The virtual ink

“WITHOUT a doubt, the blog we started ( has been met with the most incredible reaction from our clients,” said Mike Jagger, president of Vancouver-based Provident Security. I continue my campaign to get CEOs and their firms to control the ink in their industry. Last column I pushed books. In this column I’m pushing leaders to start a blog, create a Squidoo page (as the expert in your industry), launch a column, or start a wiki. Not only are these powerful tools to drive your message externally, but I’ve been surprised at how important internal blogs and wikis are at facilitating internal communications. Blogs Slowly plugging away at a book about home security, Mr Jagger, founder of one of Vancouver’s largest privately held commercial and residential security firms, was egged on by his brother to start a blog. Why do you need a blog (think diary on the web that everyone can read – it’s all about communicating)? You need one if popping high on search engines is important to your business. In March, after Mr Jagger initially sent out an email with a link to his blog to a controlled list of 100 clients, he was amazed to see that more than 70 of his clients followed the link to the blog within 12 hours, and 41 asked to be set-up for an auto-notification every time he added a post. “Since launching, we have generated quite a few additional sales based on specific posts and we have had clients actually call us to thank us for the ‘service’ that the blog provides,” Mr Jagger said. “In our business, one of our challenges is that we tend to only talk to people when there is an incident or something bad happens. The blog is allowing us to proactively communicate to, and add real value for our clients without having to wait for a security issue to arise. “One of the most amazing and powerful things that has happened is that the blog address has been forwarded on to many businesses and neighborhood associations by third parties as a ‘great community resource’, literally quadrupling our exposure over the course of a couple weeks. “Essentially, we are getting our marketing done for us, for free. The power and snowball effect of this thing is absolutely incredible and I cannot believe that I did not do it last year when I was first hearing about blogs.” Mr Jagger set the blog up for free using and then signed up for a free metrics tracking system called It gives him a real time dashboard showing how many people are checking out his blog, what they are looking at, where they are located, what browser they are using, all for free. Wikis “We’ve been using an internal wiki since December 2004,” said Andrew Duthie, president of Nashville-based Duthie Associates, an e-learning and marketing presentation creation company. “It’s primarily a knowledge base for us, incorporating a wide array of topics.” A wiki is a specific kind of website that allows users to easily update, edit, and add information. This ease of use makes wikis excellent for team collaboration. Duthie Associates’ wiki includes: procedures; competitor information; customer information; internal meeting minutes; new employee orientation info; notes from webinars; and ideas in general. Everyone in the company is able to create and edit any of this information. In addition, they’ve accumulated 253 articles in their wiki; the last three have included two technical articles and a marketing article with research on their upcoming Google AdWords campaign. AL Systems, a provider of distribution automation systems based in New Jersey, is using both blogs and wikis extensively throughout the organisation. “We have a company-wide blog that is used for the broadcast of all our information internally,” said Paul Lightfoot, AL Systems CEO. “We never use emails or memos anymore because neither can be easily searched or archived or categorised.” AL Systems’ blog was launched in early 2005 and Mr Lightfoot claims it has dramatically improved communications. Being a ‘transparent’ organisation, all good news, initiatives, progress reports, including financial information is sent out via the blog. Like with monthly financial reports, a blog makes it easy to list and then read through several of them to see a year’s progress. Squidoos Create a Squidoo page now. Seth Godin, the marketing genius of our time (Purple Cow, Permission Marketing, All Marketers are Liars), has launched a new site for experts. Instead of searching Google and having to sort through what’s good or bad, search Squidoo and find someone who has 20 years of expertise on a subject and let them guide you to the appropriate resources. Squidoo is still in Beta, but jump in and be the “corrugated box” guru. I would also encourage you to look through Squidoo to find experts on blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, and on Squidoo itself. The key is to put yourself out there as an expert in your industry and use a ‘pull’ strategy instead of a ‘push’ strategy to market your business and yourself. Copyright © 2006 Verne Harnish •Verne Harnish was named one of the Top 10 Minds in Small Business by Fortune Small Business. In a one-day seminar on Friday March 2 2007, Verne Harnish will provide those attending the WA Business News seminar practical tools fast-growing companies can use to create focus, alignment, better communication and a winning strategy.

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