Your Competition Is Listening to Your Meetings

Data security is a hot topic today for CEOs, CTOs and IT professionals across the country. Data security, and breaches, are often front-page news where companies spend potentially billions of dollars to protect their customers and employees, as well as regain their brand’s reputation.

Security is important even in meetings. In fact, the Incident Management Group (IMG) lists its top five tips for planning a meeting. Besides venue security, they indicate how crucial it is to protect the content of your meeting and guard access control. CNN recently covered that hackers could secretly tap into corporate meetings – including board meetings. And ResearchGate noted that corporate spying is easier these days because of more open IT networks and policies.

Why should you secure your meetings and their access?

No matter whether you’re holding a meeting for all employees through a webcast or asking your team to collaborate on a new product – your company’s information and meetings are important and should be secure from potential hackers or your spying competition. A breach in your company’s security could lead to a potential loss in revenue, innovation and consumer respect.

Beautiful young businesswoman using mobile phone while working with laptop in office. Upset or dissapointed expression at her faceIf you’re holding an all-employee meeting, what were to happen if your competitor caught wind of a new product? Or what if that team you’ve asked to collaborate is hacked, releasing notes about the product they’re working on? And when your brand is impacted, it’s difficult to recover. Target’s data breach from 2014 cost the company 10 million dollars in refunding customers due to lawsuits, but think about the impact to the brand. AdvertisingAge indicated Target had to scrap some expensive ad campaigns after the breach as well as ramp up others to help the brand recover.

Here are two thoughts about how you can know without a doubt that your meetings are completely secure:

How is your network security and redundancy?

As your online meeting service must travel along network paths to communicate with the central service and meeting attendees, you want to ensure this pathway is fully encrypted.

Not all online meeting services have encryption – some are open, like Google Hangouts.

How is your meeting data stored?

Following a successful presentation, are you confident that no unauthorized companies or hackers are able to access this data? Especially if you are dealing with sensitive company information, you want to be confident that no entity with malicious intent will be able to target or access any information shared in your meetings.

Someone should conduct, host or monitor the meeting. You should have access to these stored and protected files, keeping your company and the contents of your meetings available and yet safe from prying eyes or ears.

Get the latest on secure meetings.

Why Spending 4 Days with Customers Rocked

It’s not every day you get to spend a week in Las Vegas with your customers. Somehow, I managed to do just that in the middle of the desert with 6,000 other marketers at Marketo’s conference — Marketing Nation Summit.

In four days, I handed out cold hard cash, met with customers, listened to keynote presentations, and learned a lot about tradeshows.

But my biggest takeaways are from talking with our customers.

It helps to get out of the office.

No matter what you do at your company, it’s important to get out of the office and talk with prospects … and more importantly your customers. If you have the opportunity to work a tradeshow booth for even an hour, jump on it. I learned more about how people use ReadyTalk over those four days than I would in a month. Working the booth gave me a chance to have one-on-one conversations that would have taken me weeks to schedule if I was back at the office.

Bottom line: Schedule time to meet with your customers.

Customer marketing

Prospects love talking with current customers.

I’m a lucky guy. I get to work with people every day that love using ReadyTalk. So, when I reached out to customers in the Summit Club, our online customer community, I got an overwhelming amount of responses volunteering to help in the booth. Fortunately, Shelby Knops from Birst emailed me back first and wanted to get involved. I asked Shelby if he would be able to talk with others about his ReadyTalk experience.

That’s it.

In return, people that stopped by our booth got to talk with an actual customer, not sales, about how ReadyTalk is helping him achieve his goals. The response was fantastic. Shelby made the difference, providing a true customer and user perspective.

Bottom line: Cherish your customers and give them an opportunity to shine. They will. And they’ll help you, too.

Foster a dialogue for current customers.

It’s important to create a sense of community around what you’re selling. People love to feel like they’re a part of something — something bigger than themselves. I don’t mean that it needs to be a movement or a political campaign necessarily, but getting like-minded people in a room creates a dialogue. It creates instant community. People find commonalities quickly, beyond just being your customer.

We scheduled a dinner for 20 customers who were attending the conference with the sole purpose of fostering a dialogue around:

  • What other customers struggle with or like?
  • How do they use ReadyTalk?
  • What best practices can they share?

While working the booth was beneficial for me, scheduling time for our customers to talk to each other was powerful for us and them.

Bottom line: Get your customers into a room. Only good things will happen, especially for you.

Of course, so much more happened throughout the week like but nothing as powerful to me as spending time with our customers. Customers made the difference, especially for me.

Mixing Virtual and Digital at Boulder Startup Week 2016

It’s not science fiction — augmented reality (AR) will fundamentally change how we collaborate. That’s why I was eager to check out a session with the Colorado-based ‘spatial computing company’ Occipital at Boulder Startup Week 2016.

The session, entitled Mixed Reality: Digital Meets Virtual, consisted of three presentations by speakers from Occipital as well as a Q&A after. It was a great overview into some of the more practical considerations in planning for a mixed reality world.

challenges of mixed reality

The challenges of a mixed reality

First off, Computer Vision Engineer Brandon Minor shared his perspectives on how mixed reality is actually a more challenging problem to solve than virtual reality (VR), because you have to account for dynamic input from the real world. This seems obvious as I write it, but it hadn’t been something I’d necessarily been conscious of before. I had been focused on not having to create an entire virtual world, when in fact a virtual reality space is a controlled environment, so the designer can selectively create constraints within the environment.

Although I went to a LOT of VR and AR sessions at SXSW, I have to say that the guys from Occipital helped me gain a much deeper appreciation for some of the considerations in designing and developing an immersive experience. In fact, that was called out as an intentional term.

“Immersion is key. Otherwise this is just a video game.”

What’s immersion?

Brandon shared his recipe for immersion:

  • Interaction and gestures
  • Realistic rendering
  • An understanding and utilization of the physical space

Hardware Engineer Evan Fletcher called out two considerations to create an ideal VR experience:

  • Experience-complete
  • Complete illusion

Basically: the individual shouldn’t come across any gaps in the experience, and there should be some realism. For example, you don’t walk through walls in real life, you shouldn’t be able to in a virtual world. This led to a conversation about haptics and the implications of a virtual reality system being able to do you harm if you do something stupid!

He did dig into some of the more technical limitations of designing an experience-that whole “speed of light” constant needs to be accounted for-which did little for me other than to drive home that this is an industry still in its infancy, for all the hype we’re hearing about!

Virtual realiy

Designing the experience is the most critical piece

The discussion reminded me of something I too often forget: Designing the experience is actually the most critical piece. Just because companies like Occipital or Microsoft Hololens and Google Project Tango are starting to release dev kits for AR doesn’t mean just anyone can design a great AR app. The focus needs to be on the problem to be solved, a deep appreciation of human cognition, and how we can present an elegant (immersive) solution. For this to truly take off, there will have to be a new wave of designers and developers who understand the nuances of this new interface.
Occipital makes both hardware and software, because they recognize the two complement each other. They don’t play along every level of the value chain yet, though, as they focus more on the development side: working with the sensors to create the 3D models. They aren’t digging into the consumer-side (yet?). That could definitely be intentional as they remain agnostic as they let the big HMD players battle it out.

Predictions

The session wrapped up with some bold predictions from Occipital founder Vikas Reddy. Most notable was his prediction that augmented reality displays would get traction with consumers within the next 5–10 years. Sure, he has a vested interest in that happening, but given his time in the space (Occipital went through Techstars in 2008), he has watched the evolution of technology and consumer expectations and I’ll be rooting for him and the whole Occipital team to see if it all comes true!

8 Ways to Make a Tradeshow Count

ReadyTalk will be at MarketoMarketing people love to exhibit or sponsor tradeshows, but they’re a lot of work. They’re also expensive. It’s not out of the ordinary that you’ll spend a lot of money just for brand awareness … not actual leads or qualified leads. We wanted to make our next tradeshow count.

We attended a tradeshow — Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit 2016. We knew this was THE marketing event of the year — one we ReadyTalkers couldn’t miss. As a sponsor of the 2016 show, we decided to take a different approach to our sponsorship in order to attract quality leads. We started by brainstorming new and creative ways to drive traffic to the booth. Here’s how we made the tradeshow count:

1. Keep your message consistent.

This year the Summit took place in Las Vegas. To play off that idea, we created all of our messaging, artwork and entertainment around the theme of gambling, and hedging your bets. We found that a consistent message = a lasting impression on attendees.

2. Keep it entertaining.

Make it fun! This year ReadyTalk created a prize wheel. People were lined up to spin the wheel to get cash, which caused numerous bystanders walking by to gravitate toward the booth to check it out for themselves.
8 ways to make a tradeshow count

3. Go get your audience.

Your audience shouldn’t be limited by your booth size, sponsorship level, or location. Think outside the box and find creative ways to get attendees to your booth. This year we used ReadyTalk poker chips with our booth # and a call out to “claim your prize.” We passed these out during breaks, happy hours, sessions we attended and sessions we presented at.

We saw a direct correlation of booth traffic after each of these designated hand-out times.

4. Have awesome swag and prizes.

Even though every marketer likes a good pen, we also know that it’s not going to get someone to come to your booth. Understand your audience and select a giveaway that they’ll love. Our prize wheel consisted of cash giveaways on the spot. Let me tell you — people like cash.

5. Keep your audience engaged after the show.

One way that we captured leads after the event was through our poker chip. We included a link to a landing page on the back of each chip to enter to win even more cash. (I explained they like cash, right?) This was a great alternative for attendees who received the poker chip but didn’t have time to stop by our booth.

More than that, we’re continuing to keep up with them now — even after the summit.

6. Get your audience to create content.

Another way booth visitors could win cash was through a 30-second video. If they were a customer, they’d tell us about “Why they love ReadyTalk.” If they weren’t an existing customer, they’d let us know about their “their worst webinar experience.” (There were some doozies we’ll be sharing.) We generated over 50 videos we’ll use for marketing. Woman-hands-raised-000082156201_Medium

7. Have a customer represent you.

This one is big: Have one of your top customers’ join you in your booth to speak about your products with prospects. We found that attendees benefited from speaking with someone about an experience versus an offering. This made it easy for natural conversation among booth visitors. And they’re more apt to trust that customer. They can speak to pain points and issues, too. Read more about why that worked.

8. Make it a team effort.

Utilize your team’s strengths and come together to create an awesome event experience. Do this, and you’ll leave a lasting impression on your leads.

Is Good Company Culture Really About Ping Pong and Beer?

I often hear about how great the “culture” of an organization is. You know, where people are bragging that they get to wear jeans, use the in-office gym, drink beer, and play ping pong.

What is culture anyway?

This is what I get when I Google “culture”: The complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.

Culture is more than hacky sack, lattes and smoothies. Culture is more than just the superficial trappings of a cool place to work.

I mean, ReadyTalk has an informal culture, food and fun activities. We have beer. We have ping pong. We have casual dress and an in-office gym. But we have more than that — we care about each other and our customers, accept and revel in new ideas, trust people to make good decisions, and show results, too.

It’s about caring

Caring about others is important here. We have brown bag sessions on empathy and how to help customers. We do this naturally — it’s who our leaders are and who we’ve hired. I mean, I’m pretty results driven and wondered if this kind of caring and compassionate environment could deliver results. But we can and we do. In fact, I think the caring enables us to deliver better results, and with more thought. We band together and help each other out. And we’re respectful of everyone and consider all sides of the issue. We really don’t have any in-fighting among departments either. We trust each other.

what is company culture

Culture is about innovation, at least to us

New ideas and innovation are important to us. We like to deliver good products that really solve a need, letting people be productive. As the Chief Strategy Officer, I get to see cool ideas come to fruition like our video meeting and collaboration tool — FoxDen. It’s really awesome and the on-site meeting box is so easy to set up. We were able to develop this in about a year and already the team has ideas on how to expand and improve. That’s the culture here, too — creative. I like that.

Culture is trusting people to make the decisions you hire them to make

Part of what helps ideas come to light is decision making. We haven’t always been so good at this, but we’re turning a corner. Like most companies, ReadyTalk was fairly hierarchical. Fortunately, we have kind leadership and caring to make the culture better. But it meant everyone was waiting around until a decision was made – decisions they were perfectly capable of making. Things were taking longer than they should. Now, we’re pioneering Culture 2.0 at ReadyTalk. What would happen if as a result of knowing that you are cared about that now you were trusted to make sound decisions? Would engagement and job satisfaction increase? Ultimately, would the company perform better? Heck yeah; we think so. We’re empowering our team members to make the decisions, and our team members have a way to get the right advice about the decisions. We’re expecting good results — faster decisions, too.

I recently read an article about a leading predictor about the health of technology companies in Silicon Valley. The leading indicator was ping pong table sales! The article stated that there was concern about how Silicon Valley companies were doing because the number of ping pong tables being sold were decreasing quarter over quarter. I think culture is more than beer and ping pong. It’s the belief in teams, the expectations of what the team can deliver and the ability to trust and enable teams. It’s knowing and allowing team members to be experts – what they were hired to do. It’s also the caring compassion and innovation. That’s ReadyTalk!