Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Google to announce new plan to get your money tomorrow. No, this is a *good* thing!

From Evernote:

Google to announce new plan to get your money tomorrow. No, this is a *good* thing!

Mike Elgan  //  http://elgan.com

May 25 / 3:42pm

Google wants to get its hands on your money. The company plans to announce a new e-wallet program (in select cities and with a limited number of stores) that will use your Android phone to replace debit and credit cards. 

In other words, they want to get their hands on your wallet. Finally!
The technology behind this initiative, called NFC, isn't just about e-wallets. It will replace the business card, the password and other barbaric practices. Here's what you need to know

Verizon and Google Set Sights on Improving Digital Safety with Innovative Android Mobile App

From Evernote:

Verizon and Google Set Sights on Improving Digital Safety with Innovative Android Mobile App

On Monday, Verizon raised the curtain on "Net Safety Tips On The Go," a mobile app that the wireless carrier is calling the first-ever digital safety and security advice app for Android smartphones.

The app is being released in conjunction with National Internet Safety Month.

Verizon, however, isn't taking the lone share of credit for the new offering. As it turns out, the app was developed by Google and Verizon. The companies worked with several online safety education organizations to make the app possible.

"Net Safety Tips On The Go" provides critical online privacy, security and youth online safety educational messages to help Verizon Wireless customers protect their privacy, families and finances when using their Android smartphones.
Verizon says the app gives customers a broad range of tips including:
  • Mobile – Tips around mobile teens, mobile privacy and mobile safety, including how constant texting and talking can affect customers sleep, concentration, work and school, among other important life activities.
  • Secure Data/Device – Information on how customers can protect themselves against fraud, phishing, ID theft and general password-protecting suggestions.
  • Sharing Privacy – Advice and tips for social networking privacy, sharing locations and surfing the Web privately like considering requiring a password before anyone can use their computers or wireless devices.
  • Family Safety – Tips for parents and children on social media tactics, cyber bullying, reputation, privacy and unwanted contact. Examples include how to set real expectations when trying to limit the time a child spends on a social network or the importance of explaining that GPS-technology is a service that should only be used with known acquaintances.
  • Smart Android Tips – Besides giving simple "how-to" directions, the app gives tips on protecting data, managing apps and more – even advising customers how to be aware of the interferences mobile devices might have with implantable medical devices.
  • Digital Citizenship – Tips to help customers become an upstanding digital citizen, such as advising customers to never post anything to any site that they would not want to see on the front page of a newspaper.
"Net Safety Tips On The Go" is now available in V CAST Apps.

Foursquare Checks In 10M Users

From Evernote:

Foursquare Checks In 10M Users

June 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm PT

Foursquare today announced it now has 10 million registered users, an important milestone for the location-sharing start-up. A blog post offered more fun facts and visualizations, including: 78,387 Foursquare venue mayors are ousted per day; 1,061 birth announcements have been made through hospital check-ins; and there are 6,230 sake-bar venues in Japan.

U.K. Cellphone Companies Plan Mobile Pay Venture

From Evernote:

U.K. Cellphone Companies Plan Mobile Pay Venture

The U.K.'s three biggest wireless operators said Thursday that they would create a mobile-payment joint venture, entering the high-stakes scramble among wireless operators, tech firms and credit-card companies to popularize a way of making purchases with the wave of a cellphone.

Vodafone Group PLC, Telefonica SA's O2 and Everything Everywhere said their new venture would create a "mobile wallet," which cellphone owners can wave in front of censors to pay for goods. It also aims to establish a central portal for advertisers to deliver discounts and loyalty offers to participating U.K. cellphones.

The venture is scheduled to launch by the end of the year, subject to antitrust approval. Its unveiling comes just seven months after the U.S.'s biggest wireless operators—AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA—revealed their own mobile-payment joint venture, known as Isis. Google Inc. revealed a mobile-payment service last month.

Mobile data doubles

From Evernote:

Mobile data doubles

In case you hadn't heard, we're using more and more mobile data these days. With apps becoming ever more connected, the need to use our wireless data connections has also increased–and we're increasingly going mobile instead of sitting in front of the computer screen.

Research firm Nielsen has numbers out today that show an 89 percent increase in data usage from the first quarter of last year to the same period this year. Where we were using about 230MB on average a year ago, that has jumped to about 435MB now.

This puts into question the need by mobile carriers to rethink their bargain data offerings. While a lot cap those cheap plans at around 250MB, it's now evident that a large majority of us need more data than that.

Want some even crazier statistics?

Look at this chart, and especially focus at the right — which is the 99th percentile, or top 1 percent of data users. Their usage has skyrocketed, averaging about 1.8GB last year, but an astonishing 4.6GB now. Can you see why the wireless carriers are so eager about throttling and caps?

I don't know how you can even use that much data, although I frequently use about 2.5-3GB of data a month. According to this chart, that puts me in the top 2 or 3 percent of all data users.i

Knock on wood, I haven't gotten throttled or capped yet, but I guess from the looks of this I shouldn't get too comfortable.

One thing might be good about more data usage, and that's the fact that we're getting more bang for our buck. While data costs have not changed, the effective cost per MB has been all but halved. Today's data user is paying about 8 cents per megabyte, versus 14 cents a year ago.

How much data are you using? Where do you fall in this chart? Let us know in the comments.




eBay Takes Local Shopping Mobile.

From Evernote:

eBay Takes Local Shopping Mobile.

eBay is beefing up its mobile arsenal with an updated Android app and its first local shopping app.

The latter app is from the local shopping search engine that eBay acquired in June, Milo. Through partnerships with more than 140 retailers, Milo has access to real-time information from the inventory management systems of about 50,000 stores. The mobile app uses this information to show whether a nearby store actually has a product on its shelves, and if so, how its price compares to other local stores.

In-store, you can scan an item's barcode to compare its price with the price at other stores in the area. Like competitor Wishpond, Milo's app will also tell you how far away each of those stores is from your current location.


eBay has also updated its Android app to include seller functions like a barcode scanner that provides details for listings. Most of the new features are similar to those in eBay's iPhone app.

Combined, eBay's mobile apps have been downloaded more than 45 million times.

And, as many new peer-to-peer markets launch on location-based mobile apps, eBay has also been making investments in both mobile and local technologies. The company bought barcode-scanning app Redlaser last year and announced in April it would buy location media company WHERE Inc..

"We're in a new retail environment, where the lines between offline and online commerce are converging through mobile and local experiences," an eBay spokesperson said.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Omnicom Media Group and July Systems partner for mobile marketing.

From Evernote:

Omnicom Media Group and July Systems partner for mobile marketing.

Published on Monday, May 23rd by Bena Roberts

Dubai, May 23, 2011 – Omnicom Media Group MENA and July Systems yesterday announced a partnership that will enable media owners to create and monetize content on mobile internet platforms.

Mobile internet is set to become the primary access globally with the GCC showing a 93% mobile penetration, amongst the highest in the world. Widely seen as one of the world's fastest emerging mobile and internet markets, it is estimated that the region's mobile investments will be worth $35 million by 2015.

With this in mind, Omnicom Media Group MENA, the region's largest investor in digital media, and July Systems, the world's leading mobile media company, have joined forces to roll-out out a world class mobile media platform in MENA. This will enable print, broadcast and digital media owners, as well as advertisers, to create, reach and engage with consumers.

Monthly regional mobile ad impressions are projected to reach one billion in 2011 with mobile growth rates set to outstrip those seen in the overall digital market in the next five years. Marketing and media investments are expected to follow suit.

The partnership was announced at 4Mobility, a forum on the mobile opportunity, staged in Dubai Media City. Attended by advertisers and media owners, its key message was that mobile marketing is no longer about 'whether' but 'how' brands will deploy it. The digital media heads of CBS, ESPN and Viacom spoke at the event sharing their experiences on content monetization and mobile advertising success.

"We always felt that the mobile opportunity was just waiting to happen. We therefore decided to act and create the platform through which content, brands and consumers can mobilize in the mobile space," said Elie Khouri, CEO of Omnicom Media Group MENA. "Partnering with July Systems will ensure the offering is world class. On the one hand, media owners will be able to deploy bespoke mobile strategies and create, manage and monetize content efficiently. On the other, we will have access to mobile content that audiences will seek and engage with, giving brands access to a new and highly effective channel though which they will be able to communicate with their target consumers."

Prem Bhatia, president of July Systems, added: "We are fortunate to count the world's largest media brands as our partners, having helped them build large and scalable mobile businesses over the last decade. In Omnicom Media Group MENA, we have found the perfect partner for this region and together we will take media owners, brands, enterprises and consumers to a new level, through the next generation of rich mobile services."

July Systems' Mi™ Platform is a cloud based solution empowering media owners with tools and pre-built modules to launch interactive and rich mobile services. It is the industry's first next-generation publishing platform delivering flexibility in design and time-to-market advantages in delivery. Offering innovative features such as HTML5 web apps, session based advertising, Freemium monetization models and personalized push based customer relationship management, the platform enables media owners to focus on growth in their core areas and build a sustainable mobile internet presence.

How Southwest Airlines is connecting with customers via Social Media

From Evernote:

In this video I interview Christi McNeil, emerging media specialist and spokespe

In this video I interview Christi McNeil, emerging media specialist and spokesperson for Southwest Airlines. She handles the online media relations and is the voice behind the Southwest Airlines Twitter account.

Christi talks about how to use social media to connect with customers by sharing behind-the-scenes stories, covering breaking news and seizing opportunities to connect with customers on a deeper level.

Be sure to check out the takeaways below after you watch the video.

Here are some of the things you'll learn in this video:

  • How the Nuts About Southwest blog was created as a platform to share behind-the-scenes stories
  • Why their blog is manned with one main blog editor and a team of 30 bloggers throughout the organization
  • What type of content the bloggers share to engage customers
  • How social media has helped Southwest Airlines differentiate itself from the competition
  • How to use Twitter to build one-on-one interaction with your audience
  • How to use Facebook to build community conversation with live streaming content and by featuring fare offers and promotions

Christi's biggest tip: Allow your employees to have a voice and establish this early on in the social space.

Connect with Christi on Twitter at @southwestair and also at @christimcneill.

How does your company connect with customers on social media? What tips do you have to share about creating community conversations online? Please share them below.

About the Author, Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is the founder of Social Media Examiner and author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers. Other posts by Michael Stelzner

T-Mobile, WildTangent To Bring 25 Cent App Rentals To Android.

From Evernote:

T-Mobile, WildTangent To Bring 25 Cent App Rentals To Android.

One of the worst things about app shopping is the uncertainty. A few screen grabs and a four-line description is hardly enough to make an informed decision. When apps are free, it's less of an issue, but when I'm coughing up a couple bucks, I want to know what I'm getting. A few app stores have tried to quell this issue: Amazon's Appstore for Android has a test-drive feature, the Android Market has a 15-minute return policy, and Apple launched a "Try Before You Buy" system last summer. But T-Mobile has taken a pretty innovative approach to app shopping: rentals.




5 Reasons Why Deleting Your Blog Posts Is Stupid.

From Evernote:

5 Reasons Why Deleting Your Blog Posts Is Stupid.

Steve Rubel is a pretty well known dude. As a popular blogger and PR firm Edelman's EVP of digital strategy, if Steve does something radical on the web, people will take notice. And that's exactly what happened when he decided to trade the two blogs he'd maintained over several years for a new Tumblr blog, deleting the hundreds of his blog posts he'd created along the way.

That's right — he deleted all of the content he'd created and started with a clean slate. Um…what?

Discussing his reasoning for his use of the scorched earth policy in a recent blog post, Steve said he moved his digital presence to Tumblr because, with Google's increasing focus on social signals, it was the best social platform available. So why delete his old posts, too? Steve says it's because he wanted to centralize his web presence, and he didn't want to confuse Google with multiple sources of content and a scattered web presence.

Only time will tell whether this was the right move for Steve, but he still admits that while the move to Tumblr and adoption of the scorched earth policy might make sense for thought leaders' personal brands, it might not be the best strategy for businesses. Here's why…

Why Deleting Blog Posts Is Stupid for Businesses

1. You'll lose all that coveted SEO juice you built. If you're a regular blogger, you like understand and value the SEO benefits of blogging frequently. You know that every new blog post you create is more real estate for your business to rank in search engines, and that each new piece of content affords you some extra SEO juice for the keywords you want to get found for. And if you've been blogging for a while, chances are you are actually experiencing those benefits and generating more traffic to your website. Chances are, you also remember all of the time and hard work you put in to get your blog where it is now. If the thought of losing all of that previous SEO authority you've generated and starting from scratch scares the bejesus out of you, congratulations — you're a sane human being.

2. You'll sacrifice a whole lot of inbound link love. While blogging is a great way to boost your on-page SEO, off-page SEO and inbound links to the content you create are even more powerful influencers for your website's authority and its ability to rank in search engines. By deleting your blog posts, any inbound links you've generated will disappear. If someone linked to an article on your blog in their own blog post, that link will essentially be worthless (it won't work!), and it will ultimately affect referral traffic to your website.

3. You'll miss out on valuable lead generation opportunities. Steve argues that being in a social platform like Tumblr is more important than having old blog posts, but this is definitely not a best practice for businesses. Old content, or "evergreen content" as we like to call it at HubSpot, can be a valuable lead generation tool. In fact, HubSpot still generates leads today from blog posts we published three years ago. Some of these posts have risen to the top of search engine results and are found via searches every day. Each article includes a call-to-action that leads visitors to a landing page with a lead generation form, and we still collect leads from those pages. Just because content is evergreen, doesn't mean it's still not useful or that it can't continue to generate leads for your business.

4. You'll be retroactively wasting a lot of time (and burning a library of resources!). Particularly in the world of inbound marketing, time and brainpower is money. While blogging may not cost anything besides the platform or tools you've built your blog on, creating, nurturing, and maintaining a successful blog still takes a lot of valuable time and effort. Think about all the time you spent creating the content that has built your blog up to what it is today. Throwing away all that content would be like throwing away money and burning a library of resources. What a waste! 

5. You'll limit social media mentions and content sharing. Ironically, Steve made his move to Tumblr in an effort to be more social, but let's face it, the content people share in social media isn't always brand new. Just like businesses can still generate leads from evergreen content, they can also generate traffic and get found in social media through the sharing of that content, too. Eliminating old content altogether will severely limit social sharing and negatively affect social media referral traffic to your website.

In Steve's case, his dramatic change is only affecting his personal brand, not a business. And because he is already so well known, he can afford to take the risk. That said, for small businesses that are trying to make a name for themselves and beat out their competitors on the web, such a radical move would be ridiculous.


Betalen bij Starbucks via smartphones

From Evernote:

Auteur: Loek Essers

Auteur: Loek Essers

Klanten van Starbucks kunnen in de VS hun koffie van tevoren uitzoeken en betalen via hun telefoon. Bij de balie hoeft de aankoop alleen nog te worden ingescand.

Dat was al een tijd mogelijk met BlackBerry en iPhone apps maar kan sinds deze week ook met Android. Starbucks Card Mobile stelt koffiedrinkers in staat hun saldo te checken en aan te vullen. Daarnaast kan ook de dichtstbijzijnde Starbucks opgezocht worden en worden er aanbiedingen in de applicatie aangeprijsd.

Streepjescode voor de scanner

De koffie wordt afgerekend door een streepjescode voor een scanner te houden bij een van de duizenden locaties in de VS. Na de aankoop toont de app het overgebleven saldo. In de eerste negen weken dat het systeem is gebruikt zijn er volgens Starbucks meer dan 3 miljoen aankopen gedaan via dit systeem.

In de toekomst wil de koffietent gebruik gaan maken van near field communication (NFC), een techniek die door velen als de volgende stap in mobiel betalen wordt gezien. Daarvoor moeten telefoons eerst wel uitgerust worden met NFC-chips, iets dat moeilijker te bewerkstelligen is dan de winkels voorzien van NFC-systemen.

Tumblr is the next great thing on Internet

From Evernote:

Tumblr is the next great thing on Internet

Brent Simmons sees a natural evolution for blogs…

"New blogging systems like Posterous and Tumblr seem to be pretty popular, and they fill a nice middle ground: short content, easy sharing, social stuff. They're cool.

But try to imagine replacing Daring Fireball, Scripting News, Apple Outsider, Shawn Blanc, or any of a number of great blogs with something like Twitter. You can't. You'd have to invent blogs so that these writers have somewhere to write."

Brent is right. Blogging, once again, is evolving. But he's a bit off in portraying Tumblr this way.

Tumblr, to me at least, isn't a blog platform but something new entirely - a social network for both original and curated content that is longer than a tweet and often more visual in nature. It's a hybrid.

This nuance is lost in the news that Tumblr now has more blogs than Wordpress.com.

Consider this: over breakfast last week Mark Coatney from Tumblr shared with me that most of the platform's billions of page views take place inside the dashboard rather than on the individual domains. That means that Tumblr is less like Wordpress and more like Twitter or Facebook - a social network for content rather than a blogging platform.

A huge part of Tumblr's appeal is its community. Like Twitter and Facebook you don't have to attract an audience, you just need to get them to subscribe. And while RSS is baked in, subscriptions are disguised simply as follows on Tumblr, making it all the more simple.

The more people start using Tumblr Dashboard as an aggregator, the more they create, share, comment and reblog. The network effect takes over and the platform grows.

When you add in the fact that the media is increasingly using Tumblr, you have an engine in place that can drive additional growth.

All the forces are in place, to me at least, to propel Tumblr as the next big hub. However, it's not blogging that will do it but - like Twitter and Facebook before it - the community that's driving the network effect and its meteoric growth.

7 Ways to Build Your Network Without Using People

From Evernote:

7 Ways to Build Your Network Without Using People

If you spend any time trying the usual networking strategies, then you'll probably notice that most of them seem insincere at best. It always feels like you're fighting between your own agenda and the best interests of your new "friends."

That said, networking is perhaps the single best way to achieve success.

So how do you achieve the goal of advancing your career and expanding your professional network without using people? Here are 7 tips that should help.

1. Choose the best channel for you.

Too often, we spread ourselves too thin by setting up accounts on social media sites, going to networking mixers, cold-calling potential clients, asking interesting people out to lunch and so on. For most of us, this all-out pursuit leads to burnout instead of results. Rather than trying to be everywhere at once, decide which area should receive your attention first. Choosing to focus on one mode of communication makes it easier to give your new contacts your full attention … which is exactly what they deserve.

2. It's about listening to what people say, not saying the right things.

Take a bit of the pressure off of yourself. You don't need to say the exact right words at the exact right time. Networking is more about taking the time to listen to people's stories and looking for the places that you can provide something of value to them. it is crucial to understand where people are coming from and what's important to them. That way, you'll be able to help them out in the future.

3. You don't need to know the most people, just the right people.

Stop firing your business cards to everyone you meet and blasting emails out to anyone that looks interesting. It's much more beneficial to have 10 people that would help you at any time than it is to have 100 that recognize your name. Spend some time finding people that are relevant to you and then pursue the relationships that seem to have a genuine connection.

4. The other side doesn't "owe" you anything.

Just because you reached out and said hello doesn't mean that the other person is required to help you. Instead of approaching networking with the hope of gaining favors, try reaching out with curiosity. Contact interesting and relevant people and see what happens. Figure out what makes them unique. See if there is a way you can help them. And if you do help them, don't expect anything in return.

5. Every person matters.

Please don't make the mistake of categorizing networking opportunities by status, position, or other superficial metrics. People advance in their careers. People change jobs and industries. Furthermore, you literally have no idea who knows who. That fast food worker could have a cousin that works on Capitol Hill. Treat everyone with respect and don't dismiss anyone as irrelevant.

6. Offer praise when you reach out over email.

Unless you have a mutual contact that is putting you in touch for a specific reason, it's best to avoid asking for anything when you make that first contact. Did they win an award or did their company do well last quarter? Send a quick note of congratulations. Over email it's especially important that you offer a little praise before delving deeper. If they reply to your first email, then you can move on to asking for advice or setting up a date for lunch.

7. Show your current network some love.

Networking isn't just about reaching out to new people. A huge part of it is nurturing your current network of friends, co-workers, and peers. You can start helping these people today because you already know what they are interested in. Network with the people that are already close by sending helpful information and connecting them with other interesting people you already know.

These steps aren't difficult, but the do require you to take action.

There aren't any secret sayings that will turn you into a world-class networker. Simply, begin reaching out and helping others however you can. If you're looking for more, then I've put together an even longer list of networking tips.

James Clear is the founder of Passive Panda.com, a site for people that want to earn more money. Join Passive Panda's Free Newsletter on Earning More for proven tips and strategies.

Why you need a mobile strategy!

From Evernote:

Why you need a mobile strategy!

Let's face it. Mobile devices have drastically shifted the online landscape to the point that in 2010 more than 50 percent of all Internet access was being done via handhelds of some sort. About 45 percent of mobile owners are using their devices to download social networking apps. In fact, 35 percent of Android and iPhone owners in the U.S. use apps such as Facebook before getting out of bed, according to a recent survey conducted by telecommunications equipment vendor Ericsson.

Several companies have a subdomain set up specifically for mobile phones. So, for example, when users type www.ESPN.com into a smartphone, the ESPN site actually figures out that they are visiting the site from a mobile device and redirects them to a subdomain. The user experience from the phone is different than the user experience at a computer. Diane Irvine, CEO of Seattle-based jewelry site Blue Nile, realized the importance of mobile delivery when her site made a $40,000 diamond sale via a mobile device in 2009. She soon learned that she needed to make her site more mobile-friendly for iPhone users. Last year, she introduced a mobile version of the Blue Nile site. Since the launch, Irvine says, "More than 20 percent of our shoppers are using the mobile site." The reason being is that it gives people the flexibility to shop wherever they are. "This will become the future of shopping," she adds.

There are now numerous mobile apps serving up informative tips, educational bits, or pure entertainment or gaming. Many companies are using mobile apps to boost brand awareness and affinity. Your business can, too. But you must have a thorough understanding of your audience. The best way to use apps is to create something that is both useful and valuable. More importantly, it should be functional. GateGuru is an app that is centered on location awareness, which airport retailers advertise on to drive users into stores, while Nestlé Purina's app provide a database of pet-friendly places around the country. Other apps make it easy to make purchases with a few clicks. For example, the ShopRite app allows customers to view and add weekly sales items to their shopping lists. And Starbucks' mobile app lets people make transactions directly with the wave of their smartphones, helping to drive sales.

Consider offering a free version of your app and then let users decide whether or not they are willing invest in a premium version with more features and content. Take for example the widely popular Angry Birds iPhone game. Its ongoing promotion was to offer a free version, while paid subscribers were given access to more challenging levels and other free add-ons.

A growing number of companies deliver coupons via mobile devices in an effort to appeal to consumers, many of whom would never think of clipping or carrying coupons. Sign up for Target's mobile coupons and you'll get money-saving offers on items delivered via text message to your Web-enabled phone with a link to a barcode and discount offers. To redeem, simply show your coupon bar codes to the cashier, who will scan them like a regular coupon. Bath and Body Works, Sephora, JCPenney, Kohl's, and Olive Garden also offer mobile coupons.

Location-based shopping coupons using mobile devices are gaining popularity. As mobile users become more acclimated to sharing their whereabouts via mobile devices, they're also are becoming more open to receiving ads and mobile coupons relevant to where they are at the moment, according to findings from JiWire's Mobile Audience Insights Report. In fact, more than 50 percent of respondents indicated that they wanted to receive location-specific advertising, with mobile coupons a more appealing incentive than check-ins. GPS and applications such as Google Maps ranked highest followed by Yelp, Facebook and Foursquare.

Mobile marketing presents a distinct and unique way to create interactive dialogues with customers. Mobile marketing requires matching the creative to the device's smaller screen size; designing messages that are short, instantly understood, and effective; and creating a call for action with minimal steps. Research indicates that mobile ads perform about five times better than Internet ads. The most common mobile ads are simple text links and display adds that are sold based on cost per clicks, cost per acquisition and cost per thousand. These ads are much like the paid search campaigns on Google, Bing or Yahoo! Use mobile marketing solutions to drive participation at exhibitions or to drive traffic to retail environments. If you have two seats left for a workshop or an event, you can send a message offering a discount. Make offers that are in tuned with the buying habits of the recipient.

image

7 Ways to Build Your Network Without Using People

From Evernote:

7 Ways to Build Your Network Without Using People

If you spend any time trying the usual networking strategies, then you'll probably notice that most of them seem insincere at best. It always feels like you're fighting between your own agenda and the best interests of your new "friends."

That said, networking is perhaps the single best way to achieve success.

So how do you achieve the goal of advancing your career and expanding your professional network without using people? Here are 7 tips that should help.

1. Choose the best channel for you.

Too often, we spread ourselves too thin by setting up accounts on social media sites, going to networking mixers, cold-calling potential clients, asking interesting people out to lunch and so on. For most of us, this all-out pursuit leads to burnout instead of results. Rather than trying to be everywhere at once, decide which area should receive your attention first. Choosing to focus on one mode of communication makes it easier to give your new contacts your full attention … which is exactly what they deserve.

2. It's about listening to what people say, not saying the right things.

Take a bit of the pressure off of yourself. You don't need to say the exact right words at the exact right time. Networking is more about taking the time to listen to people's stories and looking for the places that you can provide something of value to them. it is crucial to understand where people are coming from and what's important to them. That way, you'll be able to help them out in the future.

3. You don't need to know the most people, just the right people.

Stop firing your business cards to everyone you meet and blasting emails out to anyone that looks interesting. It's much more beneficial to have 10 people that would help you at any time than it is to have 100 that recognize your name. Spend some time finding people that are relevant to you and then pursue the relationships that seem to have a genuine connection.

4. The other side doesn't "owe" you anything.

Just because you reached out and said hello doesn't mean that the other person is required to help you. Instead of approaching networking with the hope of gaining favors, try reaching out with curiosity. Contact interesting and relevant people and see what happens. Figure out what makes them unique. See if there is a way you can help them. And if you do help them, don't expect anything in return.

5. Every person matters.

Please don't make the mistake of categorizing networking opportunities by status, position, or other superficial metrics. People advance in their careers. People change jobs and industries. Furthermore, you literally have no idea who knows who. That fast food worker could have a cousin that works on Capitol Hill. Treat everyone with respect and don't dismiss anyone as irrelevant.

6. Offer praise when you reach out over email.

Unless you have a mutual contact that is putting you in touch for a specific reason, it's best to avoid asking for anything when you make that first contact. Did they win an award or did their company do well last quarter? Send a quick note of congratulations. Over email it's especially important that you offer a little praise before delving deeper. If they reply to your first email, then you can move on to asking for advice or setting up a date for lunch.

7. Show your current network some love.

Networking isn't just about reaching out to new people. A huge part of it is nurturing your current network of friends, co-workers, and peers. You can start helping these people today because you already know what they are interested in. Network with the people that are already close by sending helpful information and connecting them with other interesting people you already know.

These steps aren't difficult, but the do require you to take action.

There aren't any secret sayings that will turn you into a world-class networker. Simply, begin reaching out and helping others however you can. If you're looking for more, then I've put together an even longer list of networking tips.

James Clear is the founder of Passive Panda.com, a site for people that want to earn more money. Join Passive Panda's Free Newsletter on Earning More for proven tips and strategies.

Why you need a mobile strategy!

From Evernote:

Why you need a mobile strategy!

Let's face it. Mobile devices have drastically shifted the online landscape to the point that in 2010 more than 50 percent of all Internet access was being done via handhelds of some sort. About 45 percent of mobile owners are using their devices to download social networking apps. In fact, 35 percent of Android and iPhone owners in the U.S. use apps such as Facebook before getting out of bed, according to a recent survey conducted by telecommunications equipment vendor Ericsson.

Several companies have a subdomain set up specifically for mobile phones. So, for example, when users type www.ESPN.com into a smartphone, the ESPN site actually figures out that they are visiting the site from a mobile device and redirects them to a subdomain. The user experience from the phone is different than the user experience at a computer. Diane Irvine, CEO of Seattle-based jewelry site Blue Nile, realized the importance of mobile delivery when her site made a $40,000 diamond sale via a mobile device in 2009. She soon learned that she needed to make her site more mobile-friendly for iPhone users. Last year, she introduced a mobile version of the Blue Nile site. Since the launch, Irvine says, "More than 20 percent of our shoppers are using the mobile site." The reason being is that it gives people the flexibility to shop wherever they are. "This will become the future of shopping," she adds.

There are now numerous mobile apps serving up informative tips, educational bits, or pure entertainment or gaming. Many companies are using mobile apps to boost brand awareness and affinity. Your business can, too. But you must have a thorough understanding of your audience. The best way to use apps is to create something that is both useful and valuable. More importantly, it should be functional. GateGuru is an app that is centered on location awareness, which airport retailers advertise on to drive users into stores, while Nestlé Purina's app provide a database of pet-friendly places around the country. Other apps make it easy to make purchases with a few clicks. For example, the ShopRite app allows customers to view and add weekly sales items to their shopping lists. And Starbucks' mobile app lets people make transactions directly with the wave of their smartphones, helping to drive sales.

Consider offering a free version of your app and then let users decide whether or not they are willing invest in a premium version with more features and content. Take for example the widely popular Angry Birds iPhone game. Its ongoing promotion was to offer a free version, while paid subscribers were given access to more challenging levels and other free add-ons.

A growing number of companies deliver coupons via mobile devices in an effort to appeal to consumers, many of whom would never think of clipping or carrying coupons. Sign up for Target's mobile coupons and you'll get money-saving offers on items delivered via text message to your Web-enabled phone with a link to a barcode and discount offers. To redeem, simply show your coupon bar codes to the cashier, who will scan them like a regular coupon. Bath and Body Works, Sephora, JCPenney, Kohl's, and Olive Garden also offer mobile coupons.

Location-based shopping coupons using mobile devices are gaining popularity. As mobile users become more acclimated to sharing their whereabouts via mobile devices, they're also are becoming more open to receiving ads and mobile coupons relevant to where they are at the moment, according to findings from JiWire's Mobile Audience Insights Report. In fact, more than 50 percent of respondents indicated that they wanted to receive location-specific advertising, with mobile coupons a more appealing incentive than check-ins. GPS and applications such as Google Maps ranked highest followed by Yelp, Facebook and Foursquare.

Mobile marketing presents a distinct and unique way to create interactive dialogues with customers. Mobile marketing requires matching the creative to the device's smaller screen size; designing messages that are short, instantly understood, and effective; and creating a call for action with minimal steps. Research indicates that mobile ads perform about five times better than Internet ads. The most common mobile ads are simple text links and display adds that are sold based on cost per clicks, cost per acquisition and cost per thousand. These ads are much like the paid search campaigns on Google, Bing or Yahoo! Use mobile marketing solutions to drive participation at exhibitions or to drive traffic to retail environments. If you have two seats left for a workshop or an event, you can send a message offering a discount. Make offers that are in tuned with the buying habits of the recipient.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Increase Your Social Impact And Brand Leadership

From Evernote:

Increase Your Social Impact And Brand Leadership

There is no question or doubt about the impact, power and leverage 'new media' can have on business. It's pretty clear the immediacy and viral nature of how information is delivered and how fast it can spread, good or bad.

New media, social marketing, social networking, it's all 'social'. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Email Marketing, Blogging, Blogtalk Radio all provide funnels now for finding people and having them find you. Using social media for social impact can have a big impact on you, your business and your community.

Believe it or not, there actually is something called The Center for Social Leadership and it has published a book all about this elusive subject, "Social Leadership: A Fresh Vision for Old Problems."

Create value

According to the Center, social leadership means to "devote one's life and talents to improving society regardless of social standing, wealth or privilege." Basically, it's people like you and me who have the courage to inspire greatness in others. Social leaders deliberately strive to make the world a better place by creating value for others.

Here's how they do it. They ask themselves: * What is the best use of my talents?
* What can I do that will positively impact society?
* What was I born to become and accomplish?

These are pretty heavy questions, but the answers result in doing the most good for the most people. Are you ready to accept your calling? To reveal more of your passion and purpose to build your social impact and brand leadership?

Social leaders realize that there's no longer a need to look to others for answers; they have the power to find solutions. And, while they can and do implement change, having others by their side who believe in their mission is even more powerful.

Here are some ways to get the word out:

* Volunteer at a shelter, a church, a hospital, a kids group * Form a group, start a program, host a seminar * Lead a campaign * Encourage businesses to donate
* Attend city council meetings, run for city council, join a committee
* Organize a fundraiser

You've got traditional and now new media to use to 'get social'. Whatever you decide to do and whatever leadership you decide to commit to, it will impact your business simply because you have stepped up to make your community and the world you live in better.

It's a sure way to get noticed for all the right reasons!

Author:

Deborah Shane is an author, entrepreneur, radio host and expert. She is the heart and soul  of her business education and professional development company, Train with Shane and is in her third year of hosting a weekly business radio show on blogtalkradio.com. She writes for several national business, career and marketing blogs, and websites including smallbiztrends.com, careerealism.com, Internationalbusinesstimes.com, Smartbrief.com and blogher.com Her new book Career Transition-make the shift-the 5 steps to successful career reinvention is available now on amazon.com. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Blogtalkradio @Deborah Shane, or visit www.deborahshane.com.

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9 Great Ways to Gain a Competitive Edge Online and Attract New Clients

From Evernote:

9 Great Ways to Gain a Competitive Edge Online and Attract New Clients

Even though the Internet has been around for "awhile" now, many businesses are still wondering how to make the best use of the Internet when it comes to marketing their business. I often hear business owners say, "What do I put on my site, how many pages do I really need, will anyone read the content or are they just looking to see if I exist?"

Others say, "Well I have a website but I'm not sure why, because it doesn't seem like anyone is visiting it."

Unless you are a large brand name like Sony or Coca Cola, etc., attracting potential clients to your website takes time and lots of work.

Many people believe that once a website is done and launched, they can leave it alone and people will find it. However, like any step in a marketing plan, a business website requires on-going nurturing and updates to keep it fresh, current and competitive. Updates also remind the search engines that it exists.

Today I am going to share different ways that you can boost the effectiveness of your business website and your overall online presence so that you will attract new customers and gain a competitive edge online.

1. Add a Blog

If you haven't already done so, you can begin by adding a blog. A blog or weblog is an online journal, but for businesses, it's also a valuable communication tool.

It can provide you with a place to communicate with your customers and prospects.

Because blogs are updated often, they tend to get indexed by the search engines quite regularly and attract a regular stream of readers. Every time you write a new post on your blog, you create an opportunity to attract new clients to your business. Blogs can be informative, can provide marketing benefits, and can help you build a larger online audience.

2. Use Photos

A picture does say a thousand words online. Add great-looking photos to each page of your website and blog that relate to your business so that you can enhance your site's appeal.

Whether you're adding pictures of your products or photos relevant to your subject matter, it can help add pizzazz to text on a page.

You might even consider adding videos as well. They can help you add an interactive feel to the site and help you connect with customers on a personal level.

Here is how find free license stunning images for your blog.

3. Add Links to Each Page on Your Website

Many business owners spend a lot of time creating their home page, but many don't realize that every page on your site has the ability to be a doorway to potential customers.

Make sure your navigation menu is clear so that people can easily get around from one page to another on your site. Add relevant clickable links within your content that go from one page to another to help steer people to other pages within your website and ultimately lead them toward purchasing from you.

4. Add an Irresistible Offer for Subscribers

There's a saying in internet marketing…"The money is in the list".

Not everyone will want to subscribe to your website or business blog just because you've put a nice "Subscribe Now" button on it. But if you give them an irresistible offer as a reward for subscribing, you could build a long list of subscribers.

This is where you really need to look at your type of business and be creative in coming up with ideas for an irresistible offer. Your offer could include a discount on your products or services, or a freebie, such as a free eBook based on a topic that is relevant to your products or services.

If a free eBook works well with your type of business, you could look at writing one that is anywhere from 7 to 25 pages long. For example, a massage therapist could write about "5 Ways to De-Stress at the End of a Long Hard Day". If you are thinking you don't have the time to write an eBook, consider hiring a freelance copywriter to write it for you.

Also consider changing up your offer from time to time to attract repeat visitors who are looking for new deals.

5. Update Your Website Often

Maybe it was painstaking for you to get your website up and running and looking exactly the way you wanted it to. But once you do, you can't just leave it static, because it won't get much attention.

If you want to gain a competitive edge online, you should add new pages to your site about how people will benefit from your products or services, add new blog posts, and enhance your site. These continuous activities will attract new clients to your website.

6. Optimize for Mobile

Is your website optimized for a mobile audience? What does it look like to someone looking at it on an iPhone or a BlackBerry?

People on the go could be looking for where to have dinner tonight or could be looking for a place to buy furniture, etcetera.

Optimize your website so that it fits on their screen and looks good to mobile audiences (instead of being barely readable), loads fast, and is in readable formats (mobile can't typically read Flash, for instance). You will increase foot traffic to your website.

7. Get Your Local Business Listed on Google Places

Instead of paying for "Pay Per Click Ads" to advertise your local business on the Internet, setup a free Google Places Listing for your business.

Do a quick search on Google to see if your competition has setup their Google Places listing yet. If not, this could be a quick way for your local business to gain that competitive edge.

For example, let's say you are a dentist in Calgary. When someone types "dentist Calgary" into Google you want your Google Places listing and your website to show up on the first page of Google so that people will find your business right away.

Your Google Places profile should include 5 different categories that are relevant to your business, as well as your business address and a link to your website.

Go to http://www.google.com/places to sign up and claim your free local listing.

Google offers a Google Places app for mobile users as well, and if you're listed, your patrons may also post reviews of your services or establishment for other people to see.

8. Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

Websites aren't always like the Field of Dreams.

The fact that you build a website doesn't mean people will automatically find it and view it.

I've met many web designers over the past 5 years that believe that all a business needs is a pretty website that gets found for their business name when someone looks for them on Google. Unfortunately, that is not correct, and it is a disservice to the website owner. Unless you are a large well-known company, you need to optimize your website based on the products and services you offer, not around your business name.

Optimizing your website for Google and the other search engines will result in more people finding your website when they need your products or services.

Most people look at the first few pages of results when they search Google, Bing, or Yahoo for a product or service that they need.

The right optimization activities will make a huge difference in regards to your website being listed on page 10 or page 1 of the search engine results.

Maybe today you're listed on the bottom of Page 1. Or maybe worse… not on Page 1 at all. There are things you can do to your website to make it more likely to be deemed highly relevant to search engines. That perceived relevancy could equate to a higher ranking that naturally brings new people to your website.

9. Launch a Marketing Campaign for Your Website

There are a lot of online marketing activities that could help you improve your business website and attract new clients as well.

You can improve each page of your site in terms of design and search engine optimization and create a highly attractive unique selling proposition that captures the attention of new clients.

Once you've done that, you can launch an online campaign that includes participating in social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to bring traffic to your site and people to your location.

Other various activities like publishing press releases to announce new products, getting listed in online business directories, publishing guest articles on industry leading blogs, and more could help you become known as the go-to source for whatever it is that you specialize in.

Whether you're a local pizzeria, a plumber, a hotel, or some other business, your business website should play a major role in your overall marketing plan, and when done right, should gain you the competitive edge your business needs to win new clients.

@darlene_g
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Article by Darlene Goode

Darlene Goode is the co-founder of a Calgary Web Design and Development firm that specializes in Django Web Development and incorporates SEO strategies into every site they develop to ensure that it is found and indexed well by the search engines. She also published an eBook titled "Rise to the Top of Google!" which you can find on Professional Web Studio

Darlene has written 1 awesome articles for FamousBloggers.net


LinkedIn IPO May Look More Like Salesforce Than Facebook

From Evernote:

LinkedIn IPO May Look More Like Salesforce Than Facebook

May 18, 2011, 2:08 PM EDT

By Ari Levy and Lee Spears

(Updates with first-quarter sales gain in 14th paragraph.)

May 18 (Bloomberg) — LinkedIn Corp., the first major U.S. social-media company to sell shares to the public, may deserve a valuation that more closely resembles those of business-software makers such as Salesforce.com Inc. than Facebook Inc.

Demand for LinkedIn shares prompted the company to increase the offering twice. The valuation of as much as $4.25 billion implies a multiple of 11.3 times projected annual sales, compared with 13.8 for Facebook and 8.3 for Salesforce.com.

LinkedIn is often compared with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter Inc., which depend on advertising to consumers. Yet LinkedIn gets 70 percent of revenue from business subscriptions, a model that's similar to Salesforce.com, SuccessFactors Inc. and NetSuite Inc. This dual appeal and faster growth means LinkedIn warrants a higher valuation than other business-software providers, said Brian Jacobs, general partner at Emergence Capital Partners.

"It's got aspects of the business software world but it also has these aspects of the consumer world," said Jacobs, who is based in San Mateo, California. "When you've got a product that millions of people love, that helps the stock price." Emergence was an early investor in Salesforce and SuccessFactors.

LinkedIn shares are expected to price later today. The Mountain View, California-based company yesterday increased the range at which they'll be sold to $42 to $45 apiece, from $32 to $35 as planned last week. LinkedIn is offering 7.84 million shares. At the high end, LinkedIn would raise as much as $405.7 million, if underwriters exercise an overallotment option.

Software Subscriptions

Some investors may purchase LinkedIn shares because they view it as a proxy for social-media companies led by Facebook that have put off IPOs to pursue growth outside the regulatory glare that's directed at publicly traded companies.

Still, LinkedIn said in its prospectus that a "substantial portion" of revenue comes from a business that's comparable to the software-as-a-service model. That's where companies deliver software over the Internet, a market that is expected to climb 16 percent this year to $10.7 billion, according to Gartner Inc., a research firm in Stamford, Connecticut.

"The long-term holders of the stock will be the ones that evaluate it like an enterprise SaaS company versus the ones looking for pure momentum," said Dave Whorton, founder of Tugboat Ventures in Palo Alto, California, and an early investor in SuccessFactors. "They will have good visibility into what the company is today and what it will be in the future without having to speculate."

SaaS companies, including Salesforce, NetSuite and SuccessFactors, sell subscriptions over the Internet rather than long-term licenses like traditional business-software companies.

Salesforce is the largest supplier of customer-management software. SuccessFactors makes Web-based human resources software, and NetSuite provides online accounting programs.

Social Network Valuations

Facebook and Twitter, social-networking sites that give their services away, have higher private-market valuations than LinkedIn based on potential revenue from advertisers aiming to reach hundreds of millions of users. Facebook, the world's largest social-networking site, is valued at $55 billion on secondary exchange SharesPost Inc., while micro-blogging service Twitter is valued at $6.2 billion.

Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are leading the offering. The stock is expected to begin trading tomorrow under the symbol LNKD on the New York Stock Exchange.

Personal Profiles

LinkedIn members use the site to search for jobs, recruit employees and find industry experts. While users can create personal profiles for free, the company introduced paid subscriptions in 2005, giving recruiters more access to job candidates and providing business professionals ways to communicate with one another.

The hiring solutions business, targeted at recruiters, accounted for about half of LinkedIn's $93.9 million in first- quarter revenue, with 30 percent coming from ads. The company's projected valuation of 11.3 times sales assumes first-quarter revenue is replicated over the next three quarters. LinkedIn's net income rose 14 percent to $2.08 million in the first quarter. Sales more than doubled.

"It is one of the most exciting companies to go public in recent times," said Jason Rosenthal, chief executive officer of Ning Inc., a social media company in Palo Alto. "They have built a $250 million-a-year revenue business that's profitable and growing at a fast clip. Something like that deserves to be highly valued."

Premium Business

Some analysts are skeptical. Ryan Hunter of Wedge Partners Corp. wrote in a report on May 16 that even at $3 billion, LinkedIn may be overvalued. LinkedIn had previously planned a sale that would have given it a valuation at that level.

Hunter sees a conflict between LinkedIn's premium subscription business and its advertising business. To satisfy subscribers, the company may need to cut out ads to premium members, hurting revenue, he wrote. Rising competition may also force the company to eliminate premium fees to keep users, with Facebook as a looming threat.

"Facebook users have a substantially higher level of engagement than LNKD users," wrote Hunter, who's based in Greenwood Village, Colorado. "If Facebook creates a way for users to feel comfortable managing their professional and social networks on the same platform, we would expect LNKD's value to its users (and shareholders) to rapidly decline."

In the planned IPO, about 62 percent of the shares in the offering are being sold by LinkedIn, which said it plans to use the proceeds to fund existing operations and to expand the business, possibly including buying other companies or technologies.

The sellers of the other shares include a venture capital affiliate of Bain Capital LLC, McGraw-Hill Cos., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and founder and Chairman Reid Hoffman, the prospectus shows. Venture capital backers Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners aren't selling shares, according to the filing.

—With assistance from Alex Sherman in New York and Douglas Macmillan in San Francisco. Editors: Jillian Ward, Tom Giles

To contact the reporters on this story: Ari Levy in San Francisco at alevy5@bloomberg.net; Lee Spears in New York at lspears3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


One thing is certain in business: things will go wrong. So when you first start

From Evernote:

One thing is certain in business: things will go wrong. So when you first start

One thing is certain in business: things will go wrong. So when you first start a business, one of your priorities should be emergency planning.

Put a disaster plan in place that fits your situation— in case supply lines are cut, a hurricane hits, or other natural catastrophe looms — because if disaster strikes, a lot of people will look to you for answers.

On Feb. 23, 2007, at around 8.15 p.m., one of Virgin Trains' new Pendolino tilting trains jumped over a set of points in Cumbria in the northwest of England, on a remote part of the West Coast Main Line. Margaret Masson, an elderly woman traveling to her home in Cardonald, was thrown around in the coach as the train careened down a steep embankment.

For 10 years, Virgin Trains had been safely carrying millions of passengers. That night, life changed for all of us at Virgin. Margaret Masson was dead. Several others were seriously hurt.

I was on a ski trip in Zermatt, Switzerland, when I received a text message about the rail accident. I hired a car and drove through the night to Zurich, where I got the first flight out at 6.30 a.m.

When I arrived in Manchester, the BBC was reporting that the train was intact, and that had helped to save many lives. That was heartening: all our new trains had been built like tanks for this very reason. A later report confirmed a track failure was responsible for the accident.

I met Margaret Masson's family at the Royal Preston Hospital in Lancashire. I offered them my condolences. We found ourselves hugging each other.

Soon I was facing television cameras and journalists who wanted answers. I thought I was going to choke up. I came close, but kept it together and stuck to the facts as we knew them.

I expressed my gratitude to the train operator, Iain Black, who did everything he could to save his passengers, and in the process sustained serious injuries. Our other employees on board had all behaved in an exemplary fashion, ignoring their own minor injuries to lead customers to safety.

Why were we able to react so quickly? When Virgin Trains was putting its emergency procedures in place, we had analyzed a number of serious rail incidents, and had been appalled by the length of time it took before anyone in charge spoke to the press. Confusion and blame set in quickly as anxious people waited to find out what happened and why.

So our disaster planning had prepared us to accomplish three main goals: get to the scene fast; be efficient in dealing with the passengers, staff and media; and be honest about what was happening. We knew those first steps would get communications established so that everyone — passengers, staff, the media — would obtain the information they needed.

Beyond disasters and accidents, as you forge ahead, it's inevitable that you and your team will make mistakes. It is important to recognize this and ensure everyone in the company is prepared.

Which brings me to the difficult balance that all entrepreneurs and CEOs need to learn how to maintain: always protect your reputation, yet don't be afraid of making mistakes. These rules ought not to contradict each other, but they often do. I've known plenty of talented and trustworthy people whose careers have been damaged by past errors, and who have suffered professionally as a result. If you or someone in your company has made a serious mistake, don't be afraid to ask the senior figures in your circle for advice and help. Distinguished people are often generous and understanding, to a fault. They've been through the mill; they know what life is like. They will advocate for you, and their reputations will help yours to recover.

Investigate the matter thoroughly; if you can, try to pinpoint where your internal processes failed. During this period, do not keep your head down — that will do you no good. Instead, communicate openly with the press and keep them up to date.

Next, apologize. Explain what happened, express your regret, and describe what steps you have taken to correct the situation. Eventually people will realize that yours is a company that knows how to deal with its problems, and then you will have their trust.

Questions from readers will be answered in future columns. Please send them to BransonQuestions@Entrepreneur.com. Please include your name and country in your question.

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Vodafone Smart launch

From Evernote:

Vodafone Smart launch

Published on Monday, May 16th by Bena Roberts

Monday 16 May, 2011. Vodafone today announces the launch of the Vodafone Smart, the latest handset in its own-brand range and the first in its category: a fully-featured smartphone with popular appeal for the next wave of data users.

The Vodafone Smart delivers a compelling smartphone experience, empowering customers to enter the world of the mobile internet, bringing together apps, navigation, social-networking and multimedia, all at a great price, in a great package.

Patrick Chomet, Vodafone Group Terminals Director said, "More and more Vodafone customers are enjoying the benefits of smartphones which currently account for over 40% of the phones we sell in Europe. Continuing to push the boundaries through our own-brand range, the Vodafone Smart is a new smartphone concept. It takes the higher end mobile internet experience and packages it for the mass market, its range of covers and accessories making it a fun fashion statement. Available on pay as you go plans, and on the fast, reliable Vodafone networks, the Vodafone Smart is a great step-up into the world of mobile data."

The Vodafone Smart will be rolled out in a range of colours – from cool monochromes, through bold brights, to bespoke graphic designs. What's more, customers will be able to personalise their phone, creating their own one-off covers on the web. With spring/summer and autumn/winter cover ranges planned, customers can build up a cover collection to suit their style and spirit.

The Android 2.2 software will give customers access to the full Android experience, including the Android Market™, Gmail™, Google Maps™ and Google Talk™ instant messaging. In addition, the phone has a zoom camera and a capacitive touchscreen as well as 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Vodafone design team have created the user experience with first-time smartphone users in mind and, as such, the homescreen comes pre-loaded with direct links to key content and features including Facebook™, Twitter™, email, Vodafone's 'Prepay Manager' for quick top-ups, Vodafone Music and finally the 'Updates' widget, which gives customers easy access to a shortlist of leading Android Market apps and other services selected by local Vodafone editors.

The Vodafone Smart will be available across the Vodafone footprint by early summer. Germany, Italy and the UK will be among the first to sell the phone which will retail for around €90.