Winnipeg I need your help, I wanting to know if the above title has any merit? I suppose I’m looking for some clarification or answers to the following questions, and before someone mentions the need to employ a consultant to help, forget it, I seem to be living in the land where it seems every other person is in that profession.
I’d like to paint the picture from an outsider looking in, since moving to the city six years ago and setting up office from the US & UK I have had a few problems trying to comprehend local business thinking and decision making.
Let me try and explain, 99% of consultants I have met in my six years in Winnipeg have either had their own business and failed, worked for a company that failed, got fired, came out of a local college, were unemployed so it seemed like a good idea, did a 2 day course or there a part-time stay at home mum. Most work out of a home office or basement and like to charge what we call New York prices for their work. I’ve seen life & business coaches charging $500-$1000 for a few hour course or speech who drive around in a 10 year old rusty Chevvy but get employed by local business & marketing associations to advise members. Does this not set alarm bells ringing to these people?
These people who consult don’t have any more experience than you do. They are typically young, but not necessarily. They can certainly “talk the talk” but have never “walked the walk”. In other words they are big on theory, some have lots of qualifications but very little real-life experience to match. In many instances, as a hands-on business manager, you may well have already exceeded their ability to help you advance your enterprise any further.
Then there is the dangerous kind – the dodgy consultant. You often can’t really determine whether these people are good, bad or indifferent until it is too late. They often originate from outside of the city or are returning Winnipeggers with seemingly immense international experience. Their objective is clearly to impress.
They will blind you with tales of their achievements and impressive examples of their triumphs in the markets you are trying to enter. Unfortunately, if it sounds too good to be true, and often it is.
In reality if the same consultant fronted for a corporate job his ability and track record would be quickly found out. How? Well corporates approach employing senior executives quite differently to the way most of us employ a consultant. Not only do the businesses undertake verbal reference tests but they have extensive international networks of contacts to tap into and a range of psychological and other testing at their fingertips. Too many of us approach employing a consultant as you would select any other service provider — as opposed to a critical member of your team.
This is not a new story but I feel it is worth repeating because I have recently been running into cases where a fledgling company (and sometimes not so fledgling) has engaged with someone, or some firm, and suffered badly from false expectations. A person (or firm) can appear to have an impressive track record, look very smooth and professional and have money to invest, but this doesn’t mean they are not the consulting equivalent of Typhoid Mary.
When considering using a consultant I make three key recommendations:
1. Look closely at their track record. You are looking for tangible results and an understatement of their ability as opposed to “talking the talk”. Contact the companies they say they have worked for and/or helped.
2. Try to check out their ex-partners/employers. You are looking for someone with whom you can form a close relationship. Look for past examples of the same thing. You want to establish that the consultant has personal attributes that you can work with. It doesn’t matter how long they have been consulting — check.
3. Use your own networks. Guys like me who have been in the game a long time hear the same names circulating time and time again with question marks over their performance. Often it is more critical to listen to what is not said about a person, than what is said. You don’t need the most professional consultant – you need the most effective. I’m just saying.
A little off topic today, but thought this was worth a mention. Anyone who knows
me in the industry knows I don’t usually do seminars, speeches and interviews,
but today I made an exception.
I was invited to a Winnipeg school to be interviewed by one of the pupils. To say I was a little apprehensive going in would be an understatement, it was for my staff & friends too.
When I first walked into the classroom it was empty, all the kids were at the school library getting books, I felt a little nervous, I’m not sure why, I just remembered the saying never work with animals and children, you never know what is going to happen next.
Suddenly the classroom filled up with 6 graders all over the place, a chair was placed
for me at the front of the class, the memories came flooding back from my school
Getting grilled for a whole 20 minutes on why I came to Canada, the internet, Google,
football and the car I drive in fact was quite refreshing, I managed not say one naughty word in the whole time I was there, pretty good for me.
In fact the kids of Princess Margaret School on Hawthorne Avenue were brilliant.
They listened intently and with interest about all the stories, Yes they could
understand me, even with my broad Yorkshire accent, which is more than most of
my clients manage to do.
I’m a great believer in karma and that’s what it was for me, I truly enjoyed my
Wednesday morning with them and you never know I might even get asked back
again next year.
On my way out, I think it may have been the headmistress said to me, did they go easy on you, Now that got me thinking.
The Manitoba Bold Initiative, What is it? Well from what I read it’s about being bold with your ideas for making Manitoba a better place.
As part of its efforts to inject some bold ideas into the economic policies during the current provincial election, Dave Angus, president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and spokesman for Manitoba Bold, said the clean energy and technology sectors have the most potential for growth. I could agree with some of that.
I also watched streaming video coverage at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café on transportation, venture capital and Manitoba’s revenue model featuring CentrePort Canada CEO Diane Gray, Prairie Fire Growth Ventures CEO Harry Schulz, and Pitblado Law’s Brian Bowman. (By the way people Brian writes a great blog)
Now I can tell you that in my 4 years since I arrived in Manitoba I have been called Bold, also Arrogant, Blunt, Cocky, Candid and a pain in the ass plus a few more, but until this province and some of the so called business leaders in Manitoba get that the world has changed, the way people and business communicate has changed and have the courage to grab the bull by the horns to make us change, until then, these leaders in Manitoba will still be playing catch up with the rest of the world (and other provinces). You can only treat people so long like mushrooms by keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit.
I don’t profess to be a politician, nor will I ever be that way, but being bold in Manitoba, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the powers that be and so called decision makers don’t like it one bit.
I doesn’t matter if you’re proved right down the line, their egos won’t let them, they like you to toe the line, their line and it is exactly that small town mentality that holds Manitoba back and I think they like that way. They need to be BOLD and take the necessary steps to WIN if they want to.
When I arrived in 2007 we had Selling Winnipeg to the World, where did that go?, oh yes they used up all the money then went out to the public domain with begging bowl asking for more money, they got it too $6 million, it then got changed to Yes Winnipeg, Destination Winnipeg was changed back to Economic Development & Tourism after running short of money and getting another government handout, Winnipeg’s Inland Port got changed to Centreport Canada in 2008 with a big handout from the tax payers, over $200 million. We also had the the Human Rights Museum starting off.
So in 2007 up until today I have tried to be very bold, in fact I went to see all of the above entity’s and offered my help, why not?, after all I was let into Canada as a world expert in my field, even the BBC called me when I arrived, (come on that has to be impressive). I had worked with large organizations before, governments, celebrities and so on and was successful in all our workings, why not help Manitoba? I live here now.
Not on your nelly, this is the real problem with Manitoba, not just me, I know other people and companies who have had the same shuns. Manitobans don’t trust outsiders, it takes a while for them to warm to you, it also depends if you tow the line, they hate the idea of you making any money, god forbid they don’t get there share and they always know someone else who works out of a basement or small office who went to college or night school for 3 weeks who learned to be an expert. Old boys club.
Wake up you sad Muppets, put your ego’s aside, get your ass into gear, pay the money and go make this province what it can become, Great. You will need help though, truly, from an internet prospective you are light years behind, and this is where all the action is happening, I know and would be happy to call out every single so called internet marketing and social media agency in Winnipeg who do work here, why? Because I have spoken to most, helped most, have emails from most asking for help, or a job or to provide white label services for them before deciding to go off and sell their little knowledge to unqualified business buyers and the like.
BE BOLD, This year alone my company will have supplied over 15 million visitors to Manitoba websites, we also keep blogging and telling business to protect your brand, stop putting the cart before the horse, so when Manitoba business leaders start talking about Manitoba Clean Energy or Manitoba Entrepreneurship’s and Start up Nations and Transportation Hubs without protecting these wonderful ideas, it does make you wonder.
On closing, these are opinions of the writer only, please no more attorney letters, if the cap fits wear it. Be Bold and venture into a new world, we are waiting here for you and happy to help should you want it.
Gene Simmons was in Winnipeg last night on his speaking tour, and we even gave him the key to the city! Before he came to town however, he’d given an interview which touched on a very important business point. The KISS frontman is entirely self made and merchandised the group to super stardom, so it’s safe to assume he knows a thing or two about making a buck.
In a quick interview he made a very important business point, one which all business owners new and old, need to take heed of. “..everybody is really in the same business: The fame business. You have to make your name mean something and people have to recognize your name is synonymous with quality. Your name and your story should precede you.” His response is exactly what we’ve been trying to tell clients old and prospective in the search game, you need to begin branding yesterday because the world is changing today. When you have quality products or services, your name should be on the lips of those in your niche without a hesitation and you should be found online with a simple search of your brand.
Even Google is getting in on the brand band wagon so to speak. Recently images and reports have cropped up on a change to the way the SERPs are being displayed. Typically your title is in blue with a snippet of information and your website url is displayed on the bottom in green. Lately however, Google has been playing with the idea of displaying on the brand name of the result; displaying Facebook instead of http://www.facebook.com as an example.
The time to make your brand is now and the time to make your brand known is now. Making your company brand name synonymous with quality, integrity and worth can carry your company to great success. Or you can sit on a dated website with your yellow pages ads and radio spots, and wonder why the new guy in town is making it rich while your customers slowly flit away.
If you own a website of any kind, and you pay attention to the traffic coming to and navigating it, you may discover that traffic is perhaps not flowing naturally through your pages. For example, a potential visitor arrives at your site, but upon not finding the information they were looking for quickly or efficiently they leave your site and head to a competitor. Another issue you might discover with visitors is a lot of traffic on pages which contain lots of images in regards to your market and you start to see them pop up on various other sites around the web.
There are a number of ways with which you can direct traffic on your website, the easiest of which is by building an easy to understand navigation menu highly visible on the page to help drive visitors where you would like them. Another method you can use to help direct visitors to your unique content would be to sculpt your traffic flow to your more popular interior pages on your site which contain more information than your front page. Think of it like setting up a series of traffic signals for the internet that helps people land on the pages they’re really looking for.
In the event of discovering your content is being scraped and used here or there on the internet, there are a couple of options easily and immediately available to you. You can contact the site owner and ask them to remove your content, and depending on the severity of the hijacking you may even be able to leverage the power of the DMC Act to help your case. If it’s a repeat offender, a more drastic way to deal with the prying eyes and light fingers would be to completely block their IP address from being able to access your website. It’s quick, fairly simple to implement and mostly absolute.
Using a method of blocking IP ranges can help you trim your traffic to the customers you’re truly interested in having using your site. For example with the recent buying frenzy that was created with Winnipegs new NHL team returning to town, the sales website could have essentially blocked all IPs that were not originating from Manitoba for the day of the sale and reversed the change when the sale was finished. At any rate, that would have cut down on the out of country ticket brokers from getting their hands on tickets they have no intention of using.
There’s something to be said about the myths which surround SEO as an industry. In a way it adds a layer of ‘magic’ to the processes which can drive your website to the top of search. On the other hand, it allows the cheaters and snake oil salesmen to get in the door to respectable, naive business owners who only have half an idea.
Let’s face it, the world is going digital and online, the cloud is the next major leap forward as one of it’s goal is to eliminate the need for mass amounts of software on individual machines. Every major player in industry has recognized this fact, newspapers especially which have been hit substantially in the shift to online content generation and consumption. Radio and television have both added online content distribution to their industries, even going so far to use specialty content only available on their site to drive visitors. But they all know, the multi-million dollar advertising industries are slowly shifting their budgets to include online optimization in bigger and bigger steps.
Now if all of the big boys get it, that the world and it’s people are shifting online, what’s with all of the hesitation? Because unfortunately in the end business is ignorant and resistant to change. There’s short cut takers and cheaters in every industry, not just in the SEO/SEM world, and just like every other industry, when they’re caught, they’re thrust out into the light and are left to burn. The growing pains that the SEO industry is experiencing in Canada, Manitoba and Winnipeg in particular, is one of naivete. Winnipeg is a small city on the global marketplace, but with it’s geo-location it should be a significatly larger player that it is. All we need now is for the old, naive, ignorant and resistant guard to change, and let the youth take over. I’ve heard it said a number of times that once you’ve lived in Winnipeg it’s hard to really want to plant roots anywhere else. My reason why (unfortunately) is because Winnipeg just doesn’t change; at least not fast enough to be a global player.
The internet is running out of IP addresses, Bing is copying Google, Facebook can’t handle your data and locally we’re resisitant to change. The loss of IPs online has been broached in the last few days, and the as the last block allocations are doled out I’m certain that the naysayers will be heralding the end of the world (wide web). At least on some level of course.
Bing copied Google’s search results on a really obscure search term, as Bing cries foul over Google copying some of their display methods. It’s one thing to copy a snippet tool to display where on a page information was located and a change in how images are displayed. It’s an entirely new bag of snakes when you literally build your results based upon the users actions on another search engine. Bing has cried foul as well over being setup in Google’s honeypot action and well, that was the point. Google noticed a trend of Bings top 10 searches bearing much the same results as Googles. A hypothesis was formulated as to why and how this could happen, and a test was executed. It just so happens that the test came back positive, and Bing has been caught red handed sneaking results. Deal with it, learn from it, for Gods sakes admit it and carry on.
And just to switch things to a local, Winnipeg front for a moment. A downtown restaurant, long heralded as an icon in it’s uniqueness, the Paddlewheel Restaurant is to be closed and renovated. In the story I’ve most recently read about the eatery, the vast majority of the comments and content were unhappy with the coming closure, citing their memories of past visits with friends and family as evidence of enduring success. “It doesn’t need to change” and “It shouldn’t change” were the over lording tones of the piece. There was a video accompanying the story, and while it was somewhat saddening to hear about how a visit to the restaurant with their mother and grandmother for a plate of fries and a coke would be gone with the change, change needs to happen. By the way, the aforementioned visit with family, the fries and coke cost 15 cents to purchase. The video was filled entirely with elderly visitors, no doubt the frequenters of the establishment with the exception of one gentleman interviewed whose thoughts were simply “I understand it’s popular among those with a history of coming here”. The idea that change is bad needs to leave the collective thought process of this town, change is anything but bad. Scary, exciting, turbulent and it can even be smooth, safe and uneventful. But it’s never a bad thing. Change is inevitable, it’s when people, places and the environment they exist in cease to change that they wither and die. Take a clue from one of the oldest businesses still in operation today, in order to survive, they need to change.
We’ve had this talk before. Your slow, stubborn, and deliberate march to an out dated drum beat has to change. The reason? The rest of the world dropped that same beat for a more up beat tune a good 5, if not 10 years ago.
An article printed today about the past year in local business irked me. The overtones of the article reeked of ‘..can’t change it, it’s Winnipeg..’ and that’s just the wrong idea. There was very little in the way of positive news in the article, and the surprise feigned at the end of the article? Either poorly placed, or the article was written over a number of days. It’s not a badly written article, it lists what’s happened in the cities business sector in 2010 in a broad spectrum. Talking about the stadium, the bankrupcy protection of CanWest, CentrePort and a few others. Speaking of how the Yes! Winnipeg is boasting about $1.4 billion in economic activity and new jobs over the next 5 years, how CentrePort is doomed? to slow growth because, hey, it’s Winnipeg.
I don’t pretend to understand the best ways to prod a city to economic boom, but I do understand that this pace needs to change. Why does CenterPort have to grow slowly? The actual verbiage tied to CentrePort alone was “..this is Winnipeg; slow and steady is the best kind of growth we can hope for at CentrePort.” About the Yes! Winnipeg “initiative” possibly attracting only 1(!!) new business to Winnipeg. Saying that it’s the private sector group that has a vested interest in the growth of the city’s economy and that the public sector could learn from them. I’m sorry, but the private sectors growth just doesn’t cut it in this world.
The image in my mind when I read the article, was an old study, full of large, overstuffed old men. Cigar smoke hanging in the air, brandy on the tables, and doing nothing. Playing politics and not doing anything to encourage the city to the greatness it should have. We’re at the geographic center of North America for crying out loud. Any company that requires any distribution of any kind should be banging down our doors to have a warehouse here. The idea that “..this is Winnipeg; slow and steady is the best kind of growth we can hope for..” needs to change.
At what lengths do you go, to save yourself or your business some cash? Where do you decide to trim your budget. Production? Acquisition? Marketing? Development? Depending on your niche and business model there are many more to add to the list I’d wager. So when it comes right down to it and you need to find some money, where do you trim, all too often the budget cuts fall on the marketing angle. And the first place that gets the shaft, is online marketing more than not.
The argument usually heard is that it’s not tangible, you can’t track any results or gains with it. The internet is a virtual world of switches, capacitors and electrical connections, so in a touchable tangible sense it’s not “real”. The numbers however, the web is full of numbers which are very easily countable. That machine you use on your desk at the office and at home everyday is, at it’s core, an overgrown calculator. Traffic, sales, visitors and unique first time viewers are all metrics easily tracked by the software that expert SEOs use to demonstrate to clients that what we do works like gang busters.
And a question that we are asked time and time again is: “Why should I retain you on a contract if the guy down the street says he can do the same for me for only $300?” And since people keep asking, the simplest and honest to god answer is maintenance. See, the internet never sleeps, never rests and is always changing. Google, the king of search and search marketing is the same. Always changing the algorithm, making it faster, smarter and it can throw the entire results page into disarray when they make a number of changes at once. Retaining your position on the SERPs in the midst of these changes is why we’re the best. And it’s why we can command the costs required for the care we give to your online marketplace. Now, if you’re still unsatisfied that this is the case, a simple analogy for you in easy to understand terms.
Your website is a car and Google is it’s engine. The internet are the roads you travel endlessly. Knowing you need a tune up (SEO) you look for a mechanic to tend to your car, and decide to settle for the budget variety to save a few dollars and settle in for a rest. Waking up, you find out that your Google engine has decided that it doesn’t like unleaded fuel anymore and instead wants diesel. So back to your mechanic who tells you ‘Sorry, I don’t know what I need to do to work with diesel’. And instead of driving your way to the top, you’re stuck, stranded on the side of the road with a stalled site (car), and work done on your engine that no longer works.
If you need to save some budget dollars and decide to focus on marketing, then trim your budget in the old, untraceable metrics like television, radio, newspapers and billboards. Playing catch up on the web is an exponentially more difficult game the longer you wait Winnipeg, time to get a move on.
“Rant” I got a a call today from a Winnipeg business who decided to use another vendor 12 months ago for Internet marketing and some SEO Services and they are not happy with what they got.
Surprise surprise, they went with them to save money or so they thought, now they are further back then ever and I’m suppose to be supportive of this.Winnipeg business when will you learn? Here’s the truth, you are already 5 years behind the eight ball on many other major countries, business has been supplying budgets for online marketing for over 10 years already, you guys are still humming and arring whether or not to do it and asking if the internet is going to still be around in 5 years. Take your heads out of your orifice.
Answer, No your web shop, IT guy, traditional media company, PR Marketing person or any other person who read a book or did a half day seminar in Winnipeg will know how to do it effectively, you need an expert to list nationally or globally, period. Any idiot can list for the town or city they live in, or the name of the company website, these are the ones that mainly work from basements or have a shingle over the door and charge $300 a month, some call themselves consultants.
The latest trend is calling themselves social media marketing or new media marketing experts and charging 1k a month. Beware!!!
Wake up, stop being Penny wise, pound foolish.