View Interactive Online Marketing Ecosystem

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Why Is Transparency So Hard?

By John Joyce on February 23, 2010 - Comments 0

Small Business trust and transparencyIt’s really not that complicated.  Our parents taught us growing up that honesty and respect breed trust, right?  Those two simple core values are vital components to success in any aspect of your life.  Chris Brogan, blogger extraordinaire and author of Trust Agents, says, “Today, the most valuable online currency isn’t the dollar, but trust itself.”  So, why do so many forget this simple fact?

President Obama offered “total transparency” during his campaign for the office he now holds.  It sounded simple enough.  “The system is broken and we need to involve the people we represent in the legislative process.”  That’s what I heard.  That’s what I expected.  Boy was I wrong.  Not even translucency.

Toyota is the number one auto maker in the world and has enjoyed a spotless reputation for decades.  I had a Toyota Camry for five years and never spent an extra penny for anything beyond scheduled maintenance costs.  I think Toyota is one of the best (tied with Honda) at listening to their customers, turning that feedback into action and delivering a reliable product at a reasonable price.  But, they recently strayed from their core values.  They had enormous goodwill (trust equity) in the bank and all they needed to do was tell the truth about faulty gas pedals, fix the problem and move on.  Their lack of transparency, however,  will now cost them much more than replacement parts and labor.

Now, if you would like to see the antithesis of the previous examples I’ll turn my attention to Hubspot.  Hubspot recently schooled us all on operating transparently and protecting the trust of customers and supporters.  If you’re not familiar with Hubspot, check out the book Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media).  Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-founders of Hubspot, have created an entire platform to help businesses transition from outbound marketing (interruption marketing) to “getting found” with inbound marketing strategies.

There is no better free marketing information available online than the quality content that’s available from Hubspot.  That’s right, I said FREE.  Blog posts, video content, white papers, and a suite of “grader” applications that allow you to gauge the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts.  I love the knowledge and insight these guys share on a regular basis.  They’re really smart and I trust what they’re saying because it works.

Rewind to February 11, 2010.  Blog posts start popping up alerting readers that Twitter.Grader has been hacked and “Twitter users who have granted access to their accounts to Twitter.Grader have all begun tweeting a bizarre and unauthorized message.”  Holy crap!  What do you do?  Pretend it didn’t happen?  Blame someone else?  Nope.  You fix the issue and immediately address your customers in a blog post.

Not only did Dharmesh co-author a great book on inbound marketing but he also wrote a primer on “Transparency 101″ – condensed below:

Honesty: “#1.  It was my fault.  I developed Twitter Grader — and I’m the one that developed this particular feature that ended up getting hacked.  I should have known better.  I was an idiot.”

Respect Customer Fears/Needs: “#2.  HubSpot is being super-paranoid about how we deal with the issue.  We’re shutting down several of the grader.com applications (not just Twitter Grader) and will be reactivating them on completely new servers with increased security.  This level of caution is likely overkill (and expensive), but it’s the least we can do.”

Keep/Build the Trust: “#3. OAuth is a very good thing. For those of you that don’t know what OAuth is, it’s what allows users to grant access to specific applications without revealing their username/password. Twitter supports OAuth. As such, Twitter Grader allowed users to “authorize” access. This is much better than asking users for their user name and password. Because of OAuth, although the malicious user was able to post to people’s twitter accounts, they never had access to the user’s account credentials. Given that many people use the same username/password on multiple websites, this could have been very dangerous. But, OAuth ensured that the problem was much more contained.

Kudos to Dharmesh and the rest of the team at Hubspot!

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U.S. Small Business Outlook 2010: Lessons Learned From Forbes Insight

By John Joyce on February 18, 2010 - Comments 2

Forbes Insight Small Busines Survey 2010

A Case For Optimism?

Forbes, in association with CIT, conducted one-on-one interviews with small business owners to better understand the lessons learned from the past 12-18 turbulent months.  Their findings, although not earth shattering, highlight a bit of a silver lining when you consider that most respondents have learned to work smarter and do more with less.

Unfortunately, nobody in Washington understands the needs of small business owners, therefore; they have been left to fend for themselves and figure out creative ways to survive and even thrive in a difficult economy.  If the legislators just listened to the needs of business owners, we could speed up the recovery process.

OK, I’ll get off my soap box and focus on the more interesting results of the survey:

  • Nearly seven out of ten (68%) disagreed that healthcare reform efforts would benefit their businesses
  • Nine out of ten small business owners agreed that current stimuli do not benefit small businesses
  • 62% will invest more in marketing; specifically, lead generation
  • More than 60% said they will run their business more aggressively in 2010
  • 50% will invest in growth or expansion
  • While 33% said they would likely reduce their hiring, 29% expected to hire more workers
  • 50% will hold on to their cash
  • Nearly 8 out of 10 respondents agreed – coming out of the recession, the old way of doing business won’t work; we need to find new ways to take advantage of market opportunities
  • 79% say their market segment is more competitive than ever
  • 46% will pursue new revenue streams

Small business owners are, by definition, risk takers and will always welcome a challenge.  The past 12-18 months have made business owners better leaders and more prudent decision makers.  However, the most telling quote from this study highlights the immense challenges ahead -  “this ordeal has taken its toll on how small business owners see the economy in general. Only about one-fifth of respondents (21%) believe that the financial crisis has already bottomed out, with 47% expecting this to occur in 2010. They predict the financial markets will turn around in 2010/2011, stability will return in 2011/2012, and growth won’t come back until 2012 or later.”

Don’t hold your breath waiting for our politicians to suddenly “get it”.  Simply take your lessons, apply them to the present and future, and continue to move the rock forward.

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Monday Motivation From A Former President

By John Joyce on February 15, 2010 - Comments 0

entrepreneurial spirit“The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.” – John F. Kennedy

Today is a day for us to focus on the task at hand and to challenge ourselves to experiment, invent and “build greatly”.  As small business owners we have the opportunity to make a difference and to do so on our own terms.

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Pick Your Top 3 Tasks For The Day And Focus

By John Joyce on February 12, 2010 - Comments 0

Do you find yourself each morning clicking on a few interesting links in Twitter or perhaps your news reader and, before you know it, 2 hours have passed and the only thing you’ve finished is your first cup of coffee? There are just too many distractions between email, your smart phone, social media, news readers, you name it. How do you get anything done each day?

Enter the focus box. Every day I write my top 3 tasks for the day in a big red square on my whiteboard so I can stay focused on the initiatives that will have the greatest impact on my business. Just to make sure I devote my time to the tasks at hand, I shut everything else down. That’s right. You heard me correctly. No Twitter, Facebook, Outlook, Blackberry, Firefox. I even shut my door.

This might seem like an impossible modus operandi but you’ll be surprised how much of an impact it will have on your overall productivity.  Of course, there will inevitably be emergencies and interruptions in the course of the day, even when you are holed up in your “productivity bunker”.  The key is to make sure you get back on track and that you don’t move on to other projects until all three boxes are checked.

Try it for a week and let me know your results.

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A Profound Marketing Lesson From Scott Brown

By John Joyce on January 20, 2010 - Comments 0

Image: Landov via Portfolio.com

Who knew we would get a Marketing 101 lesson from newly elected US Senator, Scott Brown, these past few weeks?  His strategy was so simple yet so difficult to execute:

Listen - Every business owner gets excited about telling the masses about their “groundbreaking” new product or service.  We rattle off features, platforms, technologies, widgets, gadgets, and whatever buzz words we can muster.  But, in many cases, messaging is developed in a vacuum and isn’t based on actual feedback from the target audience.  Scott Brown spent a great deal of time visiting with people, especially small business owners, to find out if the citizens of Massachusetts were seeking the same kind of change he had in mind.

Know Your Audience – Portfolio.com mentioned some very interesting numbers in an article today that identified the political makeup of small business owners in this country:

  • 45% identify themselves as Republican
  • 25% identify themselves as Independent
  • Only 22% identify themselves as Democrat

Be Passionate – People will eventually figure out whether or not you actually believe what you are preaching.  If the fire inside is genuine, you will gain the trust and commitment of dedicated followers.

Present a Consistent Message – Take the first three ingredients and mix. Test and tweak until a clear and concise message is crafted.  Utilize all appropriate channels and mechanisms to get the word out and empower your supporters to become evangelists.

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3 Things That Should Make A Small Business Owner Thankful

By John Joyce on November 25, 2009 - Comments 4

treeinhandWe’re living in a time where credit has dried up, the SBA seems to be stuck in quicksand and our government is bent on dictating healthcare legislation that will have a devastating impact on small businesses across the country.  So, what’s there to be thankful for?  Plenty.  Here are my top three:

  1. We’re lucky enough to be in the middle of a marketing revolution and are only limited by our imagination and drive to succeed. So, let’s forget about the things we can’t control and perfect the ones we can.  We’re not sending out postcards and then sitting by the phone “hoping” someone will call.  We’re building brands and perfecting our methods for being found online.  We’re building communities.  We’re building trust.  We’re building the foundation for success.  This is really cool.
  2. There is an almost unlimited number of marketing tools and services available for free. We’re talking high quality, high value tools that allow us to develop a more scientific approach to the art of marketing.  As our marketing efforts evolve, we’re able to measure success and adjust our tactics accordingly.  Automation allows us to focus on our core business.
  3. We’re being forced to do more with less and this is a lesson we must all remember as we eventually head into economic recovery.  Just because we’re in a difficult economy doesn’t mean that we’re destined to fail.  Conversely, a strong economy doesn’t give you a green light to start blowing money on expensive  PPC campaigns.  Always operate within your means and be prepared for a rainy day.

Let’s stay positive and finish out the year strong.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Don’t Listen to What Other People Say

By admin on April 16, 2009 - Comments 7

Do you have an idea for a new business? Is it a little bit “outside of the box”? If you truly believe you have an

Susan Boyle Should Ignore The Critics

Susan Boyle Should Ignore The Critics

idea/invention/business that brings value to the market, then put your head down and push the rock forward. Don’t listen to the cynics out there. Those are the same people who would never take the risk and they don’t have the confidence that you have.

If you can dream it, you can do it. Everyone looked at Susan Boyle on “You’ve Got Talent” and jumped to the conclusion that she would not be successful. They were dead wrong.

If people look at your idea and doubt you or doubt that you can be successful in a down economy, they’re wrong.  Watch this clip, be inspired and enjoy the success you know you’re capable of achieving.

(YouTube wouldn’t let me embed this video, sorry for the primitive link)

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