DroneForce™: Lead Delivery Via Drone, The Best Way To Ensure Lead Follow-Up

How does your marketing department cut through the clutter and engage the sales organization? Today I’m announcing a great new feature for your CRM application: DroneForce, the drone delivery of leads.

Today’s challenge for the marketing department isn’t just generating leads. Using tools like Marketo, Pardot, etc., any competent marketing team can generate hundreds and hundreds of leads each and every day. And many do.

Yet, according to my friends at HubSpot, the typical sales person throws away nine out of ten leads given to him by the hard working marketing department.

The real challenge is how to get the sales team to take these great leads we’re generating and actually follow-up on them.

Sales People Are Special

Let’s face it — when we say “the sales team is from a different gene pool,” we’re talking about Neanderthals. Or perhaps that’s even unfair to our prehistoric cousins.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one CMO told me recently that he has resorted to giving out candy and beer to his sales team to get them to listen about the resources he has created for them.

“The problem with our sales department is that they have such a short attention span, they often just forget about the leads we’re sending them.”

Rise Of The DroneForce

Once enabled, DroneForce™ will solve all of these challenges. Using the same drone technology that has made our wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan so successful, our solution dispatches a fleet of drones from your corporate headquarters to deliver leads in real time to your sales team, no matter where they are.

There are a number of features that can be configured by your CRM administrator:

  • GPS tracking of sales reps via mobile phone; this enables the drones to deliver leads at the coffee shop, McDonalds or any strip club where the sales team is working.
  • Lead follow-up request; the drone will stay and hover until the sales rep actually makes a call and follows up on the lead. We’re still working on the partnership with TASER International that will shock the sales rep every thirty to ninety seconds if they’re not following up on the lead.

But Wait, There’s More

Now that we’ve launched DroneForce™, we’ve started a top secret program that will reverse the lead-generation paradigm as we know it. Our as-yet-unnamed product will dispatch drones directly to prospects, and hover until the prospect calls our sales team. I suspect that our conversion ratio will skyrocket, once we work out the kinks.

This blog was originally posted on April 1st, 2014. Happy April Fool’s Day! If you’d like to see my other April Fool’s Day blog posts, feel free to learn how to use salesforce.com on your Google Glass, read about the time I bought a fictitious Italian software company focused on bringing Facebook and Twitter to the 3270 crowd, or gather new CRM insights from the life and times of Lindsay Lohan.

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Play Ball!

20140316-193350.jpgLorenzo and I bought him his first baseball globe today. He’s really excited about playing catch and I’m frankly surprised by the emotions it brought out in me.

All of these memories came back to me about playing catch, football and hockey with my Dad. Even though I never think of my childhood as that athletic, I guess we did do a lot of family sports.

These are all great, happy memories that somehow I left out of my Father’s Day write up.

Now I’m looking forward to creating more happy memories.

My Favorite Tracks of 2013

I can’t believe it’s late January, and I haven’t published this blog yet.

Anyhow, 2013 was a year of transition for me in the way that I consumed music. I guess you can say I went “all cloud” by basically only listening to Spotify and no longer buying MP3s from iTunes or Amazon.

Being liberated from buying and downloading music seemed to widen my taste and give me many — perhaps too many — options to chose from.

The full playlist can be found here, but here are some highlights:

Daft Punk – Lose Yourself to Dance and Get Lucky

Was this the year of Daft Punk or what? After being an underground or indie band for a long time, they broke out and then whamo, Get Lucky goes through the roof. These songs will always say “2013” to me.

More Pop and Dance Sounds

Perhaps this comes with having a broader palette available, or perhaps a sign of the time, but a whole bunch of pop and dance tracks jumped out at me this year:

I know Blurred Lines is so pop, but it’s also a great song. I’m totally sick of it by now, but hopefully it will sound good in 2015.

I’m not exactly how to categorize St. Lucia, except that Pitchfork called them “electro-pop”. All Eyes on You is a catch tune that has interesting lyrics unless you look too closely at them:

Know that I will take what I can
When you are there standing by
Soft, spoken in the dead of night
All eyes on you

But enjoyable none-the-less.

Alternative Rock and Indie

You know I’m not really sure what goes in what categories anymore, but in 2013 there were quite a few great tracks by bands who only use uppercase like CHVRCHES & MGMT

Some of my long-time favorites Of Montreal, The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand put out albums that while not changing the world, were worth listening to and featured some great song:

and then of course the was Lorde, who wrote and performed the shockingly great Royals:

Hope you like the songs, and let me know what your favorites of 2013 were.

What’s a Twitter Bot For Anyhow?

Not a twitter bot

In two blog posts (here and here) I explained how easy it is to create a Twitter bot (with no programming at all) that would automatically post links (with hashtags) and images. As I wrote the posts, I created a Fake Kayne West bot during the process who has been up and running now for about a week, mostly tweeting about himself.

He’s not the most exciting bot in the whole world, but, hey it was just an example.

Gain Followers

It wasn’t explicitly stated in the past few posts, but one of the objectives is for your new bot to gather a following. And it can be done! Most of my bots have more followers than I do.

A few weeks ago, I was excited that my Twitter follower count finally eclipsed that of my bot Aristotele Onagio. But then due to his aggressive use of photos in his Twitter stream, he shot way ahead of me.

CRM hourly news

My most successful bot to date, CRMHourlyNews, has just about 2,300 followers. The average number of followers that a Twitter account has is supposedly 200, so I figure, that 2,000+ is pretty good.

There are some uses for Twitter bots with few followers, but it’s a a lot less fun.

Increase Your Tweet Counts

Let’s say you’re a blogger, toiling away writing blog posts about CRM. It can be gratifying and motivating to see the number of tweets (and +1’s, Likes, etc.) growing on your work.

honig blog

What you might not know is that if you (or your WordPress administrator) changes the URL structure in any way, all those counters reset to zero! Now, that’s really uncool.

So, one thing you can use your bot for is to raise those tweet counters.

Sure, you can log in as Fake Kayne West and hit the “tweet” button like 1,000 times, but what’s the fun in that.  (Twitter, by the way, won’t let you do that either.) And if you’re bot is trying to build a following, sending out 1,000 tweets about “Dark Cockpit CRM” is likely to scare most of your followers away.

But if you had an army of bots — or perhaps just a division or two of them — you could use the same techniques that we described to auto-tweet about Kanye to auto-tweet about these blog posts that have lost their counters.

By following Amit Agarwal’s very well done example, you can create RSS feeds from any of your Twitter Bots. Using this newly generated RSS feed, you can then link your bots together, using this technique:

  1. Create the RSS feed for Bot 1
  2. Create the RSS feed for Bot 2
  3. Log into Bot 1’s Twitterfeed account and have Bot 1 autotweet Bot 2’s feed. (For more on using RSS feeds to generate posts, this see my first post on creating a Twitter bot.)
  4. Now do the same for Bot 2.

You need to be a bit careful with this, depending on your RSS feed. You want your Twitter bot to post a link to the source material, not the link to the re-posted tweet itself.  I don’t recommend Twitterfeed for this activity; use IFTTT, and make sure your bots are posting only the {{EntryContent}}.

And you must turn it off manually – don’t forget about it, otherwise the eye in the sky might have something to say.

Will This Help the SEO Rankings of My Posts?

Frankly, I’m not really sure. I’ve done a bit of looking around, and no-one can really say if having a lot of tweets associated with a blog post in any way makes it rank higher in Google’s search algorithm.

The links in Twitter are of the “nofollow” type which is supposed to mean that they don’t carry any weight for Google, but this guy thinks that they might.

Besides the importance to Google of these tweet counts, how will it impact reader behavior? Is a reader more inclined to read an article because it has 5,000 tweets? I’m not sure, but if I was forced to guess, I’d sure say “yes”.

Find Followers and Prospects

Perhaps more interestingly, if you build your Twitter bot properly, it can be used to help you and your business, school, band, team, etc., attract more high quality followers.

Let’s pretend for a minute that we’re a food store that sells high quality cheese, like Formaggio Kitchen in Boston and Cambridge. Here is how using a twitter bot like Aristotele Onagio could help them.

First of all, Aristotele tweets about cheese and Italian food, but also tweets enough about Italian politics, football and random stuff.  He looks enough like a real person that the BBC contacted him on Twitter to ask him to do a radio interview!

Odds are that the people who follow Aristotele are also into cheese and food. If Formaggio Kitchen’s Twitter account were to follow Aristotele’s followers, odds are that they will follow back… and they would be good prospects for the fine goods sold at Formaggio.

(Just to be clear, Formaggio Kitchen looks to be doing an excellent job on Twitter and certainly doesn’t need my or Aristotele’s help, but I’m just using this as an example.)

Using the above mentioned approach, the CRM consulting firm I started and ran for many years doubled our follower count on Twitter in about three months.

And That’s Not All

There are also a whole host of jokes and really annoying things you can also use your bots to do, especially if the people that you’re interested in engaging with don’t know that you’re a bot master.

But I’ll leave that for another post.

Meanwhile, go and create some bots, and see how many followers you can get.

 

How To Create Your Own Twitter Bot, Part 2 (No Programming Required): Auto Tweeting Images

On our last How To Create Your Own Twitter Bot post, I stepped you through the basics of setting up a Bot to auto-tweet using twitter feed and Bing News’ RSS features.

How to Use Google News’ RSS Feeds

google news

Since many of my friends are big fans of Google, and would probably prefer not to use Bing’s service, I thought it would make sense to show how you can use Google News‘ RSS features.

Unfortunately Google News doesn’t work like Bing — there is no simple RSS button that you can grab the feed link. However, you can manually edit the below to include your search term:

https://news.google.com/news/feeds?q=“Kanye West”&output=rss

(For this post, I’m continuing to build out the Twitter Bot I started in my last post, @FakeKayneWest. Naturally you would want to replace “Kanye West” with your search term.)

How to Add Images to Your Bot’s Twitter Stream

Images are incredibly important on Twitter. They’re now showing automatically in user’s timelines, and most people agree that tweets with photos are much more likely to be viewed and clicked on.

onagio image

1.  The first thing you need is a source of images that has a RSS feed. Personally I prefer Flickr. Like Google News, they don’t have a simple way on their website to grab a RSS link of a particular search term.

But, looking through the Flickr RSS documentation, you can create one that will work:

http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?tags=Kanye&format=rss_200

Here is where it gets a bit more complicated. You can’t simply take your RSS link from above and put it back into twitter feed. I’m not sure why, but this just doesn’t work.

But don’t worry, there is a work-around, and it’s pretty cool and will do some other interesting things for your Bot.

ifttt tumblr

2. You’re going to use two great web apps: Tumblr and IFTTT:

Tumblr “lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be.” You are going to be creating an auto-populated blog of images for your Twitter bot. (See Onagio’s site as an example.)

IFTTT is “a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: if this, then that” and you are going to use IFTTT to take the feed from Flickr and push it into Tumblr to auto create your blog posts.

Let’s start with Tumblr. Of course you need to create an account, which is somewhat similar to creating one on Twitter. (You should be able to re-use almost everything you thought up before.) And before you know it, you should have a new Tumblr (as the kids call it) under a URL like http://fakekaynewest.tumblr.com/.

Now, create your IFTTT account, and then while logged into Tumblr, select Channels off the top IFTTT menu. You now need to authenticate both the Tumblr and Twitter channels by clicking on their respective icons.

if this then that

Here comes the fun part: creating recipes:

a) Select “Create” on the top menu, the “this” is a RSS feed from Flickr that we created above. (Use the “new feed item” option.) The “that” is your Tumblr blog. (Use the option to “create a new photo post”.) Once you hit “create action” it will be looking every 15 minutes on Flickr for a photo and posting it to your blog.

b) Create your next trigger to send your photo blog from Tumblr to Twitter. The “this” is Tumblr and use “new photo post”. The “that” is Twitter and use “post a tweet with an image”. Now every 15 minutes IFTTT will look at Tumblr and create a tweet if there is a new photo entry.

It might take a bit to start running, so go get a cup of coffee, relax and eventually your Twitter Bot will be doing this over and over again:

Next Steps

This post is getting a bit long, so I’m going to stop here and write some follow-ups to it. Future posts will cover:

How To Create Your Own Twitter Bot, Part 1 (No Programming Required)

Since I’ve come clean about being an organic Twitter bot herder, many people have asked me “hey, Adam, how can I create my own Twitter bot?”

So here is how you do it in a few easy steps:

Plan Your Bot First

1.  Before you do anything on the web, take a moment and think. Who is your bot? What’s their purpose? Are they a fabulous Italian CEO of a software company? Are they a single industry focused new source? Or perhaps a Lt Cmdr 1st & Chief Science Officer aboard the USS Enterprise?

2. Now that you’ve got that set, set up a new Twitter account, don’t use yours! You’re creating a bot here, remember?. Find some photo on the web to be the “face” of your Twitter bot. If you’re creating a bot of the male persuasion, you can look here.

aristotole onagio

Searching for “Italian man” came up with a great photo that I took for the face of Aristotele Onagio. Wish I knew who this guy is in real life.

3.  Once you register for your new Twitter account, don’t forget to follow like 100 random people on Twitter and fully fill out your new bot’s Twitter profile. If you need some suggestions on how to make that engaging, look at Mashable’s guide.

4.  It might seem silly, but these first two steps are really important. You need to be interesting if you want to attract followers. What’s your bot’s back story? As a progressive Italian, Aristotele hates Silvio Berlusconi, so that became a central part of his “personality”.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to step us through setting up a new ‘bot: @FakeKanyeWest:

fake kanye west

Make Your Bot Tweet

twitter feed

4.  Now on to more technical stuff. Sign up for a twitter feed account. Twitter feed is a service that “offers to tweet the last posts published in a blog via the RSS feed.” I find the service a bit slow, but it is extremely useful.

5.  The next step is to find a bunch of RSS feeds to pump into twitter feed. What you don’t have some handy? No worries, Google News and Bing News do.

Let’s start with Bing News — it’s a bit easier. What would Fake Kanye want to tweet about? Why himself, for sure. So, let’s type Kanye West into Bing News. All sorts of new stories show up, and down at the bottom of the page you will see this:

tumblr_inline_myml1fdiLX1qc1v1w

 

Right click on the “subscribe by RSS” link and copy the link.

6.  Heading back to twitter feed, let’s set up a new feed:

twitter feed screen shot

See how I put that link from Bing in there?

Next, go to the “advanced settings”:

advanced settings

Personally, I think setting “Post Content” to “title only” works the best for Twitter. You can change how frequently you want Fake Kanye to post with the “update frequency” drop-down.

twitter feed 2nd screen shot

A bit lower down in the Advanced Settings, is a really important. Posts in Twitter are often found via hash tags, so attaching them to Fake Kanye’s Tweets makes them more noticeable.

Move to “step two” on twitter feed, authenticate your new Twitter account, click “authenticate service” and you have created a auto-tweeting Twitter bot.

Next Steps

This post is getting a bit long, so I’m going to stop here and write some follow-ups to it. Future posts will cover:

Confessions of an Organic Twitter Bot Maker

Valaria Onagio

You’ve probably read the articles about how many ‘bots there are on Twitter, right? Researchers have recently claimed that it could even be 1 in 10 accounts.

Most of the time, based on my own personal experience creating ‘bots, I suspect it’s more like 9 out of 10 accounts.

As you’ll see, my approach to creating bots is hand-crafted. There are Twitter bot factories out there (really!) that churn out the tweets and bots by the thousands or millions. That’s not me.

The Beginnings of My Botishness

Anyhow, my entry into Twitter ‘bot creation started when we needed an account for an April Fool’s Day blog post we were creating. Hence the Twitter account of Aristotele Onagio was born.

Using nothing more than Twitterfeed and the Google News RSS feed, this slightly more polished doppelganger spewed news of Berlusconi, Milan and Italian cheese. In no time, he had more twitter followers than me, and became somewhat of an authority on the changing Italian political scene:

bbc and onagio

With Aristotele going strong, I created the above pictured Valeria Onagio ‘bot whose profile description Amante del cibo, la cucina, i gatti e tutte le cose che indossano calze translates roughly into “a lover of food, cooking, cats and all things that are wearing stockings”.

Listed as the CFO of Onagio Software — no relation to Aristotele — her follower count quickly zoomed over 1,000.

Industry Specific Twitter Bots

CRM HourlyNews

Emboldened by my success, I created industry specific ‘bots, CRM Hourly News (“Every hour, almost on the hour bringing you the top stories from the world of Customer Relationship Management”) which has 2,200+ followers and Social Business Today (500+ followers).

CRM Hourly News seems to compete with ‘bots like Daryl Shaber (mostly RT’s about Salesforce.com) and BlissLogix (who also does mostly the same thing).

Hard to tell who is winning, but it’s amusing to watch the bots tweet at each other.

Slower Burns

Now, not all my bots have gone on to fame and fortune. My No Jerks twitter bot never really took off, despite interesting content.

I created a bot for my wife’s law firm, White & Associates, which only recently cracked 100 followers, which is quite low for 11,000 tweets!

Creating a bot seems to be more than generating tweets and hashtags.

What Next for the Bot Maker?

With the recent changes in Twitter, my bots have been trying to post more pictures, which seems to be a bit more complicated:

I’ve been using tools like IFTTT to help with this, along with Tumblr specific photo blogs, but what I’d really like to do is start writing some simple programs that talk directly to the Twitter API as described here in The New Yorker.

Unfortunately traveling around and my day job have been keeping me from taking this move. Perhaps I should just take a few days off to focus on this? Valeria would be pleased.

Learn More

Don’t just take my word for it, it’s easy to create bots. I wrote a few blogs describing how. Give it a try. Or instead you can also follow my Twitter list of my bots here: https://twitter.com/adamhonig/lists/social-friends, but watch out for Valeria’s images — she seems to be posting often inappropriate (and NSFW) pictures of people wearing stockings.

Where Did I Go in 2013?

Where did Adam go in 2013

According to my records, and those of TripIt, I traveled 118 days this year, not quite the 120 that I was expecting. This is down from the crazy travel years of 2005, 2006 when I would routinely hit 200 days. (Barring a major emergency, I’m done traveling for the year.)

I wish that TripIt would use all the data that they have on my travels to create an interesting document the way that Dopplr used to. (Dopplr, by the way just seemed to stop at some point. No explanation given.)

Travel stats

If you believe the miles traveled figure from TripIt, I traveled an average of 32 miles per hour this year.

Top places visited in 2013 were London and New York — as always — and Philadelphia. For the first time in a while, I went West quite a bit with four trips to San Francisco and two to southern California.. While I didn’t make it to Rochester, NY this year, I manage to visit Harrisburg, PA twice.

My prediction is that 2014 is going to see me traveling quite a bit less.

Remembering Alan Honig, 1942 – 2002

Alan and Nol laughing
Dad and Nol laughing at who knows what, March 28th 1991.

It being Father’s Day today, Nol and my thoughts have been about Dad for a while. Nol and I wrote this together as part obituary, part remembrance, part therapy.

Our father, Alan Honig, passed away on December 20th, 2002.  Adam Honig Dot Com wasn’t up and running back then, so no official obituary was published at the time.

Dad was 60 when he died from complications resulting from cancer which he had been battling on and off for about ten years. Though he was a strong fighter through the whole ordeal, he was fortunate to feel no particular pain as a result of his illness. Sometimes it freaked him out how sick he was since he felt no effects of it whatsoever. Only from the treatment.

 

I don’t even know what party this photo of Dad and Mom is from.
I don’t even know what party this photo of Dad and Mom is from.

It’s hard not to think of parties and having fun when one thinks of Dad. He’s the one who taught me the golden rule of dinner parties: don’t serve dinner until everyone is at least half in the bag. He and my Mom would throw massive, elaborate surprise parties for each other that would sometimes feature parades, crazy costumes and certainly long nights.

Alan Honig with fish
Dad proudly displaying a fish he caught on Long Island Sound.

Dad loved to go fishing. It’s not clear to me how a Jewish boy from the Bronx develops this sort of love, but he sure had it. Nol and I grew up in Huntington Bay, Long Island and Dad had a boat that he couldn’t wait to take out on the Long Island Sound each weekend and fish.

As adults, when Dad was just recovering from cancer, we took him down to North Carolina for a deep sea fishing expedition. He had a fantastic time. We spent half the time nauseous in the tiny cabin below deck.


alan and adam honig fishing

Alan could be very opinionated… unlike the rest of us. He demanded excellence and top grades, and loved to discuss metaphysics, religion or politics. He speciality was picking the opposite side of the argument. I once heard him argue extremely passionately for both the Israeli and Palestinian causes at one party — with two different people. I believe this was at a Seder, at someone else’s house.

Dad was very verbal — all sorts of word play, anagrams, puns, scrabble, crossword puzzles — came very easy to him, and our dinner table was a constant barrage of conversation.  Some of which was positive and encouraging. His wit and sense of comic timing was impeccable, but at the same time he could devastate you with one off-hand comment meant to be a joke.


Alan Honig in Florence

Dad was born to Jack and Dorothy (Dotty) Honig of the Bronx, New York and grew up on The Grand Concourse with his older brother Henry Honig. Highlights of his young life include a memorable trip down the Grand Canyon on a burro, and working as a waiter at a Jewish Summer Camp in the Adirondacks. And of course fishing.

After Music and Art High School in Manhattan, he attended and graduated from Pratt Institute with a major in advertising. It was there that he met our Mom, Celia Newman, who was working there as a secretary.

Alan and Celia Honig kissing
Alan and Celia at Alan’s surprise 30th birthday party in 1972.

The story, as I understand it, was that Celia was being pursued by quite a few men eager to marry, so Dad proposed on their third date. She must have liked his bold swagger.


the lymon

Dad was an ad man through and through. He worked his entire career in advertising and growing up we’d often watch TV, talk through the program, but watch the commercials with rapt attention.

Probably Dad’s most famous television commercial was for Gillette Foamy, which dared to ask the question “was Gillette Foamy think and rich enough to stop this speeding roller coaster?” Previous Gillette Foamy commercials featured men shaving, but this series of spots broke new ground and ultimately won a CLIO award, the academy award of advertising:

Dad’s Gillette Foamy Commercial from adamhonig on Vimeo.

(If the video of the commercial isn’t displaying, you can find it here.)

Other notable achievement of his career include “inventing” the lymon for Sprite, launching Febreze, and creating award winning commercials for Harrison Goldin’s successful run for New York’s Comptroller.


alan honig feeling good

Dad would have turned 71 about ten days ago. Suddenly that doesn’t seem so old. I know a lot of men still strong and vital at that age. Dad lost a lot of his 50’s to cancer, and then died less than 6 months after his 60th birthday.

We didn’t always get along; our mutual stubbornness kept us apart. Dad had a tendency to view me — and Nol in my view — as an extension of himself, not as a person in my own right. He was great at a party, or charming a friend, or pitching a client, but one on one wasn’t his strength. I wanted him to understand me, to know me but for some reason I had trouble breaking through.

Without the cancer, without dying, it’s hard to imagine him not getting a bit more mellow in his old age. He would have loved rolling around on the floor with his grandkids, playing the childhood games that Nol and I loved to play with him. Games that Dad once explained to me would “allow you and your brother to get out your frustrations with me”.

It makes me sad to think that we weren’t close in his final years, and I regret not trying harder. I know that I learned and took away so much from him — both positive and negative. Even though I was very angry with him for a long time after his death, but having a bit more perspective now, I wish the asshole* was around with us.

Happy Father’s Day.

(*Asshole was one of Dad’s favorite words, and was very common for his friends to call each other such.)

For Nol’s take on Dad, see his post.