photo credit: zappowbang
Today’s story from somewhere else (not really a guest post) comes from of all places: city/county government.
This story is about a sharp Web 2.0 enabled firefighter using Twitter to save lives during a fire.
Yahoo’s investment in Google pays off, but not how they expected.
Happy Easter, everyone.
Below, the ping list I’m using with this blog. If you know what a ping list is, maybe there’s a link or 2 in there you aren’t using. If you’re using one (or more) that I don’t have, please make note of that in the comments.
If you don’t know what a ping list is…keep your eyes on this blog,
If 100,000 potential customers were brought to the â??doorstepâ? of your Web site â?? right now â?? how would you capture and hold their attention? Ok, maybe 100k in one day is a little much for you.
How about 12 people every hour, all day today? Could you keep the attention of that trickle of people?
Do that for 364 more days, and you’ll have an idea how to keep the attention of 100,000 visitors.
How long do they stay on your site now? How do you get them to come back? Of the ones who did return, what made them want to come back? If you don’t know, isn’t it time to get to work on finding those things out? The reasons are obvious.
Which reminds me. Yesterday’s post was my 400th blog post at Business is Personal, and we’re not even 3 years old yet (awww, isn’t it cuuuuute?)
If you’re keeping score, the post count looks something like this…
121 relating to marketing
82 on competition
66 on management
57 on entrepreneurs
53 on corporate America
47 relating to continuous improvement (aka the slight edge)
45 on strategy
38 on customer service (Glenn, how you let me get away with that?)
35 on getting it (as in, people/businesses who “get it”, it being how to run their business well)
23 book reviews (way over due on these)
22 on Wal-Mart (seems like more)
20 on media
17 on automation
16 on Montana
14 on software
14 on politics (related to business)
12 on technology
12 on sales
12 on good examples
10 on employees
and a smattering of others elsewhere. The totals don’t add up to 400, as many posts are tagged with multiple categories.
I’d be interested in what you’d like to hear more about, or if the current mix is about right for what your business needs.
All Realtors are the same, right? All restaurants are the same, right? Web 2.0 is just for geeks, right?
NotÂ soÂ fast,Â Mary.
One of the first things you’ll hear from a real estate agent is “and look how convenient it is to schools and shopping…”
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do that online? You can.
I stumbled across a new tool that can give businesses are new way to differentiate themselves – particularly in walking communities and neighborhoods.
It’s called “WalkScore”and it helps show how easy it is toÂ findÂ yourÂ businessÂ simplyÂ byÂ walking down the street from their apartment, condo, home or office.
KeepÂ inÂ mindÂ thatÂ aÂ neighborhoodÂ couldÂ beÂ aÂ residentialÂ area in a small town, in a large city, or even in a business area that surrounds your cafe or other business. You dont have to be in massive walkable cities like San Francisco, Boston or New York in order for this to help your business.
EvenÂ inÂ ruralÂ townsÂ likeÂ Kalispell,Â ColumbiaÂ Falls,Â and Whitefish Montana – the WalkScore has value because it tells people how close our business REALLY is to where they work, live and play.
It shows your cafe, your real estate listing, your store, bar, your apartment complex or condo rentals, in relationship to the things around it.
Let’sÂ look at an example:
HereÂ isÂ theÂ WalkScore widget looking at the FlatheadÂ BeaconÂ office in Kalispell.
That place sure looks convenient.
ThereÂ areÂ aÂ pileÂ ofÂ usesÂ forÂ this.Â JustÂ gottaÂ thinkÂ aboutÂ it.
At left, my wanna-be Jake and Elwood in their Blues Brothers House of Blues shirts, about 7 years ago along the Missouri River in Ft. Benton, MT. Who would hire these guys? 🙂
One of the ways you eventually become an advisor to other business owners is by making (and usually learning from) your own foolish mistakes.
How to advertise for and select employees is one of those areas where you can get plenty of “learn by doing wrong” experience. Making mistakes is ok. Making the same one repeatedly is not.
The first time I placed an ad for programmer was back in my mainframe days. Silly me, I used the word “assembler” in the newspaper. Everyone and their mom who had ever put two pieces of anything together in a manufacturing environment was calling, faxing etc. Seems that outside of the geek world, “assembler” means “someone who puts things together”. Whodathunkit?
A few years later, older and presumably smarter me was looking for a new tech support person. I had a weird idea and figured I’d give it a shot. Instead of putting a bunch of detail in a newspaper ad and having to filter through all the folks who weren’t qualified, I took a different tack: I’d let them filter themselves.
I put a one line ad in the paper: “Windows technical support person wanted for Columbia Falls software company. Email MS Word resume as attachment to email@example.com”.
I included no phone number. No address. No company name. Anyone paying attention could get all of that information from the domain name used in the email address. Anyone who didn’t get that really wasn’t qualified for the job.
I got 43 inquiries in 2 weeks, from places as far away as Austria, from an ad in a weekly, small mountain town newspaper in rural Montana.
Let’s break down the ad.
First: “Windows technical support person wanted for Columbia Falls software company” – this says you need to know Windows, you need to know how to do tech support, you’ll be working for a software company and the job is in Columbia Falls (well, mostly).
The point of this is to eliminate as many people as possible while attracting the right candidates. People with Windows experience who understand what tech support is for a software company. The rest is details at this point. Get rid of anyone who is scared of those words, cuz they aren’t a good fit.
Next: “Email MS Word resume as attachment to some email address”.
This gets rid of a lot of people without me having to do anything. It also tells me whether or not they can follow instructions. First of all, anyone who can’t understand what I just asked is not likely to apply, or not likely to be able to apply. Which is just what I want.
Results? Found the best employee I ever had from this ad. She still works in that job, 5+ years later.Â She is a superstar at that company and now runs that entire department.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses using that method. We got a lot of phone calls with questions. We got a lot of the same questions by email. Lots of wasted time.
Soooo the next time, I fine tuned the ad:
“Windows tech support person wanted. For details, see www.website.com/job”Â (note: the newspaper ad salespeople really don’t like this, but I really don’t care).
On the web page, I went into detail about the job, the expectations the candidate should have for us as well as the expectations the company would have for them. I suspect the SHRM-trained human resource folks reading this blog are going to flip when they read the anonymous version of the “Hire me” page but it is what it is. Er, was.
Last but not least, if you were interested, you were NOT to call, you were to again email a MS Word resume as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, it required following instructions. Anyone who didn’t follow instructions, even Bill Gates, was not considered.
It also eliminated a lot of the questions that the previous method didn’t address. I could easily address workplace, people, karma, qualifications, and anything else I wanted on the webpage. I used the page to not only attract the right candidates, but also to make sure to get rid of / scare away the people I wasn’t interested in.
We hired two people from that ad. One worked out and still works there. The other, far more experienced one, was fired for non-performance within a month or so (Montana law says you are an at-will employee on probation for substantially longer than that, SHRM-boy).
At the time, someone had advised us to hire two people and keep the good one. We did. I understand the other one is doing fine now, they just weren’t a good fit with us.
So what’s the next step? Video want ads, as seen in this Wall Street Journal Independent Street story.
It takes a step beyond the website idea, plus the face and the voice in the video makes it more personal (I like that idea, ya think?).
How would you improve the process?
SHRMers, I’m curious: What’s your take on this process from HR’s “dot the i’s, cross the t’s, keep all the lawyers happy” perspective?
When I was in the software business, I didn’t watch our competitors too much.
For one thing, I really didn’t consider them competitors. Sure, we lost a sale to them once in a while, but more often than not, it was due to (I kid you not) lies and deception, or a misplaced idea about what was important in the systems we do (yeah, call that a sales or marketing stumble – because better marketing should have eliminated those reasons). Sure, I recognized that they were in our market, but in many ways, they just didn’t get it.
We were the leaders in the market. I watched the competition to see what they had copied of ours, but only on one occasion do I recall that we felt the need to copy something someone else did (a visual sales tool – we were the last to do this).
As such, I focused on innovation, on interacting with customers to figure out what they needed etc. It worked for us. Everyone else was watching and copying us, and we simply kept innovating. It’s a tough position to be in, but it beats the heck out of being #2, where you’re always trying to catch up.
And of course, because the tool I use now didn’t exist.
Google Alerts lets you setup a permanent Google search of one or more of these areas: news, blogs, video, web sites (ie: search engine results) and Google Groups (Google’s NNTP newsgroups mirror).
For example, one of my clients owns a coffee shop (you may have picked up on that by now<g>), so I have a Google Alert that once a day does a search for new results on Starbucks. Blogs, news, web sites, etc.
I also have searches on my name (I strongly recommend you do this as well – but for your name<g>), the town where I live, social and political issues or personalities important to me, prospective clients, clients and a few other groups I won’t divulge.
I can either get these notifications as soon as Google finds them, or I can get them scheduled to appear once a day.
They come to my email.
Simple as pie, and extremely valuable. Not only is it easier to know what’s going on in my niche (and my clients’ niches), but it takes a lot less time and I see things that I might not ordinarily see.
Try it, I think you’ll find it quite useful.
Last but not least, don’t forget about what happened to Kryptonite, the bike lock people. In 2004, they ignored a blog about their locks being picked by a Bic pen. They knew about the blog post, but did nothing to address it.
After the story appeared in the New York Times – at which point they could no longer ignore it – Kryptonite found themselves replacing 380,000 locks worth over $10 million, and their attitude through the whole affair didn’t exactly endear them to their customers. Pay attention.
Another post on this subject – http://businessbloggingpros.typepad.com/business_blogging_pros/2008/04/another-tuned-o.html
Show me. Post a comment and tell me of acts that you’ve experienced (or given someone else) that are even remotely like the one described below. Imagine if you thought about them just a little tiny bit more than you do now.
How many pairs of shoes do you think the two small acts described in this post are going to sell over time?
How many clients will they get, simply because they were …. thoughtful?
If you’re the small shoe shop in town, I’m sure you’ve wondered how can you compete with this “big impersonal internet shoe company with no overhead and low prices”. (See, I knew you were thinking “Wal-Mart for shoes”)
They don’t sound so big and impersonal now, do they? See, behind that website, there are entrepreneurs. People. They have parents too.
Maybe it’s time to stop thinking “I’m the only shoe store in town, bring me all the money!” and maybe, just be as nice as they are, or maybe even nicer, since your clients are your neighbors and the internet shoe store never gets the privilege of meeting their clients face to face.
How difficult is that? Costs little or nothing. Pays off big time.
Do people talk about you and your store like this?
It starts with good people, but without the right management in place to train and set the example and let people know they have the latitude to be thoughtful, this kind of stuff won’t happen.
Make it happen. Be like Zappos.com. Or better.
I’ve decided to start a series (“Polishing the blog” is the code name<g>) discussing the steps I’m taking to ramp up the readership on my blog. A lot of people keep this stuff a secret, but a notable number of others don’t keep everything under their hat – and in fact, try to help others get theirs improved. Because categories are important from a search perspective, you won’t see a “Polishing the blog” category (yes, I’m disappointed as well), instead you’ll find these posts in the Web 2.0 or SEO categories, or both.
Since I spend a fair amount of time trying to get small business owners to understand the value of a blog to their business – and actually write a blog of their own, I figured the least I could do is note what I’m doing to my own blog so that the ones who actually do something will have some additional help if they need it.
So here’s what I’ve been up to…
This weekend’s blog polishing effort has been about turning up the social networking heat, mostly. I’ve created pages on Squidoo, Facebook (my sons have to be really thrilled about that) and so on, and have just told Delicious to post to my blog a list of my new Delicious links for the day. This will happen late in the day, once a day. Automatically.
I love automatically. It leaves more time for the important stuff that doesn’t happen automatically:)
So what’s Delicious? (yeah, it’s really http://Del.icio.us but I get tired of typing that) Delicious is one of many “universal bookmark storage places”. The nice thing about it is that if you have the Firefox Delicious extension, you can store a new bookmark there – with tags – in 2 clicks. If you highlight some text before you hit the delicious button, that text (up to 255 chars) is stored as a note with your bookmark. Yes, you can mark a bookmark as “do not share”, so don’t be so paranoid. That black helicopter hovering over your house is nuuuuuuthing to worry about.
A nice benefit of using Delicious for your bookmarks is that you’ll have those bookmarks available to you on any computer you use.
Last but not least, I added some php code to the header of the blog so that the post name is now reflected in the title of the web page. The idea is that the posts will show up better in Google searches (what the geeks call “SERPs”, which is really “search engine result pages”) AND that will in turn prod me to come up with better (from a search perspective) titles to my posts. If you want some easy instructions for how to do this for WordPress (what I use), slide over to Pearsonified. I’ve been reading his blog for some time and finally got off my keester and implemented this change. 1 line of code. Duh.