Blog Archives

What Does Social Media Achieve for Your Company?

socialmediaDoes it gain exposure, directly interact with your customers or promote specific products and services? That is just one question this article from Entrepreneur.com asks. The article ’10 Questions to Ask When Creating a Social-Media Marketing Plan’ goes on to say it is important to clearly identify why you are using the social media and once you understand your customers goals, link the two. For example try using your social media to help solve your customer problems. That approach works no matter whether your customers are another business or a consumer.

The article also gives advice on which social media platform to use – it’s different depending on who your customer is. For example you might want to use LinkedIn if you are marketing to businesses or Facebook for marketing directly to consumers. It also suggests what types of content work better on what social media platforms. I think it is also critical to measure the success of your social media campaign. After all it takes a fair amount of time to do social media and you really want to make sure you are getting some bang for your buck.

Which social media platform you use might also depend on where you are located. If you are in Western Canada we have a tendency to use Facebook far more than Twitter. This is true for other things as well. I don’t know of too many people in our area that use eBay but wow do we ever use Kijiji.

If you don’t have a social media presence yet I highly recommend you have a look at these 10 questions before you get started. I really like the advice to start with a blog and a presence on just one social network. It’s important to only bite off what you can handle, as I suggested in last week’s post ‘Digital Technology Myths’ social media done well is very time intensive requiring dedication and commitment to developing fresh content and keeping up with conversations.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

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The Need for Automation

gears-300x300I was just reading the latest Industry Week magazine (digital version of course) and the article on robots caught my attention. The quote from Jeff Burnstein, President of the Robotics Industries Association started me thinking. Jeff stated that “If you are not automating, you’re not producing the best-quality products out there, you’re not meeting customer demand fast enough, you’re going to go out of business.”  Now robots have really come along way and while they may or may not have an application in your business automation certainly does. With the labour skills shortage we are experiencing in this region automating as many processes as possible can be one solution and you don’t need robots to do this. Computers can automate many processes from the receipts at a restaurant (we still have handwritten receipts being given out at one restaurant in our city) to automatic time calculations for invoicing customers.  You can even outsource the automation, payroll is a good example.

So if you are not tech savvy then how do you incorporate this digital technology into your business? Maybe I should have started my blogs with this advice but sometimes people need to be convinced they need the stuff before they will buy in. This article I came across offers some good advice including; start with understanding the problem you are trying to solve as well as your end goals for your business and how to get your employees on board.  It also recommends you act now and that you can’t afford to put your head in the sand.

If you are interested in hearing more from me this week I did a guest post on the Moving Innovation Forward Blog. Check out ‘Innovating Innovation?

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Do Your Spreadsheets have Errors?

ssAccording to the research a good number of Canadian businesses use spreadsheets as a way to keep track of expenses instead of or in addition to accounting software. I love spreadsheets but it didn’t surprise me one bit when I came across this article on Market Watch that suggests 88% of spreadsheets have errors. Some of these error ridden data sheets are used as fairly significant decision-making tools; like the Harvard Economics Study that overstated the impact that debt burdens have on nation’s economic growth. Interesting…made me want to double-check all of my spreadsheets for accuracy.

Are you in the retail business? How is digital technology affecting you? A Canadian report from ThirdOcean highlights some really cool retail trends that should be paid attention to. Have you heard of augmented reality? This is the kind of technology that lets you try on clothes to see what they would look like on you – without really trying them on. Or another example; seeing what a Lego set will look like finished just by holding up the box to a scanner. Digital technology is even affecting what we buy through online reviews. 69% of people believe reviews help them in deciding whether or not to make a purchase and 23% of people take their cell phone shopping with them to source those reviews right while they are in the store.

Does your company use Customer Relations Management (CRM) software? I just came across this report that compares the top 40 CRM software’s on a number of different fronts including whether the software is suitable for small or medium size business or hosted on premises or in the cloud. The report also gives the cost of the software, current users and some highlights for each one. A very comprehensive report (123 pages) that I encourage you to download if you are considering going this route.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive and how to use digital technology to do that please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Are You Social?

I have been going through the proposed webcast videos from our Digital Forum in March social-media-management1and I am reminded again that nearly 2 out of 5 Western Canadian entrepreneurs do not participate in social networks. Are you one of those entrepreneurs? According to BDC many entrepreneurs aren’t sure of the benefits and leery of the risks associated with digital technology. Perhaps they just need some guidance on how to approach it. I receive a regular email newsletter from BDC called Smart Tech. The latest newsletter is ‘7 ways to turn social media fans into customers’ and it has some pretty good tips. They also have a free eBook called ‘Social Media a Guide for Entrepreneurs’ that you can download and it looks to be fairly comprehensive. It might be time for you to consider building a social media strategy.

According to this article another industry is falling to the digital movement. Sales for point and shoot digital cameras declined by about 30% between 2006 and 2011. What are they being replaced with – smart phones of course. I talked about this in my March 6th blog post Is Digital a Threat to Your Business? In my mind this just highlights once again the importance for every business owner to take a look at what they offer to their customers and ask the question – how is digital technology going to impact this?

Have you read the book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff? I just read a preview of it. For those of you that are interested in trying to understand where your business fits in the future maybe this book can offer one more perspective to consider.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive and how to use digital technology to do that please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Digital Technology with Your Customers in Mind

SEO Perfect CompanyOne of the presenters at the Digital Forum we did in March presented on SEO (search engine optimization). As we heard optimizing your website can be a daunting task especially since the algorithms the search engines use change on a real regular basis. I came across this article ‘How to do an SEO Audit of Your Website’ this morning that may help with that. This article looks at the common sense stuff like checking for broken links or dead pages or making sure your website loads reasonably fast. I really believe that no matter how the search engines are designed you can’t lose by just being authentic and designing your website with your customers experience in mind.

Have you thought of doing You Tube videos for your business?  I have You Tube videos that I put up 4 years ago that I am still getting views, over 198,000 to date and people are still subscribing to them. Videos are an excellent way to engage customers and help them with your products. Looking to figure out how to get started with that? You might want to check out this article ‘10 Questions to Ask When Creating Your Company’s You Tube Channel’. For those of you who might think putting up commercials for your company would be a natural first step – it probably isn’t the best thing to do. People look to You Tube videos to be entertained, educated or informed not to watch commercials. How would you use You Tube to entertain, educate or inform your customers? After you figure that out You Tube can help you with analytics. For example I find it very interesting that my videos’ are viewed mostly by men (89%).

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive and how to use digital technology to do that please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Is Digital a Threat to Your Business?

threatAre you embracing digital? Or is digital a threat to your livelihood? I’m not much of a music buff so it didn’t occur to me how much the digital age was destroying the record industry. From digital advances with the creation of CD’s causing an explosion in sales, to a few years later and what looked like a terminal illness from an inability to adapt to a new business model embracing the digital age. Well perhaps the music industry has it figured out now based on this article in the New York Times but I suspect there is still need for some ongoing innovation. What I take away from this is that at the pace things are moving today we better be looking at our current business model and exploring how digital is affecting our business. Being innovative with digital technology might be a tool for survival.

Did you know that there are some pretty good apps out there that capture your handwriting digitally? This article recommends at least five that vary in price from $5 to free. So now there is no excuse not to get on board this digital train!

Do you offer Wi-Fi to your customers? I see signs in our local coffee shops offering this service for free and I know while I am there I appreciate it. But I didn’t realize that offering this service could be a competitive advantage. I came across this article in which an independent grocery store in Ontario is positioning themselves to be a community hub rather than just a place to get groceries. Just one more way that digital technology could make your business more profitable or productive.

Don’t forget to attend our Digital Technology Learning Forum. To be held at Centre 2000 March 20, 2013. We are hosting the experts as they use digital technology to help explain social media, SEO, social commerce, mobile applications, databases, and 3D printers. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive and how to use digital technology to do that please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Digital Technology, even in your Car!

carDigital Technology is everywhere including in your car! I recently came across an Infographic that highlighted how much digital technology has infiltrated into our lives. You only have to look at our vehicles; from rear view cameras, auto parking systems to GPS and automatic synchronization to smart phones and the latest – apps that locate the nearest gas station. As US author Mark Prensky in a recent interview for CNN suggests “any slowdown in the digital age is a “myth,” as innovation will only press forward “faster… and faster and faster.” He told CNN: “We are not going through a transition to another phase of stability, and that is the key point. People will always be behind now and that will be a stress they have to cope with.”

Are you trying to keep up? Would tools to help evaluating your next software purchase help? The Technology Evaluation website  is recommended by the BDC as a quick way to validate system functionality. The site looks pretty comprehensive and offers buyer’s guides, newsletters and various reports.  What about your company website? With over half of us Canadians now shopping on-line it’s scary to think only 7 out of 10 Canadian SME’s have a website especially if you consider many of those websites are little more than a static online brochure. What about you? Are your customers finding you online? And are they impressed if they do?

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Productivity Apps and Other Tools

In an effort to keep track of the latest in digital technology for businesses I regularly receive newsletters and download free e-books. HubSpot is a type of marketing software and while I don’t use the software I really appreciate the resources they send. Past e-books have included ‘How to use Twitter for Business’ and the most recent is an e-book on 20 Marketing Trend and Predictions for 2013.

apple-iphone-apps-32Another great site for resources is Melinda Emerson’s Small Biz Lady site. I came across her blog on the 10 Best Productivity Apps for Small Business Owners. It is a good article and while at the moment I only use DropBox and Evernote I have every intention of checking out a few more of these.

After reading that blog post I explored Melinda Emerson’s Small Biz Lady site and I found several tidbits worth sharing. From posts on Google+ (another one of those social media connectors) to the New Rules of Small Business Marketing, and even a post discussing a Mobile App for your business.

The small business landscape is changing at such an exponential rate it is hard to keep up and you really have to be purposeful in order to be productive. Perhaps some of these articles will help.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Digital Technology for Productivity

Do you ever wonder how much more productive you would be if you were able to use digital technology appropriately? And what exactly does that look like? On occasion I have tried to use digital technology to help with a new project or approach only to find my productivity went out the window. After that it’s hard to convince anyone they should adopt something new to get more productive.

At some point though technology becomes so common place that you have to wonder at those that don’t adopt it. We have a restaurant in town that has a few outlets. Their food is good and they do good business but at all the locations the servers still write-up the bills by hand on sticky notes. The line up at the till is often long as the servers add up the hand written notes on a calculator and heaven help the patron if they need a real receipt. Now that is one of the best examples that I can think of for using technology to be more productive.

In my last post I talked about having the proper tools but sometimes that may not be enough. The tools alone won’t do it; you need to know how to use the tools. Here’s the conundrum – who’s got time for that?  In the next few posts I plan on exploring productivity through the lens of digital technology and how you make that work. Here is hoping it may be easier than I think.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/.

Committing to the Outcome

A few weeks ago we talked about change management (Do You Resist Change?) and how people needed control in order to stop resisting the change. In a famous experiment where people were either given a lottery number or given the opportunity to choose their own lottery number it was determined that the value of choosing their own number was in fact 5 times more. Once again giving people control but this time putting a value on it. The conclusion from the study was: When we choose for ourselves, we are far more committed to the outcome – by a factor of five to one.

An article in the Harvard Business Review by Scott Keller called ‘Increase Your Team’s Motivation Five-Fold’ gives some great examples where companies have used this human trait to create a sustainable vision for change for their companies. What are you trying to change? Perhaps using this approach will make it that much easier.

I have often heard that working remotely – away from the office causes people to be more productive. Well there is new research in and it suggests that this is not always the case. Apparently when the task depends on creativity, productivity goes up in a less structured environment but the reverse is also true. So next time you need to accomplish some real creative stuff set yourself up in a really cool environment but to get those routine mind numbing tasks done better stay at the office.

I came across a blog post by Swift To-Do List that I thought was interesting. The blog called ‘5 Counter-Intuitive Productivity Tips’ gives tips that make use of those laws behind the way we work. The first tip: Make sure your work is left unfinished is based on the Ziegarnik effect (see The Value of Focus). Another tip: Work less to get more done, is based on the studies that suggest humans work best in blocks of time and that you need to take a break in between those periods of focused work. I enjoyed the article and I encourage you to check it out for the rest of the tips.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/.