Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mobile ATE the world

Most people in the world no longer "go online" ... they are constantly connected with their mobile devices and instead must make a conscious effort to "go offline."  Let's think about what the ubiquitous utility of mobile data means for the lives of people ... we don't have to speculate anymore -- there are billions with more than enough experience in a connected world so we pretty much know what it means ... and it is still revolutionary!

Mobile has made internet usage [and instant on-demand access to data] into a ubiquitous utility -- access to data is literally more prevalently available to the world's population than even electricity or indoor plumbing.  Maybe not always, but it is often easier to either find wifi access or get a cell data signal than it is to find a bathroom or an outlet to recharge devices.  Increasingly people do not even think about this -- they might not stream movies, but otherwise simply just count on having an acceptable data connection everywhere they go.  It's not a luxury anymore, but rather it has become a need. Most people use a data connection for over almost all (i.e. well over 90%) of the tasks that require data or information for an informed choice in their work and daily lives.  We are past the point of exuberant hype, past the point the trough of disillusionment ... we are not steadily, sustainably finding more enlightened implementations and just finding better ways to add productivity and take out costs and uncertainties.  

It's now over with ... mobile has already eaten the world ... past tense ... not passing fad ... since the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and the Android smartphones thereafter, mobile has gotten serious about carving up, chewing, swallowing and EATING the world ... iOS / Android have proven themselves as the standard platforms that impact the strategies for all serious app developers ... now, it is just a matter of digestion and maybe tinkering with standard recipes to improve the dining experience for different tastes.  Of course, nobody is taking a nap just yet ...

Client-side front-end programming for cross-platform native mobile apps is rapidly maturing  beyond the janky OS-specific toolchains that were needed for in the early pioneering years of iOS and Android app development ... and on the back-end, the next generation of server-based enterprise architectures for data resources, messaging, machine learning, security and other applications that run on commodity hardware in the cloud is also steadily getting more advanced, secure, robust, extensible and generally more mature.  All of that means that cost of developing a working, web-scale proof-of-concept revenue-generating SaaS is so low that many startups are self-funded at the early stages.  Tech funding by venture capitalists is increasingly only used for the final capital-intensive stages of technology-enabled blitzscaling or polishing the edges of a proven concept before IPO or acquisition.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Salebarn 3.0 is about giving people better tools for data and appraisal, infrastructure that takes advantage of commodity cloud-based computing services and pushes the world of search and market intelligence to the next level

Over the past few years, we have been [quietly] watching the world of social commerce and how people are beginning to USE the technology.  We do not worship or fear technology; technology is simply a tool, a useful tool.  The technology is interesting ONLY because of how people use it.

At SALEBARN, we are particularly interested in how people will use technology for buying, selling, bidding, appraising, analyzing opportunities provided by markets ... it is fundamentally about legitimate actors on the economic stage practice the science of success, how the best of the best tinker with the Market Based Management engine that powers their growth.  Frankly, we think that the use of larger marketing, financial exchange, auction technology has been paralyzed or poisoned by the cultural and economic malaise that is paralyzing economic growth in general ... except for [or because of] innovative power grabs by fascist bureaucrats around the world, the innovation and growth of the world economy has been stopped in its tracks.

But the world is quietly building its antibodies to fascism by separating into two worlds ... one is populated by the John Galts, who have opted out and basically only participate to the degree they need to ... the other world is populated by the lowmen victims of the entitled classes.  The fascists believe that they can force most of the people in the world into the world that they own, the world of lowmen victims -- the entrepreneurs of the world know that they will never bow to fascism, even if their formerly close friends, family members and professional colleagues choose to give up and think like victims.  

Even if the individuals that make it up are disoriented and behaving like herd animals, the CROWD is alive and well and there are entrepreneurs finding ways to serve it ... those ways are primarily data-driven, cloud-based and accessed with mobile devices ... investing in all of the accoutrements of a large bricks-and-mortar building or even an expensive home is stupid in a world that demands an aggressively mobile, flexible, antifragile mentality.    
Crowd-based data-driven mobile solutions are fundamentally about accelerating the negotiations that are implicit in the information providing by the marketplace ... the POINT of the technology is the crowd and how the crowd is accelerating the negotiation of price and features; it's not technology for technology's sake.  Crowd-driven data is not just about one private market or a chain of markets OR a big auction or even a set of roughly comparable auctions.
Crowd-driven data technology is fundamentally open source, dynamic, agile and disruptive technology that will completely revolutionize the world of marketing, auction and appraisal in a bigger way than online auctions like eBay revolutionized the world of auctions for old tools, antiques and charming knick-knacks -- because the CROWD is alive and developing its own intelligence ... the cluetrain manifesto is finally starting to materialize, even though the majority of populations who are participate in markets will still be entirely clueless and led by the few.  

So what are some of the key components of this technology?
  1. Search technology far beyond the uber-restrictive and arthritic crap provided by google ... Solr, Lucene, Hadoop
  2. Cloud-based commodity big data ... AWS, Rackspace, OpenStack
  3. DISTRIBUTED mobile, wireless, RF, software-defined technology ... 
  4. Intelligence and security ... that reaches into things like cryptography, steganography, defcon, black hat hacking, IDF, Haganah, Mossad-style ... it's not just technology -- at the end of day, there are assholes who simply must die for their crimes ... that means de-clawing, neutering and even assassination of fascists and those who work for them
These are technologies that we will discuss in coming blog posts.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Salebarn 3.0 ... the highest quality social networking technology for free markets

Friendships matter far more than technology.  Good friends push their friends to become better. The highest QUALITY social network technology is about eliminating the wasted effort and misunderstanding in human networking.

Discovering and nurturing content-driven talent is the foundation of any organization, business, club, association, social network ... people who "bring something to the table," who share valuable content are the basis of why a network of networks matters.  To address the need for a network of people who understand the importance of interlinkages between various networks of experts and afficianodos and tribes of marketers who cater to those networks, is creating a new program to recruit co-founders ... in many ways this program is similar to those used in different organizations such as Edward D Jones or Gawker.   Co-founders are in business for themselves; the network infrastructure owned by independent businesses means that they are not by themselves.  
Games are fun to play, but they depend upon rules so that the players can enjoy playing the game together.  The rules should recognize that the players will, at times, be very competitive and will aggressively attack new opportunities in ways that other players find threatening. Humans are gregarious; they crave interaction and they value fairness, but competition is the essence of free markets.  It is unrealistic to expect that all of the players are going play the game with the same strategy.   It is unrealistic to expect that there will never be disagreements among the players -- the structure of the network must strive to accelerate the negotiation process that is used to hammer out the disagreements among the competitive players, so that those players can offer the best alternatives, best choices, best prices to the bidders, sellers, buyers and others who get information from the network.

Recruited co-founders will become owners of the network by transacting business via the network and paying a very modest and nominal fee to cover their services.  Any profits generated by the network will be reinvested within 12 months; if the network buys any assets, the debts incurred from purchasing those assets will be paid off as soon as practical.   Recruited founders will as a social media posting tool; they can post as little or as often as they'd like; determining which social media networks to use and timing of their message (e.g. items for sale) so that they optimize the sweet spot of their marketing, analytical and relationship-tuning processes. 
Co-founders will report to their site lead and take direction and advice.

Co-founders will abide by standards to which all Gawker employees and contractors abide.

Attempts to "game" the numbers by nefarious, unethical, or needlessly impolitic behavior (bot nets, false reports, or republishing without linking, in respective example) will result in the termination of a Recruit's contract, at our discretion.
The goal is to discover and train new talent and to pair that talent so that co-founders can build long-term relationships, not to momentarily mine cheap traffic with a rotating pool of collaborators and competitors [to keep the saw sharp].

This opportunity will not be for everyone.  It is anticipated that fewer than 1 in 10, maybe even fewer than 1 in 100, of the co-founders will decide to be involved on a full-time basis over the long-term ... many will decide that there are more optimal career paths and better opportunities elsewhere ... the goal should be to encourage those co-founders to move quickly through the process of discerning their optimal career path and developing their independent business or profession.
Q. How many recruited co-founders will you bring on?
A. We're going to start recruiting 25 per day; we'll will try that for four weeks or 20 days (500 recruits total) and then re-evaluate ... we believe that we will need 100 co-founders in order to ensure success in the initial phase of this effort.
Q. How do I become a co-founder?
A. Attend auctioneering college, join NAA, join your State Auctioneer Association ... participate in those organizations, build friendships and partnerships, work at developing a viable going concern.
Q. What happens if a co-founder [or if] decides that the co-founder is not sufficiently interested to make the relationship successful?
A. We realize that situations and commitments crop up unexpectantly, but if the co-founder goes six weeks without any action, will give them three "inactivity warnings" ... if there is no response, will shut down their subsite and recruit another co-founder to fill a niche similar to theirs.
Q. What is a Site Lead? 
A.   Salebarn will have a limited number of top-level sites such as ... ... ... ... a Site Lead is a co-founder who has made a larger upfront investment and has taken leadership for a top-level Site. 
Q. How will the CONSTITUTION be developed?
A. In a Constitutional Convention ... we will propose a Constitution, then we'll talk about it, then the co-founders that wish to participate will ratify the Constitution.
Q. How will discourage bad or lazy attempts at marketing or "traffic whoring"?
A. will be governed by its co-founders according to its Constitution.  The entire governing process will be extremely transparent.
Q. Can a co-founders sub-site feature JUNK ... such as pornography, copyrighted materials, trojans, unfounded slander, pictures of pigs with poop on their balls, 1,000-word posts with only the word "abortion" pasted within, Nick Denton photoshops, or…
A. Nope.  INSTANT termination of the relationship with very limited rights of appeal.  If you choose to behave like an idiot and do not honor the standards of the community, you do not belong in the universe.
Q. What's the most important thing to remember?
A. This list of questions is too long already ... we are just getting started with rev 3.0, but we have been having a conversation with a huge mountain of stone for a long time.  QUALITY is what is left when you remove the waste -- delivering quality is like sculpting the statue that is hidden within a block of stone.  Salebarn 3.0 is about delivering quality in social networking technology for free markets.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Choices abound in the world of social media -- look around, try other networks, be patient as they grow, get ready to GO ELSEWHERE.

Facebook's ONLY positive attribute now is its LARGE base of users; and that LARGE base of users attracts others who want the shared content of the users. 

Facebook is still benefiting from the work done five to ten years ago by people, like Jeff Hammerbacher, et al, who built the original "crashwhale-free" infrastructure ... FB ate Twitter's lunch by being reliable at a time when a lot of people were joining social networks and communicating via smartphones (i.e. a BIGGER, safer, friendlier, more reliable network than MySpace or Friendster ever had a prayer of having). 

Facebook has probably taken its market share for granted.  The arrogance of huge success is always difficult to avoid.  The earnest dweebiness of Facebook was cute five years ago, but now it's more than a little old.  The analogy is far from perfect, but it is sort of like how KMart and Sears ran out of gas in the 70s.  Eventually [maybe already], the day will arrive when that large base of users will eventually realize that there are places other than a shabby old KMart/Sears staffed by lame idiots and clueless asshholes who want to dick with the users because they can. 

The quantity and QUALITY of the connectedness possible within a social network matters.   For that reason, social media preference is stickier than beer preference.  It's all about networking ... but social media preference probably not permanent, because there are still different ways to network.   There will always be something better that comes along, but who knows what that might be.  What we know is that Facebook is showing its age.  Facebook's grip on the market relative to any other player might look overwhelming, but it is not so overwhelming when we consider the class of "anything BUT Facebook."  It is quite clear that people want choice.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Decision Rights Series

This is an introductory teaser to a much longer seriers of posts that is still gestating, still under heavy thinkering and development ... the whole series started off as a idea for a simple posting about some reflections on Market Based Management or Charlie Koch's Science of Success, specifically the Challenge Process ... and, of course, the whole topic on the elegance magnificence of markets takes us into the nuances described in the work of Friedman, Sowell, von Mises, Mercatur ... it goes beyond MBM's Vision, Knowledge, Incentives, Diversity and lands us in the world of where things must be EARNED and paid for -- it is the context of who gets to make the decision, who is allowed to bid, what does it take to OWN the rights to make a decision?

Ownership and what it takes to be the one in control, the one making a decision is really intensely powerful stuff to think about ... it is not the cream puff namby-pamby world of democracy and fairness, it is the REAL world of who paid the price, who won the war, who owns the turf and who gets to decide [for now].

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Understanding your sales funnel

Every business has a sales funnel or sales dealflow process that involves different stages of lead generation, lead conversion, customer satisfaction, referrals.   Even if you think that you do not use sales funnels, you do.  You language and jargon might be different  You have to have a sales funnel or sales dealflow process -- you might call the process something else, but you use some form of sales funnel.  How effectively you use that sales funnel basically determines how well your business is doing.

If your organization is healthy and not in a state of decline, EVERYBODY in your organization has to be involved in sales ... and EVERYBODY has to understand their role and the pivotal importance of their role in the overall sales flow.  Nobody can systematically drop the baton and everybody has to understand the sales flow well enough to see how they fit, what they should expect from what's upstream and what people who are downstream should expect from them.   That's it is so important to understand that everybody in your organization has to be involved in sales ... if not, your organization is already in a state of decline and just waiting to die.

You are probably with different concepts in the history of marketingguerrilla marketing, and salesforce management systems ... if not, you really need to read and get up to speed on these things. You can think about a sales funnel as a continuous flow process or in order to approximate smooth continuity you might think of a 10 step flow process.
  1. The minimal level of drive-by engagement ... this is just about "hanging out your shingle," being open for business, having the lights on and phone -- having the basic tools of the trade in order to deliver the product/service.  This level of engagement might require something like a location, a vehicle, a website, cards, brochures, a blog, tweeting, having a booth at conferences, writing an article in trade journals, having a radio program.  This is only the beginning of being there so that you are notice if someone is looking ... it starts with the processes of developing a reputation for expertise and the promotion of that expertise.  It is the very first element of "findability."
  2. Put your business "on the map" is a slightly higher level of engagement ... at this point, you have made sure that your business is mentioned in relevant discussions, you have networked and built relationships, you are listed in directories.  Your business comes up in search -- if you have a website, you are knowledgeable search engine optimization or whatever is necessary in your industry to be one of the first options that people might consider.
  3. Developing a REAL following of people, friends who genuinely "Like" what you do, people who see your organization as a source of information and a potential solver of problems.  These are not people who have made ANY tangible commitment to you -- but they are "real," even though they might still anonymous people who go by a username or online personna.  They are "friends" of your business who occassionally refer their friends and family members to content that you provide or retweet your tweets ... these are NOT sales referrals, these content referrals, as in people who send links of your blogs/photos/videos to others.
  4. The next stage is getting people to participate in your "freemium" offering and to make the smallest possible real commitment.  The barrier to cross here is in to getting people to SIGN UP [with their real name, email address and password] and then to sign in again and verify that they have signed up and are moderately interested in your product ... this is not a commitment or promise to make a purchase or even use the free version of your product, but they have given you their [real] name, email address ... at the beginning of this stage, you have not even asked for a phone number, home address or anything remotely vital ... but that might change as they use your product more [in the same way that Facebook nudges people to supply more information].    
  5. The next stage is getting people or business to make the MINIMUM possible atomic purchase ... you might have a service [just beyond FREE level in your "freemium plan] that costs $19.99/month ... if you are selling to businesses, this is the smallest possible Purchase Order that gets you into their Purchasing System.  The distinction between this level and the fourth level is that MONEY has changed hands.  From the fifth stage on, these people are not just "users" of your content and free product, they are verified CUSTOMERS.
  6. The sixth phases is about being there, and stepping up to deliver, when the CUSTOMER really needs something special or unique.  This is when the customer calls and they really, really, really NEED service and they need it NOW.  It might also be when the customer calls to complain and they feel that the product has let them down -- the quality of response to a customer IN NEED determines whether or not the customer  advances to the next levels.
  7. At the seventh level, the CUSTOMER becomes a "pro" or a "premium level" customer ... perhaps they take the time to become "Certified," a la Certified Red Hat System Administrator or Certified Solidworks Professional.  They use your product or service at a significant level and they use it more or less routinely, but even though their purchases are significant and almost routine, they are still comparison-shopping -- you are their preferred vendor, but you are not yet the only vendor they would consider using. 
  8. At the eighth level, the CUSTOMER is a satisfied lifetime, automatic repeat customer.  They will give referrals if they are coaxed -- but if they are pushed into giving referrals [in some sort of manipulative, passive-aggressive fashion] before they are really ready to do, you will probably either lose them OR they will never move to highest levels of trust and enthusiasm.  At this level, the customer TRUSTS your product or service as a ubiquitous, necessary utility -- they would not really think of doing without it unless some idiot in your organization does something to squander their trust.
  9. At the ninth level, these customers are the true enthusiasts and believers in your product and service.  They will endorse your product without compensation, without being coaxed.  They will pay more money than they have to pay in order to buy clothing that offers them the special privilege of wearing your logo.  They will paint their houses green and yellow if they love your green and yellow tractors.  They are die hard zealots who will claim to have always been your fans even when other people weren't -- they will dispute whether lawyers and accountants should be allowed to buy your guitars or own your motorcycles just because those people have money.  
  10. At the tenth level, these customers move beyond making smaller token efforts (i.e. buying a sweatshirt).  They will invest in your company, they will back your projects, they will jump at the chance to become co-owners -- they will covet the chance of having the opportunity to be considered as an employee or to offer consulting services.
Most companies do not understand sales funnels ... very few employees of any company really understand the pivotal role of their efforts in their employer's sales funnel ... it does happen, but not all that frequently.  Brand new, smaller startup companies and family businesses tend to do a better job of this ... older, established, dinosaurs tend to be rather poor at this.  If you want your organization to be around in five years, it is imperative that all of the people in your organization understand your sales flow ... you just cannot understate the importance of sales flow to a healthy organization.  A healthy sales funnel is more important to an organization than a a healthy digestive track is to a human being.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Few Hundred Ways To Become An Expert in Friendraising

Salebarn's new enterprise, was formed to increase those "US" things that auctioneers can be involved in, to be better citizens ... crowdfunding, social commerce,  social network analytics and friendraising.  Friendraising is such an new notion that the word is still not in most dictionaries.  If you type the word and you will probably see squiggly lines under it because your text editor doesn't recognize the word yet BUT friendraising already kind of a big deal.

The massively collaborative, crowd-written, crowd-edited Wikipedia, which has come to epitomize the notion of crowdsourcing and shared interest in knowledge, has an entry for friendraising. Of course, the notion of friendraising is still a brand new, still evolving, thinly understood concept.  The Wikipedia entry will change -- right now, it is still new and SMALL and quite likely to be somewhat incorrect, even though it is a good starting point.

So far, the Wikipedia "experts" on the friendraising entry have defined the term as just another "form of fundraising that involves befriending an organization or individual for the purpose of helping support the financial aspect of a charity, nonprofit group or other community benefit organization."

Is friendraising ONLY about money?  What about skills, creativity, enthusiasm and human capital?  

Besides just the current deal-based fundraising, what about relationship-based friendraising and the networking that shapes our organizations into the venue where we meet our FUTURE friends?

If we have friends involved in our organizations, won't those those friends likely to tip over their couches to get the change, maybe hit up some of their friends to get involved, to go to their employers for employer-sponsored matching contributions?  Won't genuine friends somehow, some way find the money if that money is REALLY needed to do something?  Is money really what really makes things happen?

Let's accept the impossible mission to become experts in friendraising.  Let's define what friendraising is about in terms of developing relationships with people who will become our FRIENDS because we share the same passion for the same cause ... since these people are going to be our friends, let's leave money out of it at first ... we can talk about money later ... at first, let's start raising a network of new friends in the same way that Amish people might thing about raising a new barn.

The following quote should guide us in how we think about friendraising, about how our commitments shape our friendships and how we make our lives more meaningful by sharing our commitments and our friendships ...

"We make a living by what we can get, we make a life by what we give."  Winston Churchill

It's not just about giving money. That's too easy. Friends give much more to friends than money. A lot of the networking, energy, creativity and other skills involved in friendraising might be dismissed as just common sense.  After all, almost all of us have been making new friends for longer than we've have been able to talk in coherent sentences, so we might already know how to make friends [even if we have forgotten it and prefer to only talk with people we already know].  If we are going to be any good at this, we have to think about structure or architecture ... in other words, in order to RAISE this network of new FRIENDS, we might have to  think about how we might engineer and accelerate the development of our expertise in this brand new topic of FRIENDRAISING.

Let's start by brainstorming 100 Ways To Become An Expert in Friendraising ... some of these will be WILD goofy ideas ... we won't be able to do all 100 right away ... but the first step is just brainstorming ... when you run out of ideas, start BlekkoStorming
  1. Read everything you can find on relationships and networking. List ways that your network can do more to advance each of the following positive attributes of genuine friendship:
    • Knowing and liking one another ... beyond the easy, non-committal "slacktivism" of being a social network  follower or recipient of the [LIKE] button
    • Open, positive communication, interaction, debate and notification
    • Demonstrated compassion, care, concern, empathy; being present
    • Depth of understanding especially on differences in opinion
    • FUN ... collaborative, creative, entertaining effort toward mutual success
    • Reciprocal participation and appropriate cross-involvement in other causes
    • Open-mindedness, fairness and adaptability without loss of integrity
    • Honoring commitments, being dependable, especially in times of need
    • Honesty, dignified disagreement and respect for different views
    • Everything that friendliness and being a true friend involves
    Get out of your cocoon, and put your knowledge of networking into practice, test different ways of meet NEW people ... but get out there and see what works!
  2. Develop an systematic adaptation of the Edward D Jones process for relationship-based marketing, setting aggressive goals to make personal, physical belly-to-belly contact with 25 people per day.  Find ways, e.g. seminars, tradeshows, events and auctions, to meet larger numbers of people who share your interests to ensure that you make contact with more people who will join your cause, become your friends.
  3. If you think about the process of networking very long, you start to realize that it is going to be even more necessary in the future to spend [at least] an hour a day on social media marketing and, in particular, you may want to get especially serious about Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  4. Master web analytics and related topics [include mobile] to understand how people USE web pages and the internet
  5. Get serious about social network analytics
  6. Become a better, more focused, more intuitive listener ... read between the lines as you listen to what someone is saying, as you read their blog posts or comments.  It's a lot like making friends when you're two or three years old; you cannot just depend on logical or rational argument ... you have to develop your intuition to really HEAR what someone is saying.  
  7. Beyond just listening to one or two people -- you must find ways to listen to the smartest person in the millions of jabbering voices out there.  That means that you must develop ways to use technology to automate your content selection process and transcend the process of reading ... the fundamental notion is there's always a LOT of someones out there who are smarter than you.  Even among the people who aren't that bright, there are more than enough good ideas.  If you can be a more effective and efficient LISTENER and if you can sift the wheat from the mountains of chaff, there will always someone out there who will give you an idea that will work well [even if they have a wild idea that will never work].  You already know what kind of stuff is just a distraction and completely unworthy of your time.
  8. Using vertical search engines like Blekko and curating a slashtag is one way to improve and refine your approach to search.
  9. Become proficient at use a CMS like Drupal to aggregate RSS feeds and manage content from different sources
  10. Develop curated lists on Twitter; use those currated lists as the basis for daily "newspapers" with services like Paper.LI (@SmallRivers) and (@TwtTimes) come under the newspaper format. 
  11. Develop slightly deeper content, such as curated magazines or course syllabi, with (@ilpostano), (@Twylah), (@scoopit) or (@LearnistTweets)
  12. Consider developing content using so-called "summarizers" include (@summify),, (@knwbt), (@newsdotme), (@topicmarks)
  13. Investigate the more advanced "text synthesis" robojournalism (@AInsights), formerly StatSheet, (@narrativesci). 
  14. Master the use of Pinterest in fundraising, especially if much of of your content is image-based, for example, Van Gogh Museum or philanthropies that involve nature [photography]. Everyone should remember that "a picture is worth a 1000 words"and more image-based social networks.  It's not just Pinterest, don't ignore Google+ Photos Instant Upload and Picasa OR even FlickR, especially since Yahoo is trying to make FlickR relevant again.
  15. Real experts assiduously cultivate real person-to-person relationships [beyond just Facebook, Twitter, blogs] with real people who do real things.  Finding the rising stars in any industry or important pursuit is matter of digesting and reading a fair amount of deep content every single day.  It not about name-dropping or knowing the keywords, it's about really GETTING the ideas -- it's never hurts to be well-read.  
  16. Every commercial niche has one or more trade magazines.  That's true also  of the fundraising industry.  The editors and writers know what is the conventional wisdom for their industry ... seek to know more than they do. 
  17. Examine the advertisements [in industry publications.]  Look at WHO is advertising aggressively and who does not need to advertise.  Examine why and how they are advertising -- what are they selling, how are they trying to change opinions, what reputation are they trying to build or sustain.  Pay close attention to success and, more importantly, the DISRUPTION of success.  
  18. Write an article and submit it for publication in an industry magazine or peer-review journal. Become a published author in the industry. If you have trouble getting an article published, write a letter to the editor or respond to one.  Write something, start the process going. People will see your name, read your material and comment ... respond to the comments, interact with your audience ... develop a following. 
  19. Develop an authentic web presence; develop a process for re-inventing it and keeping it fresh ...  then develop another one.
  20. Develop a SERIOUS professional blog or family of blogs. 
  21. Speak regularly.  Get comfortable in front of crowds.  Practice at Toastmasters or form your own club of speakers.  Offer to speak at a local college, club, association, or service organization programming chair the opportunity to have you speak on a relevant subject both at no charge. 
  22. Becoming knowledgable about audio recording and podcasting and then develop a podcast that will attract friends.  
  23. Become a talk radio personality and use the power of personality to build influence, to reach out to like-minded people and, in general to attract friends.  While you are "on the air" think about also posting videos and photos, liveblogging, tweeting and doing other things to add depth, to make your show multi-dimensional. 
  24. Run your own seminars. Tie in your seminar with other companies and organizations to build your credentials. Become a technical specialist speaking to businesses, business organizations, banks.  Charging for your speech at leading businesses and corporations will add to your credentials. 
  25. Develop an alliance of friends who are using New Media.
  26. Join a national trade organization for your industry; write a monthly column on interesting aspects of the industry for the organization’s newsletter or magazine. Give a seminar or have a booth at your industry's national or international trade show. Get on boards or committees for the organization that fit your expertise. 
  27. Send out press releases. Mention your credentials, promote your speaking and seminars, share examples of your writing and content.  Be sure to mention that are a nationally recognized and published author, a lecturer at universities and colleges, and a nationally renowned expert on your area of interest.  In the end, marketing you as the expert leads to more opportunities to develop expertise as a Friendraising [and fundraising consultant].
  28. Investigate ways for organizations to develop develop networks of friends and networks of networks of friends for developing a large list of guests for event.  Make the event virtual so that "expats" and people on the road, away from home can participate. 
  29. Investigate training clinics for benefit auction staff; host/sponsor these training clinics at your site and invite similar organizations from the area.  
  30. Develop a network of professional event planning and benefit management professionals.  USE these professionals to make your friendraising and fundraising more successful.  Work with several and negotiate the best deal for your organization.  Competition matters.
  31. Use graphic design professionals to develop memorable logos [with your website] for apparel or other items that are tied to your benefit auction, fundraiser, campaign. 
  32. Develop a list of suppliers of key materials and services
  33. Develop a list of donors and people who will give [promotional] items for being associated with auction.
  34. Work with benefit/fundraising professionals to develop gamified ideas for unique raffles, silent auctions
  35. Work with budding app developers to develop an app that showcases their talent AND serves your organization's friendraising/fundraising needs.
  36. Get the very best beef or pork and have it prepared professionally ... OR better yet, allow people to grill their own steak on their own pitchfork... provide attendees with a education about what they are buying from a beef producer, a locker owner or a chef. 
  37. After hors d'oeuvres and a happy hour ... trying auctioning off LOCAL wine or beer early at your benefit auction [along with corkscrews/openers/glasses. Provide attendees with a education about what they are buying from a sommelier or brewmeister.  
  38. Investigate auctioneer bid calling and ring man training services and host a mini-clinic at your location for organizations in the area.  
  39. Develop a network of different printers to handle your catalogs, placemats, brochures, business cards ... get competitive quotes, "steal" the best ideas.  
  40. If you [and your friends in other related organizations] are going to spend money on supplies for events and fundraisers, then get GOOD at it.  Become the "supplier development manager" and procurement HUB for organizations like yours.  Get competitive quotes and design suggestions from different vendors; negotiate volume purchases.
  41. Think about these thirty-two recommendations for philanthropic organizations  ... ONE.BY.ONE. ... in this 2011 report on philanthropic giving. In 2010, in the United States alone, there were 1,280,739 registered 501(c)(3) organizations garnering total financial support of $291 billion from American citizens. That's 2% of disposable income; it is highly doubtful that the level of financial support will increase all that much.  Even in relatively good times, people tend NOT to give MONEY for a variety of good reasons, but they might be convinced to give more of themselves ... their time, their enthusiasm, their energy, their skills ... partly as advertisements for what they can do or for networking opportunities and partly to connect with their FRIENDS.
  42. Here are eighty-nine (89) friendraising ideas to adopt as your own from  an e-book sold by
  43. Skim the Table of Contents from these 475 books that discuss the importance of relationships in fundraising ... pick the best one out of five to read or skim more thoroughly ... by the time you are done with that you should have a couple hundred good ideas for friendraising.
  44. As you brainstorm more ideas, do not just adapt neat fundraising tricks and games ... understand the crucial distinction between deal-based fundraising (i.e. checkbook-based one-time transactional fundraising) and relationship-based friendraising which involves reaching something of  an agreement that involves long-term cooperation, collaboration and friendship. There are HUGE critical differences between deal-based approach and the relationship-based approach:
    • In a deal, the goal is confined to just getting an agreement ... or a check. In a relationship, the goal is cooperating, collaborating, enjoying each other's company, networking on future opportunities, establishing a foundation for working together profitably over the long term, starting from the first agreement, then building far beyond it.
    • In a deal, the party you are negotiating with is, to a large extent, is not all that close to you now and won't be in the future.  Right now, they support your cause; right now, you are just raising money. In a relationship, the people who are involved are your FRIENDS, you preferred partners in working together, you all share a true belief in the cause [and probably in other things as well].
    • Deals are about raising as much money as you can ... in that event, in that evening, in that campaign. Relationships are based on more than just money, they involve "dividing and conquering" the work that has to be done and joint burden-sharing and joint celebration.
    • In a deal, you basically hold yourself aloof from the others ... perhaps playing games, hiding information, guarding the responses [to get more money], pressing positions or relying on "ego contests" to get more money. A relationship is for the truly long pull, you need to more relaxed, open, and natural because you can't keep up the "push" for that long.  Relationships are about really involving people, so they have ALL of information and there are no secrets so that they understand the needs.
    • In a deal, you may exaggerate the urgency of the need or use different tricks to just to get others write the check. Successful friendraising relationships are based on honesty, reliability, and continual, long-term follow-through.
    • Deals are static [focused on how much is contribute right now, today], inflexible, with demands for booking the contributions, getting the event totals, just as soon as possible when transaction is completed. Relationships are also based on fundamental agreements and COMMITMENTS, but they are more accommodating, less rigidly detailed and probably far more valuable than just quickie deals. Because relationships take place over time, change needs to be anticipated and managed constructively and creatively rather than ignored or given short shrift because the relationship falls outside of the scope of the initial agreement. Relationships are dynamic and EXPAND as we go through life.
    • Not all organizations require relationships in order to succeed; organizations that don't do much are only worthy of quick-and-dirty simple deals.  And sometimes, everybody wants a quick-and-dirty simple deal with no strings and no relationship.  For example: when someone donates their old car or junk in their basement, they are basically just disposing of stuff and they'd like to maybe try to do a bit of good.  Any extra value that they might get from a relationship with an organization would be a bonus but mostly they just want to unload their stuff, support an okay cause and be left alone.
  45. Ok, that's still not enough ideas yet ... KEEP BRAINSTORMING and get your friends involved in the brainstorming.  After all, that's what friendraising is all about!

Monday, February 4, 2013

100 Keys to Success in Selling Advertising for Publishers

There is so much to learn about the world of advertising for publishers of content ... ALL content either is supported by advertisement or is implicitly an advertisement for the ideas embedded in the content OR and advertisement for the author of that content.  All content is basically "selling" something or asking the reader to think about something ... even if the idea being sold is essentially one that asks the reader to be a more critical thinker, to be more skeptical even of the article itself.  All content is basically selling something ... the concepts of advertising applies to all content.

The world is changing rapidly in the world of advertisement ... it might be that advertisement along with recommendation engines are becoming even more powerful and necessary.  As a result, I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to attempt to curate this list.

  1. In order to understand any topic, it is up to you to put together your own program of study to do what is necessary to become a bit of an expert ... it might seem like a paradox, but it's more like the chicken-and-egg thing ... you have to start where you are and RAPIDLY evolve and grow ... you have become a bit of an expert FIRST, so that you can find better ways to educate yourself [and so that you can seek even better training] ... this is the same in the world of advertising ... develop expertise by seeking out and listening to experts; don't waste experts time -- do your homework first so you can ask good questions but never show off, especially when you might know more about a niche topic than an expert!
  2. Develop better content and media for your advertising.  Work at improving your advertising expertise as you develop your content expertise.  Develop a daily practice to "sharpen the saw" as you build skills that reinforce your ability to successfully improve your media and content publishing at the same time that you improve your success in selling your advertisement for a higher return.
  3. As a rule, the Google AdSense advertising for publishers will generally be the standard.  But as you will also want to consider other programs such as Microsoft Ad PubCenter or the Chikita Online Ad Network or BuySellAds or the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program or any other advertising network o affiliate program for content creators and publishers.  If you are a content creator and publisher, you probably should use Facebook only about as much as you absolutely need to, to bring people back to your website, your blog, your content.  Many would say that Facebook's business model is basically about killing the revenue possibilities in publisher advertisement and programs like Google AdSense or the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program [in order to drive all social commerce to the insular Facebook universe].  Before you investigate the other alternatives, it will be worth your while to focus on just one and that best is probably AdSense; watch the AdSense videos and also the DoubleClick videos; read the AdSense forum; participate in the AdSense Academy; understand how you earn money with the whole AdSense Family ... AdSense for content (AFC), AdSense for search (AFS) AdSense for video (AFV), AdSense for games (AFG), AdSense for mobile (AFM).   Two products that you might have heard about before, AdSense for feeds (AFF) and AdSense for domains (AFD) have gone away and are not really necessary for content creators and publishers.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

100 Ways to Become a Successful in Media and Content

In many ways, media and content have replaced bricks and mortar in terms of importance of building a business ... a bricks and mortar facility confirms your physical existence, but the key to having an successful business is less and less about a physical presence and more and more about CONTENT.  Bricks and mortar might are still important -- but bricks and mortar are only important to customers to the extent that your content depends upon the customer interacting with your bricks and mortar physical presence as the content of where there mind is at.

Some things, like hard work and persistence, will always matter but the keys to success in starting and growing businesses has been changing over the last decade or two.  Frankly, it seems like the pace of change is accelerating; people seem to be becoming more engaged in the world of their smartphones and the relationships and content that those smartphones afford.  As a result, I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to attempt curating this list.

  1. Start with the basics -- look at what successful probloggers like Darren Rowse does on his own blog, ProBlogger.NET; look at the recommended resources from  Make those ideas your own ... re-imagine ideas ... move beyond just re-cycling and re-using, but imitate and understand concepts first.  Be diligent.  Keep at it.  Pick up at least one new idea each day. Build upon your set of ideas.  When you run out of ideas to improve, go back to basics ... don't be afraid to go back an look at old material or the foundations of what you learned when you were getting started; the good stuff that worked well a couple years ago will always work but those ideas might need to be freshened or re-tuned a little.  Always work on your OWN set of tools to "re-sharpen your own saw" ...  a good way to re-furbish and refresh your "tool-sharpening toolkit for blogging" is to work your way through something Darren's list of 98 blog tips for a lazy Sunday.
  2. It is good to read material on writing good copy or using web words that work, but it's even more important to develop your own voice through daily practice.   Aim to produce genuine, always useful, always helpful content that will be useful in the future.  Describe reality as you see it, as it really is, in your terms.  Explore the details of your business, your genre, your niche and write articles that supply basic definitions, describe processes and show the history and rationale behind why things are the way they are.  This is the kind of content that attracts visitors from search engines and others who will come back.  The content will still be valuable one, two or five years from now. It provides the foundation from which the rest of your content is built as you audience grows. 
  3. Help others. In order to understand any topic, it is necessary to work at becoming an expert ... this is the same in the world of media ... it's particularly true in your special unique niche in the giant world of media.  You don't necessarily have to understand the world of fashion or automotive photography or on-demand horror video ... unless you choose to be an expert in one of those niches ... if your business is alive and has very many customers at all, it is now a media business ... you need to be an expert in your media.  That media might revolve around booths at trade shows or it might involve live events/auctions or it might be entirely digital.
  4. Write out strategic plan for your content strategy, but feel free to modify and adapt that plan. Every post should be part of a larger series of instructional articles, and each fits into the overall strategies he teaches on his site.  Develop pages or photos or videos or vines that gather and summarize and reflect upon the series of posting [and the comments received].  Focus instruction to provide a landing place to send visitors looking for background on subjects. 
  5. Become a power Twitter user ... follow hashtags like #MediaChat.   Understand what becoming a power Twitter user fully entails in terms engaging user input in content creation process.  Power Twitter user are influential because they usually are the creators of the best content online, tweeting reinforces and tightens their connection with their audience and the tight connection with their audience makes power Twitter users that much more influential.  The most influential power Twitter users: a) Use third-person writing; b) Eschew personal opinions and pithy comments, half-witty inside jokes; c) stick to the basics of the AP Stylebook; d) Always include the key info, e.g. who, when, where, what, why, how; e) Provide attribution/sources; f) conduct interviews with photos participant and organizer; g) Include captions for photos.  Working at tweeting better generally produces a virtuous circle in all of your content. 
  6. Cultivate community. Search for ways in which you can foster interaction ... above and beyond becoming a power Twitter user.  Make an honest commitment to continuing to help readers at the point where they are at.  Make the time and go to the effort to answer comments.    Tutor them.  Build an email list, use Facebook and reach out in other ways to bring people to the blog ... bring along subscribers, go to them, reach out to them in the inbox that they use.  Invite readers to follow along in a series as you learn your way in a new field. 
  7. Add guest bloggers, or better yet, look for ways to partner with another blogger. Appear as a guest author on other blogs.  Comment on other blogs.  Respond to tweets [with short URLs linking back to RELEVANT content from your blog.]  Build a blog roll.  Then build another one.  Then another.  Find ways to interact with people.   Do NOT argue for the sake of arguing.  Do NOT pick fights with idiots who are looking for fights. There are more than enough ways to interact with people who are legitimately interested in an intelligent discussion. 
  8. Provide practical down-to-earth help to people AND seek the same for yourself.  As you build expertise, go back and work on the basics.  Routinely go back and review practical, nuts-and-bolts basics for blogging.   Use those examples as you explain the what, the why, and the how of everything that you do in your business in your blogs, to help your blog's subscribers.
  9. You might want to pay some attention to what the large Advertising Age Media 100 companies are doing.  In the big companies, it might be more interesting to look at major trends in an annual year-in-review report ... but, for small business angle, it's probably best to pay attention to what is working [and why] in the top 100 media companies of the Inc 5000 
  10. Stop wasting time with distractions and kidding yourself that flying by the seat of your pants is the best strategy.  Get serious about measuring your traction in social media!  Nothing is manageable until you measure it.  Until you are working at becoming measurably better at engaging people in social media, you are just fooling around.  If you want to improve your production in anything, you really need to measure progress, set goals and then find even better ways to measure and track progress in ways that are meaningful to your business.  That means that you need to work at developing a mastery of the 100 ways to measure social media as those ways apply to how you can use social media to develop leads, convert leads into sales and satisfy the customers of your business.
  11. Drupal ... web application framework
  12. Move beyond blogging to content curation ... Blekko slashtags
  13. Participate in reputation-ranked forums like StackExchange / Stackoverflow
  14. Pay attention to where the crowd is going ... follow Alexa traffic rankings  ... it is worthwhile investigating the changes in Alexa rankings [particularly for sites ranked #1500 to #500] to understand what is working ... if you are investing time in Blekko slashtags, be sure to follow Alexa's traffic stats


Saturday, September 8, 2012

100 Ways to Become an Expert

The good news is that there has never been more information and analytical tools available for people to develop expertise, but becoming an expert is not only hard work, you have to work smarter and develop your own technology to grok all of the information that is being blasted from a million firehoses.

  1. If you want to become an expert, you must FIRST become a better listener ... regardless of how good of a listener you already are.  Becoming an expert is fundamentally about LISTENING.  Nobody cares how much you know until you have proven how much you care -- so be quiet, prove that you are genuinely interested in really understanding the different facets of a problem and try to LISTEN.  
  2. Beyond just listening to one or two people -- you must find ways to listen to millions.  That means that you must develop ways to use technology to automate your content selection process and transcend the process of reading ... the fundamental notion is there's always a LOT of someones out there who are smarter than you.  Even among the people who aren't that bright, there are more than enough good ideas.  If you can be a more effective and efficient LISTENER and if you can sift the wheat from the mountains of chaff, there will always someone out there who will give you an idea that will work well [even if they have a wild idea that will never work].  You already know what kind of stuff is just a distraction and completely unworthy of your time. 
  3. Real experts are humble enough to understand there's never any such thing as a real experts ... it's all a matter of perception and influence.  The best approach to developing expertise is to network or develop relationships and connections with genuine leaders.  The true leaders in any niche are active "doers," voracious readers and deep thinkers ... they are not the people who step on others ... they assiduously cultivate relationships with leaders who make it clear that they do real things; they should also digest and read A LOT of deep content every single day.
  4. There are lots of people who are trying to be experts who are worth following, because they are perceived as experts and in some cases their ideas and observations actually are valuable -- in many cases, they are good at repetitively asserting ideas until those ideas resonate and become accepted as truth.  Every commercial niche has one or more trade magazines. The editors and writers know what is the conventional wisdom for their industry. 
  5. Pay close attention to success and the disruption of success.  Examine the advertisements [in industry publications.]  Look at WHO is advertising aggressively and who does not need to advertise.  Examine why and how they are advertising -- what are they selling, how are they trying to change opinions, what reputation are they trying to build or sustain.  
  6. Write an article and submit it for publication in an industry magazine or peer-review journal. Become a published author in the industry. If you have trouble getting an article published, write a letter to the editor or respond to one.  Write something, start the process going. People will see your name, read your material and comment ... respond to the comments, interact with your audience ... develop a following. 
  7. Develop your own authentic web presence ... develop a blog, create podcasts, post videos and photos, use social media.
  8. Speak regularly.  Practice at Toastmasters or form your own club of speakers.  Offer to speak at a local college, club, association, or service organization programming chair the opportunity to have you speak on a relevant subject both at no charge. 
  9. Run your own seminar. Tie in your seminar with other companies and organizations to build your credentials. Become a technical specialist speaking to businesses, business organizations, banks.  Charging for your speech at leading businesses and corporations will add to your credentials. 
  10. Join a national trade organization for your industry; write a monthly column on interesting aspects of the industry for the organization’s newsletter or magazine. Give a seminar or have a booth at your industry's national or international trade show. Get on boards or committees for the organization that fit your expertise. 
  11. Send out press releases. Mention your credentials, promote your speaking and seminars, share examples of your writing and content.  Be sure to mention that are a nationally recognized and published author, a lecturer at universities and colleges, and a nationally renowned expert on your area of interest.  In the end, marketing you as the expert leads to more opportunities to develop expertise.
  12. I don't have 100 ways yet, but the GOAL of any expert is to develop a deeper level of expertise while maintaining a humble attitude ... but one needs to start somewhere and this is still only a START ... I must humbly submit that I am far from being an expert at this expert thing, perhaps a real expert can suggest a few items for me to add.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Can markets achieve more optimal public social choice outcomes?

Obviously, I believe that the answer is, "OF COURSE!"

In fact, it is quite likely that we would be better LOT better off if we used a continuously-updated MARKET [like the Intrade prediction markets] to elect the body of people who we select to make our laws, administer our policies ... I suppose we might be stuck with party politics, but political parties really should find a way as quickly as possible to start using something like one fo the Crowdliness social choice mechanisms that function like the Intrade markets [with opportunities to bring in more information via blogs, videos, debates and all kinds of information] for members of those parties to discuss, debate, collaborate and select the most fit nominees and best policy positions -- a MARKET would furnish the candidates best able to take on the opponent and the platform that would conform to the will of the party members ... apart from political parties, markets would work a lot better than a winner-take-all election to select the incumbent dictators who hold power for the next term.  Two hundred and some years ago, we didn't have electronic markets -- so democratically-elected rulers were basically a better deal than a monarchs ... but now we have a lot better mechanisms.

I would not suggest an immediate overthrow of the government ... but we should start thinking about more market-driven mechanisms to drive more of the things that currently believe should come from government ... after all, democracy is more subject to manipulation of media, hysteria of the masses and tyranny of the majority than markets are ... a lynch mob, for example, is an effective, expedient democratic process ... all democratically-elected governments basically "hang the opposition" until the next election cycle ... election cycles drive bureaucracy and bad policy.  Disastrously-bad housing policy [resulting in a terrible misallocation of resources/people] and the lack of regulatory oversight that was supposed to have prevented the crisis was the result of influence-peddling by [formerly] democratically-elected officials who manipulated government policy and enforcement.

All in all, I am generally a much bigger fan of the outcomes provided by markets than I am of the distortions that we get from democratically-elected governments.  We should be exploring many more market mechanisms -- there simply is no other social choice process that we have yet developed that works better at revealing information and discovering preferences than a continuously-traded, highly-liquid (i.e. unfettered participation) ubiquitously-transparent market.  Every significant market failure that we have ever experienced is the result of a distortion introduced by a bureaucratic [democratically-elected] governing body.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crowdliness is sort of next to godliness, but not really

Game theory is extremely useful for analyzing all kinds of cooperative and non-cooperative behavior ... it is also useful for explaining the growth of groups into institutions and political parties that control government and history.

Social networks and social commerce are still at the MOST early form of organizational evolution ... basically there are few forms that have advanced past comparison-based groups, forums and discussions ... competition is the next step; auction is a competitive game that is well-established but there are plenty of ways to improve auction ... cooperation is the next step; early forms of cooperative networks are fundraising organizations like Kiva or Kickstarter -- these are still relatively expensive networks to maintain and build ... moving beyond cooperation takes us to collaboration; it's a difficult to achieve much in the way of collaborative networks -- open source collaboration is probably the most advanced with Apache Software Foundation and GitHub ... adhoc groups coalescing into rudimentary institutions ... much like traders meeting on a street corner in Manhattan and then Wall Street and then ... become the central financial trading hub in the world.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More cowbell ... the world has shifted in to a digital realm ... this creates brand new social commerce opportunities in commercial real estate

A major secular shift is underway; it's not cyclical.

If you have not already shifted your business to have more of a digital personality, occupying digital real estate ... you really need to investigate a shift.  You do it soon.  Realize that is not sufficient to a geek who handles your website -- if you want to be in business, you need to fundamentally shift your worldview to exist in a world of data and information technology.  You need to think strategically in this realm OR you can live in the world of buggy whips and stone tools.  You cannot and should not be at the bleeding edge of technology ... but a network-based information-intensive data-driven existence is not bleeding edge thinking ... it is current thinking that is at least five years old [after blogs were commonplace and cloud-based web services started to gain their foothold] maybe ten [after the dot com boom, when the web-based apps had become commonplace] or twenty five years old [after PCs were common and networked client-server software began to control the workplace and factory floor].

So the world has shifted ... a networked world is one that minimizes the importance of an automobile ... it's no longer typically necessary to drive around with an unfolded map or road atlas and ask directions in order to find a location, i.e. location, location, location is less of a truism in real estate that it once was -- although convenience and proximity will always matter.  It's also no longer typically a great idea to restrict your employees or contractors to the subset of the worldwide population that can drive in to work ... telecomputing, teleconferences and webinars are commonplace -- most moderately-adept people can navigate in the world of email, Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, webcams and cloud-based services ... if you are uncomfortable in this realm, you need to get moving ... or contemplate retirement.

The networked world has revolutionized retail ... increasingly [even older] consumers now search for and scrutinize purchases via web and mobile [including iPad] interfaces; they discuss those purchases with their friends and associates; they decide what they want and either have it delivered or dash into an outlet to pick it up ... so the commercial real estate vacancy rate is now at the highest rate in history and it has continued to increase even as the economy stabilized or moderately improves.  In all likelihood, we probably have two square feet of commercial real estate space for every one square foot that we really need ... although retail outlets might occupy 85% ~ 90% of the commercial real estate in various cities, they occupy more than they want because of past decision -- if they had their druthers, they would only occupy [and pay to operate/maintain] half of the space they currently occupy.  Most large retailers, like Walmart and BestBuy, are now investigating radically smaller footprints for new locations -- the existing smaller retailers that owned and managed by business owners who are now 45-70 years old will not be occupied at all by the next generation of retailers who are now 20-45.

The majority of the inventory of commercial real estate is not going to be used for the purpose it was intended -- the real estate will need to be re-purposed ... and that radical shift creates an enormous opportunity for social commerce and event-driven social marketing.  It is a brave and exciting new world for the next generation of auctioneers ... auctioneering is not necessarily about bid-calling [although entertainment and leadership of the audience is terribly important] as much as it is about creative development, planning, organization, coordination, execution and leadership of social commerce.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thoughts on developing a mobile app integrated with a cloud-based intelligent analytic system (wireless sensor data+equipment data+user data+?) for optimal asset management, leasing and resale

Developing this app is basically a matter of understanding the asset owner's use case ... as a general rule, optimizing return on investment in major capital assets is basically a matter of always having that asset performing at its highest and best use ... if we look at the following list, we can see that optimizing return on investment is a matter of keeping the asset occupied by tasks toward the top of the list.

  • performing the principal task that its owner purchased it for at peak throughput or optimal performance
  • performing the principal task that its owner purchased it for at sub-optimal, non-quantitatively managed performance
  • leased / rented to a qualified lessor / renter who needs it for its principal task, but a smaller project 
  • being evaluated by a future buyer of the asset
  • undergoing routine preventative maintenance 
  • being set-up or changed over for the next production task
  • undergoing corrective maintenance (e.g. replacement of sickle sections or wear parts)
  • setting idle, in storage, in a controlled situation that preserves the asset's condition
  • being transported or moved to its next highest / best use ... hopefully, without being damaged in-route
  • under major repair or overhaul; being refurbished or brought into condition for higher/better use
A significant thing to consider, of course, is whether leasing or renting the asset to qualified lessors / renters is worth the hassle ... it probably isn't, unless the owner already has some form of established processes or a system for doing this UNLESS this particular app would actually facilitate the owner's ability to lease or rent spare capacity.  

Another thing to consider is how the asset owner wishes to sell the asset ... through eBay, through Ritchie Bros, through a preferred auctioneer, through a broker-dealer on commission, through a classified advertisment, to a lessor/renter on a lease-to/rent-to-buy arrangement, through another means ... the app should accommodate different sales strategies.

Another consideration is what kind of user, sensor, engineering and other data are necessary to support the asset owner's need to quantitatively optimize the asset's performance ... for example, quoted speeds and feeds from a machinist's handbook are always conservative -- with different tools, different materials, cutting fluids, etc it is generally possible to do significantly better than the quoted speeds and feeds to optimize throughput on a machine tool ... there is no need to take stupid risks, but being lazy and just playing it safe or sticking well within the factors of safety almost always entails giving away a significant portion of theoretical production capacity ... a typical factor of safety is 2X -- or potentially a sacrifice of 50% of throughput! ... the same thing applies to almost every kind of machinery and equipment, i.e. past production data [with sufficient data from comprehensive condition monitoring systems] from similar conditions allows one to safely push the envelope in an evolutionary fashion to find the optimal production performance frontier.   Obviously, an asset owner will not want to frequently push things until they break -- but if that owner NEVER pushes anything until it breaks, we know that the asset was never used at its actual capacity ... the ability to drive optimization by sensing the effects on the machine from pushing the machine [up to, and just a wee bit past its limits] are is why intelligent, predictive systems based on networks of condition monitoring sensors are potentially so valuable.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

Toward a Theory of Social Commerce

The world of marketing has changed more in the last five years than it has in the previous 100 years.  The change boils down to increasing importance of REPUTATION, more intelligent recommendation engines, more responsive feedback in relationships, increased collaboration with less travel and waste, radically more frugal R&D and product launch... the big driver in all of this is that customer is no longer a passive couch-potato, no longer patiently waiting for products to come out.  Prosumers and early adopters matter more.  The conversations matter more because they happens online, they persist and are searchable AND lurkers who don't even know about the conversation will [at some point in the future, search for information and] pay attention.  Markets truly are a conversation; everyone listens.  As big as it is already, social commerce is going to be an even much bigger thing ... social commerce doesn't necessarily mean that people will socialize and then buy more junk [although some will still make foolish, herd-driven purchases]; mostly, it means that people and businesses will become MORE conscientious about their purchases, what their purchases say about them, their history of purchases and how they take care of those purchases.

More Mindful Consumption

Some might worry that it might kick off a wave of stupid consumer "joke-purchases" like a bunch of college drunks on buying spree ... of course, foolish purchases will always happen, but in general, product design will largely become more sustainable -- with reusability, upgradability and recyclability being ubiquitous, expected, taken for granted ... disposable junk that's not intended to last past warranty will stick out like shoddy, low-quality merchandise that we used to tolerate, but now find unacceptable  ... commerce will HAVE to be more mindful because more minds are involved, reputations are involved ... how you select and take care of your stuff will matter more; it will be typical for people to buy things and re-sell them. (see "Re-selling, Recommending, Refurbishing").

Finding treasures, curating and creating content through interaction

The future will be more radically interactive.  The availability and affordability of cloud-based information systems and radically-scalable computing power to propel increasing competition in search enginesthe continuing quest for better recommendation engines and even ways to harness computing power create independent film or music. These technologies will continue to improve as more developers interact with other develops to newer, braver technologies that rely upon harnessing the power of social community interactions, systems of smart sensors and Big Data.   People who think about the internet as an extension of their life [rather than some place to post content to] such generation Z are already interested in "curating" purchases that can be prospected, found, tried, shared, discussed, debated ... the result is that hype without value will not really work any more when even better search and recommendation engines already provide the opportunities for more people to discover information about a product or company's reputation with a few seconds of "online prospecting."

Sharing, Borrowing, Leasing, Renting

If people have great stuff (e.g. a neighbor with a Bobcat, good tools), there will be people who want to borrow or rent it.  This will become acceptable IF reputations for being a mindful, careful user are tracked ... in other words, people will purchase assets (e.g. tools, equipment) that they may consider lending to a small circle of  borrowers or leasors who can treat those assets with respect.

Asset Optimization, Re-Selling, Refurbishing

Design for sustainability, durability and reuse will matter more.  How you take care of your stuff will matter ... this will be especially true for businesses and contractors that use tools.   People who buy equipment will expect to see that it has been cared for, i.e. they will want to look a the data from the machine's condition monitoring system.  The condition monitoring and tracking systems will also make it possible for companies to lease or rent equipment and charge based upon the time AND conditions of usage [in the same way that cloud service providers like Amazon AWS charge for data storage, data transfer and computation cycles].   People will continue buy high quality durable things that can be repaired/refurbished/upgraded ... use them and then sell them eBay-style -- this activity will not decline -- in fact, it will increase ... good stuff that can be resold will earn value for its brand; the junk that must be recycled, given to GoodWill or [worse] disposed of will be treated as junk when it is new ... re-gifting [of valuable items] will out in the open, but in a world of increased transparency everything will be just a bit more honest.  Transparency means that there is a cost for not behaving as you know you should behave.

Add Value Through Ownership

Celebrities and knowledgeable collectors [of art, antiques and similar items] will add value to merchandise through their ownership ... like Roy Roger's old boots! sold in an auction of the celebrity's "toys" -- as this example illustrates, this has always been possible for major celebrities (e.g. an aging football player who sells his jerseys or Heisman Trophy to raise cash), now it be possible for minor celebrities, like amateur athletes (e.g. who might sell shoes, jerseys, autographed balls from special games), semi-professional musicians (e.g. autographed guitars from big shows), other artists and authors (e.g. Etsy-esque, craftsy items, notes/sketches/papers)