Collaboration - Duct Tape Marketing

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Networking and Business Building at the Annual Summit

For the past few months, we’ve been planning our Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network’s Annual Summit. Now, I love event planning so this was a fun project, but I don’t think I realized the impact and importance of this event until last week when we had around 60 people on a bus driving through the Continental Divide.

Our talented marketing consultants, people who own and run their own businesses and rarely take time off, were all ready and willing to spend a week on a ranch with the Duct Tape team to learn more about marketing and strategy and grow their businesses.

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Photo by DTM consultant, Cheryl Larson

The Annual Summit was held at the C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colorado. Holding the summit at an all-inclusive location like this was new to us this year, and many were hesitant that having so many activities to choose from (besides attending meetings) would take away from the learning part of the summit that so many of them looked forward to every year.

To ensure the focus stayed on business development, throughout the week, consultants were asked to lead breakout sessions to cover topics that the group had shown interest in. They covered everything from creating a business plan, gaining and converting leads, maximizing WordPress websites, and strategizing content creation. Other consultants lead case study presentations and an active conversation about systemizing your business.

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Photo by DTM consultant, Cheryl Larson

While we stuffed ourselves with delicious meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and filled our brains with tons of marketing and business knowledge, it was hard to ignore the beautiful place we were in. During free time each morning and afternoon, consultants took trail rides, hiked through the mountains, enjoyed the spa and even learned to shoot trap and bow and arrows!

Our theme for this year’s Annual Summit was “Climb Together,” and after spending a week with these talented business owners, I was told that the main bonus of having everyone on a ranch and spending so much time together was that they really felt comfortable getting to know each other on a personal level. As entrepreneurs, it can be hard to find those people you trust to collaborate with, and getting to know the Network members personally has helped each consultant make connections they will feel confident “Climbing Together” with this upcoming year.

Connections were made, resources were shared and a good time was had by all! Because our group is all over the world, these events we hold throughout the year are pivotal to our success as a network and team!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a huge success, and if you’re ready to take your consulting business to the next level and interested in being a part of this collaborative and talented team, sign up to join John on our next Discovery Call. 

IMG_2750Kala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels and tweeting about marketing, coffee, and cats @tadasunshine.

(Here are some more pictures in case you are like me and just can’t get enough!)

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Watching the horse ride out to pasture at the end of a productive day, photo by Sara Jantsch

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A breathtaking (literally) view at 8,000 feet above sea level

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Starting the day off right with a trail ride, photo by Sara Jantsch

 

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The Network gathers around for some live music, a campfire and s’mores, photo by Sara Jantsch

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DTM consultant Justin Sturges presenting to the group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building Relationships with your Leads

You’ve invested time and energy in social media, content marketing, you’ve created a call to action that’s been generating leads, and your email list of contacts is growing. Now how do you generate sales from your current leads and expand your reach to attract new leads?

Let’s take a look at two effective techniques –influencer marketing and customer emails – and how they can help you build relationships with your leads.

Influencer marketing

Using key influencers to promote your brand to a wider market, should be an important part of your overall marketing strategy. Today’s key influencers are often bloggers, and building relationships with bloggers, within your niche, can be more valuable than money spent on traditional advertising channels. According to a recent survey, 81% of consumers say they trust advice from their favourite bloggers while only 33% trust ads.

Word-of-mouth marketing is very relevant and when word gets spread by industry influencers, there’s more potential for capturing the attention of new users and increasing your reputation.

Build a strategy around influencers

Most brands today understand the importance of content marketing, and 77% of marketers use blogging to increase brand influence. Once you’ve invested time and effort into your own blog, how do you spread your reach by connecting with other bloggers?

Software such as GroupHigh can help you identify focus areas for your target audience and find bloggers and social media influencers who will be relevant to your message. Once you’ve identified them, determine how to collaborate to the best effect. Building a successful campaign involves:

  • Identifying your goals and understanding what you want to accomplish can help you decide on whom you want to work with and what approach you’ll take.
  • Get creative. Everyone likes a good product review, but more than their attention, you want to get them involved. Sponsor giveaways for ‘best comments’ or solicit user-generated content and feature the ‘best of’ on your site.
  • Provide high-quality images and suggest creative visuals that bloggers can use for their Instagram stream.
  • Create share-worthy messages. Target a devoted niche and focus on content quality rather than traffic analytics.
  • Research your competitors. Take the time to really analyse their successes.  What does a successful campaign look like?  Don’t be afraid to borrow ideas from outside of your industry either.

Realistic Expectations

It’s important to understand that blogging is a business too. Cooperation from bloggers isn’t always free, especially the high-level influencers. When you weigh the benefits, though, blogger influence often justifies the costs. Spending on influencer marketing might be an eventuality- as part of your overall social media marketing costs.

Connect with local bloggers (i.e. newspaper sites and community leaders.) This is valuable publicity, for free! Request backlinks to your site to drive traffic and boost SEO ratings. If you don’t earn a link, that’s OK, you still gained recognition and a boost to your reputation.

Craft Smart Correspondence

The other tactic for building relationships is connecting with customers through email marketing. Email lets you communicate your brand message in personalized format while providing leads the opportunity to click through and purchase.

Segment your email list. If you’re tracking analytics, you already know where you leads are coming from. Did they sign up through your latest Facebook ad, download your eBook, or were they referred by an existing customer? You can tailor your emails based on the specific marketing approach each customer responded to.

Other ways to segment include demographics and survey responses. The list goes on, depending on the product or service that you are selling. The point is that by breaking down your large list into smaller segments, you can send out targeted correspondence which translates to a higher likelihood of generating a response.

Personalize each email. Include details about past purchases and target items to customer interests based on those purchases. The more you demonstrate an understanding of your customers, the more likely they are to return and become loyal buyers.

Building relationships with your leads is the key to conversion. Building trust with influencers and maintaining communication through email marketing are effective methods of establishing these important relationships. And these are the relationships that create results!  

courtney.capellan.headshotCourtney Capellan is a Digital Analyst for hotelmarketingWorks. When she’s not writing about marketing trends she enjoys writing fiction, practicing yoga and treasure hunting. Follow her on Twitter @courtcapellan

1 How Working Collectively Can Create a Better Customer Experience

Today’s Guest Post is by Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, Jamie Patterson-Kaulmann – Enjoy! 

via PhotoPin

via PhotoPin

The concept of the Marketing Hourglass is ubiquitous in the marketing world. An improvement on the traditional marketing funnel, it expands the traditional funnel by adding a back half to the equation and putting the focus of marketing on the total customer experience. In the same way that John has introduced the Marketing Hourglass as a systematic way to improve your customers’ experiences, he has also advocated for focus on strategic partnerships as a way to add additional value to your customer.

Today I’d like to talk to you about the power of collectives and how not only projectizing your organization around collective knowledge and your strategic partnerships, but how actually forming strategic networks can add exponential value for everyone involved. There are several ways you can leverage the power of your network to provide increased value to your customers by working with partners to increase their knowledge, provide them additional services and create projects around their needs.

Leverage collective knowledge

One place to start is by looking within your network or extended network for anyone who could augment your expertise. Look for people with whom your combined expertise could add value across functions and disciplines in areas where you might not personally be an expert. An example of this would be a former executive at a company I once worked. Bob Stangarone recently formed an agency Stangarone and Associates, a powerhouse of Aviation Industry experts who collectively provide value across all disciplines and knowledge areas of the industry.

The Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network is another prime example of a network of independent companies working together to provide collective value to the market. We frequently work together and share experience to provide added value to our customers. The beauty of this type of network is that any customer who engages with one network consultant gains access to the collective knowledge of 80+ other marketing consultants in the network.

Form a collective network

Work on becoming a super connector. By looking at your network differently and placing a priority on finding opportunities to bring people together who can add value to each other and who might not have had the opportunity to work together otherwise, you become even more valuable to your entire network. This is especially true when the parties you bring together might have seen each other as competition previously, and you help them see how they can actually add more value to the market together than was possible independently. If you need some inspiration, look to the following examples as guides.

Collective entrepreneurship is epitomized in female entrepreneur Lisa Chuma, who created the Women’s Expo shortly after immigrating to Switzerland. Her Expo allows women business owners to present their products and services to the Swiss population, but her guidance and leadership has created an environment where many of the women now work together to provide enhanced packages and services. This not only has the added value of providing better products and services to the market, it has increased the respective customer bases of everyone in this network.

Unity Mark, a fellow Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, is another example. Their UnityMark project is a social directory platform that allows non-profits and cause-based projects to develop powerful online profiles so that the real story behind their cause can be heard, found and shared. It is a place where businesses, consumers, and causes can connect, communicate and support each other.

And lastly, www.addictlab.com is a platform in existence for almost two decades which encourages sponsors, members, and clients to come together from anywhere in the world to collaborate on innovation co-creation projects. They have recently launched www.yourownlab.com, a platform where you can create your own innovation lab for creative collaboration.

When looking to build a collective network, think of yourselves as a neural network. In a neural network, not all neurons are firing all the time; they only fire when they are needed for delivery of the task at hand. By forming such a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive network and bringing together your respective communities into a larger community, you provide more people with the power to collaborate, increase ideas and provide a value far greater than what would have been achieved independently.

Patterson-Kaulmann Jamie 2 (1)Jamie Patterson-Kaulmann is the founder of Alight Business Solutions GbmH, dedicated to helping mission-driven small businesses implement systematic, workable agile and marketing solutions. Jamie is a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and a PMI certified PMP. A displaced Kansan, she currently resides in Switzerland with her husband and daughter. For more articles like this, visit the Alight Business Solutions blog or connect via LinkedIn.

3 How to Use Your Expert Knowledge to Build Authority Online

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Daniel Glickman – Enjoy! 

photo credit: 123rf

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. – John Donne

The internet is a living continent that depends on community contribution to thrive. Without input from participating members, the internet would cease to be relevant. However, the biggest strength of the internet is also its biggest weakness: with almost three billion users, the internet is an enormous global stage, and as participants, we are all competing for a bit of spotlight. However, in our fight to get a moment of glory, too many generate content that is useless and irrelevant. So how do you create important content? Use your expert knowledge to benefit the online community.

First, realize that the online community doesn’t care about you.

Like any other consumers, online audiences are seeking to consume relevant, valuable knowledge. Luckily, you have the power to give them exactly what they want. But first, you need to stop contributing only to benefit yourself. Creating content simply for your own marketing benefits will never get you the same results as contributing genuinely for the benefit of the community.

Ask not what the online community can do for you, but what you can do for the online community.

If you are consistently putting the audience’s needs above your own, you will benefit. The key to being a valuable participant is knowing what you have to offer, why it sets you apart, and how to get it out properly. The most important input you can give to the existing online community is expert knowledge that only you have by contributing content that is unique to your specialty to genuinely help others.

Give fresh perspectives.

A core necessity of any content is that it is valuable and high-quality. However, even the best content can easily be overlooked. A constant challenge is creating fresh and interesting content that offers value to visitors. It’s easy for a great post or infographic to become buried under other online content, so how do you catch the attention of an ever-distracted online audience? Know how the element of surprise can attract attention. A moving graphic, interesting color scheme, or dash of humor in a forum post are all real ways to keep audiences on their toes and interested in what you have to say.

Choose appropriate methods for delivering knowledge.

There are as many topics to contribute about as there are ways to get your insights out there. Informative online presentations, guest blogging, webinars, and active participation in online forums are just a few of the many ways to help the community at large and, if done correctly, can drive long-lasting community engagement. Identify why each method would benefit you, and ask yourself if it’s relevant to your niche. The owner of a medical technology company is probably better suited to contribute knowledge to forums than webinars, but either method works if the owner understands his strengths. A great writer but bad public speaker is probably not suited for a live presentation and should choose an online slideshow with great taglines instead. Know how to play up your strengths and invest in the appropriate methods to benefit the most.

Strive to start conversation.

Putting out content that doesn’t generate audience feedback is like delivering a presentation with zero engagement. Before any post or comment, ask yourself if you are just adding your two-cents or actually participating and driving a conversation. One of the best ways to see this in action is by rephrasing your comments as questions. See how much more participation you get from asking your audience their opinion?

There you have it – to be an authority on your niche, deliver genuine content for the purpose of contributing, not benefitting. The most engaging content – that great TED talk, memorable article, or viral website – was created because of a passion of to share, not benefit. If you can do this successfully, you will not only establish yourself as an authority in your field, but will also draw an engaged audience to you naturally.

08c4341Daniel Glickman is the CMO of emaze. He loves analyzing marketing data and building strategic and tactical plans.

 

1 Teaching The Old Dog of Email Some Very Cool New Tricks

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Pat Sullivan – Enjoy!

Teaching The Old Dog of Email Some Very Cool New Tricks

photo credit: Micky.! via photopin cc

We live in email. It’s why I call it “the killer app.” Over 900 billion business people around the world spend a HUGE chunk of every day in email. Which would be fine except for the fact that email hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years. The Rip Van Winkle of technology, email appears to have been sleeping while everything else around it moved on. Our phones are smarter, our TVs bigger and flatter and our cars are far more fuel-efficient (and that’s if they’re even running on fuel at all). Laptops, notebooks, WiFi–it appears that nearly EVERYTHING has gotten better over the past two decades, while email has remained virtually unchanged.

So you might be surprised to find that my answer to the question, “What’s wrong with email?” is, well, “Nothing.”

You see, the problem isn’t email, the problem is all the things we’re trying to make email do things it isn’t good at. We’re either using a plethora of other applications to try to make up for the deficiencies of email, or we’re trying to force our email to do things it was never designed for: team collaboration, task management, and file-sharing. It’s like using a hammer to carve a turkey. Good tool. Wrong job.

Think about it, how many times have you marked an email “unread” just so you’d remember to do something about it? And how often does an attempt at one-to-many communication turn into what I call “Reply-All Hell”? The fact is, the average worker spends up to 60 percent of every workday in email, searching for information or collaborating with co-workers. And 60 percent of our time in email is spent with co-workers. For more on the staggering cost of business email, go here.

Email Less. Collaborate More.

Now, all of our time spent in email obviously isn’t wasted, but a lot of it is. A report by the McKinsey Global Institute says there’s “an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers—high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals—by 20 to 25 percent.” The same report examines how much time we spend in emails and concludes that more than half of the “potential value lies in improving collaboration and communication within and across enterprises.”

I couldn’t agree more.

What we need is email that is built for the way we work today, and when it comes to how we work today, collaboration is the key. Think about it, what if you could shift just 10 or 15 percent of the time (and money) spent in email, to collaborating with co-workers, customers and vendors on the things that move your business forward?

Rather than being bogged down in an endless inbox and “reply-all hell,” what if we could spend more time in collaborative workspaces where we can have real-time, on-going conversations with co-workers, customers and vendors. What if you could reduce your inbox by 60 percent, eliminate almost all internal email correspondence and completely eliminated reply-all responses? What if you could open your email every day and see only what you need to, when we need to, and have meaningful conversations with whom you need to?

A Platform For Success

If collaborative email is the goal, the key to success lies in creating, as Robert Abbott wrote in The Big Email Opportunity, “a more automated, integrated and streamlined platform.” That’s because the answer to the challenges posed by traditional email will neither be found by trying to use spit, duct tape or glue to make current email platforms do what they were never built for. Nor will you find it by diving into a seemingly endless sea of single-point solutions. Rather, the success of email designed for how we work today, depends on the adoption of a new paradigm that brings all the social and collaborative tools together in a single faster, more efficient and more effective email platform.

Like I said, traditional email is fine for one-to-one communication, and for letting my mother send her grandchildren the latest pictures of her cats, but if we’re going to continue living in our email–and we are–let’s make it someplace we actually want to live.

Pat SullivanPat Sullivan, Co-Founder and CEO, Contatta – Heralded as one of the “80 Most Influential People in Sales and Marketing History”, among Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Jack Welch and Bill Gates by Sales and Marketing Management, Pat Sullivan was also twice named Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” for both ACT! and SalesLogix.  Before he was the Godfather of CRM, Pat Sullivan was a salesman. That may explain why after he became Co-Founder and CEO of ACT!, over 6 million salespeople paid for it out of their own pockets.  Following ACT!’s purchase by Symantec, he founded SalesLogix in 1995 and led its revenue growth to $108 million, successful IPO and repurchase of ACT!.  Pat has served as a board member for multiple tech companies, and is currently working on revolutionizing the way business makes contact with the launch of Contatta.

 

1 How to Practically Guarantee Every New Offering Is a Winner

You sweat and toil and create new products and services that you just know that market is dying to get their hands on.

You put it out, a few sales trickle in and then, nothing. You tweak the sales page, lower the price, kick the cat and still, nothing.

community build

photo credit: Steve Rhodes via photopin cc

Creating new product and service offerings, even those that the market should need and want, is always a bit of a guessing game. Even when you employ some market research you can’t be sure how a prospect or customer will embrace something until it’s live and in the wild.

There is a model for product and service development that can help you forgo the pain and agony of the total flop and even turn what starts as an okay idea into a sure winner.

The best way to guarantee that your new offerings succeed is to develop them with your customers instead of simply for your customers.

Instead of creating something and then turning to the market to see if they like it, you tap your community to help you build it the way they want it and the way they will buy it.

Here’s how the Community Build process works.

Let’s say you want to create a new online training course.

  • You create the seed of an idea with little more than an outline and you take it to a handful of customers and ask them what they think.
  • You take their input and develop a full-blown course layout and a first draft of the positioning for selling the program.
  • Then you take what you’ve developed and have a larger group from your community comment on exactly what they would hope to learn and how they would get the best results from a program like this.
  • From that research you develop the main workings of the program and allow some small controlled group of community members to enlist as alpha testers. (It’s free, but they have to agree to help make it better.)
  • You measure and gauge all manner of things from the alpha testers including UI, logic, flow, content, value, results and overall benefits derived from the program in order to more fully develop a platform for beta testers. (Again, it’s free but they agree to help with more input and typo alerts.)
  • The collective collaboration effort should help you create a program that makes sense, delivers value and is packaged the way your market wants it. Of course it’s just as likely that along the way you’ll discover there is no market for what you’re trying to create, but that’s an equally awesome finding if you think about it.

Now of course you’ve still got to market the thing, but all this community involvement will quite likely also help you turn up lots of comments, suggestions and feedback that will inform and create a very strong value proposition as well.

One of the best examples of taking this thinking to an extreme is t-shirt printer Threadless. Their Community Build model is the entire business. Community members submit t-shirt designs, community members vote on the designs for the week and then Threadless produces what is ultimately already a guaranteed winner and sells it to their community of over 2 million members.

A large number of their employees come from their community and continue to participate in the community build process even as they pack and ship product in the warehouse, allowing the community participation process to come full circle.

Yes this process takes more time, but ultimately it will ensure that you’re not trying to build things the market doesn’t want and your good offerings will turn into great offerings with real community input.

Some of what I’ve describe here is just basic common sense and good customer focused development, but it’s amazing how few organizations, big and small, use this powerful development process.

9 5 Collaboration Tools Demonstrate How the Future Web Will Act

TalkWheelThe ability to collaborate with individuals and groups around the world is one of the greatest gifts offered by the new breed of online tool. These tools, and perhaps the web in general, are evolving to become more interactive and feature rich.

With the eventual adoption of HTML5 and its heavy support for AJAX, web pages are quickly becoming web applications in a foreshadowing of the next standard for web sites. Take note of these new tools as they will usher in the expectation that all sites begin to function instead of merely house information.

Below are 5 new breed collaboration tools making heavy use of HMTL5.

Groupzap – This one wins the coolness award in my book, but offers a really powerful set of tools for instant collaboration and brainstorming meetings and white boards on the fly. Marry it with Skype and you have a no cost tool that is hard to beat. You can drag files into the space, document with notes and save the entire session as a PDF. Nobody has to register you just send out a link via IM or email.

Microsoft Office Web Apps – (okay, this one probably doesn’t use HTML5 as IE doesn’t add support for it until IE9, but it still fits the new breed label) – Using the Office Web Apps and SkyDrive you can open a document with a group of people and  co-author and edit in real time with the entire group participating, making changes and viewing the changes live.

Google + Hangouts – One of the most talked about features of the much talked about Google + is Hangouts – a video chat function that allows you to invite or simply host an on the fly group video meeting. (There is now a Facebook plug in that mirrors this and you can add a Group Meeting plug in to your own WordPress blog)

TalkWheel – TalkWheel is an instant messaging platform that works more like a roundtable discussion than the linier stack of the typical IM. It actually create a visual representation of the conversations and filters and relates topics. Looks like a very cool way to keep track of conversations from around the web and I can see lots of focus group and brainstorming uses with its visual presentation.

Vokle – I’m probably stretching how some might view collaboration with this one, but I just love what you can do with Vokle. Vokle is actually a live streaming video platform, but it makes it very easy to have two people present or invite virtual guests to create a talk show kind of feel. You can also share a computer screen as the guest to flip back and forth from live presenter to slides or images. The entire stream can be recorded for future playback as well.

11 Your Next Hire

It’s become pretty standard business advice these days to suggest you need to “hire for fit” rather than experience or job skills.

Hire for fit

Torley via Flickr

Most interpret fit to imply fit with the culture of the organization. While I agree that your recruitment should aim to attract people that share your mission, vision and values, it’s also essential to consider how they might fit in the new reality of business.

There is a specific skill set required these days in order to be successful in the world of marketing and business owners need to start finding ways to uncover these skills in the people they recruit.

Most of these skills aren’t taught directly and come more naturally to some than others, but an employee that lacks them, or worse, questions them, is going to contribute significantly less to your organization in the coming years.

While I can define the new skills, you still have to find the ways to unearth them and bring them out in your culture and your employees.

The good news is that these are the same qualities it takes for any business to compete and if you can make these qualities the central theme of your hiring, they will carry over into the central theme of your business in general.

Collaboration bias – Today’s business teams are as fluid as ever. They move from project to project, plug and play with virtual members and draw from around the globe. Work today is basically collaboration on all fronts. If any past experience matters it’s experience that demonstrates ease with contribution and collaboration. Some people thrive on this way of work, some people don’t.

Design character – Creative people just see the world a little differently than most and, when balanced with stated business objectives, this can be a powerful tool. Look for people that demonstrate a feel for design, even though that may not be the primary or even secondary function. Creativity in design easily blends over into creativity in ideas, problem solving and collaboration.

Social knack – Recent college grads take note, social business is not Facebook. Social knack isn’t a tech platform at all. It is a skill that engages your ability to have a great conversation, to know how to find what makes people tick, to present ideas to a group and to innately look for ways to help others get what they want. If your staff possesses these qualities naturally, they can make whatever the tool of the week is pay.

Tech curious – Technology is an incredible game leveling tool in the hands of smart business owners. Blending high tech capabilities with high touch customer experience is the killer play in todays plugged in world. Employees that are curious about new technology and gadgets as a means to creates a better, deeper and richer customer experience are a must. Hire self-proclaimed nerds and let them fuse the technology with proven processes.

Bundle vision – This is quite likely the hardest quality to identify, (certainly in a 30 minute interview) but it may be one of the most important. Business, technology, tools and trends evolve so quickly these days that every business owner and every staff member needs the ability to appreciate how seemingly disparate parts might come together to make something remarkable. This is perhaps the combination of all of the traits described above and when you find this trait and hone it, it will become one of the most valuable assets your business develops.

13 How and Why I Use Dropbox

I’ve been covering a number of tools I depend on in this “how and why” format and people seem to be enjoying this so I’ll do it as a regular feature for a bit.

File storage with Dropbox

Image: redjar via Flickr

Today’s subject is the tool Dropbox. Dropbox is not a new kid on the block and lots of folks speak lovingly about this online file storage service. There’s a free version that may be robust and large enough for most, but I’ve chosen the full meal deal because I use Dropbox so completely.

There are other tools that can do all of what I’m going to describe, but from a file handling standpoint, ease of use, and set-up the way I work, Dropbox is killer.

Here’s why

  • I have a small staff and Dropbox is our internal server. We store everything and exchange and collaborate on files just like you would in any server environment. The main difference, of course, is that our Dropbox server is in the cloud and we can easily access all files (even those being worked on by folks back at the ranch) when I travel or someone works from home. (If you elect to Kick Out a team member they will no longer have access to the folders and the files will be permanently deleted from their hard drives.)
  • Dropbox uses a technology that only needs to upload changes so you can make tiny edit to a huge file and it syncs in seconds.
  • I have business partners in other countries and I can share and collaborate on specific files and folders and know that we are all working from and using the right document.
  • I speak to groups in seminars and workshops almost weekly at times and Dropbox allows me to work on a PPT presentation save it and then share a public branded link with groups that need to approve my presentations or as a way for me to share my slides without have to transfer or upload anything – I just save the file as I work and then share the public link on my last slide (I wrote about setting up my own branded link shortener here and I love to create custom links to my presentations like ducttape.me/sxsw for example)
  • All of our files are automatically backed up and synced in multiple places at all times.
  • I have iPhone and iPad Dropbox apps that allow me access all files on these devices as well. I’ve made more than one presentation on my iPad and I love the remarkable intimacy of that tool.

How I use it

As I said in the beginning of this post, there are free and low cost options that most people can use and get tremendous value. Because I depend on this tool so much I’ve opted for the Team Version and we pay an annual fee that may seem pretty steep, but the no hassle factor is worth it.

With Team we get to share the giant storage quota, Rewind to any version of a file, and encrypted transfer and storage.

  • We create and organize folders just like you would on any server for all of our most important work categories and then everyone works from those folders and saves the work directly to them. The feature that makes this work so well is that the Dropbox app loads on all of our staff’s hard drives and then all files show up on their computer just like they would on a hard drive. There’s no need to go to the web, the files are just there.
  • We also create personal folders for each team member to act like their MyDocuments folder for work in progress.
  • I backup all my websites and blog databases routinely to Dropbox.
  • I store a portable version of Firefox on Dropbox so that if I get stuck and need to use a loner computer I have all my extensions and bookmarks
  • I back up my entire music library to Dropbox and can access it from any computer

So, have you found any other great uses for Dropbox that I may not have considered?

167 Why Social Media Doesn't Matter Anymore

Talk to the handThe hype over social media still echos, but it just doesn’t really matter anymore. Recent surveys suggest that small businesses are still slow to adopt social media and it also doesn’t matter anymore. Social media agencies, departments, and experts don’t matter anymore.

The idea behind the hype, measurement and rush to claim guru status revolved around the tools and the platforms, all of which were new, none of which really were the point.

The reason social media doesn’t matter is because, upon further review, it doesn’t exist beyond a label. While all the categorizing, classifying and departmentalizing was going on, that which was called social media simply settled into the center of marketing and business strategy and behavior. Everything that we called social media is irrelevant and mislabed – there’s a new way of doing business and marketing for sure, but it’s a behavior and focus on customer involvement that’s become a new norm – and that’s all there is to it.

We don’t need social media tools, social media plans, social media agencies, or social media departments, we need marketing strategies and tactics that are informed by a terribly heightened customer expectation. I’m not the first marketer to suggest this for sure, the idea of engagement has always been a part of the social media thread, but we aren’t moving fast enough to stamp out this idea that social media is somehow still a new and meaningful concept – now that we understand what actually happened it’s time to drop the term, concept, and confusion and focus on what really matters.

Prospect engagement matters

If we’ve learned one thing over the last year or two, it’s that prospects are drawn to the ability to interact with the companies, brands, and messages that they choose to absorb. Marketing and sales must include this desired behavior in order to even get an invitation into the prospect’s decision making world.

Customer experience matters

Traditional lead generation is dead, we’ve all accepted this by now, but what’s replaced it? If being found by prospects is the new form of lead generation awareness, then trust is the new form of lead conversion. Trust happens rapidly when customers have an experience worth talking about. A remarkable customer experience is the most effective form of lead generation

Collaboration matters

The Internet has enabled a world where we can work in conjunction with prospects, customers, suppliers, mentors, advisors, and staff in ways that make the finished work a personalized experience infused with the real time input. Community sourcing is a practice that underpins all product, service and business development activities.

Fusion matters

Another powerful lesson gained over the last few years is that offline activity is enhanced, rather than replaced, by online activity. The careful fusion of hi touch business building that’s done face to face with hi tech business building that enables more frequent, personalized contact and communication is the secret to delivering the most advanced customer experience.

Let’s stop measuring adoption of social media and go to work on simply measuring effective interaction in marketing. I suppose as much as anything this is the major thread that runs through The Referral Engine