Forget Facebook & Twitter-Small Canadian Businesses are still waiting for Google

Today is Google’s day! When I re-branded myself last fall (2010) as a SEARCH & SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIST after 10 years as a Sales and Marketing Consultant with a background in New Media I thought long and hard about my offering and arrived at Search & Social Media. For me it was never an either/or scenario like so many of my peers….rather it was about helping small businesses with the Social media basics and working over time to develop an online marketing strategy that embraced both Search & Social Media.

Since then I have heard very little talk about Google in my discussions with clients about my services. Those who are savvy are fascinated by social media and then shocked that I would actually charge anything more than minimum wage for my services for engaging, listening and monitoring their social media pages. This of course following their confession that they have no time or inclination or skills to engage online themselves – but admit that there is “something happening there” that they need to pay attention to, but they cannot identify what. It is called a new way to communicate, people. IBM calls it Social Business – it requires experimentation, investment and williness to take a business risk and exhibit leadership. The banks call it Innovation – but will NEVER lend to you, so I feel your pain–they will continue to hoard their funds and look to small business to mortgage their house instead…. A real catch 22, eh??

No sense dilly dallying over the Economics of the old school media world — I then move on to talk about Twitter or Facebook and there is more shock when I tell them that Facebook is “the” space in which to build a community or customer service portal – but since one needs to drive potential clients (traffic) to the FB page and engage them to like it before you gain access to their news feed the suggestion that they invest in online advertising in the form of Google AdWords goes over like a lead balloon even though I tell them it is a great idea as the typical user is actively seeking information on select keywords and the potential for a good lead or purchase is much higher they clutch their hearts and ask how much THAT is going to cost? I say the more you spend the more leads you get. Sales 101. In the sales world we call this a qualified lead. I see their eyes glaze over as they long for the day when they could hire a sales rep based on commission only. It is a different game online – they call it Marketing something that small business never really did. So, even though Google ad leads are much warmer than Facebook ad leads – at least for now….they don’t get it…

Over the last few days Google has re-positioned itself. Now that Larry is at the helm announcing that they will embrace social media, synchronizing themselves with the consumer who are currently using Facebook and Twitter type tools to connect with friends, family and oh yeah — ambitious innovative businesses…. They will also reach out to specific markets in an attempt to meld Search & Social Media with a new product called Google PLUS one.

What really hit home for me today is the fact that they will focus on the Canadian market as they have long identified it as being underserved with respect to the number of small businesses who do not even have a website. Some 1.2 Million — who are doing what? — “waiting for Godot”….

Note: A Tragi/Comedy in 2 ACTS

Having worked as an Account Executive some 13 years ago selling the “concept” of having a website to small businesses I have been down this road before. After the tek crash of 2000 I had to sell a lot of stuff besides “technology” but it allowed me to hone my sales skills and learn the sales process like the back of my hand. So now here is the Sting – about a month ago Google ran an ad on Craigslist (for FREE) for Sales Reps and I applied cause hey small biz is simply NOT getting it in spite of my brilliant White Paper download entitled – A 21 C guide to Online Marketing for Canadian Business.

Living in the most expensive City in Canada while waiting for the Search & Social Media Boat to come in is no JOKE. I have been literally and figuratively treading water for 13 years!

Reflections by Robert Freeman

Treading Water

Now I am going under and the only offer I have is to work for a Chinese Insurance Start Up company in a Management role….yes, Toronto is all about BAY Street. So I bit the bullet for the second, yes second time and applied to Google in the most creative manner I knew – I submitted my white paper as I never graduated with a MBA, a high GPA in the USA. I am Canajun, eh?
Did I hear back from Google? Of course not. Having a background in ART and Media and high-tech sales, excelling in B2B business skills that are very attractive to Chinese Entrepreneurs in Toronto is NOT what Google is looking for….

Pray tell, what might they be looking for? A piece of the Canadian small business market for sure. What could I possibly know about those 2.2 M small business owners mindsets? Google is proposing that they will assist small Canadian businesses set up their websites. Good Luck and Heads up guys as you will be competing with the high school kid who does it for fee in his basement….lol. But seriously, may the force be with you – because the sooner you get em set up the better for the both of us. In the meantime I am going to continue to educate and hold the hand of the small business owner who does not understand why they should pay a professional any money to set up their Social Media channels. AMEN.

Creative mindset/billion dollar thinker Mashup

Map of the creative mind above

http://bit.ly/R5DTV

Now….about your mindset ….check out this website if you want to try to figure out how your mind set might appear. Then ask your collegue, client, boss, wife, partner or lover to map theirs and see if they are a “match” with yours. Simple eh? oh yeah, baby….just BOGGLES my mind!

Defining the Creative Class thru the Creative Process of “fitting in”

It certainly has been a while since I have had the time to blog on Creativity. I find that new clients consume so much time and energy at the start of a new relationship.  For me, learning what the client wants and how they want it done is all consuming. It involves that process of undergoing a whole new learning curve: the how “to fit in” part. A whole new relationship is formed. It is kinda like falling in love – one has to have a great reserve of emotional intelligence to deal with the “Great Expectations”  – as one undergoes a mutual exploration of strengths and weaknesses. This is especially true in sales where the expectations after hiring are very high and you are kinda sorta expected to deliver on them immediately even though you have yet to learn how the client wants things done, never mind the new script, new presentation, new words, new stance, new research to be assimulated and insights to be gained and then delivered – OR the creative ideas that you throw out as a matter of course, which may or may not be found acceptable to your new partner as you struggle to position yourself in their eyes. In this scientifically based world there are such high demands on deliverables  (shareholders), I should know by now that most only pay lip service to the creative process…

Yes, I have been buzy with a new client. At the same time I was working on a project for another.  Time has slipped by. I managed to slip in the odd tweet  – as microblogging is so 140 characters. Blogging requires more thought, planning and time.

I watched a great video hosted by HP the other day on the Creative Class with, who else?  Richard Forida. This is the video link for it.http://bit.ly/8OP5W – although it seems to be having a java script error for me this evening…if it does not work try this one, all audio,  all Richard…http://bit.ly/d0Qwk

The video is excellent. In it Richard speaks to an American from BIG IDEAS about the Creative Class. Basically, Richard keeps saying to the American,  “…. up in Toronto we are doing this or we are doing that…to encourage the development of the Creative Class….” This is is such a paradigm shift for us “not so confident” Canadians when it comes to innovation. But hey, Richard says we are now living in a POST AMERICAN world. Love that post modern….a whole new school of thought. We are so used to visiting our “American cousins” in order to find out what is happening in the area of innovation. It is a complete flip -peroo…of course, Richard is an American but hey, Toronto is his City and the party does not start till he shows up. http://bit.ly/6rtd2O. Richard says Toronto is “LIKE A GIANT POST GRADUATE CENTRE”  (And to think, I never even graduated from Art School…never mind University…I took off in search of what else….a more stimulating location…another culture…)

In addtion, to the video there is this article on the Creative Class posted at the HP page….from Trump’s School of Wharton

Overview

The term “creative class” does not refer to art school graduates working day jobs in coffee shops. And while it does include creative pros, such as art directors and designers, the “creative class” is more than a creative department. It’s what social theorist Richard Florida describes as “people in design, education, arts, music and entertainment, whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology and/or creative content.”

The Creative Class in the ‘New Normal’ Engaging the Client

According to Wharton marketing professor Jerry Wind, creativity is something that can be learned and enhanced. “Companies can actually enhance the creativity of their people. And leadership can do a lot of things to create a creative culture – one that encourages people to take risks and find creative solutions. It requires encouraging experiments and lessons from failure. Employees should be encouraged to take risks, and know that it’s ok to fail as long as you learn from this.”

Adam M. Grant, professor of management at Wharton and an organizational psychologist, says, “Most creative professionals have a particular end user in mind.” Often the end user is a client of the business, he says, but the end user could be a coworker or anyone else who uses the product. “When you connect creative professionals to the end users,” says Grant, “when they hear the needs those end users have, that encourages the creative professionals to empathize with the end users and find practical ways to help them.” The satisfaction gained from finding a solution to the end user’s problem is often a reward unto itself.

But making that connection isn’t always easy. According to Grant, a lot of creative people don’t get to see the impact of their work or meet the end user. And that’s unfortunate. He offers an example from the technology realm. “If I am designing software programs, one of the things I need to do is gain an understanding of the user’s perspective, watch how they use software and tailor my design to how the end user actually works. But a lot of organizations don’t establish that connection between employees and end users.” Establish that connection, he says, and designers will add value by creating more useful products.


Open Innovation and Technology

Professor Wind adds that a great deal of a company’s creative class innovation may come from the outside. “You realize from the beginning that not all ideas will come from inside. So you open yourself to the outside – including customers – in solution design.” He calls P&G a pioneer in open innovation. “They get about 50% of their products from outside P&G. It used to be much smaller. Even with a 9,000-person R&D group they could not deliver the innovations they needed.”

Wind points to another example of open innovation, this one in advertising: “Look at what’s happening in user-generated content.” Wind says that the most effective TV commercial of the last Super Bowl was the ad for Doritos, which was developed by consumers. “This came from a culture of innovation,” he says. “The more you create such a culture, the more you engage customers in the solution, then the higher the likelihood of coming up with more valuable solutions to them and to the company as well.”

Innovation in technology is especially important in the U.S., says Wind. “We historically believe we have the dominance in R&D and innovation. But we’re losing that dominance. In China and India they are developing sophisticated high-tech products. Singapore has a government office of creativity. It focuses on innovation, communication and creativity.”

Identifying and Optimizing Creative People Creative people breathe life into their organizations. They inspire those around them. So, how can management learn to identify and tap an organization’s creative problem solvers? According to Darren Rowse, vice president at blogging network b5media, highly creative people display a number of traits – curiosity, for one. Creative people tend to ask how, why, and what if? Creative people tend to confront challenges, not run from them. They believe that no challenge is too big to be overcome. And creative people persevere. When the going gets tough, creative people keep going.

Rowse and other creative professionals believe that smart managers should look for these traits among their people. When creative people are identified they should be given more opportunities to solve problems. Whether making difficult tasks easier, dangerous jobs safer, or complicated programs simpler, creative problem solving can add value to practically any organization, especially today.

According to Adam Grant, “We’re moving from an information age to a conceptual age. We need more creative professionals who can identify new problems and solve them in ways that haven’t been considered before. “Research by Teresa Amabile at Harvard and Sigal Barsade and Jennifer Mueller at Wharton shows that positive emotions can drive creativity. Enthusiasm and excitement often drive good ideas; these emotions make us more cognitively flexible. We tend to make more connections between different kinds of ideas, and see things from different kinds of ideas, and see things from different angles.”

Gay Pride Parade in Toronto….”a leading indicator” of an emerging Creative Culture

I am deep into reading on Toronto becomi…

I am deep into reading on Toronto becoming a world class creative city…Double Whammy….I am actually listed twice in the creative classes Once as an artist, since I was knee high to a grasshopper…drawing, painting, film, video and animation and once as a “high end Sales Professional” . The second occupation is on Richard’s list of cultural creatives and follows my own reasoning. Forced to give up making a living at classical animation as the internet rose up and devoured it…I figured that what both making art and selling good stuff had in common was a creative way of thinking in which one was most def an “agent of change” Check this link for Toronto’s cultural city plan http://bit.ly/135cQw