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How the Little Guys Can Win In Today’s David-and-Goliath Business World

23a1ca5Before the internet, small companies didn’t stand a chance against the Goliaths, says Corrine Sandler, a globally recognized leader in business intelligence and market research.

That’s because no war can be won without intelligence and, before the digital era, collecting actionable data and information about one’s competitors, market and customers cost a lot more than most small businesses – the Davids – could afford.

“But today, the Davids are taking down the Goliaths,” says Sandler, founder and CEO of Fresh Intelligence Research Corp., a global business intelligence company, and author of the new book, “Wake Up or Die” (www.wakeupordie.us), a comprehensive guide to the use of intelligence in the contemporary business environment.

“Thanks to the internet, the boutiques and startups have access to all kinds of free tools for gathering intelligence. They’re also much more agile than the big corporations; they can make a decision and act immediately. That’s essential in a marketplace where conditions change quickly.”

In “Wake Up or Die,” Sandler applies lessons from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – the 2,000-year-old military treatise penned by one of the greatest commanders in history – to the modern business economy. Sun Tzu held that the goal in any war is to win without ever entering into physical battle.

“By gathering actionable data and acting on it immediately, by using it to predict next moves and spot opportunities, small businesses can and are taking down the big ones without a drop of blood being shed,” Sandler says.

She offers smaller business owners these tips for acquiring and using intelligence:

• If you lack resources, make use of free or inexpensive intelligence-gathering tools. Visit competitors’ websites and collect data about them. Many businesses put a great deal of revealing information on their sites, which can benefit you. Also, make note of any changes on their sites. Google Alerts can tell you when they’re releasing new products or expanding. Use Google analytics tools such as Google Hot Trends to tell you what’s in the collective consciousness – potential consumer demand – at any given time. Google’s key word tool will give you ideas for powerful key words in search terms, and use the traffic tool to measure global volume on those key words.

• Make intelligence-gathering part of your company’s culture. From the manager who overhears a conversation in the grocery checkout line to the clerk obsessed with Twitter, every employee in your business is a potential intelligence resource. Encourage employees to pay attention as they interact with others outside the company. They may discover a nagging issue that no other company is addressing, allowing you to create uncontested market space. Or, you may learn critical information about a competitor that allows you to seize an advantage. Make intelligence gathering a company lifestyle.

• Appoint a Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) to coordinate and analyze information from a variety of sources. In smaller companies, leaders tend to rely on pipelines of internal information provided by employees who don’t understand how to use intelligence to make empowering decisions. That can render important data inactionable (unusable or simply not used). A CIO can oversee and coordinate the collection and analysis of intelligence, and brief you – the business leader – daily so that all data is actionable.

“What enables you to make smart, timely decisions is access to precise intelligence,” Sandler says. “Your advantage, as a smaller business, is that you don’t have the corporate processes and protocols that inhibit fast action.

“As Sun Tzu wrote, ‘It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win 100 battles without a single loss.’ ”

About Corrine Sandler

Corrine Sandler is the founder and CEO of Fresh Intelligence Research Corp, a global market research agency; international professional speaker and author of  “Wake Up or Die,” (www.wakeupordie.us) a new book that applies lessons from Sun Tzu’s ancient classic, “The Art of War,” to contemporary businesses. Corrine’s company was ranked No. 2 on Profit Magazine’s list of top 50 fastest-growing companies, and Corrine has been on Profit’s top 100 Female Entrepreneurs list two years in a row. With more than 20 years’ experience, she has established a reputation for unparalleled consumer understanding and insight development working with Fortune 500 companies.

 

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If You Ask Siri About “Her,” She Throws Some Serious Shade – Try it!

The intelligence may be artificial, but the rivalry is very real.

Warner Bros.

In writer-director Spike Jonze new film Her, Joaquin Phoenix plays a depressed man named Theodore Twombly who falls in love with the disembodied voice of his new smart phone’s operating system. It’s a futuristic, top-of-the-line program that utilizes a special breed of artificial intelligence, with uncanny depth and an ever-increasing ability to experience and feel seemingly human emotion. The fact that it has the voice of Scarlett Johansson doesn’t hurt, either.

The general sentiment among moviegoers is that this is an uber-advanced version of the iPhone’s Siri, the virtual assistant that more often functions like a bumbling intern. Siri — or her programmers at Apple — clearly got wind of this comparison, and seemingly decided to have some fun with it. Or, Siri is actually really smart and is super mad about the bad publicity. Either way, her responses to questions about the movie Her are a real treat.

Shots fired!

Shots fired!

Existential burn!

Existential burn!

Awkward…

Awkward...

Maybe this is where that jealousy comes from?

Awards season slam

Awards season slam

Clealry, Siri agrees with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that Scarlett Johansson shouldn’t be eligible for a Golden Globe for her performance in Her.

For now, anyway…

For now, anyway...

 

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2013’s 15 best-read stories: Marissa Mayer’s funeral home, Elon Musk’s apology…

End of 2013 year

by  -

If I were to guess, I’d say a lot of readers were looking for new jobs in 2013: Many of our most-read stories of the year had to do with perks packages, best-paying gigs, and where to find the region’s happiest employees.

The stories you also read the most: Anything about impactful, top CEOs (Yahoo exec Marissa Mayer and Tesla head Elon Musk were two of your favorites), and the fresh-faced up-and-comers you wanted to add to your Roledex.

Below, see the top 15 stories of the year, ranked by your clicks.

1. Our readers’ No. 1 pick this year was a look at Silicon Valley’s most successful women of 2013 – the leaders of giant tech firms, savvy entrepreneurs, top lawyers and execs in healthcare and education.Meet Silicon Valley’s most influential women here. (Note: This is an annual special, and if you have great candidates for next year, let us know.)

2. This story highlighted the companies everyone wants to work at – the ones with ridiculous perks and inspirational leaders. Read “Silicon Valley’s 7 happiest companies (and what employees secretly say about them).”

3. Harvard prof Clayton Christensen wrote the book on tech disruption. Here he explains the real threats to Apple, Tesla, VCs and academia: “Disruption guru Christensen: Why Apple, Tesla, VCs, academia may die.”

4-5: Speaking of perks, Facebook and Google have a lot of them (an in-house ergonomics team anyone?). An inside look at the everyday perks at these two companies took the No. 4 and 5 spots. Read “Facebook’s 12 most fantastic employee perks” and “Google’s 10 best perks: Cars, sleep pods — you name it”.

6. Our readers love executive news, especially when it’s unexpected. Like when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer bought a funeral home for a big chunk of change: “Marissa Mayer buys funeral home, report says. Price? $11.2 million.”

7. Despite Silicon Valley’s skyrocketing rental rates and crazy awful commutes, the region has some amazing perks the rest of the world doesn’t. Read all about them here: “The 10 employee perks Silicon Valley gets that America doesn’t.”

8. Hollywood has its star couples, Silicon Valley has its own power pairs. Take a look at who they are: “Meet Silicon Valley’s power couples.”

9. While many Silicon Valley employees enjoy crazy perks like free food or bikes, that doesn’t always mean they love their jobs. Our readers wanted to hear what companies are really the best places to work. Here employees ranked their companies, and we gave you the cream: “Bay Area’s Best Places to Work — See who topped the list.”

10. Remember No. 7? Well, the reverse can be said – there’s several perks America gets that Silicon Valley doesn’t: “9 perks the average American gets that Silicon Valley doesn’t.”

11. Getting a job at a top tech company in Silicon Valley is no easy task — especially at these companies. Learn who the toughest interviews in the Valley are: “Google, Facebook among toughest interviews — their questions revealed.”

12. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a phenomenal year, from paying back his $535 million federal loan to presenting his Hyperloop transportation plan. But the charismatic CEO isn’t infallible: “Elon Musk admits Tesla’s math was wrong.”

13. Kids, plan early if you want to be a success in the Golden State. Here are the majors that can help you land the best jobs (and the majors you should avoid at all cost): “The 5 best and worst college majors to land a job in CA.”

14. Some of these eye-popping paychecks will make you want to head back to school and get those degrees from No. 13: “Silicon Valley’s 25 highest-paid CEOs — see who made the list.”

15. We found Silicon Valley’s young phenoms and gave you an inside view on how their brains work. (Note: Also an annual special, so feel free to nominate names for the next class.) “40 Under 40: All the winners revealed.”

Shana Lynch is Managing Editor at the Business Journal. Her phone number is 408.299.1831

 

 

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5 Steps to an Amazing Company Blog

images (4)Blogging is one of the world’s most powerful mediums. It has changed the way that we send and receive information, and it has dramatically altered the face of news reporting. Because of blogging, if you have something to say, you can say it to millions, and you do not first have to get approval from editors, bosses, or anyone at all. However, because of the millions who are trying to get their voice heard, it becomes that much more difficult to stand out from the crowd. In order to do so, you have to make sure that you create the best blog that you can. So to help you out, here are five steps towards creating an amazing blog.

 

1. Find Your Hook

Your chances of having a successful blog will increase if you can find a specific niche to write on. Unless you are a celebrity already, there are not many people who will be interested in reading a miscellaneous collection of your thoughts. But if you focus it on one specific topic, be it a certain sport or team, politics, or a hobby, you will attract people who share a similar interest. The main thing to remember when choosing your topic is to make it something about which you are passionate, as that will keep you interested and produce your best writing.

 

2. Interesting Content

Once you have your topic, you need to start generating interesting content. The content is the main thing that drives traffic to your blog, so make sure that you come up with articles that are compelling and shareable. When you do this, people will want to share your work with others and you will receive more readers.

 

3. A Good Design

It might sound superficial, but a good design can be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful blog. Sometimes when something is difficult to look at, it can be tough to get past it and pay attention to the content. You can draw people to your blog through appealing design and interesting images. Get a photo editor and create some interesting unique images. These can then be shared on places such as Pinterest and Facebook, and drive traffic to your site.

 

4. Create Blog Partnerships

Blogging is something of an online community. When you write a blog that fits into a particular niche, you can reach out to others in the same niche, and rather than viewing them as competitors, treat them as partners. You can then help each other out by sending people to each others’ sites, and featuring posts from guest writers.

 

5. Use Social Media

Social media is the best way to interact with your followers, as well as pick up potential followers. Make use of every avenue, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Also, submit your articles to sites such as Reddit and StumbleUpon. These sorts of sites will encourage readers to visit your blog and increase the chances of them staying to browse.

 

 

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Tips For a Small Business to Compete With Larger Companies

4046372919_24448feb21The business world has never been more competitive than it is today. This is especially true if you run a small business and must compete with massive corporations with millions of dollars at their disposal. While going up against the big boys is a daunting task, there are some things you can do to make your odds of success much greater in the struggle of David against Goliath. Here are some tips to help small businesses get an edge against their much larger competitors:

1. Get personal

One of the main things that sets many small businesses apart from the huge companies is their ability to create personal relationships with their suppliers and customers. At the end of the day, people want to deal with someone they trust, not some gigantic corporation that views their customers only as dollar signs. For example, some large auto repair companies simply want to get as many people in and out as fast as they can, to make as much money as possible. If you are a mechanic running your own business, take the time to get to know your customers by name. Give them advice on how to take care of their car to prevent future repairs. They will reward you with repeat business.

2. Be nimble

Although large companies will have more resources and a bigger staff than you, those things will also increase the amount of bureaucracy in their infrastructure. If a company has a boatload of managers and vice presidents, it will most likely take that company a long time to create, develop, approve, and implement a change in the organization. Small businesses do not have to worry about this. Changes can be made almost instantly. This can lead to better customer satisfaction and increased sales. Customer complaints can also be dealt with swiftly, as opposed to large companies that may need to filter the complaint through several departments before a decision can be reached.

3. Social media and technology

We are living in the age of technology, so use it to your advantage. Nowadays, a business needs a social media presence to be successful. There is just no getting around it. Connecting with people on various social media platforms is a wonderful way to get the word out about your business and the products or services you provide. Companies that respond in a timely and creative manner to customer complaints through social media can resolve small issues before they become large issues and show customers that you care enough about them to respond personally to their comments and complaints. Being proficient with computers does not hurt either. For example, if you do not know what PDF to doc means, you may want to enroll in some basic computer courses to get yourself up to speed.

4. Promote your company by telling your story

People get bored by seeing the same bland press releases from companies promoting how great and innovative their latest product is. If you run a small business, you need to separate yourself from this style of promotion as much as you can. Instead, use your commercial to talk about how you started your business. Tell your potential customers how passionate you are about your product or service. Enlighten them about how you started your business and the struggles you have faced. Products that use “brand biographies” have a way of capturing the imagination of the general public. People will always be fascinated by personal stories that were not cooked up in an advertising agency boardroom.

Starting a small business is challenging. However, following these tips and implementing them into how you do business can reap large rewards. It is important to remember that every large company was once a small company, just like yours.

About the author: Jared Jaureguy is a freelance writer and technology consultant. He loves staying up to date on all things tech. You can follow him @jaredjaureguy.

 

 

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4 Quick Ways to Make a Viral Video

By: Caroline Rodin

Anyone can make the next big YouTube hit, whether you’re a corporation with a big budget or an individual filming on your phone. But small businesses have the perfect combination of resources, flexibility and a loyal following that make a YouTube video successful. Learn the techniques that big companies are using to promote their videos and help them go viral and how you can do a few simple things to give your video a boost.

Grovo, an online education platform for leading sites, apps and Internet tools has the Top 4 Ways to Make a Video Go Viral This Weekend. YouTube is waiting for you to film the next viral video. Make sure it goes viral.

1. What is Video Optimization?
Online video is more popular than ever, reaching a huge percentage of the US Internet audience…and YouTube, the world’s largest video site, is at the heart of it all. Tapping into that large YouTube audience to get more views, however, means making sure that your videos are optimized for people to find them. Check out this Grovo video to get a quick overview before moving forward:

2. Find and Compare Trends
The YouTube Trends Dashboard allows you to see what videos are most popular in different places around the world to help you decide what content to produce and who to target. To use the YouTube Trends Dashboard, navigate to youtube.com/trendsdashboard. Use the location drop down to see popular videos in a specific country or city, use the age drop down to pick an age range, and filter by gender using the links below. The “Compare” button lets you select up to three locations, age ranges and gender settings to compare what’s popular with different groups of people. Use the “Unique” checkbox to see which videos are not in any other list, and the “Common” checkbox to see which videos are in multiple lists..

3. Help Search Engines Find your Videos
Adding tags and video categories can improve the performance of your videos by helping search engines find them when users search for your tags and similar terms. You can add tags when you upload your video, or at any time after by selecting “Video Manager” in the dropdown below your username. Check off a tag you’ve already used to include it, or type in the box above to find a specific tag or create a new one. You can also choose a video category that matches your title, description and tags to help improve your video’s search ranking even more..

4. How do I Get More YouTube Views?
A video’s popularity is a function of many factors, only one of which is the quality of your video content. Most importantly, however, before people can even judge the quality of your content, they have to be able to find it. Grovo’s video below will show you how to help people find your videos via YouTube search, with three of the most important elements are, and the top 5 factors that will influence how well your video will appear in search results. We’ll wait for you to finish the video…

Okay, good. You actually watched it right? None of these factors is necessarily more important than the others; they all play a part in determining whether you video will show up in search results.

About the Author:
Caroline Phillips Rodin is the SEO & Inbound Marketing Manager for Grovo.com. She has nearly a decade of experience helping Fortune 500 financial and fashion companies improve their online visibility and increase their natural search traffic. Not only is she in love with SEO, she has a passion for sharing her love of SEO with others. Caroline’s work has been published in Social Media Today, YouMoz, Business2Community and AdvancedWebRankings, and more. Caroline graduated from Wellesley College cum laude in 2010 with a degree in sociology. She is an avid reader who spends her free time hunting for NYC’s best chocolate chip cookie.

 

 

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Twitter IPO is Prompting Changes for Users

shutterstock_teens_phone

By: Marsha Friedman

About two months ago, our lead social media strategist at EMSI Public Relations started noticing interesting changes involving the Twitter accounts we manage for clients.

Tools were suddenly disabled. Twitter’s technical support, which hadn’t been good, improved.

So, when news broke on Sept. 24 that Twitter had already formally taken steps toward going public back in mid-July, Jeni Hinojosa wasn’t surprised.

“The changes appear designed to make Twitter more appealing to investors when the initial public offering is finally made,” Jeni says.

“In some ways, they’re also improving the experience for users. But in other ways, some users will be disappointed.’’

Overall, Jeni says, Twitter will likely remain one of the most effective social media platforms for connecting with both individuals and large corporations. That’s because it’s less personal than, say, Facebook, and – this is the biggie – it’s quick and easy to have a conversation with posts of140 characters or less.

What are some of the changes Jeni has seen on Twitter and how might they affect you? She shares four:

• No more “automatic follow-backs” means the size of your following will grow more slowly. Some applications, such as HootSuite and ManageFlitter, allowed Twitter users to set up their accounts to automatically become a follower of anyone who first followed them. That allowed audiences to quickly swell – but it also removed human oversight. The result: Some of your followers, and some accounts you followed, would be fake, inactive or otherwise non-genuine connections.

“I believe Twitter’s shutting down the ways huge audiences of fakes can grow so that they can be properly valued for the IPO,” Jeni says.

While that’s generally good for users, people who want to build a large following quickly may be disappointed. One such group is authors trying to get literary agents or book deals, she says.

“Agents and publishers want authors who have a strong base of potential fans, and one way to demonstrate that is to get big followings on social media,” Jeni says. “Authors may be unhappy that their following grows more slowly, but it’s better in the long run – it’s not hard to tell when someone has a mostly fake following.”

• You can no longer remove fake or unwanted followers en masse. Twitter enforces limits on how many accounts you can proactively follow, so it’s important to periodically clear out the fakes, inactive accounts and other unhelpful followers.

SocialOomph and Manage Flitter allowed users to detect and delete these followers in large bunches, which saved time, Jeni says.

“That function is no longer available,” she says. “Now, you have to go through your followers one by one to delete them.”

• Improved technical support – in some ways. Before the recent changes, if you ran into a problem with your Twitter account, you went to a “help” web page, filled out a form describing the problem, and submitted it. Then you had to watch your email for a confirmation and reply to the confirmation within 48 hours in order for your “case” to move forward.

“While that pesky process still exists, the ‘help’ page now offers troubleshooting, which makes it easier to fix some problems,” Jeni says.

The downside? You’re forced to click through multiple steps and take certain actions before Twitter agrees that you have a problem and allows you to send a request for support.

The help page is support.twitter.com.

• More advertisements. As Facebook did when it went public, Twitter is now offering users the option to pay for their posts to achieve more visibility. So now, you may find a post from an account that you don’t follow appearing at the top of your news feed.

“Most recently, I’ve been getting posts about McDonald’s new Mighty Wings,” Jeni says. “It’s mildly annoying if it’s something you have no interest in, but it can also get confusing. You may see it and think, ‘Did I follow McDonald’s?’ and check to see whether you did or not, especially if you’re close to your limit on followers.”

 

 

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