Take Five!

Newspapers were once the primary source of information for us.  We would regularly walk to the store to pick up the daily paper to learn how our favorite teams were dong, what was happening in the world, the local community, business, arts, leisure and all other categories that continue to be covered by the newspapers today.  Newspapers were at the center of our information world and they were raking in the cash from two primary revenue streams – subscribers and advertisers.

What a difference a few years make.  In 2005, the newspaper industry had $49.5 billion in advertising revenue.  In 2010 the number was $25.8 billion, 50% of 2005. http://www.naa.org/Trends-and-Numbers/Advertising-Expenditures/Annual-All-Categories.aspx  Many newspapers have closed, local coverage has been disbanded, other sources are now used for content.  The most prominent newspapers continue to try new business integrated print and digital business strategies to slow the decline and survive.  An old business model that has been completely disrupted by competitors that were not even considered competitors just a few years ago.

One of the best attributes of leafing through a newspaper was exposure to new and interesting topics that were not on your radar screen.  If you were like me, I first read the sports section and moved on to business, world and local news.  But before I passed the newspaper on I would go through the entire paper on time, many times “stumbling upon” other interesting articles in science, architecture, technology or other topics that I was less familiar with.

In today’s “sound bite” society, we can quickly peruse Google News, Yahoo, the home pages of our favorite newspapers and magazines.  The world has changed from one where the publishers controlled access to their information to one where content distributors provide one stop shops for all content.   Most of you use these content aggregators everyday as part of your ritual of being current about what’s happening.  You choose what you want to read and what you don’t.   You still read the sections that you are most interested in, but since you are time starved are you spending an extra few minutes looking at other topics of interest.  Maybe you are, maybe you are not.

Here are a few suggestions for you.  If you have a smartphone or and iPad, check out the applications from Flipboard, Zite and Pulse.  They are awesome content aggregators, in easy to use formats made specifically for these devices.  They will provide you with your key areas of interest but they can also connect you with many other topics, such as design, humor, arts, leisure and many others.  Zite enables you to create your own channels that finds stuff you are interested in – I have set up feeds for the Beatles and Italy as examples.

So today take five minutes to read something new, to go outside your normal routine and engage with a topic or news article just interests you, not because it is part of your routine or you need it for work.  It will open your mind, expand your interests and give you a peak at what is happening in other peoples worlds. Take Five!

And hey, you just might become the most knowledgeable person at all of those holiday parties you will be attending!

Let me know what you think of this blog by posting your comments below.

Have a great day!


Voice Search – Back to the Future

Technology is really amazing.  Consumers have become more and more reliant on using technology is our day-to-day lives.  From searching for a service or business, identifying activities for the kids, checking for traffic conditions, looking for a new mate or a new job, we pretty much use search for everything.

Employees are constantly connected to their companies and their lives with smart devices, providing ease of access to company research/databases, competitive information, business intelligence and many other nuggets and information that power the knowledge workers.

Business owners, from retailers to e-commerce to service providers, are highly dependent on search and SEO in order to be found by perspective customers, connect with their existing customers and build their brand.

Search and SEO are essential for businesses.  Today we basically type a few words into a browser and we are prompted with a list of possible options enabled through the power of Google, Bing and Yahoo.  These choices help us to become more focused in our search and cut down on the amount of time we are on the hunt.  We have become highly dependent on this option as well as the preview screen so we do not even have to go to a site if it does not look right.  This is how we find those local businesses today.

Now that this is a norm, we can all relax right?  No as search has just started to change again.  No more word searches, image searches, contextual searches etc.  – Now we do voice search.  Can you say flux capacitor?

Siri, the recently released voice recognition app that allows iPhone users to control their cell phones verbally — seems like a cool party trick, sending text messages from your spoken instructions, checking the weather and setting up calendar reminders.

But that is not all it does or will do.  It will rapidly become the way you search for everything.  “Call me a cab” and it will do that.  As your personal assistant, Siri will continue to learn with you and provide you with what you need, when you need it.  Are we there yet?  Not quite.  Will we be there soon.  Yes we will!

For small businesses, start the learning process now.  Connecting with your customers via search and SEO just changed…… again.  Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.