Monthly Archives: June 2012

Atari Turns 40, And So Will I

Apparently Atari and I have something in common that I never knew – we’re the same age. Atari turns 40 this year, and so will I. When I think Atari, I flash back to Pong. That amazing Pong. Then, of course, my first 2600 game console.

The Land Before Pong

See. Before there was Pong, there was nothing. No video games, just Wiffle® ball, and two-hand touch football in the streets. Maybe “Mother, May I?” or “Red Light, Green Light” – actually, we had countless ways to kill our time. Then our generation was blessed with the simple brilliance of Pong. Soon enough we had chunky graphics with bleeping sound effects on our bloated television sets. Often in color; sometimes, black and white. We destroyed boulders and aliens, explored ancient ruins, caught exploding bombs, munched mazes of pellets and even hunted and killed each other.

This was around the same time when our parents still dragged us to the bank to get cash. No convenience of ATMS nor their debit card ilk. Good luck if you ran out of money on a Saturday night. TV’s dished out about 13 channels if you had a good set of rabbit ears. (Sorry if you don’t know what “rabbit ears” are. Ask your parents if you don’t.)

What’s Email?

I remember being about 10 when a spontaneously-affluent neighbor showed up with his Timex Sinclair mini personal computer. He was shamelessly boasting about some new cool thing it had. It was called electronic mail, or e-mail. “What’s e-mail?” I snottily and dismissively asked. “It’s an electronic version of mail.” I said, “Well, that’s stupid. Nobody’s gonna use it…”

Soon afterward, Commodore hit the market with their PETs and Vic 20’s – being smart enough to give us control with a keyboard and “memory”. Even though the memory was a cassette (again, ask your parents if you don’t know what this is). One of the drawbacks of being an early adopter in this technology: hardly anyone was using it, or even knew what it was. Nobody to send e-mails to, nor receive them from. I was right, but not for long. Eventually, society would catch up and we all know how that story ends.

Game systems, home computers and graphics evolved incredibly since the simplicity of Pong. In fact, today I am often fooled by my son’s video games – convinced I am watching TV. He plays with his school friends whether they are in the room, or across town. Sometimes he “verses” in real time, in living color, the youth of Argentina or the Ukraine.

We are Finally Living in the Jetson’s Era

Today, we have pocket computers (some still call them cell phones), that allow us to watch TV, take pictures, organize our lives, and, yes, occasionally make phone calls. We are finally living in the Jetson’s era. (Well, mostly, I’m still waiting for my flying car.) Not only has the digital era made everyday things more portable, cooler and convenient – it’s changed the way we communicate. Way beyond email now, we have social media, instant messages and video chat. We are snapping pictures, editing them, and sharing them worldwide with strangers in seconds. We are paying our bills without picking up pens. The revolution is killing newspapers, TV, traditional telephones, orchestras, downtowns and even the simple ability to socialize. Yard sales are vanishing.

My nieces and their associates don’t talk when sharing a couch. They text. We’re losing the ability to verbally communicate while within arm’s reach. This generation doesn’t even bother with email. OMG. That’s sooooo last century. Instead, they, like, barrage each other with IM’s, pics and vids – in a language all their own.

Well, Atari. It’s been an amazing ride. We’ve witnessed the world morph – from humans to machines, paper to pixels, analog to digital. Banktellers and TV announcers still have jobs, trees are still falling for paper, so we’re not fully there yet. We’re still amidst this evolution, left only to imagine what will happen over the next 40 years. We’ll wait and see.

In the meantime, it might be a good day to dig through the shed, dust off that 2600 and blast some aliens.


Phil Paranicas


Why Manufacturers Must Care About LinkedIn

LinkedIn. Isn’t that where nieces and nephews go to find jobs? Well, with two new members joining per second, it is now the preferred social channel for professionals – an inescapable juggernaut. This status yields unique opportunities for collaboration, customer service, branding and much more. This includes unprecedented mingling and marketing opportunities with targeted executives and decision makers. Further, it turns out that these professionals do fun things besides career harvesting – like vendor sourcing, product/process research, problem solving through crowd sourcing and much more. Here’s why you should care:

Users are Professionals

You won’t find many pictures of puppies, babies, BBQs or the high school reunion dinner on LinkedIn. Instead, you’ll find professionals, many of whom make purchasing decisions for their respective companies. The LinkedIn community includes executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies. I can’t think of any other avenue that allows you to easily reach so many industry-specific decision makers and power players.

Lead Generation

Since the LinkedIn community is comprised mostly of professionals, it should come as no surprise that active, genuine participation generates leads over time. A study conducted last summer by ThomasNet indicated that over 53% of 2,800 companies surveyed were leveraging LinkedIn. More significantly, almost a third of them are using it as a prospecting tool.

The essential lead generation process is no different than the traditional one: prospects learn about you and your company, if you offer the products and services they require and they like you or your company, they will request quotes or buy from you.

It’s a Key to the Future

As of this spring, students and recent college graduates are the fastest-growing demographic on LinkedIn. Why is this important? These are the executives and decision makers of tomorrow. One of the most common challenges I hear from industrial business owners and marketers is, “How do I reach the younger generation?” LinkedIn, in conjunction with other social efforts, is the path to reach them.

Global Reach

Let’s face it – the world is shrinking by the minute. More and more US companies are exporting and doing business on a global scale. I have good news for current and future exporters: LinkedIn is used in over 200 countries/territories! It is available in seventeen languages: English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. While a soft dollar isn’t something we are particularly proud of, it does make our products and services much more appetizing for the international market… so why not make sure the world knows what you have to offer?

It Keeps Growing, and Growing

Earlier this year, LinkedIn negotiated to take an entire floor of the Empire State Building. That’s 31,000 square feet in one of the world’s most prestigious business addresses. Why? Status. Prestige. But think about the bigger implications – the expansion reflects LinkedIn’s phenomenal growth. Ten years ago, it didn’t exist. Today, is has more than 161m professionals worldwide growing at 2 members per second.

Readers, Act Now!

There are many facets of LinkedIn that you can leverage. The more you do, the better off you will be:

  • Your Profile – If you haven’t yet – start with the basics and create your own profile. Fill out all required details. Encourage others at your company to do the same. Keep your profile up to date. Seek out people that you know and connect with them to grow your network.
  • Company Page – After the people are on board, build your company page. Over 2 million companies already have! Be sure to fill out as much as you can. Write up a good, concise company profile. Take advantage of the ability to add your products and services as well.
  • Get Social – Next step is to start getting social. Publish routine posts relating to your industry. Resist the temptation to talk about your business, focus on thought leadership by sharing your knowledge to help other community members.
  • Group Participation – Group participation is one of the best ways to meet people in your industry, and grow your network. Through group discussions, you can share your knowledge, solve problems, follow top thought leaders and keep abreast on what’s new. If you stay at it long enough, you will establish yourself as a go-to person for your industry – which is exactly what you want to do!
  • Advertise – Consider paid advertising on LinkedIn. The tools allow for precise targeting, and keep in mind that you are reaching an influential professional audience.

As with most things social, success is not immediate. It will take time to build your audience and earn their trust. Regard the other golden rule: make sure participation is at a consistent pace. And, of course, resist the temptation to talk only about you and your company. Focus on your industry, applications and expertise – perhaps sharing best practices. Become a problem solver. Help community members with their challenges and eventually turn some into customers. Most of you are doing these things already with clients and prospects, but it’s time to share your expertise with new audiences, and allow your brand and business to grow.

Image courtesy of

Phil Paranicas

%d bloggers like this: