OWS Stands Divided

As predicted, the leaders and achievers are standing out from the OWS crowd.

GlobalRevolution.tv has moved from a tarp in Zucotti park to a second floor office in NoHo (North of Houston), and is being led by a former Wall Street derivatives trader, Vlad Teichberg.

On the other side of the country, OWS protesters are depriving the working class of their pay checks by blockading ports.

As surely as oil floats over water, and cream rises to the top of milk, it is inevitable that leaders stand out in a movement. Even while they’re insisting that it’s a team effort. In this case, it’s Vlad Teichberg who has become the face of GlobalRevolution.tv.

GlobalRevolution.tv started out under a tarp in Zucotti park. After weeks of frustration due to equipment theft and fighting the elements, they made the wise business decision to seek a secure – and weatherproof – site for their budding media outlet.

They found what they needed on the second floor of a building owned by the A.J. Muste Institute. Rent is a bargain at around $400 per month. It’s no palace, but it gives them a reliable working space for their enterprise. You can get an idea of what it looks like in this video of an interview they did with CNNMoney.

Vlad Teichberg's caricature in The New Yorker

The media has definitely caught on to this enterprise. Vald has been featured with his own caricature in The New Yorker, and media from Huffington Post to the New York Times are covering their efforts. If all goes well, Vlad hopes this media enterprise will take off and provide him with the means to get a home for himself and his pregnant wife.

Contrast this organised, productive enterprise with the efforts of OWS participants on the west coast.

Although their video content is being streamed through GlobalRevolution.tv, that seems to be where the commonality ends. Rather than trying to build anything, or even be constructive, they’re attempting to block ports in Alaska and the Western U.S.

Even the unions these OWS participants claim to be supporting have come out in opposition to the blockades. They want their members to be able to go to work safely, and get a full pay check at the end of the week.

OWS Participants blockading access to ports

In a recent USA Today article, one trucker was quoted as having lost $600 – a day’s wages – because the protesters succeeded in closing the port facility.

“This is joke. What are they protesting?” said Christian Vega, who sat in his truck carrying a load of recycled paper. “It only hurts me and the other drivers.

“We have jobs and families to support and feed,” he said. “Most of them don’t.”

Thomas Ryan has written an interesting post on Big Government that reveals the agenda of many OWS participants. It’s well documented with a complete archive of e-mails from OWS. The tone of the e-mails aligns with activities on the west coast, but seems quite different from the enterprise happening in New York.

OWS, protesting about inequality, is experiencing a practical lesson in reality. Every group divides out into 80% followers, 15% achievers, 4% leaders and 1% celebrities.

In Brooklyn, Vlad Teichberg is the celebrity and his team are the leaders. The citizen journalists are the achievers, and then there’s the rest. People who take action simply to feel powerful; even when it harms those they claim to be helping.

The efforts at GlobalRevolution.tv have been so successful that Livestream is providing them a channel free of advertising. It turns out that some advertisers didn’t want to be associated with the OWS channel, and rather than weed them out Livestream simply removed all advertising. That’s a huge benefit to an organization trying to communicate their message.

Ustream, another online video streaming service, has provide two citizen journalists with better camera equipment. Tim Pool in New York, and Spencer Mills in Oakland, both provided consistently good content so Ustream has loaned them better video equipment.

Livestream and Ustream both claim to simply be supporting their platforms rather than specifically supporting the OWS movement. You can read more about GlobalRevolution.tv and their successes in a recent New York Times article.

The question that remains is: How long will it be before OWS participants turn on Vlad and his teammates as being part of the 1%?

It’s only a matter of time before GobalRevolution.tv gains the attention of advertisers able to align themselves with OWS. When that happens, it’s going to become a profit-generating business. Will the 80% who have built nothing claim a share of their success?

Forrester Research CEO Predicts Doom

The Web is Dead, Social Media is Saturated, and Social Business is Our Future…

George Colony at LeWeb 2011

At least this is what George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, thinks. He unveiled these predictions during his presentation at LeWeb in Paris this year. I caught this story through the Logic & Emotion blog, and decided to include it in this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

You can watch George’s presentation and read the transcript on his blog.

According to George, the web is moving away from a network/browser model to something that leverages devices, apps and the cloud in a more powerful way. Not exactly an earth shattering prediction, but I think George misses what the future really is.

My prediction: Apps become our electronic servants – ever more sophisticate and specialized. Vivint is one current example. Apps are the precursor to software that will operate robots in our homes and businesses.

George’s second thunderstorm is the saturation of social media. He thinks we’re running out of hours and people to provide audiences for all the social media sites out there. He even predicts the demise of sites such as Foursquare.

Obviously George vastly underestimates our ability to find creative ways to waste time. Not to mention the more than half of the world’s population who have only just begun to access social media.

If a service like Foursquare dies, it won’t be for a simple lack of audience participation. It will be because they fail to engage business owners and show them the power of Foursquare as a rewards program for customers.

And finally, George predicts businesses will make use of social media tools to increase productivity with employees and for making better business decisions. It’s an interesting prediction that smacks of utopia.

There will certainly be some businesses – such as Dominoes – that use social media well and profitably. But the vast majority will simply add it to their business model, overlay it with bureaucracy, and end up wasting more time and effort than ever before.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I think George has some interesting ideas but missed the boat completely. For the guy in charge of Forrester Research, I expected him to have a much better understanding of human nature. Listen to the whole story on Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Small Business Conquers The Corporations

Article first published as Small Business Conquers the Corporations on Blogcritics.

Little Dudes and Divas is going head-to-head with the likes of Nordstrom, Macy’s, Babies “R” Us and even Diapers.com.

This small business does 90% of their sales through the internet and the rest through their brick-and-mortar store in Rockaway Park, N.Y. Even with the bulk of their business being done online, the founders of this company say their greatest strength is relationships with customers.

Steve and Susan Karasanti founded Little Dudes and Divas seven years ago. They sell clothes and accessories for infants and toddlers – everything from diapers and stroller blankets to diaper bags car seat covers – and now have 3 employees. They ship around the world and are always ready to help a customer find what they need.

The Homepage for LIttle Dudes and Divas

When a call comes in from a customer wanting to know how to pack a particular bag in a certain way, the staff at Little Dudes and Divas makes a video. They walk through how to pack each item, special tips for preventing leaks or breakage, and then make it available to everyone on their site.

I spotted the Karasanti’s and their business in Gabriel Shaoolian’s column (You’re The Boss) in the New York Times. There are two things in particular that he’s looking at with Little Dudes and Divas – the trust factor, and reasons for buying. In addition to what I share here, you can listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy to discover the one mistake Gabriel is making that will truly make the difference between massive growth and stagnation in any business.

Competition has certainly stiffened since they started seven years ago. Mr. Karasanti says “It’s very hard to compete with the bigger online companies on price, but we can compete by giving our customers personal attention.”

That personal attention is a key element in business success at any time, and it’s becoming increasingly important in today’s marketplace. We’re experiencing a crisis of trust – everyone is sceptical of everything (even this statement) – and business owners are feeling the pinch.

Here are 3 strategies for to make your customer relationships stronger, and help your business stand out from the competition:

Show Appreciation

One of the simplest things to do is run a birthday program in your business. Simply ask customer for the month and day of their birth so you can give them special attention on their birthday.

The same thing can be done for anniversaries, customers who bring in referrals, frequent shoppers or any other criteria you care to use. The key to all of these programs is choosing the behaviour you want to reward then building a program to reward that behaviour.

Encourage Communication

Restaurants do this all the time. I’m always spotting comment cards at the table in restaurants, and you can use the same approach in your business. All you have to do is make the cards available and give customers an anonymous way to drop them off.

Blogs and social media can be good ways to encourage communication if you actually listen and respond. Like a comment card, you have to be seen to be taking action on what people say.

Reward Referrals

Your existing customers are the easiest people to sell to, and the person they refer is the second easiest. This alone is a great reason to encourage referrals.

When someone refers another person to your business, they’re also increasing their commitment to do business with you. Now that they’ve told someone else how great you are, part of their personal credibility becomes wrapped up in continuing to do business with you. For this reason, you also want to treat referrals very well. As easy as a referral is to turn into a customer, getting it wrong just as easily means losing the referral as well as the referrer

Another way to strengthen your customer relationship is through cross-promotion. This one takes a little bit of time and effort. It also yields multiple benefits to your business.

No one business can satisfy every need of their customers. So to help you be more important to your customer – and more appreciated by them – connect with other business owners who fulfill your customers’ needs. Whether that be a hair salon, landscaping, or dentist, the objective is to make your customer’s life easier.

For example, I know a painter who advertises on a local pizza joint’s boxes. They both serve new-movers, and this cross-promotion has paid off handsomely for both businesses.

In the case of Little Dudes and Divas, they could easily cross-promote with another shop that sells strollers and car seats. That’s an obvious one. What other businesses can you think of that would make good cross-promotion partners for Little Dudes and Divas – or for your own business?

OWS Gets Capitalist Enterprise

Vlad Teichbert and GlobalRevolution.TV are the first capitalist effort of OWS. And Vlad is getting the media attention to make it work.

Having been covered by the New York Times and Huffinton Post, and even getting his own caricature in The New Yorker, Vlad has gone from being a derivatives trader working for Deutsche Bank to OWS pariticpant to budding media mogul. Although he currently lives in a squat with his pregnant wife, Vlad hopes the media project takes off and provides an income.

GlobalRevolution.TV started out under a tarp in Zucotti Park. But after weeks of frustration due to equipment loss from theft and rain, they were able to relocate to a building in NoHo (North of Houston St.). They’re now in a second floor office space and getting organized.

Here is a video from CNN Money that shows the GlobalRevolution.tv media headquarters and two of the team members.

This budding media mogul and his outlet, Global Revolution.tv have become the switchboard, or clearing house, for video related to OWS. The channel is hosted – apparently ad free – by Livestream. It seems more than one advertiser didn’t want to show up on this particular channel, so Livestream seems to have removed all advertising from the channel.

How long can it be before OWS turns on Vlad and his media outlet for the success they are achieving?

Personally, I think it’s great that the group involved with GlobalRevolution.TV has found this opportunity. They’re getting organized, supporting a cause they believe in, and attracting support. For now, the donations are just trickling in. Give it another week or so, and it’s likely they’ll attract the attention of donors – possibly even one or two of the millionairs who agree with OWS.

This is proof in action that populations consistently divide out into 80% masses, 15% achievers, 4% leaders and 1% celebrities. In this case, Vlad is becoming the celebrity, his team are the leaders, the citizen journalists are the achievers, and then there’s the rest.

It’s too bad that “the rest” are turning from protesting to harming the people they claim to serve.

Over the last week, USA Today has reported OWS protesters have managed to close several ports along the west coast. They claim to be targeting ports where Goldman-Sachs has an interest, yet they fail to accept the real consequences of their activities.

By closing the ports, the only people being hurt are the workers who can’t work. They’re losing a day’s pay. Since the corporations carry insurance to protect them against lost production, they’re coming out doubly ahead whenever a port facility is blockaded. Not only do they get to collect on their insurance, they’re saving the cost of paying employees.

Many congratulations to Vlad Teichberg and his team. Let’s hope they’re able to lead their fellow OWS participants to better pursuits and higher achievement.

OWS Splits, Small Business Succeeds and Forrester Predicts Doom

As I have been predicting, the Occupy Wall Street movement is splitting.

The leaders and achievers in OWS are producing a live media outlet (article from New York Times) while the OWS wanna-bes and masses are organizing protests that hurt the working man (article from USA Today). Listen to this week’s show to know what’s happening and where the OWS movement is going.

Then we look at one small business that is succeeding – online – against competition from the likes of Macy’s, Nordstrom and Diapers.com. The business is Little Dudes and Divas (www.LittleDudesAndDivas.com), and they sell diapers, diaper bags and all sort of baby accessories.

The story comes from Gabriel Shaoolian’s column (You’re The Boss) in the New York Times. There are some really good points about this business, and there’s one spot where Gabriel and I disagree.

Listen to this week’s show to know how we disagree, then you tell us who’s right.

And we wrap the show with a look at George Colony’s predictions of doom. George is the CEO for Forrester Research. He presented his Three Thunderstorms at LeWeb this year, and in two cases I think George is dead wrong. And he simply doesn’t go far enough with the third thunderstorm. I picked this story up from Logic & Emotion, and just had to “set the record straight.”

This story is so important I let the show run long this week. George raised some really good  points, and unfortunately missed the boat with his predictions. So I’m going to add a special blog post Thursday, 22 December to expand on what we discuss during this week’s show.

So listen in to the show now, then watch for the blog post Thursday, 22 December. Then you can tell us who is seeing the future, and who is a touch off their rocker.

Small Business Marketing Gets A Boost

Several things have happened over the last year that are now resulting in great rewards for Small Business Marketing. And with those rewards come some risks.

The first is a service called ValuText. You can guess from the name that it lets you send text messages to people who have opted-in to receive them. And it does far more than just that.

ValuText allows you to be very targeted about who receives your message, and when. This gives you huge potential for creating events and promotions specific to your location, the day of the week, even a change in weather.

It also carries a significant risk for how you use it. Many retailers are going to be caught in a laziness trap. Be sure you rise above the crowd, and leave your competitors behind, by injecting personality and experience into your use of this very practical and profitable service.

Listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy for all the details.

Then we have a look at Square.

It’s an innocent looking, little device that makes payment processing simple and easy to use. Small businesses and charities across the country are using Square to process billions of dollars worth of transactions – and Square is little more than a year old.

Are you going to an event and need to do back-of-room sales? How about a community market down the street from your store? Or even a special promotion in the parking lot? Square gives you the versatility to turn any smart phone or tablet into a portable cash register.

Tune in to Social Media: Cheap and Easy to discover how it works.

And we wrap up this week’s show with a look at how the world of search engines is catering to small business marketing. Google, Bing and Yahoo are all jumping to milk their newest cash cow – small business.

The attention they’re paying to serving us is making it a lot easier to understand how Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising works. That’s because they’re putting a lot of effort into developing support tools for all of us who can use a computer, but we’re certainly not technology pros.

As good as the support tools are becoming, there is one in particular you want to avoid using.

The search giants are offering done-for-you services where their staff  handle creating your ads and setting your bids. Even if that seems a little vague, what you need to know about this type of service is crystal clear: Avoid Using This Service At All Costs!

Remember: They get paid based on how much you spend on PPC advertising.

It makes no sense to let them determine how much you pay per click. It makes even less sense to have their rank-and-file employees create the ad you’ll be spending money on.

And there’s an incredibly ironic point you definitely don’t want to miss. Google, Bing and Yahoo are foaming at the mouth to get you using their PPC services, but they’re using a completely different media to persuade you.

Listen to Social Media: Cheap and Easy to hear what it is, and why you should follow their example rather than their instructions.

Small Business Marketing Reality Check

This week’s stories have me just a wee bit angry. So you might want to prepare yourself to be offended.

Start listening now to Social Media: Cheap and Easy

Small business marketing is far easier than most business owners make it out to be. But you do need to do some work, and professional advice is often helpful.

Have a look at www.SkyRoll.com. It’s the subject of our first story. More accurately, the bozo that owns it is the subject.

I meet way too many business owners who ask for advice on small business marketing, like this guy, and then disagree with me. It makes me want to scream “Are you KIDDING?!” This is why I’ve learned to weed out the problems by making business owners jump through hoops to get to me.

After I go to town on SkyRoll, we take a look at Facebook’s upcoming IPO.

Like Groupon, Facebook’s IPO is like to be successful. That is, Facebook and the investment bankers are going to make a whole lot of money. Also like Groupon, those who buy in are going to lose money.

Listen to hear WHY Facebook is doing an IPO – and HOW they’re preparing for it. It’s definitely odd, and should be screaming DANGER to every investor in the world.

Hear it all this week on Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Then we’re wrapping up the show with a look at Occupy Wall Street. If I haven’t offended you by this point in the show, I probably will with this story.

After more than a quarter century of owning my own business, becoming a master carpenter, and writing 5 books in 19 months, I have little patience with anyone who whines about life being hard. Have you noticed a lot of the people getting press coverage over Occupy Wall Street are college professors? Talk about professional underachievers.

If you think lawyers are bad, we should stone the people who train them. That’s right, college professors.

I’m all for being social, but socialist is just insane. I’m a dedicated capitalist – everyone who listens to Social Media: Cheap and Easy knows it. And by the way, that means I’m first in line to put crooked bankers and corporate executives in jail. They give capitalism a bad name.

Just click the Instant Download link at Social Media: Cheap and Easy. And when you’re good and riled, come on back here to leave your comment. Just click on the post title to go to the comment page.

A Google Challenger?

An Italian mathematician is launching his own search engine to challenge Google.

Massimo Marchiori claims to have developed a radical new view of what a search engine can be. He
has posted a cryptic video describing his vision at Volunia.com. You can also sign up as a beta tester
for his new search engine.

The twist in this story is that Massimo contributed to Google’s original search algorithm. So you could
say he has a little “inside” knowledge on how to improve it.

Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have always acknowledged the value of Massimo’s
contribution to the Google formula. So it will be interesting to see whether Google tries to acquire or
squash the new search engine.

The video Massimo has published doesn’t give a lot of detail about what his new search engine does.

That makes sense since he doesn’t want competitors to figure it out and beat him to the punch line.
But there are some interesting suggestions.

One scene indicates the search engine provides a much more accurate result. It’s described as a new
way to fish, and the way it’s presented is kind of funny.

When I watched the video, it occurred to me that this in one of the reasons that print yellow pages have
had a resurgence over the last couple of years. (Yes, the big, clunky book you use as a door stop is
being used more often by consumers.) Search engine results got so off target that people turned back
to the yellow pages because they know they can find what they’re looking for.

Google saw this happening to and did a lot to improve their local search results. For geeky types like
me, this makes it even more interesting to see what Massimo has come up with that he thinks is
radically different.

Another scene in the video seems to indicate that there’s a social component built into his search
engine. And this is where I started to lose interest.

The scene shows one person “connecting” with another person on the other side of the world. Well,
this is a big part of what’s wrong with social media right now. So I’m not sure we need more of the
same.

Silas, my dog, is a black lab and I think he’s great. This does not translate into me wanting to connect
with black lab owners at all, let alone in another country. Although I’d make an exception for a friend or
relative living in another country. And then we’d be connecting because of the relationship rather than
our pets.

So I’m interested to see what Massimo has in mind, but the last thing I need is another Facebook.

A big question is how this new search engine is going to make money. All the other search engines do
it by selling advertising space. If the new kid on the block gives much more accurate results, that could
mean a greater ability to match ads to search terms. Targeted advertising is always more successful,
so it would definitely be appealing to business owners.

The plan is to launch the new search engine this year, and to launch it in 12 languages. So they’re
pretty serious about developing a good product.

Click over to volunia.com and watch the video for yourself. Then answer me this: No matter how good it
is, do we need another search engine or social media site?

Social Media Success Formula

You’re doing everything the “gurus” say to get fans and followers, but no one is turning into a buying customer.

That’s because those cow-pattie-gurus want you focused on all the ACTION that’s taking place. Then you might not notice that there’s no PRODUCTIVITY happening.

Just pick your favourite guru and look at their Twitter account. They probably make a big deal out of the huge number of followers they have. But take a look at the number of people they’re following and ask yourself this:

  • Are they really paying attention to the thousands of people they’re following?
  • Is it even possible for them to be paying attention?
  • And if the gurus aren’t paying attention that means they’re teaching everyone else that it’s okay to not pay attention.

So it’s not your fault that you’re following their advice and no one is paying attention. That is, after all, what they teach.

Let’s have a look at what really does work in social media. And you can hear what I have to say on this week’s Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Since social media is also called Relationship Marketing, stay focused on relationships. Get people you know to connect with you.

You see, social media is different from “normal” life. We’ve all been taught the analogy that life is like a pond. The action you take is a stone dropped into the pond. The ripples reach out to impact everyone in your life.

Social media is more like a sandbox. The action you take drops in the sand and stops. Plop.

To get other people to pay attention to your action, you need friends to pick it and show it around. This is why you start with people you know, and who are interested in what you do. They already have an interest in YOU – what you do is less important.

Sure, they have an interest in knitting, car repair, or whatever it is you do. But they pay attention to you because you let your personality show through and you’re fun. More accurately, you’re entertaining.

When you put something into social media (whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the thousands of other social media sites), your friends, patients, clients, and business colleagues pay attention because it’s entertaining. Things that are entertaining get and hold our interest. They can also be educational and useful (just think of educational TV).

Tell me if I’m hitting the mark with this week’s radio show.

Here’s the secret ingredient to why you start with people you know: You ask, beg and plead for them to tell you whether what you’re putting into social media is entertaining.

Ask them to tell you if something you do whether something you do is good, bad, crappy, great, or most importantly – whether it’s boring. You can do something that’s completely corny. As long as it’s entertaining, people will pay attention.

Just think of comic strips. There are all different kinds of comic strips that are successful. Dilbert is very short and witty. For Better Or Worse is a longer comic that deals with everyday family life. Peanuts is about a boy and his dog.

Each is entertaining and has a fan base.

Make the people you know the beginning of your fan base. These are people you can call on the phone or send an e-mail to asking what they think. And if the answer is “I’m sorry. I haven’t had time to look.” Then you know you’re missing the entertainment goal.

Oh, and keep in mind that when you ask someone for feedback, you need to give them a reason to look.
Do something more than send an e-mail saying “Hey, look at my latest update, please.”

Tell people how you’re being entertaining. Tell them you posted a really cool video, or a link to something you know they’re going to be interested in. Show your friends what’s in it for them. Then you get their feedback on whether they liked it by asking about the resource of video.

So here’s the Social Media Success Formula in bullet points:

  • Connect with people you know first
  • Decide to be entertaining and useful when you post to social media
  • After you post, get people to pay attention by telling them how you’re being entertaining or useful
  • Get their feedback by asking about the content you gave
  • Gauge the success of your post by whether people pay attention to the content

We’ve had a lot of success with this, and I’d like to know how it works for you.

Come back and leave a message after you’ve tried it. You’re welcome to ask questions, and if you’re not sure your material is entertaining – just tell me where to find it. I’ll look and give you an unbiased opinion. And you’re welcome to give your opinion of Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Small Business Marketing Success With Social Media

Most small business marketing is still missing the boat when it comes to making profits with social media. That’s because most of the advice those businesses are getting isn’t even good enough to use as fertilizer.

In this week’s episode, we look at specific examples of how the media and cow-pattie-gurus are making the matter worse.

Then we move right into proven, tested methods for using social media profitably. I also give you a resource you can explore to get help with social media if you want it. They charge a fee, of course, and they’ll be worth every penny.

Come back here Wednesday for the article titled “Social Media Success Formula.”

Because it’s the holiday season, we wrap up the show with some practical advice for keeping yourself safe in social media and on the internet.

Thank you for listening, and for reading. Be sure to tell me what you like about this week’s show, and especially if there’s something you didn’t like. Leave a comment by clicking on the article title. That takes you to the page where comments can be posted.