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February 2006
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April 2006

Why won't they take my money?

Martketing is a conversation.  Everyone focuses on attention.   But what about intention marketing?
You know, where people are ready to buy.   They just want to find you.  What you have.  How much?  And how easy you are to do business.   But instead we build nice white papers, flashy web sites.  Pour over those analytic reports.   

Do you have the "I want it" button?   And it works?

A good example is Travelocity.   When I want to rent a car, I tell them when and where and they show me a bunch of companies with different cars.  I click, I'm done.  They get my money.

On the other end of the spectrum is the healthcare industry.   I want to buy a small business group policy.  Now.   So Blue Cross Blue Shield's telemarketing calls me up 3 weeks ago.  First time ever I get a call for something I actually wanted.  I tell them "yes".   No one ever calls me back for a quote.   So I call the sales department directly on Monday.  Leave a phone message for a sales person.   They never call back.   So I call again today.   Well since this is a Delaware Corporation with offices in Utah and California they cannot help me.   Nope, they don't know anybody else in the industry.

Meanwhile on Tuesday I fill out a form requesting a call from Aetna.   They promise to get back within 24 hours.   What happened?  Nothing.  So I call them in Hartford.   They give me a broker phone number.  Not to find a broker, but to be a broker.    Scratch Aetna.

Today I filled out a form for United Healthcare.   Want to lay odds if they ever call?

But they all have nice looking websites.

Logo - The End

The logo is done.  And the business cards.  And the stationary design.  All for the same price as just the logo design from Logoworks.  And I had several conversations with the designer,Hg_1 Hired Gun Design.  We got back an Illustrator file.  From which you can create any other type of graphics element.  Logo Since this is vector based, any size looks great.

Our complimentary color is a Pantone® open coat process color.  A process color is created from a four color process as compared to a sport color, which is a blend.  These make the best brochures and business cards.   There are plenty of economical places which do four color offset printing.  And that is the only way to go.  You can create good web graphics from good print design, but not the other way around.  So if you want to use something in both print and web, start with print.

So after a false start, I'm very happy with the results.   A good designer is a great asset.

Whither Art Thou Dell?

Having been an international server product manager, I know that hardware is a tough business.  Lots of moving parts.  So rather than try to build inventory and product, it just made much more sense to do a software load on fully tested equipment.   In the past I've had meetings with Michael Dell and also the old Compaq crew (in the Gary Stimac days).   Time to contact the OEM divisions to see what they have.

Been waiting close to a month to hear back from Dell.   So yesterday I filled out another request form and then got on the horn and placed a call to a Dell SVP I worked with at Novell.  At the same time I called an HP number for the partner program.  He gave me an OEM contact name.  I sent an email.

This morning I got a call back from the HP OEM group.  They gave me all the information I needed and showed me the best way to use them even though this wasn't a high volume deal.

Still waiting to hear from Dell.   Olivier talks about Rule #1: Treat People Well.   Kind of hard to do when you are ignored.    I feel especially slighted.  I didn't even get a DoNOTReply email from Dell.

I just had a flashback to the early days when Dell started making notebooks.  It was easy to spot a Dell user.  They had a piece of tape holding the battery in.  Michael took a lot of grief on that.

Yes, I'ld like the kitchen sink too!

Writing product requirements documents is an art with a dabble of science.   Lately I've seen two extremes: If we had all these features we could sell....... and if we don't have actual market research we shouldn't spec it.   Innovation requires the need to break out from these trains of thought.  Let's face it, sales people cannot see beyond the current quarter, and analytical marketing people cannot see the truck until it hits them.

The first thing I do is examine the market research very closely.  Then I talk to people who are the thought leaders in the market area and others in the channel arena (which is where I found out about recycle laws in Germany and packaged everything in cornstarch plastic and cardboard).  And yes I talk to the sales group.

You also need to figure out what comes next.   Because this product should provide a foundation to lead to the next product and the next market segment.  Then I like to take a walk on theSink technical side to minimize the amount of absolutely pure invention needed to finish the product.

But I do throw in everything including the kitchen sink, if I think it will make the best product.  Knowing full well that the product definition will change.  But engineering always suprises me by what they can do.  If I can convey the big vision, many times you do get big results.   As long as you are willing to kill off features / functions which are not essential for success.

Hammers and Nails

Tomorrow is going to be a fun day.   The University of Utah's graduate "Launchpad" program has invited me to review their projects portfolio in a formal board presentation.  I'm usually on the other side of the table, so this will be interesting. 

What I'm most keen about these presentation is the focus on either hammers or nails.   Many times we get so caught up into a technology, we forget to check if a) anyone wants to buy it and Hammer b) how we're going to sell the product to them.   The old saying comes into play "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail".   Maybe a hammer is the solution, but only if they can prove that there are a lot of nails out there.   

Sounds simple, but often overlooked.   And don't base everything on IDC numbers.  Or tell me 100 people said they would buy it.  Show me the purchase orders which are representative of the market.  Then I know there really are nails out there.

Logo Redux

Got a bit of feedback on my Logo post.    First off I'm real impressed with Logoworks tracking all the blogs and responding.   We all could learn something from them.   Marketing is a conversation and they do that well.

And a correction.  As Rob pointed out, Logoworks only makes 40% gross margin on a project like mine.   Now that's a great business model.

So figuring maybe I got the "satisfaction guaranteed" part wrong I thought I better double check.  Looks like I got that part correct.  Here's my on-line transcript.

Wally: Hi, how can I help you?
you: Hi Wally, I have an ongoing project which has dead ended after 7 weeks.  What's the process for getting a refund of my money?
Wally: What is the name of the project?
you: ****** 
Wally: Hold on just one moment while I pull that account up.
you: thanks
Wally: It looks like you are already in the revisions process and so you are no longer eligible for a refund. We obviously want to make sure that you are happy with the logo that you finalize so we can offer you some new compositions to see if you can get closer to a finalized logo.

Logo Limbo

Ah, the mighty corporate logo.   For companies in trouble, many times the CMO doesn't know what to do, so they change the logo.  Looks good on the MBO.   Ten years ago at Novell (a company in trouble), the new marketing person changed the logo from "sharks teeth" to "connected balls".  Something about networking I guess.  Then she got the boot and the next marketing exec changed the logo to just a word mark.   Which resulted in the saying "No teeth, no balls, just Novell". 

Ouch!  Changing a logo never fixes marketing problems.

I have a different kind of issue.   We've been plugging away at our new startup company and realized that we needed a logo.  Something to put on business cards and our VC needed to list us under their portfolio company section.   If you've never done a logo before, you need to read "Play 5" in John Fox's book.  Whatever you come up with should be no more than 2 color for print, needs a horizontal and stacked format and should be available in grayscale, black & white, full color in .ai . jpg .png .gif and .tif.   (which you can create from Illustrator).

So being a Web world I decided to try the online world.   Logoworks seems to be getting the press, so I gave them a try.  Went for the Gold package for $400.  Didn't read the fine print.  Then again, I couldn't find the fine print.   First off, you never get to talk to a designer.   Sad but true.   I was mid way into the project and tried to talk to the designer and the project manager Jessica called me and told me I couldn't.  I asked for her phone number and she said email was best.  Satisfactionguarantee Would send that to me.  She didn't.  Contacted customer support to get her email address and they gave me a bad address.    Total dead end on this project.   On their home page they have "satisfaction guaranteed".  Should have clicked on that.  Didn't. 

Turns out if you do not like any of their initial designs, you can get your money back except for $75.   But once you are into a project you are SOL.   Click on it, and you get a picture of their founder Morgan Lynch, but no contact information.   BTW if you really want Morgan, here's his email address which I found after doing a little research.  Also found out that of the $400 the designer gets $75 - $90 and Logoworks keeps the rest.   

This story does have a happy ending.  Through my press contacts I did find out the PR person and she agreed to refund our money.   Nice person!

Creative is a one on one process.   You really need to talk to someone realtime.  Which is why Logo Factories Pro package makes sense.  They let you talk to the designer.   So after 7 weeks of wasted time, I'm back at the beginning.  Just hired an independent out of New Mexico today.  I'll let you know how that works out.