The Art of Digital Leverage

I was on a call last night with 30,000 people. Less than a dozen spoke. They joined the call from around the United States. Each was positive, respectful and inclusive. Most importantly, everybody learned, in real time. each attendee showed up with their particular worldview. Before I begin, let me share my worldview. I believe digital technology can be a force for good. My big brother Lee taught me that when he found me on the Internet. I believe technology works best when it stays backstage, when it becomes invisible, allowing people to leverage the power of ideas. 

Before I begin, let me share my worldview. I believe digital technology can be a force for good. My big brother Lee taught me that when he found me on the Internet. I believe technology works best when it stays backstage, when it becomes invisible, allowing people to leverage the power of ideas. What I am most excited about is when technology helps people reach farther, bring them closer, help them move faster. This is for those of you who lead or develop leaders. It's about how technology can help you gather followers and start a movement. Here's how they used existing technology to create a customer journey/

It started at Facebook where attendees discovered the organization. The posts from the organization included a CTA (Call To Action). Following the link took folks to a landing page, where they received information relevant to their needs. The landing page included downloadable resources, 'Learn More' links to additional information and an invitation for an email subscription. Subscribers received an RSVP for the last night's conference call. Fifteen minutes before the call they received a reminder with a landing page destination.

The Call

No software to download, settings to adjust, just show up. The slides were in view, the audio used a music bed to confirm your sound was working. An MC invited folks to use the on-screen form to submit a question. They host welcomed everyone, thanked them for arriving on time and asked everyone to standby while everyone else arrived. All we heard was music and announcements. Gone were the annoying beeps as everyone joined. Everyone was muted, so no bathroom noise. It was organized, so much so that the technology disappeared. How very cool. 

The Art of Invisible

Here's what you couldn't see:

  • The organizers used a single slide deck to eliminate the ugly switching in mid-streaming. 
  • The upfront assumption was that everyone was using a mobile device.
  • Polling was conducted by pressing number keys. Poll results were delivered in real time.
  • Each presenter was scripted and timed. Each focused on teaching instead of promoting.
  • The host muted her mic to take notes on the presentations.
  • Links were provided on-screen, via upload and on-demand.

Resistance is Futile

The US is experiencing tremendous conflict right now. There is a clash of ideas, a battle for power. There is a call to just shut-up and listen to President Trump. From my experience last night. Stopping the resistance is futile. 




Oh, I'm sorry. I don't know their name, but you should. In a recent Daily Dairy post titled What Do You Mean - Contented Cows? author Richard Hadden proposes a method to identify that #1 (and #2) top performing individual as well as a neat way to raise up rest of your team.  

It's mind numbingly simple. Find your best, ask them why they stay, make it a rule, copy/paste. 

Here's a trick I pulled on myself after reading Richard's post. I sat down and had a similar conversation with myself. If you are a solo practitioner, try this, and write down what you learn. We all have days where we need a good talking to. Wouldn't it be great if it were a pep talk?


Sales Slump? Not a prospect in sight? Here's how you can take steps immediately to boost your results.

Do you know your sales from yesterday, this month, year to date? Of course you do. I'll bet you could quote the numbers for your team, provide a count of FTE's and last week's payroll. Everyone on your leadership team is constantly aware of business performance. Unfortunately, established businesses rarely have the same awareness of the firm's digital performance.

My research indicates that businesses who wish to compete in the coming years need to start now to achieve an awareness of the performance metrics of their online presence. Yesterday I met a client company that uses a web analytics platform to identify companies who visit their site. Not just user visits, companies. Yesterday we used it to uncover the possible theft of intellectual property under the guise of "content curation."  

More than Awareness, Intelligence

Is the social base growing or declining? Are they engaged? Who are your advocates, your influencers? How many prospects signed up for your newsletter this week? In our current market environment, your online presence serves as the first impression your prospects experience. Is your organization putting its best foot forward? 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs for business are well-known. Digital performance indicators are often unfamiliar. Business development now relies on the Internet to generate brand awareness, reputation, and lead generation. Sales force automation has surpassed online marketing as the engine for growth in both revenue and profit. 

Your Most Valuable Business Asset

Your most valuable business assets in the digital age are the contact databases containing contacts, social followers, and newsletter subscribers. Focus on quality over quantity. Break down your lists into segments. The more you know about each segment, the better the quality of your conversations. Cultivate influencers, elevate loyal fans, keep frequent visitors close.

Same Thing, But Different

When your Career was bright, shiny, and new, you were forced to learn the language of business. Now it's time to learn a new language, with a new vocabulary. The language of digital performance.



The #1 digital challenge faced by business leaders is the lack of a connection between their efforts online and their bottom line. The #1 solution to the challenge is identifying the customer journey. Chefs post beautiful food images that patrons will never taste. Event planners post images of attendees the day after the event. Retailers post photos that resemble mini billboards, with mini results. 

Digital performance, like business performance, must be visible from the bottom line. Your online presence has moved. Once it was, "Way over there". Now it's become center stage. If you feel like your technology has you running in circles, here are some tips you can put to use this morning to connect your digital dots.

  • Start with the end in mind - Ask your customers how they found you. If they don't mention online, find out why. 
  • Focus - Reduce the number of posts. Make each one count. If you are a foodie, don't just show them. Tell them where they can go today for a taste.
  • CTA - Include a Call To Action to get customers off the couch, out of their desk chair, out of their car. 

Jon Ferrara, CEO of, says that less than 1% of businesses use CRM (Contact Relationship Management). He should know. He was the pioneer who created the genre with the launch of Goldmine Software over 30 years ago. Jon invited me to a live video chat to share his latest product launch, a Nimble Add-in for Microsoft Office 365 for iOS. It is not the first foray outside the walls of their flagship SRM (Social Relationship Management) platform. It's simply the latest in a series of Add-ins that bring the power of Social Selling to the world where sales professionals live. Jon explained, "At their core, CRMs don’t do anything for you because you live outside of the CRM. It’s too much work."  Creating value for your organization requires that every member of your team have access to contact information where they work: email, contacts, calendar and social.

Jon's larger vision is to make Nimble available to everyone, whether they use Gmail, Chrome, Office or any application where users need access to contact information. He's decided to offer the Nimble Smart Contacts Add-in for Outlook on iOS to make it easy for users to benefit from Nimble’s full and detailed view of any contact’s social business insights, right next to their Outlook inbox.

Did I mention the Add-in is free? More than that, it's valuable. During our conversation, Jon shared his method to this madness. Established businesses are overwhelmed at the vast array of technology choices. So much so they have lost trust in the companies who tout "cool" software. Jon believes to build a following of loyal customer you need to, give your knowledge away. Share content, teach them to fish then let them know you also sell fishing poles.

It's working. Microsoft is making the Nimble Smart Contacts Add-in for Outlook on iOS available to 100M users. If your organization uses Office 365, read Nimble's announcement.

On a Personal Note

Jon Ferrara is passionate about listening. Not just social listening, but listening to his customers. He lives in Santa Monica, CA, the so-called Silicon Beach. We chatted beyond the scheduled time about the migration of relationship management from using online marketing that shouts at unqualified prospects to using our technology to build relationships one prospect at a time. He even shared his killer recipe for pulled beef nachos.


After an amazing weekend of fundraising, civil rights organization the American Civil Liberties Union enrolled in a Silicon Valley tech startup accelerator Y Combinator. The premier defender of the US Constitution started in November 1919. It hardly qualifies as a startup. With only 200 staff attorneys, thousands of volunteer attorneys and more than 750,000 members, the ACLU definitely functions as a non-profit. The Trump administration's immigration ban hit tech companies by surprise. Key staff members of west coast tech giants were caught outside the US as the ban went into effect. Their fundraising exploded. The ACLU received 24M in just over 48 hours. Trump's actions have spurred action by progressives, but that's not what caught my eye. Why did an established, century-old non-profit make the leap to join a high-tech startup incubator?

Why did an established, century-old non-profit make the leap to join a high-tech startup incubator? TechCrunch wrote about Y Combinator's interest in Democracy tech. The partnership came about after YC partner Kat Manalac reached out to ACLU executive director Anthony Romero for feedback. 

Deja Vue Startup

For leaders of established firms, I believe the answer to survival and growth is not in acquiring more tech, it's in acting more like a startup. It's a question of mindset. Are you an analog company attempting to go digital? Take moment today to consider what your organization would look like if your reset to zero.

I would say it's a definite maybe. The folks at Curalate want us to stop turning our phones to landscape mode to shoot video. Think Snapchat or Instagram. Very edgy, cutting-edge before-its-time concept, I believe, way before it's time. In fact, I can prove it. Notice the image above? It's from the email I received from eMarketer. I visited the landing page displaying a clear vertical shaped cutout within a full-width landscape shaded area. I filled out the form, clicked the Download Now button and received... a pdf. The layout contained multiple columns that were anything but mobile responsive. 

What I learned

Vertical video may be the wave of the future, but for now, engagement will continue to be driven by viewer behavior. An awareness of future trends is important, but bottom-line results accrue from being present. Curalate used conventional landscape standards to engage me. I've included the link to the report, but I recommend taking a close look at how your customers use video content to engage with your brand before taking the vertical leap.

Vertical Video Guide

It wasn't that long ago that customers struggled to keep up with advances in technology. Now the reverse has become the norm. This recent Forrester report highlights 5 steps organizations need to take to build a strategic digital intelligence plan. 

  1. Continuously Evolving the Customer Experience
  2. Delivering Customer Insights and Obsession with Data and Technology Investment
  3. Creating an Insights-Driven Business with Talent, Process, and Organization
  4. Aligning Metrics and KPIs to the Most Relevant Business Goals
  5. Continually Boosting Customer Experience with Testing and Machine Learning

Your Digital Intelligence Strategy Must Match the Speed of your Customers

Over the course of a quarter century, I’ve never produced a PR or Marketing Campaign which included a tattoo. From the moment Deborah Hansen announced her intention, I knew it was the perfect event to launch her Komen North Florida Affiliate Dance for the Cure campaign.

Cute photo right? What if you had one of these Do Over cards in your purse or wallet? Every time you found yourself wishing for a second chance or an opportunity to do a better job or say the right thing, you could simply whip out your card and start over.

This is my 2017 present to you. I hope you understand, you don’t really need the card, you have to power within you to change course, apologize or just get up and start over. I’ve found the card is a great ice breaker, a conversation starter, a way to soothe the pain.

I got it at the cleaners. It’s the tag they use to tell the cleaning factory (?) to indicate that a garment needs a little more work. While I was there Ms. Ruth thanked me profusely for almost single-handedly keeping them in business this year.

So go ahead, click the image, print it out and stuff your very own Do-Over Card in your pocket. Use it like your AAA card to help get you out of a jam. Disclaimer: I don’t think it will help during a traffic Stop!

Over the weekend we have experienced digital disruption in politics. No matter which side of the political divide you find yourself, the best side is to be an observer of the successful strategy and tactics used by both President Trump and The Women's March on Washington. My hope is you will see their use of Social Media as a learning lab that displays how effective social media can be. You can then reflect on how you can leverage lessons learned to disrupt your organization before your competitor does it to you.

President Trump has leveraged Twitter to employ newsjacking of real-time coverage of his administration. The impact to news organizations as well as public companies proves that he understands the power of the Tweet. West Coast corporations have tasked teams to stand watch through the night to be ready to respond to news from his twitter feed. With jobs and stock prices at stake, the President's consistent early AM Eastern publishing schedule has everybody on alert. 

The Women's March protests in Washington DC, around the country, the world and on 7 continents began with a grandmother in Hawaii and grew to millions. It started with a single post on Facebook. Online platforms provided a frictionless foundation to organize. Virtual community-building tools were leveraged to grow the movement organically worldwide.  

Leveraging What We Have Learned  From These Two Disruptions


LIKING is passive, SHARING is active. Both sides use SHARING to grow and expand. Those who follow the President Retweet, a form of SHARING. The Women's movement used Facebook's SHARING function.

How can your organization engage a community through sharing? 


The images and videos from the march and the images of the crowd provided powerful testimony: If a photo is worth 1,000 words, a video clip is worth 100,000. 

How can your organization incorporate live video to create a powerful impact through storytelling? 


The President's team as invoked author George Orwell's term "Alternative Facts" to describe the content they publish. Starting a conversation gives them a first-mover advantage. 

In times of crisis, how can your organization leverage communication channels to get in front of the story?


The President can be counted on to publish a post each day. It's become a normal expectation. It has shifted attention away from the channels platforms and timeframes we have come to expect.

How will your organization find your perfect audience and what will you do to draw them near?

From Reality Show to Real-Time

Both sides are using entertaining video to show what's happening right now. The sharing happens immediately across the globe, forcing a disruption of our ability to process what's happening.

How will your organization adapt to the firehose of inbound information and stay ahead of your competitor's ability to reach farther, faster to your market? 

 I use social platforms to engage, not for taking sides but to learn from both sides. You don't need a book titled, Digital Disruption for Dummies to understand the topic. The only learning resource you need is your social media feeds.

My signature presentation, The Art of Digital Leverage, focuses on three success factors that improve digital performance, Tools, Talents, and Techniques*. Leaders understand the need to invest in tools. Every company has tools. Extraordinary digital performance happens when leaders invest in the talents of their teams. Platform builders and software publishers now include learning resources to increase the value of their products. Getting started guides, video tutorials, knowledgebase articles and user forums provide current information in real-time. Yesterday someone pointed with pride to their, SEO for Dummies book. The publish date was 2008. I didn't have the heart to tell them the info was worthless. 

If up-to-the-minute information works for team members, imagine the value if someone created an online resource for leaders. Someone did. The Kauffman Foundation just announced a major update to their online learning resource center, What I like best about the center is the second on Learning Paths. It answers the most challenging question about online learning, "Where should I start?" The redesigned site guides learners along the path insight and illumination into the art and science of finance, leadership, board governance and sales. I recommend the site as a resource for both start-ups and established organizations. 

Let me share a hidden bonus. I believe the site serves as a perfect model for an online learning resource for your organization. It's the perfect place to present your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). If your goal for 2017 included an increase in sales, start by increasing the value of the skills of your team.


* Tools, Talents & Techniques are core principles of our Tech Tuneup Service

I wasn't looking for dead people. I was searching for someone else and stumbled across a former client who had died. It's hard to let go when someone dies, even harder when they are still alive. We always hold out the hope that they just might respond to a re-connect email. At least I didn't wish them "Happy Birthday" on Facebook.

The biggest hit on the Christmas wish list were Virtual Reality systems. The folks who had the most fun were the spectators, not the players. They howled with laughter as they watched their friends stumble around like drunken sailors. The folks who are having the least fun after the holidays are business professionals. Has your New Year euphoria and adrenaline worn off? What I'm hearing from many of my associates in 2017 is, "Now what?" If you are feeling so low you would sit on the edge of a dime and swing your feet, it's time to get real. Let me share a better question for you to ask this N Year.

Do you use Email? How about Social? Do you use CRM to manage your prospects? Of course, you do. In fact, you and all your competitors use these basic tools. It just proves that investing in more tech tools in 2017 for more sales won't help. If you really want to grow revenue in 2017 it's time to invest in talent.  In the Inc Magazine article, Want to Succeed? Do This One Thing author Brian de Haaff offers 5 tactics for success in 2017.

The signs pointing to digital disruption are all around us. Uber for ride-sharing. AirBnB for lodging. If you haven't seen it in your industry, Just wait, by 2020 your company will either be digitally enabled or it will be out of business. The auto industry is already feeling the effects. In the article from Auto Dealer Monthly titled, Dealership Disrupt, Zach Kempt makes the case for not waiting for disruption to find your business.  Zach identifies the challenge, "Three major technology-driven disruptions are impacting the modern auto retail operation: the introduction of competitive business models, an informed, mobile-connected car-buying public and new sales processes that rely on social selling skills."

In my experience, automotive sales representatives still cling to a, "On the Lot" mindset. They still believe a prospect arrives on the lot with absolutely no idea which models are in stock, your rock-bottom price and the history of a specific vehicle. It's really a simple fix that doesn't involve buying more "Cool" Technology. Here are three tips established dealerships can use to hit the ground running in 2017:

  • Fix your Photos - It's not enough to wash each vehicle and place them in perfect alignment. Prospects get their first impression of your inventory from the photos posted online.
  • Use Email to start a conversation - You can't sell a Ferrari on Twitter. Use email to listen to prospects instead of broadcasting. 
  • Use Social to tell your story - Enough of the Buy Now! hype. Use social to share the new customer story. Involved in your community? Let your prospects know why your dealership cares.

That New Car Smell

Your customer relationship is built on an emotional bond of trust. All industries will experience digital disruption. They key to your success in 2017 will be to self-disrupt your industry.

Learn more...

These valuable tips come from my Keynote presentation, The Art of Digital Leverage - Tools, Talents, Techniques. To learn more about the process, visit:  




You have all the technology you need to make your business a success. All of us do, even your competitors. Especially your competitors. In 10 days you will hear the starters pistol for 2017. Will you be ready to leap forward or will your organization be caught flat-footed?

Winning the race called 2017 requires more than a toolbox full of technology. Success in 2017 requires all your talents and techniques. In their article, How to Improve Your Tech Marketing Videos With E-Learning Insights The folks at identify the critical steps required to train your team to get the most from your investment in digital technology.

I've training thousands of business professionals in diverse industries including banking, financial services, transportation, and healthcare. There is a constant thread running through all those sessions. Adults want to know, "How will this help me with my job."  Business leaders share team members focus on the bottom line. Feature-rich apps, cloud-based platforms, plus the need to connect the digital dots between functions demand more than a subscription to the $20 a month software club.

Training On-demand

A key finding from the article is, "The age of bite-size learning is upon us." As solution platforms gain complexity, software publishers have met the challenge by developing a toolbox of training and support features to help users master their tools. Instead of a printed manual, users are offered a buffet of learning options. Like any buffet, there are simply too many options. Users become overwhelmed. A properly trained team creates the competitive advantage organizations need for more sales. Here are some ideas you can put to use immediately to hit the ground running the first Monday in 2017.

A Leap in Digital Performance

The digital leverage produced by technology is both amazing and powerful. In untrained hands, typo-laden emails deliver a brand-killing message to thousands of inboxes in the blink of an eye. Don't let this happen to your organization. Do this instead:

  • With your computer turned off, make a list of the processes technology could help with. Pay particular attention to tasks that could profit from streamlining or automation. Just finished performing the same task three times this morning? Automating a task frees up the team member for what they do best, delivers better results, faster.
  • Create a second list of the tools in your digital toolbox. Don't forget the apps on your mobile device. When you get tired, stop. My experience tells me we have more technology than we know how to use or need. 
  • Pick one tool or App or platform. Create a third list of all the available learning resources the tool provides. Getting Starting guides, knowledgebase, video tutorials, webinars and support options.
  • Pick one process, one tool, and one training resource from your lists. Ready? Put the "bite-sized learning" process in motion. Invest your time in mastering this single process. Give yourself a badge, a metal or just a high-five.
  • Take what you learned from the process and pick a second then another until you've worked your way through all the process your company needs to create success.

Your Productivity Payoff

Complete these 5 simple steps and your productivity will soar, prospects will engage with your brand and that feeling of frustration and being overwhelmed by technology will soon become a dim memory.

Learn more...

These valuable tips come from my Keynote presentation, The Art of Digital Leverage - Tools, Talents, Techniques. To learn more about the process, visit:  




The question, "How did you find me?" is often at the top of the list when qualifying sales prospects. Making sure they find you is one of the top PR goals business owners focus on for more sales. Defining the customer journey is the process that brings them to your virtual door. Your success in 2017 depends on how well you guide them on that journey.

Many established businesses invest in technology tools without a thought to strategy. Engaging prospects requires more than a single marketing message. Trust is difficult to achieve in an era of fake news. In his article, Five Steps to Integrating Your Blog, Social Media, and Email Marketing, Author Joe Griffin offers 5 steps business professionals can use to create a Customer Journey that connects the digital dots.

It would be easy to discount the value Joe offers. It looks like more work. In fact, this strategy provides more value, with less effort. Connecting the digital dots between social, blog, and email takes less effort while delivering better results. It reduces the number of social posts while building engagement. It creates a path of engagement building toward trust.

My two cents worth:

  • Start with a whiteboard - you can't create a bold vision staring at the screen on your mobile device. 
  • You have everything you need - Dorothy wore the Ruby Slippers the entire journey to Oz. You have all the technology you need. What's missing is an engagement strategy to bring it all together. 
  • What's your Why? - Start with what you want to accomplish, instead of which tools you should use. 

Constant posting on social is an exercise it futility. The art of digital leverage starts with engagement. Building your customer journey starts with the question, "What's next?"


What I am most excited about today is the completion of my move to the Baymeadows area of Jacksonville. More than just a new address, we are talking new company, title, location and phone number. The only items retained are my email address and links to social platforms. Here's more on how I made this decision... 

Start-up companies are the darlings of the business world. They have that new company smell. No messy paper records, or unfinished business. No broken equipment, or people. On the other hand, existing businesses, have history, traditions, loyal customers. This is for owners of existing businesses who want to rediscover their loyal customer-base before they disappear.

Online Video is challenging to plan, produce and publish. It's worth all the effort, pain and suffering. User engagement with video is 4 times as effective as another content. In a world filled with bright shiny objects, the right kind of view can tell your story, engage with a new audience and reconnect with former followers. 

[Editors note] this article originally appeared online in 
Speaker Magazine. I was asked to share it with my entire community. Enjoy!

Whenever I respond to the question, “What Do You Do?” the conversation immediately takes a sharp turn toward cynicism, “Nobody can make technology work,” or longing, “I wish my technology worked.” Both are accurate, but the truth lies somewhere in between.

What makes a contact database better? The stock answer is build it bigger! The right answer is build it better. Having a first name and email address is a good start, but it doesn’t help you understand their needs or help you deliver solutions.

In Brian De Haaff's Inc. Magazine article, 4 Ways Successful People Learn More, Brian, Founder and CEO of Aha! makes the case that life-long learners are more successful. Brian's first suggestion is to discover how you learn. While working with a client on Tuesday I experienced one of my most effective learning settings. It's the Brainstorm.

It starts with a single click, or currently, a tap. In Brian De Haaff's Inc. Magazine article, 4 Ways Successful People Learn More, Brian, Founder and CEO of Aha! makes the case that life-long learners are more successful. He artfully uses the single most powerful element of the World Wide Web, The hyperlink.