Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Future of Business Development

Three important points about strategic vs tactical decision making: -

1. The Future vs the Past. In very much the same way that we cannot accurately predit the future it is important to realize that the past is disconnected in very much the same way. There is no way to step back into the past and be able to fully tap into the emotions and conflicting motivations that have lead to today. This is not to say that attempting to understand how one action triggered another is a complete waste of time. However it is appropriate to consider that the "lessons" of the past may not be particulalry useful for new challenges in the future.

2. Planning. From a business planning perspective understand that when an "expert" predicts the +/- range of swing in the DJIA for tomorrrow there is some high probability that he will be right. On the other hand anyone who provides a five year plan with fixed numerical outcomes is a complete gamble. From the perspective of business success there are often huge (lucky!) rewards when there is a balance between being able to manage day-to-day dynamic challenges while reserving some resources to actively prepare for low probability market changes and needs.

3. The Black Swan. This blog post is like a 30-sec summary of a really great book. If at all possible read a copy before the new global econmy starts in Jan.!

Amazon Link

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pure Evil ... 666 ?

Seriously, there's a lot of positive things to be said about LinkedIn and I'm fairly picky about the connections I make but, would it be better to reduce my current list of contacts or shoot for 777... ???

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

USA Presidential Election mid-day Nov 5th

Since these online maps change all the time I thought you might get a kick out of this static version as a piece of history. The two outstanding states are Missouri and North Carolina (I've never been to NC ... Greenville is supposed to be a city of the future for the USA). It seems Obama (not that this counting means much for the overall result) has a tiny edge in NC while McCain has a similar marginal advantage in MO, the inland state. The visual image somewhat suggests that states physically connected to the outside world (via the Great Lakes or two oceans) crossed into Obama's suggestion to build a "Change" for the USA while those inland wish for a fixed model for the future. As I jokingly said to some folks I work with in Kansas about a month ago - looks like Colorado and New Mexico think they are connected to the outside world. One of them "explained" (by shouting)to me that CO and NM had been invaded by techno-geeks from the coasts!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Modern Lead Generation

I was asked a generic question yesterday ... this was my response.

Let me first tell you a quick story - a talented female professional I know was once invited on a skiing trip with some folks she hoped to do business with. Although she didn't know how to ski she figured she could learn by just reading a book on the drive there, so she went along! As you may guess the results were funny and memorable but didn't work out as well as she hoped.

My main point - there are business practices that can be defined by text but, just like learning to ski, they need some trained coaching if you are serious about beginning to use them.

Effective modern lead-generation has four dynamic, interconnected elements:

1. Needs. Before you make any communications (cold calls, brochures, emails etc.) with potential clients make sure you have a clear understanding of what Customers Need. Traditionally Marketing and Sales teams do not work particularly well together. An estimate from AMA (American Marketing Association) literature suggests that 80-90% of marketing messages are not re-used by sales processes. This is because the marketing team is attempting to communicate a critical message to a broad audience from 35,000 feet while the sales team's efforts are always at 3.5 feet. The best sales' communications deal with the client's Needs rather than just highly publicized features of the product or service.

2. Value. Make sure to have examples, case studies, spreadsheets that validate the values produced by your offering. No matter whom you communicate with they will want to make sure that your product or service can both solve their problem but also produce a business advantage.

3. Integrated Application. Modern lead generation is a multi channel process (a lot like snow skiing!) No matter how great your first cold call the next step for the client will be to search for your website. Are the messages you just delivered, that solve specific business needs for the client, the same as the web pages? Do your white papers, press releases confirm the values you suggested? Have you a SEO strategy in place? Above are there internal resources (e.g call scripts) that are used as the primary messaging processes by all team members, from raw leads through sales, proposals etc.

4. Analysis & Feedback. It's a team sport and you are the coach! Suppose you generate many leads but it takes the sales team days or weeks to follow-up. How often are the leads you've generated not so great? What improvements can be made to filter out these potentially weak opportunities and make the overall process more effective?

The consciously well-coached process I have just described will improve effective lead-generation by a factor of 10. Traditional approaches to lead-generation are like attempting to learn to ski from a cheap book! If you want leading business results be prepared for real training and coaching.

"The Future"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our New Renaissance

"Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence"

For a brief moment let's look back at the original Renaissance. It lasted about 400 years and to a great extent determined many of the ways we believe societies should be today. However it's important to note that the transition was by no means steady, rational, expected.

1315-1317 Famine (starvation due to changes in global weather)
1348-1350 Black Death
1397 Founding Medici Bank (a "global" banking system - sometimes works well, sometimes not so well. Hmmm?!)
1452-1519 Leonardo Da Vinci (illegitimate genius recognized and rises to fame)
1455 Printed Guttenberg Bible (...was printing equivalent to the Web today in terms of it's break through?)
1492 Columbus discovers the New World ("dang... where are the spices?!")

Of course a lot of change patterns that are parallel to this past, which once took several 100 years, have been made much more quickly, probably about one tenth of the time.

1974 Cobol-based desk-side business computers
1977 Apple II
1981 IBM PC
1982 Oracle (renamed)
1975-1985 Microsoft founding
1988 Internet opens to commercial interests
1996 Google
1994-1996 Yahoo founding
... my favorites Tandem Computer, 1974-1997 (Acquired by Compaq ... Compaq acquired by HP), SGI Silicon Graphics 1982- still alive!

Now, even since ancient times, perhaps since the first humans, we are divided into two types. This is NOT intended to hurt anyone's feelings! There are those of us who wonder every single day what it will mean to have faster, clearer, more accurate knowledge. Even more importantly the ability to ask a question and be able to say - nobody actually has an answer for that. Those are the few of us.

On the other side, frankly most of the world, are those who love new technologies because it simply makes traditional processes cheaper, more efficient, more profitable.

What surprises me is that the few of us that see this disconnect (you!) don't seem to be doing much to define the true future. We get hung up on one area (SEO, SaaS, Open Systems ...) and don't have too many debates about what integrated technologies may ultimately mean in terms of global economies, businesses, political influences...

I'm not suggesting this is a fixed vision but it would be nice to periodically have some deep discussions in these directions.

"Silicon Valley"

Saturday, October 11, 2008


OK, as usual I play with something for a few months before I mention it. ('cause some things are aweful...!) Twitter is pretty good - and even very clever! You can post a message through a wide range of channels. And it's being referred to as "free telegraphs"

My slight obsession is to post short lyrics ... find me under mutetourette

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dressing in the Dark - Marion Maneker

Tomorrow is Independence Day, July 4th, so this is a bit of a firework! Yesterday I noticed a review of a book on men's fashion while waiting in a lobby in San Francisco. The book, "Dressing in the Dark", speaks about the trends in fashion now that the traditional model shirt/suit/tie has been dismantled! The "magazine" was Gene Hiller which, in fact, is a store in Sausalito... clearly a place I'd be seriously out of my depth!

Marion Maneker's book apparently traces changes in fashion via male movie stars. Clearly many have an ability to influence society that is based on how well they are known and recognized ... and often not much related to themes of movies they have made. Does this imply that the most influential business leaders in the future will be aided to a significant extent by their appearance.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Technology Marketing

Certainly the distribution of technology-oriented communities throughout the USA is uneven. A recent study from Milken can be found here Before I say much more, its important to be clear that I'm not suggesting that technology-orientation be the primary goal for all states. Ideally each community has opportunities to adopt portions of available technology that helps them improve their traditional positive patterns of living.

This reminds me of meeting an Amish family on the side of the road as I cycled through Iowa one time! More about that later...

Ultimately if we (you & I) are on the technology development side of the scales we have the naturally tendency to dive into a bunch of tech advantages we have compared to other suppliers. We offer better Security, Speed, Reliability, Services etc... when we should be able to speak to the needs of complex communities and the values we can produce.

It sounds so simple. And yet even the AMA (American Marketing Association) has estimated that Marketing collaterals are not used by Sales teams in approximately 90% of sales processes.

There are huge numbers of business opportunities for technologists in Tech States to produce dramatic results in non-Tech States. The challenge is to remember how to speak face-to-face!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The evolution of online Social Networks is of course fascinating to watch - there are moments of what pass for stability in the ecosystem followed by variation explosions in many different directions. The pace of the process is breathtaking - adaptions come and go almost as you watch. I am hoping there's a Political Science grad or Anthropologist out there who is tracking all this!

Let me just point at one item that has caught my attention. LinkedIn is dedicated (more or less) to business professionals. They actively discourage participants from creating large networks of people you don't know personally or strongly trust. You can ask a Question and look for a Job but there are no photo albums, favorites lists, widgets to "poke" or "zombify" your contacts (...this is NOT Facebook!)

After a certain standard amount of "bitching and moaning" from community members this (more or less) closed model has spawned a very active black market of derivative communities on Yahoo Groups and as independent websites.

I made the top graphic from data I found on And you can join two of the groups I'm a member of - LinkedIn Power Forum or the Linking Northern California group. Feel free to invite me as a network contact on LinkedIn at any time! The top linked user on this social network has slightly more than 39,000 direct connections....eeeek!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Waiting for the World to change

I just noticed this over at Instant Messaging Planet:

"Digsby Merges IM, Social Networking and E-mail
This past week dotSyntax announced Digsby, an IM client that allows users to log into an existing AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk or Jabber account and then merge everything into one buddy list. Duplicate contacts from different IM networks are merged, and Digsby also lets users send SMS messages from IM windows, change status, log conversations and more.

Users can also add their existing POP or Web-based mail accounts (such as Hotmail or Gmail) and receive notifications when new e-mail arrives. Users can add social network accounts, such as Facebook or MySpace and receive alerts for new friend requests, messages, group invites and other feeds. The application is currently in private beta and accepting beta tester applications at the Digsby Web site. "

I guess I'm struggling to come to grips with the underlying business model and who'all the client base will be over time. Don't get me wrong - I like Facebook, heck I even like LinkedIn, even with its Puritan mind set. But all these hyper-cross-pollinated IM services...?

On the other hand, networks that integrate rich semantically relevant results (FAST acquired by Microsoft) or networks that can be visualized (VisiblePath and Hoovers) seem like a move in the right strategic direction.

I wonder if any of this would work in the enterprise (inside joke!)?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Business Effectiveness of Video emails

On Tuesday I had an opportunity to meet with a client down in Visalia. As you may know Spring is in full swing here in California so I jumped at the chance. During the drive down I passed near the San Luis resevoir - it is just magnificent at this time!

But how can I most effectively communicate this to you? Clearly a well crafted narrative is one approach, perhaps with pictures, but better yet how about some video?!! I want to be able to reach out to you on every sensory channel. What it looked like, how it sounded, how the newly covered green hillsides smelled!

The same is true in Sales & Marketing communication. My goodness, how have we reached the point where I actually begin to appreciate the spam from a Kenyan banker because he included a picture of the chest of money he is attempting to get through customs! We send out tons of text-based blather and are elated if we get a 1% response.

One solution that is breaking new ground is here - video-embedded email. The raw technology to deliver this has been around for a while but it hasn't been offered as a well packaged service that I know of.

The guys at Point Marketing have done a nice job.