Venues into the future; the future of Contact Information

The definition and very nature of contact information is changing.

Why is this important?  If you are not able to connect with people, you cannot sell to them, you cannot recruit them, you cannot market to them.   As I talked about in the video intro, things are changing.   If there was a contact information historian, it would be me.

What gets me irritated is when something gets reported as the “next best thing”, when in reality, it is simply, the next, extremely predictable innovation in a continuum.  In this blog, I’m going to play part historian, part reporter and part futurist as it relates to contact information.  When the “next big thing” happens, and I’m including social networks, you probably won’t be surprised.

First, a definition is in order.  What is Contact Information?  I define it as:

“an information venue that facilitates communication with a person”

Why am I spending my time doing this?  My day job is steering the ship at Broadlook Technologies.  Broadlook provides technology that empowers sales and recruiting professionals with contacts at corporations.  To stay ahead, we must innovate.  To innovate, we must research.  To research we must watch, listen, learn, explore and dream a little.

One interesting aspect about contact information is that very rarely does a new form replace an old form.  For example, with the advent of SMS (or texting) people are still using email; perhaps not as much, but they are using both.  Even faxes have not been fully replaced by email.  In some cases, legal wants the paperwork.  Take it a step farther and faxes are not enough and good old paper mail is still being used.   What does that mean?

1. The nature of new venues of contact information is additive.

2. New venues lead to more specialized usage of existing venues.

3. The nature of contact information must be part of system design.

Why is this stuff, in turn, important?  Example:  If you are designing a CRM for holding contact information and you “hard code” (design something inflexible)  to store phone, fax, email and that’s it…big problem. Each time a new type of contact information is created, a hard-coded CRM would have to be updated and reprogrammed.  Some may think that a SaaS model overcomes this, but it does not.   A good CRM will have the changing nature of contact information built into it’s design and not solve it with revisions.

“A good CRM will take into account the changing nature of contact information and  design for that nature from the start and not solve it with revisions.”


Vision of a mobile future; embrace your mobile computer

Vision of a mobile future; embrace your mobile computer

Don’t get caught up in the naming of things with words, it gets confusing.  Words change the very nature of how we think about something.  It is “this”, therefore it is “that”.  Now, a tree is a tree and a rock is a rock, unless you are in some altered state on consciousness, but we won’t go there. I’m focused on the newcomer words that are still in flux.   Too often it is herd mentality that gives  new things their name.

Today I stared on my iPhone, Blackberry, GPhone and Palm pre on my desk and ask myself  “what are these?”

mobile-phones1Cell Phones, Mobile Devices or Mobile Computers?

My company, Broadlook is developing software for mobile devices and I needed to have all of them.  I’m also a gadget freak, so I enjoy having all of them. Perhaps the collection of them, together, was odd and put me into a bit of a trance.

“What are these?”, I asked myself again.

Avoiding a Data Nightmare – How data normalization can improve your bottom line

Avoiding a Data Nightmare – How data normalization can improve your bottom line

“Data normalization” is a phrase that leaves a blank stare on most peoples faces.  Here is a secret:  it is really simple.

Here is the inside scoop:  Technology people have a secret club, complete with handshake and everything.  It’s a club that we don’t want outsiders in.  So we create these long phrases that make peoples eyes glass over.  Why?  Because if everyone understood what we do, then we wouldn’t make the big bucks.   Being a recovering technologist, I’m on a continually journey to lose my geek speak. So get ready, here is the skinny on Data Normalization (more…)

What is boolean? Is “Boolean Black belt” a good thing? What is Beyond Boolean?

There has been a recent rise of the term “Boolean blackbelt”, while I am not familiar, specifically, with all the people stating to be a a boolean black belt, I wanted to add some perspective.

“Boolean Blackbelt”, may be a great marketing phrase, but it is the equivalent of saying “basic math blackbelt”  or “kindergarden green beret”

Why?  because Boolean is extremely simple.  It is the basis for logic which includes logical operators  AND, OR, NOT, and XOR  (exclusive OR).

I do know some people out there that would qualify as “search string black belts” and what they do is a combination of understanding boolean logic along with the myriad of Internet sources.   They have vast knowledge of the process of search.  The magic they bring is not the boolean, it is the business process and understanding.  What they do is tweak out the special commands allowed by the search engines, like Google, MS Live.  Shally Steckerl and Glenn Gutmacher from Job Machine are examples of masters they are “beyond boolean”.

So please, hold the angry emails, I am not knocking the “black belts” out there,  I think they are actually selling their skills short.  My goal is to add clarity that being good in boolean may take few minutes.  Being good at the complex search commands available in the search engines may take a few days to learn.  To know HOW to apply the search fundamentals means you must understand and live with all the sources of information that are available.  Search engines, blogs, social networks, etc.  To know all that requires total immersion.

What is beyond boolean?  Remember, boolean equates to: AND, OR, NOT, OR.  Some popular search engine commands include: NEAR,  Site,  inURL.

(By the way, I just checked the domain: is available!).  Who is going to be beyondboolean?

What is beyond boolean?  What is missing?  Here are some that we have developed at Broadlook.  We call it, what else, “broadlean”.  The next major versions of Broadlook product engines will be supporting it (some already do).  I would like to hear from the searchologists (i prefer that term), what else would you like to see in the broadlean specification?

WARNING!!!!! – The rest of this blog is for the tech geeks out there.  If you don’t know your way around a search engine, STOP HERE!

Here are some BROADLEAN commands:

SS:   Same sentance as
SP:   Same paragraph as
SC:  Same concept as

SS, SP, SC are operators.  PERSON, CORP, DATE, EVENT are what we call entity operators.

example usage:

Project manager”  SS PERSON –  find all pages that mention the term “project manager” in the same sentance as a person.  The  value here is that you don’t have to know the person’s name to succeed with your search.

Google, MS Live, Yahoo are all toys when it comes to weeding through results.  I am excited to see the technology that comes out over the next few years in terms of targeting results.  What fun!

The Art of the Elevator Pitch;  “So… what do you do?”

The Art of the Elevator Pitch; “So… what do you do?”

Companies and the minds within them evolve over time.  I have experienced it firsthand in founding Broadlook Technologies and steering its growth over the last 6 years.   Core competencies change, competitive landscapes change, opportunities come and go and through all this there is your corporate identity and messaging.   There is internal messaging, external messaging and…


While internal messaging may be something like “don’t complain about the 150 lbs slobbering behemoth of a dog the CEO brings in with him” (if they do, I bring in her soon to be 200 lb offspring), I am not focusing on that here.    Today I am concerned (sometimes, up at night) about external messaging; that which is projected outwards to the marketplace.  What brought this to my attention was my wandering around the booths at the recent Onrec conference in Chicago.  Innately, I a very curious person; I want to understand.  So I made the rounds to each vendor booth and simply asked them.

“So what do you do”?

For the most part, I was horrified with the experience.

Why?  It was NOT because what I heard was awful.  In fact, many pitches were excellent.  I was horrified because it made me question and run to the Broadlook booth.  Was my team excellent, or not so excellent?

Let me digress…Understand this is an area of pride for me, Dan Hughes (one of Broadlook’s co-founders) and I rock at the trade shows.   People line up to get a peek at our latest solutions.  We have well crafted pitches, regardless if we are talking to a recruiter, recruiting manager, sales rep or CEO.

How did my team at Broadlook Technologies do with their pitches?

Mixed results.  Some were very good and some were poor.  Next step, I called each of my reps that were not attending the show.

“This is Donato, I want you to call my cell phone back ASAP. I won’t pick up my cell phone.   Leave me a message as if I was a prospect at a trade show and I asked you.”

“So what do you do?”

Armed with a larger sample size, it was hard for me to accept that Broadlook Technologies was, as it relates to elevator pitches…average.   We filled out all sectors of the bell curve. That hurt.   The blame was solely mine and I needed to do something about it.  Average sucks.

Fast forward.  Today Broadlook Technologies rocks the pitch.

How did Broadlook get there?

I did a deep dive into researching elevator pitch.  Most of the research, materials and advice I found was related to making a pitch to get financing.  In reality, this type of elevator pitch is 2-3 minutes long and is too lengthy for a trade show pitch.  I needed techniques for a 20-30 second pitch, not 2-3 minutes.
Most of what I learned is that people have mastered copying each other.  Like almost all writing in all industries, industry “experts” are copying 5 of the top 10 something’s from one place or another to build their top 10 list of something else.

I’ve never been good at that.

So it was time for fieldwork.  Thus, for those that saw me in October conferences with my camera, I was learning.  At the first conference, I was in not helping with the pitches; I recorded them as-is.  The camera was cheap, and the audio quality was lack-luster.  At the second conference, I had a new Sony HD camera.  Video was great but the audio was poor with all the background noise.  By the 3rd conference, I added directional microphone.  By the 4th conference in October, I learned what made a great pitch and I was able to coach the people I was recording.   After the 4th conference, I was confident enough to put together a 60-minute webinar:  “The Art of the Elevator Pitch”.  It went over very well for the vendors attending the Kennedy conference.   In the webinar, I talked about elements of a good pitch as well as how to measure and coach a pitch.  Info on measuring and coaching was absolutely void, so I feel I made a break-through contribution.  What good is teaching something if you don’t have the tools to measure effectiveness and coach the topic?

This was a fun experience.  In total I did about 60 recordings.  38 of the recordings made it into this blog entry.  The ones I cut out were either very bad, or the video/audio quality was poor.   I am not a videographer, some pitches were fantastic, but my camera skills were not and the end result was unusable.  My end goal was to (1) share what I learned about pitches and (2) give the vendors that spent time with me a venue to get them some exposure.

If anyone that I excluded wants to be included, contact me and we can record your pitch via Skype and I will post it on a future blog.  I’ll be adding an “elevator pitch” section to my blog, as I intend on continuing my research.

Much of the existing literature on the Internet about elevator pitches included 8-10 points to remember.  Trying to remember 8-10 concepts at the same time can be paralyzing.  I wanted to bring the whole process down a few, simple, memorable steps that anyone can implement.  After my research and fieldwork I can up with a three-step process to build your elevator pitch.   Enjoy the videos!

1.    Talk about a problem.  What is the problem in the market that caused you to create your product or service?

Sales reps spend 30% of their time prospecting.  They use the Internet inefficiently.  They are manually picking through web sites… cutting & pasting contact information.  They do this because the leads they are getting are stale and overused.

2.    How do you solve that problem?  Be concise and clear.

Broadlook provides solutions that harness names, titles, emails, phone numbers and bio’s from the Internet.  You choose the sectors or companies to target.  The data is fresh.  The data is actionable.  Think about it:  The most powerful list is the one no-one else has.   We can help you build that list.

3.    What makes you unique?  Don’t use generic terms like the “best”, craft a something that truly differentiates you in the market.

We automate the entire process of Internet research from finding the data to moving it seamlessly into your CRM.   We can change 8 hours of research into 15 minutes.
Lastly, for those interested in the powerpoint for the Art of the Elevator Pitch webinar.  Get it here.


Elevator pitches – part 1

Elevator pitches – part 2

Elevator pitches – part 3