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Archive for January, 2010

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

By Jeff Bowman

The preliminary work is done. I have suffered the pain to make the gain and I had help all the way.

Last year I had surgery that reduced my ability to perform certain tasks necessary to my business. You may have read the blogs.

It took a lot of  physical effort to get back to where I was before the surgery.   The physiotherapy at times was painful to endure, and sometimes I questioned my ability to live up to the expectations of my therapist. She pushed me when she knew I could do it, and found the problematic areas and massaged them when I was having trouble or pushing too hard.

Heather is a specialist and knows her job well. She was able to increase my mobility, and decrease the pain while supporting my efforts each visit.

I work with many small business owners who are in the same boat but not for medical reasons.  Business is suffering, times are tough and the hours seem to get longer for less return.

At some point in our business lives we all need outside help to find our weak points and to set us on a regime to improve performance.  We could do it ourselves, but more often than not, that is what got us to this point in the first place.  A pair of fresh eyes, with an outside perspective, and a little support to push us forward is what the doctor orders.

There are coaches out there, who will, for a fee, help you. Before you take that route, I  suggest you consider establishing a small advisory group made up of other business people who you know and trust – a personal networking group that meets with the understanding that assisting one another will benefit everyone.

It takes networking to a higher level where business strategies and best practices are probed and shared by the group, some of whom  have experienced what your business is going through.  These professionals, with an outsider’s view, can help your business by making you accountable to the group to make changes. Ideas are stretched, practices  massaged but you will benefit from the group’s collective experience.

It’s worth a shot.  Be ready to work hard, accept constructive ideas and go into it knowing that suggestions made by others are not criticisms.

I call it Busiotherapy.

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.

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By David Crow

Eli Singer, the team at Entrinsic, and a supporting cast of  people & advisors have organized the first Social Media Week Toronto.

There is a great schedule of events that span the gamut of social media for companies large and small, not for profit, and local case studies. The schedule is a week with independently organized events. Some of the events I’m watching include:

PowerPoint Karaoke is one of my favorite social formats. It is just brilliant. I first saw it executed in 2006 at ETech. And I wrote about as an alternative format to DemoCamp. I’m stoked to see that my friends Tom & Jay are making the effort to make it happen in Toronto. Remember it’s a social event, it’s meant to be a way to have fun!

If it feels like there is a push of activities in Toronto including:

You don’t need to attend every event, there is lots going on.

David Crow is an emerging technology and start-up advocate/evangelist. At Microsoft Canada, he is responsible for helping Canadian start-ups gain access to software, support and visibility in the Microsoft ecosystem through programs like BizSpark (details at microsoft.com/bizspark). David blogs at http://davidcrow.ca/ and http://startupnorth.ca/ or follow him on Twitter @davidcrow

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By David Pasieka

We can’t but admire Mother Nature and this Great Canadian Weather. As the weather turns cold – many of us are stopped in our tracks. The same” stopped cold” phenomena exists for early stage companies who are faced with making those dreaded first- time calls to prospects and potential partners.

The Frigid Cold Call is the most dreaded part of any sales or business development process. Understanding the dynamics and tuning your approach can be one of the more satisfying experiences for a Senior Executive. With a number of start-up and turn-around companies to my credit, I thought it was timely to provide some “snowshoe tracks” to guide you through the snow this winter. I break the process down into three Blocks of Ice.

“It’s Cold Outside”
In this block, you know that making these calls will be paramount to the long- term success of your company. You have been sitting on the sofa by the warmth of the fire thinking about going outside and physically exerting yourself on the trail. Like many examples in life you know it will feel good after you have completed the task.

Overcome the resistance and get on with it! Your first steps include:
Build your Lists – Whether you are at the Prospect or Suspect stage you will want to create a list for your potential clients and one for your strategic partners.

Research your Targets – It’s a good idea to know as much as you can about your Prospects. Warm introductions, web research and industry publications can contribute key content.

Set your Call Objective – It is not  feasible to close a sale or partnership on the first call. There is industry data that suggests that it takes up to 5 calls / visits to actually close a new sale. Think about your situation and set your objective bar at a high but realistic level (“The objective of this call will be to fully qualify a Suspect into a Prospect and / or obtain a Face to Face meeting.”)

Story Board your Pitch – Prepare a crisp 30 second story that describes who you are, what you have and why you would be compelling to meet . The Pitch should not be completely scripted or read verbatim on the call. I suggest having a block diagram with a couple bullet phrases in each block. Anticipate some key questions about your company and what makes you different. Think about some open-ended questions that you would like to deliver to enable an ongoing engagement throughout the call.

“It’s Snowing Really Hard”
In this block you have completed all the necessary preparation and you are ready to start making calls. You have moved off the sofa and have your hat, scarf and mitts adjusted appropriately. With snowshoes in hand you venture into the cold crisp air. Tips to avoid “frostbite” include:

Block your Calendar – Think about the time of day to make your calls. I am a morning person and I like to do them when I am fresh. Many executives arrive early to get some work done before the staff arrives. Your hit ratio may be enhanced at this time.

Polish your Manners / Adjust your Attitude– Dave Kurlan -author of Baseline Selling -suggests that the formula for a successful call is 50% phone manner (Warmth, Sincerity, Pitch, Speed, Pace and Volume), 32% Attitude (I know I can do this) and 16% Script (Message content and call to action). Remember that many executive assistants are there to manage the executive’s time – ensure that you are treating all live interactions with the highest level of respect if your call is intercepted. One UK-based blog suggests that if you “smile while you dial” you reduce the tension in your voice. Try it for yourself – it really works.

Check Your GPS Positioning – In real time, assess where you are in the process of achieving your end objective. Make necessary course corrections and utilize your know how about your prospect and your value proposition to converge on the close. “If not you, can you suggestion a more appropriate contact? Can I use your name in my next conversation?”

“Pushing Through the Snow Drifts”
The hard work doesn’t stop after you have completed the call. You need to clean off the ice from your snowshoes and place you mitts in a place where they can dry out.

Follow Through / Follow Through – As the conversation unfolds, highlight the appropriate next steps. Be sure to summarize the actions before you hang up. If you make commitments to deliver something by a certain time frame – ensure you do.

You Can’t Remember It All – Invest in some tracking software that helps you remember the call, its associated action items and any other relevant facts about the Prospect that may be relevant down the road (plays golf, has 2 kids, hates pushy sales executives etc.) Many companies start with Excel and graduate to Salesforce, Microsoft CRM, Goldmine and ACT! to name a few of the available options.

Bounce Back Quickly – All of your calls will not go as planned. The key will be to recognize that it is not personal and that you need to move on. When pushed into a pile of deep stuff, you need pop out quickly or suffer the cold wet consequences.

It’s time to take that breath of brisk air and get into a serious Canadian snowfall. See you in the lodge.

David Pasieka is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the RIC Centre. Learn more here.  Visit Our Contributors page for more information about David. Read his blog at www.cedarvue.blogspot.com

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By  Sarah O’Neill

As a business person, you may have considered working with academic researchers as a way of advancing your R&D and giving your business a competitive edge, but you were not ready to take the plunge into a full-blown partnership without first testing the waters.

Through a new program called Engage Grants, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) has now made it easier for companies and academic researchers to work together on short-term (up to six months) research projects that address company-specific problems. Engage Grants are intended to give companies that operate from a Canadian base access to the unique knowledge and expertise at Canadian universities. The program’s goal is to foster the development of new research partnerships between academic researchers and companies that have never collaborated before.

What’s more, NSERC provides the funds for this relationship-building exercise to take place. The program awards up to $25,000 to cover the direct project costs.

Engage projects can be awarded at any point in the R&D spectrum that is consistent with the university’s research, training and technology transfer mandate. The project is required to be scientifically sound and technically feasible. It must be aimed at solving the company-specific problem through the generation of new knowledge, or the application of existing knowledge in an innovative manner.

As a business, you can’t lose—the project is aimed at helping to solve your research problem, and your company enjoys the added bonus of keeping the rights to any intellectual property arising from the project.

What better way to see if an R&D partnership is right for you?

If you would like more information on the program, please call the NSERC Ontario Regional Office at 1-877-767-1767, or view the program description at Engage Grants.

Subscribe to NSERC’s new e-bulletin IN Partnership.

Sarah O’Neill is the Communications and Promotions Officer at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Ontario regional office.  Sarah can connect you with the information you need to know regarding NSERC’s partnership opportunities.

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By James Burchill

The pen is mightier than the sword. What a great line. Written no doubt by a pacifist I’m guessing, because I’m all for the power of the word (in the beginning there was only the word…) but facing someone in battle armed only with a ballpoint pen… I’d run a mile – unless of course I was Bruce Willis or Stallone, then I’d win no matter what.

But what has that go to do with the price of fish? Not a great deal other than the fact this annoyingly cute saying is in fact correct. Granted, in physical combat it’s a no-win, but in today’s wired world where we communicate at the speed of thought the sword is no match for the word.

And once you accept the power of the word – spoken or written, you begin to understand the true scope of its applicability to our very nature. The nature to which I refer to is that of our social qualities, the act of gathering together and exchanging stories, values, ideas and sharing perspectives and opinions.

The town square and village pub were slowly replaced online by the bulletin boards of the 1980’s and then again with the power of the Web and email. Today the next evolution has occurred with websites like MySpace, Facebook and other social networking venues. And if you think that these websites are just for kids talking about how cute someone is – you’d be wrong…very wrong.

Today many of these social networking ‘watering holes’ get more daily page views (traffic) than Google. Yes you read that right – MORE THAN GOOGLE. This watershed moment happened in the summer of 2007 and it’s been rising steadily since. This shift in “influence” has happened very quickly. The biggest surprise in the traffic game has been YouTube. This site now gets more daily traffic than Google by a very healthy margin and a visitor spends on average at least 15 minutes experiencing the content.

The other sites like MySpace and Facebook are currently matching Google (however this is changing monthly and may well be higher by the time this goes to print.) You can see for yourself if you’d like by visiting www.alexa.com and typing in the names of the sites you’d like to compare.

Is this rapid rise of social marketing a surprise? Not to me. It’s human nature all over again. And if you stop and think about what this means to you, well it can be good or bad depending on how this new ‘force’ is applied. Today with Web2.0 and Social Marketing gaining momentum like never before, I’d have to agree that the pen is truly mightier than the sword – yet again.

James Burchill shows individuals and companies how to profit from the innovative use of Internet technologies, strategic content and social media marketing. Visit www.JamesBurchill.com and you can subscribe to his J-List to receive more than 40 articles and reports about Internet Marketing.

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Re-posted from the Cross-Border Biotech Blog

By Jeremy Grushcow

A report in FierceBiotech recently distilled the views of three life science VCs on trends to watch in 2010.  Along with other worthwhile observations (and I’d encourage you to read the whole thing) was this bullet pointing out the value of personalized medicine in addressing comparative effectiveness concerns:

“Interest in molecular diagnostics is heating up. It’s one of the most attractive areas because physicians are increasingly demanding test that can tell them which treatments have the best chance of working before expensive medicines are issued. And diagnostics fit well with the healthcare reform efforts. Bloch adds that any technology that improves the efficacy of how care is delivered will be attractive to investors.”

The business case is eminently obvious.  Last week AstraZeneca announced a collaboration with Dako Denmark A/S that will see Dako developing companion diagnostics for products in AstraZeneca’s oncology pipeline.  Key quotes from the announcement highlight the companies’ focus on “health care costs” and “reimbursable products”:

“Targeted treatment with personalized medicine is the future, and … is also a significant contributive factor in cutting health care costs” (Dako CEO)

“This agreement … will enable us to develop novel, reimbursable products that … predict which patients are most likely to respond to treatment, ensuring that we are giving the right treatment, to the right patient, the first time.” (AZ Head of Oncology Development)

The economic case for personalized medicine was one of this blog’s top biotech trends in 2009 and it looks to continue at a strong pace through 2010.  To reach its full potential, though, the industry will have to convince policy makers and clinicians that personalized medicine can live up to its promise.

Jeremy Grushcow  is a Foreign Legal Consultant practising corporate law at Ogilvy Renault LLP. He has a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. His practice focuses on life science and technology companies.

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By Ken Cummings

Recent data reveals that the Google Chrome Browser has overtaken Apple’s Safari and Opera to become the third most used browser worldwide, eclipsed by only Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox.  Google’s HTC-made Nexus One phone is about to hit market with their own Android smart phone operating system.  With large business announcements such as these, and a knack for getting its way, it seems natural that the tech giant now takes aim at a system it considers antiquated: email.

With the specific intention of replacing conventional email across all markets, Google debuted their new service, Google Wave, in May 2009.  Part email, part instant messaging, part social networking and part wiki, Google Wave presents a protocol whereby users can alter a “Wave” together.  Into the Wave, users can recruit others, drag and drop images and videos, type and edit text and documents, and track the entire history of a Wave as made by users.

Incredibly, all of this can be done in real-time, including immediate translation between more than 40 languages.  Depending on the number of active users within the wave, it may resemble a highly tracked email, or something more like an instant messaging conversation.

Google is backing Wave protocol with its legendary business acumen across all areas: Android based phones and the iphone will support Wave applications, the platform will be open-source with hopes of other companies adopting and modifying the new standard, and Wave will integrate with Google gadgets and user-created applications.

Given the frustration associated with incorporating many people into lengthy and messy email chains, Google Wave is poised to overtake email as the dominant communications protocol, especially where group projects are concerned.

Ken Cummings is an honours B.Sc. student in his final year of undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga.   The areas in which he has focused include Biology and Socio-Cultural Anthropology, the latter through which he enjoys examining contemporary human cultures.  Ken is currently investigating Master’s programs and exploring his interest in photography.

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