Export ACT! reports to Excel

Had a client today need some information out of ACT!, and ideally it would be in an Microsoft Excel spread sheet.

Given that one of the default ACT! reports gave the bare minimum required (Group Membership) we spent some considerable time editing a copy of that report to display the actual fields we wanted, both contact fields and group fields. What we wanted was a spread sheet that showed each contact in a particular groups sub-groups, detailing which sub-group each contact was a member of, and also showing some groups specific information for each.

This was all fine except that it still wasn’t in a spread sheet once we produced the report, printing it, out to PDF, were no problem, but no .xls file.

This is where KB 14690 came in handy. It details how to modify the Windows Registry such that the output options for ACT! reports will then include such welcome and handy options like Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, TIFF file and Paged html.

Now when we produce the report, we get a beautiful Excel spread sheet with just the information the client requested.

Hope you find that useful, and if you do, let me know how you’ve applied it.

Why Share Your Knowledge?

We see many big names in all industries that seem to just give away information, real knowledge like it’s going out of fashion.

I see the example of people like Seth Godin, David Armano, Dave Winer, Doc Searls, Mark Pesce, Wayne Schulz, Heather Smith, Robin Dickinson and Darren Rowse all of whom give away knowledge. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a list of a few A-Listers, a few well known in the local geographic area and a few that are well known in their field.

How can they give so much away and still make money? Should you do the same?

Let me state right upfront that I believe we should share our knowledge freely.

I’ll tell you why I believe that by relating a story told to me about four years. A mentor related this story to me. Listen to it and see what you think.

If I told you that by riding a skateboard to work you could solve the entire worlds pollution problems, would you do it?

No, you wouldn’t. Why not? Because you don’t own a skateboard.

Ok, so let me give you a skateboard. Will you ride a skateboard to work now?

No, you won’t. Why not? Because you don’t know how to ride a skateboard.

Ok, so let me give you a skateboard, let me give you lessons on how to ride the skateboard. Now, will you ride the skateboard to work now?

No, you still won’t. Why not? Because it’s too far, it might rain, part of the journey is uphill and it just takes too much effort.

The lesson here is that you can give someone the solution to a problem, the tools required and the education on how to use the tools and they still won’t go out and solve the problem for themselves.

This is a normal thing that happens everyday. I pay others to grow my food, process it and transport it to a place convienient for me to pick it up. I pay others to fix my car, wire up new lights in the house or make a fancy meal. We all do it. It’s too much effort for me to do all those things, it’s easier for me to pay someone to do them for me.

What people want is to deal with someone that does know their stuff, someone that does have that intimate knowledge of the subject, someone who is an expert. More often than not, others, like me, are prepared to pay for others to do those things I’m not expert at. Often the only way they or I find out if you know your stuff or not, is by trial and error, at our cost.

But if we were to give away knowledge, it makes it easy for people to know what it is we know, what our expertise is. They may not understand all the subtleties of what they read, or maybe they do, but either way, by telling them what we know builds their trust in us. With that trust comes their patronage.

I can hear some that say “but what if they take that knowledge and apply it themselves?”. Well, there are two answers to that:

  1. Firstly, if they are not an expert in your field, they will take the knowledge you gave them and try it for themselves, make mistakes, spend more time doing the job that you would, they’ll either wear those extra costs or come back and engage your sevices.
  2. Secondly, if you can’t find a market amongst seven billion people, in a market in which other experts operate, then your marketing needs an overhaul. Perhaps you should give away some of your knowledge and give them a reason to invest their cash with you.

So how does one give away knowledge? Here are few ways:

For a contrary view, read this article on Six Pixels of Separation titled Free Content is Killing Media – I’d say that perhaps he has a point with regard to the media, but free content can definitely build your business.

So, what do you think? Are you going to give away some knowledge?

Games at Work

I watched a video by Seth Priebatsh (at SCVNGR) about the Game Layer On Top Of The World and it sparked my interest. A google search later and I found myself watching this 20min video by Jesse Schell on The Future Of Games which, although it answered a lot, left me with more questions than answers. With my mind whirring, I remembered that in the video by Seth, he said that there were seven dynamics, four of which he shared, three of which he was keeping to himself.

Was this simply Seth using some kind of ‘game dynamic’ on us? alluding to some other hidden achievement, leaving it up to us to go find? I think so, the guy runs a businesses that implements game dynamics for profit, they want more clients, what better way to gate prospects through to the next level than using game dynamics? Those that search it out are self qualifying themselves for that next level1. And that thought is one we should emulate. We can implement game dynamics into our own processes, internally and externally.

Those that are interested will seek out more knowledge. This makes us (the prospects) self qualify ourselves. Those that then apply this knowledge themselves are members of a group so small that it doesn’t matter to Seth and Jesse.

Take this application further and ask yourself some questions:

  • How could we use game dynamics to attract and motivate prospects?
  • Are we doing in such a way that gets our prospects to self qualify themselves? Without further action from us until they’ve self qualified to the point of contacting us?
  • Are our marketing efforts actually leading the prospect to our door if they qualify or away from us? What dynamics are at play? Can we tweak it?
  • Can we use game dynamics to make interacting with our company more interesting for our prospects? More educational? More reputation building?

What about our existing clients?

  • Could we use game dynamics to make life easier for our clients?
  • How could we apply game dynamics to the billing/invoicing procedures for clients?
  • Can we use game dynamics to encourage further use of our services? The recommendation of our services to others?

What about internally?

  • Could we have staff engage on a deeper level with the goals and purpose of the company thru the use of game dynamics?

Don’t forget, games normally have more than one level and so should our own application of game dynamics. We may start with one level, implement that, that’s healthy. Good. Then go add another level that improves the system. Then another, and another.

So what were the other 3 game dynamics Seth spoke about? I could make you look for yourself, or I could give you the link to the full list of game dynamics, all sevenforty seven as determined by SCVNGR.

Watch Cat Matson talk about her introduction to Game Dynamics at the SxSW 2011 festival where she mentions a few possibilities.

Just as games differ, so to will our individual approaches, that game we play will be dependant on the game result we wish to achieve.

Can you use game dynamics? How are you applying this knowledge? What are your thoughts about this?

1 See entry 7. Cascading Information Theory in the full list of game dynamics.