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Beginning of a beautiful relationship?

After months of love/hate tantrums thrown publicly, Microsoft and Yahoo agreed to hold hands, but only when strolling down Advertisement Avenue.

A very non-giddy Bartz and Ballmer invited millions of advertisers to the party. Both mentioned the dreaded G word (yes, that would be Google), but no mention of the M word (Merger).  And neither were seen in the same room, doing what couples newly in love do.  Hmmmm..makes one wonder.  If you are into celebrity snoop, here’s the tabloid.

More importantly, what does this mean to millions of businesses who are obsessed with getting to number 1 in the search engine ranking? Google is still the dominant player, but Bing (Microsoft’s new baby) is increasing its share. Perhaps time to look into optimizing your site for Yahoo/Bing as well.

But is SEO the be all, end all of online marketing? No. SEO is just one component of online marketing. How important that component is would depend on your particular marketing strategy. But don’t overlook social media, email, press release, media release, coupon, etc. They can bring substantial ROI to your marketing $,£, €‚¥, etc.

Local and national government getting hip to social media

Last week UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) released a 20 page document on how government departments should use twitter. I haven’t had a chance to read it, just a quick look. Impressively enough BIS is allowing anyone to download (PDF) and modify the document for their own organisation. Doing what the government should do, openly sharing information.

But while the national government have been using social media for some time, what’s more exciting is that local authorities are getting in the act. I think that’s where the real power is going to be. Ability to provide real time information to local residents. Hats off to innovators in the government, you don’t see it that often. But when you do, we should celebrate it.

And here is an extensive list of twitters in government (most US based).

Other companies capitalise on social media

After watching Dave Carroll’s YouTube video, CaseXtreme, makers of hardened carrying cases for guitars made and released their video, offering a free case to Dave.

Nicely done. Now only if they can make their website a bit more appealing.

Joined Institute of Business Consulting West Midlands Regional Committee

John Wells invited me to join the Institute of Business Consultants (IBC), West Midlands Region Committee today, which I accepted.  Attended the first meeting and was duly impressed by the dedication of the committee members.  There is a lot of excellent talent in the committee and indeed the overall membership.

Looking forward to working with the IBC members over the coming months.

Some companies dont know how to manage social media

Normal “great service” by United Airlines led to a damaged luggage and despite repeated request for compensation, the customer was left holding the bag (read the story).  So after a year of getting nowhere with United, Dave Carroll did what he knows best.  He wrote a song about his experience.  Then he made a video and posted it on YouTube.



Within hours the story got picked by the traditional media. That got United’s attention.  A year after the incident, United agreed to compensate for damage.  While the damaged luggage might be compensated for, United’s reputation has been damaged.  But then again, that reputation, due to lack of customer service, was damaged a long time ago.

BC Technology Industry Association

Had a quick lunch and rushed into a meeting with Cindy Pearson (Vice President & COO, BC Technology Industry Association). Cindy gave me a good overview of the technology industry in British Columbia. The industry is very dynamic and growing rapidly.

What’s even more impressive is the support structure around the industry. While there is some public funds available (not nearly as much as is available in the UK), the industry and the association has largely bootstrapped themselves into existence and growth.

I shared with her the technology sector in the West Midlands and the UK and specifically our ICT Cluster. I invited Cindy to visit us on her next trip to the UK and meet some of our industry leaders.

There are opportunities for companies on both sides of the pond to work with each other and form closer relationships.

More Meetings

Started another hectic day with a morning meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Met with Monika Surma (Trade Commissioner at the Department).

Monika provides advice to Canadian new media and software companies who are looking to trade internationally.

Had a fruitful conversation regarding needs of the Canadian companies when looking to export. Discussed the UK and European markets and specifically the Bridge to Growth initiative by Advantage West Midlands.

Monika was impressed with the program and promised to spread the word among her clients and colleagues

Making Waves On All Fronts

Met with Jim Maynard (President, Wavefront) and his executive team for lunch today (thanks for the sushi guys). I initially met Jim in summer 2008 when he and Michael Bidu (Executive Director, WINBC) visited us at the National B2B Centre.

Its impressive that Wavefront has grown by leaps and bounds in the last six months or so. Jim described an array of impressive partnerships he has forged globally, from Europe to Asia. These include acquisition of equipment and testing servers to help mobile start-ups thoroughly stress test their application prior to market launch.

Wavefront also has strong connections with carriers in North America and is looking to develop similar relationships with carriers in Europe and Asia.

And according to Jim and his team, this is just the beginning. They have plans to continue expansion of the organisation and looking to become a first point of contact for any mobile start-up company.

Between Wavefront and WINBC, British Columbia has established a solid foundation to help mobile start-up go from concept to market in relatively short time.

Small Business British Columbia

Met with George Hunter, CEO of Small Business British Columbia (SBBC) this morning. SBBC is a support organisation for small businesses in British Columbia. They provide assistance to individuals who are looking to start a business as well as to establish businesses to help them grow the company.

George has recently joined SBBC to head the organisation. He shared with me his vision for the organisation and where he wants to take it. He has set himself some impressive but achievable goals for the near future.

We discussed possibility of the National B2B Centre in the UK and SBBC working together to share knowledge and help companies in our respective regions.

Looking forward to working with George and SBBC in the future.

Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit International Forum

I had a pleasure of being on the panel of International Forum with Tony Fish (Co-Founder, AMF Ventures, UK), Jeanette Kopak (Director Project Operations, Centre for Digital Media, Canada), and Jim Baker (Chief Marketing Officer, Icomera, Sweden). The discussion was moderated by Peter Lesyk (Director Business Development, TELUS).

Jeanette demonstrated Movisphere, application that the students at the Centre for Digital Media created for Telefonica, Spain. Movisphere is a multi-platform, massively multiplayer online game where a player can seamlessly switch between desktop computers and mobile phones.

I did a presentation on the West Midlands’ Bridge to Growth program. The presentation was well received with several members wondering if other countries have similar programs. Jim Baker who is currently looking at locations in both the US and Canada for setting up his North American operations commented he wished a similar initiative was in place somewhere in North America.

Jim and Tony, both veterans of international business, commented the need to thoroughly understand legal and cultural differences when doing business across international borders. They mentioned that products and service that needs to be approved by government agencies could be a major stumbling block in international trade. Telecommunication equipment that uses different spectrum for example is one such hindrance.

Recommendation: Seek professional advice when venturing into international trade, but don’t let that be a barrier to lucrative markets for your products.

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