Our first teleseminar

If you weren’t able to join us for our teleseminar earlier today, we’ve got great news for you: We recorded it and have made it available online. To listen in, click here.

In this teleseminar, we cover the convergence point of technology, communications and marketing. But there’s only so much you can discuss in one teleseminar, of course! So we’ll be picking up our microphone again soon – and regularly thereafter – to talk about the topics that matter to you and your business.

Your turn: So what topics do you want to hear us discuss in future teleseminars and podcasts? You ask…we’ll deliver.

Technology advice meets a free iPod

We are often approached to share our thoughts on leading edge technology and its impact on business. The results appear fairly regularly in mainstream media and trade publications, as well as electronic and online media across Canada. (See our Insight & Commentary page for a few past links.)

The Globe and Mail is running an article we wrote that shares additional insight into the top technology trends for small and mid-sized businesses in 2008:

Business technology trends to watch in 2008

Oh, while you’re learning all there is to know about the technologies to watch, click on over here to reserve your spot for even more insight and wisdom. We’re excited about our new Technology Market Advisory offering and we hope you will be, too. We’re kicking things off with a complimentary teleseminar on Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Drop by, virtually, and you might win a decidedly real iPod. Click here for more.

Not blogging. Listening.

For a lesson in why blogging and other forms of social media are relevant, look no further than this week’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Around this time every year, Apple hosts this event to showcase its latest technology. Other tech companies do the same thing, of course, but only Apple has managed to raise the conference to high art, with fans of the company speculating for months beforehand what CEO Steve Jobs will announce. In the weeks leading up to the event, Appleheads work themselves into a near-frenzy, filling the blogosphere with chatter.

Apple has found a way to leverage the power of crowds, to focus today’s tools of social media to raise the volume on its message to a degree greater than anything it could ever buy from an advertising agency. Apple doesn’t actually write its own blogs – we’ll talk about the benefits of that in another bog entry – but you can bet your next mortgage payment that its employees are actively patrolling Facebook, MySpace and blogs large and small.

They do this to better understand what’s driving their market and assess what their competitors are up to. Reading what the average consumer has to say about current products helps inform and guide the stuff that’s in the pipeline. Companies that fail to incorporate social media into their market research efforts lose a valuable source of information, and are at greater risk of losing touch with the customers that keep them alive.

So Steve Jobs doesn’t write a blog. But he’s reading them along with most of his employees, using what he learns along the way to build products that people will line up for days to buy. Blogging is as much about the reading as it is about the writing. What will your readers learn about you the next time they load up your blog?

Who’s reading – when good enough…isn’t

By now, you’ve hopefully given some thought to who’s out there, how you’re reaching them and whether or not you’re actually succeeding. Now it’s time to use that insight to narrow down your possible actions.

If your informal research has shown you that your stakeholders – customers, prospects, suppliers, etc. – are generally happy with their relationship with you and your business, you may consider stopping right here. Why fix something that isn’t broken, right?

But happiness doesn’t mean all is right with the world. You could be leaving opportunity on the table if you accept the status quo as good enough. Business moves fast, and sort-of-satisfied stakeholders today could be vulnerable to competitors who use different tools to market themselves more aggressively. Online tools are evolving rapidly, which means yesterday’s approach, even if it’s kinda-sorta-OK in the eyes of the folks you do business with, may be in serious need of a rethink.

In other words, your bicycle may still be a viable form of transportation – but not when everyone else is switching to high-powered sports sedans and hitting the highway. The same kind of thinking applies when you’re mulling over whether, when and how to add online media to your business toolkit.

Go back to the four questions in the previous entry. Instead of asking them internally, now direct them toward your stakeholders. How did they respond?

The simplicity of mobility

I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with my BlackBerry this week. Although I’ve owned mobile devices powered by virtually every kind of pocketable operating system you can imagine, the stripped down simplicity of BlackBerry’s design philosophy is starting to win me over. A few observations:

  • It doesn’t do everything. It only claims to do some things – like push-based e-mail – really well.
  • Its battery won’t die by lunch if you forgot to plug it in overnight. That’s because it isn’t overloaded with every feature known to humankind.
  • It works well one-handed. I know this sounds silly, but when I’m juggling a 7-year-old’s booster seat and a wiggly puppy, I don’t have extra hands to play with a stylus or navigate a clunky interface.
  • It’s quick. Looking up an address is immediate. I don’t have to stand there for 30 seconds wondering if the device crashed again.
  • So by replacing my older wireless device that was practically bursting with features but couldn’t really manage anything all that well with one that chooses instead to focus on doing a few things exceptionally well, I’ve become much more adept at using the thing as a real business tool.

    I can’t help but wonder if the simplicity of my newfound wireless buddy doesn’t also hold lessons for the other aspects of my business life. Simplicity…I think I need to mull that concept around a bit more.

    What do you carry with you when you leave the office?

    AR Communications hits the airwaves

    From time to time, journalists call us looking for our expert opinion on issues that matter to today’s businesses. We do this because we feel it’s important to be acknowledged experts in the topic areas that matter to our clients.

    Today, I spoke with Pat Bolland from Canada’s Business News Network (BNN, formerly known as Report on Business Television, or ROBTv). I shared my perspectives on what drove Nortel’s just-announced quarterly results, and where I think the company is headed in the near future.

    To see the interview, please click here.

    We’ll continue to work with major media to touch on the business-related issues that matter to you. As always, we invite your feedback – one way or the other.