Posts Tagged ‘ new media ’

mindshare presence and mindshare enhancement for small businesses

A client has asked me to propose how I’d do a “social computing audit” for them — essentially, they want to see (1) how their competitors are using things like blogs and YouTube, or FaceBook and Twitter and (2) what tools or methods *they* might want to adapt.

Something interesting – and unexpected – came up in the research I put into the proposal for that gig. The CEO who’d asked for ‘some thoughts on a proposal’ was politely skeptical about the bottom line value of these new tools. Still – off I went to do some preliminary work.

I found two things. Sure enough, the company had a very scant presence in these new(ish) venues.  And — as minimal as it was — it was *about* par for the course for that particular industry. The surprising thing was that a lion’s share of tweets and blog comments came from a handful of clearly dissatisfied customers!

Bottom line? It’s one thing to monitor how you’re ‘keeping up with’ competitors in terms of online visibility, it’s another to see *what* your online reputation is.

Really big companies know this difference and pay dearly for reputation management — for their company as well as for their c-level execs!

As far as I know (that is to say, as far as 5 minutes on Google searches popped up), the company that does this kind of small-company and (and their senior people) reputation management is a local (Bay Area) firm,   Reputation Defender   ( http://reputationdefender.com )

‘might be worth your while to check them out !

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A new world for bringing information to customers and business partners

There’s no secret that I’m a fan of the idea that ‘virtual worlds’ have a serious place in business. ‘problem is, most pushback against these immersive computing environments is that they’re too weird, too difficult to learn, too much overhead, too.. too.. too…

Maybe that’s about to change. Take a look at a product – still in Beta – that really seems to be an ‘inworld experience’ meant for real business people.

Ever been blindsided by a Yelp “review?”

Here’s something buyers, sellers, and brokers should be considering. In addition to the flow of all the financial statements and all the necessary due diligence that takes place in business sales, something else is happening. While grizzled old timers (many of whom are younger than me) may pound on the table and claim “facts are facts,” increasingly, one’s reputation is a factor in selling and buying.

If you’re a seller, are there Yelp comments on what you offer as a service or a product? Are there angry blog entries by people who’ve had an unfortunate experience with your company? And- what are the online bread-crumbs your senior management are leaving behind? What are *their* skeletons? While you may not be able to scour the web and eliminate all the goop, you can, and should, be aware of what’s out there. If for no other reason than to prepare for the inevitable question of why you’re a regular attendee at a boondoggle conference every year, in Hawai’i, in February, or why your spouse belongs to a country club that’s repeatedly faced charges of discrimination … All this information is out there.

And there’s more. As a potential seller, what odd things will a Google search find about the person who’s possibly going to make an offer to buy your company?

The point is, what was due diligence 10 years ago isn’t the best you can – or should – get nowadays.

In a recent SmallBizTrends.com article, “Avoid that online reputation management nightmare” (by Lisa Barone) -there’s more meat to this idea:

http://smallbiztrends.com/2009/07/reputation-nightmare.html

Small Business Administration uses… gasp! YouTube

Not an organization best known for being on the leading edge of Enterprise 2.0 offerings, the SBA has started to offer business tips on its own YouTube channel.  To be fair, this service is only a few days old but as of a week ago, SBA’s channel boasted 141 subscribers, 17 informational videos and 4,396 page views.

For people buying and selling small businesses, SBA *IS* known as a great source of useful information, I’m wishing them luck with this new approach.

a trillion… as in a Million Billions??? AND what to do about it

Last year, American’s cell phones transmitted a trillion text messages. A TRILLION. Take a million and muliply that by 1,000,000,000.  Like they say, a trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon you’re talking Real Numbers…

It’s almost possible to dismiss this – truely – astronomical number as a LOT of  the argot that tends to run heavily to the layers of meaning in comments like: “supt?” “and “I was like OMFG.”

I say *almost* possible. For good or for bad, text messages (OK, technically’ SMS ‘messages) still grab people’s attention with an immediacy that’s breathtaking.

So, the question you need to be asking is, “How is my business reaching out to customers and clients with text messages?”

Here’s a dirt simple case study. Neighborhood Chinese restaurant had the misfortune of opening next to a *booming* inexpensive, friendly, inviting more-than-pizza-and-Ragu Italian restaurant. The food at the Chinese place is – fine – for what it is: easy, convenient Cantonese fare. Business started slowly and went down hill from there. Entrepreneur owner got the bug of an idea that he could collect the cell-numbers from some of his clients and in exchange for that bit of information, he sends out daily messages on limited-time menu options and dining coupons. NOT ONLY did he notice a 15% increase in revenue, he’s starting to get local newspaper attention – with articles along the lines of  “A New Wrinkle in Chinese Restaurants.”

Now, in fact, he did this one step smarter. He doesn’t send out 100 text messages each evening -he sends one Twitter message — because he took the time to ask his customers how they’d like to be notified.

This boils down to something that barely rises to the level of ‘hi tech.’ Each late afternoon, the restaurant owner types in one or two ultra-short Twitter messages (called “tweets”) , presses _send_ and off it goes – to everyone who’s asked to be contacted. Seconds later, a message as simple as “Won Tor rest’rnt special tonight: Shanghai Soup Dumplings – FREE for 1st 10 cust’mrs, 6$/plate-of-8 therafter. WON TOR – Your OakmoreGlenn place 510658321.”

A couple minutes of keypad typing and a significant revenue increase.

You’re doing this…. right?

So, a business broker, a priest and a stripper walk into a bar …

OK. At least there’s a business broker in the joke.   Read on …

Business brokers – for the small percentage of Americans who know what they are and what they do – have a mixed reputation in business communities. On the one hand, they’re the people business owners turn to in the hope of getting a great price for the sale of their companies. They’re also the people who not infrequently prod wary sellers – and buyers – to ‘move along’ with the deal.  Hmm…

And so – for the bad hats in our profession, we hear the jokes like this:

Business broker dies, goes to the front gates of heaven to present himself for his eternal reward. St. Peter holds up his hand and says, “You’re a difficult case. On the one hand, you did a lot for your community and its charities, but, on the other, there were some pretty shady owner-financing deals you peddled off. So, let me sell you on a sweet deal — we’re going to give you a tour of both your afterlife options to see where you’re most comfortable. “

The tour of heaven was delightful – the broker admired the broad streets lined with successful Main Street businesses and large homes (and thought who ARE the brokers around here?) but was a little turned off by people having fun by playing harps and singing heavenly music.

Second stop on the tour – Hell – wasn’t anything like the broker imagined. While not as much entrepreneurial activity — the people spent time playing golf or going to the club pools for smoking and drinking. And, amazingly, even the Devil seemed like a pretty nice guy.

“You know,” said the broker to St. Peter, “this is a tough call. Let me sleep on it and get back to you in the morning.”

And so it was agreed.

Next morning he told St. Pete his choice was Hell.  Long elevator ride …

The doors of Hell opened and what the business broker saw was just what we hear in Sunday school. Fire and brimstone, people burning and screaming out in anguish.

“Wait,” cried the broker to the Devil, “this isn’t at ALL what you showed me yesterday!”

“Oh, that” replied the Devil, “I guess the seller didn’t remind you of how fast deals can change. You should have locked in when you had a good offer.”

Ta-da-Boom…

So, what are some of the ways that you can identify brokers you might want to steer clear of? How do you find people you will be comfortable dealing with something as financially and emotionally central to so many lives?

Social computing tools can help a lot. Different areas have forums where people share stories of their experience with different professionals. In Berkeley California, there’s a great local online space called Berkeley Parents Network. Yahoo Groups for neighborhoods can be places where you’ll get leads. Same thing for Google Groups.

More proactively? Start searching Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to locate possible candidates. If you’re comfortable with Twitter, today’s search on ‘Business Broker’ pops up over 50 tweets.

And, if you’re willing to deal with information overload, a search on “Blog, How to find broker recommendations” yields – well – put it this way … you’ll be skimming text for a long long time.

Next time – some specific search tips on tapping into what friends, colleagues and neighbors can teach you about their experiences with business brokers.

not as much a SIC group as a center of gravity

I help entrepreneurs buy and sell companies who’s focus is on new- and social-media.

That’s the short version.  Here’s the fuller story.

Web 2.0 *anything* has been the darling of the popular press for a couple of years now and while it’s frustratingly difficult to pin down, think of all the ways companies are using things like company blogs or wikis, home companies are taking more time (and investing in more infrastructure) to be more responsive to customer needs, and how, increasingly, ‘lightweight’ on-line tools are supplementing what used to be in-house (or on-desk) software packages  (things like the use of Google for market research, like the use of YouTube videos or screencasts for marketing, like the use of Facebook or Twitter to get brands and products in front of more people).

I’m the business broker interested in the companies that are giving everyone the tools and processes to change ways of doing business: all the companies that make these new tools, all the companies that repackage these tools and procedures into services for others to use, for the hardware and software infrastructure that makes these things work, and all the professional services that enable others to change the way they do business by way of all these new tools.

There are no clear boundaries of where these new tools start (or end), but there are areas of expertise that are strongest in the young companies that are making their mark in this world of “Enterprise 2.0”.  

And those are the areas where I help entrepreneurs.

 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, consider these two:

picture-1

and …

picture-2