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Showing posts from June, 2006

Checking Out the Checkout

The biggest news on the Net this week was the release of Google's new Checkout Payment System. For a great review from both the vendor and customer standpoint, go here.

PowerPoint Like it Oughta Be...

I've been putting together my first Lessig-style PowerPoint presentation and I'm really stoked. Though a few days from completing it, I'm convinced that if you're going to use PowerPoint, this is the way to do it. If you've never seen it done before, here's a great example by Dick Hardt. His speech is only 16 minutes and if you're not in the high-tech arena it wasn't written for you. Still, I bet you'll be glued to your seat.

So You Think You've Thought About Your Website Enough?

For example, a Motley Fool newsletter increased its conversion rates by removing a picture of the author. And a photo of the company’s chief executive will generally drive conversion rates down. “If you’re not a celebrity, you really ought to think twice about" including a photo.

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Even something as seemingly minor as changing the color or style of a button can affect conversion rates, Wachen said. For example, one client realized better conversion rates with a red button than with a green one.

“Red doesn’t mean ‘stop,’” Wachen said. “It means ‘pay attention.’”

Read more here.

Behold: VISTA!

Curious about what Microsoft's new Vista product will look like? Here's a great mini-review. Most disconcerting to me was that the reviewer couldn't easily add RSS feeds from anyone besides Microsoft. I have high hopes for RSS readers to become transparent, and this isn't helping.

Blog, Newsletter, RSS or... dare I say... FAX?

Whenever I talk to people about setting up blogs, a common thing they say is, "Well, we're already doing an e-mail newsletter and we don't have time to do something else." or... "We're not sure how our audience will react."

I'm fond of saying I'm "platform agnostic," which means this: I believe in regular communication for lots of reasons. But I couldn't care less whether you visit this blog every day, pull in the RSS feed or subscribe to the Zookoda newsletter. Either way, I win, because I succeed in communicating with you. This frees me of the burden of having to make a choice and allows you the freedom of making a choice.

"Sounds like a lot of work," I often hear, or, "Man, you must have a lot of time on your hands." If you haven't communicated this way before, here's the least you need to know:

1.) There's content creation. Whether you're starting from a blog or newsletter, you're going to h…

On Playing Skynyrd (and Desperately Trying Not To)

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I was in a meeting earlier this week and a customer was asking about a certain next generation use for what we were pitching. The customer was quite wise and correctly surmised that our solution could handle this request but was a little bit befuddled that I couldn't show him an example of where we had. It was one of many times that I lamented the fact that - to quote a great John Eddie tune - "If you wanna stick around, ya gotta play some Skynyrd."

Many times over the years, I've approached clients with some really fringy ideas. Ideas that I knew would work, but would upset the apple cart of what they're used to doing. At first the client sounded intrigued, but as the project progressed, people got scared and the execution got whittled down to something progressive, but not life-changing (at best), or something that was only a mild improvement from status quo (more often).

This is the equivalent of the musician who goes into a club to play his own original music, …

What Would You Pay For a Customer?

That's not a question we ask ourselves much in marketing. We ask ourselves what we'd pay "per lead" (per click if you're online) or per pair of eyeballs (read: impressions). But we don't usually ask what we'd pay for a customer because - let's face it - you can lead a horse to water, blah, blah, blah.

And yet, the next big thing from Google asks advertisers just that: what would you pay for a customer? And rather than paying "per click" you'll have the ability to bid "per action." In other words, you define the action: "Customer buys this red sweater," and decide what you'll pay for Google to get someone to your site to do just that.

If this works, all the guys who said Google was little more than a big billboard company can pack up and go home.

What Your Computer Desktop May Look Like in a Year or Two

I watched the video and have no idea how this will help me work better. But it's still really really cool.

Funniest Video of the Week, or Why I Have DSL

Need a Search Engine?

Probably not, but you could probably use a good search aggregator. Like this one.

In Honor of His Retirement...

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Here's a great Bill Gates story:

Bill came in.

I thought about how strange it was that he had two legs, two arms, one head, etc., almost exactly like a regular human being.

He had my spec in his hand.

He had my spec in his hand!

He sat down and exchanged witty banter with an executive I did not know that made no sense to me. A few people laughed.

Bill turned to me.

Read more here.

My Personal Barcode

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According to PersonalDNA, I'm an "Attentive Leader."

Marketing V. Sales

From FastCompany:

THE PURPOSE OF THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT:To aggregate customers.WHAT ABOUT SALES?
I find sales as rather agrarian in nature. It's their job, after we've planted all the seeds, the excitement... to get out and sell. I think sales should report to marketing. That'sll never happen, because most sales people are so type A. Marketers are environmental -- we create environment of which sales people should have an easier time to sell.

PrimoMailer?

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PrimoMailer is another new service for those of us who publish email newsletters. I took it for a short spin this morning. I'd say very short because it refused to let me enter any email addresses, which makes it kind of hard to given the fact that the mail has to go *somewhere*.

As some of you know, I'm a Zookoda fan, and have been using them for more than two months, now. PrimoMailer has a couple cool features I'm intrigued with - you can embed your entire blog within the email, for instance and supposedly Primo is better about deleting bad email addresses - but alas, I was unable to try it out to see for myself.

All in all, I think Zookoda's feed-based system is *probably* superior for my needs. And since it's totally free (You pay for more than 10 emails at Primo), I expect to be there for some time. But it's always good to check out your options.

Psst.. Wanna Buy a Book?

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You're going to have to wait a month or so, but when the time comes I'm going to beg you to do yourself a favor and buy the anthology coming out from Rebel Press. Why? First up, I'm in it, but secondly, the book is full of people like me - the literary equivalent of a room full of bridesmaids. The entire anthology consists of folks who've been ignored by the major presses (if not all the presses). And every one of 'em - I'd like to think present company included - can tell a darn good tale. My story involves a repo man who has to hire an Amish sidekick to collect a Russian bride after his co-worker gets bitten by a deadly snake. Seriously. You can actually read a little of it here. It's probably not the best story in the book, but it's the only one to include a violent Amish man.

Google Knows Everything About Me, But I'm a Lot Faster at Work

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So the other day, I finally downloaded Google desktop, which basically indexes everything you've ever written, viewed, read or downloaded to your computer. Actually, this was the second time I've downloaded it. The first time, it kind of creeped me out it worked so good, so I deleted it, but I'm so sick of the slllllloooow speed of Windows search, I reinstalled it.

If, like me, you're a file monger and, like me, you're awful at having a good folder system and if, like me, you're constantly looking for stuff on your computer, do yourself a favor: download this program. Creepy or not, it flat out works. And wicked fast, too.

Much To-Do

This week, I started playing with Toodledo, basically an online "to do" list. It's free and wicked easy to set up. I'm a list-maker, but your average list maker will find the exact same functionality in Microsoft Outlook. So why use Toodledo? Two reasons: the first is that I use Outlook at work and my web access for Outlook from home is cumbersome at best, so a web-based system would be better. But more importantly, Toodledo allows me to export an RSS feed of my to-do's and I spend way more time in my RSS reader than in my Outlook task menu, so I'm looking forward to seeing how this works out.

The Social Army Attacks

P&G has hired 600,000 women to sell you crap. Actually, don't let my lead sentence fool you. This is actually a great idea - low cost and taps into the social network. Very Web 2.0 and very easy for most businesses to replicate. If you're a marketer, you need to think about how to do this at your level.

Can We Make Lunch a Little Earlier in the Week?

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Do you know when you're going to die? This website does.

Magazines Delivered by Ipod

Assuming you read what the kids are reading, you can now get some magazines on your Ipod.

While most of us cringe at the idea of reading on an Ipod with its 2 inch window, let's not forget that in Japan, kids are reading novels on cell phones.

At NXTbook, we use the phrase 'platform agnostic,' which simply mean looks for ways to easily repurporse your content because the future is not a printed brochure, or a website or a blog or a cellphone. It's all of them.

The Dumbest Article I've Read This Week

Why Blog Post Frequency Does Not Matter Anymore... Daily posts are a legacy of a Web 1.0 mindset and early Web 2.0 days (meaning 12 months ago!). The pressure around posting frequency will ultimately become a significant barrier to the maturity of blogging. Here are 10 reasons why.

The author goes on to say - basically - that frequent posting is bad because it forces people to publish content, regardless of quality, which is kind of like saying it's bad to eat supper every night because every dinner can't be a made-from-scratch-4-course meal. While I'm not suggesting you sit down to a supper of potato chips, a take-out pizza every now and then will keep your family more or less on the track to nutritional health.

He then goes on to say that if people are pulling your RSS feed, there's also no need for frequent posting. Again, this is stupid, IMO. I currently pull 136 feeds. Only the updated ones show up. When you're not posting, I'm not reading.

Again, it goes wit…

What Kind of Marketing Organization Are You?

From Brand Autopsy:

In the May 29 edition of Brandweek, Constantine von Hoffman shares findings from a Booz Allen Hamilton study which asked marketing executives about the structure/function of their marketing department within their overall company. After analyzing the responses, Booz Allen researchers identified that there are six types of marketing organizations.1 | Marketing Masters
2 | Senior Counselors
3 | Service Providers
4 | Brand Builders
5 | Best Practice Advisors
6 | Growth ChampionsAt Brand Autopsy, you can find a summary of each of these and then a question: which one are you? Funny thing is, most the people responding claim to be "Growth Champions," which might be a little self-serving and more than a little deluded. While that should be something we all strive for, I've found myself caught in each of the buckets from time to time.Hey, even the guy who owns the restaurant has to clean the restrooms every now and then.

Jesus Would be Proud

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Donald Spector, Chairman of Innovation Fund LLC, announced today that it has patented and developed technologies that will allow consumers to screw one of its Flavor Tops caps onto any bottle of water and turn it into a vast variety of beverages.

A consumer can take their favorite brand of plain bottled water, like Poland Spring (from Nestlé), and with a Flavor Tops cap turn it into a power drink, a soft drink, tea, or even an alcoholic beverage.

Thirsty? Read more here.