Archive for May, 2010

Twitter Business Center Testing Underway

Twitter Business Center Testing Underway

By Doug Caverly – Tue, 05/11/2010 – 2:06pm.

New controls, features should give companies an edge

It looks like Twitter is finally – and literally – getting down to business.  After working on the site’s stability, translating it into different languages, and finding new corporate offices, it’s now testing a control panel for companies called the Twitter Business Center.

Twitter LogoThe new Business Center should, judging from screenshots obtained by Ben Parr, allow small business owners to “[c]ustomize the contents of your business profile page,” “[a]dd a ‘Verified Account’ badge to your profile for credibility and authenticity,” and “[a]dd contributors so multiple people can easily tweet from your business account.”

Then one other very interesting feature is the ability to “[r]eceive direct messages from any follower” – even if you’re not following that person in return – which should make the matter of fielding questions and complaints much more straightforward.

To reiterate, though: the Twitter Business Center is just in testing right now, and there’s no way for anyone to opt into the test.

It also remains unknown when the next stage of development might occur, or how much Twitter might eventually charge for access to the Business Center.

Stay tuned, then, and at least make sure that your Twitter account is linked to a working email address in case Twitter tries to include you in the experiment.

Facebook Location Features Will Unlock More Potential for Businesses

By Chris Crum – Mon, 05/10/2010 – 4:12pm.

Facebook Location Features Coming Soon

We’ve talked about multiple ways Facebook can help your business online, and that is not limited to online businesses, although selling through Facebook is becoming easier and easier thanks to application developers like Payvment.

Facebook is getting ready to start offering location-sharing features. It’s not certain exactly when this will happen, but reports have suggested that it will be before the month is over. Code within Facebook’s touchscreen interface has been discovered that will place a “Places” tab on Facebook user profiles.

“This will be the biggest thing to happen to local businesses since paid search,” says Ian Schafer at AdAge. “The ability to leverage frequent visits to their locations to passively and actively influence others to do the same, deliver special offers, or redirect local foot traffic at a moment’s notice can lead to a direct, measurable impact on in-store sales and word-of-mouth.”

If you thought Foursquare had some good opportunities for local businesses, consider that at last count (months ago at this point) Facebook had over 400 million users.

Location sharing is an increasingly growing trend, and is influencing how people access information. It’s also playing more of a role in search. With or without search, Facebook participating is a game changer.

Foursquare alone just surpassed 40 million check-ins. I could see Facebook surpassing that in a week.

Let’s not forget that Facebook is also sending brick and mortar businesses decals to promote their Facebook pages.

Facebook has been a good way for businesses to engage with their customers in the past, and now there are an increasing number of ways to do this. One app will let you add an actual Support tab to your Page.

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 10

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 10

By Gord Hotchkiss – Wed, 05/12/2010 – 4:46pm.

I started out this series by saying that Walt Disney is one of my heroes. This is not to say that Walt was perfect, or even consistently admirable. There are plentiful rumors and tales of Walt’s anti-semitism, despotic management style, mercurial temperament or politically insensitive transgressions. The Disney Studio was far from the happiest place on earth. Disney animators unionized after promises of profit sharing on the hugely profitable Snow White vaporized and Walt subsequently scooped up all the credit for the amazing artistic and technical achievement of the studio team. Even longtime friend Ub Iwerks had a trial separation from Walt for 4 years after being constantly shoved out of the spotlight (although he subsequently returned and spent most of his remaining career with Disney). Yes, Walt had a monumental ego. Yes, he was a glory-hound. And yes, he could be a tyrant to work for.

But that’s not how we remember Walt.

We remember his as a visionary, an artistic pioneer, a maker of magic and possibly the most powerful entertainment icon of the 20th Century. His presence was so powerful that the company foundered for years after his death, trying to guide themselves with the management mantra: What Would Walt Do?

You see, the way we remember things is substantially different that the way things actually are. The same is true for people. Eulogies never inventory the deceased’s many faults (because we all have many faults). They memorialize their strengths, their gifts and their accomplishments.

Leveling and Sharpening

In order to jam things into our long term memory, we take facts and distill them into an idealized version of reality. It’s called “Leveling” and “Sharpening”. We “level” out the mediocre, the mundane and details we just don’t agree with, basically eliminating them as unnecessary “noise” from our memory. Then, we “sharpen” the extraordinary, whether it be extraordinarily good or extraordinarily bad. Finally, we pick one or the other. We tend not store diametrically opposed opinions of things or people. It creates too much cognitive conflict. We either like things (or people) or dislike them. If we like them, we filter out the negatives and build up the positives. If we dislike them, we do the reverse.

It’s this human tendency that I talked about before in Daniel Kahnemann’s exploration of remembered happiness vs experiential happiness. We level and flatten our lives as well, forever storing an idealized (or demonized) version of what actually happened.

So, for me, although I’m aware of Walt’s faults, that’s not really part of my “image” of the man. I focus on his accomplishments and many gifts. And as I inventory them, I am comfortable in calling him one of my heroes. Walt’s achievements were, by any measure, extraordinary. Perhaps they would be beyond the reach of someone less driven, less egotistical or less tyrannical. Perhaps, perhaps not. But that’s not really for me to judge. What is important to me is that Walt achieved them.

And there is my final lesson from Disney. It’s the extraordinary that will be remembered. It’s when we reach beyond our limits that we determine what we’ll be remembered for. The mundane details of our lives will get lost in the retelling, along with our mistakes and faults, if we strive to achieve something remarkable.

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Dreams Make a Difference – Part 1

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 2

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 3

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 4

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 5

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 6

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 7

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 8

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 9

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 9

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 9

By Gord Hotchkiss – Wed, 05/12/2010 – 4:45pm.

Perhaps one of the greatest rewards for any company is when they can unleash the power of their customer’s imaginations. Our imagination is a supremely powerful human gift. Imagination drives everything that is wonderful about human culture. Every achievement we’ve made, every piece of art ever created, every book written, all comes from the same wellspring – our imagination. We are never more completely, uniquely, wonderfully human than when we are imagining.

When we imagine, we create an inner reality that lives apart from the world around us. It is a world of our making, envisioned in our minds eye. But we can also use our imaginations to share the vision of another, drawing it into our inner world and ensure that it resonates with our own beliefs and views. This sharing of a vision was the special gift that Disney shared with us. From the imaginations of the Walt Disney company came spectacular visions and make believe worlds, and the door was always open to welcome us inside. Like the sidewalk chalk drawings of Mary Poppin’s Bert, these were richly imagined worlds that we could share in. We could fly and stay young forever. We could find our Prince (or Princess) and live happily ever after. We could each have our own Fairy Godmother. If we were in a darker mood, we could experience the terror of a Night on Bald Mountain, or of being transformed into a donkey on Pleasure Island.

Disney never underestimated the power of imagination. It was a corporation fuelled by imagination. But even with all the imagination that could be found within Disney, it would have all been meaningless if we did not have the imagination to share in their vision. Works of imagination are like seeds..they need to land in fertile ground to germinate and bloom. Someone without imagination can find no magic in a Beethoven symphony, a tale by Dickens or a Disney movie.

Of course, you can package entertainment in easily digestible, bit sized pieces. And certainly Disney turned out their share of mindless entertainment. It took no prodigious intellectual effort to find the meaning in a Silly Symphony cartoon short, Herbie the Love Bug or The Shaggy D.A. But Disney also asked us to flex the muscles of our imagination with works like Fantasia, Mary Poppins or even Bambi. He believed animation could be high art and he didn’t offer mental short cuts as entry points.

The more important the work of art, the more the creator asks from the audience in terms of sheer imagining horsepower. Those that underestimate that power pander to the lowest common denominator. The easy path is to rely on our animal responses. But the path that challenges us as humans raises us to a different level. It requires us to appreciate with our minds. Imagination is one of those things that pay you back for the effort you put in. If you take the easy path, you’ll be rewarded with fleeting pleasure. But if you mine the depths of your imagination, you’ll discover entire new worlds as well as new ways of looking at the world around you. When Disney was at it’s best, it offered us rich imaginary offerings that resonated at a deep and fundamental level.

Lesson #9: If imagination is your stock and trade, don’t underestimate the imagination machinery of your audience. Push the limits and both you and they will be rewarded.

Comments

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 1

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 2

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 3

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 4

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 5

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 6

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 7

Dreams Make a Difference – Part 8

Marketing Tips for Limited Budgets

Marketing Tips for Limited Budgets

By Abby Johnson – Wed, 04/08/2009 – 2:23pm.

Don’t let the economy stop your marketing efforts!

As businesses cut back on their spending, budgets are being cut across the board. This however, does not mean that businesses should desert all their business strategies until the economy comes back. As reported in the video below, there are 5 low-cost marketing tactics that businesses can effectively integrate during this difficult economy.

The first area your business should test is  website effectiveness. Your website needs to be well designed and easy-to-use. It should clearly define who you are, what you do, and include valuable content. The products or services that your business provides should be plainly visible and so should your call to action.

Try to keep the lines of communication open on your website in order to draw customers back to it. Online newsletters or product updates are 2 examples of how this can be done. These factors are important to ensure that your site functions as a sales and marketing tool.

The second low-budget marketing factor is search engine optimization. In summary, SEO is a process of improving your ranking in search engine results with the overall goal of increasing the traffic to your site. Make sure your keywords and phrases are relevant to your site’s content and that you are using terminology that people might be using to search for your products or services. One other quick tip with SEO, list your business in local search directories and update your information regularly.

Online forums and social networking is the third factor you could implement and goes hand-in-hand with SEO. Both of these areas are very instrumental in building relationships, which is one of the most important aspects of sales and marketing.

LinkedIn and Facebook help keep former and current colleagues and clients connected. Blogs help to develop your online reputation and can also act as an information resource. The newest “fad” in the social space is Twitter. People can use it both as a real-time search tool and as a method to receive instant feedback.

The fourth marketing factor that is low cost is cooperative and cross-marketing efforts. What better way to cut down on costs than to partner with another business for a joint cause? Cooperative and cross-marketing also allows for additional support and exposure.

Lastly, email marketing and promotion can produce great marketing benefits in spite of the economy. Email marketing is an older area of marketing, but is still effective and most importantly right now, is inexpensive. Your promotional message should be clear and compelling. Avoid using words such as “free” or “win” in order to eliminate falling into spam filter.

Before you drop all your business strategies, consider implementing low-budget tactics such as the 5 discussed here. If you know any other low-cost business strategies, please drop us a line below.

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