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What’s in a name?

By Leo Valiquettehello-my-name-is1

A company name that is a mashup of the founders’ initials. A company name drawn from the item the first business plan was sketched upon, or where the founder was enjoying a cocktail when they struck upon the idea. Even names arbitrarily plucked out of thin air without any intention of there being any kind of profound or clever meaning.

I’ve seen it all with over 13 years as a business journalist and marketing and PR consultant. A company’s name is not the company’s brand, but the two do enjoy a symbiotic relationship. A name is a point of reference, an introduction, which may or may not make a direct reference to what the company does.

But a name alone does not sell products, win customers or grow market share. These things are accomplished through the hustle of the team members, how they treat their customers, how they research the market to understand to whom, and in what form, their product or service delivers value, and how they execute on that intelligence.

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‘They didn’t do any marketing. They just went to SXSW’

By Francis MoranBell Curve

I’d be a semi-rich man if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone point to one of the spectacularly successful companies that have exploded onto the marketplace over the last few years and say, “They didn’t do any marketing. They just …” and then fill in the blank with some seemingly trivial thing, like “They just went to South by Southwest,” or “They just did social media.”

I heard it again just last week when I guest lectured to a University of Ottawa MBA class, with Twitter and Facebook held up as the examples of companies that “didn’t do any marketing.” As I told the students, Twitter and Facebook are no more examples of predictable startup success than buying a lottery ticket is an example of sensible retirement planning. I drew a bell curve in the air and said that if that bell curve described the distribution of success for a given collection of technology startups, then Twitter and Facebook — and here I moved several meters to the right and stretched my right arm out — are way over here. They’re not even outliers; they’re in a completely different orbit.

And still the mythology persists. I can understand it. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are all wildly successful companies, and who wouldn’t want to emulate them. The truth is, though, that most who do, fail. We hear about the (very) odd one that succeeds but, by definition, we hear nothing about the failures, of which there are countless.

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What gets in the way of a great presentation?

By Anil DilawriBored-Audience

I learn a lot from my clients. Recently, I witnessed a couple of clients who had dramatically improved their presentation effectiveness. Their delivery was good, their engagement level was good and the content was clear. But do you know what the real secret sauce was? Their slides really worked for them, not against them. They had simple, easy-to-understand slides that supported and reinforced their strong verbal content.

Those text-filled, complex and cluttered slides may work well in a presentation document that is sent to people via email and then read like a document. But when busy slides are put up on a screen or discussed at a meeting, the audience tunes out the presenter. This is frustrating to you, the presenter, because the presentation should be all about you, your golden verbal content, and your valuable context. The focus should be on you, not the slide.

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Best of: There is such a thing as bad publicity

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from September 2011. We welcome your feedback.

By Linda ForrestCubes - 207 - BEST OF

There’s a famous adage in our industry that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I beg to differ. Your PR resources are doing you a disservice if they fall into any of the following five categories.

1. They’re poor writers

We’ve actually had prospects tell us that their PR agency can’t write. Superior writing skills are essential to good publicity, especially in the technology realm. Technology is complicated and if you don’t clearly articulate what it is your technology actually does, your market won’t know its value and you’re subsequently hampering your market opportunity. Those media targets on your list who are interested in and write about hardware, for instance, may not give a fig about the software components of your offering. Speaking from experience, I’ve visited websites, read press releases and other marketing materials that fail to communicate the value proposition of whatever’s being written about. The death knell for your communications effort is sending out materials that leave the reader scratching their head, no clearer about what it is your company actually does, who for, at what price, why, and where they can learn more about it. The five Ws (and two Hs: how and how much) are essential to communicating effectively with your marketplace. Your PR resources must be able to articulate the important details of your offering, no matter how technical. If the technology is not well understood by your PR team, then they will be unable to write about it effectively.

Bad grammar and spelling are simply unacceptable.

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October roundup: What does it take to get technology to market?

By Daylin MantykaCalendar-October-2013-Excel

Last month’s contents were newsworthy and informative. Leading the pack was Maurice Smith’s post on the ultimate marketing challenge followed by Leo Valiquette’s piece on phone etiquette. As always, we had some great contributions from our guest bloggers on presentation skills, measuring Facebook contest ROI, the neurobiology of marketing, and filing patent applications, among others.

In case you missed any of it, here is a handy recap of our posts, as ranked by the enthusiasm of our readers:

October 9: The ultimate marketing challenge: Final Fling helps plan your own death, by Maurice Smith

October 29: Don’t let your phone skills atrophy, by Leo Valiquette

October 23: When a good presentation isn’t good enough, by Anil Dilawri

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