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December 2010 Archives

Reconnecting With America's Heritage

Posted by Bill Lee on December 31, 2010 at 11:01 AM

It's been a bad couple of years for many people around the world. For those of us in the US, we've been through our own special pain. As we look forward to a most promising new year and the chance to start afresh--which in so many ways we certainly need to do--here are some things I'm keeping in mind.

Why it's been a bad couple of years for the US:

- Economic recession

- Loss of faith in business and indeed in the capitalist system

- Seemingly intractable political discord

- Persistent cynicism among the "elites" about religion, particularly Christianity

-  Loss of American prestige around the world.

- Continuing difficulties in the war in Afghanistan.

At times like these, a great nation turns to its heritage. As we look forward to 2011, forget the cynics and sour puss sophisticates--America's heritage is superb. Many of our problems are the result of forgetting it:

- America was founded by people seeking religious freedom and a way of life that sought to combine wealth creation with the highest ideals. The early Americans wanted to build what the great minister and community leader John Wiinthrop called "a city on a hill" that would provide a beacon of hope to the world. Four centuries later, with tens of millions of immigrants coming here to seek better lives, and two world wars in which the US was critical to the defense of freedom, Winthrop's prophecy turned out pretty well. No wonder Ronald Reagan turned to that inspiring phrase when he sought to rebuild America's confidence and spirit. 

- That early heritage led to a responsible, public spirited form of capitalism in the US that created both great wealth as well as vibrant communities with prosperous, well educated citizens. Not everyone practiced that form of capitalism of course, but many did. The great French intellectual Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited here in the 1830's was astonished by how powerful a transformative force for the good this was. The remarkable economic dynamism he found in New Enlgand was the result of business people pursuing both "material wealth and moral satisfaction," as he put it. "These two tendencies, apparently so discrepant, are far from conflicting: they advance together and support each other." A profound insight that Wall Street and business executives engaged in short term thinking forget. And we see the results all around us.

- Christianity, for all its issues and shortcomings, gave the world concepts such as the dignity and worth of all people, not just the high born; morality and virtue in our relationships with others, as opposed to cynicism; and our responsibility to take care of the poor and needy. Setting aside the silly political debate over whether the US is a "Christian nation," there is no doubt that Christianity and its principles played a critical role in our formation and development.

We thrive when we remember and reconnect with this rich heritage.  

Paul Krugman and the Dismal Science

Posted by Bill Lee on December 27, 2010 at 02:01 PM

Celebrated economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman despairs (despairs?!) over rapidly growing demand taking place in emerging economies. Huh?

The reason? Emerging economies are touching off rapid price rises in commodities such as oil, metals and food .

"What the commodity markets are telling us is that we’re living in a finite world, in which the rapid growth of emerging economies is placing pressure on limited supplies of raw materials, pushing up their prices. And America is, for the most part, just a bystander in this story." 

The implications of this?

This won’t bring an end to economic growth, let alone a descent into Mad Max-style collapse. It will require that we gradually change the way we live, adapting our (Americans') economy and our lifestyles to the reality of more expensive resources.

I think he left out another implication: rising global demand is creating a feast for entrepreneurs, a skill set Americans in particular happen to have an abundance of. Thriving global economies mean markets to sell to. As for the commodity shortages Mr. Krugman warns us about, I predict we'll handily find ways to address those, either by finding more of what we need and/or finding alternatives--as we've seemed to manage to do before. 

'World’s Best Customer Video' Contest Announced #2011SCE

Posted by Bill Lee on December 14, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Just issued the following press release:

Organizers of the 2011 Summit on Customer Engagement announced the World's Best Customer Video Contest, Winners will be announced at the Summit on March 1-2, 2011 in San Mateo, CA. Contest videos must be submitted by January 20, 2011. 

"Customer videos are emerging as perhaps the most powerful branding, marketing and sales tool on the Web," says Bill Lee, Executive Director of the 2011 Summit and President of Customer Reference Forum. "The most persuasive information to buyers is information from their peers, and video conveys that information more effectively than any other medium. It's time to recognize leaders who are advancing this medium, distribute their customer videos widely, and start developing best practices"

One criterion for judging will be cost: videos entered in the contest must have been produced for $10,000 or less. "And we'll have a special category for videos produced for $5,000 or less," says Lee. "That's because the high costs of traditional video production prevent companies from creating them in the numbers they need to realize their full potential"

For more information and to enter, please click Worlds Best Customer Video Contest

For more information about the 2011 Summit on Customer Engagement.

Grope On, Google

Posted by Bill Lee on December 2, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Google's impending offer of an astounding $6 billion for local deals site Groupon is earning some brickbats: A Forrester analyst called the mulit-billion dollar offer "absurd" for a two year old company that has virtually no barriers to entry and that's "younger than my toddler."

It's questionable whether Groupon has no barriers to entry, but "Google Groupon" would certainly have a big one: how many coupon sites have the majority of the world--including your local neighborhood--conducting their Web searches for restaurants, spas, jimmy cho uggs, etc. on their site every month? Add to that Groupon's relationships with local advertisers who are responding in droves to the service, together with a sales force of about 1500 (half of its 3000 employees) according to the WSJ, and Google Groupon could now blanket local communities with that value proposition. And then there's all that data G-G could accumulate . . .

Btw, those relationships with local advertisers are clearly a critical piece to the high price Groupon would fetch; it's platform isn't all that big a deal. Let's see now, who else has close (and unlike Groupon) longstanding relationships with a lot of local advertisers? Newspaper publishers--there may be light at the end of the tunnel for you!


Presenter Update for the 2011 Summit

Posted by Bill Lee on December 2, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Following are updates on presenters for the 2011 Summit on Customer Engagement, from Cisco Systems, Hitachi Data Systems, Webroot, Citrix Systems, and the Microsoft MVP influencer program and more.

An emerging theme at the Summit: customer advocates are key to the success of social media and community marketing programs. Equally true: communities are key to the success of customer advocates. You'll leave the Summit with a very clear idea of why and how to leverage these realities.

Also, please stay tuned for information in the next few days for entering the World's Best Customer Video contest (winners to be announced at the Summit).

Also stay tuned as we add more terrific presenters in the next few weeks, from, SAP and also a high profile blogger on B2B social media.

Oh, and don't forget that early registration discount is still available.

See you in San Mateo,



 March 1-2, 2011, San Mateo, CA

More information

Register (take get an additional early bird registration discount, enter the following code: #2011SCE-EBD in the discount code box.)


- Asim Zaheer, vice president of WW corporate & product marketing at Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will show how HDS is deploying its passionate customer advocates to make dramatic improvements for the firm's brand and market share, while increasing the firm's revenue relative to its market place.

- Jeanette Gibson director, social media marketing, Cisco Systems will show how her firm creates a broad array of mutual value for customers with its vibrant customer communities and social media programs. This includes increased website demand generation, improved product development and more accurate customer and market intelligence.

 - Kerri Shea-Beers, director of marketing at Webroot, will show how she single handedly developed a simple, effective framework of metrics for Webroot's customer reference program, without incurring substantial outlays, that has won the support of both sales and senior management.

- Microsoft's Nestor Portillo, director of communities and online support, will show how the firm penetrates new global markets without large outlays for advertising and marketing, by engaging with local influencers, turning many of them into advocates or evangelists, with its highly respected MVP (Most Valuable Professional - MVP) program. Nestor is answering the question of how a firm can quickly and affordably grow product adoption and drive brand awareness in a new market where you're not well known, don't know its customers and morays, and literally don't speak the language.

- Pascale Royal at Citrix Systems Inc. will show how her organization has transformed their customer reference program into a unified, strategic reference community focused on marketing as well as driving its customers' success.

- We're also putting together a very strong panel for you on Influencer Marketing so you can learn how a variety of leading firms are finding and engaging with market influencers and turning them into advocates.