aStore / Amazon

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Adapt: Harford's Prescription For Organizational Change

The last post described Seth Godin's prescription for individual's success during change (in organizations.) Tim Harford in Adapt:deals with changes of the organization itself. He gives dozens of examples, one describes how US troops in Iraq adapted to the situation time and time again. If you are somewhat familiar with military operations, you can appreciate the story. If you are not, maybe Harford (with a few deaths) can put the fear of life in you. Maybe that's not enough for some corporate and government managers. If you have not been in an organization that faces a life or death situation, this is a good introduction. If you see this kind of situation in your company, than this is a good way to start thinking and acting before it's too late. Harford gives dozens of examples covering many different scenarios. This is almost an example book of fail first then succeed.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Seth Godin: Linchpin, Individuals Count Today

When we talk about all the big changes in today's marketing, communication and even work habits, there is a tendency to focus on applications, companies and leaders (especially CEOS like Steve Jobs.) Yet we all know real people working every day to create something from nothing. These people keep the big ideas from staying just ideas. Seth Godin wrote a sort of manual explaining what he sees as the key to development in today's world from an individual's perspective. Godin is a new age pied piper, leading the charge into the digital publishing age. His background is reporting, most notably at Wire magazine and San Francisco newspapers. While reporting on the changes in publishing with the digital age he has published a series of books chronicling the changes.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Retail Sales Techniques: Will They Help You?

Editor: The title of this post "retail sales techniques" is used as a general term. Some ideas here relate to corporate and other sales practices. In internet lingo B2B and B2C.

In reality, sales roles in most companies are not a valued position. In some business sectors, sales people are downright badmouthed and ridiculed. I have been at both sides of the fence, neither one is pretty. In the traditional corporate management world, the headquarters and regional offices, sales people are not always understood. Most are seen as slick (i.e. slippery) deal makers, ready to "bomb the price" to close a deal. In general, very few corporate managers without direct sales experience understand the intricacies and subtleties of a sales process. That said, there is awareness in most senior executive circles of the role sales plays in the success of the company. While it is simplistic to say that "without sales you don't have a company", the concept goes beyond simply stating this fact. Why is this an issue to address in this blog? Because I see gaps in the understanding of what it takes to sell on the internet. Real gaps in effective internet sales, lead generation and attractive offers. Many real gaps in sales operations. Real gaps in actually running a sales effort on company web sites or sales portals (online shops). So while you may have a good design and bring people to the site with SEO or fantastic writing... if you want to sell, you need to do more than that.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Strike While The Iron Is Hot: Do It NOW

Internet time seems to move faster than real physical time. This may sound extreme to most people who do not manage a fast moving project. Even if you are a contributor (writer, illustrator, videographer) or editor, you feel this time squeeze once in a while. Many people in other professions will tell you the same. Physicians have less time to actually examine and treat patients, insurance brokers have less time to evaluate risk and offer solutions, even teachers have to contend with massive amount of new material... so what makes internet time so much faster? It's the global scale connectivity which brings: competition, innovation (change), partnering, opportunity and other time pressure activities. For the first time, humans communicate (argue, agree, render opinion, expand) with zero time delay anywhere in the world. This gives people anywhere the ability to quickly use and abuse your creative material. If you are going to drive a point and influence people, you will support or rebut bloggers and commentators, you will keep a watch on what people say about your writing and keep discussions going. This is a new game, it is just digitized and communicated globally.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Google Blog: Don't Stay Old

Would it come to a surprise that Google has no traditional web site? The Google blog as it turns out, is THE user targeted site for the company. In my last article about Jakob Nielsen, the usability expert, the situation was about "pre-blogging era" newsletter format. In the case of Google, it's a case of "perfect blogging era" timing. Gooogle acquired Blogger and adopted the blog format as a user communication format. In the Google case, the blog format was the obvious choice. While internet use and innovation driven change seem to speed forward faster and faster, some things stay the same. In both cases of Nielsen and Google, the format they chose has stayed the same while users have moved to other formats and different uses.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jakob Nielsen DOES NOT BLOG!

Jakob Nielsen, the usability guru, does not blog. His newsletter "Alert Box" predates the popularity of the blog. Should Nielsen take up blogging? On a more general question, we are aware of the usefulness of each specific "channel". Nielsen started his promotion using newsletters. These were popular for a long time before blogging. Since then, many new things seemed to have taken the spotlight from older promotion formats. There are all kind of theories about the use of channels. The most basic one calls for using the channels that most fits your product. If you have an iPhone application, use mobile advertising. If you use Google AdWords, put most of your budget into mobile clicks. But is this really the best channel for a mobile Office application? Maybe in this case, the best way is to go after the Microsoft Office buyers?

Spread Your Coverage Thin...

Do you spread your coverage thin? By this I mean, do you have many places to promote your blog (product, service, message, etc.)? If you have a message that can appeal to a broad audience, spread the message in many places. Advertisers rely on broad audience. When Coca Cola, Ford and Google advertise, they go after most people. They don't know who likes their products but it does not matter much. In most B2B products and services this is not the case. It is the case for Google, Microsoft and Amazon. These are companies that offer something to most businesses. Of course there are big many factories that only need a few copies of Microsoft Office and the decision to choose a new version is minimal. Yet this does not account to the decision to advertise.

Is seven thousands clicks enough?

Will you be able to sell your software with a small audience? How many people do you need to reach, and how many times do they have to see your blog to get a sale? Well, it varies. Obviously it depends on a few factors. Some of the obvious factors I see every day fall into these categories:

  • Clear product description: this may seem too obvious, yet I still see many product that do not describe clearly "what you get".
  • Clear offer: what do you get and for how much (sometimes, how long). It may be silly, but if you buy a professional audio editing application from Roland (Sonar), shouldn't you know what extras you get and when the offer will expire?
  • Top list of customers: who uses the product and what are they doing with it.
  • Top list of benefits and advantages: why is your product better than the many others that look the same.
  • Continuous updating: sales, blogs and interest in a product is a daily routine. Keep up the effort on a regular basis (it could be monthly...)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Not Selling Enough?

The last article "What Are You Selling" I described blogs that sell may not be actually selling enough. So let's look at two types of blog selling techniques. The first type is the one which seem to annoy some readers. The blog with post after post about products, offers (specials and discounts), competitive advantages, differentiation in features and just about everything you expect a parrot salesman to spew at a trade show floor. The second type is building a sales "process" (sometimes also called a "funnel") with the blog articles. First it gives a little story how someone used the product, then why you need it, then how there is a new sales offer with a deep discount, and onward it goes. Every step of the way it offers another opportunity to buy the product. There are many other sales techniques, but these are the most basic and most popular.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Are You Selling?

There is a tendency to think of a blog or a Facebook page as "always selling". This was true as a first impression for many company blogs. But in reality, not many companies and individuals simply just sell. Individual bloggers for the most part sell ideas, some would say opinions or even subversive ones. Most individual bloggers focus on a narrow audience segments. It makes sense, most writers are knowledgeable in one specific topic. Unlike reporters and researchers which can quickly develop a story in an area they are not knowledgeable. So they write about their area of expertise. A very large majority of blogging and writing is not meant to sell. This is the nice part of blogging and reading blogs. Yet, in the commercial world of selling, there is plenty of companies using blogs simply as a sales tool with a blog format. To me this is a sign of blog "format" maturity. While the spirit of the blog for individuals remains a non-selling proposition, the sellers will use it's popularity to do their work as always.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Will You Do With Seven Thousand Clicks?

Fist a short introduction:

For the last five years my work revolved around blogs. Some personal, some for pay and some just for fun (commenting). Five years ago I did not imagine what can be done on the internet. I did not set out to make money or to find work. I was curious of some bloggers and what they were able to do with a few posts and creative ideas. I was also curious where my professional field of work, technology marketing, was going to do with blogs. It turned out that blogging was one of the best investment of time for my career. It is also probably the best way to spend time in keeping with the incredible communication revolution that includes all kind of digital media from music to mobile messaging to every kind of digital format (videos, pictures, text and audio) you see today on the internet.

What's Going On Here?

Like five years ago, I do not have a set plan for this blog. I do want to write about my experience and to help people with their blogging and marketing. Like everyone out there, I have seen things from my own corner of the world. So here it goes... ENJOY !

What's In A Name?

I have a client that wanted a web site, a blog and lots of people to come and see his site. I thought that what he said is what he meant. So I set out to do the best job I could, set up a WordPress site, wrote blog articles, got going with the Linked-In promotion (this is a bit before Twitter and Facebook were popular)... anyway, in about two months we got seven thousand clicks. No AdWords advertising, no big paid campaigns, just posting messages on other blogs and Linked-In. It turned out that this customer wanted to make money. He wanted to shift his "boots on the ground" sales effort to a fully digital web one... well... (imagine Ronald Reagan's voice here) it did not end up exactly as expected. So stay tuned, the story will follow. Ask yourself: "what will I do with seven thousand clicks?"