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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


One of our clients swears the best thing I ever told him was to make a meeting before a scheduled meeting and make one after.

As long as you’re in the building/neighborhood/country plan another stop.

That means you need a stop-by rationale, tools, and research. However the meetings that create a favorable result are easy to remember.

When job hunting, a fruitful tactic once you have found an opportunity you like, is to locate a half dozen similar organizations and present a similar concept. They usually aren’t as far along in developing the opportunity, but your competition is sparse, too.

Software development and consulting, the biggest cost is creating the first copy. Margins are real high on copies.

Can you add to this meme?

SalesLab’s Rainmaker series returns to the Capital Technology Management Hub, Tuesday, September 13th with 300 seconds of Mark Your Territory. The featured CTMH speaker will be Professor Steve Gladis, author of The Agile Leader. Come join us!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Analytics, Vision, and Reality Checks

I got another question about analytics from a business owner who was thinking about adding social media to her toolbox. She wanted to know what analytical tools she should be acquiring...even before moving beyond her website.

I’ve decided analytics are seductive, because they offer the promise of buying some packages and then knowing more. That should be a lot easier than writing blog posts, so that’s why we want them.

I know several weekend golfers who say, “There is nothing wrong with buying new equipment to cut strokes.” The only problem is, it seldom works. Playing three times a week improves my handicap.

A long time ago, Jack Gates challenged me, how did I know a blog post went to 200,000 people? “I count,” I replied. He subsided.

A week later he told me one of his posts went to seven hundred fifty thousand people. I didn’t ask. I already knew how he knew.

In a factory, a good manager can often tell me things about the customers that shape strategic direction. Owners think I’m a gifted consultant because I seek out their best managers and ask them.

Toys’R’Us was famous for putting in a cash register system that replenished inventory, which led to fewer out-of-stocks, and created more overstocks. They then had to solve the new problem.

I see analytics as an occasional tool, which when needed has delivered incredible insights the first time. Second time, not so much. Third time means calibration error.

Put another way, if you measure the wrong things, you get the wrong answers.

Google uses analytics as their sales tool. Analyze until you think you’ve discovered something, then place some bets to see how good your analysis works. Who knew placing bets on adwords would be a billion dollar business?

But in Google’s business operations I see some other tools that are possibly more valuable than analytics, especially where analytics is the wrong tool.

The first is vision. What should be?

Once you establish what should be, having somebody create it goes pretty quick.

I also see Google is quick to buy core or accessory technology as soon as they know they need it and find someone who’s got it.

Make or buy decision, increasing speed to market. That’s business 101.

I enjoy reading opinioners declare Google products failed. That’s usually because they don’t understand what just happened. They like completed stories, commonly agreed facts.

The innovator’s way is to improve the offering. Whether the press thinks something is a success or not is of little value.

How can you tweak the carb and change the tires to knock a half second off the run?

And then do it again?

The third tool is the reality check. My best example of a reality check was intoned by the Reverend Johnson in the management training film Blazing Saddles (caution bad's Mel Brooks!) No matter where you are in the process, you need to keep one eye on the goal line, as especially these days, goal lines have a habit of changing.

So there you have it. As much as we hope for magic analytics, the right analytics work best with the right vision and an ongoing reality check.

Or as my favorite yogi has written, “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

Your Comment?

Sales Lab’s Rainmaker series returns to the Capital Technology Management Hub, Tuesday, September 13th with 300 seconds of MarkYour Territory. The featured CTMH speaker will be Professor Steve Gladis, author of The Agile Leader. Come join us!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rainmaker # 7 - Mark Your Territory

Animals mark their territory to help keep competitors away. I think it also helps to remind the hunted (prospects) they may be dinner someday.

In business we also mark our territory – by letting folks know who we are and what we offer.


Tell them.
Show them.
Remind them.

Tell them on your website and blog about your capabilities and what you offer.
-No Website? No Blog? No Business!

Show them your results through recommendations and stories/articles from the client's point of view – how they benefited from your work.
    - How do you get recommendations? Ask!

Remind them by always leaving something of value with them whenever you 'touch' them – which includes your contact information.
    - Who you are, how to reach you, where to learn more (website/blog), and a bookmark for what you offer (tag line or catchphrase).

Mark your territory by being visible – even when out of sight - and findable, while familiarizing your prospects on your capabilities and results.

One final point: Never!!! go to a meeting naked – no business cards; no handout, no nametag. Marking territory is full time work.

Sales Lab’s Rainmaker series returns to the Capital Technology Management Hub, Tuesday, September 13th with 300 seconds of MarkYour Territory. The featured CTMH speaker will be Professor Steve Gladis, author of The Agile Leader. Come join us!

The previous Rainmakers:
Rainmaker # 5 – Start With An Offer
Rainmaker #4 – Time, Talent, and Treasure
Rainmaker #3 – Process to Purchase
Rainmaker #2 – The Nametag
Rainmaker #1 - Gifts

Friday, August 19, 2011


“They're rioting in Africa, they're starving in Spain.
There's hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
...And I don't like anybody very much! ”

There’s August ugly in the Congress and citizens, media and bloggers, students and teachers and facebook, police and crims, workers and management, you name it.

When you get that many groups affected, it’s not them, it’s some kind of social paradigm shift.

What I see is we are all, for better or worse, dealing with new levels of technology, some of it really poorly designed, which can make it harder to do a good job than before we were burdened with all that helpful technology.

Defensive behavior is to huddle down, poking at the busted process, spending long hours on rework and wrong results.

I was recruited to revitalize an important program that affects the public and private sector, and draws support from government, commercial, academic, and not-for-profit sectors. I was recruited because I think it’s important.

The program was being throttled by mindless, useless, creeping administrivia. 

I slashed the reporting, the waiting, and the disappointment, while increasing the immediate benefit for customers, participants, and sponsors. Biggest complaint now is it doesn’t look the same.

As part of the program, I went to a secure installation watching an unending progress prevention protocol, which was getting everyone involved testy. I measured something close to 300% rework from the original plan, zero benefit.

On the way home I stopped at Costco to get some printer ink refilled. The gate guard looked like the people at the other gate. She was operating screens, scanners, and manual apparatus and charged with keeping the riffraff out. I’m sure her systems didn’t work any better than other systems.

But she had one other responsibility I hadn’t seen anywhere else that day.

As I walked through, she said enthusiastically, “Welcome to Costco!” and flashed a pretty good smile. I smiled back, so she smiled more, so I smiled more...and suddenly this was a different, better experience.

It’s not worshiping and worrying the busted process, it is paying attention to the people that gets the results we want. Or as that Kingston Trio litany to unhappiness finishes:

“What nature doesn't do to us, will be done by our fellow man.”

Ah, wisdom of the ancients!

Your Observations Invited

Sales Lab’s Rainmaker series returns to the Capital Technology Management Hub, Tuesday, September 13th with 300 seconds of Mark Your Territory. The featured CTMH speaker will be Professor Steve Gladis, author of The Agile Leader. Come join us!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Dozen Golden Nuggets from the Blog Lab Event

The WebManager's Roundtable and Dick Davies put on a powerful practical workshop for active organizational bloggers – covering a broad range of attendee inspired topics, such as process – better/easier blogging; managing – avoiding blogger burnout or lighting the flame; volume – achieving greater distribution & getting more readers; comments – being a comment shill & reader contributions; and writing – finding the voice the readers want & building relationships.

From the wealth of material at the front of the room and tips and techniques shared by bloggers, here's some of the best - a dozen golden nuggets:

  • Always be thinking about your next blog and potential topics as you attend meetings, events, have conversations, read others – what can I add of value
  • The Rule of One – one thought per sentence; one subject per paragraph; one topic per blog post
  • On Editing: overworking a blog is like overworking a piece of metal – eventually it weakens & breaks
  • About comments: do you invite them; conduct reader surveys; use the recent or most commented widgets; comment on other blogs; give a timely reply to all comments received or acknowledge them; and reuse the comments (with attribution) in other places
  • Every post must have a purpose – as the test: Why would you want to read this post?
  • A post offers another view; advocates a position; shares thoughts & ideas; educates; illustrates; and gives desirable alternatives – be clear in your mind and consistent within the post what you are seeking achieve
  • Successful bloggers set a goal and run to meet that goal – e.g., 5 paragraphs, 10 lines, two posts per week
  • Web 1.0 was push oriented – put it out there; Web 2.0 was two-way oriented – asynchronous dialogue; Web 3.0 is just now coming in with computers using comments, reader feedback, news, and other data sources to create content on the internet
  • Timeliness is important when blogging; credibility is critically important as a blogger
  • Analytics are useful to a point – don't obsess on them
  • What a quick gauge of the influence of a post – Google the title to see who is reposting it and commenting on other sites
  • A snappy title can draw in readers – scan Buzz for current hot phrases for ideas for your headlines

And #13 for a baker's dozen: just as you may have different private and public personalities, as a blogger you have an electronic (on-line) persona – the you that appears to your readers through your blog and posts; establish and refine your voice as a blogger and work to strike a clear picture of who you are and remain consistent to that image – don't write like a professor one day and a comedian the next. This is who the readers are developing a relationship with and who they will follow in Google Reader.

Comments keep the learning going – please share your nuggets to help us all learn to blog better.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Practicing What We Preach

I was asked to develop a national sales team using remote sales professionals with very limited resources and without the heavy negative motivation which many sales organizations still think is effective. Recruiting, interviewing, training, motivating, setting teleconferences and webinars, and tracking activities are some of the duties involved. This is possible using a number of “modern” tools and especially having the attitude that previous corporate structures were not needed or possible to achieve success.

What was used? Tools (mostly free) included online listings, mobile phone conferences and interviews, extensive email, teleconferencing, saved recordings, web pages, long distance calls, aircards, personal computers, smart phones, and prospect list development (many services from Google).

The process is simple and in this economy many people are willing to take a chance on a commission based position full or part-time. The challenge is in keeping people engaged and motivated. That is why the ability to communicate through multiple methods is important. Regular contact with these individuals is of primary importance. To maintain a staff of the necessary size the hiring/training process is continual. A certain percentage of those that go through the training don’t actually end up working and some find out that they are not cut out to sell our services.

Within a 30 day period we were able to develop a geographically diverse sales team in the U.S. and Canada of 20 sales people, train them and then support their sales efforts all due to the array of tools available to us and the attitude that things could and should be done differently. We have weekly teleconferences, which are recorded, continual training webinars, one-on-one meetings and activity records, which help to create metrics that we can use to further our efforts.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Editing Social Media

In snail mail times, published exposure was expensive and constrained. “Editing” was selecting the best offering and making sure it was centered on message.

With social media, exposure is easy and infinite. “Editing” is delivering everything that might be interesting to your audience as quickly as possible.

Underestimating audience interest is one of today’s most repeated mistakes.

Upgrading your social media strategy? Come to BlogLab, from the Web Managers Roundtable, this Tuesday, August 16!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blog Lab

Social media leadership is a game of balancing goals and resources. I’ve learned to “begin with the end in mind,” balancing results, cost, time, staff capabilities, and continuous innovation for optimum value.

Continuous Innovation?
A long time ago I asked a customer CTO how could I tell when I was buying enough software?

He grinned and said, “Well first of all, you’re on a Mac, so it doesn’t really matter. And we all know you’re not cheap, although sometimes excruciatingly frugal.

“Try this. If 100% of the software you buy improves your business, you’re probably not buying enough software.

“If 20% of the software you buy is a waste, then you might be buying too much.

“If 10% of the software you buy you can’t use, then you’re probably buying about the right amount.”

His explanation has been serving me for 20 years.

Staff Capabilities?
Another time at the Web Managers Roundtable, we were discussing magical social media platforms. During a lull, I asked Tony Byrne, President of CMS Watch, “Wait a minute, what about Blogger and Google Apps?”

The Drupal guys thought my question was hilarious.

Tony said, “First of all, every singleton analyst thinks Apps and Blogger is the hot setup...and it is when you're just a few bloggers. The most important consideration is to select a platform you have the resources to maintain, which is a key value for Apps and Blogger.”

And that continues to be a very useful distinction.

Working to improve your social media strategy? Learn more about BlogLab, from the Web Managers Roundtable, coming this Tuesday, August 16.

Top 10 Things Learned at Blah, Blah, Blog

Yesterday, at the Web Managers Roundtable, I was treated to a panel of experienced bloggers and got several pages of notes about better blogging. Here's the Top 10:

  • Dana Blankenhorn observes that blogging is an intimate relationship with your readers – let them be your guide
  • Carol Covin told of finding a void & filling it with a blog to tell rich stories for others – she noticed at book signings that people would share their stories but didn't write them down to share with a broader audience
  • Randy Rieland integrates multiple forms of media to present the blog – this evolved and grew by doing
  • Dick Davies is consistent about publishing twice per week and that for him an ideal blog is 5 paragraphs, 10 sentences
  • Do not waste people's time – cut to the chase and make your point – short can be better
  • Blogging is not a hobby – when thinking about writing a blog, make a business case for it: Who are your writing for; What topic/subject area are you writing about; Why are you writing to these people and about these issue?
  • Write in your voice – be you in your writing – do not try to write in the voice of the organization
  • Looking for content and ideas for topics for the organization's blog? Talk with the person in the Big Chair – they like to talk about what they do – but don't forget to jot down interesting ideas, topics, issues when you come across them...every event has potential for a great blog
  • Blogging requires discipline – take your passion and vision and put it on a plan – declare how often you will post and do it, the readers will come to expect your posts on a cycle – they will not stay around for erratic publishing
  • Share your stories, ask questions, set scenes, but do not try to solve problems when writing – regardless what you think you are writing about, the reader interprets the post in terms of what is on their mind.

And number 11 is – don't just talk about blogging – do it and make each one better than the one before.

Check out BlogLab, coming August 16 for a roll-up-the-sleeves view of blogging.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blogging – You Add The Value

You experience something of interest and write a blog post to share it with others. It may be from a conversation, an event, points made at a conference, or your experience in making something.

If you are merely reporting, the reader gets a pretty flat experience – the true value is absent from the post.

You are the one that creates value for the reader by sharing your thoughts, observations, and the best things learned by the experience. Why? Because your view is unique and insightful for the reader – much beyond the mere highlights of the topic. A case in point...

Recently I heard a talk by Steve Wozniak – the Woz behind the technical brilliance of Apple – with two other prolific bloggers. Same session, same speaker, heard the same things – but here's what each person took away from the presentation:

  • Design around the features of the technology, but keep the user in mind when creating process
  • Each time Woz showed him the latest project, Steve Jobs said “I can sell that”;

Best thing learned for each – what a broad range of take-aways from his talk. Imagine how different the three posts are about this meeting.

Same is true for other bloggers with large followings – readers read Dana Blankenhorn for his insight about the on-line world, not the reporting about what's new or changing; same is true about marketing and Seth Godin – it is the distilled wisdom of his posts that drives the traffic to his blog.

Bloggers create value by offering their thinking on a subject and what they've discovered. Readers frequent places where they receive value – this certainly applies to blogs as well.

Do you agree?

Check out Blah, Blah Blog at the Web Managers Roundtable, on August 9, and BlogLab, coming August 16.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Building an Online Community

Guest Post by Dana Blankenhorn

Dana Blankenhorn
I first met Dana Blankenhorn when I left enterprise software and was building an open source company. He was blogging about open source and about two of every three of his posts I had to implement immediately. He was my teacher-from-the-cloud for over a year. He is still the only person I know who is a full-time blogger. I subscribe to his Buzz and sometimes see ten good posts in a day. We are fortunate that Dana will be on our panel at Blah, Blah Blog at the Web Managers Roundtable, on August 9.  

The man who now runs the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, as surely as the Koch and Murdoch billions run their wing of the GOP, got his start 8 years ago with a simple memo.

Markos Moulitsas had been hired by Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's campaign manager, to consult on what to do with all this great traffic and interest their campaign blog was generating. Along with Jerome Armstrong, he suggested that the blog format be scrapped in favor of a Community Network System that could, in my words, “scale the intimacy.”

The suggestion was ignored. Dean lost as a host of leaderless activists descended upon Iowa in orange hats, and tried to stampede 100,000 Iowa Democrats with their enthusiasm. Moulitsas and Armstrong, by contrast, took their own advice. Armstrong's site became MyDD

Moulitsas built out his own blog, which went by his nickname. Kos http://www.dailykos

DailyKos is now the heart of a small publishing empire with an outsized reach. Markos is, at heart, an entrepreneur, not a politician, and he has built on business-like lines, expanding into other areas of interest like religion (Street Prophets) and sports (SB Nation), while maintaining firm control over his technology platform and expenses.

He could be a very rich man. But he prefers to be the William F. Buckley of his generation. Instead of sailing he bicycles. And instead of inviting activists to his estate at Sharon, he holds a yearly convention called Netroots Nation that had 2,500 people at it this summer.

Kos' story is important because there are a lot of business, professional and political organizations who have suddenly looked upon his idea of blogging, and online communities, with new eyes. They have seen that the key to political influence lies in activating people to do your work for you. Lacking, like Kos, the money of a Koch or a Murdoch, they think, well maybe we could start a blog.

You could. I blog. I think I do it well. But I've been at it, or something like it, for almost 50 years, since the day my dad got me a typewriter and a record called “How to Learn to Type in an Hour” for Christmas, 1963. I was too young to know you couldn't learn to type in an hour from a record, and within a very short time I was at 60 wpm. I haven't slowed down.

Your mileage will vary.

Blogging is writing. Writing is one part passion and three parts practice. I'm passionate about everything I write, while I'm writing it. I hear the words in my head as though I'm speaking them, and get them out just as fast. (Another hint. I read it out loud before I post it.)

If you're not that fast or that experienced, how then do you use blogging to build an online community?

You need what I call Kos' Clue. You'll find it in the second paragraph of this piece. (I'll wait.)

Scale the intimacy.

There are two parts to this. The first, most important part is intimacy. You have to find a way to develop an intimate relationship with your audience. You have to identify with them, and get them to identify with you.

This is what journalists do. It is at the very heart of all good publishing. Publishing is simply advocating and organizing a place, industry or lifestyle. Advocacy comes first. Identifying with your audience, their needs and requirements. Learning what they are, finding answers to their questions, delivering that to them. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Actually, publishers merely hire people to do this. They call it journalism. What publishers actually do – what you need to do – is organize that place, industry or lifestyle.

The journalist gives you the basic tools for this. The stories they get, and tell, give you the lay of the land. Your job is to build out the database, to find people who respond to the story, get them reading and responding, then tease out from them what it is they want from the marketplace, what you can supply, what others might supply, and offer it to them.

The difference between print and the online media of our time is that today, this whole process is more interactive, and that because of this it can be done more quickly, with links made tighter, than ever before.

Building these links is the job of a community manager. They make sure there are comment threads below every story. They identify thought leaders. They email good stuff to people who need to read it. They respond to feedback. They encourage contributions from among commenters and thought leaders. They filter out the trolls. They manage your lists. They learn who lives with you, who lives near you, who your friends and adversaries are. (If this is a business site, read competitors.)

Then there's the technology platform. This is the real good news. Because while Kos had to build his platform from scratch, you don't have to. While he had to scale it by himself, you don't have to do that, either.

There are now good scaled CMS programs out there like Drupal and Wordpress. These are adding all the social networking capabilities you would find in a site like Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, and you can easily integrate such social networks with your own to expand more rapidly. Best of all, these are open source applications, which can be hosted in clouds, meaning your infrastructure costs are flexible, and there's already a community of people who can help you, just as you're helping your own community.

One more important point. The IN in Internet stands for intimacy. It's not just between you and them, but among them, that you'll build. That doesn't just mean responding to feedback, both good and bad. To grow from the bottom-up you must act on good feedback and nurture people. As in open source it means you're constantly giving stuff away, anything you can find, anything that might stimulate, and letting yourself be led in part by your community. If this sounds more feminine than masculine, just remember that you're going to be a mother to many sons, more sons than daughters (even the girls), and that your job is to guide, which is the most important job there is.

This is how publishing will evolve. It's also how advocacy will evolve, how organizations will evolve and (in time) how our governance and politics will evolve, a long way from the TV-fed back-and-forth we have now. Toward consensus, or many types of consensus, all contending in the larger community toward a synthesis you'll call the Future.

Check out Blah, Blah Blog at the Web Managers Roundtable, on August 9, and BlogLab, coming August 16.

Your thoughts?