Using QR codes

Today’s Slaw post:

QR codes can be useful tools for marketing (including for lawyers) and other uses – but they are a tool that must be used correctly, not a strategy on their own. At a TechAlliance session this morning on QR codes Donnie Claudino of TechAlliance and Jonathan Kochis of Resolution Interactive Media talked about how to use them.

To put them in context, consider that some extimate that half of all web traffic will be mobile by 2015.

A lot of the bad press QR codes have received are based on poor uses. Examples of QR code fails can be seen here and here. A prime example of a poor use would be this code:

First, it is in a blog post, so a link should be used, not a QR code. It doesn’t make any sense to have to pull out a phone and take an image of a QR code on a web page. And second, it takes you back to the Slaw homepage, which is pointless when you are already on Slaw reading this, so it adds no value.

Keep in mind that QR codes are useable for more than just advertising. Indeed, they were originally developed by Toyota to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. A manufacturer might, for example, place them on its product to point users to a site for replacement parts or accessories or operating manuals.

Some tips:

Make the experience valuable – think of what the QR code provides the user.

Make it easy to scan (eg not on a roadside billboard).

It must go to a mobile friendly place (eg a mobile friendly web page, and no flash).

Don’t use in places without wifi or 3G (eg an in-flight magazine, or a subway).

Give users a clue about what the QR code does to encourage its use.

Test it on different devices before it is published.

Responding to negative social media

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows:

I gave a presentation this morning on social media issues at a TechAlliance breakfast club event.  Thought I would share this one slide.

If someone posts something about you or your organization that you don’t like, it’s best to so some sober reflection to consider the best response.  Sometimes attempts to suppress things on the internet can backfire and bring more attention to it.  It’s called the Streisand effect.

For example, you might be better off ignoring it if the comment is on an obscure place few will see, or if the person who posted it is clearly a lunatic.

If they are right and you actually did do something wrong, you may want to post an apology.

If they simply have their facts wrong, you might politely set the record straight.

Consider if there is a way to turn what was said or done to your advantage.

If a legal response is necessary, it must be drafted very carefully with the assumption that it will be posted and ridiculed.  The traditional throw in every specious claim and intimidate the recipient into stopping approach may not be the most effective.

Social Media Legal issues and policies

On Wednesday November 10 I will discuss social media issues at a TechAlliance Breakfast Club event entitled Developing a Social Media Policy for your Business

I’ll talk about:

  • The legal traps of Social Media use.
  • That fuzzy line between work and personal account posts.
  • How to respond to negative social media.
  • How a social media policy can help you.

I’ll also create a sample social media policy using an online tool based on audience input.

For the record, my position on social media is not to exaggerate the theoretical dangers or suggest it should be suppressed in the workplace.  But there are a few things that should be kept in mind to reduce the legal and business risks that arise from it.

Hope to see you there.

Brand Promise – it’s not a bag of hair

That’s my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows:

Conventional wisdom is that law firm web sites should contain a list of major deals the firm has worked on. I’ve always thought that was wrong – but didn’t really understand why until this morning.

I attended a TechAlliance breakfast club seminar where Nick Hall of Hall Associates ( @hallassociates ) spoke about Brand Promise.

One of the examples he used was a hairdresser. The brand experience a good hairdresser provides is confidence – not a haircut. Confidence that the hairdresser uses her/his expertise to make the customer look and thus feel good. That results in loyal customers who will come back and refer others.

If it was just about experience, a hairdresser would line their walls with bags of hair they had cut.

Law firm web sites listing all the deals they have done is like displaying bags of hair.

Jim Carroll speaks to TechAlliance

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.   It reads as follows:

Canadian futurist Jim Carroll (@jimcarroll)just spoke about innovation at the London TechAlliance AGM. Here are some of the points that got my attention. (We used to call these sound bites or bullet points – I’ve already seem some of these show up in Tweets from the audience – so lets call these Slaw Tweets.)

Change is so rapid – 65% of public school children will be in a career that doesn’t exist yet.

1/2 of what science grads learn in first year is obsolete when they graduate.

Product lifecycles used to be measured in 2 digit years. The product lifecycle of a digital camera is 3 -6 months.

Big doesn’t beat small – fast beats slow.

We should choose not to participate in the recession – use it as an opportunity for growth.

A brand is no longer what you say it is – its what they say it is.

Experiential capital (accumulated experience trying to do things we have not done before) is crucial.

Maximizing your online presence

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.   It reads as follows:

That was the title of a presentation I attended this morning at the London TechAlliance breakfast club series.

David Ciccarelli of was the presenter. He is well qualified to present, as he has built his business using these methods. is interesting in itself. It is essentially a job mart for voice actors that puts together voice actors with those needing their services. As you will see from their web site, they have an impressive client list.

TechAlliance and Harrison Pensa bring Jim Carroll to AGM

This years’s TechAlliance AGM and Power Breakfast features Jim Carroll as speaker.

Here’s the press release:




LONDON, ONTARIO, APRIL 15, 2009- TechAlliance, with Harrison Pensa LLP, will host former Londoner and leading international futurist, author, and trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll on Wednesday, May 27 at the 2009 Power Breakfast and TechAlliance Annual General Meeting.

An annual event, this year’s Power Breakfast will take place at the London Convention Centre and feature Carroll as the special keynote with his presentation, “Moving Beyond the Meltdown: Aligning Yourself for Growth Through Innovation.”

“Considering the current economy, Jim Carroll’s topical presentation couldn’t be more relevant to London’s business community,” adds Marilyn Sinclair, President and CEO, TechAlliance. “His keynote will shine a positive light on the strategies cutting-edge businesses pursue to stay ahead of financial hard times.”

Carroll frequently addresses audiences from recognizable global organizations such as the Walt Disney Corporation and Toshiba, and is a published author of two bestselling books: “Ready, Set, Done! How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast” and “What I Learned From Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward Thinking Innovation.”

“It’s a thrill to be coming back to London,” says Carroll. “Now is not the time to drop the ball on building the economic brand of a city – it’s a time to aggressively position a vibrant economic brand on the national and global stage. And that’s why, for me it’s a personal honour to be able to return ‘home’ to share the insight I’ve gained from traveling and speaking to organizations around the world.”

“It is a tremendous coup to host an event with a speaker as insightful and significant as Jim Carroll, and Harrison Pensa is proud to partner with TechAlliance to bring him back to this area,” adds Geoff Pulford, CEO, Harrison Pensa LLP.

Tickets for the 2009 Power Breakfast and TechAlliance Annual General Meeting are available by registering online at Cost for TechAlliance members is $50 or $400 for a corporate table of eight. Non-members are also invited to attend; tickets are $65 per person or $520 for a corporate table of eight.



NAME    2009 Power Breakfast and TechAlliance AGM
DATE    Wednesday, May 27, 2009
TIME    7:30am to 9:30am (TechAlliance AGM – 7:00am)
LOCATION    London Convention CentreClick here to register

The Power Breakfast is TechAlliance’s signature event of the programming season and features keynotes from today’s leaders in innovative thought, trends and predictions. Past speakers include Dianne Buckner (Canadian TV journalist and host of CBC’s Dragons’ Den) and Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon (award-winning author and professor, currently the Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo).

Jim Carroll is a frequent keynote speaker to organizations such as DaimlerChrysler, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Caterpillar, Nestle, Motorola, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), with some 1,000 high-profile presentations to his credit over the last 10 years. In addition, Jim is a prolific author and columnist, having written over 600 articles for a wide variety of national and international publications. He is also a highly sought after media commentator, having provided his insight in over 3,000 interviews on radio, television and in print.

TechAlliance is a member-driven organization that represents, supports and helps to accelerate the growth of knowledge-based businesses in the London region. TechAlliance focuses on knowledge-sharing, capitalization, collaboration, retention, networking, and member marketing initiatives for regional technology, life sciences and advanced manufacturing companies as well as related professional service providers, and is committed to helping develop the region’s emerging knowledge-based industries into a collective economic powerhouse.



TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario
100 Collip Circle, Suite 130
The University of Western Ontario Research Park
London, Ontario N6G 4X8



Entrepreneurs should be investor ready – for themselves

That’s the title of my weekly Slaw post for today. 

It reads as follows:

Lawyers often talk about how entrepreneurs should make their companies “investor ready”. This uses the term “investor” in the widest sense, meaning everything from a bank loan, to a VC investment, to the sale of the business to Google that allows the owner to retire early in luxury. By “ready” we mean being able to easily survive investor diligence without risk of losing the deal or diminishing the value – by having taken all the right steps and having the right documentation for such things as an up to date corporate minute book, trade-marks for brands, documenting IP ownership, proper employment agreements, privacy policies, etc.

Our harping on this sometimes falls on deaf ears. Perhaps the owner needs to focus on its product and sales (being investor ready after all means nothing if there is nothing to invest in), or doesn’t want to spend money on lawyers, or thinks it is important but not urgent.

I was one of three speakers last night talking about intellectual property issues at the TechAlliance Entrepreneur 1.0 course. All 3 of us mentioned this.

The best perspective came from Colin Macaulay – Director, Research and Development of Viron Therapeutics Inc. Its one we should keep in mind when talking to clients.

He said entrepreneurs should keep in mind that they themselves are investors in their own companies. They should be their own harshest critics and do their own diligence in order to maximize and protect that investment.

A person’s business is probably the biggest investment they have, so owners should be vigilant to do what is necessary to maximize the value of the business. In essence, a business owner is better off doing continuous diligence on their company as if they have a continuous exit strategy. It leads to better decisions and doucumentation along the way. While it may seem like a daunting task, it is in reality far easier and better in the long run to approach things this way than to have to scramble to try to pull everything together after the fact to meet a pressing need, or to try to deal with problems that others find.

London Biotech week – Sept 22-26

The London TechAlliance is having its annual biotech week next week.

Check out their calendar for the various events.

One of the events that might be of interest to any tech business, not just biotech, is a seminar on Sept 24 entitled “Accelerate London Business Seminar”.

From TechAlliance’s promo material:

Attention technology companies and entrepreneurs! TechAlliance is pleased to present an informative session about three exciting new programs designed to help Ontario technology companies grow and prosper. In this session, you will learn about the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) delivered by Ontario Centres of Excellence, and the Business Mentorship and Entrepreneurship Program (BMEP) delivered by MaRS. The third program featured is ACCELERATE Ontario – a new Ontario Graduate Research Internship Program, delivered by MITACS, a national research network that connects Canadian researchers with companies and other organizations to solve key business and social challenges





The ingenuity gap / climate change / peak oil

Just attended the London TechAlliance AGM, which featured Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon as the speaker. He presented a rather sobering view of the severity of the problems of climate change, carbon emissions, and peak oil. His message for solving these is in part that he is hopeful that the crisis will spur ingenutiy and entrepreneurship to find solutions. We can’t expect government or large institutions alone to solve this.

He also suggested that ingenuity and creativity is enhnaced by more communication and collaboration, but that there may be a point where too much of it becomes counterproductive.

I have not read any of his books, but if his talk is any indication, they would be a worthwhile read for anyone wanting to make a difference on these issues.

Go to his website.