Archive for December, 2009

Ask not what social media can do for you …

… Ask what you can do for social media.

Today social media is not an “if.”  See Social media fact: Everyone is doing it.  There are plenty of successful business cases.  Your customers are already uploading, networking, writing, and interacting online.  And they are being engaged by your competitors.

It’s not a “what.”  I list a host of marketing, sales, and business uses in What social media can do for your business.

It’s a “when.”  And it’s a “will.”  When will you start your social media engagement?  When will you find the willpower to make it a part of your business?

Most businesses don’t have a social media expert or especially a social media manager.  That’s where Blue comes in. Ask what Blue can do for you.

We help you two ways.

1. Consulting for medium and large businesses. Blue offers consulting and retainer services for corporations and their divisions, offices, and staff.  We plan, evaluate, launch, measure, and maintain social media programs that deliver value to your core business.  Our seasoned expertise encompasses not just social media, but also Internet marketing, classical marketing, and management consulting for integrated services and real results.

2.  Tribe Blue for small businesses. Tribe Blue uses a group approach for entrepreneurs and small business owners all over the world.  It enables us to provide powerful coaching, social media consulting, and accountability at an affordable investment.

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Social media fact: Everyone is doing it

In What social media can do for your business I wrote “Social media is no longer a gimmick or cool toy for geeks.  It’s an established platform that can advance multiple phases of your business, including marketing, sales, customer service, and recruiting”.  Still not sure?

One of the top fears of businesses is that few people are actually using social media.  This is a prudent approach.  When you’re short of money and resources, you can’t afford expensive risks.  It doesn’t pay to be on the bleeding edge.

One example is the rise of  the Internet.  In 1995 the Net exploded.  By 2000 it was clear it was real but the business case for many companies was still murky.  Another five years later the market finally caught up.  Web sites and Internet marketing became a standard part of the business toolkit.

Social media is undergoing a similar transition.  It’s a trend that’s been growing for several years.  Today it’s no longer hype but a fact.  It’s where your customers are.  Maybe “everyone” isn’t quite interacting online, but over half of US Internet users, more than 100 million people, certainly are.

According to Trendstream and Lightspeed Research:

  • 92 million (44%) have a social network profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere
  • 79 million (43%) upload photos to Flickr and other services
  • 23 million (15%) upload video such as to YouTube
  • 18 million (13%) write a blog just like this
  • 11 milion (7%) use a separate microblog like Twitter

Your competitors know this.  Already 18% of small businesses have active social media marketing programs, according to Vistaprint and Hawk Partners.  Another 14% plan to start within the next year, for a total of 32%.

What social media can do for your business

Social media is no longer a gimmick or cool toy for geeks.  It’s an established platform that can advance multiple phases of your business, including marketing, sales, customer service, and recruiting.

Here are a few of its uses.  Of course just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Social media is a means not an end.  Just like any program, make sure you first have a strategic, operational, and accountable plan that serves your marketing and business goals.

What Social Media Can Do
Branding Distribute company news
* Learn what people are saying about you
Promote Positioning
Establish Expertise
Internet Increase web site traffic
Improve search engine rankings
Other Marketing PR & Communications
Product updates
* Industry news
* Competitive news
Sales * Increase Leads
Run Promotions
Improve sales
Promote discontinued/distressed sales
Retain customers
Customers Learn Problems
* Solicit Suggestions
Enable questions
Other Promote open jobs
Seek Funding
Run background checks
* Top 5 small business uses according to a survey
in Ad-ology Marketing Forecast 2010

Music, Evolution, and Man

DarwinTunes is a magical experiment in computer music that illuminates evolution in music, culture, and even ourselves.  A simple sine wave is genetically combined in a myriad of patterns and broadcast over the Internet. The music is looped for 15 seconds and then a new variant played.  Listeners just like you and me rate whether we like it.  Our ratings determine which loops live and which die.

After just two months over 20,000 ratings have evolved 275 generations into wonderfully sweet music (to this US-cultured listener) that is surprisingly sophisticated with tempo changes,  intertwining melodies, counterpoint, bass and treble lines, and color.  The mutating music occasionally plays lemons but more often surprises and even delights with daring combinations and creative leaps  You can even download the tunes.  I like to use it as uptempo background music.

The premise that music, like all complicated forms of life and beauty, can be evolved is proven. Where does it end?  And what does the experiment say about us?

Is man a simple beast?  Will the music evolution flatten out, reaching a plateau that’s maximally suited to the human animal, a scientifically-definable level that corresponds to the capacity of our neural and aural wiring and sensors?

We already know that music has special properties to bypass the conscious mind and directly moderate and even manipulate moods and unconscious thought.  I can hear that in DarwinTunes.  Already it occasionally hits a loop that is “on” and engages both body and mind beyond the straightforward tones.  It’s not much of a leap to  imagine music like this (though far calmer) doled out in Orwell’s 1984 as aural pablum to control the masses.

Almost 30 years ago (yikes!) I wrote a story about music  that had evolved so perfectly in tune with the human organism that it directly tapped into the pleasure centers.  The result – catatonic fugue, a case of technology surpassing man.

But there is another future. Perhaps DarwinTunes will continue to climb the evolutionary path … and take us for the ride.  Higher-order composition and complexity, unknown today, could break music boundaries, surpass the random stylings of human composers, and open our minds.

Human evolution has essentially stalled.  Civilization has removed the process of natural selection, save the occasional buffoon cleaning his gun,  drunk walking in front of a bus, or neanderthal starting a war.  Evolution has jumped to another plane with cybernetic and networked life.

Yet we know that our brains from babies in the womb to seniors are plastic and constantly growing.  Music has the potential not just to tap into our meat to make us happy, calm, angry, or zombies, but to program the wiring itself, building a higher order platform or operating system on our primitive wetware. Instead of a being limited beast, we would have unlimited godlike potential.

Or maybe the music itself, having achieved its own evolved sentience, influenced me to write this essay to ensure its parasitic existence.  I’m sure it will have more precise instructions in the next generation.

In any event there is artifice aplenty in how the experiment is set up.  I hope the researchers extend it by making all aspects of the music experience evolvable.

Relationships matter

All web visitors are not alike.  If you can appeal to their individual needs, interests, and actions, you can better interact and sell them.  One way to segment users is by where they come from. The following chart holds no surprises.

Paid advertising results in 60% higher conversion than organic.  That’s not a lot, considering paid ads typically are associated with a higher intent to act and have targeted landing pages that better be more effective.

The stronger the relationship or referral, the more likely people will buy, try, register, or contact you. An existing contact or customer is 6 timex more likely to act than a random visitor and 3.5 times more likely than a  visitor from paid advertising.

It’s important to have the right tools.  Microsoft Outlook is a fine address book.  But it’s not going to help you generate business.  I recommend WeMeUs contact and lead management for consultants and small businesses. For relationship building WeMeUs offers  logs and reminders for active contacts, Keep in Touch features for other contacts, and the Email Assistant for sending ongoing customized and personalized news and updates to customers, prospects, and associates.  Sign up for a free account here.

Web conversion by source
Direct URL or bookmark 7.38%
From another site or email 6.58%
AVERAGE 3.6%
Paid search* 2.03%
Organic search 1.26%
Study by Engine Ready of 26 web
retailers over 12 months

Entrepreneurs & Funding – Get out of your own way

A successful venture is only 1% inspiration, which you can handle yourself. The 99% remainder of perspiration is hard work. That part you can’t do alone.

There are millions of great ideas out there. Often it’s the middling ones that thrive because they get support and execute well. You can have a terrific concept, business plan, or widget. But if you cannot articulate it and influence and co-opt others, then it’s just vaporware.

A strong ego is critical in building a business. But the same strength of personality that drives your conception, passion, and energy can also prevent your success.

Brilliance and vitality in your head or on paper is not the same as in the real world. That’s only the start, not the end, of your venture. Different skills are required. Whether you seek funding or customers, you must understand the other party’s needs and interests. The smart entrepreneur knows this. He checks his ego and gets out of his own way to create room for others, including staff, investors, and customers.

Make Tribe Blue your first partner when you step back. We help you get the right distance and build the right team.

If you seek funding, DallasBlue has a number of programs  to help you understand what investors seek.

  • Free investor meetings. I thank angel investors Lore  Levin and Garlan Braithwaite who offered working sessions with Blue members in our holiday charity auction and door prizes.
  • Tribe Blue. The group’s weekly meetings provide structured and continual advice and support as you conduct your funding search.
  • VC Pitch. We  will have another VC pitch this spring with angel and VC investors.

Meanwhile, here is an excellent article from VC Raj Kappor on How to Pitch VCs.

Blue Events – Tomorrow’s party features Zoës Kitchen & $10,000 in door prizes

Blue logo

Blue Events – Tomorrow’s party features Zoës Kitchen & $10,000 in door prizes

Dear [fname],

Benefitting
North Texas Food Bank
The Family Place

Other groups have a party, but Blue is the one that gives back to you! We have $26,000 in donated items, which includes 56 door prizes worth over $10,500.  Virtually everyone who comes will win.  If there is a prize you absolutely have to have, you can bid on it during our Charity Auction.

I thank all of our wonderful sponsors for giving back to the community, including the latest donors Leadership Design, STATUS, George Hendley Presentations, and BlackFinn American Saloon.

Sign up now as our online registration discount ends at 10pm tonight.

WANT TO REACH 50,000 EXECUTIVES & PROFESSIONALS? For as low as $10 you can have a graphic, HTML, or text ad featured in a Blue email blast to our 8,000 readers and on our web site.  It’s an auction too – so YOU set the price.  Learn more about our Blue Display Ads.

The Thursday Dec 10 Blue Holiday Party & Charity Auction is catered by Zoes Kitchen and will held at a gorgeous art gallery. Our holiday cheer features a number of fun and engaging activities.

  1. Charity auction.  Bid and benefit The Family Place, the top DFW family violence service provider, and the North Texas Food Bank.
  2. Presentation“Gotcha! CEOs and Managers Just Like You Are Going To Jail Every Day” from noted investor and entrepreneur Lore Levin. Ouch, learn what managers and business managers HAVE to know!
  3. Free Services. Get a business portrait and massage.
  4. Door Prizes. We have over 50 door prizes worth $10,000.  Everyone will have a great shot at winning!
  5. Outstanding Food. The Party is catered by Zoës Kitchen, known for fresh Ingredients and creative meals.
  6. Great Networking. Last but not least our events present great opportunities to mingle with the top business pros in DFW. Bring your friends and coworkers. Come relax, enjoy our food and drink, and meet other executives and professionals in person ready to learn about and help you!

Early registration of $20 has been extended through Wednesday 10pm.. Sign up now!

Charity Auction Items & Sponsors Place your bid
Gold Sponsors
  • Catering – Zoës Kitchen features Fresh Ingredients in a Mediterranean-inspired menu.
Silver Sponsors
  • Technology – 1 year of managed computer backup service from Mirrored Storage ($1,188)
  • Venture consulting ($1,500) – 3 working sessions with investor Lore Levin
Personal Products & Services
Business Products & Services
  • Business consulting – social networking and media ($500) – Marc Freedman, your LinkDaddy
Door Prizes & Sponsors
Preferred donors
  • Leadership Design – Seminars: Recognition – The Key to Higher Performance and How to Exceed Customer Expectation ($1,750)
  • WeMeUs Contact & Lead Management – one year subscriptions (&1,200)
Donors

BLUE CALENDAR

Wednesdays 11:45am-1:45pm, Fridays 12pm – 1:30pm

Tribe Blue for Entrepreneurs & Business Owners

Application required

http://TribeBlue.com

Business coaching, consulting, and accountability that’s powerful and affordable.


Thursday December 10, 11am-2pm

Blue Holiday Party & Charity Auction

Presentation “Gotcha! CEOs and Managers Just Like You Are Going To Jail Every Day” by Lore Levin

Catered by Zoës Kitchen

Hosted by Visual Image Fine Art Publishing, Dallas

14320 Midway Rd, Suite 300, Dallas

Visual Image Fine Art logoWith auction, door prizes, FREE business portraits, FREE massages, and much more!

Info & registration: http://DallasBlueParty.com

Online auction (bid now!): http://AuctionsBlue.com

Monday December 14, 11:45am-1:15pm

A Taste of the Tribe

Margarita Ranch at Mockingbird Station, Dallas

A Taste of the Tribe is your introduction to business success. Share your business and current issues and receive expert guidance and suggestions FREE. Reservations required.

http://TribeBlue.com/taste.php

Radiant Mountains – Limited Edition Fine Art

By Christopher Oleata

Gallery wrap

54″x72″

Retail value $3,500.00

Offered through the Blue Charity Auction

Building Your Success,

Marc Freedman


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