A blog for Small Business IT Consultants and the vendors who serve them. It contains Opinions on business success, News in the consulting community, and Information on what I'm up to. All material Copyright (c) 2006-2023 by Karl W. Palachuk unless otherwise noted.
Paste that date into your calendar so you don't forget!
Highlights (low lights?) from 2020
Technology Updates 2020 . . . and what's next
The Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery
Speculations about 2021
Building a Success Plan for the Year Ahead
2020 has been one we'll never forget - even though we might want to. But, strangely enough, it was a pretty good year for most small IT providers. 2021 will be even better, if you plan it right. As always, I'm going to spend the year committed to helping IT service providers build successful businesses that look to the future of technology and guarantee their success moving forward.
Tune in to learn more!
Technology is always a changing environment. And with IoT, home networks, Cloud Services, and all the emerging technologies, it's no exaggeration that there's more opportunity in our business than ever before..
But 2020 was also a year filled with ransomware, legislation, regulation, and increased insurance rates. The barriers to entry continue to rise. What will this mean for you?
And: Are you getting your share of all the new recurring revenue opportunities?
Tune in to learn more!
Karl's 12th Annual State of the Nation Address for SMB IT
Believe it or not, your security tools are probably cutting into the productivity of your entire team!
Security can no longer be considered a bolt-on feature to other services. In the 2020s, MSPs need rock-solid, total solutions that provide unparalleled security while also enabling users to go about their business.
Join me along with Acronis Channel Chief Evangelist Amy Luby for an in-depth look at delivering security that enables you to streamline operations, increase productivity, and build a service offering that’s secure by default.
• Expert overview of the status quo
• Details on different challenges and opportunities for better operational efficiency
• List of action items and strategies to improve productivity
Our full panel (besides me) is:
Amy Luby, Channel Chief Evangelist at Acronis
Craig Joseph, Group CEO, Teknov8
James Slaby, Director of Cyber Protection at Acronis
The Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community meets by Zoom every Thursday. And on the Third Thursday of every month we have our official "Monthly Meeting." Today, we announced the winners of our annual Community Awards for 2020.
We had quite a lot of great people to choose from. We have many very active members and Community leaders. But we finally picked the winners. With no further delay - here they are:
Our Community Member of the Year for 2020 is Laine Kohama from Giga Island. Laine has been an active member from the minute he joined. He attends almost every class, every call, every Roundtable, and every other thing we do. In addition, he always participates fully, offering advice and asking questions.
At one point, he didn't show up for two meetings in a row and Kara emailed him to make sure he was okay. Laine's response was that he was too busy with new clients - thanks to what he learned in the Community.
Our Community Leader of the Year for 2020 is Amy Babinchak. Like Laine, Amy attends almost every meeting. Amy is a worldwide leader in the IT community, and we know she has a full calendar. So we're honored that she would make our Community a priority.
In addition to simply showing up, Amy gives us great advice and is always very transparent about how she has built her company over the last twenty years. When folks ask for special information or attention, she always steps up. I guess the same qualities that made her a Microsoft MVP also made her a great leader in our Community.
Last but not least, our Small Biz Thoughts Employee of the Year is Kara Schoonveld. Kara is our Community Manager and primary web developer. In 2020, she has achieved an amazing collection of milestones. I haven't counted them all, but I think she made major revisions to about twenty of our web sites this year, including totally revising our store and the Community site itself.
Kara is always quick to help members with all requests, large or small. We have a group email. More often than not, if I reply to a member request, I get an email saying that Kara already took care of it. And just in case anyone is wondering: Kara really enjoys working with the Community.
And somehow, in the middle of all that, and in the middle of a pandemic, she moved across country to Michigan this year. And I doubt that any member noticed that she was "offline" for the move.
We really do have an amazing Community. I personally thank all of our members, especially those who show up week after week for our "Community Confab" calls. We started those calls in March when the economy was shut down. I wanted to make sure that members had a place to connect with others and help each other during the unusual circumstances. Due to popular demand, we have continued those calls all year.
You'll save $100 right now - and lock in that price for life.
We created the community two years ago with one simple mission: To make YOU as successful as possible. My personal mission is to help IT consultants be better at the business part of their business. Obviously, this is a good fit.
We have hundreds of downloads - processes, procedures, audio programs, video training, and every book I've written (plus every new book is automatically added to the community before it's made available to the public). Plus a lot more.
We are an online community of dedicated managed service providers, and IT professionals who want to be managed service providers. We get together online in forums, on Zoom calls, and in classes to help each other to be more successful.
You might be saying, "We're not big enough for that." Or maybe, "We're not small enough for that."
Neither is true! We have members who are just one-, two-, and three-person shops. We also have companies that have 50 and 60 employees. At the end of the day, the things you need to be successful are pretty much the same no matter what size your business is.
Almost every company I have ever coached needed the same things: Processes, procedures, and accountability. That's what we offer in the SBT Technology Community.
Now . . . for today's real topic:
How to Maximize Success in 2021
We've identified seven things that will help you be successful.
I believe 2021 is going to be a difficult year. There's no way around that. A lot of us did really well in 2020, because we spent a lot of time helping clients to move out of their offices into their homes, keep it secure, and keep people connected.
A lot of people took that opportunity to move many, many resources up to cloud services, which is awesome. And we helped clients have a very positive experience with all of that that.
We need to continue that into 2021, but we have a different set of challenges. First of all, the economy still has to hit bottom before it can bounce back. The recovery will probably take another three to six months.
At the same time, dealing with the pandemic and the vaccine, we will probably not see significant changes with regard to the pandemic for at least two or three months. And then it'll be a few months after that before things finally get back to normal.
I have no crystal ball, but I'm hoping that by the second half of 2021, things will be pretty much back to whatever normal is, or the so-called new normal, or "next" normal.
No matter what happens, there are challenges to your business that you have to pay attention to. So what can you do to make the most of this situation that you know is going to be difficult? Let's look at seven things to help you make the most of 2021.
First: Training. You have many options for training. You need to you makes sure that your staff is up to spec on new technologies, on new services that you're offering, on new resources that are out there, and on ransomware and fighting the bad guys.
One way that you can get that training is inside our community. So we have a lot of members-only training.
Second: Great Little Seminar. Community members enjoy HUGE discounts over at GreatLittleSeminar.com. Great Little Seminar hosts ten classes a year, and we charge $299 per student. Annual subscribers to our community you get ALL of those classes at no addition charge.
If you join now, you pay $999 for an annual pass and you get $2,990 worth of classes! That's pretty much a no-brainer. Monthly subscribers to the SBT Technology Community still get a huge discount. They receive $200 off each class, for a savings of $2,000 per year. And that's still way more than the cost of membership.
Third: Books. I have written ALL of the best selling books on managed services and cloud services. Plus, I've written lots of other books to help IT consultants to be as successful as possible. When I started the SBT Technology Community, I put ALL of the books inside the community. So, all members get access to all of my books in all formats at no additional charge.
I am also adding in all of my checklists, all of my forms, and all of my SOPs. AND we are developing new members-only content on top of all that. I'm putting every single thing I've ever done into the community. Members get it all for one price.
This is a huge, massive resource. In fact, this is literally a resource that nobody else can offer because these are the materials I've created over the years.
Fourth: Community Forums. We have Forums inside the Community. This is a place for you to bring up questions, talk about challenges you have with other people.
Fifth: It's the people that matter. The other people in the community are people who have your business model. They're in the same industry as you. They have the same challenges. They're looking for the same tools. They're looking for the same resources. They want to talk about those vendors. They want to talk about the experiences with certain technology.
They want to help each other find things like web cameras during the pandemic!
Basically, it's a broad community worldwide that you can rely on to help you as you face challenges going forward.
Sixth: Regular Community Calls. This obviously follows on the people piece. We have a monthly meeting with our community members. In that, we get together and present some information, then have an open forum with Q&A. Any member can bring up anything and we discuss it as a group.
We also meet weekly on Zoom. During the pandemic, we started doing weekly calls and those have become super popular. So we just continued it.
Kara (our Community Manager) guides us around here and there, but basically, the conversation goes however the community wants it to go. Sometime, there are coaching type questions for me, but most of the time, it's members asking each other questions.
Where are you getting training? What products are you training on? Which vendors are you looking for? Which vendors are you moving away from? All those things that you see, but here's the best part about this community.
Best of all: You know that every one of these people is successful and has committed to their own success by buying a membership in this community. You have probably seen the old cartoon from the 1990's:
On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog.
Well, on the Internet, you can go to a lot of forums and get advice from a lot of strangers. And you have no idea whether they're super successful or complete failures sitting in their parents' basement.
In our community, we know who these people are. We know know that they have invested in their business. We know the challenges they're facing because we meet with them week after week after week.
And it really does make a difference to be surrounded with people who are successful and are moving in the direction within your own industry.
Some people say, "I don't want to talk to my competitors." I think that's a silly argument. For more than twenty years, I owned IT consulting companies in Sacramento, California. In all of those years, the only time I ever saw any of my competition was when we got together for a monthly IT professionals meeting.
I just didn't feel like I ever competed against these people. And here's a fun fact: Sometimes I meet people out in the world and they ask me, "Do you know such and such?" And I no, I've never heard of them.
Oh, they say, "They're one of the biggest managed service providers in Sacramento."
Look, Sacramento is not that big, but we just don't compete with each other. We really, really don't.
One of the Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery is that your competition really is irrelevant and you need to know that. The more attention you focus on your competition, the less attention you are focusing on your clients.
So, I recommend that you just completely and absolutely ignore your competition. Other people do not compete for your dollars. There is enough money; there are enough clients in the world that you literally have no competition as long as you're good at what you do.
Focusing on the quality of service that you give and the education level of your employees is far more important than worrying about whether somebody across town is giving $10 off on some service.
Seventh: Kara - Our Community Manager. One of the greatest assets in our community is we have Kara as our full-time community manager.
She monitors when people have questions about stuff. She helps members I find thing. She is constantly monitoring things. AND she's our primary web developer.
When Kara gets an idea, such as gamification, she makes it happen. She's really great at managing the community. She is the first line of support, and she's really fun to work with. She has a very positive personality. We love having her in the community and we think that you will too.
So the best thing that you can do in 2021 is to join the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. And here's the important safety tip.
The price goes up January 1st.
We're raising the annual subscription to $1,099 a year, up from $999.
I know it's only one hundred dollars a year, but if you join in 2020, you will lock in the lower price for life. Really. Every member is locked in at the price when the joined.
Note: We are not racing the monthly price, which is only $119. And if you join at that rate, you will also lock in that rate for life. There is a 12 month commitment, of course. But, if you want to make the monthly payments, you can do that and that price will never increase for life.
We do not let folks test-drive the community, BUT you can see everything we have inside. Our community search engine is completely open to the public. If you browse to https://www.smallbizthoughts.org/all-resources/ you can search for books, checklists, client-facing downloads, audio programs, training, live events, SOPs, whitepapers, and more. You'll see the result instantly.
But, obviously, clicking on a resource will bring a login screen.
Please feel free to visit www.SmallBizThoughts.org and check it out. We would love to have you join us and to help you be a successful as possible in 2021.
This is my 2,000th blog post on the Small Biz Thoughts Blog.
This blog was launched in February 2006, thanks to Susan Bradley. I don't think Susan actually knows that.
Way back in 2005 (October), I attended SMB Nation in Seattle and met Susan. She was wearing a shirt that said, "I'm blogging this." I didn't let on, but my brain was asking, "What's blogging?"
Well, shortly after that, I noticed that every time I Googled anything remotely related to Small Business Server, there was a link to the SBS Diva blog - Susan's blog. So I began to think . . . what other blogs are out there?
I found that there were LOTS of technical and how-to blogs. But within our industry, I didn't find any business-focused blogs. So I decided to start this blog, focused on helping IT consultants to be better at the business side of business.
So here we are 110 months later. That's just over eighteen posts per month!
From this blog, I ended up writing Managed Services in a Month, Cloud Services in a Month, and many other projects. Thanks to you and all my readers, I've managed to make my way around the world a few times, meeting people, holding events, and speaking at various conferences and gatherings.
I can't brag about having many good traits. But there's one thing I tend to do: If something works, I keep it alive. I like to write, so I can't say that writing this blog has been difficult. But it does take some effort. And when I look back . . . I've averaged more than 100 blog posts per year.
I don't see any reason why that will change in 2021.
Thank you all for your support. It has been a pleasure interacting with you on this blog and helping the broader IT community to grow!
If you're not a subscribers, now's a good time. Just sayin.
(BTW, Susan is still super active, writing for AskWoody, doing weekly patch updates, and is often featured in Computerworld. See https://www.computerworld.com/author/Susan-Bradley/. I'm honored to count her as one of my long-time friends in this industry.)
In case you missed it, I launch a big 50-Week video project called The Cheeky Sales Coach. It's "home" is at www.cheekysalescoach.com. I am posting fifty sales-focused videos on my Relax Focus Succeed YouTube channel. You can find that here:
1) Create captions or subtitles to your YouTube videos
2) Create "Chapters" within your YouTube videos
These are somewhat unrelated to one another, other than the fact that they both improve the usability of your videos and improve your video rankings in Google/YouTube searches.
Subtitles help people consume your videos without relying on the sound. This applies to people with hearing problems as well as those who simply wish to browse with the sound off for any reason. The text of the subtitles arrives in a text file with an .SRT extension. Because it is essentially a transcript of your video, it is very easy for YouTube (and Google) to search, index, and even place into the context of extended meta data.
Chapters also improve usability because they allow people to skip right to a specific point in the video. While you might think this reduces viewing time, it actually increases it because people can re-watch pieces of your video very easily. YouTube makes these chapters available in three different ways. First, they are listed in the video description. Second, the chapter titles appear at the bottom of the video. And, third, viewers can click the ">"to display chapters and chapter thumbnails to the right of your video. Examples of all of these are below.
You can view my video examples of all of this here:
The best place to start is with subtitles. If you use a script for your video, you can easily create your own subtitle (SRT) file. Basically, it's just a text file in the following format:
1 00:00:00,298 --> 00:00:02,881 (upbeat music) 2 00:00:08,470 --> 00:00:10,980 - Hi, this is Karl, with another SOP video 3 00:00:10,980 --> 00:00:12,630 for managed service providers. 4 00:00:12,630 --> 00:00:15,270 Last time we talked about removing a client 5 00:00:15,270 --> 00:00:16,620 from managed services.
When you edit your video in YouTube's Creator Studio, you can upload this file. YouTube will replace their automated captions with the subtitles you provide.
I use a service called Rev.com. They access my YouTube channel and upload the SRT files. As soon as they're done, the closed caption option on YouTube starts serving up excellent captions instead of the horrible default captions that YouTube comes up with. YouTube's default captions have no capitalization or punctuation - and they don't know how to spell Karl.
That's it for subtitles or captions.
Again, you can easily create your own chapters by simply listing titles with timestamps in the following format:
00:00 Removing a client from cloud services 01:07 Clients have lots of hosted services 02:11 "I didn't realize what we were paying for" 03:15 Longtime clients ... 04:24 Be willing to give this up 05:22 You can retain continuous revenue 06:25 Call to Action
When YouTube sees the 00:00 time stamp, they begin processing the text as chapter headings until the formatting changes. Once you enter this into the description and click Save, chapters are activated. Notice that you only list the starting time for each chapter. These numbers become a link to that spot in the video. You can see this on the example video above:
Once chapters are in place, the following subtle changes appear at the bottom of your video. When you mouse over the video timeline, upright bars appear at chapter breaks and chapter titles appear. To the right of the chapter title is a greater-than sign ( > ). If you click that arrow, it expands a list of chapters to the right of the video.
This functionality means that both YouTube and Google (Google owns YouTube) will index the chapters of your video as well as the whole video. So, in addition to addition keyword indexing, you get extra potential traffic based the individual titles.
Now, here's the juicy goodness that binds these two upgrades together: Once you have the SRT file, you have a text document with time stamps and the text of your video. It's super easy to edit that text file and simply copy/paste it into your description.
Again, see the description of this or other videos to see an example. It literally looks just like the "timeline" example above.
Trust me. This is really, really easy. The second time you do it, it will take less time than it took to read this blog post.
Call to Action: Subscript to my YouTube channel and click that thumbs-up on pretty much everything you watch. Thanks.
Long-time community leader and Microsoft MVP Amy Babinchak has been doing some training over at Third Tier (thirdtier.net) under the title, "Don't Miss This Setting." Now she's offer an awesome three-part training with the course title
(You know Microsoft likes to change the name of things just to make sure no one knows what they're talking about. EndPoint Manager is the new name for InTune.)
Microsoft's next big move is "Lighthouse" - until they change the name to something else. Lighthouse will allow managed service providers to manage services across several clients. If that sounds like an RMM, it just might be.
Anyway, Amy's training will lay down some great groundwork for managing Microsoft services and provide great background for the implementation of future technologies.
The course is designed for technicians that have some familiarity with Azure Active Directory and Group Policy.
The course includes, a pre-recording of the M365 Admin: Don’t miss this setting! session on Endpoint Manager, 4 hours of live instruction, recordings of each session, and any materials shown during class.
I say it's a three-part training because the first session is already recorded and you should download it as soon as you register. The live sessions are:
The difference between managing a device and managing an application and how the state of the device in Azure AD can determine what options you will have available. There are two options for getting devices into Azure AD.
Pitfalls are EndPoint Manager: You will learn how to force a sync of policies to a machine and the schedule that Intune uses to automatically refresh those polices
The importance of setting up groups on Azure AD and standard set of groups to get started with.
Setting up the EndPoint Manager portal
Configure your first policies: compliance, configuration, and application
Session 2 December 28th 1pm – 3pm eastern
How to export and share policies between tenants
We will push an application to a device
Class choice. We’ll gather a few policy requirements that you have and configure those.
We receive the following press release regarding Groove and Salesforce.com:
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Groove Launches the First Sales Engagement Platform for Salesforce Financial Services Cloud
New platform enables banks and wealth management advisors to strengthen customer relationships and accelerate sales productivity post COVID-19
December 7, 2020 - San Francisco, CA - Groove, the leading sales engagement platform for enterprises using Salesforce, today announced general availability of their first industry-specific product, Groove for Salesforce Financial Services Cloud. The new sales engagement platform is currently in use at a major multi-national bank to help them accelerate sales productivity and build stronger relationships across their retail and commercial banking operations in the United States.
According to the Salesforce State of Sales 2020 report, 82% of salespeople in Financial Services say that their digital transformation has accelerated since 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has further fueled this trend, as banks and wealth management advisors look to quickly transform their old way of doing business into a digital-first world, with fewer in-person meetings, fewer branches, and fewer retail locations.
“2020 will be remembered as a watershed moment when B2B buying and selling changed forever,” wrote Mary Shea, principal analyst for Forrester Research in the recent Wave report on sales engagement. “While the digitization of the buying and selling process has been underway for some time, the hardships from COVID-19 have dramatically accelerated this trend.” According to the report, “sales engagement is poised to meet the moment.”
Twenty of the top twenty Financial Services companies use Salesforce, according to the CRM industry leader. Built on the word's #1 CRM solution, Salesforce Financial Services Cloud comes out of the box with all the core features of its Sales Cloud, plus new custom fields and objects modeling financial accounts, assets, liabilities, and goals for both individual clients and across entire households. This means advisors no longer have to spend time and money customizing their CRM to speak the language of their firm.
“Salesforce Financial Services Cloud provides an integrated platform that can be tailored to any financial services organization’s high-touch relationship model,” said Chris Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of Groove. “We are aligned with Salesforce Industry Clouds’ vision to help their customers accelerate digital transformation and realize time-to-value as quickly as possible. This is why we are bringing to market the first sales engagement platform that has been tailored to meet the specific needs of the financial services industry.”
Groove for Salesforce Financial Services Cloud is unique in that it aligns with the custom data model and hundreds of industry-specific workflows in this cloud, so that banks and wealth management advisors can quickly realize time-to-value, without a heavy lift from their IT team. Groove’s unique architecture is also highly secure and ensures that sensitive client data remains in Salesforce as the system of record.
Key capabilities of the new platform include:
Information technology teams can centrally manage an automated system for multi-channel communications around loan disbursement programs, mortgage lending, and other common workflows. Unlike marketing automation systems, all communications can be highly personalized and 1:1 in nature.
Relationship managers, advisors, and teams can deliver personalized advice at scale across any channel or device, surfacing real-time CRM information in the inbox.
Sales management benefits from real-time visibility into activity levels and outcomes, instantly logging emails, calls, SMS messages, and LinkedIn correspondence to custom objects and industry-specific workflows.
Over two-thirds of US workers are now remote post COVID-19, and with the economy and a path to a viable vaccine still unclear, it’s critical that financial services companies adopt technology systems that will enable them to manage important customer relationships regardless of where relationship managers, advisors, or customers are located.
Forrester Research recently published The Forrester Wave™: Sales Engagement, Q3 2020, an independent assessment of the top vendors in the market. Groove was among the select sales engagement platforms that Forrester invited to participate in the evaluation and received the second-highest Current Offering score of all vendors evaluated as well as the highest possible scores in the Workflows, Service and Support, and User Experience - Interface categories.
According to the report, “Groove's 92% renewal rate is among the highest in the industry.” The report also states that “its architecture eliminates data latency and sync errors and supports customized workflows. The platform is designed for full-cycle reps and has a UI that can adapt to role, division, team, and other unique requirements.” And that “Groove is an ideal fit for global companies that want platform customization and a high-touch customer experience.”
Groove is the leading sales engagement platform for enterprises using Salesforce, specializing in ease-of-use, ease-of-administration, and cross-team collaboration. Built for the needs of full-cycle sellers, Groove automates non-sales activities so that pre- and post-sales reps can spend more time building relationships and generating revenue. On average, Groove gives revenue teams 20% of their time back to focus on higher-value activities. Groove’s Salesforce-native architecture can be customized to align with industry-specific workflows while ensuring more accurate reporting and forecasting, lower compliance risk, and streamlined administration.
Over 50,000 account executives, sales development, and customer success representatives use Groove at some of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies, including Google, Uber, and Capital One. Groove has earned the highest customer satisfaction rating on G2 in the sales engagement category for over two years in a row.
Groove was named one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces 2020 and is one of the 2020 Inc. 5000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S. Groove also ranks #16 on the San Francisco Business Times' "fastest-growing private companies in the Bay Area in 2020" and #191 on the Deloitte 2020 Technology Fast 500 list. Founded in 2014, Groove is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in San Diego and Seattle. To learn more, visit groove.co.
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If you have a press release that's relevant to the SMB IT community, please send it to us with your restrictions (e.g., "Embargo until 12/25 at 5AM PST"). We never edit press releases and we certainly don't charge to publish them.
I know this is long. And it might be disturbing. But please take the time to read this and watch the linked videos. Disinformation in our online community is an extremely important topic. I've been meaning to blog about this for a long time.
One of my favorite channels on YouTube is Smarter Every Day with Destin Sandlin. If you're nerdy (and I know you are), check it out. He is literally a rocket scientist. He loves to play with super high speed video, chase the space station, and explain all kinds of things from a scientific perspective.
One of the projects he's taken on in 2019-2020 is analysis of why and how disinformation spreads on social media. He started with YouTube, chasing some weird stuff he noticed on Twitter.
With just a little investigation, he found some massive manipulations of YouTube that were cleverly designed to get around YouTube's automate algorithm. He shows some amazing techniques that bots are using to keep getting around YouTube's security.
Remember: The basic goal is for evil people to grab a few minutes of your time. When attention is the most important currency on the Internet, this grab matters.
I highly recommend that you spend some time educating yourself on what's happening and how the evil robots are doing this. One clear lesson stands out: A massive amount of the engagement you see online is 100% fake. Fake videos are created by the dozens. Then they are loaded onto YouTube channels that have been purchased. Next, millions of fake likes and clicks are purchased on the gray/dark Internet. All these videos point to one another's meta data.
Goal #1 appears to be hosting ads and getting paid ad revenue . . . but at this point virtually all of the "views" are from paid click farms.
Goal #2 is that one of the nearly-identical videos eventually beats the YouTube algorithm and is served up to real human beings. At this point, hyper-partisan people begin viewing and commenting. That's engagement, and YouTube rewards it.
Twitter has a similar story. Malicious people are absolutely attacking Twitter (and all the social media) in order to either drive behavior or simply create discord.
The challenge for the social media giants is to balance usability and security. And maybe security means authenticity. At some level, we assume that "popular" on social media means something. But automated accounts allow a great deal of content to be created without humans being involved.
That's not all a bad thing. You can monitor volcano activity, weather, traffic, and so forth. So automation can be good, and provide information people want. But, obviously, bots can be created FAST in massive numbers. As of April 2019, Twitter was examining ten million new accounts per week - and 75% of them were removed!!! Obviously, those numbers are higher now.
There is clearly a war going on here. Artificial intelligence is used heavily on both sides. As a result, many (MANY) fake accounts are created and operate for some period of time before they are caught and closed down. As a result, the account might make a few thousand or a few million impressions before it's closed down.
One important piece of news: The good guys (including really smart people at NATO) are setting up accounts to attract robots so they can examine the behavior of evil robots. This is actual Spy-vs-Spy stuff.
Facebook is probably the worst platform when it comes to divisiveness and social disruption. Facebook is under attack from many fronts. They have famously outsourced a lot of their content filtering to specialized companies. And the crap the people want to post is extremely alarming: murder videos, animal torture, etc. The content is so disturbing that many of these human editors have mental and emotional problems due to their exposure to this stuff.
I am grateful they keep this stuff off Facebook, and I'm sorry that someone is traumatized so I don't have to be.
The other war Facebook is fighting is the political and social war. Russia (the nation) and several other nation states are actively trying to get Americans and Europeans to fight amongst themselves. They have basically manipulated the entire populations of these countries to create the era of extremism we find ourselves in.
Trying to NOT contribute to extremism is a fulltime job at Facebook. Most notably, Facebook has changed their ad policies to eliminate the worst of this. But a lot of the horrible stuff is posted as content rather than ads. Facebook has also created a great deal of transparency about ads. You can actually see every ad and who paid for it.
Facebook deleted over one million fake accounts per DAY as of April 2019. Of course it's more now. But many accounts are created by real people . . . and maintained at a minimal level until they are sold to evil companies. So "real" accounts become fake accounts.
Reddit is another massive home for disinformation. Reddit is very different from the other social media due to its forum format. Reddit has individuals, communities, and moderators. This format makes coordinated attacks a little harder to execute, but the essentially text-based format makes it simple to create massive numbers of posts with bots. So, it's all a numbers game.
Like Twitter, Reddit places a lot of emphasis on what's popular in order to share that content more widely. But they both want that popularity to be real (from real humans, not hired hands or robots).
Reddit nuked 944 trolls after the 2016 election. Since then, they have created a massive transparency area inside Reddit. In other words, you can go to r/technology and see posts with links to known troll accounts. The goal is to help users educate themselves about what these accounts look like.
Rather than take down the fake accounts, Reddit simply calls them out and labels them. This allows researchers to analyze the behavior of the trolls. So, what you see over time is that conversations "go troll" when issues become simplified (no longer complex) and more toxic or aggressive. The attack strategy on Reddit is all about diverting conversations from honest and interactive to manipulated and divisive.
I'm not trying to summarize Destin's work. He goes into extreme detail and posts many, many links to resources and publications. I would encourage you to watch these videos and then check out all the fun stuff he does on his channel.
Personally, I love complicated discussions. So I would rather be involved in a six-sided discussion than a two-sided conversation. On top of all that, I can honestly say that the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman will give you a really clear picture of how the images and the very nature of social media are so effective - even if they're evil and manipulative.
Again, I am asking you to put in some time here. Kahneman's book is 500 pages. It's all about how our brains work, and how we cannot control a lot of what our brains do. So we have to approach all social media with our attention set to high. Sadly, that means it cannot be a relaxing place to spend time.
Ironically, if you relax and enjoy social media, you will find that you're being manipulated and fed angry lies and trolling. That's not ultimately relaxing.
Here are the important videos. I listed the first one last because it has the best advice about how to actually analyze your news feed.
When you’re in a service business, you have to make sure there’s a good match between the services you offer and the clients you serve. This is true even in a recession!
Way back, I told the story of the two electricians. One was obsessed with the cost of services. He was willing to do a marginal job and make a very small profit in order to simply have a client. I was not a good fit for him. I’m the kind of person that would rather pay a little more, have the job done right, and eliminate re-work before the work starts. The second technician focused on quality first. I’m a much better fit for that approach.
When you have a good sense of who your clients are, you need to accept that many people do not fit your model. Do not feel bad about that. You should not try to help them unless you have a strong belief that they will become your target client. And do not worry that “someone” has to help them. You might even help them find that someone, but you should not lose sleep over the fact that they are not your ideal client.
Here’s a common scenario from my IT consulting business. People would call out of the blue and ask me to fix their computer. But they have never hired me before, and they haven’t actually maintained their computers. Everything about the job makes me see big red flags: Avoid at all costs!
My ideal clients see their technology as an investment. They consider it vital to their business, so they hire a person or company to take care of their computers. When they call, I am happy to go talk to them about how we can help.
But when someone calls and they clearly place no value on their technology, I know every discussion will be about money. And they will think I’m over-charging for everything. That will not be a good relationship, so we need to walk away.
No matter what business you’re in, there are many people out there who literally cannot afford your services. Don’t try to serve people who cannot afford you. And don’t feel bad about it. You and your customers will both be happy when you are a good fit for each other.
Remember: Even if you gave great service to someone who really didn’t want to pay that much, they will repay you by complaining about your company at every opportunity. That’s not good for you in the long run.
You should figure out the annual cost of your services and have a very realistic vision of who can and cannot afford you. Don’t sell to people who can’t afford you. For example, in IT support, a company that brings in $300,000 a year (total revenue) cannot afford to pay for ongoing preventive maintenance of their technology. They don’t have enough free cash to pay us enough money to make it worth our while.
What is the minimum size a company has to be to afford your services? Whatever it is, you should make a note and then figure out how to go get clients who are at or above that threshold. Stop trying to sell to people below that. Don’t lower your rates to try to get clients who aren’t a good fit in the long run.
Here’s an exercise to help find (and possibly remove) clients who are too small for your services.
Open up your QuickBooks, or whatever financial software you use, and you run a report of sales by customer, summary, for the last twelve months. Next, sort that report from highest to lowest and start drawing some lines.
Look at all the people that gave you $250 or less in the last year, or under $1,000 dollars last year. How big is your average client? What percentage of your revenue comes from the top twenty-five clients vs. the bottom twenty-five clients?
No matter what business you’re in, smaller clients take more work per dollar earned than large clients. It’s just a fact of life. If you drop the smallest ten clients, would you notice the difference in revenue, or would you just sell those hours to someone else for more money?
As I’ve mentioned before, you need to start looking at your ideal client. I’ll bet that your five favorite clients are at the top of the list, not the bottom. Those really small clients are expensive for you to have on your books. There is a minimum cost to having a client.
I love studying business models and one of my favorite examples is Costco. Costco has a very specific business model. They looked at what grocery stores do and said, “We don’t want to do that.” When you go to a grocery store, they’re happy to have you come in eight times a day, buy a stick of gum, and put it on your credit card.
Costco looked at that model and said, “It costs us money whenever one of our employees interacts with a customer.” So, what did they do? For starters, they charge people to get in the door. You have to pay for a membership. They literally have somebody standing at the door who keeps you out unless you are a member of the club.
Next, there’s no signage. There is a certain rotation of what they carry on a given day. For you, that means you have to go back and forth, up and down every single aisle. You get the twelve-pack of studded snow tires, you get the ninety-six rolls of toilet paper, and you spend three hundred dollars with every visit.
And you show up once a month.
That’s their business model. They do not want you in that store every day. They want you there once a month to spend $300 or $400. As a result, they have far fewer people coming into their store than the grocery store does, but they are far more profitable than the grocery store.
I encourage you to open your mind to new ways of looking at your clients and your business. Create any business model you want and then go find clients who want to do business that way. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important: Create your business model and then find people who want to do business your way.
You don’t have to serve everyone.
For more great tips on your personal and business success, please check out my new book:
The Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery
Dave Goodman is an amazing resource. You will meet few people in your life who have managed projects with budgets in the billions of dollars. Dave’s done that a lot, across several organizations.
Seriously: Dave has overseen the production of nearly 10,000 live shows, tours and events with financial responsibility for over one billion dollars in content development, production and operations.
And since the core of his career was with The Walt Disney Company, he helped developed the concepts of customer experience that we all take for granted. In addition to that, Dave was central in developing emotion-based experience management.
Our goal with the SBT Roundtable is to look at interesting things from a different perspective. That fits perfectly with this month’s guest.
I know he has some great stories to tell. Even if you’re not a regular visitor to Disneyland, you’ll love the CX (customer experience) discussion.
This is truly a rare opportunity to talk with someone who has had huge impact on the way products and services are delivered in the modern era.
A few highlights from Dave’s career:
The Disneyland Lifetime Achievement Award
Vice President and Executive Producer of Entertainment for The Walt Disney Company
The Disneyland Resort
Tokyo Disney Resort
The Walt Disney Special Events Group
Vice President and Executive Producer of Entertainment for SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery Cove
Please sign up for this Roundtable and send in your questions.
And, of course, join us live!
About Dave Goodman
With a career spanning over 35 years of domestic and international entertainment experience, Dave has acquired a unique and diverse background . . . as an entrepreneur, creative strategic planner, and corporate executive. His values and purpose driven management style was honed during his tenure as the Vice President and Executive Producer of Entertainment for The Walt Disney Company, (The Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort and The Walt Disney Special Events Group) and Anheuser Busch, (SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery Cove). Having lived abroad, and produced entertainment experiences in over forty countries, Dave has a valuable perspective on business strategy, creative content and the methodologies needed to connect consumers to global brands.
Collaborating with production teams from around the world, he is the award-winning Executive Producer of corporate and charity galas, parades, fireworks shows, music festivals, sporting events, awards shows, movie premieres, product launches, promotional tours, events for U.S. Presidents, the White House, foreign royalty, various heads of state and Governor’s Inaugurals.
Dave was also selected to be the Executive Director of Entertainment for Expo 2020 in Dubai. That’s being rebooted due to the global pandemic. But he’ll make it happen!
One of my longtime friends in the IT business is Mr. Richard Tubb. You might know him from the Tubblog (https://www.tubblog.co.uk/).
[Side note: I wish I could do that, but Palachukblog just doesn't cut it.]
I like following Richard's stuff because he's smart, he's passionate about the industry, and he always seems to be having a good time. Richard and I have met up in many, many cities in Europe, the UK, and North America. He really is a genuinely nice guy to hang out with.
In addition to being a bit of a Dr. Who fan, Richard also collects interesting people. His friends list is an impressive collection of even more great people.
The easiest way to connect with Richard is via his primary web site:
As you can see, Richard is a bit like me in his non-stop creation of content. He travels around, interviews people, posts podcasts, creates videos, and writes blogs. Richard has owned an IT business and has worked with many business owners to help them drive their success.
You may not be able to consume everything Richard puts out there, but I encourage you to add his stuff to the mix. I think you'll find it entertaining and educational!
This will be totally free. My goal is to build up the new channel while providing useful information.
One of my long-standing pet peeves is that people confuse marketing and sales. So I'm going to hit that theme pretty hard. Many companies do a lot of half-baked marketing and wonder why they don't make sales. Some even do great marketing and wonder why they don't make sales.
As regular readers here know, I do all kinds of marketing, using a variety of media. But marketing is not sales. In order to keep my lights on, I need to do sales. I'll be honest: I don't like sales. But I like paying my rent, so I have to do sales.
Since about 1992, I have owned a few businesses and managed a few I didn't own. And somehow, in all of that, I have sold many millions of dollars worth of products and services. But I don't think I've every used obnoxious, sleazy sales techniques.
There's a great book that I read through about once every five years called How to Make a Buck and Still Be a Decent Human Being by Richard C. Rose and Echo Montgomery Garrett. Not sure it's still in print, but read it if you can find it!
Rose is a car salesman, of all people! And he has many lessons for how to reach your sales objectives without lying, cheating, and appealing to the dark side of humanity.
Anyway . . . Here's what I'm up to . . .
The Main Thing: A 50-Week video series on sales. It will be both informative and fun. Free, of course. Subscribe on YouTube.
The Other Thing: For those who prefer podcasts to videos, we're turning the video series into a podcast series. I've created a started podcast so I can start promoting on the podcatchers. Check it out at cheekysalescoach.com/podcast.
The Web Site: We're creating a new web site that will do three things for this project.
1) We're creating an Index to the Videos, so you can gain quick access once we have more than a couple of videos posted.
2) The web site is the home of the podcast just mentioned.
3) If you have questions, you can post them in a form on the Cheeky Sales Coach web site. I might answer them in a blog, by email, or in a video. But eventually, I'll answer your question somewhere.
4) For those who want to jump in with a premium option, we have a members-only page as well. I'm building some workbooks and special materials there. But don't worry: I promise you'll find great value in the free video series. That's what it's all about, right?
Note: This not an IT-centric series. There's a serious focus on online sales and modern sales techniques. But the emphasis is not on how to sell BDRs or managed services.
Another Note: Members of the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community can access the premium content at no additional charge. Check out the discount code inside the community (soon).
This four-volume set is the definitive guide to Managed Services. From the front office to the tech department, we cover it all. Every computer consultant, every managed service provider, every technical consulting company - every successful business - needs SOPs!
When you document your processes and procedures, you design a way for your company to have repeatable success. And as you fine-tune those processes and procedures, you become more successful, more efficient, and more profitable. The way you do everything is your brand.
How to Deliver Successful, Profitable Projects on Time with Your Small Business Clients
Small Business project management is simply not as complicated as project management in the enterprise. But small business projects have the same challenges as enterprise projects: They need to achieve their goals effectively, on time, and within budget.
They also face the same primary challenge – staying inside the scope of the project!
This great little book provides a simple process project planning and management process that is easy to learn and easy to teach to your employees, fellow technicians, and sub-contractors. You’ll learn to track any project, explain all the stages to clients and employees, and verify that everything is completed on time and under budget.
The authors show you a great technique for making sure that scope creep is a thing of the past! Make every project a successful and profitable project!
I make every attempt to honestly state what I believe and enjoy the freedom of posting whatever I feel like on this blog. This is a big complicated world and I have many interconnected personal and professional relationships.
I may in some way receive money or other benefits from any of the products, services, or companies mentioned in this blog as a direct or indirect result of my actions on and off this blog. Any experience mentioned here is just my experience and I have no knowledge about whether it represents a typical experience with any products, services, or companies mentioned.
Whenever it is possible to have both an honest and a misleading interpretation of my statements, please assume honesty.