Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quick Response - or QR-Codes

This says it all. If your smart phone reads QR codes.

Quick Response Codes (QRCs) are like bar codes on steroids. They will grow in their application and usefulness. So get familiar with them.

For a basic understanding, Wikipedia is a good start.

There are free QRC generators, like:

QR-Code Generator: the site the created this image

What's next? 3D hologram QRCs?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is YouGottaCall like AngiesList?

Shawn O'Brien Tweeted: "Is your stuff like angies list? Just saw commercial on TV." Here's a longer answer than I could fit on Twitter:

"Is YouGottaCall similar to Angie's List?"

We are aiming for the same goal – to connect consumers with trustworthy businesses. But our means of achieving this are as opposite as can be. is more similar to other recommendation social networks like GigPark, Yelp and LikeList. But we are designed to benefit charities and have a unique voluntary, intrinsic pay-for-performance model.

Here's how we stack up with AngiesList -

Fees: Angie's List collects fees from consumers. This is their primary revenue source. is free to join and free to use for consumers and businesses.

Trusted relationships: AngiesList features written testimonials about the businesses. But the testimonials are written by strangers. The starting point for YouGottaCall is our members' trusted relationships. Recommendations are filtered by the members' social connections so they personally know the people recommending the business. Because we are integrated with Facebook our members can log-in using their Facebook ID. We plan to expand the integration with Facebook to achieve more referral and search utilization within Facebook.

Effectiveness: AngiesList does not guarantee consumer satisfaction in exchange for their subscription fee. In our model consumers are not charged a fee. Our revenue comes from our business members who select the amount they want to pay. For businesses, this is performance based. They choose to pay their fees for either 'referrals' or for 'new sales'.

Cause related: enables members to select a not-for-profit organization their referrals will benefit. Eighty percent of all fees go to these charities.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Take: Redbeacon’s Plans to Live Up to the Hype

Redbeacon is just a year and a half old, until recently was bootstrapped, and has deployed its local-services marketplace in only one region, but something about what it’s doing clearly makes people think the company’s on to something big. It’s won four separate startup competitions, including TechCrunch 50 and Silicon Alley Insider’s top prizes. People seem to really like the idea of using a website to find and negotiate with local service providers to clean their house or detail their car.

Redbeacon’s most recent valuation was its first outside funding: $7.4 million from Mayfield Fund and Venrock. So we invited co-founder and CEO Ethan Anderson over to our office to hear about what the company is doing to meet these lofty expectations.

Redbeacon is planning to use the funding to expand, said Anderson, by building up new regional markets and also through online distribution, via a publisher widget and formal partnerships with distributors like phone directories. He wants to build Redbeacon as a brand, while borrowing from the traditional classifieds business.

My Take:

RedBeacon seems like a LendingTree for contractors. Kind of Web 1.0 with some pasted-on testimonials. Not all that innovative.

Many players (AT&T -, Reach Local, Localeze, Google, Facebook, LikeList) are converging on the social-local space to leverage word-of-mouth referrals. Who will come up with a successful way to effectively tap the value of these trusted recommendations?

These two elements might be the keys:
1. a unique monetization model. There's so much value in the transaction itself - why not convert that to cash?
2. a unique way to benefit causes. The Web is famous for its ability to marshal the concern and financial support of people for good causes. With a creative model, the social capital of these transactions can benefit charities with a recurring source of donations.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Deriving Value From Social Networks - Open Door vs. Closed Door Approaches

Can Closed-Door Exclusive Social Networks Make Money?

Sean Carton | August 16, 2010

Excerpted from Clickz

Overall, most of us have looked at social media as a marketing tool, a way of driving traffic, building awareness, or building brand loyalty. But what if we looked at it as a way of driving revenue through access?

Social media: we all know that it’s a great marketing tool. Maybe it’s now time to start thinking about how to turn it into a revenue generating tool by making it less accessible to your audiences, not more.

My Take:
Closed door seems uncreative and Web 1.0-ish. Especially considering that marketers have yet to tap the rich potential offered by the Social Web to attach an actual dollar value to a service provided in a social transaction.

This can be done in a very "Webby" way - i.e.
- it can be done as a voluntary payment
- it can be paid after the value of the social transaction has been recognized - so it's not a "pay me now for value you may or may not get down the road" model like traditional advertising
- it can be distributed via the Web (PayPal, etc.)
- it can take brand affiliation to a new level and support affiliation with a cause (e.g. generating donations for charities)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Academic Research: Word-of-Mouth is a Great Investment

According to a new study, "Referral Programs and Customer Value," to be published in the January issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing, customer referral programs are indeed a financially attractive way for firms to acquire new customers.

"There's a lot of talk about word-of-mouth-marketing, and about making money out of social connections. Our first objective was to see if customer referral programs can indeed turn social capital into economic capital. Second, we wanted to come up with a methodology to assess the effectiveness of customer referral programs that was easy to implement with data and tools available to many managers."

The study tackled three questions:
•Do referred customers have higher margins than other customers?
•Do referred customers stay longer with the firm than other customers?
•Do referred customers have a higher customer lifetime value, the net present value of all the profits a customer generates over his or her entire association with the firm?

The answers, according to the study, are all positive. Referred customers were about 18 percent more likely to stay with the bank than other customers, and that gap did not fade over time.

The researchers also concluded that the difference in margin combined with the difference in customer retention amounted to a disparity in long-term customer value of 16 percent to 25 percent. "That's not only a sizable chunk of money," Van den Bulte says, "it also amounts to a 60 percent ROI over six years.

My Take:

While this study measures the profitability of word-of-mouth for large banks, the millions of small, locally-owned US businesses undoubtedly enjoy the same benefits. On top of this, most small business owners tell us that up to 80% of their new customers arrive via word-of-mouth.

Social media is poised to help these small business owners to harness word-of-mouth as a measurable and manageable part of their advertising mix. Traditional advertising media (newspaper, Yellow Pages, local broadcast) are in a tight spot. They currently receive most of small business ad budgets, yet only account for 20% of their new sales.

These traditional, local ad media will need to offer more social media functionality to remain competitive.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Our Cool, New UI is Thanks to Their Hard Work

June has been fast paced in the midst of rolling out the new user interface. Feedback has been thrilling - genuine enthusiasm for the design, the graphics and ease of use. Our recent growth says it all!

A lot of effort and sweat by the entire team has gone into it. So here's some deserved thanks. Ben and his development team at ForeSite are creative, thorough - and patient! Our "Super Members" Rich, Michele, Ed, Caitlin and Giulia - social media consultants who help in QA'ing the site, brainstorming and giving honest feedback - have been encouraging and inspiring.

The CT TweetCrawlers (#cttu, #pcct, #pcwm, #swct) - from Hartford & New Haven to Stonington and Stamford - are great to have in your corner. They are trusted local businesses with well-earned reputations. For them, word-of-mouth is not new. But they are using social media to share it in new ways. And they are generous with their ideas and critiques.

With this cool UI we are ready to take it to not-for-profits and businesses to demonstrate the power of word-of-mouth connecting. And that's our goal for the next several months.

We have tons of neat stuff planned - right, Ben? But for now, thanks to all of you, we hope to see lots more "Good referrals. Doing good."

- - Tim

Unlocking the elusive potential of social networks - McKinsey Quarterly - Marketing - Digital Marketing

Unlocking the elusive potential of social networks

As published on the McKinsey Quarterly

Excerpt: "... We think of word of mouth generated on social networks as a distinct form of media... When you think of word of mouth as media, it becomes a form of content, and businesses can apply tried-and-true content-management practices and metrics to it. In addition, word of mouth generated by social networks is a form of marketing that must be earned—unlike traditional advertising, which can be purchased. "

"Obviously, there are no generic solutions, and each company will need to invent and discover what makes sense for its unique situation"

My Take
Accurate metrics are one reason word-of-mouth powered by Web-based social search is vastly superior to other forms of marketing. Other benefits will be improved cash flow,stronger customer relations, and a downward effect on under-performing, legacy advertising media.

While there may be no generic solutions, platforms may be developed that support the common needs of millions of small businesses in the long-tail of the $100B US local advertising market.