George Moore - Business Strategist

George MooreHe was formerly the senior principal for Accenture, an international consulting firm, where he specialized in business strategy, marketing, web-based services, and infrastructure development for its strategy practice. Prior to that he served in senior management for both ANTEC and TCI (Comcast), giants in the cable industry where his responsibility included mergers, acquisitions, marketing and $1 billion in products and materials. Fluent in Japanese, George was the founder and President of The Bear Group, a Japanese biometric firm. A former naval aviator with a BS engineering degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

ARE CLOUD SERVICES JUST ANOTHER WISP of IT SERVICES?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 by George Moore
Have you been trying to figure out if this “Cloud Services” thing is a real revolution or just another gimmick for IT firms to repackage their services?

If you’ve been around long enough you will recall another “IT Revolution” known as Application Service Providers (“ASPs”) in the late 1990s. They professed that their service bureau could provide businesses with computer-based services and applications over a network. Their “On-demand” software application model soon became known as SaaS or Software-as-a-Service. But their services never got traction. What’s different now, I’ve been asking myself?

I think there are a few reasons this technology model may begin to gain traction this time around.

• More people have personal computers now. Relatively speaking, in 1999, the penetration of personal computers was at its infancy with worldwide shipments reaching only 100 million. By 2008, shipments reached 1 billion with another billion coming online in 2014.

• Acceptance and affordability of PCs has more people comfortable and literate in computing and using the web, especially for critical services like banking, bill payments, searching, and online shopping.

• There is higher broadband penetration now, than in 1999 which was less than 10%.  Broadband penetration in the US is now over 70%.

• There are better standards in place now to facilitate better managed services. (RSS, XML, PHP)


With all that said, along with the fact that the current economic environment is forcing companies, both large and small, to reduce their infrastructure costs portends a favorable scenario for cloud services.

But nothing is free and while IT firms herald the virtues of cloud services, saying, “Now you can focus on your core competency,” the cost of turning over your software applications can also have its own challenges and associated hidden costs.

Ownership and control of software elsewhere

A wise IT professional once told me, “There is no such thing as free software in Cloud Services, you just pay differently.” You can pay on a “Per Use” basis, (will eventually evolve over time as many provider billing systems cannot accommodate such billing now) or you can pay on a “Per Seat” or simple monthly subscription basis. 

Scalability and maintenance is no longer your problem. Neither is complete control.  If something goes wrong, you have to rely on your service provider to resolve these issues, with little explanation of what went wrong. Unlike your IT manager who will give you explicit details of what went wrong and how he valiantly saved the company, the cloud service providers typically do not have Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) that are meaningful.

Security issues will always be a possibility. When companies such as Chase, Citi, Best Buy, and Sony have security breaches, what makes you think your cloud service provider is immune?  But we live in a web-based world where hackers will continue to attack websites for financial gains or malicious reasons. But you can mitigate some of your risk by managing your own critical data and segmenting critical data behind your own firewalls.

The Benefits are becoming Clearer.
In a competitive business world where managers are trying to manage more with less, it makes sense to outsource those pieces of your operations that tend to be cost centers. And IT services and maintenance can certainly become a cost impediment if not managed right. Between upgrades, launching and supporting new applications, and taking advantage of cost saving services, cloud services can be quite helpful in that regard. Companies like Salesforce.com, Workday, and Aravo are making their mark with complete suite of services that include sales force automation, collaboration tools, lead generation, payroll, financial management, and supplier management.

Most make ordering a cloud-based, software-as-a-service application easy, allowing companies to get started in minutes, and providing plenty of readily accessible customization.
So whether you are a large enterprise, mid-sized company, or a small business, cloud services may help you run your business more efficiently and bring a service staff of experts you would not otherwise be able to afford.

Segmentation Strategies

Monday, March 15, 2010 by George Moore
How many times have you thought about who your "best customers" are? Most companies think they know, but when they get the actual data and supportive facts, they often realize they are not who they thought they were. One of the best ways to figure out who your best customers are is to begin segmenting them. And do the unthinkable.... ask them. Ask them what things they are interested in -- your newest products or services or the information you provide them on the website.

Your segmentation might begin with a look at what they buy, but that doesn't always tell you what they are interested in, just what they bought. A good conversion strategy starts with a good understanding of the value proposition that customer groupings are looking for. It might be price, it might be convenience, or it might be product functions. 

Once you do a cursory segmentation, follow up with an email campaign that offers them a look at different value propositions and let them decide. For example, you may talk about price value of your products or services in a email campaign. In that same email you may have a couple of hot buttons for them to click on, if the interest is there, like "See why our new features are becoming the rage in the industry." If they click on that, then you know they have an interest in both pricing and functions. 

In some ways, it is the same thing that Google does when you search keywords. The customer analysis they gain about what you search for is invaluable. They just cannot expose how much they really know about you. But with a good email program, you will be surprised at how much people will tell you. Just ask.

How to take advantage of buying cycles?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 by George Moore
Think about the last time you bought something. It was either a deliberate decision (something you needed or something you wanted) or an impulse buy (something you didn't need but decided to buy it anyway). When people are looking to buy something, that's obviously the best time to make your offer. The problem is, you never know when someone is looking. 

That's why in the world of conversion management, it's not just about message frequency, but timing of that message. And what better way to do that than email marketing? If I get an email marketing message from you everyday about Disney World vacations, I am most likely going to begin deleting them. But if I get an email every now and then (Spring break, summer break), and the subject line is intriguing, then I will probably open the email. 

Email marketing promotions work. But they have to be timed accordingly and with a relevant message to be effective. Catch that buying cycle.... thru well timed and well positioned messages and promotions. 

How do you build an online community?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 by George Moore
First generation web communities (Web 1.0) were anchored around gated communities like AOL. Then they migrated into open communities like GeoCities (which had 38 million user pages before Yahoo! shut it down). Most of those early communities offered chat rooms and some publishing tools. Then blogging and social networks exploded. Perhaps some these social communities emerged as a result of what was happening on television....specifically Reality TV. With shows like "Big Brother" which first aired in 1999 and MTV's "The Real World", people were looking to get their 15 minutes of fame. 

With that phenomenon came a proliferation of "Micro-communities." As keyword searches became better, it was easier to find small micro-communities ranging from beauty care and cosmetics (www.totalbeauty.com) to sneaker communities (www.sneakerplay.com). 

So how does one build one's own online community? First of all, think about what your potential audience might be interested in -- Relevance. Are they looking for innovative marketing ideas? Or are they interested in editorials about a particular subject? Perhaps they are interested in Social Media strategies that help build online communities like the people reading this post?

Once you have the "relevance" factor down, then it's just about the message, the frequency (capturing their mindshare), and getting them engaged in the conversation. Those are the keys to creating an interactive web community. And who knows, once they trust you, then you can give them a "Call to Action." And most likely, they will respond.

Business growth is just an email away...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 by George Moore
Budgets are tight and your boss is asking you to generate more leads for the company. You are out of innovative marketing ideas and promotion concepts. Someone suggests that you try to increase leads and sales revenue from your website. But you know that conversion management is not something that the company does well. In fact, your marketing group rarely looks at the website analytics. And certainly things like "Search Engine Optimization" or "Organic Search Marketing" are foreign concepts to you beyond what you have read. What to do?

Well, if you have an email list, that's a good starting point. Most of those people have had some sort of relationship with your company -- previous buyers, subscribers, or just visitors that have questions. Is there a way to begin a dialogue with those people and get them back to considering your service or product? Yes, email campaigns.

Think about how many emails you have received with promotional offers that you have actually opened? Emails work. And they are another way to move a visitor down the path to becoming a customer. So dust off your email list and begin a conversation with those people. It doesn't have to be a hard pitch or promo. Share information that might be of interest to them. If you do a good job in those conversations, eventually they will become a buyer again.

Social Media doesn't have to be confusing

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 by George Moore
There has been a lot of interest circling social media these days. Between Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, and iPhone apps, a marketer could be challenged to figure out how best to leverage these channels for business growth solutions and increasing sales revenue. But rather than rush to put up a company page or a company account, create one for yourself and get used to how it all works. Without a well-thought out strategy, all you're going to do is have a page out there with little or no results.

By first understanding how companies are using these channels, you will be able to create social media strategies that work for you. And by using it yourself, you'll understand some of the social norms of these media outlets. If you need some good ideas, check out AdAge.com/digital. They always have interesting articles about how people are successfully using social media. 

You can build online communities through social media, but your message frequency has to be there (so people come back often) and your campaigns have to be relevant to the people who are following you. 

In addition, you may want to tie in email marketing promotions within your social media strategy and create "calls to action." Test it, follow what some of the leaders are doing, and then create your own version. At a minimum, you may find you like sharing your company's new services or products with people who care. 

Jump Starting Your Recovery

Friday, January 29, 2010 by George Moore
During the recent "State of the Union" address President Obama acknowledged the need to support and bolster small and medium sized businesses (SMB) because they are most likely to hire new employees. But one has to ask the question, "Can small and medium size businesses really turn the economic tide around? And if so, how?" The most challenging aspects of running a SMB are 1) managing costs, 2) generating sales leads, and 3) hiring good employees.

As I travel around the country, I see cities and towns with "for lease" signs or "for sale" signs strewn across retail building windows everywhere. Evidence clearly that small and medium size businesses are feeling the effects of the recession. So how do these so-called engines of economic growth justify adding new hires when they are still reeling from the turmoil? Yes, yes, economists announced that we are no longer in a recession. But explain that to the business owners who have had to lay off loyal and dedicated workers. Sometimes these facts are confusing and seemingly contradictory.

The one fact that we do know is most SMB owners have a really good understanding of every penny spent. Most are frugal to a fault. And without a doubt they have squeezed every cost out of their company, with the exception of their life blood -- their sales force. Without sales, no company can survive. But what are SMBs doing to help their sales force generate leads? 

During economic booms, sales people are busy tackling requests for quotes or expanding their sales orders with existing customers. Truth be told, many sales people have not face such a dire sales environment, except those who were selling during the 80s. But there are ways to bolster your sales generation during economic downturns. 

One involves helping your sales force continue their conversations with existing customers as well as with new ones. How do you do that? One area is thru email campaigns that generate leads.

Your customers are busy trying to kick start their own sales and survive the recession. They do not have time to go to lunch with you or just hang out. They are looking for solutions. And during these down times, sales people who sell solutions are going to be the first ones asked for quotes. 

Of course, you have solutions. We all do. But how do you match your solution with what your customers are looking for? Begin by starting an email campaign that is more than a "fire sale" notice or a call for discounts.

You can send useful information to your customers showing you really understand their business issues. Can your products or services help them reduce their costs, generate more leads, distinguish them from their competitors? If so, you need to begin your conversations with them.

But don't just send out a "blast email" that clearly shows that you view all your customers the same way. Think about how you might segment your list based on your understanding of how you can help them --  Customers that you know are looking to reduce their costs are different than those that need a new product in the market that is innovative. Share your expertise, bring your contacts together to see if you can't help them network amongst themselves, or simply ask what things they are interested in learning or knowing.

Email backends have become more sophisticated, allowing you to collect data like never before. Automation also allows you to send segmented emails to segmented lists. Wouldn't a lead given to your sales person be better if it were qualified? They are not looking to buy right now, but they are interested in our product because they feel it might be more cost effective than what they are now using. Or they are ready to buy... based on their response to our email and want you to come to the table quickly with a very very competitive offer. These insights reduce a sales persons guessing and gives them a better view of what to expect. 

With good leads comes sales. And with more sales, your company will be able to rehire your former employees and hire even better ones. Check out what's available now in email lead generation. It's no longer your "father's email campaign." Catch the new email wave.

City Lax the Movie

Thursday, January 21, 2010 by George Moore
Denver City Lax is a new program to the Colorado lacrosse scene. The idea of an “inner city” lacrosse program has been a topic of discussion within the Denver lacrosse community for many years. This past season saw several individuals come together to organize the first City Lax team, but our organization’s success was also attributable to the entire Colorado lacrosse community that has grown to provide opportunities for youth programs at every stage of development and at every level of experience.
 
"The film is incredible.Yes, it's a great film. Yes, it's a motivational youth movement. Yes, it's a cause worth getting behind now...and the inspiration it offers for the everyday person should be promoted by Oprah as being on par with her big ahah moments with thought leaders like Eckhart Tolle...these kids offered more profound truths per minute than the best feature I've watched on Oprah."   
—Richard Allen