Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Updated Shift Happens Video

The original video went viral and has seen numerous updates - always giving the latest state of the digital universe.  Here is the latest version of Shift Happens:

Eric Qualman's 2009 Social Media Revolution video also provides a good overview of the state of social media.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Suitcase Entrepreneur

I recently "met" a fellow digi-tizen on a mission to squeeze the last drop of profitability out of technology for  businesses that have a passport to exist anywhere - from Starbucks to the airport to the beach... and never stops ticking over profits.

WomanzWorld is a site aimed at empowering entrepreneurs with Internet technology and in this information packed YouTube video founder Natalie Sisson gives some of the most valuable business advice in less than 2 minutes.  Wow!

Exactly the tools I would have recommended, but in less than two minutes...?   Watch this:

Let's recap:
Online Tools
Google Docs

Social Networks


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tips for Getting Through Your Worst Days

As entrepreneurs we all have them... days where we ask ourselves:  "Why do I do it?"  "It is so much easier to get a job."  But fact is, if that were true for you, you would not have been in business for yourself.  What we need, rather, is perspective to help us survive the tough times.

Here is a really neat blog post on Bnet.com - see the excerpt below - great inspiration for those bad days.

Written by Michael Hess, he asked 100 entrepreneurs how they get through their worst days and here are some of the responses he received.  He classified the responses as "Inward-looking" and "Outward- looking":

"Outward-looking people tend to focus on the business itself and the big picture, in a fairly unemotional and matter-of-fact manner, and may also take advantage of outside resources and support:
  • “Compartmentalize… when budgets got real lean I compartmentalized the immediate pain of a tight budget and kept the long term goal in mind.” -Jeff Brodsly, Co-Owner, Elite Merchant Solutions
  • “Think around the problem… there is always another way to look at something, a way to tackle it that has not yet been tried.” — Pamela Barefoot, President, Blue Crab Bay
  • “My philosophy on managing my attitude when things are stressful focuses around four things: Mission, Vision, Values and a Realistic view of the financial situation.” — Doug Burgoyne, President, Frogbox
  • “I make 100 decisions a day, 99 of which I don’t want to think about. The little things cannot be ignored and take up a big portion of your time as a business owner, but keeping the big picture in focus is vital to survival” — Retha Sandler, President,Blamtastic
  • “Perspective allows me to know that just about any successful business does not follow the plan it starts out with… Groupon [for example] was originally a cause-based message board. Call it adjusting or pivoting, whatever. I call it ‘zagging.’” — Dave DuPont, CEO, Teamsnap
  • “Once a week, I review my business plan, review our top projects list, look through the marketing calendar and the financials. I believe you plan or get planned for” — Ellen Rohr, President, Bare Bones Biz
  • “I subscribe to the Vince Lombardi philosophy of winning in the workplace: when things are tough you must get better at what you do.” — Venanzio Ciampa, President, The Promotion Factory
  • “I stay in action. Action alleviates anxiety. I feel better when I am actively doing things to promote my business.” — BJ Gallagher, sociologist/author, Peacock Productions
Inward-looking people use different tools to keep themselves where they want and need to be. They may be philosophical, spiritual, physical, or psychological, but they tend to revolve around introspection, perspective, and mindfulness:
  • “You HAVE to know your purpose for running your company in the first place! Why does your business exist? Who do you serve? What do they need most from you, right now? 99% of business owners do not take the time for this introspection.” — Christian T Russell, Dangerous TACTICS
  • “I remind myself that nobody is making me do this. I chose to build a company… I can stop if I want. This always reminds me that I’d be miserable doing anything else.” — J.T. O’Donnell, President, Careerealism
  • “We mindfully approach unlikable or frustrating things with an attitude of kindness… most important, be kind to ourselves and our staff by remembering that the reason we are in business is to serve others.” — Mitch and Jen, The Paw House Inn
  • “To maintain a healthy perspective we take inventory of the great attributes of our company… Instead of cringing at challenges, we try to savor them… and reflect upon past triumphs.” — Adam Anthony, CEO, Creo Care
  • “Focus on what you have to work with, not what you don’t have. Positivity is everything. Meditating is also key. Anything you can do to keep your head in the game and keep your cool.” — David Collier, President, Ink Floyd Screen Printing
  • “Repeat to yourself that ‘worry’ is a waste of mental resources. I concentrate on what I can control.” — Kenneth Lebersfeld, CEO, Capitol Lighting
  • “I have a “mantra” of sorts, summed up in three words: “Okay; now what?” using [the challenging moment] as the starting point for planning what to do and how to forge ahead.” — Alan Simon, President, Thinking Helmet "
Credit: Bnet.com

Friday, January 7, 2011

Costco's Five Social Media Faux Pas

Costco Connection, Costco's client magazine, often includes little business gems such as this article in their January edition about the pitfalls of social media.  Here is a brief synopsis of the main 5 points...

Ignoring the Competition
Social media allows for easy tracking of your competition, so use it! Try TweetBeep or Google Alerts for an automated message each time your competitors are mentioned online.

Ignoring What Your Customers Say About You
Negative comments about your company may turn out to be the best free market research you can ever do to identify gaps in your capabilities.  By responding publicly you demonstrate that you care enough to reach out and it positions your company in a positive light.

Arguing on Social Media Channels
Your business can be judged not by the fact that you responded to your customer but also by your tone and manner.  Arguing in public is a losing battle.  Remain professional and keep to the facts. If you are wrong, calmly admit and let your public know that you want to make it right.

Failing to Live Up to Promises
If you promise a customer on Twitter or a blog that you will take care of an issue, failing to do so will make it worse.  There are an increasing number of places to monitor where customers may be discussing an issue related to your business but it is important to do so.

Wasting Time
Experiment with social media channels that your customers use.  If you are not sure that a social media site is good for your business, sign up as a customer first and explore. If it is useful for your business then claim your business space on that tool.  "Don't just Tweet for Twitter's sake.  Focus your posts on items that matter to you and your business."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Location-Based Marketing

New smart phones that allow wireless mobile connection to the Internet, while also broadcasting your GPS location (yes! the satellites always know where you are!) have made an entirely new range of services possible.  Location-based marketing is an emerging form of marketing - sending you deals, offers and information that are relevant to you based on where you are (with your mobile phone in your bag of course!)

My friends at Sitepoint's Tribune Newsletter had this interesting article this week that I thought I'd share.  I receive a lot of newsletters and this one is one of my favourites! (I actually learn valuable stuff):

Location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla were all the rage last year, after starting out as a sort of game. It was only when businesses realized they could be used for marketing that the general public saw the potential. Since then, Facebook has released its own location-based service, Facebook Places.

If you (or your clients) have a physical presence (a retail establishment, restaurant, office, or other place of business where you see customers), you need to claim your listing on these services. Once you've claimed your listing, you can create promotions and incentives to bring customers back again and again. They offer a great way to build customer loyalty, and create a sense of excitement around your business.

Let's take a look at what's involved with each one:


Foursquare lets you create specials for free (for now), and there are several types, for:

  • the mayor
  • every X number of check-ins
  • when another specified condition is met
When a user checks in to your business, they can see available specials; once they've met the requirements, these will automatically unlock. Foursquare will even send you a window cling to help you promote your special.


Gowalla lets you purchase custom "stamps" that visitors can earn by checking in at your location. You can also create custom messages for patrons to see when they check in.

Facebook Places Deals

Facebook Places deals are still in beta, but are rolling out to more and more businesses every day. Claim your business and you'll see if you can post a promotion. If not, check back in a few weeks.

If you are one of those fortunate few, you can create several types of deals:

Individual deals—one-time deals, such as a coupon
Loyalty deals—require a number of check-ins before "unlocking"
Friend deals—unlocked when a certain number of your friends check in at the same time
Charity deals—donates a certain amount to charity with every check-in
The process for creating a deal is fairly straightforward, and I can see these really taking off once Facebook opens them up to all businesses. There are already hundreds of millions of Facebook users, so I expect this to give Foursquare a run for its money in 2011.

Promotions on All Location-based Services

Geotoko is a new web service that integrates the most popular location-based services mentioned above, letting you post your promotions once and distributing them to all three networks.

Geotoko will also help you customize your campaign with custom landing pages and Facebook tab integration. The service is still in beta (Facebook Deals isn't functional quite yet), but it looks very promising.

If you liked this content, check out Sitepoint and sign up for their Tribune newsletter too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Art of the Corporate Blog

Corporate blogs take on many shapes and play many roles like the executive blog (to staff or public-facing); the "how to" blog; sharing news; offering promotions; building the brand or acting as the entire corporate website.

In essence a corporate blog is an opportunity to connect with a reader community or customers and strengthen their relationship with the brand - PR at the click of a mouse.

A recent article by Likeable Media called Corporate Blogs Done Right, highlights these elements as keys to blogging success:

  1. Have multiple writers like Kodak to bring many different perspectives to your blog.
  2. Be true to your brand through the blog design, language and style and by reaching out to readers with useful tips and information like Southwest Airlines.
  3. Collate the helpful voices of a user community such as Wordpress does in its blog, thereby giving users a forum.
  4. Create a community by sharing not only information about products but also about a company's values and those things it holds dear like Wholefoods.
  5. Open the doors of your company to the world by showcasing your unique culture and employees at work like Zappos do in their "Family Blog".
Read the full article here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When You Love Your Tims..

...and your Tims loves you back!

This is the story of Tims, TA and Velma the Vanilla Dip.

When Everest climber and Tims fanatic TA Loeffler decided to take her ownership of the Tim Horton's brand to new heights, Tims was there to support. To TA a Vanilla Dip doughnut (eaten in moderation) is akin to a "religious experience". In fact, it came to her as no surprise when she noticed one day that budhist prayer flags such as the ones that provide protection to climbers on Mount Everest are indeed in the colours of the sprinkles that decorate her beloved Vanilla Dip.

Being so close to her Tims brand, made Tim Hortons an obvious choice when she was seeking sponsorship for her attempt on Everest. In her own words, the fund-raising effort for an expedition of this proportion, tops the challenge of the actual climb.

Tim Hortons, like all other big brands, is no doubt inundated with requests of this kind and their subsequent $10 gift certificate was probably quite generous, all considered.

It is not until TA's second attempt to summit Mount Everest two years later and another sponsorship request that the story started to unfold in the most interesting way.

It is important to mention that TA summited Mount Elbrus in Russia in the mean time and an important lesson was learnt here. The Vanilla Dip doughnut (Velma I) that went along as expedition mascot did not do too well at altitude and emerged a shadow of its former self.

Not keen to repeat this mascot disaster, TA approached Tims again. If monetary sponsorship was not on the cards, what about a preserved version of Velma for the 2009 attempt on Everest? This is when Tim Hortons came to the table: with a specially preserved vanilla dip doughnut that was to be collected last minutes at a Tim Hortons coffee shop en route to Nepal.

Velma the Vanilla Dip II returned well traveled, very experienced and having reached amazing new heights.

The love between TA and Tims continues - wonderful photographs of Velma's adventures have been posted to the Tim Hortons Facebook Page. This page is seen as the most successful Facebook brand story in Canada with more than 1.2 million people liking it at the time of writing. It is stories such as this one; photos such as TAs and a technology that allow us to share, that build the essence of Canada's beloved brand. It is about more than coffee - and also about a "religious experience" to some.
Follow the story of Velma, Tim's vanilla dip doughnut, and her and TAs extreme adventures on Tim's Facebook album.