Tag Archives: Inbound Marketing

(Part 2/2) Twenty Content Curation Tools For Your Inbound and Content Marketing Strategy

More curation tools will pop up as the staggering amount of data we produce increases.  Last month, in his article: “We are on track for 518% global growth this half-century,” Ross Dawson reports how the global economy has grown by 60.6% Bruno's.Curating.Tools.02from 2000 to 2012.  Consumerization of IT, mobile technology and broadband internet access give each of us the technical potential to become a media publishing house.  Blogging, vlogging and digital photography are three ways million of bloggers are contributing to the onslaught of digital information.  I remember my first 386 PC with the luxury of a “huge” four megabyte of RAM (Random Access Memory) and 45 megabyte of hard-disk.   À propos, twenty five years later, Yahoo’s Flickr offers one free terabyte of data storage to every account owner.  What an amazing technological step forward!   
 
Yesterday, we reviewed thirteen curation tools so let’s move on to the second part of the list.
 
14. Spundge
 
I recently read Christina Walker’s article “Best Content Curation Tools for Entrepreneurs and SMBs, and discovered a comment made by gregarious Facebook Queen Mari Smith mentioning SpundgeSpundge is a platform that helps curate information, collaborate and create new content.  I have already opened an account and this far, I am very positive about it, thanks to Mari’s recommendation.  
 
15. Paper.li
 
Paper.li is an interesting and somewhat serendipitous way to curate information.  As a publisher, you have the choice between Twitter accounts, RSS feeds, Google + sources of information.  You are not limited to one paper, but the consistency of the quality content cannot be guaranteed since the algorithm selects most bits and pieces for you while automating Paper.li‘s daily publishing.
 
16. Scoop.it
 
I don’t scoop a great deal of articles but Scoop.it is a great way to aggregate relevant information.  Search out the “Scoopers” who aggregate your topics of interest, and just start following them,   This will give you additional ammunition for your content marketing strategy and additional information for your Twitter followers.  
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17. Alltop
 
Guy Kawasaki created Alltop  a few years ago.  Alltop  is a platform that helps you personify your news-feed.  I use Alltop as a dashboard for local and international news from my favorite British, American, French and German newspapers.  Thanks to a great website layout, Alltop gives you an overview by just hovering the mouse over each headline.  This is an ideal way to catch up with the news without having to open every single link.  Unfortunately, the choice of topics is limited.   
 
18. Pinterest
 
Pinterest is the new social media kid in town and my favorite platform for infographics, video and images aggregating.  
 
19. LikeHack
 
LikeHack is a fairly new content curation tool that assist busy people aggregating relevant stories based on your topics of interest.  
 
20. If This Then That
 
At first sight, If This Then That (IFTTT) might not come across as a very “flashy” tool.  It does take a little bit of tweaking and getting used to it, but don’t underestimate this powerful tool and do invest time into getting to know it.  You will be very grateful because your invested time will surely pay off.  Under its hood, If This Then That  hides hundreds of possible recipes/combinations that can trigger all sort of commands combining more than fifty social networks such as Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Diigo, Evernote, Feedly and Youtube in so many ways:
Image Credit: www.ifttt.com
Image Credit: http://www.ifttt.com
Here are two personal examples of how  I use If This Then That
–        File every single tweet I make via Buffer to my Evernote account
–        File all other tweets (except Buffer) to my Evernote account
 
Buffer & Hootsuite
 
Buffer is by no mean a curation tool but a fabulous way to pace your messaging during the day.  I use Buffer on a daily basis and recommend it in combination with Hootsuite another heavyweight client that will assist you posting all your messages on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Facebook while spreading them accordingly.  Hootsuite and Buffer can also be used as Social Media Measuring Tools (SMMT).
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If you have any additional tools you’d like to have mentioned please let us know and we will add them in an upcoming post.  Content curation is moving forward and more tools will pop up as the tsunami of digital data goes on.  I am looking forward to your comments and suggestions, but until then, I wish you happy content curation.
 
– Twenty Content Curation Tools For Your Inbound and Content Marketing Strategy (Part 1/2)
– 11 Ways on How to Generate Twitter RSS Feeds For the Reader of Your Choice
– How To Create RSS feeds From Your Favorite Twitter Hashtags and Tweeps
Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Mark Fidelman’s Socialized!
– Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social – Business Strategy (1/2)
– Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social Business Strategy (2/2)
– 5 More Ways for SMBs to Establish a Social Business Strategy (2/2)
– 5 Ways for SMBs to Establish a Social Business Strategy (1/2)
 
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10 Ways for Small and Medium Business to Establish a Social Business Strategy (2/2)

Our world is getting more complex every day.  Technology evolves at a speed that is hardly possible to keep up with.  In Part one, we reviewed the first five ways SMBs can set up a solid social business strategy:
1. Regularly review and refine your company mission, values and goals
2. Keep transforming your content marketing into convenience marketing
3. To blog or not to blog
4. Transform your website into a social hub and its visitors into co-creators
5. Carefully choose your social platforms
 
So here are the five last ways SMBs can establish a solid foundation for a social business:
 
6.  Reinforce and share your company vision
 
Share your company vision to employees, suppliers, customers and prospects on your company website.  Communicate your company vision on all your social networks. Reinforce your core values to customers, suppliers, prospects and anyone your business is coming in contact with.  I can guarantee you that it will be a rewarding experience for both your company and your customers who will better identify your vision and enthusiastically share it with the communities of their choice.  Zappos is well-known for its outstanding company culture and the way CEO Tony Hsieh runs his interviews for both cultural fit and skills requirements. On Zappos’ company blog, Tony publicly shares some of his correspondence for anybody to read: management, co-workers, clients, prospects and suppliers alike.  This is a superb way of spreading company culture while avoiding misunderstandings, promoting transparency and informing everyone.  
 
21st Century World
 
7. Create a dual strategy by combining your brick and mortar shop with a state of the art HTML5 web presence
 
Strive to create a superb online and personal shopping experience while rewarding your customers with loyalty perks and status.  Shoppers often use smartphones and tablets to get access to relevant information.  About.com has qualified three main distinct search types being made on the internet: “answer me (46% of all searches), inspire me (28% of all searches) and educate me (28% of all searches). Wouldn’t it be a great idea to make “answer me, inspire me and educate me” the three-dimensional crusade of your content marketing strategy?  Ask your customers, both online and in your shop, what answers they are looking for?  What inspires them? What educates them?  Gather your customer data directly into your database: the business headquarters of your people-centric customer information center.  This custom-made marketing know-how will help your business tailor make your content marketing output and assist you schedule personalized marketing messages via email or SMS.
 
8. Social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) and free Internet access
 
Would you rather have customers and prospects find out about competitive pricing inside or outside your shop premises?  If they search within your business, it might be easier for you and your staff to find out about competitors’ pricing and promotions.  It will also grant you the chance to intervene and give away “spur of the moment” discounts while bringing in more sales.  Providing customers and prospects with free internet access is a sure way to keep them inside your brick and mortar shop is not it?  No matter what, customers will find out what they want so you might as well give them the chance to do it while there are “browsing” around. It’s time for your business to harness wireless technology and give your visitors the shopping experience of their lives.  Why not consider an indoor positioning system (IPS) and lead your prospects to the right aisles? Why not consider near field communication (NFC) and QR codes to provide visitors with more product information?    
 
QR Codes Europe
 
9.  Free is a wonderful motivator
 
We all love free things don’t we?  The concept of free automatically appeals to our human nature.  Would it be possible to provide your business with a little coffee and snack corner? Could you add a few tables for prospects to linger around and visit?  This could be a wonderful opportunity to create a local’s corner while gathering precious ideas about business dos and don’ts.  Ask your customers what they expect from your business and reward the top ideas with prizes (first, second to five and 11th to 20th or more if you can). Give, share and get altruistically involved with your community.  How about giving away a free coffee for every new Twitter follower or Facebook likes?  Be creative, try new things, and encourage mistakes among co-workers and team members.  One last word of advice from Dan Erwin: “Shift your networking orientation from getting to giving and your long-term success is assured.”
 
10.  Refine your web and shop loyalty program
 
Loyalty programs should become digital and mobile. There are clients combining web and shop loyalty programs who can adapt their products to your specific needs and beyond.  It is fundamental for customers to get rewarded.  Customers both love rewards and status.  Status gives a sense of belonging, a feeling of being part of something bigger.  Among the 36.8 million followers Lady Gaga enjoys on Twitter, she concentrates on the top 1% she names her “little monsters” … “These fans evangelize for her and bring new fans in the fold”.  Lady Gaga understands her fans’ needs to emotionally wanting to connect with her and goes as far as interrupting her concert while calling one of them on the stage with her.  The more customers purchase, the more unique their reward and status development should be.  Think of airlines bronze, silver and gold levels as an example.  Rewards and status are the motivation that channels patrons into buying more of your products and services, but also to evangelize your business.   Be creative, different, and provocative, and reward your customers with an exhaustive loyalty program that shows genuine gratitude towards them. 
 
Now it’s your turn. Which advice would you give a combined brick and mortar digital shop for it to thrive in this contemporary business environment? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.
 
 
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10 Ways for Small and Medium Businesses to Establish a Social Business Strategy (1/2)

Our world is getting more complex every day.  Technology evolves at a speed that is hardly possible to keep up with.  The amount of information is exploding and as Clay Shirky points out, we need to avoid filter failure.  We are at the threshold of intelligent marketing because now, Big Data is available.  We are moving from descriptive and predictive to prescriptive business intelligence.  How do we establish an effective business strategy, the one that will give our businesses the necessary room for successful growth and development?  What should its priority list look like?  Social media, blogging, inbound or outbound marketing, curation of information, website updating, brick and mortar shop, digital shop?  Trying to answer such a complex question within a ten point two parts blog article is a daring undertaking, but here is a modest attempt at doing this.     
 
1. Regularly review and refine your company mission, values and goals
 
This could be a daunting task, but a simpler way of restarting the process is to review your unique selling proposition (USP) and then divide it into three sub-categories: company mission, company values and company goals.  Having a sharp and targeted vision is quintessential for refining and pursuing a suitable strategy.  Reviewing your mission is crucial as business opportunities and changes do take place.  IBM, in the mid 80s, was the personal computer leader. IBM wrote US$ 16 billion of losses under the baton of Lou Gersten with 35.000 workers made redundant.  IBM finally sold its mainframe business in 2003 and, under Ginni Rometty’s leadership, concentrates on three core areas: analytics, cloud computing and emerging markets. Should IBM have failed to adapt and change, who knows if IBM would have become the thriving social business leader it has been now for the last several years. 
 
IBM-Social-Business_Ginni.Rometty_01 
A challenging way of applying technological trends could be to ask yourself if you could “create your 140 character brand promise”?  Can you summarize your company’s strategy in 35 words or less? The shorter and the clearer, the easier it will be for your communities to understand your mission and purpose.  It will help your business to energize its community while making it an active part of its purpose and vision.  Here are three USP examples which are each worth billions of dollars:
Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free.”
FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”
 
2. Keep transforming your content marketing into convenience marketing
 
Traditional marketing is no longer sufficient.  Businesses which mostly concentrate on their own activities and products are promised a tough time ahead.  Today there are many companies that master innovation and customer experience by creating and listening to their communities. Such companies like IBM, Amazon or Starbucks give their customers the opportunities to consult, advise and recommend new products and services.  Starbucks understands that some of the best ideas come from their own grass root marketers, the ones entering their coffee-shops day in and day out.  Could there be a better source of feedback than the one coming directly out of their customers’ mouths?  
Consider your website as a customer hub with people coming and going, uploading and downloading information. The more your business listens to its community, the more focused its content marketing will be.  Some of the platforms to distribute your content could be  how to, tips, recommended sites and resources, books, authors, literature, recipes, videos, interviews, podcast, webcast, webinars and so much more.
 
Image Credit: www.hyken.com

Image Credit: http://www.hyken.com

3. To blog or not to blog

It’s great to hear what Chris Brogan has to say about blogging:  “No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog … It’s a website, with lots of built in features that make it useful from the search perspective, and simple from a content creation perspective…”  Blogging is like jogging for the brain.  Euan Semple once said:  “You do not know what you think until you write it down.”  At first blogging could be a strenuous way to ratify your thoughts, but the best way to freely express your personal ideas, views and expertise.  A blog is all yours and you may write (within reason) whatever your heart desires.  To blog or not to blog, this is the dilemma and the sooner your business starts the easier it will get. Blogging, like jogging, takes training, dedication and relentless commitment.  Avoid blogging about your products and services.  Concentrate on answering, sharing and inspiring.  Give your community what they want.  This will be the first act into bringing traffic to your website, and a natural way to gain traction and attention. 
 
4. Transform your website into a social hub and your visitors into your website co-creators
 
Amazon is a fabulous example of information crowd-sourcing.  When inquiring about books, the first thing most of us do is to find out about customer book-reviews.  Amazon has long understood that their website is not about them, but about the communities reading the books it sells.  It’s about letting visitors write reviews, comment on other people’s reviews, create groups and meet like minded readers.  It’s about customers’ wish-lists (a fabulous way of gathering marketing information) and remembering their interests, likes and dislikes. Amazon is a platform where people meet, read, comment, upload videos reviews and create personal profiles.  A company’s website should altruistically answer, inspire and educate its community.  It is not about your products or services, it is about your community, their worries, their interests and what inspires them.  Consider reserving enough space for uploading videos, reviews, articles and for giving your visitors the chance to become your website’s co-creators.
 
5. Carefully choose your social platforms
 
According Wikipedia, “Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks … It allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”  Social media is the new technological platform businesses use to promote physical or digital goods.  Social media networks should be kept to a minimum: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.  Pick three or four and get professional help.  A Facebook and Pinterest expert like Mari Smith will save you time and money as she keeps up with ongoing platform changes and updates. Mari will provide you with the necessary support while you concentrate on your business.
 
In part two, we will review the last five fundamental points connected to the ongoing review of a successful social business foundation.  
 
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Marketing Convenience Replaces our “Pay Spray & Pray” Traditional “Outbound” Marketing Approach

The transforming philosophy of “Marketing Convenience”, already applied today by many successful companies and aspiring to be more effective marketers, is just kicking in!  Marketing is becoming  a “convenience store” whereby customers / prospects come and go at their leisure, peruse our offerings and perks, to finally walk out with a basket full of goodies and ideas without having spent a dime: yep without having spent a single dime! This is the reality of Convenience Marketing! Alas but over are the days when companies could present products and services while automatically expecting consumers to fill up their shopping cart! Marketing has become much more complex as most of us customers do expect a run for our €uro / US$! Remember Seth Godin’s “Why marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department” presentation? If you have never seen it before please do yourself a favo(u)r and watch this it right away! A couple of years back David Armano wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review stating: “fire your marketing manager and hire a community manager”: an article well worth reading while regularly checking out his contribution to Edelman Digital.
So why did Albert’s Einstein become so famous? Ever thought about it? Albert Einstein was a personality involved in the business of “spreading ideas”! Yes and his ideas are still spreading all over the place! But back to our topic: successful marketers ought to be spreading ideas in a “convenient way” giving out customer oriented perks such as:  
B2B Inbound marketing aka convenience marketing goodies:
–     Blog articles
–     Whitepapers
–     Pre-Recorded webinars
–     Case studies
–     Free product demos and downloads
Or B2C inbound marketing or convenience Marketing:  
–     Blog with relevant articles custom made for a specific niche audience
–     eArticles or eBooks
–     Videos (Remember Gary Varnychuk?)
–     Advise & Recipes
–     To do lists
–     Improvement recommendations
–     Tool kits and much more depending on what sort of business you are running.
By no means am I intending here to write an exhaustive list of inbound Marketing tactics or tools: There are plenty of fabulous people like Joe Pulizzi and his superb Content Marketing Institute platform offering scores of free resources that will keep your marketing folks busy for a quite a while if you only check this particular venue! It could also be that you have decided to become “more social” then Michael Brito and his wonderful Britopian venue should be of help! The issue here is for us to stop and think about this rather new concept of “Convenience Marketing” i.e. an approach transforming our former “pay, spray and pray” sales-approach with a philosophy some of us marketers only reluctantly accept! Consumers have choices; a  smorgasbord of product offerings “à la IKEA superstore”, where just about anything is available to your liking (or not as a matter of fact!) including facilities for you to eat (and stay longer) before you finally pay, pickup and load up your vehicle while rounding up a strenuous furniture shopping spree!   
 
Transform your sales approach with this philosophy of “Convenience Marketing” and learn to entrust your most valuable treasure: your customer and prospect with valuable informations and free stuff specific to your particular business-niche! Give, share, spread ideas while finding out directly from them what they are specifically looking for or interested in. Refine, rehearse, repeat, be humble, participate, listen and ask particularly if you are facing consumers on a daily basis either personally or on the phone! Inquire from them directly what they are searching for and give it to them! Reward them for their time and information and thank them for sharing it with you! Both customers and prospects will come back to you and buy from you because trust and equity will have then been established and remember may be it is time for you to “fire your marketing manager and hire a community manager”!
Happy Convenience Marketing days to you and a wonderful week wherever you are

25 Ways to Transform Your Business, Promote Innovation and Optimize Your Sales Results (Part 2)

Reminder: your USP (Unique Selling Passion / Proposition) and Web-strategy should have been identified and ratified.  This is the core of knowing what your business delivers! Furthermore your first piece of social media real estate should be your blog: if you do not have one yet start one right now!
 
1. Develop your Social Media accounts strategy in 5 main groups:
2. Position your Social Network Icons on the top of your blog with a one click procedure automatically opening in a different tab or window so that your visitor does not have to leave your site in order to connect and find out more about your business.
 
3. Identify your customers: possible health food store customer segmentation:
4. Make it easy for customers to sign up to your newsletter with a one click subscription via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+!  Consider Pinterest, Pinwheel and other social media trendsetters, and remember Social Media is not static: It moves and changes all the time!
 
5. Please eliminate the outdated and annoying “Captcha” sign up procedure: believe me I have given up many times for not being able to read the hidden letters properly and failing to register three or four times in a row and “see ya later alligator”!  
 
6. Consider instead signing up to free web services such as Disqus and Livefyre to encourage visitors to easily comment on your site or blog! You’d be surprised how many blogs and websites do not offer this free service! Additionally use the one click Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ sign up procedure for those who do not own a Disqus and Livefyre accounts: the goal is to make it super easy for visitors to engage with your business.
 
7. Offer signed up visitors and customers the facility to upload pictures, blog articles or vlogs: think of Amazon again and how it is possible to record a video comment on the site! Trust your crowd when they are registered: look up how Lastfm encourages its community to upload comments and pictures of unknown artists: do the same be opened and social: your business will reap the rewards.
 
8. Customize your monthly newsletter so that both prospects and subscribers receive the information they are specifically interested in other words “Convenience Marketing”. (Think again of how cleverly Amazon solves this issue with: “customers who bought this item also purchased….”).
 
9. Run a tombola for best content of the month: It will motivate followers and fans to participate! Divide it in sound, video, blog & picture: It will encourage viewers to visit more often your website while leaving their customer’s / prospect’s footprints helping you in return to keep up with trends, interests and blog content marketing priorities.
 
10. Adjust the content of your website blog according to your subscribers’ interests (please review previous point).
 
11. Offer Subscribers and VIPs the privilege to guest blog on your site / blog: you will then have less to write and create! (Remember blogging might be difficult disciplinary exercise for you as it is for most of us: trust me on that one).
 
12. Insert your company’s main twitter account on the web front page with a Twitter live feed on website, blog and Facebook Fan-page (it should be possible to insert your Twitter feed into your Facebook Fan-page).
 
13. Accept most credit and debit cards, PayPal & Square as well as main currencies making it very comfortable for potential customers to buy from your business.
 
14. Develop a one click payment system procedure: (sorry again but think of Amazon!) for both physical and web. Make it convenient and fast for both registered customers and visitors to do business with you! Spell out payment / shipping / returning terms so there is no misunderstanding: be generous: trust FIRST and then you shall be trusted.  
 
15. Start planning your mobile payment strategy now because it is a very present issue with companies such as Square or PayPal right around the corner and do not underestimate BYOD’s commercialization.
 
16. Apply (if you can) a free shipping and return policy strategy right from the beginning: Think of the Culture & Service giant Zappos (now part of Amazon) with their 365 days return policy.
 
17. Make it possible for customers to order online and pickup their order in your physical shop: reward them for doing it the first time and surprise them with freemium especially if they are coming for the first time to your shop.
 
18. Organize book ordering for your customer and in shop pick up and pay as a convenience they will love dropping their book order at your shop and will come back to pick them up and pay for them: one more visit for your business!
 
19. Accept orders per Fax, Email and plan accepting them in the future via Twitter, and Facebook for registered accounts.
 
20. Use QR codes for informing customers about promotions and more updated product information.
 
21. Send QR codes to your Twitter followers or Facebook fans via Twitter or Facebook for special promotion while geo-positioning them via Twitter and / or Foursquare
 
22. Organize a Tweetup with your community and engage with them by organizing a special event around your business. Do not forget to create a hash-tag about your event and to remind your participants to tweet while attending. 
 
23. Always send promotion and call to action with your monthly company newsletter and make it personal
 
24. Develop a customer loyalty program with a Business Membership Card including four levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum and VIP Statuses: Organize perks accordingly with best privileges for the highest membership level! This will increase customer loyalty
 
25. Print social media icons on all collaterals and make them visible on both physical and virtual shop (Part 3 coming up this week)

How to Transform Today’s Traditional Midsize Companies and Literally Drag Them Into Digital and Social 21st Century Transformation? (Part 2)

My favorite book (The Bible) states: without vision people perish: what a true statement and without vision many companies disappear such as this old-fashioned German Drugstore outlets Schlecker struggling to find an angel investor before the end of this very month! It is sometimes sad to be able to predict that some businesses won’t be around within the next 3 to 5 years if they do not drastically change their Modus Operandi! Often companies are way too busy with “business as usual” while not spending enough time on strategy! “If you do not know where you are going you will most likely end up somewhere else”: an old adage we all know!

Today many SME (if they have not done it yet) should heavily consider creating a new responsibility, which could be something like a “Business Facilitator”: a savvy strategic thinker, who ties up four main challenges companies are facing today!  An all-around talent, visionary, influential, inspirational and above all motivational! Some would name it a CIO but may be it should be a bit more like a CBF (Chief Business Facilitator)?

I came across some quotes from CEO leaders not only talking but walking the leadership walk and embracing the turbulent changes our networked society is forcing upon us!  In the social enterprise people and culture are the two driving forces and building blocks our Business Facilitator will increasingly have to take into account:

1. Social Culture

Creating a “Culture Is Your Brand” philosophy à la Zappos and studying Tony Hsieh’s culture book would certainly be a very good start! Without enterprise culture it is going to be tricky to create motivated employees to positively and actively participate in social media communication!  How many companies out there still use Twitter as an “Inbound” marketing tool or a pricelist Email alternative? Painful! Check out the Marketing Master Coca-Cola Content 2020:  CEO Muhtar Kent thinks that marketing is getting more and more data driven and “Coca-Cola needs to be part of Digital Marketing and IT closer to customers”.

2. Content or Inbound Marketing

How does one keep patrons drinking coffee?  By providing WIFI in all Starbuck outlets so that both business people and Twitter addicts may connect to their favorite social media accounts while sipping on their preferred coffee specialty. Or by starting a monthly campaign such as: “Global Month of Service”! How about letting customer pay in its U.S. stores with a smartphone app tied to their loyalty and payment cards? Social is important to Starbuck providing its Facebook fan page with an online suggestion box while letting fans send gift cards! Being sociable seems to be “a must” for Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz who is also upgrading his IT Infrastructure for point of sales inventory management, CRM and Labor Scheduling tools!  Desktop Virtualization is also a hot trends IT department are implementing in order to accommodate BYOD and the commercialization of smart phones and tablets.

3. Social Business

Social Media is constantly changing and the first three most visited platforms in March 2012 were Facebook, Twitter and surprisingly Pinterest overtaking layout-old-fashioned “veteran” LinkedIn! It is now impossible to do business without making Social Media full part of a Marketing Strategy: And this involves a lot more than sticking a Facebook and Twitter logo on a website!  Videos themselves are becoming an integral part of the social media portfolio and if you have not yet seen the 2012 Cartier Video, I recommend you watch it! To this day it has been viewed 14.586.933 times! Airlines are also beginning to use videos such as: “KLM Surprise” and “Air China in Sweden” as well the outstanding Mini Getaway Stockholm Case Study, which already took place a year ago in Sweden! Some funny campaigns also involving an entertaining “Dollar Shave Club” and the Guinness St Patrick’s Day Commercial 2012!

4. Modernize IT infrastructure and move to the cloud while embracing mobility

Legacy systems may sometimes be responsible for slowing down technology growth and we all know mobility demand is on the rise: it is now time to reconsider a more focused cloud outlook!  Lowe’s CEO Robert A. Niblock has understood Lowe’s need to zero in on modernizing IT infrastructure with faster internet connections and deploying a gigantic action to equip store personnel with 42.000 IPhones. He also recognizes the challenge of a multi channel strategy while planning to equip both call centers and retail outlets with better access to company’s 250.000 products, customers’ accounts as well as being able to close sales on Iphones! TJX’s CEO Carol Meyrowitz has similar priorities with a multi channel strategy: “We continue wanting to marry shop and web since Ecommerce gives TJX the opportunity to sell things, which are not carried in the physical shops”. Procter & Gamble’s CEO Bob Mc Donald plans to move accounting from traditional responsibilities to operational: “accounting systems aren’t designed today for operations–they tend to look backward–but we’re working on integrating our operational system with the financial system to move in that direction.”

The Business Facilitator’s challenge is immense but one thing is for sure silos have to be dismantled: Over are the days were company departments could allow themselves to work “independently” as a block almost against each other! Time has come to transform our work environment into a social networked place following the example of Apple and Starbucks with their IT helpdesk coffee shop allowing employees to choose IT smart phone & Tablet on display and directly bill them to their departments as well as technical support and suggestion on how to make IT run better!  

How to Transform Today’s Traditional Midsize Companies and Literally Drag Them Into Digital and Social 21st Century Transformation? (Part 1)

I rarely write about myself so please bear with me! I remember 25 years ago; my first sales rep days as a Frenchman in Bavaria and Southern Germany. I would often be searching for public phones carrying stacks of German Mark! Thanks to vandalism phone cards were introduced and public card-phones had soon after to be searched for! At that time I was selling Volvic (French) Mineral water! Outbound marketing was in: I had flyers, a few cotton T-shirts no one wanted and for the most part practiced good old B2B door to door basic “hardcore” selling!  Like most companies we did not have Coca-Cola’s marketing budget! In many ways it was easy: I’d come up with a map, mark and pin it according distributors, key-accounts, customers and prospects, and start my regular tours planning around 10 daily visits selling, merchandising and prospecting for the most part!

We did not know about the silo mentality: we were living and exemplifying it! Customer complaints were turned around to make Volvic France shine! I particularly remember how dirty the French plastic crates were and how meticulous German car owners would regularly complain about them! Volvic France could not care less: they were so far away and I bet some of the people at the plant did not even know where Munich is! Every Volvic-silo was doing their own thing: bottling; packaging; warehousing; transporting and finally us: selling! During those 3 years I did not receive a single phone call from France asking me how things were on the ground! Mind you the ground? Obviously it Volvic France and customers were mostly for them a hassle, constantly making requests or complaining about something while our job was to convince them that most (if not all) of their requests were unreasonable!

Thankfully things have changed, as a matter of fact, changed so much that it is frightening: Volvic and everybody else now can receive emails, calls, reports, written-, spoken- video-information regardless of where we are! Sales people are expected to answer phone calls 24/7 and emails at the best before they have even been sent!  To the repertoire of traditional commerce has been added social enterprising, content marketing, E-commerce, social media, cloud computing and mobility! The 21st century traditional and wannabe digital sales-geek has to understand a lot more than ever in order to grasp Social Business & Media, Inbound Marketing, Mobility as well as Cloud communication (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS)!

Here is an exaggerated caricature of today’s midsize companies “operating silos”

  • Sales: trying to motivate Management and Production to finally manufacture products Sales can sell and this at an acceptable price, while complaining at the same time about delivery delays and quality issues!
  • Production: ranting about manufacturing “too many products” not properly streamlined by Sales & Marketing (Dream of every plant manager is: couple of products manufactured without disrupting too much his production lines).
  • Marketing: usually not having a clue of what is happening in their own company because of their mostly and until now “outbound” function!
  • Controlling: mainly informing Direction and Sales Management about things they already know!
  • IT Department: relentlessly upholding legacy structures, struggling to innovate but mostly slowing down everybody else!
  • CEO / Managing Director: trying to please the board of director breathing down his neck while having to meet financial targets and business strategy.

Bottomline: “It ain’t working that way no more” as our “over-the-pond “US neighbors would colloquially say! What do we do next? Who should put the pieces together?

  • Sales: I do not think so: Why? Because I have been a sales person most of my life and I know that most sales leaders cannot fulfill that responsibility.
  • Production: What do you think? (I hope you do not even have to think twice about it).
  • Marketing: probably not a good idea!
  • IT: hm…. Not really customer oriented for the most part don’t you think?
  • Controlling: usually informing company but mostly sales about the past, which is not going to help us much about future strategy!
  • Managing Director / CEO: yes definitely and this is the way it should be BUT his responsibilities are so immense that he needs assistance and help in order to fulfill his vision and above all get the RIGHT information!

Who should be fulfilling this strategic role! Stay tuned for the second part of this article!