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Timothy Vasko

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The Future of Information on the Internet - Word of Mouth, Responsible Connections

June 9, 2010 07:36
In today's world there is almost no need for journalists, and no need for ink on paper. This is not to say ink and paper will go away - they won't. They are great comforts, like junk food, or mom's cooking. No matter how bad it is for us, - there is something satisfying about a burger, a big fat piece of home-made chocolate cake. We'll eat it, just in moderation. And then we'll go exercise, or eat better for the rest of the week.Today, the equivalent in information is the internet, allowing us to surpass ink and paper, and the old methods that controlled the flow of information. Even if you run an ad in a beautiful magazine, or a place a newspaper announcement about a foreclosure of a real estate project, your information, and all it will touch, will end up with a web search. Information "off-line", drives more presence on-line due to the "conversation marketing" of today. This conversation is known as Twitter, Facebook, linked in and Blogging. It's the organic spread of information; person to person, through multiple channels -unrestricted and free.We live in a re-shaped information age. It is a self-discovery market; things that we think about will lead us online. Something we see in passing or hear in passing, on the web or off, will lead us to a discovery on the internet. If it is on our mind, we can now track down and find almost any information we want, and better yet, we all do this now as second nature. Awareness of information is at the most raw level of our consciousness today. Have you ever bought a car, or thought about buying a car, and noticed, all of a sudden, how many are on the road? Did they produce more of that model car because you decided that was the one you were interested in? Of course not. Awareness took care of your recognition of the cars, their colors and numbers. They were always there before. The difference is you had entered the self-discovery paradigm - a place where you were completely oblivious to the existence of information, until it became relevant to you. The self-discovery paradigm and the conversation marketing of today have created a "word of mouth for the web" that redistributes power from the media titans and put it in the hands of the people. This has not only begun to occur, it has accelerated as an unstoppable wave of human connections. paradigm shift of people who form the core of business understanding has occurred: intuitive entrepreneurs and business people who understand the new "word of mouth" system know they must have access to this rapid transmission of information because an information distribution shift has taken hold. How can we manage ourselves in this new world? How can we use that knowledge and power that we all have now so we might gain in this process? How can we get connected, stay connected and enter our Connected Market Space? The Connected Market Space is a bubble of information, word of mouth and self discovery that inevitably will encircle our lives, our businesses and our brain waves. That is what being Connected means. Being responsibly Connected - creating a space were accurate information flows between all parties informing all decisions - rests in our hands as individuals and organizations. Today, the internet resembles a city suffering from "urban sprawl" - a sprawl that continues to clutter the view of searchers and surfers. It is a traffic pattern that is gridlocked - blocking the reach for accurate and real information. In the Connected Market Space companies and people will both create and contain the sprawl. It is clear to me that we will see connections through communities that evolve into vertical sky-scrappers of technologically efficient structures, information and delivery systems within industry sectors. The thirst for a single point of contact: one that can filter, report and provide true and accurate communication, information, and enable transactions, overcome the uncertainty, the crowds, the complexity of the "results" of this sprawl of information - will begin to provide trusted, connected communities. It will be like a strong neighborhood, served by local businesses in a vertically connected global world. My team and I believe every important decision that affects lives and livelihoods, deserves a Connected Market Space with an organic Triple Bottom Line for people, presence and profits on all sides of the transaction - the buyers, the sellers and the facilitators.

Beyond CRM - Why Connected Companies Need Better Customer Relationship Management

May 5, 2010 07:32
Everyone today knows that CRM solutions save money and make moving information between employees, customer and clients much easier. Between 1999 and 2005, it seemed everyone was jumping on the CRM bandwagon - and with good reason - who doesn't want to streamline their data capture and make more money?However, more than 10 years into CRM, some interesting statistics start to emerge:
  • "55% - 75% of all CRM installs failed to achieve results or even go live..." (source: HBR 2001)
  • "70% of large scale CRM projects - costing more than $50mm do not achieve objectives ..." (source: Gartners Study, 2005)
  • "One in every 5 users reported CRM not only failed to deliver profitable growth ... but damaged long-standing customer relationships" (source: J- Banis Annual Survey, 2001)
Is this really true? A member of the CMAEON staff shared a story with me about CRM software. She had just started with a large, well established natural resources company, which was using Peoplesoft to manage its mandatory safety training. One of the first things she had to do was learn how to use the system: "So, when you take your first aid classes, you'll have to enter your records into Peoplestupid." "People. stupid?" "Well, it's called PeopleSoft, but it doesn't work very well.â" What happened? How did a piece of software designed to make processes better end up with such a bad reputation internally. With CRM, it's really a question of intentions: people are not managed, and neither are customers. What you should be managing are your processes. In other words, YOUR business processes that build YOUR relationships should talk YOUR talk and walk YOUR walk. If your CRM is only focused on features that capture information, ignoring what you do with it, the technology you use, or what your employees and clients like, chances are it's not going to work for you. When a company implements a CRM system, it should work with the company, not change the company to work with the CRM system. If the focus is adapting the system to how you walk, and how you talk, then you can start streamlining processes to you can do MORE of the RIGHT stuff better.

Stop Screaming at Your Market - Get Your Message Heard Instead

April 9, 2010 07:30

Does anyone remember the old EF Hutton TV commercials? Dead silence. People watch attentively as someone mutters, "EF Hutton thinks...". The tag line was "When EF Hutton talks, people listen".

Well, those were the good old days of TV and trusted investment advisors. It's a different world now for more than a few reasons - the global meltdown, Bernie Madoff, and the Internet flooded with information, to name a few. A recent "Economist" article referred to our time as the "Data Deluge".

The subject of how to get "people to listen" on the web beyond all the noise has recently become the subject of many questions I have received. So, here is my answer in as much brevity as I can muster (considering the question is like trying to put cliff notes around "War & Peace" while trying to keep all the nuances and meaning).


So, how should you establish your business on the Internet without being intrusive or adding to the growing clutter and noise of increasing data dump?

It starts with a foundation - the clear understanding that this is a connected market. It is a two-way conversation - a delivery of messages where conversational communication drives the market.

There are an increasing multitude of communication engines that are evolving. We know these as search engines, social networks, blogs, email, text messaging, RSS feeds, audio, and video. Many of the most popular tools are known by brand names that break down like this:

BrandConsolidators and/or Tools

Communication Medium

Google

Search Engine. Make their revenue through pay-per-click advertising. Deliver their product through natural search engine algorithms (SEO) - a popular way to capture the "organic" presence.

Bing

Microsoft and Yahoo have partnered to try to add a new twist to search.

Facebook

Social Network.

LinkedIn

A business-to-business person social network.

Twitter

Mini-Blog feed - quasi social network.

RSS

Really Simple Syndication - more a tool than a brand.

Digg

One of the largest Blog consolidators.

BlackBerry

Still the leader in e-mail tools - incorporates BBM (Black Berry Messenger) - a kind of instant, free text messaging tool between BlackBerry users.

iPhone (Apple)

The iPhone is a computer with a phone attached - it is a device that can be set up to use and do many things with all of the above.

E-mail

E-mail can evolve if one has the tools to us it properly.Think of e-mail as the standard way to engage and interact - it works marvelously if you're not generic or intrusive. That is the trick.

SMS - Text Messaging - MMS

Text, Pictures, Video sent to mobile devices.

YouTube

Video consolidator (owned by Google)-“ quite under fire at the moment for theft of copyrighted material.

Podcasts (Apple)

Audio news and information delivered via the iTunes store.

Of course there are dozens of others in each category beyond this cursory list. The first thing to recognize is there is no one place, brand, or method that is considered the "best". These are all important to your business message and model (which is the first level of complexity).

To further define the relevance of each model to your particular marketing, you must define how to begin the conversation. A worthwhile objective is to establish an "inbound" connection. Far too much communication today on the Net follows the "outbound" model. Newspapers, magazines, TV, radio never had the need to consider an instant response.

A model that begins with an inbound query from a user is the correct approach and is the only approach worth pursuing in this web of cluttered information.

How do we begin to do this? We need to add a second level of complexity - to create a conversation - which is difficult. How do you create a conversation with complete and "virtual" strangers? Perhaps, the best way to understand that is for your enterprise to go reflect back on the old adage of "word-of-mouth is the best advertising". We call this word-of-mouth on the web - a conversation that talks about your company instead of telling the world about yourself. This is the sort of PR marketing that is most valuable.

A true conversation is bound to engage and emerge when what your business offers is the topic of conversation. Is it difficult to do? In a cluttered world of search data, yes. In a targeted market of like-minded conversations? It's very effective! Thus, the era of vertical connected market spaces, focused on a particular subject, is the emerging key. Are you a part of the right conversation?

How you begin this conversation can be blurred. For example, if I'm walking down the street and accidentally bump into someone while trying to avoid a puddle and I say "sorry" or "excuse me", an exchange occurs. Where did the conversation, interaction begin? Where could it lead?

The Internet conversation works much like this. Search has conditioned people to "bump into" thoughts and information, things they may or may not have been thinking about - seemingly random puddles of information. This is what I call the - self-discovery" market of information delivery. Where will your information show up? Are you playing in the right puddle?

How do you ensure that you are in the right place where a machine - a search engine - delivers your message where it is relevant, important, and becomes a part of the conversation? A good way to start is to first "listen" before you begin; this happens through analytics about the conversation surrounding your market.

Of course now we are looking at the true challenge for businesses in today's world of the Internet. There are trillions of bites of information, emails, data, and texts that are filling up the space of these "conversations" - so much so that there is a lot of clutter and noise.

Imagine standing in the middle of New York, at Times Square at noon on a Monday and shouting your message about how solid your financial planning model is. How many people will take you up on your advice and become your client? You may turn some heads. More likely, you"ll be politely asked to calm down or take a trip down to the NYPD precinct!

Now, imagine the financial firm that starts sponsoring some entertainment and with a loud speaker from the stage, announces that their firm is sponsoring this noon concert to bring attention to the disaster in Haiti. They don't talk about their financial strategies as wealth planners. They simply announce their intentions and provide a well thought out message adding value to busy Times Square. Both are shouting, but which one will establish credibility? Which company is more likely to be heard and build a client base from the exact same crowd?

The first company wanted to deliver a message by shouting. They wanted a quick win. They wanted it to be “free†or inexpensive. Too many businesses have and continue to treat the web the same way.

The second firm hired an events coordinator, found an attraction and sponsored a great band. They paid for a permit from the City of New York and kept their commitment. They took proceeds and sent them to the organizations aiding Haiti. It was an investment of time through branding and organization.

The first firm was shouting, adding clutter to the noise. This is what SPAM and traditional websites are.

I heard a recent suggestion from a business leader to simply use text messaging to send out random text messages to be heard! This was disconcerting, as it's this kind of thinking that was behind e-mail SPAM in the first place! It simply won't work. And in the world of "black lists", it could really damage your business.

The problem and challenge with the Internet is that companies want quick answers amidst perhaps the most crowded and noisy of all streets ever created by humanity. There are currently over 1.8 billion users on the Internet - all in this Conversation Market TM, all with something to say. There are numerous places and ways that people can hear and discover your message of interest, as well as many to ignore.

What are the steps to succeeding? Here is a list of Do's and Don'ts that well-organized, well-respected businesses should follow:

Do

Don't

Understand your market - where are they looking, what is your region or specific area, model of client / customer you are seeking and that is seeking your product.

Splash your message to the world using Google AdWords, generic email newsletters about what you want to tell the world or talk about or your views.

Find the medium most effective to deliver your message - you will have to invest in the tools to use.

Just spend your money on pay-per-click advertising - you'll waste it.

Create a conversation "puddle" about why people should be interested in what you have to offer or say.Tell them how the world is within your market and how you can help.

State all of the reasons why your firm is so great on a web site - that is not what the world is looking for.They want sincere help and understanding. In the words of Stephen Covey, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood".

Do hire a professional firm that specializes in creating connections based on your objectives - and helps measure your Return On Investment.

Don't hire a webmaster, designer, or Flash graphics firm that will build you a fancy or flashy "better" website.

Finally, create a bound connection between your business that you deliver offline and how you can create better service and connections online.Improve your enterprises process with technology.I call this BIPED®.

Don"t just try to bring people in on the "front stage" and forget that the reason they are there is to have a fresh new perspective from what you do “back stage".

So, to summarize all the Do's to reach your goals of using the Internet to market and run your business more effectively:

1) Clearly identify the meaning of your message to the market that is ready to receive what you are willing to offer. A professional, technology-oriented marketing firm can help you uncover this message.

2) Find the best communication medium you can commit to managing or having managed (e.g. Search, Social, E-mail, RSS, Podcast, Video, etc.). Again, this is not a quick, easy thing. But getting the right tools on the front end will allow you to deliver and sustain your objectives. Your marketing becomes better and easier, and your prospective customer base grows.

3) Plan to invest your money wisely in the expertise, not just in the ads that are easy to buy from Google and the like - that won't work.

4) Design your company around this medium - and you will have designed a long-lasting market and loyal customer base.

Do these and get heard. Begin the conversation. Don't waste your time or marketing budget on more noise!

Tim Vasko

Tim is a veteran speaker, author and founder CEO of CMAEON - The Connected Market Space Company. To learn more - start a conversation by commenting now...

Getting Connected 4 "REAL" Part 1

October 20, 2009 07:27

Through travel, I've had the rare opportunity to view businesses, entrepreneurs and work forces from many different industries to watch how things are shaping up and changing.From E-Health in Pharmacies, to RealEstate, Mortgage Banking and Wealth Management -every industry is shifting to become more closely connected.As our world continues to connect, pushing the envelope for change and challenges; there is little question that we continue to push the boundaries of how we become connected.Each of us is driving this change every day when we set up or manage our Linked-In or Facebook pages.Or when we create a membership on the Realestock.com portal or run searches for the tools for the businesses we run, represent, or are thinking of starting.

This begs the questions, How connected are you really?How do you get and stay connected 4 real?


At CMAEON - the Connected Market Enterprise On Demand, we are celebrating our ten year anniversary this year.The first five years were about finding out how we might build a platform to provide better tools for the connections that were evolving through the web, during the early convergence of technology, media and communications.These tools would bridge the giant gap between integration of consumer information, education, communication and demands as well as businesses providing services and products.Our mission was to discover how people and the technology they use could best interface with buyers and seekers in the market place, in order to have them truly connect for a complex transaction such as purchasing a home, taking out a mortgage or finding a new pharmaceutical.

Businesses have struggled with the "amount" of information they have on each customer and what they should be providing. On the other side, customers, patients and investors have struggled to get the information they need; when they need it -and the answers they expect, want and deserve.

During our first five years in business, we brainstormed about the "Connection Dilemma". Then, with the Connected Market Space and Convergent Media Network model in mind, we began to build the systems.

Over the past five years, we've perfected The Connected Market Space Platform to allow buyers and sellers to Connect 4 Real.We have identified three (3) founding principles that apply to any buyer to seller connection – before a transaction takes place. We have identified how to create these connections online, where previously it had been largely an "off-line" activity.

What do connections look like in an "off-line" world? Almost all of us have made them and to some degree, still do.

If we"re sick, we make an appointment and go see a doctor.Or we hop in our car and go to the pharmacy.

If we"re looking to buy a new house, we jump into our cars or our real estate agents" cars and go looking for a new house.

For our mortgages or wealth management, we go on- line to check out stock and bond prices, mutual fund options and legal structures that might fit our situation.We might eventually sit down with our financial planner, stock broker or banker, or schedule a call with them.But we have a clear idea in our minds about what we want and need to do first.

Here"s what the Connected Market Space looks like today:

Now, before we go to the doctor, we do a search on a search engine, find some sites, and we learn more than ".. perhaps the doctor knows".., as quoted by a physician friend of mine this weekend.

We will shop to find out how much our medications will cost (especially if we have to pay out -of-pocket) - and which ones have had the best results for our condition.Then, we'll talk to a pharmacist - either by phone, email or through a web portal.We might go to the pharmacy - but lets' face it, we don't expect to get much more than a long wait in line in front of the pharmacy counter!

There are dozens of other examples that have been a part of life in the "off-line" world that have shifted to converge online involving the web of information and the people behind the services we use and buy. So what is the solution the Connected Market Space provides?It is a Real Time interaction and the ability of businesses to connect with the information they have to better answer the on-demand needs of their markets.And it is the connection of buyers, customers and patients in the market to pull that information, in any form they want, from those businesses.

Sounds easy?Not so fast.Have you ever found a web site that had great pictures and even good information but you couldn't instantly connect; even if you found it?Or if you did find a contact screen, but your requests went unanswered for days and days?This is because web sites were originally designed as flat electronic brochures.With the exception of moving images and some video, little has changed.

Part 2 of Tim's Getting Connected4 'Real' series will be posted shortly

Getting Connected 4 "REAL" Part 2

October 20, 2009 07:19

Here is part two of Tim's series on staying Connected 4 REAL. You can find part one here.

How does something that piques your interest on a web site get answered by the company behind that site?The sad truth is that most answers from business are too late, too hard to find, or are never answered.Even worse, most businesses don't even know what revenues bounced away to a competitor.

There are the three basic principles that are driving consumer and business connected sites like Facebook and Linked-in.These sites serve as a beginning, but they don't help in the transactional arena - where vendors and consumers actually do business.They also do nothing to help a business define its ongoing marketing or the processes behind how they interact and do business.

The three founding principles of Connecting 4 Real are mandatory for any truly connected enterprise - and they are the substance of what customers and a growing market of buyers are built on.

To explore these further - here is principle #1:Connections Are a Two Way Street !

Connections are a two way street, with lots of intersections, a few hair-pin curves.

In developing The Connected Market Space, we came up with a philosophy (and technology system) called CRM3 to address the multi-faceted demand of both customers and businesses.

You wouldn't keep a friend very long that just talked and talked, and never listened to what you had to say - would you?Yet for years, CRM or Customer Relationship Management has been all about what the "firm" knows about their customers - and what they can sell them and tell them.This all started in 1999, largely due to the work of Thomas Sieble.

It was a good idea when the Net was relatively new.Customers didn't have as many demands or access to many connections.So the need for instant service, answers or easy access to discoverable knowledge was nothing like it is today.

Today, everything from health care and patient records to buying a home or taking out a mortgage; is more about what the customer knows, not about what the enterprise knows or wants to sell or tell any more.

To become a truly Connected Enterprise TM it is more about what the customer tells the enterprise they want, through their actions on everything from web sites to emails.We first solved this problem by creating our 1to1REAL platform based on the CRM3 ® research and the reality of the market.

Connected Relationship Management, Messaging and Measurement creates a two way street of integrated interaction between vendors and consumers.It accounts for the intersections and surprises when interactions provide new information.

We always felt that the days of the "one way street", the one dimensional Customer Relationship Management tools would fade quickly in favor of a multi-tiered model where customers drove and were intimately involved in the relationship - from providing information about the sale to the services they expect.

This was a major departure for the original concept of contact management, designed to help keep track of information about customers.CRM or Customer Relationship Management was designed to keep track of transactions and customers needs and demands, so that a sales force could tell and sell.Both CRM and contact management solutions were designed to help the business - but left the customer hanging.

Today, consumers, buyers and patients are all expected to drive the process to get the services and products they are searching for - the products they will eventually buy.

To be Connected 4 Real - a company must have a platform that truly integrates their enterprise with their internal operations and the demands of their customer market.That leads to the second basic principle: Business Integration.

Integrating the software and tools of your core business is critical, as is the third and final basic principle of being Connected 4 Real - which is how your business operates using unique processes to maximize its opportunity and profits in the market place.

I've written more details about these three principles to help businesses understand how to get Connected 4 Real.The longer version of this article can be accessed for free by members of any Connected Market Space community - RealEstock.com, CMAEON.com or EHealth Connected.com.

To request more information, please enter your information below and we will provide you access to our Connected Market Space members area.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas on how to get Connected 4 Real.

And as Always- Stay Connected! Tim

"Bing"-Dong! The Connected Market Space: The World is Knocking @ The Front Door - Here Comes Relevant Information

June 21, 2009 06:45

In 1997 (Wow! Thirteen years ago - time flies when you're thinking), while I was a full time Professor at the University of Victoria - I wrote and published a small paper called Technomics: How Access to Information Will Change Global Business. That was before the term "search engines" was part of common, everyday discourse (and before Google was even a company).

Here we are, way after the turn of the millennium, 2009, and what was my dream in 1997 - The Connected Market Space - has become a reality with our flagship site, Realestock.com.


Realestock is a vertical "space" for global real estate, which enables both information and transaction processing. After 10 years of research and programming development, we have launched Realestock for the global real estate market. With search, auctions, communities, and a transaction tool, Realestock instantly connects real estate buyers with agents and sellers.

The "big dogs" are now ready to get more focused information in the Technomic revolution - take Microsoft's "bing.com" already grabbing market share from behemoth Google. Launched May 28th - Microsoft claims "Bing" to be a "Decision Engine" with buzz phrases like:

  • "Bing is a decision engine"
  • "Rather than spitting our results with search overload"
  • "Results are organized into logical Categories"
  • "Simple, Organized and Consistent"
  • "Take guesswork out of decisions"
  • "Save time and money"

Yes! Finally, someone else gets it! Information is only as good as what you can do with it! Good work Microsoft.

Now, if only you could connect to the transaction, bid on exactly what you want, talk to a real person for assistance (since computers can't do everything yet), and tell the world what you think in a community forum... Oh wait, you can!

The Realestock Connected Market Space for Global Real Estate does all of this and more - where over $1 Billion of real estate has already been "Connected" to buyers and sellers globally.

And, it appears the search engine markets are ready with "Bing" hitting the scene - hat's off Microsoft - competition drives innovation!

The economy is ready for real estate, buyers and sellers alike.

Are you?

Check out Realestock.com and the new Realestock Online Auctions - Get Connected to the sellers globally for the best real estate buyers market in history.

I'd like to hear your comments - what do you think about the Connected Market Space revolution?

PS: Coming soon -- Watch for another impressive and exciting Connected Market Space for Health Care this fall from CMAEON - the creators of the Connected Market Space!

It's Just Smarter Marketing To Connect (2 of 2)

March 19, 2009 06:34

In the last few posts I've been talking about "Smarter Marketing" - which is why we call "Smart Marketing" in The Connected Market Space iQ3. I talk about it here on my Video.

Leads are about (1) Quantity, which is the aggregation or volume game - in essence, making sure you are as visible as possible throughout the web to bring in a large volume of leads.

Next, drilling down to (2) Quality. Are these leads truly potential buyers? Are they looking for the products or services your business offers? If so, is your information and offer compelling enough for them to move to the third, critical aspect?

(3) Qualified - where the leads have become a prospect ready, willing and able to "connect" with a check.

Let's face it, this is all an exercise of buyers and sellers getting to know one another until money changes hands. That's where the REAL "relationship" begins - which is why we call our connected market space CRM 1to1REAL. Up until the point of the buyer / seller transaction, it's just dating.

I had this come in from Marketing Sherpa - The facts speak for themselves. Â As the Marketing Sherpa folks say:

SUMMARY: The call from the sales force is not "Give us more leads," it's "Give us better leads." Marketing is aware of this issue, as this chart shows, and is responding to the challenge.

Most Significant Challenges for B2B Marketers to Overcome Today

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We've been working on The Connected Market Space for 10 years to create the perfect "holy grail" of relationship based lead generation, or Conversation Marketing TM. And our tools are filling the bill for businesses looking for solutions across industries.

Heading overseas for a few weeks to see how the UK and EU are doing in the world of The Connected Market Space.

Cheers Tim

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