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By Jeff Bowman

The sleepless nights, the aches and pains in your joints, chills, fatigue and the fever that accompanies the flu have beaten us all down at some time or other.  There is a virus floating around and if you aren’t careful and wash your hands, and avoid close contact with those around you who have it, you’re going to get it. The silver bullet in recent years seems to be the flu shot.  Get the shot avoid the flu.

Your business is also very susceptible to the flu, or Enterprise Influenza A.  It has been almost in a pandemic stage for a couple of years now.  Yes, most of us dismissed it as the common “CC Variant”, the Company Cold, and thought that it would simply run its course given a little time. Fact is, it may not have. Now you require a little shot in the arm to get things righted, make the business feel better so to speak. The wonder drug is “buttkus bootus”.  It is available with a prescription, but can be quite expensive since it isn’t covered by your typical business health plan.  I recommend that you get an over the counter self-administered version, a home remedy that was popularized in the 30’s, then the late 50’s and again in the 90’s.

The first thing you need to do is identify if your business truly has the flu, or is it lagging due to a cold or aging pains.  There are two main types of symptoms you need to recognize, the internal ones that you can feel, measure and that are a source of constant complaint, and the more visible signs that others can see such as the pallor of the business, fatigue etc.

Among the internal symptoms are low employee morale, increase in sick days, outdated technology, lower productivity and a general malaise towards sales and customer relationships.

The outwardly visible signs include things like decreased market share, a deterioration of your marketing effort, an old outdated brand image, and a total disregard for emerging social media.

The bad news is that if left untreated, Enterprise Influenza A can be deadly.  Over a period of time the business will become more and more lethargic, clients and suppliers will not want to come near you in case you are contagious and just as the flu drains your energy, this will drain your company revenues and resources.

The good news is that this is 100% treatable.

  • Identify the symptoms and what you believe are the base cause.
  • Consult a few experts for their opinion
  • Focus your efforts on the cure, and change habits that you might have developed over the last couple of years.
  • Create a plan of action to re-invigorate the business
  • Continue with the treatment, take all the medication prescribed
  • Take the temperature of the business regularly to see what is working

The environment over the last few years has been very conducive to this particular business ailment.  You may not have seen the gradual decline in health, but now is the time to take the chicken soup to get you back on your feet.  Some of the measures you need to take will take strong will power and conviction, but keep in mind a qualified consultant can offer advice but in the end, it is you that has to take the action.

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

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


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Jeremy Grushcow

Tech startups use social media avidly [rabidly?], but biotech companies? Not so much.  Biotech companies should be blogging, tweeting and linking in like mad, though.  Here’s why:

  1. Your customers (pharma companies) do it. More and more pharma companies are active in social media. Take a look at this article in the December issue of Life Science Leader (h/t @FiercePharma) or read the Dose of Digital blog any day of the week and you’ll be directed to interesting information about how products are being developed, tested and marketed. These are things you need to keep in mind as you move through your own product development process. Also, lots of pharma folks are on LinkedIn, so if you are as well, you’ll maximize your ability to reach out through personal connections when you’re building a constituency for your partnering deals.  Here’s my Twitter list of BioPharma news and analysis.
  2. Your investors do it. Check out this Twitter List of Canadian VCs, Angel investors and other funders.  Look at what they’re talking about, and you’ll see you don’t have to tell people what you ate for lunch (or disclose your latest lab results) to convey that you’re doing something interesting that other people are interested in.  Check out the CVCA’s blog, Capital Rants or the Maple Leaf Angels blog.  In Toronto? Stop in at the MaRS blog or the R.I.C. blog to see where investors will be and what they’re thinking about.
  3. Your peers (other startups) do it. If you’re not participating in online conversations, you’re missing a world of good advice and perspectives.  Click over to Rick Segal’s blog or  StartupCFO, Mark MacLeod’s Blog. It doesn’t really matter that these guys aren’t involved in biotech. Lots of startups are facing similar issues to yours — funding, staffing, etc. and getting out of the biotech bubble from time to time can be a good thing.  Plus, being at a startup is isolating, particularly in biotech with its strong incentives to run a virtual company, so go online to find peers, mentors and other resources.

If this all sounds reasonable, but you’re still skeptical, or not interested, then find someone in your organization who’s excited about it, regardless of their actual job, and set him/her loose.  [Not totally loose, of course. Common sense is critical online because it’s hard to hit “undo” on the web, and appropriate confidentiality remains key to biotech ventures.  But all your people have common sense and discretion, right?]

We’ll be keeping an eye out for biotechs and other bioscience companies that are making good use of social media as part of our Biotech Trends series this coming year.  Other suggestions for 2010 biotech trends?  Let us know.

Re-posted from the Cross-Border Biotech Blog

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.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By James Burchill

In business, you have but one function–to find new customers and keep them. Today I want to talk to you about using social media to augment this natural process.

The interesting thing about social media is that as a technology it facilitates something that we as humans do naturally. Social media accelerates the relationship from unknown to known. Sadly it has a tendency to bypass some of the natural checks and balances that we would normally implement (but I’ll save that for another time.)

Before we talk about social media’s ability to build our business, perhaps we should talk about the value of your network. The question I would ask, is this: Are all contacts in your network created equally?

Instinctively you realize this is a foolish question. You know some contacts are mere acquaintances, while other contacts have a deep bond to you in your business and represent true value.

The process of moving a contact (a prospect by another name) is simple and involves three stages. The first is to generate AWARENESS. This means people in your contact network know you exist, you are visible to them.

Although you’re visible to them, they are not sure about your business, your true value, or what you can do for them. To increase their value (to you) it requires moving them from awareness to TRUST.

At the level of trust (and you could subdivide this into two categories) contacts have a sense of what you do. They have proof. Second level of trust would be social proof, whereby they not only know what you can do, they’ve heard other people say so as well.

Finally the third stage is ACTION. They are now aware of you, trust you, and have heard good things about you, and are now ready to take action (which usually means they buy from you).

Now you understand the three stages you can probably see how social media facilitates and accelerates the movement between stages in your network. Here’s a question for you: Without thinking too much, do you know what kinds of social media would be good for each stage in your network’s evolution?

For instance, Twitter (which is publicly available) would be a prime example of building awareness. Facebook, which requires either personally friending an individual, or permitting someone to fan your page, is a prime example of an engaged, trust based platform.

Moving your network to take action can occur on almost all social media platforms but there is one that lends itself very well, your blog. Capable of sharing detailed information, pictures, video and audio, your blog is a perfect “grand central” for your online social media activities.

You might find it interesting to note that studies have indicated approximately 85% of your network is in the “awareness” stage. Approximately 10% of your network is in the “trust” stage, and about 5% are ready to take “action” (buy something.)

Armed with the understanding of how you move a prospect through the value proposition in your network and increase their overall value to you and your business, I imagine you are wondering how you’ve allocated your social media activities to date…

If you’re like most people, you’re probably spending a disproportionately large amount of time on the awareness stage (which is a bit like trying to be seen in a crowded room), when you really should be focusing on converting them to the trusting stage on your network’s evolution.

It’s certainly something to think about isn’t it?

JAMES BURCHILL shows individuals and companies how to profit from the innovative use of Internet technologies, strategic content and social media marketing. You can find out more at James’ website and you can subscribe to his J-List and get over 40 articles, reports and advice on Internet Marketing today.

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By James Burchill

Were the Romans the first to use social media?

Social media is a funny thing; it panders to the dark side of human nature. Case in point, the Roman Empire. An amazing civilization, the Romans kept worldwide order for more than 500 years. Granted they did this through military might, but nonetheless they did.

The Romans were also (and you can thank my schoolteachers for this little nugget) masters of assimilation (technology theft?) Yes, for all you Star Trek fans out there, the Romans were the very first Borg. Roads, aqueducts, viaducts … some other culture, I think it was the Greek… But I digress.

Ironically, a few thousand years later we are assimilating aspects of Roman culture back into our modern day lives. In truth, we’ve been doing this all along. But for dramatic effect my story seems more relevant if I cherry pick a few elements, in this case reality television.

But back to ancient Rome, and a typical Saturday afternoon. The average bricklayer (after slaving – pun intended – all week long) would enjoy nothing less than a family outing to the local amphitheatre.

A quick segue, it is my understanding Romans knew the value of crowd control. Instead of letting repressed emotions fester, they allowed them to be channelled in positive ways–namely the amphitheatre and the games.

So where does social media fit into this story? I suggest to you it fits in with the simplest of human gestures: a thumb up, or a thumb down. The peasantry of the day could engage with every other man, woman and child and affect the course of the games action with nothing more than a simple wave of their hand (or their thumb.)

This thumbs up gesture should seem very familiar to you. It is commonplace to see this little icon on social media sites where “social voting” is all part of the process. Click the thumbs up button and your vote supports some cause or website. Conversely, a thumb down and you vote against it. Of course, today no one lives or dies by your act… but back then… a whole other story.

It strikes me as funny that such a simple gesture has survived the test of time and now finds itself commonplace amongst the desktops and user interfaces of the leading technology platforms.

And to those purists amongst us, I do understand technically the Romans didn’t do a thumb down gesture it was more thumbs sideways manoeuvre. But this again does not look as good and could be misinterpreted.

Ironic isn’t it, a fragment of a bygone culture should still exist today in such a simple act. And don’t get me started about why train tracks are as wide as they are, rumour has it they are such because this was the width of the traditional chariot of the day!

So the next time you push the thumbs up button or the thumbs down button I hope you smile and remember the Romans 🙂

JAMES BURCHILL shows individuals and companies how to profit from the innovative use of Internet technologies, strategic content and social media marketing. You can find out more at James’ website and you can subscribe to his J-List and get over 40 articles, reports and advice on Internet Marketing today.

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By Jeff Bowman

Like many of you, I had serious doubts about the ability of Facebook, YouTube and other social media tools to have a real impact on the way we market products and services to prospective clients.

Boy has my opinion changed.

Not only do these tools impact the way we market, but they have completely changed the way we communicate.

Today your product or service is open to real-time reviews and criticisms.  And, perhaps not surprisingly, a whole new age of product espionage has grown from the ability to sway the masses with a few simple words of negativism.

Ads are cleverly disguised as viral videos, and I would suggest it started years ago when Super Bowl ads, previously viewed by game fans only, were designed specifically for the Internet where millions more viewers could check them out.

Anyone can produce a video, post it online and encourage friends to pass it along. Some become hugely popular with hundreds of thousands of hits worldwide at little or no cost for the exposure.

Some of you may have seen this rather unusual but creative “homemade Canadian Video” produced in two days by a couple of aspiring musicians  and released just before Canada Day. It is actually well done, and will certainly result in some degree of fame and notoriety for the singers.  When I first viewed it early one morning, I tried to show someone else the same afternoon, I could not get on.  When I was finally able to view it at another domain, there was a little note in the corner “Now available on iTunes” A weekend worth of work, some decent online exposure and now iTunes? Unreal.

Another site that does the viral video thing on a much grander scale is www.thefuntheory.com They have a series of very clever videos asking the question “how can you get people to change their behavior?’  The answer, of course, is to add an element of fun. It isn’t until the end of the video that you discover it is an ad for a well-known company. A wolf in sheep’s clothing? No, just a very creative and well planned advertising campaign, which has now hit millions of viewers at a fraction of the cost it would be for traditional media.

The viral age is here, here in a huge way, and I’m enjoying it.  What are some of the best viral videos you have seen?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

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 Miles Baker

So you’ve decided to market yourself on the Internet.

Here’s the problem, there is no “right” way to use Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or any other social networking site. Well, maybe that’s not true, there is one simple rule: use them!

I hear a lot of people say, “Well, if I’m not going to use Twitter right I’m not going to use it at all.” I don’t agree. In the least, you should be aware of the conversations going on in these online circles. You’re able to get the kinds of customer feedback that marketers could only dream about 20 years ago. Ignoring these sites because you don’t want to invest the time in understanding them is a missed opportunity.

At minimum, you register your name, find the kinds of people who you want to attract to your business, and then follow their movements. Different industries have had different rates of uptake on social networking. You might find robust networks already in place, or you might not – either way there’s a fantastic opportunity for you to engage these audiences.

But going back to doing your approach, there are lots of ways to approach your internet persona, because ultimately that is what we’re talking about. In general terms, we don’t think of companies as a collection of people – we think of them as a single entity. Your company internet presence should have a personal touch to separate you from the faceless corporations. And as a small business or a sole-proprietor you are in an excellent position to create a voice.

Ultimately, it’s not a secret sauce or a magical mix (or any other alliterative device you can name) to develop a voice. Mostly, it’s about not being a jerk or a troll. What do I mean? Well, this guy has the idea with these basic rules of human interaction. The rules of social etiquette also apply on the internet – treat people how you would in person the first time you meet them. Every post or comment that you write will be the first time someone has interacted with you – make sure you leave a good first impression.

And, really, this is all common sense. The hardest part is just keeping up with the conversation and spending the time to regularly contribute. It doesn’t have to take hours. But it does take persistence – which has always been the guiding state of the small business person.

Miles Baker is the project manager at Actual Media, a custom research/design firm and business publisher in Toronto. In his time there he has seen the company through six website relaunches, three brand launches and hundreds of other small initiatives. He is also the publisher of MONDOmagazine.net, an online arts and humour magazine, and assistant festival coordinator with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, torontocomics.com.

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By Stephen Rhodes

Twitter is hard to explain to someone who still thinks marketing is about running ads in the local newspaper. Over the past year, when I have spoken about social networking, I have noticed an evolution of sorts from blank stares to outright engagement.

It’s a little like  the newspaper industry, and many others for that matter, when they first launched websites in the 1990s. They knew they had to participate but they didn’t know why. For many in business today, that’s the challenge with Twitter and other social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr.

Of all the new marketing tools available Twitter is the one that is least understood and potentially the most effective.

Brian Solis has an excellent post I Tweet therefore I am.  He talks about a “community of passionate short-form content creators and consumers.”

Keywords here are community and content, and  the focus on sharing in a way unheard of just a few years ago. It’s like having thousands of people to talk to and thousands to bounce an idea off. Focus groups? Twitter provides a whole community.

Solis says “Twitter’s simplicity is part of its brilliance. The ability to interpret, analyze and in turn, predict behavior, currently sets it apart from most other social networks. Twitter has become a human seismograph, measuring and broadcasting the pulse of not just the Web, but also world and local events.”

Social networking tools are not one size fits all. Like most marketing strategies, you need to establish what outcome you expect and what is the best tool to deliver the results.

Too often people jump aboard because it’s the latest fad, without first considering why. Twitter can open a world of possibilities but kick the tires first. If you are just getting started, Solis provides lots of information on his blog, and Mashable provides a great Twitter Guide Book.

Let me know about your journey.

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Stephen Rhodes is President of The Marketing PAD, a full-service strategic communications and marketing company. Read Blogpad or visit  The Marketing Pad online.

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