Original post by Ryan Kim via GIGAOM
When LevelUp relaunched its local deals service in October toward a more loyalty-driven model, what stood out to me was the new mobile payment system it built from scratch to support the service. The mobile wallet mimicked Starbucks’ successful payment system, which relies on a mobile app generating a QR code at checkout that can be scanned by an employee.
Turns out there’s been a fair amount of demand among a variety of merchants for just such a system, and LevelUp is starting to capitalize on that. The company, part of Boston-based SCVNGR, said it is now doing $1 million of transactions a month through its payment system, which now has 100,000 users. Users are using the payment system two to three times a week on average, the company says. Payment volumes have been doubling in the last six weeks, and merchants are climbing on board, with 1,400 signed up, including 400 in February alone. Another 600 retailers are set to come on board this month, according to LevelUp.
One million dollars is small in the grand scheme of things, and LevelUp still has more growing up to do. It’s only available in eight markets (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle). It’s going to face a lot more competition from Google Wallet, Isis, PayPal, Visa, Square and others.
But it is showing that a start-up can make some noise in this crowded field of mobile payments, and it’s providing a lesson in how a payment system can work when it’s integrated into a deals and loyalty program.
LevelUp’s growth shows that there are going to be other viable mobile payment systems beyond things like Google Wallet and Isis, both of which rely on near field communication.
March 8, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by lain’s Chips & Tech
I’m still fascinated with the Steve Jobs book. Here’s some thoughts on new product development and comparisons with today’s popular models: Customer Development and Lean Startup.
I can’t let go of Steve Jobs ability to “stop the presses” when he felt that a product (or feature ) was not ready to ship. This is so different than the more common plan — “let’s stick with our plan, ship it, and fix it later.”
This “stopping & resetting” skill is essential in today’s popular new product introduction models, like Steve Blank‘s Customer Developmentor Eric Ries‘ Lean Startup. It’s the key point that I have trouble getting across in my classes ’cause it seems so obvious in hindsight, but it’s not in real-time. Each of these models have a “stop, review, and go back to the beginning” section, but most people seem to think that this doesn’t apply to their idea That this “reset” is not a commonly used part of the model. But in reality this “reset” is the new thing about these models. It’s their killer feature.
In the past two years I have taken to showing that the customer development model really means re-starting at least 2 times. ( This is consistent with the findings at Startup Genome. ) As one can see in the Jobs book he did a lot of resetting. On Page 418 there is a discussion of his love for a recording of the Beatles revising “Strawberry Fields” over and over .. ’til they get it.
Today’s new product introduction models are very Jobs-like, they are not espousing “lets ship it and fix it later”. These models are — let’s test our ideas out in the market to see if they work. Let’s collect information before and after the experiment. Let the data make the decision. Thus if the product doesn’t exactly match the idea, then you’ve blown the experiment. If you really watch, and are aware, then you can “stop” with conviction. You know what to change. Each new model then advances the art with features that stick and features that don’t.
January 28, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by Dorie Clark via Harvard Business Review
For good executives, it’s second nature to show appreciation toward clients and staff. But often, we overlook less obvious people who have made a difference in our professional lives. The other day, I was talking with a client about his growth plans for 2012 — which, he knew, would depend heavily on word-of-mouth. He wanted to strategize about cultivating new referral sources — but in the process, I realized a major chunk of his existing business was the result of one woman. A look of panic crossed his face: “I guess I’d better thank her.” Sending someone business is the highest compliment possible. Don’t throw away their goodwill by forgetting to acknowledge that trust. I have colleagues who — years later — seethe about people they helped who never acknowledged it.
Mentors are another category you might risk forgetting to thank. After all, you may only meet with them a few times a year — but it can be the most valuable time you spend. If you’re lucky enough to have a senior colleague who’s willing to offer you advice, watch your back, or trumpet your achievements, treat them like gold.
Also, think about people who helped you in the past. It may seem random to get back in touch with someone you haven’t talked to in years — but almost always, they’ll be delighted to hear from you. One friend wrote a thank you letter to a college professor, long after she’d graduated. He was touched she remembered — and in subsequent years, she won several prizes from organizations connected to him.
Finally, don’t forget the people around the people in power. It’s easy to heap praise on the kahuna and forget the people who make his efforts possible. I know someone who was feted by a New York magnate. She was sure to thank him immediately — but, months later, regrets not reaching out to his employees who coordinated the event. Often, they’re the power behind the power — so if someone has done you a good turn, it pays to express your gratitude.
January 8, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by RWC Startup
Within so very little time, internet marketing has created a great enterprise change. Fresh strategies in dealings have been used by firms across the globe. The brand new form of transaction is named as “online video marketing”. Excellent Resources For Online Video Marketing
Firms during the past could have seen Advertising and marketing as being the lone method to campaign their organizations but today, Online Marketing stands out as the valued technique to continue to keep their own company on the move and on the go.
Advertising and marketing firms lately appear to fall out of business a result of the surge of online marketing.Currently, businesses engage in the potential of website marketing which includes those companies that were not convinced of the expertise.
So many people are reached via online video marketing whilst it does not cost greatly thus it generates better ROI. Classic promotion is more expensive when compared with online video marketing thus more income is gained. Online video marketing really does return more cash as confirmed by internet marketers that had currently tried it. How can online video marketing achieve this specific success?
Behind this task is that it reaches higher number of exposure. On this time where there exists rapid development of modernization, most of us have internet access.The world wide web provides the most recent products and services that this now takes the place of those things which were once not taken over by the world-wide-web such as watching TV and also buying. Internet provides latest details that’s the reason lots of people believe it. Considering that online video marketing easily sends messages across the globe, it is a perfect way to establish interaction throughout the web. For your industry to be interested in your company; you need to simply reach out to them.
December 27, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by SUSAN GUNELIUS via Entrepreneur
Before launching a new product or entering a new market, it’s always wise to gauge potential demand by getting feedback from your target audience. That usually means surveying large consumer opinion panels that reach well beyond your existing customer lists.
Until recently, such market research was prohibitively expensive for many small businesses. Not only did you have to hire a company to conduct surveys, but you also had to pay to get the results tabulated and presented in interpretive reports you could use to make decisions. What’s more, such surveys could take months to create, conduct and analyze.
Related: A New Way to Crowdsource Customer Feedback
Fortunately, the Internet has opened the door to some creative and affordable research tools that enable you to survey opinion panels quickly and easily. Here are five such tools, all of which can help you gather trustworthy market research on targeted audiences.
But first, determine your research goals and test each tool to decide which is most cost- effective, is easiest to use and provides the type of data tabulations you want. You don’t have to pay anything until you send out your survey. Furthermore, you aren’t required to sign a contract, so you aren’t tied to using a specific tool in the future.
1. AYTM AYTM (Ask Your Target Market) enables you to create surveys on the fly and send them to your own lists or to the AYTM panel of more than 4.5 million people. You can choose targeting criteria, such as gender or geographic region, and include a variety of closed and open-ended questions, as well as images and videos. Pricing, which starts at 95 cents per completed survey, depends on the number and types of questions and the targeting criteria.
Most consumer panel surveys are completed within 24 hours, and you can watch your results as they come in. Results can be cross-tabulated and shared through your website, blog or other online medium. AYTM also offers qualitative research through one-on-one online video interviews; the cost depends on the size of the project.
2. GutCheck GutCheck is a qualitative market research tool that enables you to conduct 30-minute one-on-one online video interviews with some of the 3.5 million members of its U.S. consumer panel. You can target respondents through a variety of criteria, such as age and income, to ensure you’re talking to the right audience.
Related: Conducting Market Research
If you don’t have time to conduct the interviews, GutCheck can do it for you. Results are typically provided in less than 48 hours. You have to contact the company for price quotes, which will depend on the number of interviews and type of project.
3. uSamp With 6.5 million global panel members, uSamp provides custom targeting, as well as pre- defined consumer lists you can survey using its SurveyBuilder tool. Targets could include a specific country, a business-to-business audience, or an industry panel, such as food, automotive and travel. You also can survey your own lists.
Results are provided in real time, so you can see the data coming in. You must contact uSamp to obtain price quotes, which will depend on the range and focus of your study.
December 24, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. McDonald via HBR
Many of us in business have heard the popular aphorism, “People are your greatest asset.” Some of us may even believe it. But is this sentiment reflected in our corporate cultures and the way our leaders lead? For the most part, no — and there’s a reason for that.
People are not your greatest asset. Even great people are not your greatest asset. In fact, great people can be your greatest liability. If Enron wasn’t enough evidence of this, the 2008 financial crisis has now given us plenty more. What aboutLehman Brothers, AIG and Countrywide? Arguably, these companies employed some of the smartest business people not only in the room but in the world, and yet those same folks took their firms to ruin (or near it) and came close to causing a collapse of the U.S. economy.
So if it’s not people, what is your greatest asset?
It’s how you empower your people. Think about it. What is the primary purpose of a business organization? To assemble a group of people, who previously may have had no association, and empower them to accomplish productive work toward the organization’s objectives. More effective empowerment typically equals more productive work. As leaders and managers, we are familiar with empowering people. We organize them into divisions, units, groups and teams. We provide goals and incentives to motivate them. And we enable them with authority, tools, resources and processes.
Social media ushers in new ways to enhance your greatest asset, because it is about empowering people to collaborate at unprecedented scale. With powerful implementations of social media, we motivate people to form communities around a meaningful and common purpose . We enable them with new technology, seed content, and guidance on desired participation. The aim is to facilitate“mass collaboration” and its accompanying behaviors.
For our book on the social organization, we studied hundreds of social media implementations and identified a set of key mass collaboration behaviors. Understanding them is critical to successfully engaging and empowering people.
Collective intelligence is the meaningful assembly of relatively small and incremental community contributions into a larger and coherent accumulation of knowledge. Collective intelligence is not new, but the mass collaboration enabled by social media provides it at scales never before possible. Even the most modest individual contributions can be tremendously valuable when meaningfully combined at scale. Wikipedia, YouTube and Flickr are all social Web examples of collective intelligence. Each Wikipedia article by itself is relatively insignificant, but a million articles collected and linked together is highly powerful.
Expertise location involves seeking and finding specific expertise in the masses of people and the often-staggering amount of available content. One view of expertise location is almost the opposite of collective intelligence. It is “selective intelligence,” where the goal is not to collect numerous small contributions from many, but to find just what is needed. Crowdsourcing is a well-known example of expertise location.
December 23, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by LAMBETH HOCHWALD via Entreprneure
Editor’s note: Is your business in need of a sales boost? We’re here to help. Join us for part two of our live online chat with sales expert Grant Cardone, who will share his best strategies for closing a sale. Just log on to Entrepreneur.com on Weds., Dec. 14, at 3 p.m. EST and bring your questions.
It isn’t always enough to create and promote an outstanding product or service. Often, your salesapproach matters just as much as what you’re selling. The most successful entrepreneurs create a connection with the customer by bringing their own personal touch to the sales process.
“People buy from people that they like and can relate to,” says Adrian Miller, a sales trainer based in Port Washington, N.Y. “When business owners overlook the importance of that personal connection, they run the risk of losing the prospect to someone else–usually someone who took the time to create a relationship and help the prospect buy something rather than trying to simply sell to them.”
Here are seven tips on salesmanship that can help you develop that special rapport with potential customers:
1. Model your business on the corner store. If you long for the days of shopping at a local business where the owner knew your name and your family, try to emulate that experience. For instance, remember one or two details about your customer and bring them up in conversation. “If you know a customer has a daughter finishing up grad school, ask for an update,” says Laurie Brown, who owns a sales training company in Detroit and is the author of The Greet Your Customer Manual (The Difference, 2011). “Everyone likes to feel they’re important enough that someone remembers the little things in their life. It’s one important way we go past viewing customers as a dollar sign to a human who is appreciated.”
READ 2 TO 7 HERE
December 21, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by Ndubuisi Ekekwe via HBR
In the tech startup world, technology is important for success, but it does not disproportionately determine winners and losers. Two companies can invent similar technologies; one will win and the other will lose. Focusing on technology supremacy alone is a model for failure. Over the years, I have consistently seen what I call “latent factors” — business features that are generally outside the scope of the core tech team — to be real factors in a company’s success.
For entrepreneurs in developing nations where experienced institutional investors are scarce and starting companies is very challenging, the impact of these latent forces becomes hugely vital. Though we enjoy writing about dropout tech legends, most times their success is catalyzed by others — they came up with the ideas and the investors provided the leadership and the non-tech factors (such as pricing models, branding, and promotions, among others) that propelled them to stardom. The incubation system, the ecosystem and the environment are important, but sometimes, it can be a very simple “latent factor” ingenuity that redesigns not just a company, but an entire industry.
Consider the software industry, where we have successful brands like Windows and Oracle. While these two firms have world-class intellectual properties, I think their true innovation is in the pricing model around their businesses. Microsoft would not have been as successful as they are if not for the licensing model where you never actually “own” what you paid for. As soon as you stop paying the licensing fee, you cease to own the software. This is especially impactful with their corporate clients. Imagine if Ford and GM had decided at the onset of the automotive industry that when you buy your car, you need to bring it in yearly for a checkup, with payment — and any year you miss that, the ownership of the car reverts back to them. If they had, you wouldn’t be able to resell your car whenever you want. In the software industry, that’s not easy to do because you never “own” the property. You can’t resell that CD, legally. So, while the software industry is obviously innovative, it’s the pricing model that has made it profitable, as it offers a ready source of cash flow.
December 17, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by Gary Edwards and Mike Amos via HBR
This post is part of the HBR Forum, The Future of Retail.
For decades the mystery shopper was the main way retailers assessed operations from a customer’s point of view. By sending in a fake shopper, typically once a month, an individual store essentially was buying a dozen performance snapshots per year. Then telephone surveys began to supplement mystery shopping. Today, digital technologies are supplanting both, with online customer surveys providing an exponentially greater number of performance snapshots per day.
A well-managed loop that links customer experience feedback with recommendations on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, can boost service quality and operational performance, increase traffic and create more happy customers — people who crow about a retailer online for free, turning their friends into new customers too.
A new mini-industry has emerged using these techniques, known as “customer experience management,” or CEM. Our company, Empathica — as well as a number of competitors — are providing customer feedback to operations, while partnering with “web-scraping” companies to listen to random chatter online.
Now we’re turning attention to linking operations to marketing through “social CEM.” The aim is not to drive online advertising impressions, but to explicitly and transparently drive the behavior of customers, front line service staff and retail managers. The aim is to create a true dialogue, not simply a listening post for customer kudos and complaints. And by doing so, this loop can drive meaningful operations and customer satisfaction gains.
An example: At Debenhams, a major international department store chain based in London, a customer complained through an online survey about a poor meal they received at the store’s restaurant. “Ordered turkey dinner. Very dried out. Overcooked vegetables in greasy, cold gravy.” The store manager called the customer that night, apologized, and sent a coupon for two free meals. The customer was invited to post their happiness with the problem’s resolution on Facebook, and did. The store manager made sure the kitchen turned out better turkey dinners. The result: a satisfied customer, better kitchen operations, and free social network advertising. Debenham’s effectively took what would have been a one-off customer experience problem and turned that customer into an Debenham’s advocate online and improved its operations to reduce the possibility of future disgruntled customers.
December 17, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original POST by JOAN MAGRETTA via HBR
With Cyber Monday, the tablet wars kicked into full swing. Which one is the best? Is it the iPad? The Kindle? Who has the best technology? The best distribution? Who’s the best overall? For most people, “being the best” is what competition is all about. So General Motors CEO Dan Akerson was simply echoing popular sentiment when, on the day the new GM went public, he threw down the gauntlet: “May the best car win!” he told reporters. The phrase reflects an underlying belief about the nature of competition that feels so intuitively correct that it is almost never examined or questioned.
But if you want to win, says Michael Porter, this is absolutely the wrong way to think about competition. In fact, it’s practically a guarantee of mediocre performance. The first problem with the competition-to-be-the-best mindset is that, in the vast majority of businesses, there is simply no such thing as “the best.”
Consider a business as prosaic as seating for airport waiting areas. You would think that there would be a “best” here — standardized, functional seating. Well you would be wrong. Different airports have different needs. Some want waiting passengers to shop. They don’t want seats that are too comfortable. Some need the flexibility to reconfigure waiting areas. They don’t want long rows of fixed seats. Many airports have to watch their spending. But others — airports in the Middle East, for example — have snapped up luxury designs. Some airports value seats built to take extraordinary abuse. London-based OMK makes “prison-worthy” seating, the industry’s highest standard, using self-sealing polyurethane that can withstand a stabbing without showing the knife scar.
If there is no “best” airport seat, now think about all of the industries in the economy. In how many does the idea of “being the best” make real sense? The best hotel for one customer is not the best for another. The best sales encounter for one customer is not the best for another. There is no best car. There is no best art museum. No one best way to promote environmental sustainability.
Yet, it’s a pervasive idea. Management writers — and leaders seeking to inspire — regularly reinforce it by using colorful metaphors from warfare and sports. These lend emotion and drama to business competition. But, they are misleading.
In war, there can be only one winner. Not so in business, where companies like WalMart and Target can thrive and co-exist, each offering a different kind of value to its customers. In sports, there is just one contest with one set of rules. Not so in business, which is more complex and open-ended. Within an industry, there can be multiple contests, not just one, based on which needs are to be served. McDonald’s is a winner in fast food, specifically fast burgers. But In-N-Out Burger thrives on slow burgers. Its customers are happy to wait ten minutes or more (an eternity by McDonald’s stopwatch) for non-processed, fresh burgers cooked to order.
December 11, 2011 | Techmeetups