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.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Your Social Network Profile May Get You Hired

Social networks are mined by HR and recruiting firms today as a primary recruitment source according to Jobvite, a U.S. company that monitors hiring by companies. In its June 2010 survey nearly 75% of organizations indicated that they were using social networks to find candidates and almost 60% reported successfully hiring someone they found through social networks.

What does this mean for sites like Workopolis and Monster? They are still a primary source for recruiting but new hires increasingly are coming from site searches in places like LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter.

What does this mean for anyone posting information to a personal profile, a discussion group, or fan page in Facebook or other popular public social networking sites? If employers are finding new hires through personal pages online, those pages need to present individuals in a professional manner.

When HR or recruiters come calling what will your social networking profile say about you? Here are 7 points to ponder.

  1. Are you professional?
  2. Can you be trusted to act responsibly?
  3. Does your profile reflect positively on you and therefore the organization that hires you?
  4. Are you sharing information or joining groups where what you say and contribute could reflect badly on you?
  5. Do you have pictures on your site that demean you?
  6. Are your Tweets and Wall postings fatuous or a positive reflection of your work ethic and values?
  7. Are you linked to friends and associates that positively reflect who you are and who you know?  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why Your Small Business Needs to Look at Social Media as a Marketing Strategy

If you still think that social media is not relevant to your small business, think again. Marketers are discovering that social media represents a significant avenue for getting to potential customers. This is particularly true if your company is in a technology field.

R2i, an Internet marketing company, reports in a recent survey that 61% of U.S. marketing professionals it interviewed used social media for lead generation. In that same survey 27% indicated that they used social media to monitor online conversations about what was being said regarding their products or services.

What makes social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace so attractive to marketers who are looking for quality leads? After all, these are social networks, not business networks. It is precisely the social aspect that makes these sites valuable. People reveal information about their interests, what they do for a living, what they read, their hobbies, personal stuff that can help marketers build strategies for creative approaches. Social media isn't a hard sell place. Marketers who recognize the nascent customer, the one who is not going to buy today but who can be reached over time, will be able to develop qualified prospects in employing the right social media strategies.

Those strategies employ cause and emotion more than price and promotion. So think about what you are marketing and who your customers are (a typical profile or a number of typical profiles) and do a little experimenting on a social network if you haven't already.

If you do your homework you will soon find many more reasons to deploy resources to social media to help you generate revenue. At worst you will find out what your competitors are or are not doing in the social media space.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Who do you think are the Top 10 Mobile Phone Networks in the World?

These numbers are the latest and represent the first quarter of 2010. When we think of wireless providers we tend to see North America as the primary market. But in fact the largest market by far is in Asia, followed by Europe and Latin America. Although India has great potential in terms of growth it significantly lags behind China in mobile customers.

RankCarrier# of SubscribersPrimary Areas ServedBrands
1.China Mobile Ltd.
China, Hong KongChina Mobile
2.Vodafone Group Plc
Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa, U.S.Vodafone, Vodacom, Verizon Wireless
Spain, Latin America, EuropeTelefonica, Movistar, O2
4.America Movil
Mexico, Central & Latin America, U.S.Telcel, Claro, Comcel, Tracfone
5.Telenor Group
Scandinavia & EuropeTelenor, Pannon, Kyivstar
6.China Unicom
ChinaChina Unicom
7.Deutsche Telekom
Germany, Europe, U.S.T-Mobile
Sweden, EuropeTeliaSonera
9.Bharti Airtel
India, Sri Lanka, BangladeshAirtel
10.France Telecom
France, EuropeOrange

When planning marketing strategies, even small companies have to pay attention to where market opportunities lie. Often they aren't in your own backyard as is the example shown here. Asia represents fertile ground for anyone in the mobile communications space.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Does Your Small Business Web Site Create Customers?

According to a recent Citibank survey of 552 small business executives, 37% reported that they did not use a web site to help them market their business. In that same study 84% indicated that they had not sold products or services using e-commerce and 62% did not use e-mail for marketing purposes. Of the 63% who did report that they had a web site, almost three-quarters found it to be an effective way to generate business.

No doubt you have experienced the fear, uncertainty and doubt, the FUD that comes along with making marketing investments in online activities. You are not alone. Many small business people feel compelled to create a web presence and then find themselves challenged by what next steps to take.

Creating that web site is a great first step in taking advantage of the omnipresence of the Internet as a means to communicate with prospects and existing customers. Driving them to your web site and turning it into an order taking mechanism to drive revenue requires considerable thought and then action.

"A website's ability to convert a visitor to a customer is a measurement of its effectiveness," states Joel Book, in the May 2010 issue of Electronic Retailer. Brooks talks about:

1. Driving Conversion Rates
2. Landing Page Optimization
3. Abandoned shopper re-engagement strategies
4. Creating repeat customers

In the next few blogs we are going to talk about all of these strategies in greater depth. I invite you to follow along, share your experiences by contributing to the conversation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Latest CMSWire Article Focuses on Using Private Social Networks as a Mechanism for Improving Collective Wisdom

Organizations spend money on buildings, office equipment, and people. When needed it's easy to change the first two. People, however, represent a bigger challenge.

Experts on organizational change like Dr. Lewis Frees of Harmony Inc. focus on the people investment that businesses make with a focus on triggering collective intelligence. Check out my latest CMSWire article on this topic and let me know what you think.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Email Remains the Killer App Despite the Rise of Social Networks and Text Messaging

I've been using email since the late 1980s. So it is ingrained in me. I don't think of it as new or challenging in any way. But lately I've noticed that I'm using the email systems inside public social networks to send messages to "friends" and "contacts" in these online environments. I'm posting comments on their profile pages. Do I see this as a replacement for most of my communication. No! Just another way to connect to people.

That's the same way I feel about texting or text messaging. I've been using short messaging on my mobile phone for 5 years. That doesn't make me an early adopter by any means. What started off as an opportunity to stay in touch with my family throughout the business day without telephone calls has graduated into me using Twitter to send short messages to many people including family.

Windows Live recently conducted a survey of its users (see graph to the left) and found that 71% preferred to stay in touch with friends and business through email rather than social networks.

In that same survey users, however, were almost equally divided when asked about their preferences - text messaging versus email. It seems that even millennials, the digital natives
generation, still find themselves preferring email to other forms of communication, particularly in business settings.

In recent studies of millennials reported by Accenture email is increasingly being challenged as the preferred medium for corporate communication. It seems within this generation of users the younger you are the less you see email as significant. The numbers are quite revealing with older millennials spending 9.5 hours per week writing or receiving work-related emails, working mid-millennials, 7.7 hours and younger millennials in high school and college, less than 2 hours. The preference of these youngest millennials is text, instant messaging and communicating through social networks. Regardless of what age millennials are, blogging is not part of their comfort zone. The Accenture survey reported less than 30 minutes a week was spent on blogging, far less than the time spent using search, texting or interacting on social networks.

So here I am blogging, a digital immigrant, explaining the trends that businesses must be aware of as they hire the next generation of workers or interact with the next generation of consumers. Hopefully, when these millennials are doing Internet search they will find my blogs.

Monday, March 29, 2010

An Eco Font Tip - This is not an April Fool's Prank - Century Gothic beats Arial Anytime

The default font for most computer users is Arial. As reported in The Register, Diane Blohowiak, Director of Computing and Information Technology, at University of Wisconsin in Green Bay, in an effort to go green has switched the college's default email font from Arial to Century Gothic.


Apart from my own preference for Century Gothic over Arial, it appears that it is not just font appearance that makes this an appealing choice. Blohowiak's research showed that when Century Gothic is sent to printers it uses 30% less ink than Arial. With printer ink costing $10,000 per gallon, Blohowiak sees substantial savings in the office supply budget in making this change.

I did a little more research and found another "eco" font solution at of all things Ecofont. Ecofont shoots holes into your print characters to reduce the amount of ink you use by as much as 25% according to their web site.

I'm a great believer in using QuickPrint features on my home ink jet printer because I know it saves ink which saves me money. But it certainly doesn't save paper and the trees that are needed to produce the paper.

Of course we could all dispense with printing paper entirely, the dream of the electronic office finally realized. But it seems that computers have not eliminated hard copy as of yet.

So if I switch to Century Gothic, use Ecofont and select QuickPrint does that mean I'll be using no ink at all? Stay tuned to this channel for more "eco" friendly business advice and have fun with your fonts.
"Go green."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Enterprise 2.0 Sales Teams Will Use Social Networks

I invite you to read my latest offering on CMSWire. The subject is the impact of social networking on sales organizations. Sales have undergone a technology revolution over the last two decades as CRM tools have taken hold. Today sales people do funnel management, with leads pouring in the top, and sales coming out the bottom. But social networking brings a whole new perspective to sales organizations, particularly social networking inside the firewall. Suddenly knowledge sharing, mentoring and succession strategies can be deployed to create overall improvements in the entire sales team's performance. Enjoy the article and tell me what you think.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How Can You Maximize the Message in Your Tweets?

I don't do a lot of tweeting but whenever I publish an article I go to Twitter and announce it with the URL. When the URL is a long string it can literally occupy the entire tweet.

There are a number of online application providers that have created ways to shorten a URL. One of them is Tiny.cc.

Here's an example of what using this application does for you:

I created a blog with the following link name:


In Twitter the URL pretty much would occupy the entire message.

With Tiny.cc, however, you can contract the size of the URL to a very tidy number of characters.


And you have room for a message as well.

Tiny.cc is not the only application provider offering this service. I found it using a Google search query "short URL names."

You can use Tiny.cc for wall postings in Facebook or for updating your LinkedIn status. It's a great way to maximize your marketing message while minimizing those long strings of gobbledygook that constitute URLs.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tear Down Knowledge Silos with Enterprise Social Networks

This is the title of my latest article to appear on CMSWire. Silo thinking is a challenge in any organization whether large or small. By creating a social network cross fertilization can begin in an organization to improve processes, to create new products, to build better bridges to suppliers and customers. Hope you enjoy the read.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Social Networking in the Enterprise: What’s the ROI?

This article just appeared on the CMSWire site. It describes the compelling forces that are making companies look at social media: work force retention and knowledge retention.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is Franchising Right for You in the Current Economy?

Two years ago I started a social network using Ning, the public social networking platform that allows you to build your own. I called it Franchise Formula. In the last few months I have started working with a franchisor and have found myself increasingly posting forum discussions on the site and have watched it grow in terms of members and visitors. I posted an article as a discussion piece that I wanted to share with readers of this blog because many small businesses are acquired franchises. The article appears here in part.
The toughest decision anyone can make is the leap into a new business, going to the unfamiliar from what is comfortable. Many of you seeking a franchise have been pushed. Your leap is not necessarily voluntary. You've been laid off, downsized, or terminated. It's happening everywhere these days. And it is to you that I throw open the doors of this discussion.

There are so many franchise choices out there from fast food to opulent sit down restaurants, from home-based businesses focused on a wide range of services, from retail to wholesale, from educational to pet services. The range of franchise offerings is immense. So what's the right fit for you?

Here are some very important points to consider.

1. Not everyone is cut out to operate a business on their own. Some of us want a pay check every 2 weeks and don't want to live with the risk factor of self reliance. You have to ask yourself honestly. Are you willing to take that kind of risk? If you have a family are they willing to share that risk with you? If the answer is no then you should be talking to HR folks and sending out resumes, not looking at franchises.

2. Not everyone who is prepared to risk going it alone is cut out to be a franchisee. Franchises work on the premise that those who become operators are prepared to follow a proven system, a business model that has been built for them. Often franchisors mention seeking those of you with entrepreneurial skills. The truth is entrepreneurship can get in the way of being a good franchisee because entrepreneurs tend to do things their way, not the franchisor's way.

3. The cost of acquiring a franchise from a franchisor is only a fraction of the money you need to have put aside to become successful in operating the franchise. Is there a hard and fast rule for the ratio of just how much money you need in your first year and subsequent years to succeed? It varies from franchise to franchise. The relationship between the cost of a franchise and the money required to operate it is significant when talking about storefront franchises such as restaurants and retail businesses. Think of an ice berg when looking at these types of opportunities. The cost of the franchise is the ice you can see above the water. Your other costs are all the ice you cannot see. That is less the case for home-based franchise businesses where your operational costs are to some degree covered by your existing home. You probably have a computer and Internet access. You probably have storage space. You probably have a car, truck or van. You don't have to build anything. For these types of franchises your first year operational costs may be equal to or a little more than half the cost of the franchise acquisition. So is the franchise you like one that fits with your economic circumstances? We cannot all buy McDonald's franchises because not all of us have the means.

4. If you have fallen in love with a concept that is not within your budget you need to investigate sources of funding. There is money out there despite these tough economic times. In the US the Federal Government SBA loans program is worth investigating at all times when considering sources of funds. This is a much better alternative than remortgaging your home, or maxing out lines of credit and credit cards. Canada has an equivalent program through the federal government and in both Canada and the US, local banks are the places to go when considering this option.

5. Finally you need to do a self assessment when looking at a franchise opportunity. Are you ready to take the time necessary to make the franchise you have selected successful? Every franchisee goes through the same stages when operating a franchise - the euphoria and excitement at the start, the fear when the initial effort doesn't lead to immediate rewards, the grind of daily operations, and finally the potential boredom that comes with having mastered the franchise model successfully to the point that the business no longer excites and you seek a way out. It's important that you look at any franchise purchase knowing that you will experience all of these stages. Is your personality capable of dealing with this? In your own mind are you the right stuff?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sharing an article I read that positions social media for business both present and near future

The article I speak of is entitled, Social Network Economy Leaving Business Behind: Resistance and Disbelief Still a Common Response. The author, Lorraine Mallinder, argues that social media is altering all the rules that business has accepted as "operating by the book" for the last 60 years. What do we mean by altering the rules? What were those rules?

Before social media arrived on the scene, companies would develop products or services in anticipation of a market, based on experience, market research, analysis of competition, and so on.

These companies would then find mass communication resources like newspapers, magazines, television, and radio and determine branding messages, campaign pitches, print ads, TV and radio spots, mail drops, fliers, sales literature, and price lists.

If the companies had websites they would try and feature their URLs in ads and throughout their campaigns they would invite prospective customers to learn more, call toll free numbers and maybe even get involved in a contest. Company sales forces would respond to leads generated from these campaigns and follow up to convert prospects to customers.

Enter social media and begin to see how the rules change. Here is just one example.

GroupOn is a company that creates instant demand and uses the viral marketing of social media to build sales. How do they do it?

1. A company approaches GroupOn to create a campaign around a product - it can be an event, a restaurant or bar. a retailer. GrouOn charges no upfront fees for its services. The one common denominator is the offer is at a great price representing significant value.

2. GroupOn targets a specific demographic and specific locale on behalf of the company and sends its offers via email. GroupOn email recipients are often repeat buyers of GroupOn offers.

3. Every GroupOn email recipient who who responds to the GroupOn offer is encouraged to invite friends to take advantage of the deal. GroupOn includes Facebook, Twitter, blog, RSS and email feeds to make it easy for the word to spread.

4. Because every GroupOn offer is goth time and numbers sensitive the incentive to connect among its recipients is very high.

5.When the threshold number is reached within the time deadline everybody in the instant buying group gets the product at the great price. Otherwise the deal goes away.

Think about how different this approach is to traditional marketing. The target audience is narrowly focused to a single city. The prospective customers are incented to invite others to participate. There is no outlay of money for advertising and promotion on the part of the seller. Instead GroupOn helps design the ad, provides editorial and copy assistance and provides the target audience database. GroupOn takes a share of the risk and gets a percentage of the revenue from each GroupOn campaign. With 97% of its clients providing repeat business it's hard to dismiss this approach to selling in the social media age. It just simply works.

What social media has done is create motivated consumers who are involved with your business when you embrace them through social media. GroupOn is just one example of how companies are taking social media connections seriously and yielding immediate ROI.

That's why I encourage you to take the first steps to make social media part of your marketing strategy in 2010.