Tag Archives: Business

London to NYC Real-Time, Jules Verne Style

There’s a certain charm to Jules Verne. Maybe it’s the innocence of the era, the belief in a better world–notwithstanding his bleak view of the future in The Time Machine–or it could be that he was so right about our future technologies. Either way, today New York City and London are involved in a trans-Atlantic experiment that has a Jules Verne twist almost 200 years after his birth!

This BBC article spells it all out and adds video that gives a much better feel to the story.

What I find interesting is that today we can easily reach in our pocket, pull out a mobile phone and simply call someone in London. So why are so many people in two of the more sophisticated cities in the world enamored with this idea? Is it the steampunk physicality (check this site for more steampunk) or is it a basic human reflex of communicating?

Most of us spend a large portion of our day communicating. We talk, type, text and sign. We are drawn to the unique. As business people we look for new ways to get our message across, to excite and entice our audience to engage in conversation and purchase from us instead of the guy down the street (or from around the world in today’s Internet age).

Obviously, there is a human-interest draw in this art installation. There is the happenstance of connecting and meeting with people one does not know personally. The novelty of the installation removes the fear of strangers and helps people interact. My father would say “it’s just damn fun, stop thinking about it,” but we can all see how the idea of a novel way to communicate has removed the barriers between people.

With a little work, we can apply this same process to our business communications. Start a newsletter, follow and respond to customers on Twitter (build a customer group on Twitter), update our web sites more frequently with new information, there’s dozens of actions we can take to be more interesting and exciting, and to draw more customers. By doing something new and unexpected, people will follow, and business will follow the people.

What new twists on existing communications technology have you put in place or just think might be interesting?


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Filed under Business, Business Technology

Building Your Customer List

McCormick & Schmick’s is a nice restaurant, really an upscale fish house, that started in the Northwest and now has tentacles reaching across the U.S., now with probably two-thirds of it’s restaurants east of the Mississippi River. One of the oldest McCormick_and_Schmick_logorestaurants in the chain has occupied it’s current location since 1892, but this business understands how to treat it’s customers and has made the leap into their third century of business.

I placed a dinner reservation there just this morning. The hostess took the usual information and then asked if I wanted an email confirmation sent to me. Now, email confirmations are not unheard of, but this one happening in my own neighborhood restaurant triggered my senses: McCormick’s has shifted their thinking to include drawing their customers into an online relationship.

Customer relations are fickle and a business needs to keep up with the trends and customer preferences. McCormick’s also recognizes that cooking and serving food is not their real business, their real business is being a place of entertainment for their customers, the food is one part of the entertainment customers expect when they come to a restaurant.

How does this idea inform your business? And what is your real business, the parallel to McCormick’s actually being in the entertainment business?

Addendum: Of course, I said “yes,” and I’ll give a report back on what McCormick’s actually does, now that they have my email address. 

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Filed under Business, Social Media

Case Studies: Does this sound familiar?

You just completed a great project for your number one customer. You are proud, the customer said the project went extremely well and that they are already getting results above their expectations.

You ask the customer for a testimonial or maybe a full-fledged case study….and….the communication….goes silent….

Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Many companies are loathe to let anyone know what they are doing; and other companies just don’t want to be bothered; and still others are cautious about having a simple case study seem to legally link them to you, as if a case study was a performance guarantee they were signing.

One way to avoid the uncomfortable dance, or have the lawyers simply shut the discussion down, is to start the discussion during the project start-up. People are always more agreeable when you have something they want. One agency I worked at years ago actually had case study rights written into the contract on the back of each of their estimates, which were required to be signed prior to starting a project. Even signing the estimate did not work every time in gaining a case study.

But maybe the question should be about the value of case studies. Case studies are essential in some business circles, such as military and high tech sales, and with the media. If you are looking for investors, case studies demonstrate how effectively your business handles its business and what your customers say about you. Case studies are the proof of your talk, without case studies your talk is just that, talk.

Jeremiah Owyang recently discussed how to present case studies to analysts and he makes a case for five top line items:

  1. Define the objective
  2. Tell what you actually did
  3. Define how you overcame challenges
  4. Costs
  5. Measurable results

I am not going to repeat everything he said, slide over to Jeremiah’s site to read his take and join in the conversation.

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Does the world need another blog? Does it need a blog on Small Business?

Those are good questions. Another blog won’t make the world a happier place, but it might help one or two business folks discover a way to make their business more profitable or effective. So I am blogging and I hope one or two of you reading will find the subjects interesting.

Let me know what you think.

In fact, let me know what you do and don’t find interesting. Leave a comment, take a note, scream and rant and praise. Do what you think is right. Just make sure you act responsibly, I don’t want to have to remove people.

Why “Dance Among Elephants”?

Because that’s what small business does all day. Small business is a dangerous world and there’s always another elephant around the corner. Some competitor is always bigger, stronger, smarter, with more resources and capability–well, maybe not smarter, you are reading this, after all.

All that adds up to our working more effectively; looking at things differently; finding the sweet spot; enhancing the benefits; romancing our customers; and becoming the best choice for our business type.
So let’s take this journey together. I’ll write, you write back. You can even write first by sending me an email. We’ll have a conversation and make more business.

Along the way, I’ll hook you up with more friends; people I find interesting, people who are much more interesting than I. You’ll find many of them in the blog roll, I encourage you to check them out and consider what they have to say.

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Filed under Business