Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Welcome market summaries and ChiefMartec.com

We have been pretty quiet since we announced our partnership with MedCityNews but we have not seat idle in the meantime and have been working on solving tough problems.

The first problem we worked on is one that I have been faced with during my career as a Venture Capitalist and it goes something like this:  You are doing a due diligence and one of your partners asks you a question like this: who are the players in this Space? How much has been invested? Do we know anybody that we can talk to about this investment? Sounds familiar, you may have faced variants of this problem if you are a headhunter sourcing candidates, a business developer trying to make sense of a market, a consultant trying to categorize a market or simply an entrepreneur looking for information about who the investors, the journalists, the consultants, he should be talking are.

At this point, you have two options: one is to call the company and ask for the information, the other more common is to do it yourself because you want to make sure that the work has been done thoroughly. So you crawl the web and after an hour, you find a landscape of companies organized in categories and lists. It is usually a 2D graphic filled with logos. Once you have seen this list, you have to understand who the companies are and then for each companies figure out  the information you are looking for and then aggregate it to make sense of it. If you are lucky or not controlling, you will find an analyst or an associate to do it for you. But either you or him will take forever to do it. And, at some point, there will be a point where you will regret to have found this landscape.

This doesn’t have to be this way and we think we have found a solution that bridges the gap between the landscape graphic and the information you are looking for. As John Koetsier puts it, landscape on VBProfiles becomes alive. This has been possible because of two major milestones:

1)    Introduction of the Market Summary: for each markets or public lists you are tracking, you have now access to the summary of that public list. We let you know:
a.    how the specific lists you are tracking are related to other public lists in our portfolio;
b.    who the companies are and how they stack against one another;
c.    how much funds has been raised in that specific market or public lists;
d.    who the players are: executives, investors, journalists, consultants,…
This is free for now and for at least a couple of month so you should try it.
2)    Partnership with ChiefMartec.com: We have done one partnership with ChiefMartec.com who published the famous ChiefMartec.com Marketing Technology Landscape. ChiefMartec.com edits every year a marketing technology landscape of 1,000 companies organized in 43 different categories of product. We have ported this landscape on our platform so that everybody can start tracking the lists, categories as well as the entire landscape.

The combination of those two announcements is now extremely powerful for the Marketing Technology Industry. You can now have access to all data about this landscape, follow specific categories, know who funds what, who is covering those spaces as journalists and consultants. And with one click, you get now information that it would have taken days to get.

We hope you’ll enjoy those new features.

Philippe Cases

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Guidelines for content on the Spoke guidelines

I am writing just to inform you that we have been obliged to remove 4,600 companies from the SpokeIntel/ VBProfiles/Capsules database. I would like to explaim why we do this as well as give some guidelines for profiles we are going to accept moving forward on the Spoke Network.

About a month ago, Google put our network in a penalty box to the point that we were not seeing any traffic coming from the search engine. This forced us to review our policies and ask the very hard questions including which content needed to be on our current network of sites. We decided to move on a certain number of fronts, the main decision being to focus Spoke.com on local directory listings and the Spoke network on competitive intelligence.

What does that mean for the content on Spoke Intelligence Network? A profile will need to be:
1)    At least 65% complete;
2)    Updated on a regular basis at least every 6 months;
3)    In an Industry that we are currently tracking: Technology and Healthcare Technologies (including Bio Tech).
We will be very proactive in letting you know if your profile doesn’t match the criteria to remain on the Spoke Network or if the profile has not been updated.

If you are not in Technology and Healthcare related field, we suggest you register your company on Spoke.com. There the criteria are not going to be as stringent but it is important to keep the profiles updated.

For the people who had created a profile on the Spoke Network (VBProfiles, SpokeIntel, MedCity Capsules) that were removed, I would like to express my sincere apologies for having been obliged to do this. You should let us know if you want us to port your data on Spoke.com and we will do it for you.

Philippe Cases

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Welcoming MedCity Capsules and what it means for you

This is with great pleasure that I am announcing that the Spoke Intelligence Network has a new member. As of today, MedCity News is launching MedCity Capsules, the first Healthcare Business Intelligence Website powered by the Spoke Intelligence Network technology and content.

 We are very proud to partner with MedCity News as MedCity News is one of the most (if not the most) thoughtful and interesting blogs in the Healthcare Industry. Entrepreneurial at its core with a great leader at its helm, MedCity News is the type of companies we strive to partner with. MedCityNews is also very complementary to VentureBeat in term of Industy and Geographical coverage. It covers the Healthcare Industry in depth and given its location, it has a strong following in the MidWest and the East Coast.

 This partnership has several dimensions:
1) As already mentioned, MedCity News is launching MedCity Capsules, a website dedicated to Healthcare Business Intelligence based on the Spoke Intelligence Network content and Technology;
2) MedCity News will actively promote MedCity Capsules to its community and will link their articles to our content;
3) MedCity News will start populating the Spoke Intelligence Network automatically with their thoughtful content
4) MedCity News is contributing content beyond news by creating lists and Industry Trackers for the Healthcare Industry. Of course those lists and industry trackers will be available on all sites of Spoke Intelligence Network;
5) Lastly, MedCity Capsules will promote the lists created in the other part of the network as well.

 For the Spoke Intel community, this is the best of both worlds as you get more content and more reach without any work. If you have content on one of our existing sites, this content will now reach more and different type of users through MedCity Capsules. And it is not going to be another site to maintain either, as the content you have created on one site will automatically update the others. Same if you are monitoring your pages or lists of pages on one of the SpokeIntel sites, any time that there are updates from any other sites, you will be alerted as well directly within the site you are a part of.

 For Spoke Software, this is of course a major evolution, as MedCity Capsules will cover HealtchcareIT, Medical Devices and Biotechnology. With VB Profiles, Spoke Intel and MedCity Capsules, we are now covering 5 of the 6 most important verticals in term of Business Intelligence and now addressing a potential market of more than 100,000 companies.

 We look forward to hearing from you….

Monday, August 19, 2013

Real Estate Professionals Need a Solid Foundation Online

Real Estate And Marketing
Realtors and brokers have a long-standing relationship with brand marketing, both at the company and personal levels.  They were early adopters when things began to move online, and today's consumers know they can just as easily find realtors on Google or Yelp as they can by driving past park benches and for-sale signs.  However online, the velocity of change continues to increase, as new tools are being released that provide a richer and far more functional experience to the consumer; and those realtors who take advantage stand the best chance to thrive.

Let's look at 2 examples of realtors doing an excellent, and not so excellent, job of using online tools to build their reputation.  Think of Spoke.com as the scorecard by which to compare these examples, because it's a powerful place to store all the different pieces of your reputation puzzle.

A Great Example:   Danny Evatt

A quick glance around this page and it's clear that Danny knows what he's doing.  Consider the mix of tools he employs, ranging from familiar things like a website and linkedin page, to things like a trulia presence, a company blog, a facebook presence, and even an active twitter feed where he posts great pictures of his locality (nice!)  One of my favorites is a link to the Wikipedia history of his last name -- for the sheer creativity!

Danny's page is 80% complete which is quite good; though 
if we were to offer some advice, it would be (a) to include an already existing YouTube presence to the page, and (b) to take greater advantage of the 'Achievements and Recognition' section to post links to milestones and press mentions (maybe he sold a flagship property and could add a link to the successful listing; or perhaps he was mentioned in the paper, or won an award from his company or an association.)

A Not-So-Great Example:  Jesse Continental
Unfortunately, this is a much more common story.  An office or realtor will begin to work on their online reputation, but stop before they have a chance to realize the huge potential upside.  30 seconds on this page is illustrative that Jesse has lots of real-world experience and understands his market niche, but that's where it stops.  With only a 40% completion rating on Spoke--by posting a name, summary, industry, website and (discontinued) facebook link, Jesse is leaving real value on the table!  He could invest a very minimal amount of time to learn and deploy industry-specific tools lik trulia.comzillow.com, and even the more general yelp.com.  If you're in the real estate business, make sure you understand these at the very least.

Final Thoughts
There are two important takeaways from this analysis.  First, remember that each outside presence and link that you add to your Spoke page represents a unique channel to attract new clients, and impress existing ones.  For example, many realty offices are great sources of local market news and conditions.  Have you written articles or blog posts?  Add a quick link to the notable links section of your Spoke page.

And secondly, think about the broader implications of having a rich and varied reputation on the internet:  Danny is clearly a quick-study when it comes to learning and taking advantage of new tools and technology; and when you look at all of these on something like his Spoke page, it can send powerful subconcsious signals that he has the creativity and tenacity to represent a client extremely well.  So push yourself to new levels this year, because more and more people rely on these channels everyday for increasingly important information (like finding a real estate agent.)  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Verdict: Lawyers need help with Online Reputation

Legal Reputation Building 101

Let's jump right in and look at 2 examples of firms doing an excellent, and not so excellent, job of reputation building.  Think of Spoke.com as the scorecard by which to compare these examples, because it's simply a place to store all the different pieces of the reputation puzzle.

A Great Example:  Douglas J. Smith Law Office
30 seconds on this page is all it takes to see the variety of reputation tools at legal firms' disposal.  Mr. Smith's page has a 90% completion rating thanks to presence of a website, a blog, a facebook and twitter presence, and he has even produced a few YouTube videos.  Now, none of these is overly difficult to establish, and they all represent unique channels to attract new clients or impress existing ones.  He has also used the 'Notable Links' section to link to his other web-presences:  merchant circle, insiderpages, yahoo local, etc; though if we were to offer some advice, it would be to take advantage of the 'Achievements and Recognition' section to post links to major milestones or press mentions (maybe Mr. Smith won a major case, or won an award within his industry circle, or was mentioned in a local news outlet -- those kinds of things)

A Not-So-Great Example:  Offices of Johnny Law
Unfortunately, this is a much more common story.  A law office will begin to work on their online reputation, but stop before they have a chance to realize the huge potential upside.  30 seconds on this page is illustrative that Johnny Law has a great niche to share with the internet audience, however has only taken enough digital strides to reach a 15% completion rating on Spoke--by posting a name, summary, address, and phone number.  This may have been valuable information in 1995, but today it's not even enough to be taken seriously, we hope that they just haven't updated their Spoke page lately.

Now to clarify, we're not saying that everyone needs to have a universal internet presence.  Our view is simply that it's important to push yourself to new levels in the year 2013, because more and more people rely on these channels everyday for increasingly important information (like finding a lawyer.)  Even if you don't have a website, get creative!  I'd be willing to bet that clients have left reviews on Yelp about your office -- and you could post that link to your 'Notable Links,' or make it your 'website!'  You could even use your avvo.com page.  (Oh, if you haven't heard of Yelp or Avvo, go check them out this second, they're critical to your firm.)

So go experiment with these important digital tools, and send us messages on twitter or facebook when you do!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Understanding Digital Reputation

Though people are spending more time on Social Networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn, the web is still the main place where people search for information.

Digital Reputation Management requires understanding what tools and services are available to monitor your personal online brand and promote the good content that shapes your identity.
What is Digital Reputation

Wikipedia describes Reputation as a commonly-held opinion, or a social evaluation based on a set of criteria. It is important in business, education, online communities and many other fields.  Online, information is being published all the time: by us on our social profiles, by others on blogs or their social profiles, and by professionals on news sites and across the internet as a whole. 

 Our digital reputation is being shaped as much by us as by other people; and as a result, checking frequently what is available online and making sure that the good content appears first is important for somebody conscious about their personal brand.

Simplified, Digital Reputation Management involves both a discovery element, and a curation element.

To learn more, check out the Reputation Management topic page on spoke.com to dive in!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Reputation Management Lesson 1: The Professional Picture

When it comes to online reputation, no matter the medium, you'll often be leading with some kind of profile image or logo; yet this is often one of easiest aspects to overlook--to just grab something off of your desktop and think "I'll get a better one later."

No more! Spoke wants to put you on the offensive. Whether you already have Spoke pages built with images, or you haven't added your page yet (by using the big Orange "Add Page" button on spoke.com.)

Selecting the right image (for a person or company page,) is all about 3 things:

1. What level of professionalism are you trying to convey?

This seems like a no-brainer, but in reality, people often don't take that extra minute to really question what their current image says about them as a professional. Are you an undefeated trial lawyer? A no-nonsense corporate accountant? Chances are you're professional persona will benefit greater from a serious portrait in a business suit, while someone in the marketing/creative or service industry will want to find ways to inject a bit of warmth or even quirkiness.

2. Is there a uniqueness or special sauce

Think about how you can personify your competitive advantage, as a person or as a company. One of the best examples of this is Apple. Their guiding principle in hardware and software design is simplicity--design so complex and so intuitive, that the end result is something simple and beautiful. And their entire corporate brand could not be better suited: a beautiful neutral-colored apple. No fireworks, no flashy colors, no crazy fonts, etc; just an elegant piece of fruit.

3. Technical attributes: dimensions, good focal point, and color contrast

Think of these as things to check off, once you've selected an image. Does your image fit the dimension requirements for the location you are posting it? Some websites will want your image to be a perfect square (such as Spoke,) while others allow for elongated images in either orientation. Next, is the most important part of your image the sole focus of it? Don't use a busy image for a professional application--either your logo or your face should be front and center. And finally, does that focul point blend into the background of the image or the webpage itself; or rather, do the colors pop out and draw the eye?

Give yourself and your company a quick visual audit. A great way to start is by visiting your Spoke pages and applying these criteria, or creating new ones.

And Look for more lessons in Reputation Management in the coming weeks!