How a Web-site Should Look

Yes, I finally decided that in order to capitalize on what works and what does not work online I needed to develop a site that I have found to work. Come on over and check out my IBGS Site and see how WEB 2.0 sites should look..

Consultants: Should they Blog?

Since I will be changing directions in the New Year and pumping up my consulting operations to meet the demand that was created this year, I was out reading up on points of views on consulting and came across this OLD Blog I found on the Guerrilla Marketing site.

I believe Mike McLaughlin is correct. Not all consultants should blog. Most of the time all they are doing is giving away something of value…their knowledge. Isn’t that what a consultants make their living from..the knowledge and experience they have obtained? Of course it is..

Hope you will stay tuned for upcoming announcement of where you will be able to find me, hire me, talk to me or get to know me. Have a happy holiday season and best wishes for the New Year.

Don’t Be Fooled into Cutting Your Budget

The first thing that is taught in crises management class of business schools is to evaluate the situation. That is a smart move. Gather data to determine the existent of the crises and keep gathering even after you have enough to determine what needs to be managed.

The warning here for those students who are reading…do not fall for the solution to improving revenue shortfalls by increasing sales, increase price and cut costs. That is the answer you will get from most crises management classes that deal with how to overcome business issues related to lost profits.

In over 80-% of the cases studied where businesses are having problems with maintaining profits levels their problem is in their operations set-up. They either have a quality issue or a productivity issue that is causing consumer reactions to the product or service the company is offering.

I see too many times the CEO’s of the world switch on the crises management with the first thing they command is cut the budget. That over-reactive solution to the problem usually leads to the operations budget being cut…payroll cut back, inferior products purchased, travel stopped and all business development (networking and customer relations activities) are stopped.

What that premature action does is shut the business completely down. Now, I have seen situations where shutting the business down was the only solution but that was only because the CEO and upper management refused to listen to their employees’ attempt to tell them there is a problem.

Of course all of this is based on a company that has employees and usually in the manufacturing industries, but the same mistake is made in Small businesses and sole proprietor businesses. They react to cutting the costs and raising pricing as the solution when in fact it is an operations situation that needs to be overhauled. Either the delivery of the service or the product itself is questionable. These are problems Direct Marketers and Multi-Level Marketing companies’ experience. Lack of trust from the consumer.

There are solutions to correcting these situations and all are related to establishing a Standard Operations Procedure…yes the ol SOP. Too many businesses have no idea what one is or how it is made because they spend their efforts looking for a slick CEO instead of a ‘kickass and take name’ COO.

The Bottomline: Set your operations up to standard before you start the business and your crisis management will be simple to manage.

To learn more about what else Mr Duke has to offer go to IBGS site.

Business Operations: Generational Challenges

I find it real interesting how some people take offense to hearing the truth. If what is said is the truth it should not be offensive. The truth should be what everybody wants to hear.

However, when it comes to business or personal creations like internet web-sites and online businesses, people get really upset when someone points out flaws in their business plan or thought patterns.

Then, you have the generational thing. I will not get off into the cultural differences that have developed since the early 80’s between the Onliners and Offliners. It is sufficed to say the younger generation has a hard time getting over some of the things they felt were hardening during their parents’ attempts to set them on the right track.

Most of the creators of some of the stuff that is launched online today are craftily developed by young men and women in their early 20’s. In most cases their endeavors are outstanding. Most of the tools businesses use online are created by these young business people. With that said, there are some of them who are clearly missing how business operations work online or offline.

Recently, during my surfing of the internet for sites offering marketing services to other businesses I ran across several newly launched sites that have some very creative approaches of doing something someone else already launched. This is truly the way online businesses improve upon themselves by seeing what someone else has done and improve upon it.

What happens is these sites lose touch with what the business purpose is or what the site offers to help businesses meet their goals. They get caught up in producing a slick visually pleasing site which is needed in the move to the WEB 2.0 standards, but once pass their homepage what they offer is voided with seemingly incomplete delivery of the service they say they are providing. There is a fundamental absence of any business operations in some of these sites.

The challenge recently is providing these young startup business creators with positive and constructive advice. They see any attempt to help or provide experience from anyone outside of Silicon Valley as an insult. Comments or suggestions for improvements are considered negatives. Questions on direction of their business plan as not needed.

Some of the developers of these new business ventures feel their advanced educations justifies the way they are going about doing business as the only way to go about doing business. Some even feel their short experience of being part of another startup sets their business plan on solid ground. All of them are attempts to falsely rationalize the fact they do not know what the heck they are doing.

Colleges for the past 25 years are pushing out graduates with degrees full of teaching of business cases full of words but no practical applications to what really goes on in the business world. This rush to keep the schools of higher learning financially sound has built at least two generations of dreamers who were taught how to build businesses on paper, but not on concrete or from experience.

The result, the youngsters hit the streets or the internet in this case, with lots of knowledge on the concept of building a business but absolutely no experience in actually how to do business. They feel their MBA’s and Doctorate will be all they need to overcome their business operation needs.

The challenge then becomes how the business consumer will deal with these new online line businesses and their attitude towards the past. How will they develop a trust that the slick looking site will deliver what its homepage is saying it will deliver?

Hopefully, these new sites and businesses developed by the younger generation will some come to realize that people who come from their parent’s generation, or grandparents’ generation, are not out to get them, or run them into the ground, or discipline them for what they are trying to accomplish. They need to get over whatever hang ups they have had in their past that has resulted in them being callous to critique and start viewing the people over 30 as a resource that will save them value time and money.

Telling someone the truth and providing a truthful evaluation should not be taken as offensive. It is what is commonly known in the business arena as Help. Help comes in all ages and challenges can only be met with help.
Let me know how I can help.

Social Networking: Smaller Goups are the New Direction

I was at a social gathering at my club this evening and I had the pleasure to talk to some of the younger people who just joined. Younger being in their early to mid 30’s.

It was a pretty cool conversation since they were simply blown away that someone from my generation was so internet savvy. This opened a door to finding out more about how they see things on the internet and how things really work on the internet.

The conversation really got into a frenzy when we go to the love hate relationship people have with Facebook and MySpace, which for this group of moderates neither of the groups interested them even though each of them had at least three profiles on each site.

We also talked about how some of the blogs on the internet get so many comments or hits on Digg. Hey told me that most of the comments people were getting were from close drinking buddies of the person blogging or near relatives. They even know some of the Pro-Bloggers who are making a bundle blogging paying people to comment and to create buzz. This group of young business people said they are tiring of how people in SV and SF are running the show for standards set for social groups and blogs.

What interested them the most was what I was talking about as Private Online/Offline Groups of 150 or so. They liked the concept of having a small circle of contacts. They know that the Big Dogs of the internet are members of several private undercover groups that communicate more through IM than through blogging. So they wanted to get my take on how social groups should be formed.

The fact that groups should only grow to a specific size before moving to the next level and that all members get to know each other both online and offline was what peaked their interest. They quickly realizing what this concept would do to SV and SF and it really got them thinking about how to get things going for a group they wanted to start.

I found this gathering one of the most exciting activities I had been to in a long, long time. Then it hit me…wait a minute, this was offline gathering talking about online issues. That is exactly what social and business networking is all about.

Unlike the popular adage business networking groups have today, it is not about gathering up as many names and contacts you can and hope that 10% of them produce a sale…it is about meeting people to find out who they are and what they do.

Yes the age of the mega social groups is coming and like the meteor that hit a zillion years ago that wiped out all of the dinosaurs, the advent of smaller social groups will be that meteor that wipes out all of the dinosaur social groups.

For more insight on this and a ton of other subjects that REALLY matter,. Check out IBGS.

Fast Networking: A Fast Waste of Time

I am finding it harder and harder to believe anyone is getting absolutely any value out of a Fast Networking activity. My question is, what does anyone really get out of talking fast and gathering business cards? Other than this method of networking being of a social benefit for those who use these events as something to due during the fridge months I really cannot see it is worth the time, money or effort.

Online I see videocasts, blogs, podcasts, read articles and offline run into people offline who are going completely crazy trying to book their selves solid with one-on-one meetings at Starbuck. The only people who are making a profit from this method of business networking are the owners of Starbucks. I have studied this process of fast business networking so I can safely say it is a complete waste of time.

My critics will say this method of going around the room in two minute spurts is for people who are really passionate about their business and enjoy meeting as many people as they can. They explain to me that the more people you know the more chance you have of becoming a successful business person. Plus they also will say other ways of networking a person’s business take too much time away from the millisecond timeline business plan to success many business people are setting for their business. In other words, people who chose this method of business networking feel they need to make a million dollars a minute. Give me a friggin break. Is that anyone you want to do business with?

Well, I do not criticize anything unless I can factually report on why it needs criticism. My studies show that over 80% of the people who participate in the business version of the ‘one minute date’ have no idea why they are doing what they are doing. And over 85% of the people who go through the rig-a-ma-roar leave with contacts they cannot use nor have contacts to refer to those people who they just met.

Over 65% of the business people who attend Fast Networking events are with businesses that require them to make hundreds of cold calls a week to attempt to sell services they represent which are part of a very saturated market and nobody really needs.

Less than 5% of the business people who attend these events make a worthwhile business connection. My follow ups show that those business relationships lasted a few minutes after a sale was closed since one of the parties was not interested in keeping a lasting business relationship. These businesses who feed off making as many connections as they can are totally focused only on making a sale with no interest in providing continued customer service.

I could go on and on and I am sure I am going to get the usually feedback that I am out of touch with the way business is done now days and not to critize something that is working for others. Maybe I should and would probably take that advice if it was not for the fact that it is causing a huge negative image of business networking as a whole in the marketplace.

I am running into more and more people who are now concerned with conducting any type of business networking due to them being turned off by attending a fast networking event. Business people who are serious about their business and business’ image are not interested in going to a gathering where you have two minutes to find out what a person does before a loud horn goes off to stop the natural process of building a business relationship. Or at least a business should be concerned with the image they get from being a part of these activities. This method of showmanship networking does not work which pushes professional away from any type of networking due to the fear other methods of networking will be another one of these fast ‘trots around the room’ events.

I find it interesting and also a little disgusting to find golf groups who feel they need to use this method of networking. So far it seems they are using fast networking as a filler activity since their golf season is limited to three to four months a year. Since I know there are alternatives and activities that could be used instead of using a Fast Networking event I am now getting the impression the motivation behind the mission of these golf groups is not the golf, but using golf as the lure to draw in business golfers to hammer them for a sales lead.

Yes, without a doubt golf is the best business networking tool. Golf produces what other methods of business networking cannot. What playing golf with someone will do other business networking will not is building a solid business relationship. Again, yes, other methods of business networking build business relationships, but the difference in a business relationship and a solid business relationship is the solid business relationship is long lasting producing continuous sales. A regular business relationship usually results only in a possible single sale with no returned business.

Which would you rather have, 50 solid profitable business relationship, or, 200 business relationships that hit once resulting in you to having to take the time and spend more money to go to another fast business networking to gather another 200 business relationships?

My decision is to play more business golf.

Internal SPAM: Who is Causing It?

Great story in the Dallas Morning News on Spam being generated from people who love to Reply To All…