October 26, 2010


incase Convertible Book Jacket for iPad
I visited an Apple store for the first time and wrote about the experience. I returned a week later to buy an iPad for business.

The second visit was not as good. The store was even more crowded and noisy. Products aren't on the shelves. This creates more retail space, reduces theft but slows down purchasing. The checkout line wasn't clearly marked. All this caused delays.

I eventually bought the base iPad (16 GB storage and Wi-Fi). Why not a fancier one with 3G and more storage? Three friends with the same model are satisfied. I have MiFi (the topic for another post) for anywhere Internet access to files stored in the cloud.

Why Now?

I'm not a gadget freak, though I upgrade my equipment regularly. I never bought an Apple product before. So this purchase took special consideration since this could be the first step into the sphere of Steve Jobs.

I got the iPad for business. My goal is to quickly show relevant nonlinear content. This could take the form of webpages, snippets from PowerPoints, tables showing tax rates, photos and video.

A notebook computer is too obtrusive and slow to get ready. Carrying paper isn't practical since I don't know what I'll need.The iPad has a WOW factor which helps with marketing.


There's much to like about the iPad
  • instant on: like a smartphone
  • vibrant screen
  • very fast: seems faster than my netbook and notebook
  • intuitive navigation with your fingers
  • long life battery: easily lasts all day
  • reasonable volume and sound quality
  • apps are very easy to install
  • reasonable pricing for the hardware, accessories and apps
  • much better for email than a smartphone


The iPad isn't perfect
  • installation requires a computer and an iTunes account (the process also installed QuickTime and the Safari web browser)
  • much heavier than it looks (but much lighter than a notebook)
  • no ideal solution for playing PowerPoint presentations (see below)
  • designed for the out-dated 4:3 aspect ratio (1024x768) but my content is designed for 16:10 widescreen (1280x800)
  • lack of Adobe Flash limits (see below)
  • No try-before-you buy option for apps
  • no multitasking (coming soon)

No Adobe Flash Support

On my notebook computer, Flash crashes often or slows down web browsing. Maybe Apple is wise to dispense with Flash but you'll find online content you can't play. You see empty gaps on the web pages, which is annoying. At least there's a player for YouTube.

No PowerPoint Support

Most of my content requires PowerPoint 2010 and there's no iPad player. I can manage without editing, though some basic abilities are nice to have. However, I do need a player. Apple sells Keynote ($10 US) but reviews are negative even from Mac users. I've heard that Docs To Go Premium ($17) is a great choice with support for Word and Excel too. There's the innovative Nonlinear ($10), which is part of the TalkingPad project started by Seth Godin. Unfortunately, you must buy before you can try and there are no refunds.

For now, I've converted slides into pictures using the Save As option in PowerPoint. Each slide is numbered and the collection is stored as an album. This removes animation but that's okay for my purposes.

I have no intention of presenting the content using a projector or external screen. I'd used my usual ThinkPad X200 tablet with a remote control instead.

Why Not Wait?

Buying version 1 technology has drawbacks. This time I'm not concerned because Apple is building on past experience. The iPad is like a big iPod. Millions of iPads have been sold, which makes this tablet the clear market leader. The current model does what I want and can be used for years. New apps are being released daily. There are no imminent competitors — certainly none with an app store.

While there's still plenty for an Apple newbie like me to learn, I'm extremely satisfied with the iPad and the new capabilities it provides for business (and fun).


PS Since the iPad is slippery, be sure to get a nice case. I chose the incase Convertible Book Jacket (see review). It grips surfaces well, protects the iPad, gives three viewing angles and has a tilted position for typing.

October 19, 2010


Chris O'Neill (~1979) at his family's Canadian Tire in Acton, Ontario Chris O'Neill, in his second month as the head of Google Canada, headlined the 10th annual Small Business Forum. Enterprise Toronto created an excellent day.

Last month, Chris helped make the CIRA AGM interesting  with a different topic. He has small business roots. Chris worked at his family's Canadian Tire store in Acton, Ontario. Yes, that's him in the photo.

Here are some miscellaneous eye-popping statistics. For maximum impact, pause to absorb the magnitude.
  • there are 4 billion photos on Flickr
  • 5 billion apps have been downloaded from the Apple App Store and 10 billion songs from iTunes
  • Google's index contains 1 trillion URLs
  • 25 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 1 of each 6 minutes online in Canada is spent using social media
  • half of all new Internet connections are mobile
  • there are more mobile phones around the globe than clean toilets
  • 81% of shoppers do research online before buying
The sources were not shown. Maybe that's to get us to run our own Google searches?

The End Of Digital Marketing

Chris talked about the end of digital marketing. Just as "colour TV" is now "TV" and "cell phone" is now "phone" for many, these days "digital marketing" is "marketing". The novelty's gone. It's time for business.

The Five Marketing Keys

Since your clients have a set of options (including doing nothing), you want to become their preferred choice. How you present yourself matters and requires digital tools.
Here are Chris's five marketing keys for small business
  1. establish your online presence
  2. use free marketing to reach customers
  3. know your customers
  4. advertise online
  5. embrace the cloud

Establish Your Online Presence

This is a basic requirement. Any arguments? Now 20% of web searches have a local element. You can put yourself on the map with Google Places (previously called the Local Business Center). It's free.

Use Free Marketing To Reach Customers

When search engines — Chris showed Bing and Yahoo too — find you, they direct traffic to you. That's free but you need online content first. Posting to places like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube helps.

Know Your Customers

Where are your customers from? What are they looking for? Why guess when you can get answers with Google Analytics (which is free).

For instance, today's visitors to this blog read Conan the Teacharian from 2007 and Brad Pitt, Bluetooth headsets and you from 2009.

Advertise Online

You can reach customers who've raised their hands to ask for what you sell. You only pay for visitors who meet the requirements you've defined. You can start a campaign with Google Adwords instantly.

I haven't tried paid advertising but many others have.

Embrace The Cloud

Putting content online allows collaboration and the use of modern applications like the free Google Apps Standard Edition. You get to say farewell to expensive legacy systems and get updates without upgrading any software. You also avoid the hassles of making offsite backups.

What do you think about Chris' ideas?


PS Why not rank this post by clicking on the stars?

October 12, 2010


iPad 450x599
On Sunday, I went out of my way to visit an Apple store for the first time. The place was buzzing with activity and energy. I've never bought an Apple product but wanted to see an iPad for myself. That's the power of marketing — attracting a disinterested client.

The iPad teaches three valuable marketing lessons
  1. Show, don't tell
  2. Lock the price
  3. Sell the old model

Show, Don't Tell

People can't easily tell what they want before they see it. Can you? That's why focus groups and market research have limited value for new inventions like overnight delivery, bank machines and smartphones. Watching is a much better measure of intent than listening.

The Original Tablet

Tablet computers have been around since 1992 when IBM launched the ThinkPad 700T. There have been many models from various companies ever since. Microsoft Windows has supported tablet PCs since 2002. Yet sales were limited.

Enter Apple

Within 80 days, Apple sold three million tablets — more than all models from all other companies combined. There was a market after all.

What happened? Apple showed people what the iPad can do. Through their stores, their own experts answer questions and let visitors try for themselves.

Within a few minutes, an Apple rep showed me the capabilities and had me sold. The only question was which model. And you thought actuaries couldn't be impulsive. My family was with me and discouraged the purchase. So I walked out empty-handed.

What do you show and let potential clients touch? This is tougher if you sell a service, which means that what clients touch has even greater impact.

Lock The Price

Prior to launch, there were questions whether Apple would manage to get the price of the iPad below $1,000 US. They managed to charge $499 for the base model with prices ranging to $829.

16 GB
32 GB
64 GB
WiFi + 3G

With that much choice, price isn't much of an issue. Also, prices seem to be the same at the few places like Best Buy that are authorized to sell the iPad.

To some buyers, price is probably incidental. They have to have it. There's similar fervour when a new Blackberry or iPhone gets launched.

Are you selling on price or do you offer a range? The range may consist of offerings from different companies (e.g., at Best Buy) or a range with offerings from one company (e.g., at Apple stores).

Sell The Old Model

You don't need to sell the best … if you're perceived as first to market and have a reasonable price. Perfection can come later.

These deficiencies haven't deterred early adopters
  • no multitasking (coming with iOS 4.2 in November)
  • no USB connection
  • no HDMI output (but a VGA connector is available)
  • no 4G option
  • no widescreen (4:3 ratio 1024x768 resolution)
  • no camera
Despite the shortcomings and ridiculed name, Apple sold three million iPads in 80 days. At the $499 entry price, that's $1.5 billion in revenue. First year sales are higher than for the original iPhone or DVD players.

If you won't buy until minimum standards have been met, Apple has given you reasons to wait for the iPad 2 (and perhaps to keep you away from competitors). For current buyers, Apple is creating anticipation to encourage upgrades to the iPad 2 and additional purchases for other family members.

Are you creating anticipation for future sales? Are you selling what you have now or pausing until the new models come out?

What's Next?

Competitors are on the way. Apple can probably maintain momentum and market share by reducing prices prior to introducing the iPad 2.


PS I may be back in an Apple store before long … without my family

PPS You can now rate posts. Please do.

October 5, 2010


Even if you're not using social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and Facebook you're still affected. That's because your current and potential clients are engaging in public conversations.

Too small to read? Click to enlarge.Are you listening? Are you participating? If not, you're putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage because social media helps with all six elements of credibility.

Business people who resisted computers fell behind. Those who resisted the Internet fell behind. Those who resisted smartphones fell behind. Those who are still resisting social media are falling behind today. It's not going away. As the graphic at the top shows, there are numerous forms already.

When you fall behind, the barriers to entry rise and catching up becomes very difficult. It's much easier to change lanes than to join traffic from a standstill.

Web In Decline

Sources: Cisco estimates based on CAIDA publications, Andrew Odlyzko (read the full fascinating article in Wired 18.09. There's a link at the bottom of this post.)Websites are so 1990s in terms of Internet traffic. Their importance has been dropping steadily since about 2000. If you don't have a website, don't rejoice. You still need one but that's not enough anymore.

These days, much activity occurs in the members-only enclaves of social media. Anyone can join but newcomers must prove themselves to get treated like an insider.

Like Losing Weight

If you agree that social media is now essential for building your business, how do you catch up? You'll find many basics online and in seminars. If you're a self-starter and like tinkering, you can experiment. That's what I did. However, this takes longer. You're bound to make mistakes that could stay online forever. That's risky.

Have you ever wanted to become healthier through exercise and diet? How do you get started? What's a realistic goal? How do you stick to your plan?

With a personal social media coach.
Disclaimer: I don't sell any marketing services or take referral fees from anyone who does. My tips are 100% free. Fair?
Yes a coach costs money but so does inertia. The right coach tailors a strategy and guides you along the path, month after month. Which media are best for you and your clients? What's the right content? What's the right frequency? How do you develop the content? Are you on schedule? How do you make time?

No one else can lose weight for you. No one else can do social media for you either. You must be involved. Yes, you can get help and there are ways to delegate to outsiders. You can't quit enroute or even after you reach your goal.

The Right Coach

Average people are in the majority but they're not in demand.
— Seth Godin
You'll find many "experts" in social media. How do you tell who can help you? Look for
  • chemistry: you like them (easy to find)
  • credentials: they have proven experience and satisfied clients (fairly easy to find)
  • generosity: they follow their own advice (rare)
Generosity is the biggest challenge. You'll find many inconsistencies. Here are simple warning signs.


Is their LinkedIn profile complete, including meaningful testimonials and a photo? Are they sloppy? Do they participate in groups? Do they post ongoing status updates which help their network? Do they send you self-promotional emails? When did they become social media gurus? What were they doing before?


Do their tweets help followers or are they self promotional? Are they reasonably consistent in tweeting? Did they join Twitter only recently? Do they have more followers than people they follow (look for the ratio)?


Do they have one? Are they articulate? Are they consistent in posting? Is the content truly helpful or constructed to sell you something?

Web Search

What happens when you type their name into your preferred search engine? Do they show up on page one and create a positive impression? Does their website look modern or dated?


Using social media is much like networking in person. You can't easily quantify the benefits. So if you want solid proof of success, you'll be disappointed. How do you quantify the ROI on your mobile phone?


PS What you start doing raises client expectations, which puts pressure on competitors to catch up.