Net Neutrality Friday

Well, I was going to do something a bit different this week following on last week’s post. Then, as normal the FCC decided to write my post this week for me. I need to personally thank all the folks at the FCC for making my Friday an easy one.

So, what am I talking about? If you have not heard or read, the FCC is trying to restart Net Neutrality by separating what they call “Back End” Connections from “Retail” connections. Needless to say that a lot of this is leaked to get initial feedback and therefore incomplete. A “Retail” connection is between an ISP and a Consumer. A “Back End” Connection is from an ISP and a Content Provider. What the FCC would do is then ensure that Back End Connections are handled in a Neutral Manner.

Let me stop you right now as your head is probably spinning. The idea of this is that Consumers can create deals with their ISP to have a higher level of service. The thinking is that the Consumer will be able to pay some more and get streaming video at higher quality. The other way to think about this is that Consumers will be able to pay for the use of certain amounts of bandwidth to be used.

The goal would be that Content would all be treated neutrally so that the end result is that all Content is available and usable. People that wish to consume more would pay for it. There is at least one thing that I consider very valuable in that part of the proposal. Today, people pay for service by the rate that bits can be exchanged at the interface they buy. That is useful, but allows for no value for the network that is more internal. The quality and cost of that network is never exposed.

Beyond that, I think that there is at least one more big issue. There would need to be some significant changes in the way things are named and structured from a regulatory standpoint. There would seem to be a large possibility that the Courts would overturn the changes. In order to move forward here, having an idea of what is and what is not within the current framework is very important.

My primary comment to all of you is that nothing that has been put out about this is in stone. We are still early in this process and need a lot more details before we start thinking about things in terms of good or bad for us. So, relax and have a great weekend.

Happy Halloween!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

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Sonoma County: News and Notes

I want to thank those who listened to the Webinar that I did with Roy Johnston on Success Planning. Next week I will be linking a copy of the Youtube video to this blog post.

I went to the Annual Conference of the Professional Services Marketing Group – North Bay (PSMG) on 10/16/14. The speakers were excellent! The Keynote was by Ann Handley and she focused on Content Marketing and the importance of writing. If you can tell, I find writing important and was excited to hear her thoughts on the topic.

One of my close associates, Ryan Kelly of WSI Smart Marketing was also a speaker. His topic was on the practical use of Google Analytics. Ryan and his father Ken do a really excellent job of creating and managing Websites as well as other types of Digital Marketing. If you are in the market for their type of services, I highly recommend them.

Much of the rest of the event centered on the changes and techniques that are useful in the Digital Marketing world that we have today. If you have a chance to go to a PSMG event, you should strongly consider attending. There is a lot of excellent information available from the conference, events, and people that you meet. It is a great organization, and I am proud to be a member.

Calix just announced their Q3 results and I will be posting about those next week. So, stay tuned to this space for a review of Calix’s Q3. If there are other companies that you want reviewed, just let me know. I will get to Enphase and Cyan as their earnings come out. Also, you probably have read some of my Business Interviews that I have been posting lately. I am always happy to talk to a Business Owner or Executive who has a message to convey!

As we are into Q4, I want to make sure that people have thought about an Annual Operating Plan for their Business. Unlike a larger Business Plan, an Annual Plan provides very specific ideas of what will make your business work over the next 12 months. If you are interested in such a plan and don’t know where to start, contact me at jsackman@focalpointcoaching.com. A properly executed plan will more than pay for itself! -If you want to understand the service better, then click HERE!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

Branding: Place

I think people have a better feel for Place as a customer than they do as a Business Owner. One of the ways I have seen this is when I watch “Restaurant Impossible“.

If you have ever watched the show owners call in a gentleman named Robert Irvine. Robert and a team makeover a restaurant in 2 days. About 80% of the time, the decor is one of the big issues. Well, I should back up and say that the “Place” is a big issue. It seems to be a pattern that bad restaurants have cleanliness issues on his show. Not all the time, but most of the time. Now if you walk into a restaurant and it smells bad, what do you think as a customer? Something is wrong. The same is true if you look around and there are filthy carpets, dusty blinds, and general clutter.

This is where Place comes into your Brand. I work out of my home as do many people in my business. The majority of my meetings happen at my client offices. Some of them happen at coffee shops and the rest happen on-line. So, I get to travel to see where people work. And that first impression makes a difference. That is why Marketing folks put such an emphasis on logos, signage, website design and colors.

But the quality of your office space and location of it makes a difference. We have a high end Steakhouse in town that is in a relatively bad neighborhood. I have seen needles in the parking lot while I was walking in. This does not provide a good feeling as someone who is planning to spend $50/head for dinner. I am surprised that this location was chosen and they have stayed there.

So, you can see how this all plays together as part of your brand. What people want and expect is that the location is convenient and safe. They want the style to represent you and yours. If it doesn’t then they are disappointed with your company and it hurts your Brand. None of this has to be fancy or overdone. Unless, you are a fancy and overdone brand. Simple can work just fine. It all depends on expectations.

I like to use Hotels as a good way to think about it. Now, you can imagine that a Motel 6 and the Ritz-Carlton are going to be very different. But we can go further and look at others in each of those price classes. The Ritz is known for opulence. But imagine staying at a “W” Hotel. Look them up if you want. They are supposed to be trendy and fashionable. Would you expect the Ritz to be the same? No – Opulent and more Old World. Mahogany and Deep Pile versus Sleek Black and Chrome.

Both can work and have markets. But put the W’s music in the Ritz and it would be a big branding mistake!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

Net Neutrality Friday

The world of Net Neutrality has been quiet this week. Given that, I thought I would focus on a buzzword and help people understand it.

Today I will talk about “The Cloud”. I will say that now this is a rather meaningless term. Like many things, when a term becomes popular everybody wants to participate in it. That means marketing folks stretch the boundaries of the term until it covers things that were well outside the original scope.

In this case, The Cloud was originally about services connected over the Public Internet. In particular, there was the notion of the use of Virtual Computing to deliver the service. Just to back up, there was a set of companies that were doing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Those companies created services that were equivalent to software that ran on desktops. An example in the business world would be Quickbooks Online (SaaS) as a replacement for Quickbooks. In the consumer world, you could have GMail instead of Exchange as a mail server.

When this first started, companies would put Computers together to run these services and they generally acted like Websites to the users. For all kinds of reasons, companies began to use “Virtual Computers” to implement these types of products. One of the big advantages was scalability. If a SaaS service became popular, you needed to manage the number of computers that you could have providing the service. If you had to buy and deploy new computers all the time, this cost a lot of time and money. So the ability to have “Virtual Machines” which run on larger computers and act like many computers. It allows people to change the number of computers working to deliver a service via a software mechanism.

People that implemented Cloud Services were doing SaaS using Virtual Machine technology. Amazon became very good at this and then began to offer its capability to others using Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS and similar services allow people to build entire IT infrastructures and own no computers.

The problem was that this became a popular term among technologists. Everybody wanted to participate in The Cloud. So services that were SaaS became now known as Cloud Services. People wanted Private Clouds. This means Virtual Environments that were only used internal to a company. Then we had Hybrid Clouds which were a mix of environments between Private Computing and Networks and Public Ones.

So, we lost the meaning. And that is okay. Now we think of Services and less about how they are made. Which makes sense for users. The Cloud started as a term for developers and has morphed. So, I hope this helps to understand where it came from.

Now, The Cloud is applied broadly to services and architectures that are delivered via or connected to Networks. In general, they are web browser based but can have an application front end.

Have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

Sonoma County: News and Notes

I want to remind folks about my next Event which is a joint Webinar with Roy Johnston of Johnston/Thomas. Roy and I will be talking about “Succession Planning: Create Your Future”. The Webinar will be held on 10/28 @ 9AM and you can Register HERE! Again, this is free of charge. Succession Planning is all about “Who is Next?”. If you register and are unable to attend, you will get a copy of the Webinar sent to you.

I recently spoke to Sherrie Blondin of Sherrie Blondin Photography. Sherrie comes out of the Film, Modeling, and Art Businesses and has a unique take on Photography. Here are some highlights from our discussion.

Jim Sackman: Sherrie, there are many Photographers that people can choose from. Why are you special?
Sherrie Blondin: I think the best way to say it is that I am bringing a fashion flair to the warmer feel of the Sonoma County. I moved here from Los Angelos and just love it here.
JS: How does that flair change what your customers get?
SB: I like to think it gives them a differentiated image. I find that I can add a quality to the work that clients find appealing. I try to bring out what I see in them.
JS: So I can see how people would like that. What kind of people are your clients?
SB: Well, I do shots for individuals and families mostly. Additionally, I have been doing Weddings for many years. Recently, I have expanded into working to help Branding with companies.
JS: How do you work on Branding?
SB: I work with the rest of their Marketing Team to understand the company. Then, I take shots of the Staff, Products and Locations. I do so with the flair that I apply to Individuals or Weddings. This can help give a company a unique image.
JS: Have you worked with any celebrities?
SB: Locally – the most well known one is Guy Fieri. I did some work for him. It helped create the image of him that you see today.
JS: Maybe you can do that for me!
SB: Well maybe (smiles), but I am not sure you are a lot like him!

It was great to talk with Sherrie and I think that you should chat with Sherrie the next time you need a Photographer. You can contact her at (707)595-0728.

I have a couple of local Tech Company notes this week. Cyan recently announced that they are able to support some Cisco and Juniper products. This is good news for Cyan, but they have not announced any customers for that functionality. Enphase announced a new “AC Battery” product. I think this means that they are building modular UPS type systems for users of their systems.

As we are into Q4, I want to make sure that people have thought about an Annual Operating Plan for their Business. Unlike a larger Business Plan, an Annual Plan provides very specific ideas of what will make your business work over the next 12 months. If you are interested in such a plan and don’t know where to start, contact me at jsackman@focalpointcoaching.com. A properly executed plan will more than pay for itself! -If you want to understand the service better, then click HERE!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

Branding: Promotion

It’s funny. I actually started this group of posts because of something that happened to me in this category. I received a ValPak. For those not familiar with this, it is a mailed group of Coupon type advertisements that come once a month or so. I opened mine up and thumbed through the pages. One of the ads struck me oddly. It was for a high end pet salon.

Now, what is wrong with a Coupon here? Branding. Now, I get the idea – let’s generate some new revenue. But ValPak’s indicate low end commodity goods. I am not trying to demean a ValPak or their advertisers, but I would not expect a Tiffany ad in one. See the pont? I am talking about a high end pet salon. When I went to their website, they touted their experence. The text on the site leads one to understand that they are taking the maximum care of your pet.

And then they send out an ad right next to the Smog Testing companies. I hope I have pounded this in now. You need to make sure that the way you promote your products and services enhances your brand.

A great example of proper promotion comes to me via my friends at Fuzeviewer. They worked with the local BMW dealer on a promotion for a brand new BMW model. There was only going to be one made available for the dealer and they decided to sell it in an interesting way.

The dealer did a direct mailer that allowed the user to scan with the Fuzeviewer app. As part of this the user could enter a bid on the car. The car sold at list price and money above that was donated to charity. I hope you can see how this created exclusivity for the BMW dealer and brand. On top of that, service to the community was made front and center. This is just doing things the right way.

So, as you are thinking about your promotions you have go beyond just looking for where your customers are looking for your products. You need to understand each element of the promotion and see if it enhances your brand. Where is the promotion taking place? What is the Call To Action? How will existing customers react? How will new customers react?

Take a broad look at Promotions and align them with your Brand!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis