Posts Tagged ‘social media’

GrowSmartBiz Twitter link & archived video

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Here’s a link to the Twitter activity during my panel discussion:

And here’s an archive of the live feed of the panel discussion:


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Veteran marketer and entrepreneur Chris Jacobs joins London, Ink consulting team

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Veteran marketer and entrepreneur Chris Jacobs joins London, Ink consulting team


Potomac, MD – September, 2009, London, Ink, a marketing and communications consulting and services firm headquartered outside of Washington, DC, announced the addition of Christina Jacobs to its team of marketing consultants and project managers to meet the demands of the company’s growing client base.

Jacobs, whose background includes marketing management posts at Chris Jacobs joins London, Ink as marketing consultantNextel, MCI and CoStar Group and AMS, is also co-founder of Girls in the Know, the popular and fast-growing online service that provides subscribers with exclusive offers from premier spas, salons, restaurants, designers and events.

“Chris has been a great addition to the London, Ink team,” said London, Ink founder and President Bob London.  “Not many people combine such deep practical marketing experience and expertise with an entrepreneur’s sense of innovation and resourcefulness.”

Jacobs provides on-demand marketing consulting, project management and implementation for a range of London, Ink clients—which supports the company’s lean, on-demand business model and enables clients to receive top-notch, cost-effective marketing support.

“Working with London, Ink gives me a combination of an interesting and engaging work experience with a high degree of flexibility, schedule-wise,” said Jacobs.  “It’s clear that the on-demand model works for clients as well to help them focus their budgets on the right priorities.”

London, Ink is already known for pioneering the ‘Virtual VP of Marketing’ concept which provides experienced project-based resources on-demand for organizations that need an injection of strategic marketing horsepower,” continued Bob London.  “Having more consultants like Chris means that London, Ink can serve a broader range of client needs with various levels, areas of specialization and price points.”

About London, Ink


London, Ink ( is a marketing and communications consulting firm that helps early-stage and established organizations define and prioritize their products, services and marketing initiatives based on what the market needs–or doesn’t need.


In pioneering the Virtual VP of Marketing concept, London, Ink president and founder Bob London works with companies who aren’t ready for the cost and commitment of a full-time marketing executive to assess their market opportunity, determine the strategic options and develop a practical go-to-market plan, including market awareness, customer acquisition and retention, prospect “nurture” campaigns and targeted education programs.


Bob London has successfully managed marketing initiatives with annual budgets ranging from the $150 million network television launch of MCI Friends & Family (back when network tv really meant something) to under $25,000.  His work and writing has been profiled or covered by the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Miami Herald, USA Today and Marketing News (the AMA’s flagship magazine).  Bob recently spoke at the nationwide Unintentional Entrepreneur series.




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Wired’s Chris Anderson and Sen. Mark Warner in town–for just $99? Still some tix left.

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

There are still some tickets available to hear Wired mag’s Chris Anderson, Sen. Mark Warner (& yours truly) next week…at the big GrowSmartBiz conference in Washington, DC on 9/29.

Based on the preparations for the event, including the conference calls to prep for our panel discussion on small business marketing and innovation, I can tell this is going to be a top flight event with practical tips and tools for business owners and others.

To register at the special rate of $99, please go to and register using the code ‘GSBReader’.

Hope to see you there!

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When do humor and improvisation translate into innovation?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

By Bob London

This week another one of my ideas came to life in the form of Wedding Futures (, a site that “enables couples to quickly and easily select and register for stocks and mutual funds as wedding gifts.”

I love the idea and want to state that I’m not claiming that I was the first to have it–or that someone beat me to it.   But in the course of pursuing my hobby of humor writing, one of my jokes (in the form of liner notes made over the years that could some day turn into essays) was about couples being able to register for a CD at SunTrust or to have wedding guests make a payment towards the couple’s cable bill.

This is not the first time that one of my humorous, improv-type or ’stranger than fiction’ concepts has turned into reality.  I’ve written about black box recording devices for automobile (since announced in NYC taxis) and professional sports franchises allowing sponsors to name the teams (subsequently a soccer team was christened the New York Red Bulls).

The point is that buried amidst the out of the box, mix and match, sometimes obtuse thinking are genuinely valuable ideas.  I’m not one for typical brainstorming sessions, but  would venture to say that taking a humorous or even exaggerated view of a problem could result in a viable solution.

Bob London is president of London, Ink, a Washington-DC-based marketing and communications consulting firm and writes business-related humor on the side at

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Mark Warner to Speak at GrowSmartBiz Conference (don’t forget Wired’s Chris Anderson + yours truly).

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

The GrowSmartBiz conference on 9/29 just keeps getting better.  Virginia Senator Mark Warner just announced as special keynote.  Warner, Wired’s Chris Anderson, Bob London.  What more could you want?

Click on to register now.

Virginia Senator Mark R. Warner Will Speak at the GrowSmartBiz Conference

Network Solutions® is pleased to announce Virginia Senator Mark R. Warner as the special keynote for the GrowSmartBiz Conference.

Senator Warner was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2008, and serves on the Senate’s Banking, Budget, Commerce and Rules committees. He served as Governor of Virginia from 2002-2006 after spending 20 years as a business leader in the high-tech industry. He also is the co-founder of telecommunications firm Nextel Communications, now known as Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S).

“Senator Warner has been a well-known leader in the high-tech industry for more than 20 years,” said Melina Formisano, vice president of marketing at Network Solutions. “He will provide GrowSmartBiz Conference attendees with a unique perspective due to his vast experiences.”

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Is it Time to Add “Apps” to Marketing’s Venerable “4 Ps”?

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

By Barg Upender, CEO of Mobomo and Bob London, President of London, InkIt’s been more than four decades since Michigan State University Professor E. Jerome McCarthy theorized that marketing contains four basic elements: product, price, place (distribution) and promotion, also known as the “Four Ps of Marketing” or the marketing mix.

Amazingly, despite the unprecedented upheaval and transformation in marketing strategies, techniques, channels and tactics during the last forty years-not to mention marketers’ penchant for postulating all manner of new philosophies, methodologies, rules and acronyms–the Four Ps of Marketing have remained unchanged.


But perhaps now there is good reason to revisit and refresh marketing’s Four Ps: the emergence of “applications” or “apps” as a new means for organizations to acquire, retain or otherwise engage customers and prospects.

What are “Apps”?

An app is a small, self-contained computer program that provides value or engagement to a mass or targeted audience in a community, marketplace or platform.  Think of Scrabulous for Facebook; WeatherBug for the iPhone; NBC’s Saturday Night Live widgets; or the Wall Street Journal’s reader for the Blackberry.  Apps are commonly grouped via their method of distribution and/or platform:

  • Mobile apps: Designed to leverage the unique characteristics of mobile audiences and smartphones, such as the need for location-based information or lightweight, portable versions of larger, more complex services such as
  • Community- or platform-based apps: Those that are developed exclusively for and can only be used on a particular site such as Facebook; and
  • Widgets: Portable apps that can reside on multiple third party sites and blogs.

The App explosion

The proliferation in the use of apps by large and small businesses, as well as non-profit and government organizations is well-documented.  Apps have been developed by brands of all stripes as standalone marketing tools or to target fast-growing, communities such as Facebook (350,000 apps used by more than 70% of Facebook’s 250 million users1) or the iPhone (65,000 apps available; 1 billion downloads in first 9 months2).

And due to their ability to achieve low-cost global or geographically-targeted distribution; their relatively inexpensive development; and rapid time to market-as well as their virtually unlimited potential for creating unique and valuable user experiences-apps have only begin to reach their potential as a new category of marketing tool.

Let’s examine the explosion of one type of app: mobile.  The transformation of the mobile web landscape is reminiscent of the original trajectory of the World Wide Web.  Very quickly, the consensus shifted from “Why does my company need a Web site?” to “Why don’t we have a Web site yet?”  That shift was caused by the reduced cost of developing sites, their practical and proven use in engaging customers, the increase in available bandwidth; and technological advances that helped organizations deliver more useful and relevant user experiences.

The same phenomenon is occurring today with mobile apps: A recent New York Times article reports that nearly half (48 percent) of phone users shop for apps more than once a week and about the same number (49 percent) report using apps on their phone for more than 30 minutes a day; the cost of developing mobile apps has dropped dramatically; and technological improvements are enabling more speed and a better user experience.


How do “apps” relate to Marketing’s Four Ps? 

Apps can deliver some portion of the product experience; promote the brand; place themselves wherever customers are; and/or be priced to stimulate trial or engagement.  But while “apps” combine elements of each of the Four Ps, they’re neither fish nor fowl–they don’t neatly fit into any one category.

In other words, apps are not products, promotions, channels or pricing strategies.  But an app can have some or all of these elements.  Apps are…well, they’re apps.  Simply put, apps have become a box you check in your marketing plan, right next to the other Four Ps.  It’s hard to imagine a new brand launch, Hollywood film, ad campaign or even a fundraising push occurring without the question being asked, “Should we develop a mobile or Facebook app for this?”

Let us know what you think: Do apps deserve their own slot in the marketing mix pantheon, right alongside the traditional Four Ps?  Please join the discussion in the ‘comments’ section at the bottom of the following page:

1   Source: Facebook

2   Source: Apple

About the Authors

Barg Upender, Founder and CEO of Mobomo, LLC

Barg is the CEO & co-founder of Mobomo, a leading mobile application development company focused on developing applications for smart phones in the consumer and enterprise markets. Mobomo has deep expertise in Apple iPhone, Google Andoroid, Palm Pre, RIM Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian OS. Barg is a serial entrepreneur and technologist with 20 years of experience in commercial software product development. Barg was founding partner of web development firm Intridea and he founded and sold Concentric Methods, a biomedical software development company.  In 2009 Barg was named by Washingtonian Magazine to its list of Washington, DC’s Top 100 Tech Titans.

Bob London, President of London, Ink

Bob London is president and founder of London, Ink, a marketing and communications consulting firm that helps organizations define and prioritize their products and services based on what the market wants – or doesn’t want – to buy. In pioneering the Virtual VP of Marketing concept, Bob works with established and early-stage companies who aren’t ready for the cost and commitment of a full-time marketing executive to assess their market opportunity, determine the strategic options and develop a practical go-to-market plan.  Bob’s work and writing has been profiled or covered by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Miami Herald, USA Today and Marketing News, the AMA’s flagship magazine, and he recently spoke at Network Solutions’ Unintentional Entrepreneur series. For more information, please visit

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Shockingly breathless coverage of Charlene Li’s “more social engagement = better financial results” report!

Monday, July 27th, 2009
Shockingly breathless coverage of Charlene Li’s “more social engagement = better financial results” report despite incomplete assessment of correlationships.

By Bob London, London, Ink,

I’m amazed and disappointed at the breathless coverage and even more misguided buzz/spread regarding Charlene Li’s recent report correlating big brands’ “social engagement” with “financial results.”  I am not a research guru but here is my take from the perspective of a business owner and consumer of business media and social media.

At the heart of the issue is that so many readers/bloggers, eager to find proof that social media strategies have an actual return on investment (ROI), have circulated, shared, posted, tweeted about the study as though it proves a causal effect between more engagement and improved financial results.  It does not, IMHO.

But I can understand why people read (or scanned) the report this way, because while Ms. Li did include the disclaimer that there is no causal relationship between more engagement and improved financial results, she certainly positioned that point as an afterthought or aside.  Taken as a whole, the entire report is written and packaged in a way that I find very misleading.

The report states there is no causal relationship; you just have to read it carefully.

The word “causal” appears only three times throughout the original material, and in each case it is used as a disclaimer to indicate that there is not a causal relationship, meaning that more engagement leads to improved financial results.

Note that we are not claiming a causal relationship…

  • On page 7:

While these findings do not necessarily imply a causal relationship…

  • And on page 15:

While (Senior VP of SAP Community Network Mark) Yolton can’t yet prove a measurable causal relationship between customer engagement and the company’s financial performance…

There is some major conclusion jumping going on here.

But looking at context of each excerpt above, Ms. Li jumps to a pretty big conclusion by saying there is a correlationship (ok, I’ll agree that there might be one), but that–and here’s where I take issue–what that correlationship is about.

Ms. Li’s correlationship examples:

Note that we are not claiming a causal relationship (rest of excerpt) but there is clearly a correlation and connection. For example, a company mindset that allows a company to be broadly engage with customers on the whole probably performs better because the company is more focused on companies than the competition.

While these findings do not necessarily imply a causal relationship, (rest of excerpt) they still hold powerful implications. Social media engagement and financial success work together to perpetuate a healthy business cycle: a customer oriented mindset stemming from deep social interaction allows a company to identify and meet customer needs in the marketplace, generating superior profits.

(rest of excerpt) One of the newest channels SAP is using is, a channel where SAP invites consumers to “Talk with us. We want to learn.” (Senior VP of SAP Community Network Mark) Yolton emphasized that this reflects the overall culture of the company, one that values the ability to listen well. While Yolton can’t yet prove a measurable causal relationship between customer engagement and the company’s financial performance, (rest of excerpt) he believes there is a correlation. “It’s more like branding— our activities reflect an attitude of the company that is more engaged, a company that values the opinions and viewpoints of the many different voices of customers and suppliers.

This is a surprisingly incomplete consideration of all possible reasons behind any such correlation.  Ms. Li is way to quick to focus exclusively on highly speculative point: engagement indicates customer focus; customer focus is a characteristic of successful companies.  A good research report will examine as many such points as possible and make the case for the one they believe is most accurate.

Many other possible correlations/causes not examined in the report.

But there are many other reasons behind such a correlation.  Here are just a few:

  • Financially successful companies have more profits with which to experiment with social media investments.
  • Because they are financially successful, these companies have the management latitude (i.e. permission) to make these experimental investments.
  • Financially successful companies are more confident about their better balance sheets and income statements and, therefore, more confident putting themselves out into the social media for reactions/response.
  • As pointed out by Ben Kunz in a comment on the Altimeter site, “9 of the 11 companies mentioned as mavens are technology-driven companies, prone to engaging with customers online.  To use them as exemplary case studies may bias the findings.”

There are many other possible types of correlationships, but the point is that when you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  The source of such a report and those who propagate its findings across the web need to be taken into account as they have reasons to believe the correlation between more social engagement and improved financial success.

Bob London, president of London, Ink, serves as a Virtual VP of Marketing for organizations that need hands-on, interim leadership in marketing strategy, planning and execution.  London, Ink is a full-service, on-demand marketing and communications consulting firm based in the Washington, DC metro area, that develops and implements marketing and communications programs for mid-size and growing businesses and non-profit organizations.  For more on London, Ink please visit or contact Bob London at 240 994 7644 or

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Bob London to speak at Network Solutions’ Unintentional Entrepreneur Series on 8/5

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Just a reminder about what promises to be an educational and fun event (where I happen to be speaking!) on August 5th.  The event is part of the Unintentional Entrepreneur program which was conceived and is being underwritten by Network Solutions and–two companies at the forefront of helping entrepreneurs and small/growing businesses–and is being held at the Johns Hopkins University–Montgomery County Campus.


I have the honor of joining another speaker, Shashi Bellamkonda, who is an expert on helping entrepreneurs and small businesses use technology for marketing, communications and overall productivity.  Shashi was also recently named to Washingtonian Magazine’s list of Top 100 Tech Titans ( and is a popular speaker on the tech/marketing/small biz circuit nationwide.


Please check out the Unintentional Entrepreneur site and register for the event at  Remember it’s on August 5th and space is limited!  Hope to see you there.

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“Social Marketing is Free so it Must be Worthwhile… Right?” Bob London speaking at 42nd Annual NAFCU Conference

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Later this week, I’m reprising my highly rated (by the audience) presentation, originally given at this summer’s National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) Strategic Growth conference.

The topic is social marketing but not from a “slam dunk,” “gotta have it,” “full speed ahead, damn the business case,” perspective.  Rather the presentation examines whether there is any “there” there yet regarding revenue (specifically for credit unions, member acquisition, retention and non-account revenue).

Here’s the abstract from the NAFCU Annual Conference site, and I will post the presentation on SlideShare in the next couple weeks.

Social Marketing is Free so it Must be Worthwhile… Right?   Well maybe, but BEWARE— don’t be drawn in by the ‘coolness’ of using Facebook, Twitter and interactive applications to market your credit union without some investigation. Before you launch a social media campaign that you’re sure will “go viral,” don’t forget these three simple letters: R.O.I. Even though setting up a Facebook or Twitter account, or even a blog, is free, there are hidden costs in terms of time, resources and budget. This presentation will explore how credit unions and other organizations are using social media and other Web 2.0 tools and to what degree they are successful.

Presented by Bob London, President and Founder of London, Ink, LLC 

See NAFCU Conference site at

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Great article by WashPost’s Kim Hart: “Firms Take to The Tweetable Business Model”

Monday, March 9th, 2009

 Good “mainstream” insight into using Twitter for business purposes. For about two years people were saying “I don’t get it,” or “seems like a waste of time.” Now the enterprising organizations are starting to figure it out.

Also, as someone who helps companies find the return on investment of social networking for marketing, I have a lot of respect for what Shashi Bellamkonda is doing for NetSol and the business community at large.

Bob London
London, Ink

Firms Take to The Tweetable Business Model


By Kim Hart

Monday, March 9, 2009; Page D01 The Twitterverse is expanding.

Twitter, that microblogging tool that caught on with teens and twentysomethings using it to tell loyal followers what they’re doing at any given time — in 140 characters or less — is now becoming part of the business strategy for a wide range of brands, from Skittles to Fairfax County.

Read full article at

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