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Showing posts from September, 2010

Herd Before the Leader

Image via CrunchBase Image via CrunchBase I love picking on Seth Godin . Not that anyone cares, I'm just a wannabe and he is the king of the mountain. One of his latest tidbits was on taste. It really struck me AFTER my post the other day about McCormick's attempting to drive LITERAL flavor combinations.  McCormick's was trying to drive actual taste combinations by giving it authority, using its brand reliability, and repeating to the point of habit. Godin's point was that brand name creators such as Martha Stewart stay ahead of their tribe by knowing what the tribe might like a "half-step" before they do.  He says: The difficult work is doing a new thing in a way that people who have never seen it before will 'get it'.  It seems to me this is more just herd mentality . See Adsavvy for a great piece describing a study of how willing we are to join the herd: Researchers at Leeds University, led by Prof Jens Krause, performed a series of experiments wh

When Will We All Reach the Long Tail?

Is there a point when everyone will have their own Twitter account? Or perhaps its Facebook ? With the outages in recent weeks on Facebook, I ask if that deters businesses from getting into the social media realm justifiably so. Twitter has a high percentage of unused accounts. Based on that churn rate, rather than 75 million registered Twitter users, RJ Metrics says that the real number of people who actually use it is more like 10-15 million worldwide.  This recent report   place the number of US users at 17 million. @ariherzig put it blun t: 83% are fake. He did something I think I would like to try with Twitter- test the chain. See who is actually paying attention. On Twitter in particular, see if you can get a REAL response. It is EXPRESSLY easily to get on Twitter or Facebook and do simple clicks to follow or friend, but in the end what is the point if people aren't paying attention? The niche strategy of the long tail would seem to imply that eventually we will all be on

Taking Beer and Nuts to a Whole New Level

Image via Wikipedia I have no clue how I have missed 10 years of a spice maker trying to drive taste trends, but I (and I suppose 95% of the public) missed the tenth annual  McCormick ®  Flavor Forecast this year. I could not make this up if I wanted.  McCormick ®  , the world's largest spice company, has been unleashing this prognosticating tool since 2000. Their latest version can be found here . They've even opened up MORE with a grilling edition and a holiday edition.  I titled the blog post today on the 5th combination in their standard edition this year: almonds and ale. Seriously.  The flavor pairings only started in 2007, but the very notion that you can be predictive of what chefs, cooks, and laypeople at home will cook with is... brilliant? The company has chef Kevan Vettar look at the crystal ball with a team of folks from around the country to come up with such combinations. The seering works : The [McCormick's] share price has more than doubled in the decade s

7 Business Lessons from Dave Grohl

Image via Wikipedia In honor of the Foo Fighters finally getting back in the studio to produce a new album, I thought I would take a look at the career of Dave Grohl , their "CEO," recently named one of the ten most exciting persons in music , and derive some business lessons from it. What can you learn from a musician who went from being functionally homeless to having over a 1000 employees?  Lesson #1 Embrace Failure/Fear After the death of Kurt Cobain , Grohl did not wallow in grief. He refocused and put himself back into the music. First by playing with and then rejecting a job offer from Tom Petty (who is still a close friend). Then, by embracing a DIY attitude to produce what became the first Foo Fighters album nearly entirely on his own with demos he had accumulated over the years. Lesson #2 Challenge Yourself Despite being known as one of the hardest working drummers in the business having played with Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultur

Is There a Vitamin for Good Customer Service?

Seemed like my past week was about criticism and customer service. It so happened one of my favorite examples of great customer service needed a calling this week and I thought I would share the experience. This is going sound oh-so testimonial, but I'm really just trying to illustrate a point- really! Swanson Vitamins has been around for over 40 years.And I've been ordering from them for the last 10. Why do I love their customer service? No Wait on the Phone Seriously, I've called and within one ring gotten a rep who knew it was me because of caller ID. I actually chatted with an online rep and ordered over the phone. It appears that they use Mitel for their overall system and it works! They have immediate access to your previous orders and are ready to take the next one. Unlimited Shipping They want you to order as much as you can from them at once. How can you tell? They ship as much as you want to the 48 states for only $4.99. Wow. It pays you to o

3 Customer Service Lessons from the Recession

Image via Wikipedia I really liked this piece on the lessons learned on customer service during a recession. Lesson #1 Putting in an interactive phone response is not likely to help your customer service nor breed loyalty. Lesson #2 Embrace the multiple channels- they are not going anywhere, but find the best way to get them into your current structure of tracking. Lesson #3 Point of contact needs to be improved constantly. It can never be personalized too much or treated too little like an opportunity. Too often it's forgotten that a representative is probably the best chances for maintaining customer loyalty. People trust people, not gadgets or websites. Related articles by Zemanta What Drives Customer Loyalty? ( ) 4 Marketing Lessons From the Walgreens Transformation ( ) Maritz and Bunchball Team up to "Gamify" Customer Loyalty & Employee Engagement ( )

Complaints Online: The Sword Over Your Head

"Responding to online complaints is a tax that companies pay because of the chronic mismatch between what consumers expect from brands and what they ultimately get. An individualized response might momentarily bridge the gap, but it won't fix it. Never will." I am coming back to Baskin's piece on the Twitter Tax .  The quote above defines that tax as the cost that is being paid by companies that are not particularly forthcoming or effective about what they are going to provide their consumers. He suggests that not everyone is that savvy with the technology and the basic implication (I think) is that there needs to be a better job with addressing the expectations and providing what customers want. He also suggests ... disconnects can't be overcome by novel new technologies or brilliantly creative marketing (at least not often, and certainly not consistently).  But then in the next paragraph states For every tweet we catch, there are likely dozen

Your Blog Bites

How do you tell someone that their baby, their blog - the thing they put time and energy into- just does not work somehow? Doing this for over a month now, I have been reading a lot of other folks blogs as evidenced by my prodigious sharing of links (that's a joke). I judged debate for many years and learned how to be as tactful as possible to tell people why something they thought they were doing right didn't work for me. Mind you, that was me. It was also one time and one place. Blogs are semi-permanent- almost as if they were our children. Fly away little blog post, do what you will in the world and don't get beat up too much by all those mean readers! So how do you tell someone that the design is heinous? That ads placed ALL OVER THE PLACE are beyond off-putting? Let's look at some advise. Here is some generic advice for giving criticism. The gist of this one: do not criticize in public. GREAT advice for bloggers. The reality is we probably can deal

Blogging Platform Wars!

So I found this infographic just fascinating. These were the stats from 2009 according to Problogger. Of course, self-hosted Wordpress is growing like a well-water lawn. The best part is the click through to see that while is growing by leaps and bounds, declined since 2007.  Even more astonishing is that Blogger GREW! I love Blogspot myself and have done several sites using the platform. Of course, I'm using Posterous right now because I wanted to give it fair shot.  I am REALLY contemplating bagging this platform. I like it, but it does not offer enough toys to work with and is expressly hard to customize.  Thoughts? What about Tumblr? Think it will expand and what happens with the news about Typepad and Moveable Type ?

Red Dragon Reconsidered

Image via Wikipedia So a while back I asked folks if they had a movie they looked back on and reconsidered their opinion on. The premise was simple: a movie reviewer looked back and reconsidered his opinion on old movies he had rewatched. I promised I would find one, but I truly struggled until I rewatched " Manhunter " on TV a few nights ago. This was the original telling of the novel Red Dragon, which is famous for being the first appearance by Hannibal Lecktor (as they spelled it in Manhunter) by Thomas Harris. I remember being OK with that version by Michael Mann . He was in the height of his "Miami Vice" days and it REALLY shows in the movie. And yet, it works. Seriously, take a look at the IMDB page for this movie and be impressed by the acting power on display there! I loved William Petersen in his pre-CS days. Maybe this is where that started? You have Brian Cox as Hannibal! Jon Landau who went on to produce Avatar worked on this movie! Mind you, you REAL

Fighting Back against Junk Mailers -Lazy Sunday Post

Image by Dalboz17 via Flickr The Office of Strategic Influence brings you "Dear Bulk Mailer."  Please go check it out here . I was in love with the idea the first time I read it.  Only 9 percent of the nearly 150000 people who saw it online thought it was an unfair way to fight back against junk mail . I've used those mailers for years and wondered the same thing about it. You just sort of knew that the company was paying the postage, but why not even more? I find few flaws in the logic here. While I am fairly sure that many companies use such mailers with good intent, so many others are using them along with malicious intent.  If you've ever contemplated this notion, let me know! I'm trying to figure out what I can get rid of right now using this method! Related articles by Zemanta When Marketing Stinks ( ) How can I use to send email to a group without retyping the addresses each time? ( ) MailerMai

No Free E-Commerce Lunch

I am a huge fan of FREE.  I've only set up two ecommerce sites so far. One was REALLY easy, the other was moderately easy and only because there was a limited pile of items and because I researched the snot out of my options for something that was free but provided a good resource. I bring this up because I saw this older piece the other day on FREE ecommerce options.  Out of the ten options, none exists as an ecommerce option and most are bellyup! Does this make free obsolete as an ecommerce option? I say no- this piece from last year lists quite a few options.  The one I've become enamored with as I have worked with it a little more is . I've seen a few articles out there criticizing the model, but I do believe you can find quality tools for next to nothing or nothing, as it was in this case. I would definitely recommend as it had an easy interface with other sites, created nice standalones, and integrates well with Facebook . Related articles by Zemanta 5 Min

How Not to Take Bad Advice

Image via Wikipedia Notice that so many blog posts are actually subversive advertisements?   The one that finally sent me on this missive was a "why you should not do PR yourself" listing, but so many are simply "the five reasons something free or you can DIY is bad because I want you to hire me" list.   So here are my three ways on avoiding bad advice online. Forewarned: these are fairly broad generalizations   1. If the subject or title is "How to do something" and it doesn't really involve anything where anything is made or done, be wary. This isn't to say you can not find decent advice in such listings, but often they are only geared to get you primed for the end of the blog post listing of their services. They want you saying," oh yeah, I am not smart enough to do things for myself. Who can do it for me?" 2. The blog post ends with MULTIPLE listings of where you can find the author. Mind you, there is another wrong with a lit

Tool: Boomerang for Gmail

Alright, I'm already a convert for the Boomerang plugin for Gmai l. Google, please buy this tool and make it official. How is it that you HAVEN'T already done this for us avid Gmail fans? Freenuts discusses the pros well here.  But also talks about the negative of sending a txt attachment. A good basic explanation is here as well along with a review of Lettermelater. And one more great call for the needed plugin here. Those folks said it better than I could! I've sent multiple posts to the blog via this tool and have LOVED it.  Perhaps the only downside I see right now is that the plugin only works in Chrome and Firefox . Some people have said they have not gotten the invites to the beta online, but I did what they asked: " follow  @baydinsoftware  and  tweet that you want an invitation . We'll DM you an invitation code within one day." If you are a Chrome lover like me, and use Gmail at all, you should give this a test run! Related articles by Zemanta Sche

Creating Ideas

I love this post from Jim Kukral about generating killer ideas . One item was missing, sort of. He suggested lastly, I suppose as last resort, to hire a professional.  I dare say before you spend some money- go online. Between the blogs and many other cool places, you can find someone to help you out for FREE. One place I've liked recently is Aardvark . Feel free to click that to ask me questions via Gmail chat! Everyone LOVES to recommend Linkedin Answers. Facebook got in on the act with Questions.    And some FB employees have started their own, QUORA . A Twitter -powered one I really liked at first is Peerpong.    Course, why not just search Twitter? Ask folks you know online through your various circles. A while back I needed a logo designed and asked for takers on Twitter. Found great advice and work through the system! Either way, take a look- some great ideas about finding and retaining your ideas! Related articles by Zemanta "Internet Explorer 9 Beta seeing public re

30 Days!

Image via Wikipedia Well, I made it to thirty days of blogging . Somehow I managed to make the last one coincide when I would be out of town. I have a few ideas on the backburner, but could not get to them over the past two days due to work travel. What have I learned in thirty days? 1. Writing makes you think better. 2. Writing makes you think creatively. 3. I missed writing but apparently not thinking better or creatively. 4. You can write without an audience. 5. An audience can literally just be yourself. 6. Take your time finding what you want to say, but once you know what it is just say it. 7. Blog writers are EXTREMELY forgiving when it comes to spelling and grammar. 8. Blog writers probably ought to be more discriminating. 9. Finding folks who share similar ideas rocks. 10. Not trying to use a blog to sell crap is rewarding. I think I can keep up this pace. I am going to keep trying month by month to do AT LEAST a post/day. You will notice (which I don't suppose anyone will

Name Something You Need to Win

Image via Wikipedia I have one vice on Facebook. I am relatively addicted to Family Feud on there. Two reasons: 1. it is short and sweet. I answer my questions, answer friends and then move on. I am not asking multiple friends to plant seeds or kill someone in an effort to win. 2. I've become competitive from week to week with several friends.     I bring this up because I actually committed this past week to beating someone I know on there. Surprisingly, we help each other.   If you've never seen the Feud. in the end, two contestants answer the same questions and the top answers win but BOTH can count towards the total with different answers. In this way, the Feud on FB is still quite communal and yet, it is also very competitive.   Thankfully, I don't commit too much time to this vice, but this past week I decided I wasn't fooling around and really wanted to beat this friend of mine in the points standing. He whooped me good the past month or so.   Thi

(Not so) Lazy Sunday Post: Cultivating Fans

My family ADORES Cook Out- a relatively regional favorite driveup (mostly) hamburger joint. It quickly replaced the one from my youth- Central Park (although no place will EVER top their fries!)   Cook Out is justifiably a favorite with many people because of their low prices, quick service, and good food.   Why am I talking about Cook Out? As mentioned before, they have killer customer service. I stopped recently after work one night to pick up five of their combos. The combos are another story. For $4.25, you can have their "entree item" plus two side items and a drink! Seriously.   They delivered EVERYTHING in a five meal order, correctly I might add, in less than 10 minutes through the driveup.    This type of service coupled with a GREAT product has produced some RELIGIOUS fans! Just look at Cookout on Facebook.   65 thousand fans without anything on the page! And if that wasn't enough, there are competing fan websites out there:


Image via Wikipedia I'm one to get political with such things, but on 9/11 I thought it might be ok to talk about an idea that was recently raised by Newt Gingrich over the Muslim Mosque/Center near Ground Zero in New York City. He suggests something that I thought the first time I heard Bush describe this as a war.  Why wasn't the site of the World Trade Center declared a National Battlefield like we did with Gettysburg or other sites? One of my students raised the idea in a debate competition years ago and you would have thought he was suggesting everyone paint their head pink to the people in the room. This was at the time that the memorial was being proposed for the site and here we are years later still fighting over the same place. I'm not making a statement on the Muslim Center, I just don't know enough. But on the notion that we should have something more to remember what happened nine years ago, I don't think we could do enough on the ground there. Unfor

Everything to Everyone

Image by Getty Images via @daylife No- you can't be everything to everyone. Knowing when to say no is a good concept. However, there is also a time to know when saying something is better than nothing and no isn't acceptable. I've worked in many places where I did a very specific function in the organization. I would not have been the right person to answer many questions coming in. However, it always made sense for me to know what others did so when the inevitable call would come to me about something I had little clue on, I could still address it with more than a "I'll transfer you to the right person."  Three reasons this is not the ONLY thing you should say in these situations: 1. even if it is not your function, they are still YOUR customer by virtue of the fact that you work there. Treat them as such. 2. NO ONE, even you, likes to be passed on to the next person ALONE. It isn't helpful, shows distain for the customer, and will leave a bad taste

The Claims, The Claims

DE Plane, De Plane!  Pretend you heard Tattoo from Fantasy Island saying the post title. Go ahead, we'll wait.  Not so funny? Fair enough, but neither are most of the things you read on the internet. I was reading a blogger's site for some interesting stuff. It was ok, but one thing stood out on the pitch to join his subscription list. "100s of people can't be wrong!" Join all the other readers to get apparently exclusively FREE stuff, along with all the hundreds of others. Really? They just can't be wrong? I think we'd all beg to differ. I've seen some GREAT posts dig into this one better than I can. In particular, Susan Young's latest rant was GREAT. My fave there: " A Tweet that says “I just worked all day on my new blog post. Read it at________.”  A touch of Jersey sarcasm here, but no one cares about how long you struggled to create your genius post." Priceless, but true. Do you care how long it took me to sy

Live on Your "Sucking Hump"

"Sucking Hump" is a patent-pending term from  Man Vs. Debt blog . I loved this post for a variety of reasons.  1. Just heads on good advice for blogging. 2. Great listing of resources. 3. Invention of the the phrase "sucking hump." To quote:   I n other words, I feel I’ve crossed over the sucking hump.   Quite honestly, I invite you to LIVE on that "sucking hump."  Baker describes it as living between success and sucking, so I suppose it could be a success hump, but that doesn't have the ring or illustrate the point. Why should you live there?  Because thinking that you have gotten over that hump might lead to thinking that the journey is done right? If you are searching the horizon for the next success, living with the sucking or failure that could come with the risk of success, then you pretty much have to exist on the "sucking hump." That takes guts though doesn't it? Baker seems like he is living on tha

Finding Your Fly

Image via Wikipedia I was enjoying Steve Clarke's pos t about using the fly in the urinal to provide focus for men while they are relieving themselves. I've heard this story elsewhere, but its one of those funny "no kidding" stories that just makes sense.  He offers a means to "finding the fly" at the end of the blog post, but I think it is fairly intuitive. How do you find your focus no matter what the situation? I loved teaching time management using the basic Covey matric. Because things became as simple  as URGENT and/or IMPORTANT. If you can't define something as both, it probably ought not be focused on just yet. I think one thing we can agree upon, what men are doing in the urinal can be generally urgent and important, even without a fake fly! Related articles by Zemanta Review: 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More ( ) Six Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity ( ) Zemanta helped me add links & pictures to this

Interesting Problems? First Define Them

Image via Wikipedia Seth Godin is EXTREMELY popular. For good reason.  But in his labor day post today , he discusses the devaluing of labor, with a small L. He ends with something pithy to encapsulate his idea: "The future of labor belongs to enlightened, passionate people on both sides of the plant, people who want to do work that matters." He implies that teachers are only laboring to teach to tests when we say we want innovative teaching. But teaching to a test does not stop innovation does it?  We hear all the time of anecdotal evidence of some teacher find the way to get the information across in standard curriculum. He suggests that labor took the bosses dictum of "do whatever I say" and ran with it. However, the revealing part after comparing what is today knowledge and information services/work with assembly line work ala Henry Ford : " Improvisation still matters if you set out to solve interesting problems."  What are those interesting prob