What are you starting and what will you leave behind?

February 19, 2010

I am in a history book club, which I’ve talked about before on this blog. We met last night, and the topic was winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Everyone read about a different winner, all amazing people. But the most interesting thing to come out of the meeting was the story about Alfred Nobel and why he may have started the Nobel Prizes.

Apparently, Nobel and his brothers were the most famous inventors of their time. Most notably, Alfred Nobel is credited with the invention of dynamite. In 1888, Alfred’s brother Ludvig died when visiting in France, and a French newspaper incorrectly published an obituary for Alfred reporting, “the merchant of death is dead” and claimed that “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” (As an aside, there is an interesting list of other premature obituaries here.)

Alfred NobelMany speculate that it was this bizarre and premature report of his death that led Nobel to (unexpectedly) leave the majority of his money in a trust to fund the Nobel Prizes.

Fast forward to today. One of viagra online shop in uk the best things about being an entrepreneur is the ability to create new things. But the implications of inventing or building or creating something that didn’t exist before can be serious. I’m certain that the founder of Craigslist didn’t anticipate it being used for murder, that MySpace’s founder didn’t plan for it to lead to suicide and that the inventors of these top 10 inventions that went bad for mankind didn’t plan for them to be used the way that the ultimately were.

Nobel’s invention has been used in mining, quarrying and construction to great results. But it has also been used to kill, murder and maim. That was a legacy that he wasn’t comfortable in leaving – so he did something about it.

I am an entrepreneur, but more specifically, I like to build things that didn’t exist before. I get a lot of joy out of envisioning something new, and then bringing it to life. This story of Alfred Nobel, though, was a good reminder to consider the cost. I’m also thinking hard about what I can to leave a legacy of which I can be proud.

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The opportunity in B2B social media

February 09, 2010

Coming off the recession, B2B marketing is poised to grow significantly in 2010. To get specific, according to a recent report from AMR International “B2B Online Marketing in the United States: assessment and forecast to 2013,” annual growth in U.S. B2B online marketing spend is forecast at 8% in 2010 and is set to reach 14% by 2012.

It’s good to see growth projected again, but more interesting is to take a look at exactly where that growth is going to be happening. The following are the three areas that are poised to grow the fastest, and their annualized growth rates:

- Social media: 21%

- Lead generation: 17%

- Online marketing services: 15%

B2B social media growth

Here’s why I think this is interesting. B2B marketers are planning on growing their social media spend dramatically, but the channels that they are going to have to use are seriously underdeveloped. Social media of all kinds is where to buy discounted viagra, lavitra & cialis definitely maturing, as are the ways that marketers can use it to reach consumer audiences. But in the business-to-business markets, there are not a ton of social media channels to reach viable audiences.

B2B audiences don’t currently have a home when it comes to social media. LinkedIn is a nice professional network, certainly a viable tool for people who are looking to network in B2B markets, but it’s not a place where B2B audiences live, not a spot for marketers to increase their spending 17%. The B2B publishers, who have served the B2B audiences well over the years, haven’t yet launched viable social networks or communities to support those audiences.

So other than experimenting with Facebook and Twitter and YouTube – which I suspect will prove to be a moderate success for some small percentage of marketers - where are marketers going to spend their B2B social media dollars? This is a huge opportunity.

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My review of Animoto

October 30, 2009

My verdict: I love this tool.

I love it so much, that I wanted to tell you right away, up at the top, so that you know immediately that if you are considering making a video, slideshow-type presentation, you should give Animoto a whirl.

Animoto logoI used Animoto to make a 1st birthday slideshow for my niece Willow. I take a lot of pictures, and it’s gotten even worse since Willow was born. My family jokes that Willow doesn’t recognize me without a camera up to my face. They exaggerate, but it is true that I have a ton of pictures. I also have a number of short videos, both from my camera and from my iPhone. So when I was planning to make this video, I wanted to find a tool that allowed me to use both still photos and videos and would combine them into one fabulous video set to music.

Animoto was definitely the right tool for the job. A few highlights/comments about what I liked and didn’t like, and the various things that I did with Animoto:

- It is possible to make a free video – Animoto lets you create a 30-second slideshow for free. To do so, they recommend using about 12 photos. That length was laughable since I have hundreds if not thousands of photos, so I opted to upgrade. The two upgrade options were an unlimited video creation license for $30, or a one full-length video credit for $3. I opted for the one-time credit since I didn’t have any previous experience with the tool and wanted to try it out before buying a more expensive license.

- Uploading the photos and videos to use was simple. It also was very easy to move the images around so that they appeared in different orders, and removing images was also simple. I liked the way that Animoto displays an estimated length for your overall video based on the number of pictures and clips uploaded. That was helpful as I was trying to get the video down to a doable length.

- You can use up to 7 seconds from any one video clip, and the tool that they have set up for you to be able to choose and preview that clip works really well. If you want to use more than 7 seconds from any video, you can duplicate that video file and pick another clip. I didn’t have to do that, and I found that 7 seconds was really just the right amount of time for any given video clip – any longer and I would probably have been including unnecessary footage most of the time.

- Animoto does give you the option to either include the sound from the video clip, or not. This was actually one of my only issues with the tool because there were a couple of clips that I included where the sound was very important. When you choose to have the sound in your video instead of the background music, Animoto dims the background music (which is very cool) but I wish there was a way that you could boost the sound on your video if it needed it – some of my video clips has sound tracks that were just a little too hard to hear. Others were perfect, though, so I’m sure that it depends on the quality of the video that you’re using.

- I had some trouble uploading some iPhone videos. In particular, I had some videos on my iPhone that were long. I tried to get them to my laptop to upload to Animoto by emailing them to myself, then saving them to my computer and trying to upload them that way. Animoto viagra lawsuits won in court in 2010 did fine with the full length iPhone videos, but any of the videos that I emailed that had to be shortened because of length, Animoto didn’t recognize. (Apple must give them some kind of weird file format that wasn’t recognized by Animoto.) I managed to work around this by downloading some kind of app that allowed me to save the files as a recognized video file type. (I think that I might have used FLV Player, but I honestly can’t remember…sorry!)

- The other thing that I want to mention is that there is no obvious “save” button on Animoto. The “done” button serves as the “save” button, though – so click it often! I was scared of the “done” button the first time that I was using the app, I was afraid that I really had to be done to click it, and I ended up losing a bunch of my work once when my laptop crashed. So use “done” as “save” – you’ll be able to go back and edit.

- The music upload was also fairly straightforward. If you have a shorter video, Animoto will shorten your music clip to match the length of your video. If you have more photos/videos than the length of your music, Animoto will shorten your video to match the music. This was a problem for me. I wanted my video to be as long as it needed to be to fit all my pictures and videos, so I ended up having to come up with music that was almost 10 minutes long. There are no songs that are that long that worked for a 1st birthday soundtrack, so I ended up having to splice together three songs so that they were one music file. I would have loved if it Animoto did that for me, but I used a tool MP3 Cutter Joiner that worked perfectly.

- Once those steps are done, you basically finalize the video and send it to Animoto to work its magic. My video was almost 10 minutes (which is the max length that they allow, by the way) so it took some time for my video to get mixed together and finalized, so if you are doing something last-minute, keep that in mind.

- Once the video was done, I was able to watch it and go back and make edits to anything that I wanted. I liked this a lot – I ended up making 8 different versions by the end, trying to get all the music and transitions just perfect. Not everyone is that insane, but I liked the option to be able to continue to remix until it turned out just right.

- In the middle of the process, I discovered the Animoto iPhoto app, which allows you to make videos on your phone (totally easy, I tried it) and you can watch the videos on the iPhone with the app, too.

- Once my video was complete, I had the option to buy a full length video, which I did (it was around $21) – it came in the mail in about 4 days. I also have the files so that I can burn DVDs on my computer – once I figure out how to burn a DVD with an ISO file so that it plays on my TV (anyone have any tips???)

- Finally, I was able to embed the video on a Website very easily – just the same way that I would embed a YouTube video. It was a piece of cake.

I can’t say enough about this tool – it’s awesome. And if you want to see the finished product, send me an email and I’ll send you the link.

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Happy Birthday Willow!

October 23, 2009

This is a personal post, unrelated to the Internet, and I don’t often write this type of post on this blog, but I thought I would make an exception. Today is my niece Willow’s first birthday. It’s practically a national holiday in my family as grandparents from both sides of the family are driving and flying into town for the party. I can’t believe a year has passed, and I just wanted to take a quick minute to say Happy Birthday to my first niece, who I love to pieces. Willow, you make everyone HGH around you so happy. You are so cute the way you laugh when your mom’s hair tickles your face, the way that you wave your hands around when you get excited to see someone or something that you like, and the way that when you’re really concentrating, that tongue that your daddy passed down comes out to play. You were such a good baby, and you’re such a fun one-year-old. I can’t wait until you grow up and read this and know that everyone loved you from the start. Happy Birthday! xoxoxo

Melissa and Willow

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My review of Tweetie 2.0

October 14, 2009

Tweetie 2.0 iconI am a big fan of the Tweetie iPhone app as a way to manage Twitter on my iPhone. So when I heard that Tweetie 2.0 was being released – and that it is awesome – I quickly downloaded it. This is despite my brother’s horror that I would pay for any iPhone app. To me, a good app is well worth the $2.99.

I’ve been using it for about a week, and I really do love the upgrades. My favorite new features are:

- The way that Tweetie 2.0 “remembers” where you were the last time that you were using it. I can pick up my Tweet stream where I left off, which is how I like to use Twitter, so that is perfect for me. They call this “persistence.”

- The added ability to retweet a post without having to go into the post itself. (In the previous version, you had to “open” the Tweet, and then the only option was to “Repost” – which didn’t use the common “RT @mchang16:” format.)

- The cool interface changes of a blue light indicating when I have new  messages, new direct messages or new @ replies, and the way that you load additional messages by pulling down to refresh.

Nearby Tweetie 2.0- Although I haven’t figured out a way to really use this feature yet vigrx vs vigrx plus, I love that I can see all the most recent Tweets that have happened “nearby” – it’s very interesting to see how many (in Beverly, where I live) or how few (in Topsfield, where I work) people are using Twitter. I could see how this feature might come in handy if I was somewhere new and wanted to write to ask someone for a local tip, although I haven’t used it that way just yet. Also, I found out that there is a death metal record label right down the street from my house in Beverly – totally interesting.

 - The ability to manage multiple Twitter accounts is the reason that I fell in love with Tweetie to begin with, and the 2.0 version has only simplified the way that you can toggle between multiple accounts, apply changes to multiple accounts, and to send messages from one account when you’re reading messages in another.

I have always loved Tweetie and found it the best app for managing Twitter on my iPhone, and Tweetie 2.0 is a significant and awesome upgrade that I highly recommend.

THE ONLY THING IS – I have a question that I can’t seem to find an answer to anywhere – if anyone knows, please leave a comment! What are these numbers (pictured below) that show up on someone’s profile page?

What are the numbers on my profile page in Tweetie 2

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BusinessWeek's for sale, the industry is surprised. I'm not.

July 15, 2009

NOTE: I’ve got some new blogging gigs – primarily for businesses that I’m operating and launching as part of Pure Incubation – and I want to make sure that I’m sharing the content that I’m producing on those blogs here (in case you care!) So when I blog elsewhere, I’m going to include pieces of those posts here and link to the full posts. FYI!

Here’s the article…

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Apparently the media industry is “stunned” that BusinessWeek is for sale. Really? Stunned?

Today’s article in B2B Media Business cites the following:

  • - BusinessWeek lost $85 million in 2008
  • - BusinessWeek has already lost $20 million in 2009
  • - BW’s ad pages declined 17.2% in 2008
  • - This year, BW’s ad pages have declined 36.8% compared to the same period last year- This year, BW’s ad pages have declined 36.8% compared to the same period last year
  • - BusinessWeek’s online catalogs sellers of viagra and cialis in the usa ad pages have dropped 69% since their high point in 2000
  • - Print ad revenue has fallen 59% in the same time period

BusinessWeek coverWhy are people stunned that McGraw-Hill would want to offload a business unit that is bleeding so severely? I understand that BusinessWeek’s brand is valuable and important, but most companies – including McGraw-Hill - can’t absorb $80 million in losses year after year.

I suppose that the shock and dismay people feel at the loss of well-established print entities shouldn’t surprise me. Just look at the outrage that people felt at the thought of the Boston Globe possibly closing its doors, even though that publication is on track to lose $85 million this year.

Read the full article on the Sauce Technology blog

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Three tips for surviving a business dinner

July 01, 2009

The business dinner is one of the most important functions I attend. Sometimes these dinners happen following a long day of meetings, sometimes they happen the day before the important meetings, and other times they are stand-alone events.

Of course, there are some tips for setting up a good business dinner. Things like – if you’re booking the restaurant, only go somewhere that you’ve been before and that has a wide range of types of food and a quiet enough atmosphere to allow for conversation to happen easily. And other suggestions such as – pick a place that has parking because you don’t want to frustrate people by making them drive around one-way streets looking for a meter spot for a half hour (I live in Boston, this is VERY important!) But these three tips are about getting the most out of the business dinner.

1 – Listen first, ask questions and keep it brief. People love to talk. And they particularly love to talk about themselves. If you’re at a business dinner, this also applies to people loving to talk about their work, the company that they work for or the business that they started. Before you start talking, let them tell you about themselves. If they don’t do it naturally, ask them some questions. If question-asking doesn’t come easily to you, plan the questions ahead of time. “Tell me about what you do” is a good starting point. Ask questions about the history of the company, the role that they play there, big contracts, their areas of growth and their plans for the future. Ask questions about their family, where they live, when they mention their hobbies, ask about those. Be interested in the people who you are dining with – that will go a long way. On the other hand, don’t talk too much. If there are two of you, you should talk less than 30% of the time. If there are more than two of you, the percentage should drop to less than 15%. And most of that time should be asking questions and talking about topics that your dining companions bring up first.

2 – Find common ground (aka don’t get on your soapbox & don’t take offense). When you do talk, make sure that your topics are neutral or related to something that they brought up first. It’s totally OK to talk about your business (you’re at a work dinner, after all) and anything related to work that you are passionate semenax vs about, but you don’t want to offend your dining companion. You’re not out to dinner with friends, so you don’t know what these people think – about anything. It’s better to leave the debate for conversations between friends – you are trying to find commonalities, not differences.

If someone that you’re dining with says something with which you would normally take offense, let it go. A business dinner is not the place to correct or educate your dining companion on the places that they are wrong or that their opinions differ from yours. Of course, you should take everything that is said into consideration when you’re trying to decide whether to do business going forward – but getting your guard up is not going to help anything in the middle of a social dinner.

3 – Be likeable. This is probably the most important point of all. Even if you violate the first and second tips here, and talk too much and about controversial topics, but people like you, you’re going to be OK. Being likeable is a challenging thing to quantify, though, because everyone thinks that they are likeable. So to be sure that you can accomplish this, you’ll probably have to enlist the help of a partner, co-worker or trustworthy friend. Ask them to help you. Find out from your co-workers what part of your job that you talk about too much. Ask them what aspects of the job they think are most interesting – focus on those things. Check with your friends – the ones that you think are the most likeable – and ask them what stories you tell that are their favorites. What stories do you tell that make people laugh? What are some interesting things about you? What are some pieces of trivia about the place that you’re visiting (you can look these things up ahead of time!) What’s a quirky but interesting story that you read in the news recently? What’s something interesting about the town that you’re from? These types of stories are things that you can think of ahead of time – so when there is a lull in the conversation, you can pull them out and be likeable with your good stories, your interesting anecdotes and your fun tales.

At the end of the day, the business dinner is all about relationships. And they are often the difference between signing the contract across the conference table when the meeting moves from dinner to the board room.

Photo by swami stream

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Quiz: What tech entrepreneur are you most like?

June 23, 2009

I’m a start-up founder just like many of you, and there are days when I wonder if I’m the only one who feels, acts and thinks the way I do. But there are others that have gone before, and you might be surprised to see which tech founder you are most like. Take our quiz and find out your answer to the question: What tech entrepreneur are you most like?

Click here to take the quiz

(UPDATE: I’m going to ask you for an email address at the end of the process. I wanted to warn you up front so that I don’t catch you off guard!)

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Quiz Sauce logoOne erectile dysfunction viagra of the things that we’re working on at Pure Incubation is launching a variety of software tools for publishers aimed at helping them solve their most crucial business issues. (If you want to know more about those publishing problem areas, read this post.) We’re doing this through our Sauce Technology business unit, and today I want to introduce you to a specific application – Quiz Sauce.

The quiz above was built using the application – give it a whirl and let me know what you think. Here’s the link to take the quiz in case you missed it above - What tech entrepreneur are you most like?

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The three problems with publishing

June 19, 2009

I’ve said it a ton of times already, as have many others in the industry – traditional publishing models are in trouble. Someone asked me this week what I think can fix publishing, and although there are some parts of the broken industry that are going to be difficult to repair, I do think that there are three major things that would help.

First, publishing is broken because media and publishing companies don’t have a way to effectively account for their audience. In one traditional publishing model, specifically in the B2B controlled circulation print publishing world, publications require subscribers to fill out a qualification form. Qualification forms are long, multi-point questionnaires that ask a series of data points that help the magazine figure out if the subscriber is a qualified recipient of the magazine. (See an example here) Basically, to qualify to receive a print magazine for free, a subscriber would fill out this long form that asked various demographic questions, as well as information about the subscriber’s budgets, number of sites that they had purchasing power over, and how many people they influenced at their job, etc. Those forms are then used to determine who qualifies to receive a free subscription of the magazine. If the subscriber has enough purchasing power, they get the magazine. The publisher is then able to use this data to provide a subscriber profile to potential advertisers, who then decide to run ads in the magazine based on the demographic profile of the subscribers who are receiving that magazine. All of which was qualified and audited based on the qualification forms.

As the online shift has happened, things have changed. Where the Internet allows for audience measurement (IAB Guidelines [PDF]) in a way that print publishing never did, it isn’t necessarily measuring the things that are going to help publishers succeed. While the Internet allows for a great deal of measurement, the measurement is in metrics such as page views, time spent, number of page views and the like. These data points are valuable to advertisers, but don’t provide any information into the specifics of the audience that is visiting that site. So a site like CleanRooms, (just as an example, not to pick on that site specifically), which is micro-targeted to people who care about contamination control technology, can show its advertisers that its website was visited x number of times in June, but can’t provide details on exactly who it was that visited the site. Advertisers know the reach of their message, but they can’t be sure of the targeting.

This has caused a weird content dilemma. Instead of focusing on creating the content that will serve their audience specifically, publishers have begun creating content that will attract the MOST readers, because they are measured by page views instead of audience specifics. This is the first thing that has to change online. The model that the qualified magazines used where they were able to provide specific data on exactly who is visiting their site – the audience demographics – is essential. This is particularly an issue with B2B publishing where the goal has always been to reach the right audience, not necessarily the broadest audience. (This is less of an issue in consumer publishing where the goal was to reach the largest number of possible people.)

The only way to overcome this challenge is for publishers to move this audience development model online – so that they are capturing details and data about their audience. Not only is it vital that they are able to prove exactly who their audience is, but the ability to capture their contact information and permission to continue to contact them in the future is also vital. It is with that contact data and permission, just as it was when publishers were able to send subscribers print magazines, that the publishers are going to be able to build their audience, get them to build affinity and be an effective media partner to advertisers.

The second issue is the way that advertising is being as audiences move from print to online. With the print publication, advertisers were content to know that their message was being read, reviewed or at least seen by the right audience. With the move to online, advertisers are looking for measurability. Google has changed the online media industry not only by providing a low-cost online advertising channel for marketers, and not only by allowing publishers to generate simple revenue by running advertising on their sites, but also by pioneering the idea of return-on-investment (ROI) and pay-for-performance media. No longer are advertisers satisfied to buy advertising on the same basis as they did in print, just to reach a specific audience demographic. (Remember, there’s some question as to whether online sites are reaching the same demographic that their print counterpoints were reaching.) Advertisers are now flocking to ROI-based advertising channels like search marketing and lead generation. The issue is that publishers are having a side effects of viagra difficult time figuring out how to offer these types of programs to their advertisers, but they have to figure this out or else they are going to be in deep, deep trouble.

Finally, the nature of content has changed entirely. In the traditional publishing model, media companies hired content producers who wrote fabulous content that was pushed out to subscribers via their print publications on a periodic basis. With the launch of the Internet, the publishers were able to publish to a site that the audience could come back to on their schedule – that was revolutionary at the time. But now, things have changed to an even larger degree. No longer are the media companies and publishers the sole creators of content – not by a long shot. Now there are new media companies with content producers, bloggers who are self-publishing content, and a whole host of user-generated content channels, such as social networks, reviews sites and the like. On top of that, all of the companies that relied for years on the publishers to get the message out about their products have become publishers. They have websites, but they also create and distribute content in an incredibly wide variety of formats.

Publishers who are coming from the traditional model are fighting this change. They make the argument that traditional journalism, although it’s going through a huge decline, is one of the foundations of our society and without it, we are going to suffer. It might be. And we might suffer. But the truth is that consumers of content – the subscribers of the past – want lots of different types of content (PDF), and they want to get their content from a variety of sources.

Here’s a fictional, but realistic example. A new virtualization server is being released by Dell. A consumer hears about it because there is a news story on his favorite technology Web site. He wants to know more, so he goes hunting for content. That publication only has that one article, but he doesn’t know that; he follows the links in the article to find additional information. On that publication’s site, he reads an old story about another company that has a virtualization server, then a round-up of virtualization servers, both of which were linked to in the article. He clicks on a link to a white paper (written by Dell, hosted on the publication’s web site), and reads that. But that’s not really all the information he wants – he wants more information on this new virtualization server. So he clicks the link to the press release from Dell. At the bottom of the press release is a link to the page on the Dell website that has more information – so he goes there. The Dell Website has a whole bunch of information on the server, including pictures, a video and a white paper about the benefits of virtualization in an insurance company, which happens to be the industry that the consumer is in, so he reads and watches all that content. After reading all the information available on Dell’s site, the consumer goes to Slashdot to see if anything has been written about the new server, and then goes to Google where he types “Dell virtualization reviews” and goes to five sites that feature reviews from IT pros that have used other Dell virtualization servers in the past. He then gets back to work, fairly satisfied with the information that he’s read.

In the old model, publishers don’t really believe that this is the way things work. They don’t believe that a consumer of content reads any information from a vendor and believes it. But the truth is, content consumers are looking for multiple angles on the same topic. They want to know what the journalist thinks and will give that information great weight, but they also want to know what the vendor says about their own product, and what their peers have to say. Just check out the graphic below, from the Enquiro Business to Business survey 2007 (registration required) – about the types of content that are involved in and influence the B2B buying process. Content from all sources isn’t only viable, it’s necessary and highly influential. Publishers, many of which have a large number of livelihoods tied up in the traditional publishing model, aren’t totally willing to let go of their long-held beliefs to embrace an online strategy that includes content from a wide array of sources. But they must if they want to retain their audience and subscribers.

These are the problems with publishing that I see – 1) the need for effective audience development methodologies; 2) the ability to support ROI-based advertising programs and; 3) the diversification of content types to solve all the needs and wants of the core audience.

Without embracing these three elements, traditional publishers are doomed. But if publishers can figure these things out, it might just save publishing.

Photo of rusty printing press by anyjazz65

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Twitter tool: Unfollow your non-followers

May 27, 2009

If you’re looking for a tool that allows you to bulk unfollow the people on Twitter who you are following but who aren’t following you back, Mutuality from Huitter.com will help. 

HuitterThe tool allows you a few options – Unfollow all who do not follow you back, Unfollow all, and Follow all who follow you. You can also add in up to 50 users who won’t be affected by the action, so if you have a particular celebrity that you like to track or thought-leader who doesn’t subaction showcomments propecia optional blog follow you but you want to keep tracking, you can exclude them from the action.

This service is free for accounts with up to 1800 followers or friends. For larger accounts, this can be used up to three times for free.

This isn’t a recommendation to use this tool – I don’t think that either bulk following or bulk unfollowing is a great Twitter strategy. But I have heard from many people who are looking for a tool to accomplish this exact functionality, and have seen Huitter’s tool work effectively.

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