When I left university I joined the British retailing institution that is Marks and Spencer, and of the many things that I learned about business, the most precious of all was that you set your business up for the 99% not the other 1%.
I know you are thinking what the hell is this guy talking about? So I will explain. Back in those heady days of the mid ’80s I queried why we were merchandising some of the most expensive product that was prone to shop lifting right next to the doorway. The answer was simple, 99% of our customers don’t steal, so make it easy for them to buy what they want, and don’t ever lose sight of this, setting yourself up for the 1% you will be destined to fail. This lesson is beautifully illustrated in a great book “Sway: The irresistible pull of irrational behaviour” by…
Note: This guest post by Richard Egan has a focus on education but the principles covered can easily be translated into other settings. Collaborative tools like MindMeister are powerful ways to bring people and their ideas together.
Online collaboration has become very popular in both education and business. We now have the ability to easily and freely share all file types using different cloud based platforms. People working collectively on a project or assignment no longer need to be in the same room or even in the same country for that matter.
Collaborative platforms have enabled educators to create online learning environments where students can benefit from sharing ideas and communicating with each other, their mentors and external organizations.
Mind Mapping and Online Collaboration
Mind maps are an excellent method for individuals to graphically represent and structure ideas or thoughts. It is a very valuable tool which can be used for project management, creating to-do lists, idea generation, planning articles or papers.
Mind mapping can be implemented for collaborating and brainstorming, it gives students a platform to work simultaneously and a facility for learning together. Introducing mind mapping to students is a great way to encourage group participation and when managed properly will generate great results.
Benefits of Collaborative Tools:
Easier project management
More informed decision making
Promotes critical thinking
Meetings and brainstorming sessions conducted remotely
Develop new skills for a business environment
Files stored in one place i.e. no waiting for a document to be emailed
Improved communication between students, lecturers and research groups
Collaboration: Mind Mapping Uses
Using mind mapping for collaboration presents students with the opportunity to share ideas with peers and to think creatively through social inspiration. I have made a list of some of the situations where mind mapping can be used as a solution for online collaboration.
Managing group projects
Sharing lecture notes
The video below is an example of multiple users collaborating on one map – they are creating an IKEA shopping list for their office. All changes to the mind map can be seen in real-time by all collaborators
Mind Mapping Example: Project Management
The next time you are assigned a group project in school or college I would encourage you to use a mind map from the beginning. To get started you can follow these easy steps:
Create a mind map with title of project
Invite all teams members to be collaborators
Have a brainstorming session with all collaborators
At this point you should have a map with many topics, ideas and tasks to be completed. The next step is to appoint a team leader who can:
Sort and structure all the information in the map
Delegate tasks, create deadlines and set reminders for each member
Once this has been completed you will have very quickly created a project plan and a great starting point for the project. In addition to this, create another mind map with all details of each team member i.e. contact details, to-do lists and daily schedules; it can then be linked to the main map. The purpose for this is that everyone can see what the other is doing, progress can be monitored and meetings can be easily scheduled to suit everyone.
Some of the mind mapping software providers also support smartphones and tablets meaning that members can literally participate whenever or wherever they may be!
Online collaboration is becoming ever more important and is being used by businesses all over the world to increase productivity and creativity. Following the principle that two brains are better than one many companies are taking advantage of new software being made available to them. Collaborating online has many benefits in education but it is also very important that students are prepared for such working environments after their studies.
New online collaborative tools are emerging every day with numerous platforms for saving and sharing files, conducting meetings and managing projects. Mind mapping is one such tool but with a bit of a difference, it is a visual tool. Not only can files be stored and shared on the cloud but you can also see and watch how the whole thought process evolved and how a conclusion was formed or how a plan was made. And because each collaborator can add to a mind map simultaneously no one person can dominate the direction or outcome!
This is a guest post created by Richard Egan, a mind mapping specialist at MindMeister — a leading provider of mind mapping solutions.
This is a big deal for anyone that manages multiple pages across several social media platforms. Up until now, adding content to your client’s Google Plus pages was an large extra step. You couldn’t schedule them, so you had to use your calendar to remind you to update a campaign post. Well that all changes now!
HootSuite Extends Google+ Pages to All Users
HootSuite is pleased to announce that Google+ Pages is now available to nearly 5 million users worldwide!
Whether you’re on a Free, a Pro or an Enterprise plan, you’ll be able to efficiently manage Google+ Pages alongside other social channels, providing brands a better way to capitalize on the social power of this rapidly expanding social network.
To add Google+ Pages: Access your Profile from the side menu, then select + Add a Social Networkunder My Social Networks.
I know the HootSuite Pro account had this already, but it’s a nice add for the smaller companies still using the Free version of the tool. Good Job HootSuite!
Damien Newman used the design squiggle to illustrate the Design Thinking approach to solving problems.
It’s a really neat way of communicating the basic premise behind design thinking, and I like it a lot. Applied to business model innovation it shows the initial chaos and movement that surrounds any new business model as the founders get to grips with their concept. But what happens if we apply the squiggle to customer development?
I usually agree with Seth Godin on most things, but this one is a bit too far out for me. I’ve included the entire post on his blog below, it short, and also a link to his blog if you want to read any of the comments there. So take a quick read and I’ll continue below:
The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out–this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity.
The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn.
Compared to that, how are you doing?
– Seth Godin
Formula: Short Sale
I do agree with Godin that many companies sell themselves short. Always trying to lower the bar in the hope of gaining a few customers. Where I disagree with Godin on this is that it’s not because of the comparison to competitors, but rather a poor strategy for taking consumers away from those competitors based on the tactics that are short sighted.
Goal: Long Term Relationship
The tactics you use should be based on the principle that your company is seen as the better choice. There are many areas a consumer could focus to answer this question. It is your job to make the answer self-evident when it come to comparing your company to your competitors.
We fight on the battlefield of the consumer’s mind. It’s one of the smallest battlefield you will ever find yourself on, about 6 inches. You should create campaigns that, hopefully, take up territory. And if you do it well, you should hold more ground then your competitors. The strategy is different for each company. It is based on the position of your product in the market place and how our competitors currently stand. We recommend following the “Marketing Warfare” strategies laid out by Ries and Trout. So make sure your strategy fits your goals.
Because the last time I checked … your consumers aren’t looking to buy Magical Unicorns … and I’m fairly certain you haven’t hired anyone with unicorn making skills recently.
Good Hunting and would love to read your comments on this topic.
Here are some key things to remember when thinking about this topic. The saturation level for smart phones is on the rise is all areas of the world. In many parts of the word, people own more smart phones then PC’s in their households. Phone books are becoming museum pieces (and catalogs are not far to follow). I believe there is a big push in the industry to move consumers to tablet computing, making the desktop and laptop less dominant is the purchasing process. Now with all that said, let’s look at the new shifts that are right in front of us.
Leverage Equals Change
Companies are working hard to get their data in the hands of mobile users. Google consolidation or leveraging of applications and data into the Google+ platform is no different. Right now Google+ is also providing mobile apps to access this information. In my opinion, Google+ has been doing a better job then Facebook in this area. It is yet to be seen if this latest change can be classified as an improvement, but Google’s actions are consistent with their past performance in removing older apps in place of newer ones. For instance, we are seeing similar work being done to fold the Orkut users (still a large user base in Latin American countries) into the Google+ platform so another app could be retired.
So what can we learn from this turmoil and churn in the social media and mobile space? Below I have some thoughts for you to consider. They all focus on the fact that life cycle of applications and the data of those applications are extremely volatile and need to treated as such.
Let’s face the facts, we are not talking about Yellow Page ads were we talk to a sales rep once a year and then mark in our calendars to review the purchase plan 11 months out. We have to take a Guerrilla Marketing approach to this area of our marketing plans. Be willing to invest in something, and leave it alone and move on if the situation changes. Never holding on to something more then is absolutely necessarily. Always attacking the mind of the consumer where ever it is found, and when gone, move on. There is a reason why we are talking about Facebook and Google+ right now, and not MySpace, AOL, or Prodigy.
Stay on top of the trends. Notice where your battle field (the mind of the consumer) is. If the consumer moves to a new area, be aware of the change. Stay on top of your stats. If you start seeing a drop, find out why. Never stop reading about what is happening in the mobile space. Pay attention to the mobile app scene. If this seems to much, then hire someone to do it for you. Find an agency that will keep you in the right place so you can keep attacking the mind of the consumer.
Back to the Guerrilla Marketing theme, move into the space quickly. Move out just as quickly. Take over the areas you can master as fast as you can so you reap the rewards of being first, when the benefits begin to lose to the increasing costs, evaluate your position and consider making changes quickly. Are you sensing the quicktheme here.
The enemy advances, we retreat. The enemy camps, we harass. The enemy tires, we attack. The enemy retreats, we pursue. – Mao Tse-Tung
So for right now, you should be using both Google Places and Google+ Local (i.e. Pages) to drive people to your business or service. Google is using both in search engine results, and I have evidence they are giving preferential scoring to them.
Would love to read your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment.
Well this morning I checked my Facebook Timeline to see if my latest social apps are still working. I don’t want to recommend my clients use these features then only to find out that they are not working. So we test … test … test. In this morning’s testing I find I have new intruders, dare I say interlopers, in my Timeline stream.
Exhibit One – The Interloping Ads!
Ads Are My Friends
I know this sounds strange coming from a person who counsels small and medium sized companies on how to use internet advertising to their advantage, but putting things in MY STREAM seems like a violation to me. I fully understand the left or right hand side of the page (depending on which Facebook page you are looking at) will hold their ads. And i want those ads to be relevant, or contextual, to the content that is on that page. Actually, I’m counting on it.
I and admire Facebook for allowing me to turn off the setting which shows my name under ads. Even though I may have liked a product, if I’m not getting paid to promote it, why give them that for free.
What does bother me is showing ads in my stream. The ads so far have been nothing about me. Nothing about the story i am trying to tell about me. So why does Facebook now think it’s going to make me want to use their product more to continue to build that story?
I want to throw on top of these thoughts another possible activity that is going on: Google is ATTACKING ITSELF to keep it’s leader position. My contention is that they are following the marketing principles laid out in Al Ries and Jack Trout‘s “Marketing Warfare” text, and specifically “Defensive Warfare”.
Defensive Warfare as laid out in the text is as follows:
Only the market leader should consider playing defense.
The best defensive strategy is the courage to attack yourself.
Strong competitive move should always be blocked.
For the sake of brevity, I’m going to layout two assumptions here: 1) Google is the leader in the industry for cloud solutions, 2) through the use of acquisitions the are ‘blocking strong competitive moves’. These two point could be posts in themselves so I just want to state them and move on, if you wish to comment on these assumptions, fine, but this post wishes to focus on the act of attacking yourself as a form of marketing strategy.
Focusing on Google+: Obsolete Your Old Products
One of the principles in Marketing Warfare is that you need the courage to attack yourself. In this case by introducing new products which cause old products to become obsolete. In this way, you are creating a moving target for those that are trying to overtake you or one of the products you have created.
Now through on top of this the ability to absorb obsolete product capabilities into the new product, and all the new capabilities already in the new product, and you have the ability to keep your advisaries constantly trying to play catch up.
And as an added bonus, you can take the lessons learned from the previous product (in this case Google Buzz let’s say) and use them to refine your approach to market, or customer service, logistics, or whatever the lesson provides, to the new product.
We aspire to build great products that really change people’s lives, products they use two or three times a day. To succeed you need real focus and thought—thought about what you work on and, just as important, what you don’t work on. It’s why we recently decided to shut down some products, and turn others into features of existing products.
Here’s the latest update on what’s happening:
Code Search, which was designed to help people search for open source code all over the web, will be shut down along with the Code Search API on January 15, 2012.
In a few weeks we’ll shut down Google Buzz and the Buzz API, and focus instead on Google+. While people obviously won’t be able to create new posts after that, they will be able to view their existing content on their Google Profile, and download it usingGoogle Takeout.
Jaiku, a product we acquired in 2007 that let users send updates to friends, will shut down on January 15, 2012. We’ll be working to enable users to export their data from Jaiku.
Several years ago, we gave people the ability to interact socially on iGoogle. With our new focus on Google+, we will remove iGoogle’s social features on January 15, 2012. iGoogle itself, and non-social iGoogle applications, will stay as they are.
The University Research Program for Google Search, which provides API access to our search results for a small number of approved academic researchers, will close on January 15, 2012.
In addition, later today the Google Labs site will shut down, and as previously announced, Boutiques.com and the former Like.com websites will be replaced by Google Product Search.Changing the world takes focus on the future, and honesty about the past. We learned a lot from products like Buzz, and are putting that learning to work every day in our vision for products like Google+. Our users expect great things from us; today’s announcements let us focus even more on giving them something truly awesome.Posted by Bradley Horowitz, Vice President, Product
Share with me your thoughts or any other examples of companies using the same Defensive Marketing as Leaders in their industry.
With all the ‘Steve Jobs‘ posts flooding the internet, this one caught my eye. It is not a Apple bash piece but rather a great object lesson for those that get caught up in the “Aim, Aim, Aim, Ready, Aim, Aim, Fire” mode.
6 of Apples Greatest Mistakes
By Scott M. Fulton, III / October 6, 2011 2:03 PM
Image via Wikipedia
This is not an Apple-bashing piece. It is also not an attempt to cut an American icon down to size at a time when were remembering the magnificent contributions of its fallen founder. This is about how failure makes us better.Ive lost count of the number of times Ive heard, seen, or read comparisons of Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison since early yesterday evening. Jobs did not invent anything – not the personal computer, not the MP3 player, not the tablet. But besides that fact, there are certain other stark similarities. One: Jobs, like Edison, was a fierce competitor who sought to control not only the delivery channel for his products, but the market surrounding those products. Two: Like the finest scientist, Jobs studied his failures and Apples very carefully, and unlike Microsoft, built his next success upon the smoking ruins of his failures.More Steve Jobs Stories6 of Apples Greatest MistakesSteve Jobs Legacy In the Pantheon of Great American InnovatorsFrom Silicon Valley to Bahrain, the Web Mourns Steve JobsA Great User Experience: The Web Legacy of Steve JobsWhat Steve Meant Back ThenReaders will likely remind me that certain of the
As I mention in my “Failure is not a Title” post, we need to look at things as a long process that we learn from, a Marathon if you will, not a 100 yard dash. Yes, the above mentioned items are on the bottom of some outhouse of ideas, but the industry learned from then and evolved into what we have today.
Lately, I have been pounded with a theme of challenges around the question “Why take part in Social Media if it takes up so much time and has such poor tangible results?” And my general response is, it should take as much time as needed to accomplish your business objectives which have been created to help you reach your goals.
I also have to explain that social media, executed poorly, is far more expensive then doing nothing at all. The below article caught my:
You know about all the wonderful things the blogosphere can do for your business. But how can you prevent the not-so-wonderful stuff?
Social media initiatives have become standard components of companies‘ marketing and communications strategies. Large or small—from the local bakery to General Motors (GM)—businesses see the value of engaging in online conversations already taking place about their brands. While social media best practices have emerged, brands still struggle with how best to engage with their consumers. Here are five common mistakes:
1. Not (or Barely) Monitoring:
2. “Down-sourcing” to Interns or Junior Staff:
3. Fast Beats Perfect:
4. Faking It:
5. Having an “Off” Switch:
At the end of the day, brands must earn their “social currency.” There are no shortcuts or substitutes to authentic engagement in the realm of social media.
Unfortunately, I see many small or medium sized companies try their luck with social media and treat it like some shiny new toy that consumes all their attention, as they forget about all the other things they could be doing. I find they over tweet, over post, and over blog themselves to the point that they justify leaving the scene altogether because it’s not worth the effort for the little results they see.
This is where I come in. I sit down with them and ask some simple questions. What activities, events, promotions, or other marketing objectives are coming up in the near future? After I have that list, I can then sit down with them and explain the role of each of the social media tools and how they can fit into the marketing plan for the upcoming several months. We also start by setting up measurements so that they understand where their leads are coming from. As a simple example, this may include a unique 800 number for each channel (print, tv, radio, and each site they are using – it’s not that expensive really) I explain how their phone bill or on-line phone records can then be used to measure campaign success, if inbound calls are one of the means by which we will measure the campaign success.
Social media can be a valuable tool for small and medium sized companies. It can level the playing field quickly for a company that is dealing with a regional or national player, especially if these companies have their marketing and advertising plans controlled by corporate. Often these larger companies are incapable of adjusting to local pressure applied by small companies and their ideas.
I’d love to hear of examples in which small companies attack the larger companies by using social media. Please share them in the comments.