Archive | August 2007

Canadian Trademark Registry – Good Reference Site for Canadian Entrepreneurs

I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a link to the Canadian Trademark Registry and strongly suggest to any small business to reference this site if you are planning to launch a new business, product, idea, etc. and ensure that there is no Trademark already registered. This site is managed by the government of Canada and can save a lot of potential headaches for any entrepreneur to ensure they don’t land themselves in trouble. One more thing I like about this site – you don’t have to pay a company $20-$50 or more to find out whether some is trademarked – you can do it for free.

Anyway, here are a few screenshots of the service:

First I started by conducting a search for one of my favorite topics of late – Facebook – to see what trademarks are registered.

Searching For Facebook in the Canadian Registry

I was presented with a list of matches.

Showing the list of trademarks registered for Facebook

I selected to see the information for the Facebook Homepage Rectangle Design

Details about the Facebook Registration of their Home Page Image

LATimes Homicide Report – Drill Down Content Down Right

At least once per week, I just over and visit Google Maps Mania to see what the latest map mashups they have posted. Some of them are very interesting and really demonstrate how you can integrate maps and content together. One post that was intriguing was the launch of the LATimes Homicide Report, posted by Mike Pegg.

LA Times Homicide Report Map Mashup

You can see the actual Homicide Map at the LATimes web site however some of the features include:

* Filter by victim’s race, gender, cause of death, and other parameters
* Find homicides near an address and/or ZIP code
* View photos of victims and link to Leovy’s reports
* RSS feeds or Google Earth viewing

Now, before you start thinking that I like to view “morbid” content online, I will tell you why I am posting specifically about this site. If you disregard the content, ie) the homicides, and simply appreciate the mashup for the simplicity of the design and the ability, as a user to very easily “drill-down” and filter the content – you may agree with me that this is a very well done mashup.

This is a great example of a traditional media outlet who has combined their content with a user focused interface. I give full credit to the design team and I think this mashup has lots of lessons that can learned by other traditional media about how to combine content and user interface.

Here’s a thought for traditional media – what if you take this concept and bring local news, community events, etc. in the same presentation? I may want to view my news at a global, national, regional, city or local view – could my local news content be plotted on a map? Could it contain a method to drill-down and filter the content using the same approach?

Google Business Referral Representative – Is It Worth and What Does It Mean for Local Businesses

On August 6 – our friends at gSpy – Spy on Google were one of the first sites to break the news that Google has finally released it Business Referral program. Over the past number of days, I have been getting a number of emails and phone calls asking me what this potentially means for local businesses and whether there is actually a solid business model here.

From the official Business Referral Representative site on Google – Joining the Google Local Business Referrals (LBR) program is a great way to earn some money while connecting people to the businesses in your neighborhood. The information you collect could be seen by millions of people who use Google every day. And you’ll be helping the businesses you refer attract new customers while also making it easier for people in your community to find the products and services they’re searching for.

As a Google Business Referral Representative, you’ll visit local businesses to collect information (such as hours of operation, types of payment accepted, etc.) for Google Maps, and tell them about Google Maps and Google AdWords. You’ll also take a few digital photos of the business that will appear on the Google Maps listing along with the business information. After the visit, you submit the business’ info and photo(s) to Google through your Local Business Referrals Center, and we’ll pay you up to $10 for each listing that is approved by Google and verified by the business.

Currently this program is available to US residents – I tried signing up myself, but it would not accept my Canadian address.

I think this is an interesting move from Google and as always they tend to get lots of coverage. However, I challenge whether the program will actually be a success. By success I mean – is this enough incentive to get individuals to do all this leg work for $10? What level of trust does a business have to have with an individual to allow this information to collected and aggregated? What happens when the information changes? These are just a few initial questions that I had.

For $10 – this seems potentially like a low amount. As an individual – the people that I know that have lots of contacts with small business on a regular basis – typically bill at $95-$150 per hour. Based at $100 per hour bill rate – $10 is worth 6 minutes – there is no way that you could possibly collect and explain that to any small business within that time frame. Even at half that billable rate – we are still only talking 12 minutes. But what about incorporating this into an existing sales call? Many SEO/SEM firms that I know could potentially offer this service to their clients as a value add – this has potential, but I still question the economics.

One thing Google has going for it – is that almost everybody knows 2-3 business owners. I remember a comment when I was young from one of my uncles – “there are 2 ways to make a million bucks – get 1 person to give you a $1M dollars or get 1M people to give you a dollar”. If Google could get each of their Adsense/Adword partners in the US and then the world to give them 1 business profile of information – this may one of the most cost-effective digital content collections programs ever launched.

For local businesses – I do have one caution – know the person or the company that you are providing this information to, especially if you let them manage the verification for you. I know many small business owners who got burnt by letting people manage their domain names, only to have the expire, held for ransom, and even heard a case where the domain name was sold to a competitive company. Could you imagine what would happen if your listing displayed your competitors phone number?


FaceBook Camp Toronto

This is a live post at the FaceBook Camp Toronto – which is a collection of presentations and information for Facebook developers. You might be asking the question – why I am here? Simple, I am looking for ideas on ways that you can use facebook application development to build meaningful applications that can be used by local businesses to drive more business.

What I am not suggesting however, is that a local business simply puts something up on facebook and they will gets lots of business. Frankly the only person who cares about your business is you – facebook users certainly don’t. However, if you can build an application that has meaning for users – then you can probably turn this into real dollars.

Over the coming weeks, I am going to test out applications on facebook that have been developed by companies interested in making money but that have real application for users. I will keep you posted.