Monthly Archive for December, 2002

Creative Marketing on the Cheap

I missed this article when it was published earlier this year, but in today’s economy, I think any marketing ideas that come in at a low budget are useful to all of us.

Go read Creative Marketing on a Shoestring, by Isabella Trebond over at Entrepreneur.com, if you’re interested in inexpensive marketing tactics including those that are listed under these headings:

Pull a Stunt

Barter

Give Away Tips (and Your Name)

Stand United

Influence the Influencers

“Would You Like Fries With That?”

Good luck in 2003 and may your year be profitable for you and yours.

Interactive Marketing Best Practices Initiative

This article was published on December 9th, but I didn’t catch it then for some reason…

“Our goal is to create a library of industry specific best practices,” [Dave Chase, managing director of marketing and industry relations, MSN] said.

The efforts of the initiative’s work is available at MSN’s Advantage Marketing website. Sadly, they seem to be available as PowerPoint presentations only, which makes some sense considering the target audience (business people that should have PowerPoint, or that Microsoft wants to buy PowerPoint) but I’d rather seem them as PDFs or web pages… just for portability’s sake.

I hope the initiative really shares some great tips though…

These related AdAge stories are interesting reading as well:

Web Site Affinity And Online Ad Impact

Dove Soap Study Documents Branding Impact Of Online Ads

A Web Developer Talks About Dialup – Call to Action

veronicaIn Dial-Up Revelations, Meg talks about her latest experience in Paris where the internet isn’t free (or cheap, for that matter) and isn’t fast:

Lately I’ve grown lazy around the issue of page size and images. When designing something for a client or posting a picture to my own web site, I’d often think to myself, “everyone I know has a high-speed connection now-a-days” and with little more than a cursory glance at the file size, I’d post or design in happy, dial-upless oblivion.

Oh what a spoiled fool I’d become.

It’s no longer true that everyone I know has a high-speed connection, for I found myself sitting at the end of painfully slow and expensive dial-up connection in Paris, France

The rest of the article is great, and helps those web developers that are leading the design of future websites refocus their energies on the user experience, something that’s sorely lacking on many sites I frequent (even the one my company runs).

Coming Soon: an inluminent/weblog without graphics, for those of us on dialup (don’t worry, the graphic heavy version will stick around for the rest of you).

[via kottke.org]

Add permanent links to email newsletters

This is a feature I’d like to see adopted by email lists and newsletters that I subscribe to:

Attention all Newsletter Publishers:

Add permanent links to your email newsletters

Should be fairly self explanatory.

(ps. that goes for email lists too, set up your email list software to add a quick ‘to read this post or any posts on this thread online, click the following link:’ to all email newsletter posts)

[via Scott]

Voting with your wallet

Jeremy’s rant about insufficient shipping details on check out pages at online retailers reminds me that even though I worked at a travel agency recently, I still bought all of my tickets direct from AA.com or Southwest.com (living in Dallas meant I didn’t need any other airlines to get anywhere) because I hated the customer service we provided to customers, even internal ones. I saved just as much money going through the airline as I would have by buying a ticket in-house, and had the comfort of knowing I’d be taken care of. I voted with my wallet too.

It’s important for company’s to really listen to its customers.

On Looking for a Job – Get Offers

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to sit down with a cousin-in-law of mine that’s in his Junior year at college. This kid is smart and has a real opportunity to get a good job in a year and a half or so.

While we were watching a football game, he asked me about living in other states (which I did when I was in the Army) and seemed interested in learning the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of living in a distant state and choosing a job, so I took the opportunity to impart a little wisdom (I hope).

When I was leaving the military, I was fortunate enough to read a book called Knock ‘Em Dead, which was a fantastic primer on looking for a job, writing a powerful resume, interviewing and other critical job search tasks. (note: the book is updated every year, so I’ve linked to the most current version.) I learned a little about the proper way to approach a job hunt (from a mindset perspective) and how to get the job that you really wanted from that book as well as from recruiting seminars that I attended.

The most important part of a job search to me is the angle that you approach it from. You see, there is a simple three step process to getting the right job:

1. Get interviews (lots of them).
2. Get offers (as many as you want).
3. Take the job that offers you the best options.

When you’re looking for a job, you should apply to as many jobs as you feel you are even remotely qualified. Make your resume stand out for each application by tailoring you resume to the requirements and desires of the job posting. Places like Monster.com and Hotjobs.com (not getting a link because they spammed me) are good places to start looking for jobs in general, but you’ll likely get more traction from local job posting boards or industry specific job listings.

Don’t limit your job search net. Cast the net as wide as you’re comfortable, and then cast it just a bit wider. If you live in a city like Houston, TX, and don’t have anything holding you there, look all over the country for a job… if the company that you submit your resume thinks you’re a possible fit, they’ll pay to talk to you. If the job posting is for a ‘management’ position and you’re not perfectly able to take that job right this second, apply anyways… you’ll likely get your resume dumped into that company’s system for future use when that manager that they do hire needs to find people to help him or her build the division out.

Don’t pull yourself out of the running just because you don’t think you’re a perfect fit. Let them make that distinction.

After you’ve landed an interview, don’t focus on getting the job… focus on getting a job offer. Learn to say ‘yes’ to almost any question if you can morally and ethically justify it. During the interview process listen to a question, take a deep breath, or moment to think, and then answer with the right answer (the one the hiring authority wants to hear). Look for ‘buy signals’ that tell you you’ve said the right thing, then shut the hell up. Sell yourself, then when you see them trying to sell the company to you, you should know that you’re getting close to the right place you want to be.

If you receive an offer from a company, NEVER accept it at face value immediately. Tell them politely that you’d like some time to think over your options (a week or two is usually good) especially if you have other interviews lined up. The goal in any job search is to get multiple offers to weigh, so that you’re taking the offer you want, not the only one you’ve got.

After you have multiple offers, go back to your primary choice and either accept the job as offered, or with additional perks as you see fit. If you’ve been offered three jobs that you’d take with good offers, look for the best offer from those three company’s and take it with a good feeling in your bones.

Always send letters to everyone you interview with before taking an offer and after. Always say ‘thank you’ and learn to say sir or ma’am if you’re not accustomed to saying it and you’ll go far in the interview process. Always call the interviewer Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so, no matter how informal the interview process… you’re the one on trial, not them.

So, again, get as many interviews as you can handle, get as many offers as you can get, then take the job you want based on all of your available options.

Read the book… it’ll help. There’s a lot more than just these principles in the book.

I can say this with a straight face: I’ve never not gotten a job I really wanted and was qualified for using these techniques as a baseline.

Next lesson in ‘getting a job': networking (to be published at a later undetermined date).

Wasting your employees’ time

I don’t think Mark got ‘pissed’ about having to go into work early for a meeting that really shouldn’t have taken place, but this is something that just shouldn’t happen to employees:

“I had to be at work early this morning for an all employee meeting . The bosses were supposed to announce a realignment / re-organization of several reporting structures, but they had not finished agreeing on the new org charts. So instead the VP-GM told us how good everything was going to be after the reorg and how we were all going to be so much more efficient. We’ll see.”

If you don’t have your stuff ready to go, don’t schedule a meeting to tell people about it. If you haven’t had time to really go over things and iron out the details, don’t tell people about a plan, because it’s probably half-cocked.

And most importantly, if it can be helped, don’t waste your employees’ time.

reading Prey

I’ve read two pages of Prey by Michael Crichton tonight.

I’m hooked.

This particular quote from the intro is what has hooked me:

“We are one of only three species on our planet that can claim to be self-aware, yet self-delusion may be a more sigificant characteristic of our kind.”

Looks like a good book… more later when I’m done with it.

Encoded Email Addresses

veronicaIf you want to publish your email address on a website, you’re gonna get spam, but there are a few things you can do to cut down on the amount of spam you get.

The easiest is to not publish your email address on a website. You’ll still get some spam, but your ISP should be able to install a spam filter that you can use to turn off some of it (Earthlink’s Spaminator is a good example of this). (Of course, this negates the whole idea of publishing your email address on your website).

Secondly, you can publish your email address in unlinked graphical form. This means a human that isn’t blind can read your email address and type it in their email program. Scott does a good job of this on his Fuzzy Blog!.

Thirdly, you can encode your email address so that it looks like plain text to a reader, but looks like gobldygook in the source code:

Take my email address: john@inluminent.com. Anyone can email me there, but I don’t want to get a bunch of spam, so I’d like to encode it using character entities, but it’s a lot of work to do it manually, so I naturally turn to a web based email encoding form to turn my email address into this:

j o h n @ i n l u m i n e n t . c o m

Which then goes into my HTML to produce this:

john@inluminent.com

(Special thanks to Steve Hall, one mf my MarketingFix buddies, for reminding me about this tool and giving me the idea of blogging it).

Vacation should be mandatory

Alesha Oovich...  Oooo....You know, it’s really nice to just get away from it all for a while every now and then.

I haven’t had the luxury of getting away from my daily routine since I was in the Army… In the military, you usually get told to take a two week vacation sometime during the year, and all of your peers, subordinates and superiors take the same vacation time off. We called it ‘block leave’ and the entire unit pretty much shut down for two weeks.

It was a refreshing way for everyone to get the hell out of town and forget about ‘work’ for a little while and recharge. The civilian world really ought to learn that lesson and start making people take vacation all at once…

I was able to do that to some extent this holiday season, as we decided to get out of town on Tuesday before Christmas and not come home until just now. I decided at the last minute to leave my laptop at home, and to remain ‘unplugged’ from the internet or work for those 5 days, no matter what.

It was great.

I’m a little stressed now that I realize I could have gotten some work done while we were out of town, but it was nice to just sit back and relax while we were on holiday and not worry about any of it.

I’m still looking forward to New Year’s Ever here in little old Austin. It’s gonna be fun, I think. The best news for this coming year seems to be that my best friend from high school is moving to Austin after being relocated to Temple (a little shit hole of a town an hour north of here) for a year.

Switchers

This holiday, the wife and I took a quick 24 hour trip up to visit her family in the ‘great’ state of Oklahoma, more specifically, the beautiful snow covered city of Tulsa.

It was a great trip, and the highlight of the trip was our finally getting to meet the newest member of the family, a little 5 month old little baby boy, courtesy of one of the cousin’s and her new husband. Interestingly, that husband is thinking of buying an iMac, without any prodding from me.

He’s quite tired of his HP never working the way its supposed to, and getting viruses all the time. The Apple Switch campaign has won him over, especially the commercials where the speaker says something along the lines of ‘I get to work with my computer, instead of having to troubleshoot it all of the time.’

I thought that was interesting…

Oh, and he’s really happy with the CompUSA Apple Specialist who answers all of their questions and seems to always know the right answer.

I hope they get an iMac with a DVD Burner, and pick up a DV video camera… I’d love to see a DVD under the tree from them next year.

Planning a strategy for a sales team

I’m busier than hell at work planning a strategy for our online advertising sales teams. It’s tough work, honestly, mainly because I’m one of those guys that has to figure out where he’s coming from to know where he’s going. I like to look at the history of things, so that I know what’s been done before…

But, that’s hard when there isn’t a lot of ‘institutional memory’. I’m finding myself concentrating on researching what’s happened this past year as I’ve only been there a month. I’m creating a lot of reports that just don’t exist, mainly because no one knew to make them as the work was done. It’s going slowly, but not because the information isn’t available, but rather because the information generally isn’t in an electronic format. I’m really glad that it does exist though, and that I’m not having to completely recreate data from scratch.

I’m sure my boss thinks he pays me too much to create reports, but I don’t know that he realizes the value to me of those reports.

It’s something I learned in the Army I guess… ‘to get where you’re going, you’ve got to know where you’re coming from’ is the general thought that I operate under.

So, to me that’s step one in creating a smart strategy.

After I get this task of ‘creating historical reports’ that are useful, I’ll five into the actual planning and forcasting phase of building a strategy. Overall, I’d say that I’m on track for what I thought I could do, but I do think my boss is a little frustrated. I think he was expecting instant results, but that’s just not how I operate… for now he’s giving me free reign, so I’m still using the slack I’ve got in the leash… I hope this free reign lasts at least another month… I’m going to need it.

MT Plugin Directory

looking back...Tonight, I was working on some backend development for MarketingFix.com, our internet marketing weblog, and I found this list of MovableType plugins on love-productions.

I had not realized that Kristine had put together such a great resource, but am grateful that she has.

In the near (relatively) future, I plan on looking into these plugins for use on my MT sites:

Something else that’s interesting to me about the list of plugin’s the Kristine’s provided is that I’ve chosen mainly plugins from Brad Choate, one of my favorite MT Hackers. His scripts and hacks are always fairly easy to implement.

I’m also thinking that if I look into it more, I can use something from MT hacks: collapsing archive list to do some funky category stuff done for MarketingFix.

Mac OS X 10.2.3 – Big Ass Update

missI have to applaud Apple for releasing another update/upgrade to Mac OS X “Jaguar” … but …

The god damned thing is 51 MB in size.

51 MB.

Now I know what it really feels like to be without broadband.

I’m sitting here on my plunky dunky 56K modem thinking… WTF?

56K + 51 MB = like fucking forever to download …

It looks like a ‘must have’ update, but I’ll be waiting till after the new year to download and install this update due to the un-dialup friendly size.

You know in Apple’s Software Update Control Panel there could be room for a ‘buy now’ button that took a user to a page that allowed them to order the update on CD for $19.95 or so? Apple could produce short runs of software update CDs that included everything from the previous quarter or so on one CD and when inserted in the CD Drive with Software Update running the upgrade process could be ‘automated’ just like it is with a broadband connection…

Just an idea.

Raving Fans = good customer service

A recommendation from Peter Shankman on an email list I read daily:

Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service

Peter recommends this book after quite a sad experience at a local Starbucks… during which he received fairly poor customer service. Peter’s words:

… its basic premise is that we expect shitty customer service as a nation – if you as the person providing the service, act one level above shitty, (it doesn’t even have to be good!) you’ll have a customer for life. If you act above and beyond the call of duty, the customer will go out and tell the immediate world – i.e., you’ve created a “raving fan.”

Peter recommends that all employees of any company read the book basically.

Sledding (It is the time for it)

This is just too much fun not to share with folks:

Toboggan Run

Enjoy your sledding.

Book for Zawodny: The Summons

Jeremy should read The Summons by John Grisham only because the main character ‘gets away from it all’ during his flying lessons. (Bought it at the airport waiting for a plane on Tuesday. It’s a good Grisham book too, read it in under two days).

Why Monopolies are bad

ummm... navel... raw navel...Ok, so Kasia didn’t say anything about monopolies, but her story about AT&T raising her internet fees because she doesn’t subscribe to Cable TV is a good example of what can go wrong if a company ‘owns’ a particular market and there isn’t any real competition for that market…

Now, I also think the broadband market is too ‘new’ to really have any monopolies, but with all of the subsidization of broadband by hardware manufacturers, large telecom and cable companies and even the government going on in the past 3-5 years, it makes sense that prices have to go up as adoption slows down (is it slowing down yet?) but it’s still sucks that cable internet access could cost $15 more/year for a loyal customer just because they aren’t a cable TV subscriber…

Sad effect of fucked up ethics in corporate America I think too… so many angles to this it’s rediculous.

Essential Apple Ads

Anthony Joh has posted some ads that were on Apple.com recently, but have since disappeared… if I were on something slightly faster than dialup I’d check them up, but 56K (if this connection is really that fast) is slower than shit for anything truly interactive…

After Jan 1, I’m ordering broadband… can’t take it any more.

Quick Sales Tips from Business 2.0

On the plane today, I finally got around to reading The Persuaders from the November 2002 issue of Business 2.0.

It’s a great read that quickly profiles 5 great sales persons in easy to read and easy to share storylets (not a real story, but more like a few paragraphs with lots of depth).

When I get back to the office, I’m going to make color copies and pass them out to my sales reps.

Finally — Intellimouse on Windows Button Settings

For years, I’ve used a MS Intellimouse Exlporer on a Macintosh, including OS 9 and OS X. The intellimouse has 5 buttons and the default buttons for the 4th and 5th button (the two on the side) are ‘forward’ and ‘backward’ actions that are pretty useless on a Macintosh (they work, just not nicely) in part because MSIE on Macintosh doesn’t cache or render pages as quickly as one would expect, so…

I didn’t use the default settings. On the 4th button, I used the key command <cmd + click> which in MSIE opens a new window and has a special meaning in the finder. It also allowed me to ‘grab’ a webpage and scroll it using the mouse as if I were using the ‘hand’ tool in Acrobat reader.

On the 5th button, I assigned the key command <cmd + w> which is the standard ‘close window’ key command.

This allowed me to open links into new windows and close them quickly in MSIE, and after I started using Mozilla, allowed me to do the same but with ‘tabs’ instead of windows.

I’ve never had the time to sit down with Windows and really play with it, so I never could figure out how to ‘open a new window in IE with a click + key combination’ and that was pretty frustrating…

Well, frustrated with that one little piece of Windows, I am no more. I discovered quite by accident the special key command that’ll allow me to open a new window with a click, under Windows 2000 at least, is:

<control + shift + click>

So, as soon as I return to the office, I’ll program my Intellimouse Explorer’s 4th button to act ‘properly’ for my use.

Feels good…

Offline driving Online

lickableI arrived this morning in Atlanta after a quick flight from Austin on Delta. I enjoyed the quick walk through the Atlanta airport on my way to a cab. The cab driver was very friendly and got me to my destination right on time.

I spent the majority of the day meeting people, discussing ideas about ‘local’ advertising and how a traditional sales force can work with a non-traditional advertising sales force. After wrapping up my last meeting, I walked over to the Wyndham in downtown.

Check in was quick and efficient, and the staff was very pleasant. I went up to my room and debated going out to dinner for a minute before opening the TV cabinet, sitting down with the computer and getting to work on the Wayport high-speed access line in the room. I called the wife and let her know how the day went as I mindlessy flipped through the channels on the TV.

I ordered room service (Capellini al Pomodoro, a salad, and a glass of wine) and started surfing the web a bit. I caught up on the past 24 hours worth of email and read a few sites online like marketingfix and E&P just to stay on top of the day’s news.

After dinner, while surfing the web, I got a knock on the door from room service again. I thought that was odd, until I saw what was delivered. The Wyndham room service staff member brought me a box of crackers, round of gouda as well as a few raspberries on a platter with a Coke and bottled water with a hand addresses ‘welcome’ card from the “Wyndham By Request Team.”

They were inviting me to join the Wyndham By Request program and pointed me to www.wyndham.com as the place to join. Since there is a high-speed internet account in my hotel room, I joined tonight.

Great use of offline to drive online in a personal way.

End of Quarter Sales Tactic

The hard sale can always be an interesting way to try and close new business, but it’s always a tactic that should be used sparingly, in my opinion. This post at IntricatePlot is an example of barely treading the fine line between smart and dumb ass in the sales business. I actually think it’s a good way to ask the right questions, but think it also has potential to backfire… it sounds desperate and that’s not a position you ever really want to be in as a sales person, in my opinion. It leads to less trust in the short run, and that’s dangerous.

Wrong Video Adapter for My iBook

Recently I ordered an adapter from Apple for my iBook. I wanted to be able to watch DVDs on my TV instead of on our iBook. So, I took a trip over to the Apple Store (online) and ordered an Apple A/V Cable. I saw the description:

The Apple AV cable was specially designed to allow users to connect their iBook to a large screen television using the AV port. This cable is required if you wish to display to a television.

Important: Compatible only with iBooks having an A/V port.

I thought ‘perfect’. I ordered the part, and it came in this week…

But, I should have ordered a Video Adapter for iBook.

The Apple Video Adapter for iBook was specially designed to allow users to connect their iBook for video-out to S-video or composite video devices. The video adapter cable plugs into the Video Output port built into your new iBook. The new iBook Video Output port supports VGA, S-Video, and Composite video out. Use the Apple Video Adapter cable for S-Video or Composite video output only (connect to your TV, VCR, or overhead projector’s S-Video or RCA (composite) cable). Use the separate VGA Adapter for VGA video out.

Important: Compatible only with new iBooks featuring 512K L2 cache and without an external reset. Your iBook must have the new Video Output port that supports VGA, S-Video, or Composite video output.

Hmmm… I think I have that model. I don’t really know how to find out honestly… I mean it doesn’t say ‘this is an iBook featuring 512K L2 cached without an external reset’ on it anywhere that I can find. I’m also wondering if this is the newest iBook out there, or if perhaps there is a newer model that I missed a ‘quiet’ update from Apple on. I’m also wondering how I’m supposed to get the sound output into the TV at this point…

Regardless, I’ve ordered the Video Adapter for iBook and will await its arrival so I can find out if it’s what I’m looking for.

If anyone wants a Apple A/V Cable for $15 let me know… I have one that’s useless (to me at least) at this point.

Apple really should start changing the naming scheme for things, or at least make it easier for people to know what they have by displaying pictures of each model ‘iBook’ side by side with descriptive factors on the ‘order’ pages so that this sort of thing doesn’t happen… I’d consider myself an Apple faithful, and if I can screw this up, then I’m almost 99% sure that a new Apple customer (a switcher) would get confused as well.

Heh… oh, to be in school again…

is this kika?I just read this post over at expositionkink:

Well, the semester’s drawn to a close, and the “dead days” before finals begin have already upset my equilibrium. I keep on forgetting I still have a project and 2 exams to get through, so I’ve stayed up eating pie and working on this site the past couple of nights. School just feels finished; I’ve already gotten into that lazy winter/summer break frame of mind. I’m dreading having to be productive for 2 more weeks.

I forgot how much fun it could be to be in school till reading that post… it’s just too funny to think about not actually having any thing to be responsible for as long as a month or so not to mention it here. I don’t thing I’ve had more than a week at a time off since I got out of school 5 years ago…

Oh to be in school again.

Convergence – what is it, and what it isn’t

carmenI just got around to reading Steve Outing’s latest article on convergence, finally.

It’s a well writen article that details 3 writers that are taking their own journalism to new audiences, across multiple delivery vehicles… but that’s not what I think about when I think ‘convergence’.

We’ve been hearing about “media convergence” for a long while, but most working journalists don’t yet live it. The days of working in an environment where you produce content for multiple media platforms is for the pioneers — not the legion of newspaper, radio, television, and online journalists who stick to their native media.

When I think convergence, I think about it from a marketing standpoint. I think about ‘covergence’ as a way to reach the same person in more than one presentation at the same time. I think about it as a way for the Las Vegas Tourism Bureau to reach me (as a consumer) via the mediums that I’m consuming (right now I’m watching the PRCA World Championships on ESPN and reading a Business2.0 online, so they could be advertising to me through both of those mediums, if they were interested in really driving home the thought of advertising to their core consumer group (24-54 male with a HHI of over $75K/year).

That’s what I think about convergence.

I haven’t ever considered it from the media producer’s standpoint… Its an interesting thought, but I think it can only happen in markets where the owners of the local radio station, TV and/or newspaper are either the same company (like Atlanta) or are truly good working partners (like they are in Dallas).

Honestly, it really sounds like a way for producers to save money in the future with less staff doing more work…

That’s called ‘increased productivity’ not ‘convergence’.

SXSW 2003 Competition

FYI, the 2003 SXSW Interactive Web Awards entry deadline has passed for this year, but it’s totally fun to visit random entries if you have some time on your hands… And if you come to the conference in March, drop me a line so we can maybe catch lunch or something… I’m pretty sure I’ll be at the conference non-stop when its here in March.

Cheesecake and Wine

Tonight, the wife and I decided to just stay in for the night. We ate lunch around 3:00 at Freebirds, the best damned place to eat a burrito in the world, and it almost held us over for the night, but alas, we finally got hungry around 10:30 or so, hald way through the Sopranos…

We weren’t hungry for a full dinner, but we were hungry, so I called an italian restaurant not far from the apartment and asked them if they were still open for take-out. The guy said ‘sure’ but then told me that the grill was closed.

He then asked what I was looking for, so I told him ‘maybe some cheesecake and a bottle of wine.’

He said that they could do that, so I jumped in the car and drive over to pick up wine and cheesecake. And man, oh, man…

It was good.

UT debating ending a degree program due to the web

beautiful womanThe news that U.T. May End Photojournalism Program due to the internet’s developments, is quite interesting to me, especially when you put it in perspective with the idea that many schools across the country have added some sort of “e-” (and I don’t mean ‘executive’) programs to their undergraduate and graduate programs over the past 5 to 8 years in response to a need to teach people about the internet. From the article:

The proposal was prompted because of changes in the news industry, especially a growing appetite for online news. Branham noted there are fewer jobs for photojournalists who take only still pictures, while there is greater need for photographers who can also shoot video and edit digital images and videos for Web sites and other media.

I think it’s a phenomenally forward looking university that can predict what fields aren’t going to be needed down the road and actually cut those programs to make room for others… while I don’t know if cutting the photojournalism degree will be a smart one or not, I do applaud UT’s ability to at least ask the question openly. That speaks volumes of their leaders.

Froogle is gonna be huge

Froogle has been launched.

This is huge. Google is beta testing Froogle, a new shopping search engine tool. This has a huge potential… freakin’ huge potential.

The big question to me is whether or not this will really impact the way marketing is done online… Search Engine Optimization will become a big piece of catalog sites as of right now if it wasn’t already (and I doubt it was before now).

Anyways… Frugal, I mean Froogle, is available (as a beta) just in time for last minute Christmas shopping.

(Can anyone say look out Amazon?)

New Town, New Cellphones

veronicaYesterday, I moved the our cell phone plans from the Fort Worth locale to the Austin locale. It was fairly painless. AT&T Wireless has been my cellular provider of choice for about 5 years now. I’ve been happy with their service from day one and have never looked back (though some of those unlimited family plans look enticing sometimes). I’m sure we’ve paid a little more than we needed to because we were lazy or stupid, but overall, I’ve been very happy with the service, and Service is King™, or so they say.

Anyways, with the switch in service, and my need for greater contact with other folks, we started looking at new calling plans with more minutes and/or flexiblity, as well as new phones (I had a severe case of phone envy for some reason). Also, my new employer actually covers some cell phone costs without a lot of hassle, so I figured I’d take advantage of that, if it made sense.

We’ve been using old Nokia phones and I really, really wanted a Bluetooth enabled phone, so that I could easily sync my data and always have it with me (I am a sales person after all, and entering client info more than once or twice starts to suck around the 500 contacts mark, and I’m well past that).

So, I investigated the Sony Ericsson T68i, primarily because it looked like it’d do everything I wanted now, and would live through two or three product revisions without loosing too much of its luster. The wife however wanted a new flip-phone, so something from Motorola was in the works for her (also she needed coverage while driving no matter where she was, so GSM was out for her). The only problem with the T68i is that its a GSM only phone, and that means reduced coverage areas, but all of the major metros in the country are covered, and I’ll likely be flying between them, so coverage isn’t that big of a concern for me.

This evening we visited the local AT&T Wireless storefront so we could get a better feel for the phones and the new plans and bought a Motorola V60i for the wife and a Ericsson T68i for myself. I signed up for the $99 unlimited + no long distance “in network” plan that’s available for GSM users. The wife signed up for the $35 National Network plan that came with 200 free minutes, and unlimited night and weekend minutes, so she should be covered. We dropped $500 odd dollars on the phones and will get $100 back (allow 6-8 weeks for processing, please).

Overall, I’m happy about the phones and the plans that we got, and just ordered a D-Link DWB-120M Bluetooth USB Adapter for Macintosh Computers (D-Link’s page) from Apple so that I can iSync my data sometime in the coming week or two.

Loving the Blog idea

So, us MarketingFix folks have decided that we needed a private weblog so that we could post things that others might need to see in a written + image form, in addition to our little email list that we’ve set up (thanks to EZMLM)… it’ll also help my colleagues learn more about MovableType I’m thinking (they’re all blogger types or other CMS types).

The reason I really like the whole blog idea is because I couldn’t remember how to set up a .htaccess or .htpasswd file, but thanks to my dilligence in blogging how to do it, I found the answer quite quickly.

Thanks to all those that have inspired me to blog.

Sorry for the drought of postings

sandy girlI’ve been super busy trying to get my life in order after our move… regular postings will resume sometime soon (I hope)… dialup sucks and those open wireless nodes I mentioned a while back only work in the kitchen or so it seems (must be the rain).

Apple Gear

Apple really makes it easy to buy accessories for their hardware now-a-days. I remember back when there was generally only one way to get a third part accessory for your Apple made computer, and that was by turning to a catalog. I also remember back when Byte magazine was an Apple computer enthusiast magazine and you could only really afford to add on to your Apple by building the component on your own…

But, today, I ordered a few things that we need from the Apple Store. And none of what I ordered was branded “Apple”. To me that’s amazing, but then again, I’m one of those Apple junkies.

In our apartment we don’t have a DVD player, but I brought all of our DVDs with us in the move (thinking that we’d need some form of entertainment other than TV every once and a while…) Apple sells a iBook video out -> RCA jacks cable that I purchased for roughly $20. I also picked up a cleaning kit for the iBook because it was cheap, and the screen needs a little polishing after a year’s worth of use.

Incremental revenue for Apple, nothing ground shaking, but the service so far has been outstanding, and in today’s world “Service is King.”

Doggy Fun

Joy, anyone?Apartment living sucks. Bottom line.

There’s a reason I bought a house when we moved to Fort Worth, and I can’t wait to buy another when we sell our first house. We live in an apartment complex of roughly 1000+ units in a downtown location. The view is great, but having neighbors on either side of you, sucks. Our parking is also a shared lot with some local commercial storefronts, so, during busy parts of the day, or after work, the lot is full, forcing us to park in the parking garage, which is a good tromp across the somewhat soggy (its been raining a lot lately) grassy area between our apartment and the garage.

The one saving grace I guess is being able to take our dog out in public and see him get plenty of adoration because he’s so cute. Yes, I own a pussy dog. A Bichon Frise, but I love him. He’s one of those dogs you own to get girls… too bad I’m married, cause there truly are some hot women in Austin.

Oh, and yes, he’s sleeping on my chest as I write this.

Limitations of Outlook (without Exchange)

exchange meI’m a firm believer in Outlook as a group scheduling and contact management tool. It also happens to be a decent email client. But, I can tell you this… if there is no Exchange Server in the equation, then it’s really just an email client.

I work at a company where there are roughly 900 employees. There are many different platforms and OSes running thoughout the organization: Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9, Windows (name your favorite flavor), various flavors of *nix and other proprietary stuff in between. We don’t have an Exchange Server at all, yet my department uses Outlook XP (great upgrade to Outlook 2000 btw). The first thing I tried to do was show some of the office staff how to share calendars last Monday… little did I know that we weren’t able to do that… and the sad thing is, to me that’s over half the value of Outlook.

Hopefully that’ll change in the future.

One thing that I can say can improve organizational efficiency is a strong use of technology to improve communication and collaboration. If you make it easy for people to schedule meetings with each other smartly they generally will. If you make it hard, they won’t meet.

Give them a tool that only does half the job, and they’ll learn to despise the tool, or the team that put it in place as a less than fully-functional tool.

Stress

lovely eyesStarting a new job is always a challenge. Moving to a new city to start a new job is also a huge challenge. I’ve done both of these things in the past week and with that comes stress.

Stress is good, but only in moderation, sort of like Coffee. I’ve got a lot of stress in my life right now, and I’ve got to find a way to get rid of some of it… I’m hoping that writing about it will help.

I generally deal with stress by breaking down large problems, or issues, into small blocks, which helps me simplify those problems, at which point I’m able to solve each small problem, add those solutions together and come up with a fairly simple answer (at least in my mind). I’ve gotten pretty good at this problem-solution matrix over time that I can generally do most of it in my head, usually skipping a few steps, and still end up coming out on top. I can’t explain it, but I’m not generally the kind of person that gets stressed or overwhelmed.

I don’t need a whole lot of static points in my life to get things accomplished.

But, I think I’ve gotten myself out of the edge of that proverbial plateau.

The one thing that generally keeps me fairly well grounded is my wife. But she’s on the other end of the spectrum most of the time. She likes to investigate every possible option prior to making a decision. She also hasn’t followed our finances at all for the past two or three years (I’ve just ‘taken care of it’ for the most part). This whole pick up and move, sell the house, live in a tiny apartment for a while, suck it up, and benefit later thing isn’t her bag. It’s stressing me out, because I really need her to be solid, so that the things in my life that aren’t (the whole new job thing) can be dealt with without a whole lot of periperhal distractions…

So, I think I’ll sit her down tomorrow night and explain a lot to her… that’ll help I’m sure.

Quicklinks for Friday

How to get Plucker, a decent AvantGo replacement, working on Mac OS X.

Jeremy Zawodny will be playing with MySQL and Terrabytes of data

.

Radio Shack stops taking names

Wow. According to OfficeParkDad, Radio Shack is ending their long practice of gathering customer information like name, address and zip code, at the point of purchase. Kudos to Radio Shack, and I can say that that’s probably the reason I don’t shop their more often, even if its not a conscious decision.

learning from the WSJ.com

While this is a bit old for some of you I’m sure, it’s a great read, but my post is a bit long, just because I want to archive the info here:

E&P Online: An Exit Interview With WSJ.com’s Neil Budde

Walt Mossberg, personal technology columnist for the Journal, called Budde’s departure “a sad event for Dow Jones and for The Wall Street Journal.” Mossberg and others largely credit Budde for WSJ.com’s creation and development.

There’s some great stuff in the interview itself like:

3. That’s interesting, because analysts often talk about WSJ.com’s successful subscription model without discussing advertising on the site. How has the advertising plan developed?

Continue reading ‘learning from the WSJ.com’

Geeks and Marketing

black dressScott makes this comment in a post on the FuzzyBlog!:

“Marketers don’t seem to get that being in our faces isn’t helping them at all — in fact it’s just ruining it for them”

But, I’d like to ask to Scott to take a slight moment to reflect on what marketing is mainly about: reaching a critical mass of consumers that might be interested in your product… raising their awareness and interest to a point where they’ll eventually buy your product. Thus, step outside of your own perspective and look at the majority of the people on the internet. Are they just like you (or me for that matter) ? Are they online all the time? Do they even know how to edit their ‘hosts’ file?

I’ll make this point simple: Geeks don’t get marketing. Traditional (and most internet) marketers don’t get geeks. Thus, marketing to and for geeks generally sucks… but for the majority of (broadband) internet users the responsibly placed intrusive ads (I’ll call them ‘out-of-banner’) do a good job of placing advertising back in front of the user, just like TV advertising blocks, or outdoor billboards placed properly, or radio placements for that matter.

Internet media wasn’t built for featuring advertisers, thus, most advertising on the internet ‘wraps’ around content, but more recently we’ve seen a move to get that advertising back in front of the readers, just like it is in every other media… Intrusive ads work when placed on the right sites to reach the demographics that they’re targeted at, if the creative is good.

So, that all being said… I’m also a believer in (the majority of) Cluetrain, but don’t think that most Cluetrain principles need to be adhered to for most marketers because the tactics taught in the Cluetrain Manifesto just don’t reach a large enough percentage of people for the majority of the major marketers out there yet… give it time, and it will.

I’m in this for the long haul.

BTW, glad to see that Scott’s trying to buy an iPod… he’ll love it.

the cosmos (what’s out there)

Haven’t had time to really check this out, but it looks interesting.

The Cosmos of MarketingFix.

Like I said, interesting, but I don’t know how useful it is yet…

Online Service Charges — Why?

car ride anyone?Scott’s pissed that online travel agencies (Expedia is the one in this example) are now charging for providing a service. I just left the travel business, so I know a little more from the inside that Scott does. What Scott doesn’t admit is that most online travel agency websites were built to make a profit on the standard commissions that airlines used to pay to any travel agent. As these online agencies grew in popularity (which was their goal) they naturally put little guys out of business and helped build the online travel e-commerce category into the largest online producer of cash to date. But, that all came at a price… the local travel agency.

But, the thing is, that the local travel agencie’s demise wasn’t the true ‘fault’ of folks like Microsoft. It was the fault of consumers. Consumers made Expedia a success. They looked for a better product, at a cheaper price, just like we now go to Walmart to buy more stuff than any local mom and pop ever made ever thought about earning. Simple economics there, really…

Then, last year, the airline’s started crumbling… Their large empire’s were trounced by the marketplace. Please didn’t want to fly anymore and the airline’s started suffering hugely. So, the airlines cut their distribution costs in various channels, meaning that they cut commissions to travel agents, they also laid off a lot of their own employees and most of them focused on cheaper distributions channels like their own websites.

As travel agents’ annual contract’s with individual airlines come to an end this year, I’m sure that they’re seeing less discounts and less revenue potential, they have to find a way to make money. This means charging service fees for booking tickets.

It’s all about the bottom line, not about Greed, as Scott points out, in my opinion. It’s about running a business that makes money.

If people want to support local business, they can vote with the pocket books… that’s the loudest voice of them all in business.

Apple and Marketing

Two fantastic branding and Apple articles on Wired:

Apple: It’s All About the Brand

For Mac Users, It Takes a Village

[via [stop]design]

And one other about loyatly in customers:

Mac Loyalists: Don’t Tread on Us

[via winterspeak]

Traffic and Exhaustion and Wireless

ashleyToday was my first day at my new job.

I can already tell I’m going to love it. More on that over time though.

Last night, the wife and I made the trip to Austin from Fort Worth after sleeping for around 5 hours, then waking up to pack up the remainder or our belongings (those that we didn’t move down before going to Vegas).

We left Fort Worth around 3:30pm, but didn’t arrive in Austin until around 10:30pm. It’s normally a 3 hour drive. Thanksgiving traffic sucked major ass. We took the short cut (meaning a bunch of small two lane highways through the country) but we still ran into an impassable wreck on Hwy 183 just south of Lampassass, Texas. Egads, that sucked. 45 minutes sitting still, windows down, nothing but dust, deer blood (big hunting country out there), and the smell of a burning car in the air.

After arriving in Austin, I took all of our stuff up to the 4th floor of the apartment building in about 5 trips (thank God for elevators).

We went to bed around mid-night, then got up early this morning (didn’t want to be late on our first day at our new jobs did we?) and headed to work.

I spent the majority of the day getting briefings by HR folks, then meeting the folks that’ll be working for me, and that I’ll be working with.

It’s all very exciting, and I’m loving Austin so far. Our view from our porch is of the Austin skyline, and it’s just wonderful at night.

I’m exhausted, though, so I’m heading to bed. Tune in later for more of my thoughts on advertising in Las Vegas (there’s a shit load to be learned in my trip out there, I’m sure…)

Oh, one other thing. Airport Wireless kicks ass. I’ve got three unprotected wireless base stations in the apartment complex I’m in. I have mine set up to be a closed network with WEP. So, I can use my earthlink dialup to get online, or the other three base stations to hit the web at DSL/Cable speeds. I love it… no need to actually pay for a broadband connection when you don’t have to.

home

We’re home. Not a big winner, but not a loser either. Vegas was fun.