John Fish talks Boston 2024 Olympics, supports public referendum

EF fish wideshotThe Greater Boston Chamber welcomed Boston 2024 Chair and Suffolk Construction Chair & CEO John Fish as the guest speaker for the March 24 Executive Forum in Boston.

Fish outlined his reasoning behind spearheading the Olympic efforts – and publicly announced, for the first time, placing the fate of Boston 2024 in the hands of Massachusetts voters. Fish joins Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in supporting a public referendum for the 2016 state elections. If it does not pass, Fish went as far to say the Boston 2024 bid would be dropped.

Other takeaways:

  • The primary drivers behind Fish’s support – love of Boston, and love of sport.
  • Top 6 reasons to support the games: The future of Boston; infrastructure & housing improvements; support IOC’s sustainability movement; job creation; globalization of our region; and American pride.
  • Hosting the games, according to Fish, is not just about the Olympics themselves. It’s about investing for the future – and the Boston of 2030 and 2040.
  • Transportation reform is critical for this bid; though Fish did not call for any expansion of infrastructure, besides planned upgrades and maintenance.
  • Communities in and around Massachusetts will not be forced to host specific venues.
  • Baseball could return to the 2024 games, with more of a national presence. Fish envisions the finals being played at Fenway Park, with preliminary rounds at Wrigley Field in Chicago and Yankee Stadium in New York.
  • Likewise, basketball preliminary rounds could take place at New York’s Madison Square Garden, with the finals at Boston’s TD Garden.

What attendees were  saying (via Twitter):

fish ef twitter

View the Executive Forum’s photos here.

The Executive Forum is part of the Greater Boston Chamber’s 100+ annual networking events and breakfasts throughout Greater Boston.

Reaching Global Markets: 4 Marketing Strategies to Compete on the World Stage

The following is the latest guest blog entry from Greater Boston Chamber members detailing valuable strategies and insight for the Greater Boston business community.

You’re ready to expand your company internationally. You’re working hard to get your website up and running and figure out the tax code and shipping procedures, but have you given enough thought to the cultural differences between the U.S. and your new market? Different languages, aesthetics, and values all create challenges to your expansion efforts, but by adjusting your marketing strategy to fit local markets, you can provide your company with a competitive advantage.

Once it was sufficient to have an English-only website, but now customers in other countries demand sites in their own languages. US firms that do not adequately localize their content lose out on $50 billion each year, according to the U.S. State Department.  And a survey by Common Sense Advisory, “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: 2014” found that 75% of global consumers in ten non-Anglophone countries prefer to buy products in their native language.

So how can you adapt? Here are four ways:

Professionally translate your website into the local language: Don’t rely on Google Translate to do your work. The translation quality will be sketchy at best, and the user experience will likely be clumsy, making your company look amateurish to the local consumer. After the translation is complete, check that the translated words fit into the buttons. Does the text scroll nicely? If you’re marketing in a character-based language like Chinese, have you modified the site design appropriately? Additional design challenges may need attention if you’re translating to a language like Arabic that reads from right to left.

Consider aesthetic differences: For example, Swedes tend to like clean, minimalist designs, Israelis tend to like animation and flash, and South Africans like a lot of color. You don’t want to change what your brand looks like and you probably can’t afford to radically change your site for every market, but you can think about choosing colors that are pleasing to the local market, pictures that make sense within the cultural context, and site usability.

Examine your messaging. What does the local market value and how does your product fit into the mix? Different cultures care about different product features. For example, if you’re planning to market a car in Europe, you may want to emphasize that your car is small, easy to park, and highly fuel-efficient. But if you’re marketing that same car in the U.S., you’ll be better off talking about its leather interior, up-to-date gadgets, and over-sized sunroof.  It’s the same car, but you’ve related the details that are most important to your local market.

Don’t forget social media. Chinese consumers are especially responsive to social media, often making purchases based on recommendations within their networks. Make sure you use social media to your advantage by hiring a native speaker who knows the current slang, and who knows what’s in and what’s out. Social media is extremely sensitive to local differences, and if you don’t do it right, you’re likely to be remembered more for your gaffes than for your product.

The bottom line is that while international trade is bringing us closer together, consumers like to buy from companies that speak their language and understand their needs. To fully participate in foreign markets, you need to take the time to make your business feel like it belongs in the neighborhood. Following the above steps will help ensure your international expansion efforts are successful.

Kirstin M. Gray is a Sr. Marketing Specialist of Red & Blue International, a provider of globalization solutions, with experts in interpretation, translation, voice-over, technical writing, and staffing services. She can be reached at

Are you a Chamber member with a blog idea? We’d love to hear from you!


5 ways to Make Twitter Work for your Greater Boston Business

“Does my business need Twitter?” – a question we often get from our members.

The answer varies, based on your business type. We’ll grant exceptions for those in highly regulated industries (banks, legal services), but for the vast majority of others, it’s an astounding YES.

In fact, it’s essential in many ways.

logo_twitter_withbird_1000_allblueTwitter has around 232 million users worldwide – many of whom are your customers, business contacts, industry influencers, and those you’ve yet to (but should) connect with. You can engage new audiences, create a deeper awareness of your organization, and of course, drive a lot more traffic to your website. And that’s just scratching the surface.

So whether you’ve never hit the blue “Tweet” button – or it’s part of your daily routine – here are five best practices to keep in mind:

1). Stay <50% promotional: Don’t Tweet what you want to Tweet. Tweet what your target audiences want to see. Sure, you can share your latest offers or events, but not most of the time. Content such as useful blog entries, whitepapers, infographics, or industry news will net more interest, clicks, and potential engagement. Quizzes – and yes, even an occasional joke/humor-filled Tweet – work well too.

2). Search for influencers: You can’t Tweet and just expect people to follow you. Engagement is the most critical Twitter metric. Identify influencers in your space using relevant keywords (Followerwork is a great tool). Follow these individuals, scan their recent Tweets, and find at least one opportunity to @reply them at least once a week. You need to get their attention.

3). Think Mobile: Some studies show 80 percent of users are accessing Twitter via mobile devices. Furthermore, those users are 79 percent more likely to be on multiple times a day. When you’re Tweeting, be brief – you don’t have to use all 140 characters (or even come close). Even more important, make sure the URL you’re directing people to is mobile-friendly. Especially if it’s an article, blog, or a landing page to attract new customers. am twitter feed

4). Switch up your profile picture. Here’s a big secret: Your profile picture doesn’t have to be your business logo. You can use alternative versions – such as an upcoming event logo, product launch, or specific part of your business you want to drive more awareness to. (See right for an example of what we’ve done)

5). Embrace Hashtags: Including hashtags is Twitter 101. But using the right hashtags is the key piece. They aren’t about creating hype – it’s about creating relevance. Don’t use anything like #sorrynotsorry #spoileralert. Even #business is too generic. Pick 2-3 specific to your organization, and use them frequently. If you’re a Boston retailer, try #shoplocal #shopboston, or #Bostonretail. If you’re a Boston-based IP law firm, try #IPLaw, #bostonlaw, or #intellectualproperty. Before you settle, though, do a quick Twitter search to make is already being used by either/both your competitors and customers. Don’t create a new one. Trendsetters in this area rarely win.

Did we miss any best practices? @bostonchamber – and we’ll share them on our next blog. And be sure to follow us!

6 Ways to Overcome Winter Challenges for Boston Businesses

The following is the latest guest blog entry from Greater Boston Chamber members detailing valuable strategies and insight for the Greater Boston business community.

robinThe Winter of 2015! It dwarfed 1996 in impact, and faded our memories of 1978. MBTA failures, road restrictions, ice dams, and roof collapses weren’t everything. There has been a major financial impact to our region’s businesses. According to the Boston Globe, more than 1,600 surveyed small businesses reported a 24 percent year-over-year decline in sales between Jan. 26 and Feb. 22. Retailers and restaurants that rely on a physical location saw a nearly 50 percent reduction in sales.

The consequences were drastic for customer-facing small businesses. Roads, parking spaces, and public transportation were not available, preventing employees, customers, and inventory from arriving. Business owners are now asking, “How do we bring our customers back?” Here are six ways we’re seeing for the bad weather ahead:

  1. Work from home when travel is prohibited: Implement online file storage so workers can access business documents from home when travel is prohibited. And, set up online chat and presentation tools to allow workers to keep meetings with each other and with clients.
  2. Use social media: Use social media and email campaigns to update customers on when you are open, announce your location is accessible, and inventory has arrived.
  3. Implement e-commerce:  Make it easy for your customers to place orders online or via phone by having an e-commerce solution for your website.  When items are in inventory, offer to ship items to them at no charge, or have items already packaged and ready for them to pick-up.
  4. Dig out with special offer campaigns: Special offer campaigns can include: come in by (date) discounts or free items, bring a friend by (date) discounts or free items, and if item is not in stock, receive a discount, alternative item discount, or free item. Susu Wong, marketing expert with Tomo360, says all offers should have an expiration date so the offer does not negatively impact spring revenue.
  5. Beyond commercial insurance: Check with your insurance agent to ensure your coverage levels protect for unforeseen weather conditions, and reimburse for property or inventory damage.
  6. Conduct a “lessons learned” analysis: Dissect what went wrong this winter, and identify process improvements for the future. Ask yourself and your workers a series of questions. Can your employees work from home? What needs to be in place for this to happen? Are customers still available to you when they work from home? Is there a way they can be? What events/celebrations can you offer that focus on the customer in a special way when the spring arrives? Should you start to save into a “rainy day” fund throughout the year to sustain the punch from new events? The answers to these questions and others that you may think of should be written into a plan, and reviewed frequently.

So take one look back at this winter before the flowers of spring bloom, and be ready for next year. As they say, New England weather can change at a moment’s notice – and so can your business conditions.

Robin Hamilton is the founder and principal of Boston Business Operations Group, a small business advisory firm, helping business owners make decisions and implement systems a wide range of business functions. She can be reached at or 617-275-2445.