About Me

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Len focuses on helping small and new businesses succeed through developing appropriate marketing and sales strategies. Len enjoys mentoring, relishes in getting both arms and feet wet in addressing technology, marketing and sales issues. He understands the drivers impacting business results for today and tomorrow including time-to-market, time-to-revenue, marketing, sales channels and social media.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why Each Generation from Young to Old Uses Social Networks

Whether old or young, social networks are predominantly used for socializing. In this timely article from EMarketer, the author of the study not only breaks down which generations use popular sites but also how they use these sites.

One thing for sure, business is not paramount on social network users' minds.

To learn more click on the link,
Internet, Business & Ecommerce Statistics: Email Marketing & Online Market Research.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Is Twitter Safe? - Go to Kiwi Commons to Read My Latest Posting

The latest Twitter hack teaches us lessons about password security. Please go to Kiwi Commons to learn more.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guest Submission: Social Networking's Place in Lead Generation

Jeremy Miller is a Partner with LEAPJob, a sales and marketing recruiting firm here in Toronto. His recent post is one I want to share with my readers.

Twitter is all the rage, but can you actually use it to drive sales? What about Facebook, LinkedIn or blogging? Social networking seems like the right place to build a lead generation program right now. These sites offer up huge audiences of engaged users, and make it relatively easy to setup targeted groups and encourage participation. It seems like a no brainer, but it's not. Many business-to-business lead gen campaigns based on social networking are failing.

Here's the secret, age matters. Your audience just might not be ready to be marketed to via social networking. They could simply be too old.

Take a moment and profile your customers. On a piece of paper identify the key decision makers you target in the sales cycle. This could be CEO, President, CFO or VP of HR. Beside each of the titles, write down their average age of the people in these positions. Next, profile the users of your products and services by writing down their titles and average age.

Depending on what you sell, I suspect you will see a gap. For example in the software industry the decision makers, the senior people inside organizations, tend to be 35 to 50. While the users, which could be administrative staff or mid-level managers, are typically 22 to 35. These groups are at least a generation apart, which has a direct impact on the types of technology they use in their day-to-day lives.

The Age Gap: Digital Immigrants versus Digital Natives

The plus 35 crowd, people born before 1974, are Digital Immigrants. They didn't grow up interacting with friends and family through the internet. Rather, they connected on the phone, in person or maybe by letter. If they wanted to plan a Friday night out, everyone called each other to coordinate plans.

As technology exploded in the late 90's and 2000's, the Digital Immigrants embraced the new tools. Email replaced the fax. Blackberries gave access to email and the internet anywhere, anytime. Google made it easy to find information in a matter of seconds. With each breakthrough, Digital Immigrants figured out how they could use the technology to make their lives more efficient.

The under 35 crowd, Digital Natives, have approached technology from a totally different perspective. Digital Immigrants may look at Facebook, Google and email like tools, but not Digital Natives. I asked my associate Fawzia, who is 26 and definitely a Digital Native, how she would describe her use of social media. She said, "It's a necessity. It's what you do. You might use the phone, but we text and social network. That's how we talk to each other. It's like breathing!" The Digital Natives can't imagine communicating without these tools. They are completely ingrained into their social connections, their community and how they learn.

When to use social networking for lead generation

The differing approach to technology between the Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives has a direct impact on your lead generation strategy. It is crucial to profile the demographics of your users and decision makers so that you know which media platforms to use in marketing.

When targeting the Digital Immigrants, social media is not the best approach for lead generation. Sure you may get a few leads from social networking, but not nearly as much as you could through traditional media. Digital Immigrants use technology as a tool to support their buying decisions. As a result, they use Google to find vendors, websites to evaluate companies and human interaction to make buying decisions. Social networking is not used in the buying decision, because it is not a tool for evaluating products or services.

As you understand the habits of the Digital Immigrants, you can tune your marketing programs to fit their needs. Some of the obvious programs are search engine optimization, because they use Google to discover their options. Public relations are effective, because they use newspapers and magazines as a primary source of information. Public events are also powerful, because Digital Immigrants truly value being able to see the white's of their vendor's eyes.

If your audience is Digital Natives, you have a lot more marketing options. In a business-to-business environment there are not many Digital Natives in the decision making roles, they tend to be users. Users are still important to the overall marketing strategy, because having access to them provides an influential group for up-selling and cross-selling.

For example Salesforce.com created IdeaExchange to engage the Digital Natives, and capture their input for product innovation. The IdeaExchange is an interactive, social networking site where users can post ideas and comments to help Salesforce.com get better. The platform builds on the habits of the Digital Natives, and offers incredible market intelligence for Salesforce.com to plan future versions and products.

Beyond product development, building an engaged user community offers tangible benefits for sales. The ongoing interactions the users have in the online community help to build a relationship with the company, and reinforce its brand. More importantly, the interactions keep the users in the know. They have a better understanding of the company, its products and its upcoming products and innovations. This knowledge helps them to advocate on behalf of the product inside the company, and even drive additional purchases. Essentially, the users start the sales process from the inside out.

Driving Leads Today

By profiling your customers, and understanding their technology habits, you can tune your marketing programs. Social media is definitely the way of the future, but it still may be too early for your customers. If you find your decision makers and users are Digital Immigrants, then focus your marketing on traditional media. Social networking may generate some traffic, but not as much as you could through public relations, search engine optimization and email marketing.

Social media is definitely the way of the future. The Digital Natives may not be sitting in the key decision making roles yet, but they will be in the next five years. As they move up the ladder they will pull their technology habits with them, and the use of social media in business decisions will become far more prevalent.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Check out the articles I am writing at Kiwi Commons

The latest one looks at what is happening with browsers. We now have many more choices.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just When You Have Finally Mastered Google Search, Along Comes New Search Tools to Wow You or Not: Part 2 of 2

If you are a Googler like I am, and that probably means almost all of you, then you have to try Microsoft's latest attempt to grab market share away from the preeminent search tool on the web. Microsoft Bing was launched just a few weeks ago and I have been playing with of late as have so many others.

I am a huge fan of so many of the applications that Google has created. So in approaching Bing I almost wanted to experience something negative, another chance to put Microsoft down. But I can't. From the moment you start using Bing you notice how clean the interface is (those mountains sure look appealing) and how many interesting features it provides.

Like Google, Bing lets you enter a word or phrase, group words together in quotes and use '+' signs and other mathematical symbols to co
nstruct your search query.

The search results pages are clean, uncluttered and look familiar to Google users but at the same time include some pretty neat features. One is the highlight feature. Drag a mouse over a search result and a box appears to the right with the first few
sentences and information from the referenced page.

n addition, your accumulated search history appears on the left-hand side of the page. You can click on any item in the list to see the results of these previous searches.

If you click to see all of your searches to date Bing opens a search history screen that gives you a time and date stamp view of the search queries you have made and the sites you visited during each search. This is pretty cool stuff.

The image search appears similar to Google with two notable exceptions. The anecdotal clutter that accompanies each image is not on display. Instead use your mouse to scroll over an image and the image enlarges along with more information about the image and a link to similar images.

The image search results are all contained on one scrollable page as opposed to Google image results which require you to go from page to page.

Check your video search results without having to preview the entire video. Playback video image segments in Bing just by placing your mouse pointer on the image. No extra clicks required. Another neat video feature allows you to display video results in standard or wide screen formats, sort search results by video length to eliminate undesired results, and even search by source and image resolution.

The map search results are clean and easy to understand because they emulate what Google has already perfected in its search engine.

Bing includes settings for safe search but lacks the sophistication of Google's advanced search capabilities. All in all, Bing is a very satisfying search engine. Only time will tell whether it has the legs to take on Google and make a dent in its search engine dominance.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Check out my postings on Kiwi Commons

If reading my thoughts on this site aren't enough, you can also check out other articles I write. The latest can be found on Kiwi Commons.

In this article I write about the importance that President Obama places in the Internet as a communication medium and his appointment of a cyber czar to oversee policy related to securing and enhancing the web.

Look for more postings on Kiwi Commons in coming weeks.