Archive for June, 2010

29th

Have you heard this term yet?  If not, I’m honored to be the first to mention it, but I guarantee I won’t be the last.  I consider Crowdsourcing to be one of the most compelling aspects of Web2.0 and Enterprise Social Technologies.  (Btw, if any of this resonates, perhaps use the ShareThis button below and pass it along to your network).

What is Crowdsourcing?  Hear’s the deal… There’s 1.6 billion people on the Internet.  Each one has a talent or capability.  Crowdsourcing is putting all that intellectual property and talent at your disposal, if you know how to tap into it.  Crowdsourcing combines the concepts of bidding, rating, outsourcing, user-generated content, free-lancing, and viral sharing.  Crowdsourcing can be used to accomplish virtually any business function, but circa 2010 Crowdsourcing is especially useful for professional services.

Here’s a simple example: Logo development.  Today, if you need a logo for a new product, a campaign, a new business or unit, an event, what does your process look like?  Use the Comment section below to briefly describe your last logo development process.  In general, it likely took at least a couple weeks, generated 5 or so logo’s that were ‘decent’ but not brilliant, and cost several thousand dollars.

Crowdsourcing site - LOGOTOURNAMENT

Crowdsourcing site - LOGOTOURNAMENT

Compare that with LOGOTOURNAMENT, a Crowdsourcing site just for logo development.  What you do is put up your specs and a ‘bounty’.  The specs describe what you’re looking for and the bounty is what you will pay the ‘winner’ of the Crowdsourcing ‘contest’.  Depending on how well you communicate and dollars involved, THE NEXT DAY you will start to see 10′s of logo’s, REALLY GOOD LOGO’S.  Pick one and pay the bounty, perhaps only in the 100′s of dollars.

So everyone’s always asking about the ROI of Social Tech.  Do the math on Crowdsourcing.  Again, you can use it for almost any business purpose, but especially professional services.  In general, I’m finding the following metrics: 1/10th the cost, 10 times as fast, and high quality.  And yes, the work is likely being done, today anyway, in another country like India, China, Russia, South Africa.  But you don’t pay unless you are satisfied, the ‘vendors’ are rated so there is accountability, and oh yeah, there’s no ‘politics’.  :-) Doesn’t that sound good?  I’ve heard it said, and I’m starting to believe it, that Crowdsourcing will dwarf Outsourcing.

If you need help with Crowdsourcing, let me know.  Meantime, here are a few resources.  And remember my first point: Crowdsourcing is a part of Social Tech that EVERYONE can do.  No need to be held back by legal and compliance departments, government regulators, etc.

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One other thing this week: I continue to hear business people say they don’t get Twitter.  Most say it with disdain, often sneering, sometimes even saying Tweeter – I know, it’s all I can do not to burst out laughing.  But I get the confusion.  It’s a funny name and if you’re not using it or at least reading about it, you will be uninformed as to Twitter’s utility for business.  But just to make a little case, I spend about 10-20 minutes a day on Twitter – typically in 5 minute bursts.  Mostly I’m checking my listening posts on keywords via Tweetdeck.  Following are a few things a picked up just THIS WEEK – just a few – that I thought to share.

My take: Enterprises are missing SO MUCH opportunity because they don’t want to publish.  That’s fine, but what about research, inbound flow of information, Crowdsourcing, and so much else?  Don’t throw Social out because of a few barriers.

How Much Is a Facebook Fan Really Worth?

“A company’s fans spend more, are more likely to be loyal and will recommend the brand to their friends, according to the firm’s research.”

Doesn’t this say that creating Fans is the first step toward referrals, traffic, e-word of mouth, etc.?  Seems like a no-brainer to me.  So you’re in insurance and you don’t think anyone will be a “Fan” of insurance?  How would you like to be in Batteries???  Take a look at what Rayovac is doing on Facebook – they’ve got 17,000 fans!  My guess is they’re probably making money with this.

25 Digital Media Questions Marketers Need to Answer

Really good article that validates a lot of my content.

Social Tech and the C-suite – “Our case studies outlined below show that having your CEO visible on social media can bring tangible results to your bottom line.”  I had this very conversation yesterday with a CEO.  (Yes, I sent this article).  If you are a C-Suite Exec and this is the first you saw this, now you know.  And this is why my presentation in KeynoteTM on Enterprise Social Technologies is SO appropriate for an intimate session with Executives.  [I always appreciate referrals (click ShareThis below and pass it along).]

From control to conversation: Corporations and social media

I’m helping a company re-engineer their corporate Web properties to adapt to Web 2.0 and Social Tech.  The Web property is the “Destination”.  The Social Tech architecture fosters the “Conversation”.  Your constituents want CONVERSATION. Think of it this way – Lecture or Lab? Would you rather sit through a Lecture from a didactic, seemingly out of touch prof, droning about sanitized, philosophical concepts?  Or would you prefer a Lab with a teacher that you can ask questions of, with fellow students you can share and dialog with, and with interactive ‘stuff’ you can learn from?  Do you see the difference between a static Web 1.0 site and a dynamic Web2.0 Conversation?

Are You Really Committed to Social Media?

Read the 2nd para if you read nothing else.

AGAIN – ALL FROM TWITTER! USEFUL???

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Favorite thing from the last week?  Of course Soccer and the World Cup.  Unfortunately, the U.S. Men’s National Team lost ignominiously to Ghana in the next game (seriously, those were the best defenders we have in our entire country?!?!? Ridiculous ‘system’ we have…) But BEFORE THAT, we has a moment of tremendous glory that I will forever treasure.  I hope these links stay active for a long time, but here are my two favorites following Donovan’s stoppage-time goal.

Really love the Speed Matches: USA Vs. Algeria ESPN video – extremely exciting!

And then this companion link – the reaction video from a bar in Seattle, fans who had suffered through 90 minutes of frustration, and then watched the game-winner. Just phenomenal! Watch especially the guy on the right side of the video in the first 5 seconds.  I laughed until I cried when I first saw this.

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid73315185001?bctid=101507741001

Any thoughts???

(Btw, this post took an hour to create.)

Favorite recent picture… see more here.

20th

I’m almost 50.  My father went “gone to glory” when he was 54….

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Richard Alan “Dick” Wise

Your time was short, yet you made the most of it.

- You did not have much money, yet lived a rich life.

You were 6’9″, yet you made yourself ‘small’ for the comfort of others.

- You lived in trying times, yet always showed optimism and a smile.

You lived in-land, yet spoke often of sailing the oceans.

- You never owned a vintage car, yet knew them all by sight.

You lived in a humble log home, yet built fantastic ones for others.

- You dreamed great dreams, yet worked to help others achieve theirs.

You guided me, disciplined me, and encouraged me.

- Yet you smiled and said at the last, “No Mike.  I’ll take care of you.”

You did, yet you did.

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A favorite picture from the log cabin days in Jaffrey, NH.

10th

Click here first and let this song run quietly in the background as you read this post.  You’ll understand…

You know as well as I do that death is perhaps THE hardest thing we deal with. When death involves criminal intent, when hard-working, regular people and innocent children are crushed to death in the span of two seconds by collapsing cement and falling steel, it makes death even harder to deal with. As Scott Klososky, Social Tech speaker and author, rendered an intimate tour of the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, we were stunned by the impact of evil and saddened by the bitterness of death.

But in the midst of despair, I looked for hope, for evidence of God’s response to evil. I saw four churches all around the square, each with the cross of Christ, reminding me of the innocent Son of Man whose symbol of death has survived 100 generations of evil. I saw an inscription about the “deeply rooted faith” of those left behind. And everywhere I saw love and respect, thoughtful consideration, and tender compassion shining through. The survivors, the loved ones left behind, and the community at large had rallied from their grief to create a reverent masterpiece. Good always triumphs over evil.

Looking closer, three man-made responses, one evident miracle, and something else…

Reflecting Pool

“he leads me beside quiet waters” Ps 23

Field of Empty Chairs

“You will be missed, because your seat will be empty.” 1 Sam 20:18

The Message on the Wall

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him” Luke 18:7

Survivor Tree

“On each side of the river stood the tree of life” Rev 22:2

The toy firetruck

Why was this little toy firetruck just sitting there? Why a firetruck? Why now?

Throughout the ensuing dinner with Fred, Grace, Scott, Kent, and Jennifer, I thought of the images and of Scott’s stories of the “Red Book” and the “Blue Book”. After dinner, I asked Scott to take me back to see the chairs again. This time the lights in the glass bases under the chairs backlit the names. Scott waited in the truck – too painful.  Understood.

Link to all the photo’s

Please Comment below. Where were you when this happened?  What do you remember?  What are your thoughts seeing all this?  What about the firetruck?  Don’t lurk, especially now.

8th

On the plane to Oklahoma City and the AIPAGIA Enterprise Social Technology Bootcamp….

On the leg to Detroit today, I sat next to a sales guy on his way to Orlando for a sales conference.  His company is based in Philly and makes a key ingredient in steel manufacturing, something about a Chemical compound fluid that mixes with the other raw materials that go into the steel production – very high-profile product, mission-critical to his clients, difficult to get prospects to switch, long sales cycle, expensive, regulated, etc. – tough sales environment.

I’d be interested in your take on the suggestions I made to him after listening to him talk about his background and the key to his success as a sales guy.

He’s more of an engineer than he is a sales guy.  He started in the business as a Chemical Engineer, they guy that would go in post-sale and service the clients.  He did that for 10 years.  So he would get the calls at 2am on a Saturday when the plant was shut down because of a problem with the fluid.  He would then go in, diagnose the problem, and get the plant up and running again.  Forget finger-pointing – fix it.

He would see sales guys come and go – lot of turnover.  Managers, too.  One day he was having lunch with a client who lamented, “Man, I hate training your sales reps all the time.” One thing led to another, and Troy took on the sales function for several of the key accounts, looking to not only service, but also looking for ways to grow the relationship.  Today, he’s doing more sales, but he’s still the technical guy, still the guy that everyone wants to talk to – which makes it tough to sell, even tougher to prospect.

I thought, that’s exactly what it means to become a “Recognized Expert in your Field”, one of aspects of SocialTech that I’ve been writing about.  I think Troy is exactly the kind of sales guy the world of business is looking for.  In fact, he specifically mentioned that his clients and prospects don’t want the ‘peddler’, a sales rep that really doesn’t understand the business, but ‘fakes it ‘til he makes it.”  I dare say that business model is DOA.  Clients and prospects can smell that guy coming.

But the issue in his business is that he can only spread himself so thin.  Everyone wants to talk to him.  All his clients call him when there is a problem.  The home office wants him to be a communication channel to the customer.  And of course, sales management wants him to prospect.  So we started talking about the concepts around using blogs and Linkedin as tools to solve some of those challenges, even in the blue-collar business of dealing with steel mill engineers, plant managers and operations executives.

The more we talked, they more it seemed like Social Technologies would be a perfect fit for his enterprise.  The company has about 40 sales people around the country.  Each sales person has a different geography and as such, different challenges, issues, kinds of prospects, customer base, etc.  Thinking about the essentials of blogging and Linkedin, as well as corporate communication, and applying that knowledge to a quick convo on an airplane, here’s what I came up with.

What do you think?  Does it make sense?

He mentioned a scenario where a key component of the compound came from a plant in Asia.  It was one of two plants of its kind in the world.  Something happened at the plant to interrupt the supply chain.  Sounded like it was potentially permanent.  So it’s not their fault, but nonetheless, it impacts their customers and needs to be urgently communicated.  But is has different impacts on different customers.  So while the event needs to be communicated generally, the issues need to be addressed locally.  (Oh, and remember, the competition is dealing with the same issue this time.)  My suggestion was to use several channels to communicate, both from an offensive and defensive position.

First, the company should immediately issue a press release including a link to the story about the plant found in mainstream media, the blogosphere, twitter, or some other external source.  An email notification should be sent to all clients suggesting they connect with their local sales person with any specific concerns.  Lastly, from corporate, a regular mail or overnight letter should be sent, depending on the severity.  Oh, and an internal only, communique to the field with perhaps some standard text for a blog or email so save the reps a little time.

Then, at the local level, the sales rep should write an immediate blog post commenting on the situation with links to the corporate PR as well as the original news item.  The sales rep’s comments should be short and too the point, addressing the time-sensitivity and the potential implications short and long term.  Once published, the rep should craft a quick email template giving his clients (and later his prospects) a heads-up as to the situation. “Please click to my blog for more information and to comment.”  Then a short voice mail drawing attention to the email and the blog post.  All this should be done in the voice of the sales rep, perhaps with some standard language from corporate.

Doing it this way seems to have several advantages. But what am I missing?

  1. It’s fast.
  2. It’s practically free.
  3. Communication is clear.
  4. Clients can interact with the rep and the content.
  5. Other clients will then see the content, the earlier responses, respond themselves, and/or ask another question.  Possible for clients to solve problems for other clients?
  6. The whole thing will be searchable in case someone stumbles on it later (vacation).
  7. The communication is documented and timestamped by the blog.
  8. Speed, clarity, interactivity, brainstorming, solution’ing, searchability – all good?
  9. Defensively, clients cannot accuse you of not communicating well.
  10. Certainly you’re not leaving room for the competition to use the situation against you.

And that’s just for the clients.  What about prospects?

  1. Prospects can be handled with the same content, but more as an FYI.
  2. Prospects might learn a few things from your clients by reading the blog.
  3. You’re staying in front of prospects during a time of crisis – with almost no effort.
  4. You’re adding value very simply and inexpensively.
  5. And if the competition isn’t doing this, what does that mean?

Interesting.  What are the concerns that you see with this scenario?  Is there an issue with competition and revealing the secret sauce?  What else and how would you suggest a work-around?

We went on to talk about Linkedin.  Troy had no knowledge or experience with the tool.  So I explained the essentials and how it works to solve the problem of staying in front of prospects with very little effort.  He said his least favorite thing to hear are the words, “Gee, if only you had called me a couple months or weeks ago….”  Leveraging the Linkedin tool can definitely help with staying in front of prospects.  Of course, the key there is for you to use it correctly and for the prospect to use it as well.

The interesting thing about Linkedin relates to the concept of “Building a River of Knowledge” that I’ve also been writing about in this book.  I recently ran an informal poll in Linkedin asking people to pick what source of information they use the most for industry and professional information.  Linkedin came out as the clear #1.  What I’m finding is that there are several sources of great information on Linkedin (like the steel business).  There is also information available on the current state of your prospects, and some of the issues they are dealing with.  There is also information on your competition.

Lastly, it’s a phenomenal way of communicating and staying connected with a much larger audience with much less effort.

For a technical sales guy like Troy, did I give him good advice?  Would a Blog/Linkedin hybrid be a good club to carry in his bag?  Would it be good enough to replace another if he can only carry so many?  What are your thoughts, especially if you’re connected to manufacturing and blue-collar bizdev.

4th

An excerpt from a Crowdsourced book on Social Tech which I’m contributing to.  The book is called Enterprise Social Technologies.. Chapter 7// Step Six – Integration with Sales.  (Btw, I understand that the author is now “getting some of the chapters back from the crowd and they are REALLY good… This book is going to rock.”)

The question then becomes, What is the corporate voice?  What best captures the spirit and essence of the organization?  Some companies use Meme’s like the Geico gecko.  Some use the CEO, like Zappos.  Others take a more traditional, albeit more Social, marketing and PR voice (e.g. Dell, H&M, Whole Foods, JetBlue).  Sadly, many more are silent, apparently either paralyzed like deer in the mesmerizing headlight of a thundering train, or worse, suffering from that nasty corporate disease with symptoms like arrogance, stubbornness, complacency, and greed – with a little fear.  Or both.

The problem with the health insurance industry

To be sure – I’m not perfect (too much debt, not enough savings, and battle daily a family curse of judgmental-ism (not that I’m making excuses).  MY SOLE OBJECTIVE with the following content is to perhaps give industry folks a wake-up call.  I will be curious on your take, so please don’t lurk and then Comment elsewhere….

It seems clear that the world is starting to see through our collective BS.  We can’t hide behind corporate-speak any longer.  “Oh, we’re a very conservative industry, filled with angry regulators.  We can’t do all that Social stuff….”  We must engage, become transparent, be humble, confess the issues mentioned above, and turn toward a more transparent culture.  If we don’t, it’s just a matter of time before the social Web takes us to task and potentially ruins us.  As I’ve heard many times before, we can either deal with our ‘sins’ privately in a proactive manner… Or we will be forced to deal with them publicly in a reactive situation.  The choice is ours.

Matter of fact, I’ll go a step further with the possibly bold statement that might create the firestorm.  This all might have just happened. The thought has occurred to me, and I might be out in left field, that the reason the health insurance industry just took what might possibly be a death-blow (at least on the major medical side of the business…lot of opportunity elsewhere)… might just be… because they did not have a voice, did not manage their online reputations either collectively or individually, and were thus were a sitting duck in a deadly world of viral information, gross misunderstanding of a very technical industry, and heated debate on two extremely sensitive subjects – health and money.

Think about it… With a few exceptions, many health insurance companies were (and still are) relatively ‘silent’ online wrt Healthcare Reform.  At best, they issued long and boring White Papers or Press Releases, often too late to have maximum impact, often watered-down with a lot of marketing/legal/compliance corporate speak, and often with little to no Social aspects to them – no Video, no ShareThis, no Comments, etc..  Thus, like McCain in the election, they appeared symptomatic as described above in blue to the public and were stomped on by an aggressive and hostile Social Media machine.  The public in turn did not engage with enough heat on their representatives to change their minds.  Although many will say, “The problem is that the Feds didn’t LISTEN to the public.  THEY were the ones that were arrogant and greedy – arrogant in that ‘We know better’ and greedy for power.”   True – I agree.  But perhaps if the insurance companies had been more transparent to begin with, the whole CF would not have started or might have been defused before it cost many their jobs and in some cases, their companies?  In the final analysis, we’re trying to solve a problem that has been created by lack of information in the hands of the consumer – how much do health-related services and drugs cost, how can I shop around, what are the financial impacts of my personal choices, etc.  If we had had good transparency instead of what is perceived as the silent treatment…

I dunno – like I said, I might be out in left field.  Am I?  Please Comment below.

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So, on a lighter note, I got to shoot my first MLS game a couple weeks ago.  Major League Soccer, YT on the sidelines doin’ my thing!!!!… Hilarious really.

See all the pics here. (Short-cuts to highlights in color at the top.)

There were a couple US World Cup Team Players on the field!  Too Cool!

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