Category Archives: Business

Edgy Presentations Add More Power to Your Social Media Marketing

Presentation Zen

I started looking for alternative presentation tools for one of my always traveling friends and found  Zoho Show .  It is completely free for personal use,  presenters can access their presentations from anywhere.  You can  export your slideshow to PowerPoint if needed, share your presentation online and track how many people have viewed it.

Presentation sharing site Slideshare is growing in popularity,  users can upload Word documents,  text files, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations,  PDF files as well as files created with Open Office (odt) and access them from the Slideshare site when presenting.  There is a 100 MB maximum allowed upload file size limit.

OpenOffice 3 Impress is a free software for creating effective multimedia presentations. You can use 2D and 3D clip art, special effects, animation, and high-impact drawing tools.  It is possible to save your slideshow as a PowerPoint file.

Google Presentations belong to the Google Docs and Spreadsheets family. One advantage that Google Presentations has over PowerPoint is the fact that all steps – the presentation creation, development, viewing and sharing can  take place online.

Sliderocket is another emerging web-based tool.  Users can incorporate video and publish their presentations online or embed them on their websites.  Their free plan provides 250 MB of storage.

And yes, you have to learn presentation design from Garr Reynolds

Spice up your presentations, spread your ideas!

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From Purple Cows to Tribes and Free Prizes – Seth Godin Has Mastered Edgecraft

Cover of "Free Prize Inside"

Cover of Free Prize Inside

In his book, Free Prize Inside, Seth Godin points out that innovation is cheaper than advertising.  He defines the “free prize” as that extra, edgy product feature. His examples include swatch watches, frequent flyer miles, Tupperware parties, and portable shredding trucks. Design and style matter, he says.

One chapter describes how brainstorming can become boring. His alternative, “edgecraft,” involves analytical thinking to add something remarkable to a product.  His laundry list of edges includes safety, invisibility, and hours of operation. Much of the book deals with how to sell great innovative ideas to the VIPs of any given company.

Purple Cow taught marketers the importance of standing out from the crowd. But it left readers wondering how to come up with new purple cows.

Free Prize Inside delivers answers.

Godin says that if a product satisfies and gets consumers to tell other people what you want them to tell other people, it’s not a gimmick. It’s an experience worth talking about. It’s a soft innovation.

Anne Fisher of Fortune has told that Godin is a “guru you’d love to discount because he seems so cocky, but it’s hard to do because he’s so rarely wrong.”

I love  Seth Godin’s books, as they are always thought provoking, insightful,
unusual, edgy, non-academic and inspirational.

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Viral Marketing Flourishes in Recession

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...

Image by luc legay via Flickr

Many small businesses have cut their advertising budgets and put their marketing efforts on hold.  Their satisfied customers, social networks, and happy business partners therefore become their main promoters.   As this is the year of reinventing, recycling and repositioning for many small businesses, let’s think about the best ways to help the above mentioned groups spread the good word for your business.

  1. Give away information, products or services within target groups in your social network.
  2. Make it effortless for your best customers to provide information about you and your product (hand out business cards, promotional materials, etc.)
  3. Offer products and services that can easily fit the needs of different companies – from small to very large.
  4. Understand common motivations and behaviors – find common needs – create mutually beneficial partnerships.
  5. Utilize your existing social networks, become a “go to person” on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as in your local Chamber of Commerce.
  6. Take advantage of other people’s networks to gain exposure for your products and services.
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Running Late? – Share Your Where with Glympse

A free service for cellphones, called Glympse, lets you share your location in small increments of time. By fall, it will be available for most phones.

This software from Android Market shows where you are on a map and will allow you to share your location by sending a Glympse to a person or people. It’s available for blocks of time up to four hours. Selecting four hours means recipients can track you for that period, no matter where you go, including the speed of the car. You can share your location with a business partner, client or your family.

Glympses can also include a short message.

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Small Businesses Can Also Experience Rebirth

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and coauthor of Built to Last, now tells us why even great companies can fail and how some survive and thrive after coming close to disaster.

In his new book, How the Mighty Fall,how-mighty-fall-why-some-companies-never-give-jim-collins-hardcover-cover-art Collins offers leaders the hope that they reverse their course when they are failing.  He says every institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline. Any of them can fail and most eventually do. But some companies recover and become stronger.

Collins gives these stages of decline.

Stage 1.Complacency – know why specific things are a success and under what conditions they will no longer work. Good leaders realize that luck has played a role in their success and don’t become convinced that they personally were responsible for it.

Stage 2. Undisciplined pursuit of more. Do not neglect negative data and put a positive spin on ambiguous factors.

Stage 4. Grasping for salvation – lurching into a new area or product rather than getting back to the discipline that brought success in the first place.

Stage 5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death. The longer a company grasps for silver bullets, the more likely it is that it will continue the downward spiral.

To survive and thrive, companies need to listen to customers in an unemotional way. They should tune in to the customer experience. As long as they can avoid getting entirely knocked out of the game, hope remains.

How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, by Jim Collins, published by Jim Collins, 240 pages,

Did Microsoft Soften Yahoo’s Heart?

This is what I wrote in March 2008:

“I have been following Mr. Microsoft’s chase after Ms. Yahoo and have to announce today – this “soap opera” did not have a happy ending, or maybe it was Mission Impossible after all….

Mr. Microsoft did not win Ms.Yahoo’s heart. He tried, adding more bells and whistles to his marriage proposal, but Ms. Yahoo said NO and is still waiting for a Prince On A White Horse to come and rescue her from the Land of Uncertainty. Ms. Yahoo has been winking at Mr. Google who is way more skilled than her at search and online advertising…but their relationship is still in the early stages, and the two of them have not found solid common ground yet…..

Something tells me that this story will have a sequel as Mr. Microsoft is restless, desperately trying to find a partner who would balance his shortcomings in web advertising and search. He was hoping to create a harmonious island (cloud) with Ms. Yahoo, but did not find the right key to her heart.”

Times have changed.

Microsoft and Yahoo have a deal.

Is this a marriage of convenience? Will Yahoo stay at home and stay out of the search/advertising game?

12 Rules for Being a Great Marketer

 I found a great post by Steve Tobak on the BNET site.  Here’s what he tells us:

 12 Rules for Being a Great Marketer (Part I, Rules 1 – 6)

  • Sales is your friend. The whole “natural tension between sales and marketing” thing is a dysfunctional crock. Sales owns the customer relationship. As a marketer, one of your key functions is to facilitate sales’ ability to sell your products. You need each other and your goals can and should be aligned.
  • Be patient with your boss and peers. Not coincidentally, strong leaders and managers often tend to be controlling individuals. That means they can become easily frustrated with things they don’t understand, i.e. marketing. Be patient and pay attention to their feedback.
  • Remember, you have way more customers than you think. The executive staff, your peers, product development, manufacturing, sales, finance, HR, employee communications, they’re all stakeholders in the marketing function. Treat them as such. 
  • Bond with the development and product people. This goes way beyond educating and teaching. These are very smart people with a strong, vested interest in what you plan to do with their product. Bond with them, listen to them, understand their issues and concerns, make them partners in your “process;” it’ll pay off big-time.
  • Teach, teach, teach. Successful marketers are strong communicators and educators. Spend as much time teaching and educating internally as you do networking and meeting with customers externally. Again, it’ll pay off.
  • Measure and communicate results. The biggest slam on marketing is that it’s an expense black hole with no metrics to measure results. Be disciplined. Spend 10 percent of your budget on metrics for key programs and take the time to communicate results – both good and bad – to stakeholders. Do it.

Collaboration is Key in Virtual Communications

I am always looking for good web-based collaboration tools as I constantly need to collaborate virtually. That’s how I found Onehub, this tool is not simply for collaboration, it can be used as an FTP replacement. With a free account you can only set up one hub, where you basically can  upload 1 GB of files. Your hub can include calendars as well in addition to discussion boards, task lists, images, RSS feeds and video.

Paid accounts are available too – from $19 per month up to $249 per month. Details are available on the Onehub website.

Central Desktop  is a great collaboration and project management platform.  It has too much power for a solopreneur, but is great for teams and workgroups to share information and communicate with other members.  Paid accounts start from $25 per month.

How Should You Improve Your Web Presence in 2009?

globe-and-laptop.jpgStatic websites are out.  Make sure your website is interactive to keep visitors coming back.  Small businesses need to improve their online marketing efforts to ensure their websites meet visitors’ needs and expectations.

Add customer reviews, feedback and testimonials. If you are selling products online, provide customers the ability to provide product ratings and reviews. It enhances the user experience and gives prospective buyers the confidence to buy as well as leads to customer loyalty. So, if a customer was happy with their purchase from your online store, make sure you add feedback to your website.

E-newsletter: An e-newsletter is a must-have tool that makes it easy and cost effective to communicate with a mass audience. First, make sure you have a content rich e-newsletter. Make sure you are promoting it. Add an e-newsletter sign-up form to your home page and give visitors proper incentive to subscribe. If you don’t have a large email list yet, no worries. Add a forwarding feature to the newsletter so your subscribers can forward your newsletter to their friends, and colleagues.

RSS feeds: Forrester Research, in its “RSS 101 for Marketers” report, said, “RSS is a powerful tool  that marketers should test and deploy to proactively maintain relationships with their customers.”

RSS is a technology that enables users to “subscribe” to content from websites without providing an email address. When the content is updated, users automatically get notified and their “RSS Reader” pulls this content directly from the source. Since the content is pulled instead of “pushed”, marketers don’t have to worry about their message being caught in spam filters.

Have a blog on your website? Integrating multiple RSS feeds into your website allows visitors to read the content that’s most important to them.

SEO is making its way into marketing plans and budgets. By focusing on SEO, businesses have the potential to increase their position in search engines, increase traffic to their websites, and as a result, drive revenue. Begin your SEO efforts by ensuring that all of your web site content is optimized with the keywords your prospective customers will use to find you. Relevant content is the key to achieving higher rankings in search engines. Don’t know which key words are right for your business or how to begin optimizing your content. Use Wordtracker.


Consistent message throughout your web content: Websites need to be updated with new content regularly to keep customers coming back. Focus on message consistency. Make the message in your email campaign cohesive with the message on your website. All forms of communication including your website, e-newsletter, collateral and advertising should consistently deliver the same message in order to maximize the potential of your marketing efforts.

Rethink Your Small Business Marketing

Email marketing – Hire an expert if you feel that you are not cut out to manage databases and lists. Find a reliable vendor to work with.  Constant Contact and Vertical Response are good.

Direct Mail – How effective is your Direct Mail marketing? Are you measuring your results? Anything printed has to be carefully thought out as you may be wasting money, time and natural resources.  Maybe you could upload most of your marketing materials to your website and switch to email marketing campaigns.

Discounts – Are you offering special extras, online only content or freebies?  Consider online coupons, try Intellogy.

Viral Marketing – Are you creating compelling content that is picked up and shared person-to-person via social networking sites?
Have you considered creating your company profile on Merchant Circle or Facebook?