Archives for November 2011

What Are You Eating?

Top Producer Cartoon by Kelsey Sarles
"Top Producer" is by Kelsey Sarles for Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R).

Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes Coldwell Banker Townside specializes in in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes and national and global relocation services to the Blacksburg, Virginia and Roanoke, Virginia areas. You're invited to check out the CBT blog, Keepin' It Real Estate, visit Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) on Facebook, and see more of Coldwell Banker Townside on Handshake 2.0.

Download the Coldwell Banker Townside App in the iTunes App Store or in the Android Market.

Read more from Margaret Galecki on Handshake 2.0 and view more from Kelsey Sarles on Handshake 2.0.

Coldwell Banker Townside REALTORS is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Mastering the Media

A guest post from Todd Brabender:

Todd BrabenderAs a former TV newsman and a current PR professional, I have been on both sides of the media interview game. There are a few tricks of the trade that I do when talking to the media for a client which will make the reporter’s job easier and most likely translate into a better PR placement.

A few basic tips I follow:

Respond promptly.  When a campaign pitch generates a media response, I respond as promptly as possible. I know that if they don’t get what they want from me quickly, they WON’T wait – they WILL move on to another source.

"State facts, not fireworks."  I like to keep superlatives to a minimum. I simply state the specific benefits of the product matter-of-factly. The product won’t need “BEST EVER” or "NUMBER 1" claims to come out in a positive light.

Speak in sentences, not phrases.  I articulate answers in the following manner:

Subject – Verb – Object – Reason

Example: "We (subject) are launching (verb) this new product (object) to give consumers a healthy new option in beverages (reason)."

This helps me give answers that are straightforward and easily understood. Beginning sentences with phrases, tends to make answers seem drawn out, disjointed and most times unresponsive.

"Echo-answer" the main questions.
If a reporter asks : “What’s so great about this new product?” – I paraphrase the answer: “The great thing about our product is…” That quote is much more likely to be used because that answer can stand on its own without needing a “set-up” sentence in the article.

Speak to the interviewer, not to the medium.
I try not to get blinded by the "stage lights."Whether I am speaking to the editor of a small town weekly newspaper or Oprah, I consider the reporter just a single person in my extensive targeted audience.

Todd Brabender is president of Spread the News Public Relations, Inc.  He was featured in the Wall Street Journal:  Are Your Clients Happy Now, Mr. Brabender?

Houses Are Only Part of the Equation

From Gail Billingsley:

For me, loving what you do, having passion for what you do, and taking pride in what you do is the triumvirate that almost guarantees great end products and happy people.

Eric Sallee and Don Hughes of Progress Street BuildersThose three characteristics shine through at Progress Street Builders.  When I first met with Eric Sallee and Don Hughes, it was clear that they love what they do.  But, what makes a real, long-lasting impact is how passionate they are about neighborhood, community, and quality of life.  The houses they build are beautiful, with detail-oriented craftsmanship from the design to the finishing touches.  They want every house they build, whether it is custom or speculative, to be the place homeowners love calling home. 

Houses are only a part of the equation. The other parts of the equation are neighborhood, being a good developer partner who works with the land, not against it, and incorporating walking trails, green space, and places for people to gather.  Progress Street Builders see much more than just building houses.  They see friends and neighbors.

Gail Billingsley is a marketing, strategy, and planning consultant based in Blacksburg, Virginia working with Progress Street Builders.

Progress Street Builders, Inc. is a custom home builder serving the Blacksburg, Roanoke and New River Valleys of Virginia, specializing in the design and construction of unique single family homes, townhouses, additions and residential remodeling projects.

Gail Billingsley and Progress Street Builders are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Who’s in FRONT? Susan Osborne

Dr. Susan Osborne
Dr. Susan Osborne of the Barter Clinic in Floyd, Virginia is featured in the November, 2011 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo:  Sarah Beth Jones

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia. You're invited to read moreFRONT and to keep up with Valley Business FRONT on Twitter and Facebook.

My First Mobile App Mock-up

I felt very amused when I revisited this video taken by Kelsey Sarles on June 10, 2010 as I modeled for her the idea that became She Chooses(TM), released as a public beta web application on March 22, 2011. The purpose of the video? To serve as a mock-up for our CTO and developer, Alex Edelman. I thought if I just showed him how the mobile app would work, he could code it. Ah, the idealism and naiveté of the novice.

When I look at the Dropbox folder full of subfolders, each of those full of dozens of full-color mockups made by Kelsey Sarles, and at the extensive communication via Basecamp for our newly released mobile app, Thought Full(TM), I wonder how Alex ever coded She Chooses as a software application, much less as a software platform.

Alex did ask for more detail beyond a video and I ended up making a whiteboard drawing, photographing it, erasing that one, drawing the next, then sending him a series of photos as email attachments. I wrote a narrative in Word that, looking back, says more about what the app is than what it does.

Nonetheless, video + whiteboard drawings + Word doc + Skillz of Alex = software platform for women selected for pitching to investors at Distilled Intelligence 1.0.

The mobile version of She Chooses is in development.  The video was first shared on the She Chooses Blog in What Problem Does It Solve?

Thought Full(TM) – an app to remember – was created and designed by Kelsey Sarles and developed by Jim Gray of New River Mobile. Thought Full is a Handshake(R) mobile application produced by Handshake Media, Incorporated.

Here’s more about Thought Full – – the posts on Thought Full on Handshake 2.0, and our full line of Handshake(R) brand mobile applications.

Other posts of possible interest:

Can I Make Money on Mobile Games?
How Much Does a Mobile App Cost?
Mobile App Design Infographic
What to Do with a Great Idea for a Mobile App
Getting Started in the Business of Mobile App Development

Yes, But Can I Make Money from Mobile Games?

"An idea gets you exactly, absolutely nowhere. Sorry to be a downer on this, but that's the inescapable reality.  Even if you're already a professional game developer, the competition for getting ideas made into games is ferocious."
Mike Sellers on Quora, quoted with permission

One of the next Handshake(R) brand mobile applications might be a game.

I have an idea for a mobile game.  But from over three years in business, I have learned an important truth:  not all ideas are marketable.

Can money be made from mobile games? Sure, Zynga and Rovio have made money from mobile games, but can I?  What's the mobile game business model anyway?

My little entrepreneurial heart pounded when I read on Mashable, "Games can come from anywhere" and "innovative ideas can take smaller development firms far."  I'm from "anywhere"!  We have a "smaller development firm"!  But, yeah, yeah, that's true of any idea.  Been there, done that.  What about the numbers?   Can my idea make money? 

According to Nielsen, games are the top downloaded app and app downloaders are willing to pay for games. Those are trends, not numbers.  "Does this have legs?" I heard investors ask often of ideas while I was pitching She Chooses at Distilled Intelligence 1.0.  Can this idea take its "legs" and run up a hockey stick graph of growth so I can make money?

According to the New York Times citing a Gartner report, "Mobile gaming will grow from '15 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2015.'"  Hmm, not a hockey stick.  How much would that growth be in dollars?  Mobile Marketer cites a Pyramid report:  "the mobile gaming market is predicted to reach $18 billion by 2014."  Now that's a number.

But how much of that $18 billion is my mobile game likely to get?  How does one monetize a mobile game? 

"In-app ads" and "in-app sales" we hear about often and ReadWriteMobile describes them well.  I'd love to see this 2008 post on 29 business models for games updated for mobile.  (A mobile game monetization SDK plug-in featured on TechCrunch would, I'm sure, require hours of coding and game redesign to work technically.  Monetarily?  Unproven. And I'm wary of OPP – building business models solely on Other People's Platforms.)

Jamie Middleton did a very nice job for TechRadar with a two-page, comprehensive piece on making money from mobile games, identifying top mobile games, then interviewing their inventors – both wildly and modestly successful – for examples of how in-app ads and in-app purchases work.  In an article by Susan Wu in 2007, TechCrunch tagged virtual goods as "the next big business model."  Four years later (2011), Jackie Micucci writing for Microsoft describes the new ease for players to purchase those virtual goods and services via in-app micropayments for "new weapons, higher levels and other virtual goodies…to gain a competitive edge."

I used to be one of the inventors with a great idea – and hubris – who said, "This idea is so great the market demand for it will be huge!"  After the slog of trying to create a market where none existed for some of my ideas, I now envision myself as both inventor and investor.  I still have ideas but upon having them, my first questions are, "Is there a market?" and "How will we make money?"

Is there a market for mobile games?  These trends and numbers say yes.  So I make a mobile game – is there a way to make money from having made it?  These sources say there are multiple ways.

Is there a market for my mobile game?  If I have a great idea, execute its creation brilliantly, and market it extensively, will the market value my product enough to pay for it?

Ah, therein lies the risk, the gamble, the entrepreneurial decision.  Maybe, maybe not.

One of the next Handshake(R) brand mobile applications might be a game.

Other posts of possible interest:

Thought Full - an app to remember

Mobile App Design Infographic
What to Do with a Great Idea for a Mobile App
Getting Started in the Business of Mobile App Development
How Much Does a Mobile App Cost?

3 Takeaways from the Top 10 in 10 Months on Handshake 2.0

In anticipation of the forthcoming year-in-review season of top ten lists, we'll get the party started.

The top source of traffic to Handshake 2.0 is Google searches.

In the first 10 months of 2011, in order, these are the top 10 posts on Handshake 2.0 receiving the most traffic (titles without authors are posts I wrote):

A Handshake 2.0 Top Ten List1) Who Sees My Tweets?, May 2011

2) Revitalize Your LinkedIn Profile, Patsy Stewart, February 2011

3) STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Georgette Yakman, April 2009

4) How Much Does a Mobile App Cost?, November 2010

5) Best Mobile Apps for Women, October 2010

6) Blacksburg Makes the List, Z. Kelly Queijo, May 2009

7) Ten Things You May Not Know About Facebook Business Pages, Patsy Stewart, August 2011

8) Gary Vaynerchuk at Virginia Tech, Katie Pritchard, April 2011

9) Cloud Computing – Just Draw Me a Picture, Alex Edelman, Kelsey Sarles, June 2009

10) Mobile App Design Infographic, Kelsey Sarles, September 2011

Three takeaways for content creators:

  1. People search for solutions to problems.  9 of these top 10 posts offer solutions or answer questions.
  2. If the problem is persistent, the traffic to a problem-solving post will be persistent.  5 out of these 10 posts were written prior to this year – even prior to last year! They are "evergreen content" – of on-going service to others.
  3. A picture can be worth a thousand words – or a thousand hits.  2 out of the 10 posts use "show, don't tell" to communicate their messages:  they contain explanatory images and infographics.

Thank you, Patsy Stewart, Georgette Yakman, Z. Kelly Queijo, Katie Pritchard, Alex Edelman and Kelsey Sarles for creating top tens for Handshake 2.0!