Aug 24, 2006

Is Google A Friend or Foe?? - Perhaps Both......

What would life be like without Google. Many Small Business owners are still trying to figure out how to leverage online ad units - and along comes this Search Engine Juggernaut.

To many small businesses, Google is both friend and foe. Thousands of entrepreneurs now find most of their customers via search-based marketing. Other businesses-niche software and book publishers, for example risk imminent extinction thanks to Google's free software releases and an interestingly innovative approach to copyright law.

For many entrepreneurs here in the U.S., Google has helped make the Internet a viable place to do business. Roughly 500,000 U.S. small businesses rely on unpaid or "natural" search for the bulk of their revenues, according to John Battelle -(Author of "The Search").

Another half-million firms participate in Google's paid-search advertising program. Two-thirds of those are small businesses that collectively contributed $2 billion to Google's total revenues of $6 billion last year.

Google generates nearly all its revenues by selling ads. But businesses may soon balk at seeing Google leech away an ever-increasing share of their revenues. Yes, paying Google only if someone actually clicks on an ad is more efficient than a traditional TV or magazine ad, where you pay for eyeballs. Studies show that 1% or 2% of clicks generate paying customers. While more than double the typical conversion rates for print and TV ads, that's still a low percentage game. That said, thanks to Google, many startups have reached profitable niche markets at little cost.

As the blogosphere expands and matures, more entrepreneurs could discover that blogging is an efficient way to attract customers. Other small businesses may find that it pays to purchase ads directly from website owners rather than through Google. Say you run a home-building company. Placing an ad on a popular real estate industry site might be cheaper than paid search - and might prove a more direct route to your target audience.

Slowing The Juggernaut
Travel agencies. Newspapers. Realtors. Advertising firms. Software makers. What do these industries have in common? All face a serious competitive threat from Google.
Google is not yet a mature business," says CEO Schmidt. "Our pace of innovation is not slowing down, I assure you. If anything, it's accelerating."

Google's Rivals
Search under 'Google, competitor.' The list of prospective rivals grows longer every day. How these various clashes play out will have major consequences for small businesses

Microsoft: Google's free productivity applications (Gmail, Writely, and Google Spreadsheets) will offer ad-supported alternatives to Outlook, Word, and Excel. Can a free Google version of PowerPoint be far behind? Compelling scenario: Small businesses get free software. Google gets a fresh source of revenues. Microsoft's Live programs are reduced to also-rans in the brave new world of software as a service

Yahoo: This is a Coke-Pepsi rivalry. Google currently dominates the $9.5 billion search-term ad market, with a 60% share to Yahoo's 30%. But the two giants are duking it out in the ad-supported free software market, with competing e-mail, instant-messaging, blogging, and mapping services. Good news for small business: The rivalry should keep service quality up and prices down.

Craigslist & eBay: Many small Internet vendors would welcome a viable alternative to eBay. Hence the buzz over Google's new online payment program called Checkout. Meanwhile, Google's new Base service is user friendly and appears well suited for posting classified ads. Look out, Craigslist!

Aug 22, 2006

AOL's Top Techie, Maureen Govern - Resigns

So, Maureen Govern paid the ultimate price for the recent debacle at AOL. A division under her was responsible for accidentally releasing search data for more than a half a million Internet users.

It all went down last month. Some person(s) within AOL's technology research department sparked a crisis for the company by posting 20 million search queries made from March through May by 658,000 members. The queries were on a publicly accessible Web site for about two weeks before bloggers noticed them and began commenting during the weekend of Aug. 6-7. AOL apologized and removed the data, but it had already been copied and circulated online.

I feel for AOL - this is a company which is trying to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving Internet landscape. Let's hope Ms Govern finds her feet elsewhere.

Aug 17, 2006

Tips On Delivering Fantastic Presenations

Not all of us enjoy public speaking - or delivering presentations to large groups of people. I guess we could all use some tips on how to deliver an exciting, compelling presentation. So here is the World Changers Guide to delivering a powerful presentation.

Take Time To Think About it!
Who is your audience? What's the key message you want to deliver?. You need to spend a little time thinking about what exactly you want to accomplish. Are you trying to sell something, deliver information or propose a new initiative?

Once you understand exactly what you want to accomplish, think about the easiest way to convey your value proposition or value innovation - to your audience. You need to sell your audience - without selling to them!

Prepare, Practice - > Prepare & Practice Some More
As you prepare your material - start to see yourself in mind of your harshest critics. Imagine every negative argument which you may face and prepare a response. Review your entire presentation at least 10 times - extracting key facts. What's the story in each slide? Make sure you have one - and back it p (verbally) with facts and figures. That's where the preparation comes in. The bulk of the information you deliver must come from you directly - your slides or illustrations should serve to create context - and carry your audience along while you Sell your key points.

I Love Cartoons
Why do you think Children Love Cartoons? I think it's because of the colorful characters, interactive themes and visual effects. We all have a little child in us.
Make sure your presentations are colorful, interactive & feature some interesting visual effects. The idea is to keep your audience engaged - whilst delivering your key message.

Remember - the spreadsheets, statistics and background data, can be packaged separately and delivered after the fact. You need to mine your numbers and extract interesting data points which help reinforce your key message

Fire & Desire INXS
You've got to come with it - and I mean no holds barred. You don't have to shout, jump on a table or gesticulate wildly - but let your audience know that this stuff means a lot to you and you're totally sold on its value - to them, to your company, to everyone. Your sheer enthusiasm, must never wane - even in the face of criticism, interruptions or seeming disinterest from your audience. Psyche yourself up to do a great job of presenting your information - and execute your goal.

The Next Level
Nothing impresses people more than a non-confrontational person who can comment intelligently on a wide range of subjects and deliver compelling perspectives in simple terms. When you can cover all the angles - then you're ready for the next level and you're fully equipped to deliver a powerful presentation.

One last thing - if you think this write-up is only useful when you have an important presentation with your superiors, then you've missed the key message here. We all make presentations - every day of our lives.


Aug 16, 2006

Today I heard yet another interesting new idea from our friends at Google. Say what you will about the Googlers but one thing is for sure. They are creating "Blue Oceans" all over the place. Take yesterday's annoncement about Local Coupons. I love the idea - not because they could make loads of incremental $$'s from it - but because it's a creative way to further promote the whole concept of "Local Search". Think about it for a moment - most small business spend so much time just trying to stay afloat that they hardly have the bandwidth to develop, monitor and maintain a Search Campaign. It's hard enough to keep their websites up to date.

As Google draws in Companies which already use Paper Coupons - and persuades them to adopt this new model - other smaller companies will take note - their interest will be peaked and next thing you know - they're launching small keyword campaigns, or creating a handful of coupons.

Everyone knows that the LOCAL market is one key segment which could drive significant growth. Now Google will capture even more mind share because consumers will see them as trail blazers and solution providers. As always - value innovation is the key to creating sustainable growth in any Industry. You can be sure that Yahoo and other Search Engines will launch their own Coupon Offers very soon - and a Blue Ocean will become a Red One within a year. By the time it's key competitors are ready to respond, Google may have created yet another thougtht provoking offer or even spurned an entire new industry.

In their words - > "Google’s objective was to encourage local entrepreneurs to start using the Internet to promote their businesses"

I'd say they're on to something with this idea.........

Aug 14, 2006

Indra Nooyi - New Pepsi CEO

Okay - time to deviate a little from the Status Quo. Today I read that Indra Nooyi - currently the CFO of Pepsico, will take over from Chairman and CEO Steve Reinemund this October. She becomes the first woman to hold the post and enters the list of leading women in corporate America. "Nooyi was the primary architect of PepsiCo's restructuring, including the divestiture of its restaurants into YUM! Brands (Charts), the spin off and IPO of company-owned bottling operations into Pepsi Bottling Group (Charts), the acquisition of Tropicana and Pepsi's merger with Quaker Oats. Prior to joining Pepsi, Nooyi's other corporate jobs included vice president and director of corporate strategy and planning at Motorola and consultant with Boston Consulting Group.

I'm often drawn into discussions with friends and colleagues - about what it takes to succeed in corporate America and how the odds are often stacked against visible minorities and women. Well, I don't know much about Ms Nooyi, but I dare say - she has shattered some myths today. Clearly she's been doing something right - for a very long time - note the comments of outgoing CEO Steve Reinemund " whilst commenting on the announcement and the fact that Ms Nooyi's current responsibilities will be split once she becomes CEO. He mentioned that - "It has taken two great men to replace one great woman,". I'm very happy about this announcement - and it should give ALL of us food for thought.

Take a bow - Ms Nooyi, you're truly a World Changer