Saturday, June 28, 2008

Market Research - Tracking buzzes


Meta Search Engines are under-the-radar rivals of Google Blog Search and Technorati. Sometimes they have gems the bigger guys don't. A few:

Clusty enables searches for news, images, wikipedia articles and blogs.
Serph tracks buzz in real-time. Search for a product, company name or person. It will include results from blogs, news aggregators, social bookmarking sites (such as Magnolia and, image sharing sites like Flickr, and video sharing sites.
Zuula searches multiple sites at the same time. Run a web query; results from Google, Yahoo, MSN, Alexa, Mahalo and other search sites will be separately tabbed for easy perusal.
Nielsen BrandPulse. This enables you to tap into forums, boards, Usenet newsgroups and blogs that may be discussing your company, brand or product.

Google Trends. What's more popular: The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal? Google Trends lets you pit them against each other and graph the results. A broader product, Google Zeitgeist, tracks what users are querying most on the Google search engine.

Facebook Lexicon counts mentions of words and phrases on Facebook users' profiles. Like Google trends, keywords can be pitted against each other (just separate them with a comma). For an example, see Clinton vs. Obama.

TweetScan enables users to search for product or company mentions in real-time across, a website that is popular with early adopters and tech lovers. Also see Twitterverse, which gives you a sense of commonly-tweeted topics of the day; Intwition, which tracks links shared on Twitter; and TweetClouds, which builds tag clouds based on your query. More tools for sifting through Twitter data, or tracking brand buzz on Twitter, are in this article.

BoardTracker lets marketers search for mentions in discussion boards. The homepage also features a dynamic tag cloud, so you can find out what products, brands and topics people are discussing most today.

Google Groups and Yahoo Groups let marketers sift through discussions occurring on, namely, Google or Yahoo Groups.

Much of the information in this MarketingVOX How-To was gleaned from The Art of Strategic Listening by Robert Berkman, who specializes in culling market intelligence from social media resources.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Market Research - Searching blogs

Google Blog Search enables searchers to sift through blog postings. Like typical search results, blog posts are ranked by relevance to your query. Like a regular web search, you may use Boolean commands. Advanced Blog Search lets you limit results to words in the blog title, posts at a certain URL, author name, dates written and language.

The order of results can also be changed by date and time — so you can see the newest postings first.

Caution: Google only indexes blog content from blog RSS feeds. That means Google Blog Search excludes blogs that do not generate a feed. What's more, some blogs only syndicate the title and first paragraph of their posts, further limiting your results.

Other tips: consider mining non-English data when exploring Google Blog Search. As of April 2007, 37 percent of all blog posts were written in Japanese. If you're willing to consider an outside vendor to manually track and translate non-English data on your behalf, Ogilvy PR and Edelman are two useful options.

Technorati Advanced Search. Since its launch in 2003, Technorati has focused on indexing blogs and other social media. Like Google, it has a proprietary ranking system: the perceived "authority" of a site is provided beside each result.

Advanced Search enables you to query for "all blogs" containing your search, "blogs about" your search or posts from a certain URL.

Technorati also enables Tag Search, which checks your query against the "tags" bloggers assign to their posts. Flickr photos and YouTube videos are also "tagged" by authors. Technorati searchers may terrace queries by blogs, photos, or videos.

If you query by tag, Technorati will also provide related tags that may be useful to you.

Do not overlook the Technorati Blog Directory. Instead of searching blog posts by the keywords they contain or by their tags, the blog directory lets you sift through blog descriptions, written by creators or authors.

Caution: Like Google Blog Search, Technorati only indexes some blogs, not all. And while searching by tag or directory description is useful, you are relying heavily on the ability of bloggers to honestly and accurately describe their own content.

Much of the information in this MarketingVOX How-To was gleaned from The Art of Strategic Listening by Robert Berkman, who specializes in culling market intelligence from social media resources.

Boolean Searches

Boolean logic is a system of showing relationships between sets by using the words "AND," "OR," and "NOT." Boolean logic is recognized by many electronic searching tools as a way of defining a search string. So, Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT can refine your searches on Google (or any other search engine) by combining or limiting terms.

Here are some examples of boolean search strings:

mushing AND racing
caribou OR reindeer
fisheries NOT Alaska

Sets get smaller the more " AND" is used, and larger the more "OR" is used. Although you might think "AND" would add more hits to a set, what it has actually added is limitations. The term "OR" adds possible options.

How much to charge a client

A company had a boiler that was working intermittently. They tried everything they could do but nothing worked. Finally they called in a consulting engineer, who they knew to be expensive but the best in the business.

He arrived and set to work studying the boiler, checking connections, temperatures, and overall operations. He then stepped back, stroked his chin and after a few minutes, made a mark on the side of the boiler. He then picked up a sledge hammer and took a full swing and hit the mark. The boiler gasped and sputtered, then started to work perfectly.

The consulting engineer then gave his bill to the client. The boss was shocked and said "I'm not paying $1000 for hitting a boiler with a sledge hammer." I need to see a detailed invoice.

The consultant's bill:
Hitting the boiler: $25
Knowing where to hit the boiler: $975

Takeaway: When setting billing rates, explain to your client that much of what you are being compensated for is diagnosis. The 10-20-30 years of experience you bring drives to a solution that the client or consultant can then implement. Consultants get a bad reputation when they try to diagnose without enough experience and then try to prescribe solution without enough skill.

SOURCE: IMC USA Daily Tips for Consultants #794: Explaining Your Fees May 19th, 2008

Knowing your client too well

Back in May 2008 the USA Daily Tips for Consultants #798 discussed 'going native', - ie. knowing when you been on site at a client's for too long. Here is the list of warning signs:

- You are asked by the client staff how to work the coffee machine

- You remember to bring your "contractor" ID badge but forget your wallet

- You are not displaced from your temporary office but new employees are sharing cubicles

- You know personal life details of the client's night cleaning staff and security guards

- You discuss what needs to be repaired with the copier repair person (whom you also know on a first name basis)

- You are on the faculty for the new employee orientation program

- You use so many acronyms you no longer know whether they are yours or the client's

- You are asked to serve on the the company picnic planning committee

- You are asked by the client to join the staff

- You begin to use the terms "us" and "we" when referring to the client organization

Takeaway: A hallmark of the professional management consultant is their independence and objectivity.

The Hippocratic Oath...

... and its relevance to management consulting.

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath traditionally taken by physicians pertaining to the ethical practice of medicine. It is widely believed that the oath was written by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in the 4th century BC.Two lines that can be equally pertinent for management consultants are: I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

In other words, know what you don't know or don't do very well and make sure that you have a list of specialists in these fields that you can either refer a client to or to whom you can sub-contract part of a mandate. For example, although I am a chartered accountant I always have a local accountant prepare Income Statements and Balance Sheets when I am putting together a feasibility study or business plan. In this way I play to my strengths and I do not start doing things that I am not qualified to do.

This does not detract from your reputation - on the contrary it enhances it as clients know that they can trust your judgement and that you have professional integrity.

That Elevator Speech

Yes, we all know the elevator speech should be brief, that it should be how you help someone or a company solve a problem but it is also important that the person understands what you do.

So try this... explain to a high school student or your favourite aunt what service you provide. THEN, ask them to explain back to you what you do. Be open to clarifying questions.

Once you can explain your service in a way that doesn't require specialised knowledge, you will have the basis for a great 2 minute introduction to your services.

Capturing good ideas

I keep a folder to hold good ideas - whether a good idea for marketing collateral, a print advertisement, a company that might be interested in my business offering.

When I attend conferences I always have a pad to take notes but I draw a line down the page reserving a thrid for jotting down ideas as they pop into my head while listening to the speakers.

I periodically go through the folder to sling out those ideas that a few weeks later are not quite so relevant or which don't seem so good BUT I also take out one or two items to action. There is no point in having good ideas if you lose track of them and there is also no point in a good idea if it lies buried in a folder going nowhere fast.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tracking Widgets

Technorati Link Count Widget

Technorati is the go-to search engine for bloggers. It shows you every single link to posts made about you in other blogs, along with an authority rank that tells you how important that blog is. This widget enables you to display in real-time the number of links/discussions happening about your posts, which they call "reactions." Of course, your blog should be very active in order for this widget to be meaningful. The site has lots of other interesting widgets too.

Social Media - in plain English

A video produced by Common Craft (link at the end of this post)uses the story of a fictional town called Scoopville to explain social media in a way anyone can understand.

Scoopville, is a town famous for ice cream. For a long time, the ice cream market was dominated by one large company offering only the three basic flavors: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. But then one day, inexpensive ice cream makers appeared in Scoopville, and the local population had the opportunity to experience new flavours. In time people began to see ice cream in a different way. It no longer came from a factory but also from firends and neighbours. Visitors poured into Scoopville, but became overwhelmed by the choices available. So a resident set up a bulletin board in front of his house that enabled visitors to describe his ice cream, rate it and leave messages for others. The feedback enabled residents to improve and market their ice cream, and helped potential customers find exactly what they wanted.

A summery story to enable you to learn more about social media.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Facebook and me

On Facebook I have a page for me and one for my management consulting and coaching business (GSP insights). I also have two groups: Starting out in Business and Business Consultants United.

Initially my Facebook list was just personal friends, business associates, former clients and some of my MBA students at HEC Montréal but then I started to add unknown people.

How did I select these people ?
I joined groups relevant to my business, my interests, my objectives in joining Facebook. I then looked to see who the other members were and invited selected ones to be friends. I checked to see if marketing and sales gurus such as Seth Godin, Jeremiah were on Facebook and invited them to become Facebook friends (all of them accepted). I also invited people who had written intelligent comments on the walls of more influential business and mamrketing people. In this way my list grew and now stands at over 1,000 people. I seem to have reached a critical mass which means that I get increasing numbers of people asking to be friends - from 10 per day to over 30

I am now inviting my friends to consider joining my groups. In this way I achieve increased visibility for my business and website and blogs. The proof ? In the first two weeks of June I have had over 125 unique visiters to my website (I typically got 80 a month) and I am attracting comments on the posts I make on this blog. When I eventually produce the material for teleseminars on starting a business I intend to trial them for free with the members of my group before offering them on my website. This will enable me to fine tune them before I offer a teleseminar series for sale on my website.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Worth reading 2

This book contains a lot of the things that you know already but somehow gives you the wake up call that makes you want to explore how to work less hours and have more money. And, I am convinced that it is possible.

Worth reading 1

This is an easy to read book and extremely helpful in building your business.

The follow up book is:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Marketing Blogs

Advertising Age produces a list of the 500 top media and marketing blogs. No, I have not checked them all but quite a few of them are blogs that I frequently come across in my peregrinations on the internet and I thought I would share them with you. Some will keep you up to date with what is going on in the world of marketing and others can provide you with helpful information on how to market your business.

Streetsmart Marketer (aka Michael Hepworth)

Seth Godin


Drew McLellan

Rohit Bhargava

Marketing Professionals

Thursday, June 12, 2008

FREE Blogging course

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you access it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out.
Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Firing a Client - but...

A while ago I wrote about having the courage to fire a client. Today i was reading through the blog of one of my Facebook friends (Andrea J. Stenberg) and she too had written about firing a client. BUT.... the thrust of her argument was not to have the courage to fire a client but to know when NOT to. Here is a sobering thought taken verbatim from her blog post:

However, there are times when someone looks like a client from hell, acts like a client from hell and sounds like a client from hell. But isn’t. The trick is to know the difference.

Many years ago, in a different lifetime, my husband and I ran a computer store.(...)
We’d only been in business for about six months when we had our first Christmas. Two days before Christmas, right at closing time we got a call from a customer who had just purchased a computer. The computer was crap, it wouldn’t work, we were awful people and we’d better get over there right away and fix it.

Our policy was that we didn’t do house calls, unless you paid for it. If you had a problem with a computer, you had to bring it in. That said, we could usually talk a customer through a problem over the phone; the most frequent computer defect usually turned out to be a disconnected cable.

My husband’s first inclination was to blow this guy off. He had started the phone call with guns blazing and had set my husband’s back up. Add to the mix that we had our own family Christmas to prepare for plus lots of customers we were still dealing with. He was ready to write this guy off as a client from hell.

But something told me not to let this go. I calmed my husband down and persuaded him to go to the guy’s house even though it was against our policy. After all, it was Christmas.

Less than an hour later he returned a very subdued man. It turns out this irate customer had purchased the computer with his wife as a Christmas present for their grandchildren. Since ordering the computer, his wife had died. This was going to be her last present to the grandkids. He wanted them to be able to wake up Christmas morning and have a working computer waiting for them from Grandma.

There wasn’t anything wrong with the computer. This man just didn’t have anything left in him to wrestle with setting up the computer. His rage at my husband and nothing to do with the computer and everything to do with the curveball life had thrown him.

By taking an hour out of his day, my husband helped this man get through an emotional event without his wife. He made what was going to be a sad Christmas a little happier for some kids. And in the process he created one of our biggest supporters.

I don’t know how I knew that this man wasn’t a client from hell. But I’m glad I listened to my intuition that day.

Andrea J. Stenberg

Worth thinking about.....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Driving visiters to your site

Get 1 Million Hits, FREE!

This claims to explode visiters to your website. I am testing it to see. Its FREE so I figured I did not have too much to lose.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Successful people

Successful people:

1. Look for and find opportunities where others see nothing.

2. Learn lessons while others only see problems.

3. Are solution focused.

4. Consciously and methodically create their own success.

5. May be fearful, but they are not controlled or limited by fear.

6. Ask the right questions — the ones which put them in a positive mindset and emotional state.

7. Rarely complain - they're too busy learnng the lesson and identifying the opportunity.

8. Don’t blame neither circumstances nor others. They take complete responsibility for their actions and outcomes.

9. Always find a way to maximize their potential, and use what they have effectively.

10. Are busy, productive and proactive.

Wordpress - free tutorial

If you want to learn Wordpress for free click on this link.

Marketing - a new twist to your message

Michael Port published this excellent story in his eZine recently.

One day, there was a blind man sitting on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet and a sign that read: 'I am blind, please help.'

A marketer was walking by and stopped to observe. He saw that the blind man had only a few coins in his hat. He dropped in more coins and, without asking for permission, took the sign and rewrote it. He returned the sign to the blind man and left.

That afternoon the marketer returned to the blind man and noticed that his hat was full of bills and coins. The blind man recognized his footsteps and asked if it was he who had rewritten his sign and wanted to know what he had written on it. The marketer responded: "Nothing that was not true. I just wrote the message a little differently." He smiled and went on his way.

The new sign read: Today is Spring and I cannot see it.

Moral of the story ? Sometimes we need to change our strategy. If we always do what we've always done, we'll always get the same thing (which is fine if this is what you want !). Be innovative - change your world and the world of those around you !

Monday, June 9, 2008

Facebook - learn all about it

Brian Campbell is proving to be THE person to be linked with on Facebook as he generously shares his learnings about making Facebook work for your business whilst still respecting the rules of being on Facebook.

Sign up now for his 10 hour Social Media Monetization Course - totally FREE !!! Click here for "Backdoor Signup "

Its awesome - an absolute must !!

Follow Trends - Start Trends

Have you discovered Edopter ??

Here's what it says about itself: Edopter is social trendcasting.Edopter combines your insight and worldwide buzz to tap into the next big thing. Create and follow trends, share and discuss them - then watch as they spread across the world. Who tells the world what‘s next? You do.

Seriously useful for your market research and marketing strategies.

It's FREE !! of course !!!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Joke - 1

So who says a business consultant can't appreciate a joke ? I unashamedly 'stole' this one from the Facebook wall of one of my Facebook friends - Lyn Whitsitt - who has posted some hilarious 'blonde' jokes.....

A gorgeous young redhead went to the doctor's office and said that her body hurt wherever she touched it. 'Impossible!' says the doctor. 'Show me.' The redhead took her finger, pushed on her left shoulder and screamed, then she pushed her elbow and screamed even more. She pushed her knee and screamed; likewise she pushed her ankle and screamed. Everywhere she touched made her scream.

The doctor said, 'You're not really a redhead, are you?

'Well, no' she said, 'I'm actually a blonde.'

'I thought so,' the doctor said 'Your finger is broken.'

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Let go of the past..

You can't reach for tomorrow, if you have your arms wrapped around yesterday.

Facebook - you have been warned !

Yesterday I was merrily growing my little list of Facebook friends and then BANG - I start to get the nasty warnings that my account will be de-activated because I am allegedly a spammer. I could not even open my messages. I had heard of this happening to people but I assumed (naively) that it was the people who were adding friends at the rate of hundreds a day. NO.

Here's what I have been able to piece together. It seems that you start to get warnings about being a spammer and threats of being bounced off of Facebook if you cut and paste and/or if you include a URL. The cut and paste is a definite and it can be as innocuous as writing a personalised message and then pasting your name and some information underneath it (which is what I was doing).

It is essential to always type each message and cut and paste nothing. Some people are telling me not to include my URL which I was doing when I wrote on new friend's walls to thank them for joining my circle of friends.

For me, the pain with Facebook is that there are no clearly set out rules. I would pay to be on it as I find it heads and shoulders above LinkedIn and Ecademy however the owners seem to prefer free membership but operate with unwritten rules.

I would direct anyone and everyone to the teachings of Brian Campbell and Travis Greenlee who are both 'friends' of mine on Facebook.

Facebook - maximising its potential

If you are on Facebook and want to harness the power of social media marketing then link up with Travis Greenlee and Brian campbell and join all related groups. Both post some awesome videos and provide lots of free advice.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Facebook - a WARNING

I have been reading about people getting blown out of Facebook for spamming or alleged spamming. I never thought it would happen to me. Why ? Because I do not spam and have (currently) no teleseminars or information products to sell. I invite an average of about 15 people a day to join my list of friends and I accept about 12 invitations a day. I thank people for accepting or for inviting via their wall. I do not cut and paste other than sometimes my name and URL.

Today I got a warning that my account would be disabled as I was spamming ... You bet I am offended. Worse.... I cannot even read messages let alone send any or write on walls. I have real friends, my MBA students and family among my Facebook friends so I cannot communicate with them at all.

I found this link which I suggest keen Facebookers read. Take note. Be warned.

I don't intend to go anywhere near ny Facebook account for a week or so because I have no idea whether the block is for a few hours, a few days or longer nor do I know whether every time I attempt to read a message is another nail in my Facebook coffin.

What bugs me here is that there are people out there growing their lists at hundreds a day (and more) but they don't seem to have a problem as they are there day after day.And (while I am on a roll here), there are spammers who send messages to everyone in their Facebook group. My group (Starting out in Busines) has just 11 members because I have never advertised it.

I am not a happy camper here.