Like most entrepreneurs, Josiah Humphrey and Mark McDonald, both 22, are planning world domination, starting with a move to New York as the first international outpost of their start-up and app development empire. Their company Appster was launched in January 2013 and employs over 150 people, including 65 developers in its Indian office. Humphrey will head to New York to set up the office within the month. McDonald will join him later this year, when they plan to also launch a Silicon Valley office. “We want to find a strong start-up scene that needs an execution partner,” Humphrey told StartupSmart. Rather than tapping into markets with fewer developers, they chose two cities with well-developed tech and start-up ecosystems. “We don’t see app developers as competition. We’re more about facilitating the entrepreneur through the whole process, from product strategy to app deployment.” Appster has used virtual offices before, but the co-founders realised the power of the human connection in problem-solving and collaborating. It’ll soon be three offices launched and 39 to go if Humphrey and McDonald – who were named in StartupSmart’s Future Makers list of young entrepreneurs to watch last year – are to reach their goal of 42 offices in the next three to four years. “The 42 offices plan keeps us focused on our bigger vision. The international offices will work as a filtering and searching system to find the best ideas to help develop,” Humphrey says. He adds their biggest challenge will be finding the right people. They’ve hired 150 so far, will be hiring another 36 before April and are hoping to add over 900 developers to their Indian office by the end of the year. “Recruitment needs to become a core competency of ours fast. We’re focusing on getting the right exec as we’re really two kids, we’re just 22,” says Humphrey, adding recruitment is easier now they’re not a brand new start-up. “It’s easier to poach people from the big guys like Google and Facebook now we have the track record and a clear vision.” Another reason for expanding to the United States first is Appster will need to raise capital in the coming year to reach its ambitious goals. The company has been bootstrapped so far. “We’re going to raise once we get over there, because we’re going to have to expand fast. It’s a lot better for us to be over there as there is more finance and more disruptive projects to partner with,” Humphrey says.
Forget the fear of missing out; the new mantra of entrepreneurs is JOMO – the joy of missing out. Global advertising and marketing company JWT has picked JOMO as one of the trends for 2014. It says this year will be about “mindful living,” with more consumers actively trying to shut out distractions and focus on the moment. Businesses are jumping on board with Google already offering employees meditation as part of a 'Search Inside Yourself' course, along with regular silent 'mindful' lunches. Entrepreneur Andrew Mackinnon has embraced JOMO, which he tells SmartCompany is “the complete opposite to the fear of missing out”. The founder of creative agency Taboo discovered the concept of JOMO at an event organised by the business networking group the Entrepreneurs Organisation. “It’s about enjoying the moments when you are uninterrupted. That is going to be a stronger emotion in people as time goes on,” Mackinnon says. Mackinnon used to start every day checking news on his smartphone and television but now he resists the urge to check the internet and television first thing and instead listens to music. “I was running my business based on what I was reading in the news and on the Today Show,” he says. “We believe in being connected so much that we are over-connected and we are absorbing stresses that are not our stresses.” The news put Mackinnon in a negative state of mind and gave him a pessimistic outlook on the business environment. “The morning until 9am is all about your mind absorbing the sort of day you are going to have,” he says. “I need to be knowledgeable, but I can’t be reactive to every single thing I see in the paper.” The change to avoiding an information overload first thing in the morning means Mackinnon’s days are more simplified now. “I go to work and I am focused on the things I need to worry about,” he says. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
This article first appeared on October 31st, 2012. One of the great things about surfing the web on an iPad or an Android tablet is that you can look at your favourite websites in full screen. The good news, if you use Windows, is you can do the same thing on your desktop PC. Just press the “F11” key and you’ll notice your web browser switches automatically to full-screen. When you want your computer to go back to normal, press “F11” again. The best thing about this trick is that it will work regardless of whether you use Firefox, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer as your web browser.
Nick Bell’s skincare business wasn’t doing too well when he decided to investigate search engine optimisation to boost the effectiveness of his website. But no SEO company would give him a guarantee that what they could do would help for the dollars he was going to spend. “So I thought, ‘stuff it I’ll do it myself’,” he tells StartupSmart. In 2008 he started Web Marketing Experts from his bedroom, taught himself SEO by researching online how to do it, and has since grown the business to having offices around the world and expected revenue of $30 million this year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s gotten rid of the skincare business. Bell says when he started out in the SEO business the market was competitive, but not as “saturated” as it is now. He says his strength was analysing what was wrong with websites and identifying what needed to be done to fix them to improve their search engine results. Bell started cold calling companies and was told to “piss off” but “I was very persistent”. “I was working 16-18 hours a day, working from my bedroom,” he says. “When I got a client on board I would give them top notch service. If they called at 11pm and wanted something, I did it.” Bell says he knew he was onto something with his new business when in the second week of starting out he received a cheque for $10,000 from a client in the mail. Within six weeks he was earning $30,000 a week. “Then it just evolved from there.” From humble beginnings in his bedroom, Web Marketing Experts now has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, California, Hong Kong and Vietnam and employs 280 people. There are plans to open offices in London, New Zealand and Argentina. The company has also diversified into a number of other areas including building apps and internet traffic optimisation. And it’s done so without taking any investment. “I have had people offer to buy the business out or invest, and I’ve thought about it, but thought it would hold me back,” he says. Bell says taking on investors would mean having to answer to a board: “So instead of making a decision in a week, it might take six months.” He says when he started out, SEO was easy. But now, due to Google’s continued algorithm updates, SEO has become far more strategic and needs high level problem-solving to dominate the search results. Bell stresses that as long as Google exists, SEO is a feature businesses will need to apply, and warns businesses need to get it right otherwise they could be penalised in search results. Bell says he didn’t have an IT background when he started out in SEO and his parents weren’t too keen on him pursuing that path. But he says after putting his head down and working from his bedroom for a year and seeing the company’s success, “they’re very happy now”.
Samsung has unveiled its newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with the South Korean tech giant confirming speculation the new device is both dust-proof and waterproof. The Galaxy S5 is built on a 2.5GHz quad-core processor, up from 2.3 GHz quad-core processor in its predecessor, the Galaxy S4, and runs Google Android 4.2.2 KitKat. Samsung is marketing the device as being designed to be used with the company’s Galaxy Gear range of smartwatches, with key features such as its S Health 3 software taking real-time readings from the watch. The GS5 includes a 5.1-inch full HD AMOLED display with a display resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, again slightly larger than the 4.8-inch display on its predecessor. A key area of improvement is in the camera, which Samsung had bumped up from 13-megapixels to 16 megapixels, with the device claiming the industry’s faster autofocus speed of up to 0.3 seconds. “People want a high-quality yet easy-to-use camera built into their smartphones so that they can snap, edit and share like a pro. With the Galaxy S5 we were able to incorporate all of these needs without sacrificing the device’s design, style and general functionality,” says Ki Hyoung Son from Samsung Electronics’ camera R&D group. The GS5 also features a removable 2800 mAh battery, a capacity increase from the 2600 mAh batter in the GS4 and 2100 mAh in the GS3. Along with the new battery, the device includes an Ultra Power Saving Mode that turns the display to black and white while shutting off all unnecessary functions. In terms of memory, it includes 2GB of RAM, 16 or 32 GB of internal memory, which can be upgraded using microSD cards. One slight downside of the upgrade is a slight increase in weight, which has increased from 133g on the GS4 to 145g on the GS5. The device is also larger in all dimensions than its predecessor, measuring at 142mm by 72.5mm by 8.1 mm, compared to 138.6mm by 69.8mm by 7.9 mm for its predecessor. In terms of connectivity, the new device includes fifth generation Wi-Fi 802.11ac and 2X2 MIMO, along with USB 3.0 ports and a unique feature called Download Booster, which allows it to simultaneously use Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE to send data. “With the Galaxy S5, Samsung is going back to basics to focus on delivering the capabilities that matter most to our consumers,” Samsung Mobile chief JK Shin says. “Consumers are looking for mobile tools that inspire and support them as they improve their everyday lives. The Galaxy S5 represents an iconic design with essential and useful features to focus on delivering the ultimate smartphone on the market today through people inspired innovation.” Samsung says the new device will be available to consumers in April. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
Susan Wu is a start-up veteran and investor who has worked with some of the best founders in the business. She IPOed her first company at 24 and advised companies including Twitter, Square and Medium. Wu has recently moved from Silicon Valley to Melbourne to head up the Australian team for payment software Stripe and will be speaking at an upcoming Startup Grind event. She spoke to StartupSmart about some of the most important things she’s learned about start-ups so far, including focusing a team and vision around first principles rather than products. “I’ve found that the best companies I’ve ever been involved with were ones where the founders were committed to delivering genuine, lasting value (either in the form of happiness or improved quality of life) to their users above all else, and were committed to being patient in accomplishing this goal,” Wu says. For example, Stripe is a payment software, but the team are focused on boosting the GDP of the internet. At the moment this is through providing a frictionless payment system, but the scope to grow beyond that is unlimited. She says this approach has been shared by many of the founders she’s worked with, including Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams, Flickr and Etsy founder Caterina Fake, Elad Gill from Google, and Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison. “When I reflect upon it, I think that what all of these people have in common is an unusual curiosity and drive towards understanding the world. Being a leader in our industry isn’t just about building products that generate billions of dollars of revenue, it’s also about illuminating new ways of thinking about products, users and communities that lead to entirely new ways of interacting or transacting online.” Focusing too much on generating revenue to the detriment of getting the user experience or core value proposition product can create a weak foundation she cautions. Having survived and thrived in start-ups for decades, Wu says getting the relationships right - whether it’s between co-founders, company and customers or product and users - is critical. “The most frequently repeated thing I counsel is that founding a start-up with someone is like getting married. In many ways, it’s just as emotionally intense, you’re stuck together for at least five to seven years (if the company goes well), and you had better make sure to do the same amount of diligence in figuring out that you want to be ‘married’ to your co-founder as you do your real life partner.” Comparing the local start-up ecosystem to Silicon Valley in 1996 and 1997, Wu adds there is great opportunity for Australia to build the community they want. “We don’t need to inherit all of Silicon Valley’s shortcomings. We can choose which parts we want to adopt and which parts we want to evolve,” she says. “It’s still relatively early days and there remains a lot of work we need to do to strengthen the community, but there’s plenty of promising talent and growing momentum.” Wu agrees with ongoing local commentary that one of the primary issues facing the sector is a lack of risk capital, adding investors here don’t look upon past start-up failure as a positive signal as many investors do in Silicon Valley. As an investor, team is the most important factor for Wu, who then looks at scope and slant or vision, and ability to execute. “Though I’ve never articulated it as such before, there’s a simple litmus test: Am I learning something by talking to this founder? Are they saying something insightful that helps me see the world in a new way? Are they saying things that force me to question some of my basic assumptions?” she says. Wu adds Australia has also reached the right time to make sure the community is doing everything possible to encourage female founders and engineers.
What I wish I had known before selling to Google: Jonathan Sposato, founder of Phatbits and Picnik tells Inc. what he would have done differently if he had his time again. Here’s a spoiler, Sposato would still have sold to Google – but he wouldn’t have agreed to stay on for four years feeling like “a salary man”. And he would have made sure Google’s vision for his businesses was a lot clearer. Five myths about introverts and extroverts at work: Adam Grant writes in the Huffington Post that introverts have come out of the woodwork. He says it’s all thanks to Susan Cain's “life-altering book” Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Before reading it, introversion was seen as a liability in the workplace. Now it can be an advantage. Nine things really productive people refuse to do: If you want to be more productive, don't start by taking on new habits and routines. Instead, do less, says Bill Murphy Jr in Inc. The most productive people know how to stay focused and how to say no – but most importantly, they know how to delegate and outsource.
Generating leads is an all-important task for businesses and especially so for solo traders, start-ups and smaller businesses. Too many businesses end up taking a haphazard approach to lead generation, so here are five simple strategies you can use to find quality leads for your business this year. 1. Start with a strategy So many people in business take a scattergun approach to lead generation, going for mass marketing to spread their message, without really knowing if the message is getting through to their target market. Start at the very beginning, and decide who you want to target, advises Peter Griffith, the Asia-Pacific director of training and consultancy firm for businesses, rogenSi. “Determine the look and feel of your ideal customer. Who are they, where do they live, work and play? Also, consider their habits and lifestyle, and think about what they buy and from which companies, how they shop, how they access information and how they make decisions. Also, think about their business and personal needs, and how you help fix these,” he says. The best lead generation technique depends on the company, their industry, the products/services they sell, who they want to sell them to, how they differentiate from competitors and the brand they want to promote, he says. Ask anyone even moderately tech savvy and they’ll tell you there are only two options – search engine optimisation and Google AdWords, he says. 2. Make your website work harder Your company website should be working hard to generate leads for your business, so make sure it’s up to date and has all the bells and whistles. This should be the central hub for all your marketing and lead generation, says Marnie Ashe, head of consulting for Reload Consulting. “Not only will this allow for greater tracking of where your leads come from, what makes them inquire and ultimately what makes them become a customer, but also provides a central point for inquiry, allowing your potential customers’ details to be fed into a marketing database for future use,” Ashe says. Increasing enquiries on your website can be easily achieved by making sure it’s easy to find your contact details, with a phone number on every page a good idea, and your contact page easily accessible from your navigation, she says. “Also, have an enquiry form on every page. The easier it is to enquire, the more chance you have of a prospect inquiring. But keep the enquiry form short and sweet, you can collect more information when you follow up.” Also, consider adding a live chat service to your website, which is like having a friendly sales consultant greet people and offer them live assistance about your service, and can cost around $10 a day. Check out Web Reception or Live Chat Monitoring, which both offer this service. 3. Get social One of the best things you can do for your personal brand and business is to take social media seriously. When done well, building and communicating with your network of followers will build loyalty and trust in your business, and ultimately build sales. A compelling and active LinkedIn profile can also work well to generate new leads, according to Joe Fox, marketing director of web development and digital marketing agency, Studio Culture. “There are so many opportunities that people are missing by simply not updating their LinkedIn profiles and networking with other business owners or potential customers on the platform,” he says. Catriona Pollard, director of Sydney’s CP Communications agrees, saying LinkedIn is without a doubt the best place for b2b lead generation. “A basic account on LinkedIn will allow you to build relationships and maintain contacts, as well as give you a lot of transparency into your extended professional network. You can generally contact your first degree and second degree connections using LinkedIn InMail, even if you don’t have their email address,” Pollard says. By upgrading to LinkedIn Premium, you can contact people outside of your network and gain further insights into who is viewing your profile, she says. “You can also directly target new leads using LinkedIn’s advanced search, which allows you to drill down and filter people by role type, company or industry, leading to high quality leads.” Facebook is another great tool. Melbourne business coach Maureen Pound suggests offering a free report on your Facebook business page to get people into your sales funnel. “Make sure that whatever you are offering is really useful and alleviates some sort of pain for your target market, such as ‘5 biggest mistakes people make when starting out in business’, or ‘how to get your baby sleeping through the night’, for example. There’s lots of software out there to help you do this, such as lead pages,” Pollard says. 4. Do the little things Understanding why and how you help people, and focusing on what problems you’re solving for them and how you solve them is paramount, says Frances Pratt, who explains sales to non-sales people. “Use this information to get your message out there. This should be the central thing you talk about in your advertising and promotions. Use this information to tell them about what you do and to ask questions when you’re meeting people,” Pratt, of Metisan says. Also, always ask for repeat business, she says. Once you’ve got something great for someone, ask if there’s something else you can help with. “It’s amazing once you have achieved something, how people will open up with more problems that they need help with.” Also, make sure you’re talking to the right people, who have the budget and power to spend with you. “So many business owners spent time on people who aren’t the decision maker, or aren’t willing to pay, which is a huge waste of time and energy,” she says. Businesses should shake their approach up a bit. Replicate what works 80% of the time using lead generation sources that have previously proven to lead sales. But 20% of the time, be inventive and try new lead sources, recommends Susanne Mather, executive director of Employment Office. “One example in the recruitment sales business is that 80% of the time, we source leads from recruitment advertising, calling businesses that are advertising for staff themselves. “But 20% of the time, we do things like take photos of the tent lists in the foyer of CBD high rise buildings and cold call them all. Or take photos of the logos on the sides of buildings and trucks when we’re out and about, and cold call these,” Mather says. 5. Get serious about content management It’s crucial to have a robust content management system as a place to conveniently store, manage and access both new leads and leads you’re revisiting, says Mather. Every team member at Employment Office starts the day with exactly 20 new leads entered in the CMS, which are sourced from a variety of channels, no excuses, she says. “It’s important for lead generation to be a carefully thought out part of the sales process, and it needs to be executed with consistency. “Investing in a program that really works for your business is something you will thank yourself for again and again, and has the capacity to repay the initial expense many times over.” Once you’ve got a great way to manage your leads, adopt the ‘find, wash, enter’ process, This refers to finding leads strategically and consistently, washing leads to make sure they’re not being approached by colleagues and entering those leads into a content management system so they are easily accessible and manageable, she says.
Today, like so many other days, your humble correspondent arrived and sat down at a desk in Taskmaster Towers. On the desk was a post-it note. Scribbled in the secretary’s handwriting, it appeared to say someone had called the office asking for the contact details of a well-known industry figure, who we’ll refer to as Jane Doe. As it turns out, many, many moons ago, a blog post was uploaded on to the Taskmaster Enterprises blog mentioning Jane Doe. If only someone invented some type of engine – a “search engine” if you will – that would allow you to type in a person’s name and receive a list of related links to websites. This magical, mystical website could be given a name like “Google”, “Yahoo!” or “Bing”. To make it extra easy for people, you could place the search field in the menu bar of just about every popular browser, including Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Such a service could even be funded by placing paid advertisements based on the search words. Then people could type in “Jane Doe” and find the official Jane Doe website, then click the link that says “Contact Jane Doe” where Jane Doe’s work number, email address and Twitter handle could all be conveniently listed. Of course, even if such a magical, mystical service existed, some people would outsource the effort to someone else! And by somebody, I mean poor Old Taskmaster! Blah! Humanoids! I swear, they annoy me some days! Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now. Still, the whole episode is a poignant reminder of a couple of key business lessons. The first is the value of quality content as a marketing strategy. It really is the gift that keeps on giving! Seriously, if you haven’t updated your blog or your social media lately, do it now! The second and more important lesson is that most humanoids are lazy. Exceedingly lazy. (Well, okay, often stupid as well, but mostly just lazy.) The desire to do more with less effort has been one of the driving forces of human progress. Why hunt or gather food when you can plant some seeds, enclose some animals and wait for them to be eaten? Why grow your own when you can go to the supermarket and buy it ready to cook? Why cook it when you can microwave it? Why microwave it when you can just get Maccas? Why get Maccas when the local pizza shop delivers? Why wait for a driver when a drone aircraft can deliver it quicker? (Do you doubt that last one will happen within the next five years?) If you’re looking for a business idea, you could do worse by thinking through the worthless chores that annoy you and devise products and services that can avoid them. Because if your business plan enables your fellow human beings to that little more idle, you’ve got a potential consumer base. Sloth is a vice, not a virtue. But it’s one you can exploit – for profit! Get it done – today!
Telstra confirms talks with Google over Australian Chromecast launch: What app developers need to know2:16PM | Tuesday, 11 February
Telstra has confirmed it has entered into early stage talks about a potential Australian launch of Google’s Chromecast digital media player, which retails in the US for $US35. Introduced in the US alongside Android 4.3 JellyBean in July of last year, although yet to see an official Australian release, the Chromecast is a digital media device that plugs into the back of a TV and resembles a USB stick in its form factor. It allows users to view music and videos from selected online services, including YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Music, through their TV set. The Chromecast can be controlled from a compatible Android smartphone and tablet, and was originally introduced as a replacement for the company’s ill-fated Nexus Q set-top-box. A Telstra spokesperson told StartupSmart the telecommunications giant is looking at the device, while cautioning talks are still at an early stage. “We are always looking at ways we can bring brilliant and innovative entertainment experiences to our customers and so will always explore and consider new technology that can deliver that,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “There are no ‘secret talks’ with Google – we speak to Google all the time about all sorts of things. “As we have said we are taking a look at it – but very early stages – if it’s a product/device that we will stock we will let customers know.” The news comes just days after Google opened Chromecast up to developers, releasing an SDK (software development kit) for the device, which is available for download through the Google Cast website. In a post on Google's official developers' blog, Google engineering manager John Affaki explains some of the device's functionality for developers, in creating apps that play back audio or video, as well as for other potential purposes. "You have many options for displaying content on Chromecast. For simple media applications, you can use the default media player that can play back HTML5 media content. You can also customise it with your own branding and style using CSS. "For non-media applications, or for more flexibility and design options, you can build your own custom receiver application using standard web technologies. With a custom receiver you can build virtually any application while including support for many [video] streaming protocols, including MPEG-DASH, HLS, and Microsoft Smooth Streaming, all of which are available in the Media Player Library." Affaki is also keen to explain the developer kit contains a range of pre-written libraries, making it easy to stream content from pre-written apps to the device. “To make it easier for you to provide an optimized user experience on the TV screen, we have created sample apps for Android, iOS and Chrome. For Android, you’ll find a Cast Companion library to make your integration of Google Cast even easier. "The Google Cast SDK is simple to integrate because there’s no need to write a new app. Just incorporate the SDK into your existing mobile and web apps to bring your content to the TV. You are in control of how and when you develop and publish your cast-ready apps through the Google Cast developer console. The SDK is available on Android and iOS as well as on Chrome through the Google Cast browser extension.”
If you’ve ever spoken to a smartphone power user, you might have heard of them “sideloading” apps. On Android smartphones, what this means, in layman’s terms, is that they run apps that haven’t downloaded from Google Play. Warning: It’s important to remember that downloading pirated copies of apps from unknown websites dramatically increases the risks of your phone being infected by a virus. You should only sideload third-party apps from legitimate, legal third-party sources and only if you know the file is safe to install. First, in your settings menu, look through the Applications and Security menus for an option called “Install apps from unknown sources”. If you can find it, make sure you tap it to switch it on. Next, copy the APK file of the app you want to install onto your phone. An easy way of doing this is by downloading the file directly through your phone’s web browser. When the download is complete, it should appear in your notifications tab. Tap it to install.
Ever wanted to know how much memory a particular website needs to load? Here’s a trick to find out – and it will work in either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Simply type in “About:Memory” as a URL. In Firefox, you’ll then need to press Measure to measure your memory use for each tab. Alternatively, you can press GC and CC (garbage collection and cycle collection) to clear up some memory – handy for when Firefox starts playing up. In Chrome, you’ll automatically get a rundown of the memory use of each process in your browser.
Small businesses can list around 55 issues that hold them back from success, growth and happiness, according to small business trainer and Key Person of Influence chief executive Glen Carlson. He says that from interviews with over 1000 people running or planning a new business, many were daunted by trying to solve problems ranging from insufficient self-confidence to lacking a good team to spending too much time at work. “If you’re trying to build a successful business while focusing on solving 55 problems, you’re dead,” he says. Carlson says he’s identified five core underlying problems associated with the 55 problems, which if addressed should ease a business’s path. He spoke to StartupSmart about the five problems businesses face and what can be done to fix them. 1. Business owners have a lack of clarity to their core value and how to communicate it. “They don’t know why they’re different, unique and why people actually buy from them,” Carlson says. He says the solution is to develop a “great pitch” and pitch themselves in both a commercial and social environment. 2. A lack of credibility. “There are people who a clear in what they do, but don’t have any weight in their industry to back it up.” He says communication is the key to breaking the back of this problem. 3. They have the wrong business model. Carlson says if a business has a revenue model linked to charging for its time, “you’re doomed”. He says charging by the hour hampers innovation and dooms the entrepreneurial spirit. “If you’re charging by the hour, you’re not able to capitalise on the value you’ve developed.” Carlson says the solution is to “productise” your intellectual property. “You need to be able to identify your intellectual property, what’s the result it’s designed to achieve and how can you package that result.” 4. They’re invisible. Carlson says this problem relates to if someone Googles a business’s name or industry and they’re nowhere to be found. “A lot of business owners have a bit of insecurity about standing out,” he says, and being seen as a “shameless self-promoter”. But he warns businesses that if they don’t show up online, they’re also doomed. “You are who Google says you are.” 5. Trying to go it alone. “Small businesses stay small because they think they’re small,” he says, noting they try to do everything themselves. He says the solution is creating partnerships. “Whatever you’re missing, someone’s got it in surplus,” Carlson says. “The trick is do you have something of value that they want? “If you can work out how to partner in some way, you can out step this issue.”
If you’re like many entrepreneurs I know, you are sick to death of hearing: “You just need to increase your marketing budget!” Unfortunately the default response to declining results is to spend more. What rot. The simple answer is don't spend money on marketing that depreciates in the first place. If you need to reach into your pocket next week to get the same “hit”, you are on a slippery slope. It will be increasingly hard to get the same results, which means you will be forking over more and more money, but spinning your wheels and getting no traction. The litmus test is: Will your marketing be around next month? If it won’t be around, don't do it. Your Google Ads, Facebook ads and banner ads won’t be around once you put your credit card away. In fact, anything where you are renting attention will vanish as soon as the money runs dry. Invest in enduring marketing In contrast, invest in marketing that will be around tomorrow, next week and next year. For example, write an article and post that on your blog because that blog post will still be there next month. Create a YouTube video or release an e-book because these will still exist in six months’ time. Good marketing investments appreciate in value The blog article that you posted last month is likely to be more valuable today than it was when you published it. If people have tweeted it, it will have more social proof than it did the day it went live. It someone’s linked to it, it will have more authority than it did the day it went live and it someone has left a comment, then it will enrich the content and add value to the reader’s experience. All these factors increase the value of that blog post and you can see how it compounds over time. The more you publish sustainable content the more you’ll be creating a marketing asset that appreciates in value. If you pour money into marketing that depreciates, you will be chasing your tail until your money runs out. Be the owner not the renter Many marketers are hooked on the quick-fix of renting attention, but then struggle because there is nothing left to show for it at the end of the day. My experience suggests that focusing on being the publisher (owner) is infinitely better approach than being the advertiser (renter). Publish your own content, be generous, help people and your audience will grow. Then you can communicate with them for free anytime you like. This is what building a marketing asset is all about. The Web Strategy Planning Template helps you visualise and plan your marketing asset.
Facebook is 10 years old today. It’s time for birthday celebrations for the social network with 12,800,000 Australian users and 1.19 billion users worldwide. But it’s also time to reflect on 10 interesting things you don’t know about the social network. 1. The social network makes more money now from mobiles than PCs Facebook is worth around $US135 billion and has successfully made the shift to focusing on mobiles. In Facebook’s fourth quarter earning report filed on January 29 this year the social network disclosed that for the first time sales from ads on mobile phones and tablets exceeded revenue from traditional PCs. In an interview marking Facebook’s 10th birthday, founder Mark Zuckerberg told Bloomberg the shift to mobile was “not as quick as it should have been”, but “one of the things that characterizes our company is that we are pretty strong-willed”. 2. Facebook tried to buy Snapchat In 2012 Facebook bought Instagram for $US1 billion even though the photo sharing app had no revenue source. Zuckerberg described the deal as a milestone, saying "we don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all"; but last year, Facebook reportedly offered $3 billion to buy Snapchat. On two occasions. Snapchat refused the offer. 3. Paper has just launched Facebook’s latest creation is a newspaper-style app called Paper. Paper includes photos, friend updates, and shared articles in an image-heavy, uncluttered way. The stories are picked and ordered based largely on how much they are shared and “liked” on Facebook, with a team of human editors ensuring that the content comes from the right sources. “Paper makes storytelling more beautiful with an immersive design and full-screen, distraction-free layouts,” Facebook states. 4. Zuckerberg and Facebook are all about goals Zuckerberg told Bloomberg he has lots of goals for Facebook and for himself personally. Facebook’s founder has in previous years vowed to learn Mandarin (2010), to eat only animals he slaughtered himself (2011), and to meet someone new each day (2013). For 2014 he intends to write at least one well-considered thank-you note every day, via email or handwritten letter. “It’s important for me, because I’m a really critical person,” he says. “I always kind of see how I want things to be better, and I’m generally not happy with how things are, or the level of service that we’re providing for people, or the quality of the teams that we built. But if you look at this objectively, we’re doing so well on so many of these things. I think it’s important to have gratitude for that.” Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 5. Voting is the most talked about topic on Facebook The 10 most talked about topics on Facebook in 2013 by Australian users were ‘vote’, Kate Middleton, cricket, Kevin Rudd, Grand Final, Election, GST, Lions, Tony Abbott and Big Brother. 6. It’s set to compete with Google Over the next five years, Zuckerberg wants Facebook to become more intuitive and to solve problems that in some cases users don’t even know they have. He wants to target the 5% and 10% of posts on Facebook where users pose questions to their friends, such as requests for the names for a good local dentist, or the best Indian restaurant. Zuckerberg told Bloomberg the social network should do better at harvesting all that data to provide answers. A domain which is traditionally the preserve of search giant Google. 7. Users are a devoted bunch Facebook users generally log in to the social network regularly and stay for long periods of time. The percentage of Facebook users that log in once a day is now 76% while the average time spent on Facebook per user per month is 8.3 hours. 8. Facebook is targeting developing countries Facebook is targeting developing countries through the formation of a group called Internet.org with six other technology companies, including Samsung, Qualcomm and Ericsson. The group is looking at simplifying their services so they can be delivered more economically over primitive wireless networks and tapped into using cheaper phones. Zuckerberg says more users in undeveloped countries will subscribe to mobile services for the opportunity to use Facebook, which in turn makes it more economical for mobile operators to improve their wireless networks to support higher-bandwidth services such as online education and banking. He has described early tests as “promising”. 9. Doomsayers warn Facebook could go into rapid decline Researchers from Princeton University published a paper earlier this year suggesting Facebook might lose 80% of its users by 2017 entering a period of “rapid decline”. “The application of disease-like dynamics to [online social network] adoption follows intuitively, since users typically join OSNs because their friends have already joined,” says the study, which is awaiting peer review. Facebook has hit back at the work as “incredibly speculative” and used its own data engineers to use the same methods of "scholarly scholarliness" to prove that Princeton itself was on the brink of extinction. 10. It’s king of social referred traffic Facebook is still the king for social referred traffic, according to Adobe’s most recent social intelligence report. But Facebook is slowly losing ground to other social media, in particular Twitter and Pinterest.
If you run an Android smartphone or tablet, did you know that there’s a good chance you might be able to run Amazon’s app store as well as Google Play? Here’s how to set it up. First, in your settings menu, look through the Applications and Security menus for an option called “Install apps from unknown sources”. If you can find it, make sure you tap it to switch it on. Next, visit this page and press the yellow “Download the Amazon App Store” button in the middle of the screen. When the download is complete, you’ll get a notification saying “AmazonApps-release.apk. has installed”. Tap the notification, tap install, and then tap open. It’s now ready to run.
Google has announced a series of new frame designs for its Google Glass augmented reality headset, as well as the option of getting prescription lenses fitted, ahead of its launch later this year. The tech giant has announced a deal with US-based optical health insurance provider Vision Service Plan that will see prescription lenses fitted to the device. The company has also unveiled its “Bold” and “Curve” frame designs, which will retail at $US225, as well as a range of different sunglass-style designs for $US150. Morry Schwartz to launch a new broadsheet newspaper Morry Schwartz, the publisher of the Quarterly Essay and the Monthly, has announced he will launch a new weekly print newspaper on March 1. The newspaper, named the Saturday Paper, will feature a range of prominent columnists including David Marr, Christos Tsiolkas, Robert Manne and Kirsty Simpson. It is set to be sold in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, with the first issue coming out on the same day Fairfax converts its weekend editions of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers to a compact format. Abbott pushes for ABCC return as CFMEU corruption allegations mount Prime Minister Tony Abbott has argued for the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) as allegations of bribery, extortion and threats of violence rock the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). The building industry watchdog, which was originally created under the Howard government, was abolished by former prime minister Julia Gillard in 2012. “What today's revelations demonstrate is the absolute pressing need for the reestablishment of the [ABCC] with full power, full authority, full funding," Abbott says. "If the Labor Party is serious about tackling corruption again they will stop standing in the way of the reestablishment of a strong cop on the beat in that particular industry. “The commission should have full authority to ensure that the law is upheld. Full authority to ensure that the law is upheld in an industry which has been long marked by lawlessness.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up to 15932. The Aussie dollar is up to US87.75 cents.
This quieter time of the year is the ideal time to put your brand overhaul plans in place. Here are six business image boosters to give your business a professional facelift. 1. Assess your brand attributes The first step to any brand overhaul is to understand what you want to be and how you want your brand to be perceived, says Dan Ratner, managing director of branding and communications agency, Uberbrand. “Organisations are often so wrapped up in their own feelings about their brand that they often lose sight of how it is actually perceived by their customers. If there is disconnect between the brand perception an organisation wants to convey and how the public actually sees it, there is a problem,” Ratner says. You need to consider strengthening or changing your brand strategy if a group of the public is asked to describe your brand and they all come back with different answers. Or, if staff has different perceptions of the brand, an overhaul could be the answer. “If people within the organisation have differing perceptions of the brand, it makes it impossible to communicate consistent messages externally that will help build your brand equity,” he says. 2. Get your website right Look at your website objectively and ask people to give honest opinions of it. Also, compare it with the competition,” says Joe Fox, marketing director of web development and digital marketing agency Studio Culture. “There are countless businesses out there – what are you doing that’s different?” he asks. Consider if the language on your website is easy to read, if the site is cluttered, and if there’s room for an online store. Also, consider if users would feel safe making a transaction through your site and if not, how to fix that, he says. “The position of a button, the colour of text and the subjects of your imagery have all been known to influence purchases online, so conduct thorough testing,” Fox says. Using social media effectively is also crucial for anyone in business, Fox says. “Use the right tools for the right market and create a story about your brand that people want to listen to and appreciate – don’t just sell, sell, sell.” 3. Assess your marketing footprint It’s a great time to assess everything that represents your business brand, including your voice mail message, website and business cards. Also assess eNewsletter templates, new business presentations, company profile documents and make sure any testimonials you use are up to date. Be sure these areas represent your business well and cater to the preferred style of your audience, says Phoebe Netto, of PR and consulting firm Good Business. Good or bad, businesses are constantly creating impressions about their business to others. “Often it’s the seemingly small aspects of their business brand that create a lasting impression, such as business cards, phone manner, email signature, staff uniform, presentation of invoices and proposals. “Ensure that your unique selling points and key values come across simply and clearly, and that it’s obvious that your business addresses a need or desire that your ideal customer has,” Netto says. Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 4. Clear out the communication pipeline Take a step back and map out your current communication process that includes the standard points of contact that someone might have with your business, from making an enquiry through to having an invoice followed up, continues Netto. It’s important to ensure there are deliberate steps in place with templates and consistent standards, she says. “Identify any roadblocks that make it hard for people to do business with you, or even make it difficult for people to give you more business,” Netto says. “Also, look for any gaps in your communication and areas for improvement. For example, decide how many hours or days someone will have to wait receiving a response to an enquiry made through your website, and set a standard of what that response will include.” Netto adds that lots of business opportunities are lost simply by ignoring customers after they have made a purchase. “By documenting your communication process, you can address any bottlenecks, missed opportunities and weak spots before your customers and potential customers experience them.” A secret shopper experience could be valuable during the assessment process, she says. 5. Play customer for a day Putting yourself in your customers' shoes is the perfect way to identify what needs to be done in your business to improve it. Stan Gordon, the CEO of Franchised Food Company, says business owners need to step away from their business for a day and see what it’s like to do business with your firm. “Read over your website and marketing materials with fresh eyes, dine in your restaurant, call your phone number as someone else, test your email address and response time, Google yourself and walk through the customer entrance. Then, do the same for your competitors.” Learn from this experience by listing areas you can improve on, he says. “Decide what you can do to make the experience better, easier or more exciting,” Gordon says. 6. Give yourself a business retreat All the major Australian corporations do it via planning time away from the office or national sales meetings, so why shouldn’t your business? A business retreat gives you and/or your team time to assess the year ahead and put plans in place to achieve your goals. Professional organiser Karen Koedding of A Little Elf recommends booking an office off-site, or better still, a house in the mountains or down the coast for at least two full days. If you book an office in town, book a hotel to stay in overnight as well, so you’re thought pattern is different, she says. “Bring all of those ideas you’ve had over the past year, those articles you never read, your financial reports showing results and details of your top clients and plan out your year. “If possible, turn off the phone and the internet. Allow yourself to think, dream and plan. Do this at least twice a year,” she says.
Google has announced that it is beginning to roll out changes to its search results that add information about website owners to its results. In a post on the company’s official Inside Search blog, software engineer Bart Niechwiej says the results for selected websites will have additional information about the publisher appear alongside the results. “As you choose the right search result for you — be that about the American Civil War or back pain — you want to know where the results come from. “To help you learn more about the websites you see in your search results, starting today you may see more information about them directly on the results page when you search on your desktop. “You’ll see this extra information when a site is widely recognized as notable online, when there is enough information to show or when the content may be handy for you.” The new feature will present the name of a source of additional information about a particular website or organisation, such as Wikipedia. By clicking on the link, additional information about the website from that source will appear alongside the result. “The information you’ll see is based on the Knowledge Graph, Google’s interconnected understanding of the things that exist in the world. “As we expand the Knowledge Graph, we expect to give you more information about more websites - making it easier for you to choose the right result.” The tech giant has also set up a form to report any website linking to incorrect details through the new site information feature. News of the rollout comes on the heels of a blog post by Google’s spam czar, Matt Cutts, warning the search giant is planning a crackdown on backlinks in guest blog posts. “If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company. “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there… I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. “So stick a fork in it: guest blogging [for backlinks] is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.” The blog post has led to speculation that a major Google update could be in the pipeline in the near future. This story first appeared on SmartCompany.