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January 2008
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March 2008

Please Value Your Customer's Time

I abandon many web sites who don't value my time.   I don't mind giving you an email address to get a white paper, but more than three questions and I'm gone.  Aa Recently I went to the Tide website (don't ask why) and they asked if I could fill out a short survey.  Sure, why not.  After page 7 of 11 pages I went away.   I'm not impressed with P & G's marketing prowess.

So if you want feedback from your customers, keep it essential and keep it short. 

Web Site Red Flags

Whenever I see words like "leaders", "innovators" or "guaranteed" I cringe.  But my all time favorite is the asterisk *.   It refers to a footnote buried far below the fold, which almost always limits what you thought you were getting, or moving some risk from them to you.

Don't use them.

If you must have some sort of footnote to EXPAND the explanation, put in a link for the explanationAa .   Please.    If you indeed do have some sort of qualifier, then don't use it. 

Amazon Web Services: Please Speak Up

Amazon's Web Services took a serious hit Friday due to an overloaded authentication server.   They fixed it and are taking both long and short term solutions to make sure everything is a.o.k. 

Well and good.

The number one complaint I've been hearing is not that it went away, but it was extremely difficult to find out what was going on.   You had to look at one thread to figure out what was going on.

Nothing on the blog.

No messages on the root page.

Aws My advice to my friends at AWS:  When you get your service health dashboard running, put it on the home page for the developers.  Please.

The marketing lesson here: over communicate, your fans will stick with you in both good times and bad.   

PayPal Politics

I am not a political pundit, nor am I sharing my political views.  That being said, watching the road to the White House from a marketing standpoint is quite interesting.   Historically nominating a candidate has been a push process.   Sound bites are packaged, the political elite are drawn in, and big donors are pitched and sold for their money.

This election we're seeing the long tail effect.   Forget polling, as in business, how is the fund raising coming?   And what we're seeing is regular folks participating in the process in $25 increments.   

Aa I placed pollsters and their polls in the same category as focus groups.    People act differently than what they tell you.  So here's my idea for campaign finance reform.  Give every registered voter 2 - $5 dollar: one for the primaries, and one for the election.  They get to spend their token on the candidate of their choice.  Then provide unemployment insurance for the pollsters.   

Prototype to Break Through Ignorance

This article in Business Week caught my attention which said:

Being too close to—or distant from—a situation can thwart innovation.
...You walk into a meeting with a great idea. You're full of anticipation for the excitement it's going to cause, only to be met by the comment: "That's just like 'X'—it's been done before." The idea is dismissed and you leave, perplexed and deflated.

What Sound familiar?  Especially to those presenting to senior management or to a Venture Capital firm.  Because you are very familiar with a particular market, you see things most people don't. 

But how to get them to understand?   I like to accent the key "aha" factor by building a prototype.  The best is one that actually works in some manner.   For instance when my team came up with the "appliance" computing concept in the early 90's,  we actually built a working computer on a piece of plywood.  We got the funding.   If you cannot do that, then at least build slideware.  Maybe, just maybe they'll get it.

Government Intervention In Business

Businesses are leery about allowing an outsider with a different agenda to be involved in their activities. For these reasons, businesses maintain a comfortable distance from government, so they can focus on their business pursuits, unencumbered. Recently I encountered two different examples of where business and government could intersect and how these were handled differently.

For years, consumers have struggled with the lack of price consistency between the item or shelf price and price at the point-of-sale terminal. Consumer advocacy groups have challenged retailers to rectify this situation, and they have lobbied the government to intervene and protect consumers. In Canada some retailers banded together to form the Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code. Through a participating retailer, I recently experienced this code at work. I purchased an item with a shelf price of $13.92 for a mere $3.92. The particular item rang up at the register for a price $17.99. Because of the discrepancy and this retailer’s voluntary participation as part of the Scan Code, the price was reduced by the maximum amount of $10. This is a self-imposed penalty to encourage retailers to ensure price consistency, as well as develop a level of confidence in consumers. This was done without government intervention.

A second example, again in the retail sector, shows business reacting to a market situation differently.  Canada ’s two official languages can be extremely polarizing. Recently a few small towns outside of Ottawa, where I live, made the newspaper when local retailers were only serving customers in English, despite the fact that half their market spoke French. Retailers justified their position, saying that most French speaking people also spoke English. Steadfast in their arrogance, the retailers heard about calls to the local governments to address the situation. And, the local municipalities responded by enacting bylaws that dictated service in both languages. Why would the retailers allow this to happen? Now if the retailer doesn’t address a customer in their preferred language, they not only face offending and possibly losing this customer, but they may also be subject to fines and other penalties.

Governments will always play a role in our society, and business cannot avoid this. However, businesses can limit the amount of government involvement. The question that begs to be asked is—if you can limit government intervention in your business, why wouldn’t you?

Ryck Marciniak

Let's Fight!

I like to fight.   The creative process is one of strongly held positions by different people.  In a healthy team, differing positions and viewpoints are presented, defended and modified.   

Dissent Friction makes fire.  From the fire of dissent, steel is born.   

I've always done this with my teams.   Doesn't work so well with management teams especially when someone believes that their title gives them the right to pontificate.   

Great piece in Behance

In poorly run teams, the person with the most power or experience just makes the call.

Now this is a useful technique for achieving breakthroughs, but please when it's execution time, let them do their thing.   So, foster dissent.  Challenge authority.   Build consensus head on.  You'll always be amazed.

English as a Second Language

Quick, which country has the most English speaking population?

It's India, followed by China.English_2nd

Too often we forget that our marketing conversations occur in many different languages.    Maybe we cannot speak the native language but at least we should be listening.    It's not that hard.   My favorite tool is Babel Fish from AltaVista.   For instance Doc points out an editorial about his book in Germany.

My German is very bad.  But by running the URL through Babel Fish, I can read it. 

Are you an international listener?

Run - Trip - Run

I like to ski.  Especially here in Utah with really deep and fluffy snow.   Trip We have a saying "If you're not falling, you're not trying".   The same applies to how we do marketing.   In the old days everyone said " Crawl - Walk - Run".   These days we just don't have the luxury.   You better have a team that can run right out the gate.  And you'll stumble.  But dust yourself off, and start running again.

It's a matter of momentum.  The more you can get out now, the better it builds a year from now.  And the further you distance yourself from everyone else.

And how do you know when you're succeeding?   You'll hear constant grumbling from engineering and operations as they try to keep up with demand. 

And that's a good thing.