Content Shock and Cutting Through The Noise

As if things aren’t hard enough for entrepreneurs and small business folks, the challenges of digital presence and discoverability just keep mutating. I just started reading Mark Schaefer’s new book, “The Content Code” in which he describes this evolution of digital marketing so far.

He outlines three phases that, to date, bring us here. The first was a focus on Presence. You may remember this…in the mid-1990s when AOL, Prodigy and others staked their claims on what was then the Internet? As a business, if you could just get out there and establish a web site, you won. You were So Far Ahead of the curve…
Then, however, you needed to be found. The early search engines like Alta Vista, Yahoo and eventually Google enabled this. So by the later 1990s the emphasis turned to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Discovery was the focus for the second digital revolution. Get found and you won.

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Business Plans, Products and the Horse Race

I recently revisited my business plan (something I do about every 4 months…). My goal is to see (a) how/what I’m doing regarding how/what I THOUGHT I’d be doing, (b) note any changes, and (c) update the plan accordingly. This combined backward- and forward-cast of consideration reminded me of a post I made awhile back about the parallels of enterprise performance review processes and horse races. While that post focused on the willingness to engage in developing and enriching team members that are forced into a strictly hierarchical and ‘winner-takes-most’ structure, it made me consider the dynamism of the processes, products and services that entrepreneurs work with. We work in the middle of a whirlwind every day.

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Laser-focused Business Goals!

There are a lot of ways for business owners to formulate, define and drive to their business goals. A mentor I had while I worked at Microsoft had three goals he printed on a 3 x 5 note card and taped that to his monitor. He told me that if what he was doing didn’t directly impact any of those three things, he would not do it (where he was in the pecking order allowed him that kind of choice…). He was relentless and laser-focused on those goals every day. They were something of a mantra for him.

Seriously interested in being as successful in my career as he was in his, I gave this a try. While my place in the pecking order didn’t allow me the kind of flexibility to say “No.” to some activities that didn’t map to my goals, I gave it my best shot. What I began to find was that, while my goals may have been well-written and clear, the day-to-day required to get there became more difficult and a lot less fun. Needless to say, this was frustrating….

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Trusting [?] Facebook

What you can find on Facebook is all over the map! As a channel for conversation, community, communication and entertainment, it has really grown and branched out. For a lot of small business owners that I talk to, it is both an opportunity and a jungle. They are aware that the chances to grow their audience, deepen their engagement and conversation with their customers and fans, and build a trusted presence online are available. But somewhere, deep down, they’re just a little unsure of it all. When they go to their profile pages and scroll down their timelines, they see So Much that is not business. Cute videos, political barking, blatant advertising (including ads for things that they, IN NO WAY, want to have anything to do with…) and just A Lot Of Stuff. How can they trust their message to all that?

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Is Innovation Dead?

Innovation” has become a flat buzz-word in business. I think we may have finally beat it into unremitting grayness, which is unfortunate. If ever we have been in need of creative and unusual solutions to problems, it is this moment in which we find ourselves. Even the concept of “disruptive innovation” has become something of a totem that has lost meaning.

I have been in discussions of how some organizations choose to approach this kind of process. Some pat themselves on the back if they can manage to agree on changing the color of the cloth covering the cubicles, and others destroy productivity and morale by nuking the team, process and business plan almost monthly. Certainly, what works for one may not work for another, but taking well-written best practices and lessons learned from an book or article (or motivational speaker…) and then rounding your team into a room and delivering it as this quarter’s way out of a business problem without due research and context probably won’t work.

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2 Things to Make You Reconsider Your Mobile Strategy

A couple of things came up this week that have made me reevaluate my web site design and start reconsidering how I present my business. One was a cover article from The Economist “Planet of the phones” and the other was some news about how Google is tweaking its algorithm.

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How To Solve the Biggest Problem with Diversity

There was an item on the local news the other night that I found fascinating. A number of students at the university campus were holding a rally advocating for a Diversity Center as a gathering place that would acknowledge the diversity of the campus and provide a place and programs that would focus on that aspect of their identity.  Given the cash-strapped condition of higher education, my immediate thought was “re-inaugurate the Student Union as the Student Diversity Center and you’re done!”

As I let this information further settle, I began to wonder about the surface focus that our culture has taken in the intervening years between the concepts of Student Union and Student Diversity, what that says about our culture, and the dangers and opportunities this presents, both for our culture, and then, turning the thought on its side, for business.  Yeah, I have an exciting thought life….