How to Turn Ideas Into Money

With the recession hanging over our heads in the U.S., everywhere people are looking for ways to make money. On the individual level, folks are trying to figure out how they can turn their skill sets, talents, and even hobbies into money. On the larger, organizational level, companies are busy looking for new, cost-effective products to create to fill the current and future demand for consumers. Sure, if the application you developed for the iPhone fails to sell well on iTunes it’s a bummer, but there’s a good chance that on the individual level it will not break anyone financially. However, on the organizational scale, a product design miss can prove fatal to the bottom line. And in this recession, no organization can afford a miss.

 

Enter to the scene Phil Baker, who has been involved in product development for the consumer tech market for his entire career. Baker is certainly a smart guy, hailing a B.S. in physics from Worchester Polytechnic Institute, an M.S. in engineering from Yale, and an M.B.A from Northeastern University. And did I mention he holds more than 30 patents?

 

Baker is also the author of From Concept to Consumer: How to Turn Ideas Into Money, published by FT Press. In the preface, Baker writes, “One thing I’ve learned is that creating a successful product is much more than coming up with the idea; in fact, that’s usually the easiest part. It’s much more about what happens after. It involves a wide range of activities that bring together all sorts of disciplines, everything from engineering to product management to distribution to marketing. Each of these activities is much like a link in a chain. When one link fails, the entire endeavor can fail. … This book covers the new rules that have resulted from how quickly products are developed, their shorter life cycles, the use of outsourcing, and the Internet. All these factors have changed how things are now done.”

 

This is a truly exciting book to share with you; look for it in our upcoming selection.

It’s Time to Benchmark

Approximately 40 percent of salespeople miss their targets every year. As a sales manager, you want to draw this percent down as much as possible, challenge your sales force effectively, and bring home the bacon—figuratively speaking.

 

Lucky for you, the co-founder and CEO of Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) Greg Alexander and SBI cofounders and executive vice presidents Aaron Bartels and Mike Drapeau have teamed up and produced Making the Number: How to Use Sales Benchmarking to Drive Performance, published by Portfolio. According to the authors, sales benchmarking takes the guesswork out of sales and turns the sales function into a highly predictable, dependable engine that ultimately increases shareholder value.

 

Alexander, Bartels and Drapeau walk the reader through their five steps to sales benchmarking—metric identification, data collection, comparing and contrasting, focused action and sustained improvement—however, what might be the book’s real gem is the inclusion of case studies. Reading about how Discover Financial Services and Covad Communications Group used sales benchmarking can give sales managers a better idea if this is a practice that will work with their sales force.

 

If you’re interested in other good sales books to read, be sure to look into the following:

 

The Perfect Salesforce by Derek Gatehouse: The Author argues that sales is about people, different types of people who excel naturally in different types of sales jobs.

 

Exceptional Selling by Jeff Thull: Thull shows readers how to create a different kind of relationship with the customer and use powerful diagnostic principles to reframe the typical sales conversation.

How Transparent Is Your Company?

On January 20, 2009, America’s history was made a little richer with the inauguration of the 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama. Known for his desire to make the government transparent—something that Bennis, Goleman and O’Toole strongly support and wrote about in Transparency.   

 

Now enter Shel Holtz and John C. Havens and their book Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media to Maximize Value and Build their Brand, published by Jossey-Bass.

 

From the book’s inside flap: “Organizations are under a microscope as never before, and thanks to the Internet and the growing use of high-speed connections, word of misdeeds and mistakes can spread to millions with unprecedented speed, causing untold damage to an organization’s reputation and share price. No longer just a “nice-to-know” concept, transparency has become a state of mind for thousands of CEOs, managers, employees, and customers around the globe. The flood of social media has brought in an age of digital transparency that is putting the power to create or destroy a reputation into the hands of consumers. Every business today must speak the language and meet the expectations of a new digital population.”

 

I think we are living during exciting times, and if company executives can take a page from President Obama on making their organizations increasingly transparent, then perhaps we will all weather the storm of the recession, and become stronger for it.

 

If you’re interested in Tactical Transparency, look for it in April from us. I’m sure you’ll find it to be an essential part of your business book library.

Reason #32 You Should Be on Facebook

Your kids are on Facebook — you know you want to keep an eye on them. Your former classmates are on Facebook—you know you want to catch up with them. Your siblings, friends, and neighbors are on Facebook—you know you want to share photos, groups and apps (applications) with them.

 

Now I have another reason—or perhaps 32 reasons—why you should high tail it over to Facebook and register that user name of HockeyDad72: business Facebook apps. According to the Mashable.com post, these applications “help promote, network, communicate, collaborate and accomplish more with your business.”

 

Does your company have a blog? Perhaps you should look into the Networked Blogs app. This app appears on your Facebook profile, or can be located in your boxes tab, displays your blog as well as any of the blogs on your blogroll. Networked Blogs is definitely a great application for promoting your blog, as well as your favorites.

 

Interested in digital business cards? Try GLPrint Business Cards on for size. Another solid promotion app is IEndorse. According to Mashable.com, “Testimonials are a great way to build the value of your company. This app allows Facebook denizens to endorse your company or find it via the IEndorse business database.”

 

These are just three of the 32 various apps you could use to spruce up your company’s Facebook account, as well as utilize to do some promotion legwork. All the apps are fairly easy to set up and operate in a straightforward manner.

 

As budgets tighten, companies should look into how they can use free social media to connect with colleagues and consumers. Facebook is evolving from a place to post your company’s picnic photos into a place to do business. Don’t miss out.

Beyond Search Engines

Traditionally, in the realm of search engine marketing and advertising, marketers bid on key words, and when an individual performs a search for any of these words using a search engine such as Google, the ad from that marketer appears somewhere near the results. The location of the ad is either above or beside the search results, depending on what the marketer spent on the bid and the algorithm used by the search engine to determine the relevance of the ad to that search.

 

However, according to a WSJ article, marketers have begun shaking things up a bit. And I can bet that you may have already noticed some of this happening, especially if you frequent social networking sites.

 

The article claims that more search have taken place on YouTube than on Yahoo; see for yourself. I did a search on YouTube for “inauguration day,” which gave me a variety of video results on the left hand of the page, ranging from clips of the parade to the white house to Obama escorting former President Bush to his awaiting helicopter. On the right hand side of the Web page displayed “sponsored videos” (also known as video ads), one being from TimeLife for the “Change is Now: The Official Inauguration Collection” CD and DVD. Below the sponsored videos is a link about promoting your video, which walks the interested party through the process.

 

Think of it this way: If you can produce a good-quality short video about your product, promote it, and get a potential customer to take the 1-2 minutes to watch the video, there’s a good chance you can make a sale. Remember, it’s not enough to know what customers want; you need to know they want it before they want it.