Monday, January 11, 2010

Is Social Media Killing Your Business?

from Duct Tape Marketing

I know today’s short post might come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog, but even though I promote the heck out of social media use for small business, I see a dangerous side as well.

Some small business folks equate busy with business. The problem with social media usage is it can keep you really, really busy, without producing a dime of business.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a post for all those social media is a load of crap folks, this is a post for all those folks that are hiding behind the monitor tweeting away when they really should be out shaking hands, making sales presentations, and attending networking events.

It’s all too easy to get sucked into building a big blog readership or twitter following and then wonder why your phone isn’t ringing.

Social media for the small business is a catalyst, a tool, a way to create awareness and deeper engagement – it’s not a way to take orders.

At some point you’ve got to take orders. If you can’t convince someone face to face of the value of your proposition, don’t expect to do it in 140 characters or less.

Stop using social media as an excuse to be busy and get out there and sell something.

There, I feel much better now.

Bullhorns are overrated

from Seth's Blog

They cost too much and they don't work very well.

Most people ignore them, they don't last very long and they're undependable.

Anil Dash has discovered that having ten times as many Twitter followers generates approximately zero times as much value.

The goal shouldn't be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people whochoose to listen. Don't need a bullhorn for that.

What every mass marketer needs to learn from Groucho Marx

from Seth's Blog

Perhaps the most plaintive complaint I hear from organizations goes something like this, "We worked really hard to get very good at xyz. We're well regarded, we're talented and now, all the market cares about is price. How can we get large groups of people to value our craft and buy from us again?"

Apparently, the bulk of your market no longer wants to buy your top of the line furniture, lawn care services, accounting services, tailoring services, consulting... all they want is the cheapest. The masses don't want a better PC laptop. They just want the one with the right specs at the right price. It's not because people are selfish (though they are) or shortsighted (though they are). It's because in this market, right now, they're not listening. They've been seduced into believing that all options are the same, and they're only seeing price. In terms of educating the masses to differentiate yourself, the market is broken.

Fixing this is almost always a losing battle. Just because you're good at something doesn't mean the market cares any longer.

The Marx Brothers were great at vaudeville. Live comedy in a theatre. And then the market for vaudeville was killed by the movies. Groucho didn't complain about this or argue that people should respect the hard work he and his brothers had put in. No, they went into the movies.

Then the market for movies like the Marx Brothers were making dried up. Groucho didn't start trying to fix the market. Instead, he saw a new medium and went there. His TV work was among his best (and certainly most lucrative).

It's extremely difficult to repair the market.

It's a lot easier to find a market that will respect and pay for the work you can do. Technology companies have been running this race for years. Now, all of us must.

If Wal-Mart or some cultural shift has turned what you do into a commodity, don't argue. Find a new place before the competition does. It's not easy or fair, but it's true. You bet your life.

[Please note that nothing I wrote above applies to niche businesses. In fact, exactly the opposite does. You can make a good living selling bespoke PC laptops or doing vaudeville today, even though the mass of the market couldn't care a bit. How he got in my pajamas, I'll never know...]

Googles new tool

Finding places "Near me now" is easier and faster than ever on

Thursday, January 7, 2010 3:28 PM

Last month, Vic Gundotra, VP of Engineering, demonstrated at the Computer History Museum the ability to search by using your location as the query. Starting today, you can try this yourself by going to in your iPhone or Android browser and clicking on "Near me now" once your location has been provided by your phone.

"Near me now" was designed to address two user problems. First, we wanted to make it fast and easy to find out more about a place in your immediate vicinity, whether you're standing right in front of a business or if it's just a short walk away. For example, you may want to know what other customers think about a restaurant before you go inside (see quick video below) or what they have been raving about on the menu before you order. By selecting the "Explore right here" option, you can find out more about a place "right here" with just a few clicks.

Second, we wanted to make searching for popular categories of nearby places really simple. Imagine that you emerge from the subway station and you want to grab a coffee, but you don't see a coffee shop around you. You can simply search for all nearby coffee shops by using "Near me now". To search other categories of places not shown, "Browse more categories" provides access to our local search productwith more category choices.

"Near me now" is currently available in the US for iPhone (OS 3.x) or Android-powered devices with version 2.0.1 or later. You must first enable location in order for "Near me now" to appear, and "Explore right here" works only if the phone provides location accuracy within approximately a city block.

Five Monkeys

from The India Uncut Blog

On a mailing list I’m part of, I came across this wonderful excerpt from a book called Thinkertoys:

Imagine a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb toward the banana. As soon as he touches the stair, spray all the monkeys with ice-cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the monkeys are sprayed with ice-cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, turn off the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and will want to climb the stairs. To his surprise, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Again, replace a third monkey with new one. The new one goes to the stairs and is attacked. Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fourth and fifth monkeys with new ones, all the monkeys that have been sprayed with ice-cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs. Why not? Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been around here.

I have a feeling that this is the problem with Indian television programming and Indian newspapers. Hardly anyone thinks outside the box. And the box is old. There’s a great opportunity not being taken here because no one has courage and imagination. Pity.