Archive for November, 2012

Building Social Currency for Your Business

November 29, 2012

SocialCurrencyFountainBlue’s monthly top-ten rules of marketing are designed to guide our client entrepreneurial tech companies and the community in general on marketing practices that clearly communicate and connect, thereby generating momentum for people and organizations. This month’s top-ten-marketing rules topic will be on the top ten ways to build a community around your business, leveraging non-tangible social currency.

If you go with the tenet that momentum is at the heart of all business successes, then it follows that in the new age of building business where the consumer is king and technology is leveraged to deliver custom solutions, then creating a community around your business, engaging stakeholders at all levels through social currency is paramount for the business. Below are ten ways to build a community around your business, leveraging non-tangible social currency.

Find Win-Win Opportunities to Engage Select Ambassadors.

1.   It’s a win-win if your company brand can enlist the right ambassador(s) to complement and extend that brand. It’s good for the company, and good for the community and individuals as well.

2.   You could also enlist ambassadors by geographic location, extending your current brand and reach beyond what currently exists. It’s a win for the company as they extend to new territory, and a win for your ambassadors, who can associate with a respected brand, service and product, and extend the value and the reach of same.

Recruit Contributors and Managers to build the message and the community.

  1. Content experts add credibility to your community, and create relevant, timely content which educates, informs and engages. They gain social currency by writing on-topic to a relevant community and followership and receive recognition and esteem for doing so.

4.   Activists can moderate community discussions on relevant topics while participating in the vibrancy and viability of the community, which benefits all.

Promote and Reward The Participation and Involvement of Your Advocates.

  1. Recognize your community leaders on the web site, in meetings and events, every chance you get. Many of the most engaged leaders respond well to this, provided that it is done well, and provided that they see fellow contributors as their peers.
  2. Additional social recognition for the most eager and enthusiastic supporters can be very motivating for all, providing that this is done fairly and well.

7.   Tangible rewards are also at times appreciated, but generally not as coveted as social, non-tangible rewards for the most part.

By definition, your advocates will be closer-to-the-needs-of-the-customer than you are, so Enlist Their Input about how to better serve people like them.

8.   Start with the needs and challenges of the customers rather than with a technology innovation which may serve the customer.

9.    Develop and enhance your user interface to meet the needs of your customers.

10.  Get insights from your advocates on how to expand technologies and brand into new markets.

We conclude that marketing has evolved with the times, and it will be much more about authentic advocacy, committed volunteers and social currency than it will be about PR, search engine optimization and ad-buying, although that will remain important. The challenge is to build that community and social currency that benefits all.

Your thoughts on our leadership and marketing blogs are welcome.

Expanding Your Brand From Tactical to Strategic

November 29, 2012

TacticalStrategic

FountainBlue’s monthly top-ten rules of leadership are designed to guide our client entrepreneurial tech companies and the community in general on leadership best practices for themselves, and for their teams and organizations. The questions and stories raised and the advice given has been mentioned before to individual members, and compiled and gathered to benefit the larger community. This month’s top-ten-leadership rules is about how to expand your brand beyond tactical results to strategic leader who delivers results.

It happens time and time again in the valley, ambitious, hard-working, result-delivering technologists rise up the corporate ladder, delivering stellar measurable results. We are rewarding for being smart, hard-working, and executing efficiently. But there comes a point in our career, where the powers to be tell us in no uncertain terms that we are great at the doing, but not strategic enough to further rise within the organization. If you’ve heard that, and would like to correct their perception, here are some thoughts on how to change your image in their eyes,

Know yourself and why you’d like to be thought of as more strategic.

1. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and how to best lead with your strengths.

2. Know why you’d like to be thought of as more strategic, and also what’s missing if you’re not more strategic. Imagine and act as if you already where you’d like to be.

Think of your past work in a different light, first in terms of what it did for your team and company, and then in terms of measurable results.

3. Map your career path following an overarching technology or business trend, and your results within that larger picture.

4. Update your profile to reflect this mindset and communicate from this larger perspective.

Evaluate opportunities that overlap your passion, your skills, and the market opportunity.

5. Map your next position, role, organization based on what’s logically next on your career and personal path, and explain how your past experiences and successes position you well for what’s next.

6. Be thorough in considering what’s next for you, even if it means that you leave your team, company, industry, geography.

If you really do choose the strategic path, be willing to give up some old and proven practices.

7. Follow the 80-20 rule, and force yourself to not be quite as thorough at some things.

8. Embrace the unknowns and trust your instincts and your gut more, for many times, you don’t have the time or resources to know much for certain.

Build strategic networks of relationships.

9. Strategic people know that it’s not about being right, it’s about how things are done, and how you make people feel.

10. Build relationships at all levels by speaking the language of others, and nurturing the success of all, for everyone has a piece of the puzzle.

The next time you have a review or feedback that you are not as strategic as you can be, read above and prepare for a measured rebuttal about how you are much more strategic than he or she thinks you are.

The Business Case for Diversity

November 12, 2012

FountainBlue’s November 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of The Business Case for Diversity. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives on our panel, and that our panelists shared their insights, suggestions and advice with poignant humor and candor. Although each panelist spoke with a different viewpoint and perspective, and approached diversity from a different angle, they shared many common traits: early experiences which helped them think more broadly about people and about the world; ongoing exposure to a wide range of environments throughout their professional and personal careers which exposed them to diverse settings, people, perspectives, situations and companies; successes and failures in a business setting, working with people, teams and management who did not think just like they did; and the desire to continually learn and grow, embracing new thoughts and perspectives for themselves, their teams and their companies.

Our panelists agreed that diversity was a business advantage for many reasons. First and foremost, welcoming people of different backgrounds into a team, into a business relationship as a partner, customer, or other stakeholder, or otherwise into the business ecosystem will in the end foster momentum for the organization, through sales, marketing, relationships, etc. Secondly, with the inclusion of people with different perspectives into the team, an organization is much more likely to create solutions which meet the needs of its diverse partners, customers, investors, etc. Thirdly, a person, team, or organization which truly embraces diversity in words and deeds, in general have a more resilient culture, a more tolerant mind-set, and can attract and retain the most prized and talent employees. Fourthly, as a company, the broader your perspective, the larger the market opportunity.

Below are some guidelines they suggested, to help embrace diversity for yourself, your team and your company:

  • Know and Manage Yourself.
    • Have the self-awareness to know who you are, what you’re good and not-so good at, and what pushes your buttons.
    • Act and speak in an authentic voice, standing behind your core values.
    • Condition yourself to embrace change, to question how-you’ve-always done things and what you think is right and wrong.
    • Embrace change, and people who welcome change, as complacency is the antithesis of innovation.
    • You are your biggest cheerleader, so cheer for your own cause. It’s OK to raise the bar for yourself, but not at the expense of your confidence.
    • Leverage a mentor to help you know, manage and accept yourself, and stretch your view of yourself and of the world.
  • Be Curious about People Who Don’t Think and Act Like You.
    • When someone pushes your buttons, think ‘Different is different, not wrong’.
    • Don’t clump people by gender, age, ethnicity, etc., but do evaluate them on what they do, how they behave.
    • Communicate to others in a way they understand. The use of idioms for example can be quite confusing for those who are not native English speakers.
  • It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business.
    • Make a stand for your colleagues in work situations who are singled out and/or penalized for presenting a differing point of view, just because it’s different.
    • In managing conflict between people who think different, keep it professional and stick to the facts, staying away from personal attacks.
  • Always Focus on the End Game.
    • Build deep relationships of trust to help manage inevitable conflicts between people who think differently.
    • Think first about the goal, and embrace diverse thinking and suggestions, provided it helps achieve that goal.
    • Insist that your team and organization advance people based on merit, not politics.
  • Be a Leader.
    • Whether or not you’re in a position of authority, work with people and teams around you to embrace change, to welcome diversity.
    • Support high-potential men and women in your team, and actively participate in groups that also do so.
    • Always focus on doing the greater good in the short term and the long term. Know what that greater good is, and be transparent in your communications about why you are taking the actions you’re taking.

In the end, our panelists agree that diversity is a business advantage, and that people, teams and companies who truly embrace diversity will reap the rewards.Image

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We would like to thank our speakers for FountainBlue’s November 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Tips for Enlarging Your Sandbox: Learn to play with people who don’t act right (like you):

Facilitator Radhika Emens, CEO, Tanjah Partners

Panelist Shari Begun, Regional Sales Manager, Texas Instruments

Panelist Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue

Panelist Priscilla Knoble, Director, Product Management, Strategic Growth Markets, Intl Market Development, Adobe

Panelist Christine Westland, Director of Account Management, Intl. OEMs, Japan Channel, Brocade

Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Adobe.