Monday, December 24, 2012

Not another Blah Blah Post on the Year of Mobile

This has been asked since 2008. It drives me bonkers. Like how the Ad Industry discusses the Ad Agency of the Future every year...since 1975! Instead of a dumb Infographic filled with false claims. Instead of a bunch of hokey stats that mean nothing. Just some easy thoughts to ponder.

So let's look at the state of mobile:

Large smart phone penetration over 50%.

People use their phones for many things these days including shopping.

But depending on your business will determine the value of mobile. 

Small business? Make sure your business is mobile searchable as well as your site mobile formatted.

QR Codes? Great idea but usually I get taken to sites not mobile formatted! And with Siri and Google Voice Search scanning a code could take longer than other methods of finding things.

You sell online? You should make sure you can sell on phones. Tablets btw are just like Laptops you are already set. I bought a gift on Etsy while standing at a Supermarket Deli Counter!

You sell in a store? Make sure you have a response ready when someone says 'I can get this on Amazon cheaper' or make sure your offerings are unique so you have no worries.

Location Based Services? Check-Ins are dead. But hey still be on FourSquare and Yelp! Let people who wish to check in do so and share it. There are other options but I think Auto-Checkins, Geo-Fences, and Push Ads to phones are bad for business if not set up properly.

But people use location enhancements all the time! When I drive using Google GPS I have it set up so I see places to eat along the way. Make sure your business shows up in GPS applications.

Mobile Advertising? People do not click banner ads very often on Mobile. But if you have a reason to show people you exist they aren't a bad way.

Big Brand? Depends on the Brand. What does Mobile do for Coke? Nothing really.A big retailer? Maybe incorporate mobile into a loyalty program so a customer announces they are in the store with their phone so you can customize offers?

Want to build an App? Remember people use maybe 10-30 regularly. Why should they use yours? How can they find yours out of hundreds of thousands? What is the value to the user?

Media Company? Your year of mobile was 2010 when your content via Apps was readable, viewable, watchable, and sharable. Make sure your content is even more easily sharable.

So where does this leave us? Mobile will continue to evolve. Remember the non-marketing use of Smart Phones is what we use phones for. We don't use them to see ads or search for deals as the primary function. We shop, consume media, search, entertain. and guess what the service providers and the phone handset folks don't care about mobile advertising. They just care about you paying a high price for the gear and services.

3 Things Edition 13!

Once again back with 3 incredible reads and thoughts on them (my opinion) from the lovely Gini Dietrich, the dashing Michael Schechter and me....

Inbox Intentions — Shawn Blanc  

Michael on Scaling Back. I’m yet to write this up, but one of the best things I’ve done this month (and likely this year) is assess and adjust my digital usage. I’ve been scaling back and realigning the way I use tools such as email and social media to better fit my life. While I plan to talk more about my approach and where I ended, all I can tell you is that the process has helped me remember what I love most about both. For those who may want to take a moment at the end of the year to determine where things such as email might fit into your own life, Shawn Blanc has assembled the thoughts of several great thinkers while adding a few of his own. Recommended reading for anyone who’s starting to feel the weight of an overloaded inbox and a bloated digital presence. 

Anonymous Hacks the Westboro Baptist Church 

Howie on Internet Power. I find it fascinating groups such as WikiLeaks and Anonymous exist. That the Internet allows the average person or hacker to form groups to balance the power of governments. It is the media's fault hate groups such as Westboro Baptist are known in the world. They don't shoot or steal. They just picket. They have freedom of speech. We all know that for every Westboro or Rush Limbaugh there are 1,000 hate groups or racists. It is great to see people power coming together using the Internet as forces of good (my opinion) who fight for transparency or fairness. Otherwise we are at the mercy of forces beyond us as individuals to do anything to fight the good fight.  

Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me with Martha Stewart  

Gini on Comebacks. No matter how you feel about Martha Stewart, you have to respect the fact that she built an empire around crafts and recipes and homemaker-y things, went to jail for insider trading, and came back to build even more net worth. This is one of the best interviews I've ever heard and it's on Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me so you know it's really good (and funny). When she talks about how to get pomegranate seeds out of a pomegranate, you will laugh out loud. 

Now it’s your turn. Is there a podcast, video, or article you think we need to see?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tactics are a Dime a Dozen, Strategy is Priceless

What has really got me blogging again is working with a fairly new client that has unique challenges, but one who has very big potential to be a national powerhouse in their industry. And I like blogging about real life marketing challenges. Look for my guest post on building a Facebook Community coming out soon at Waxing Unlyrical, which also is based on working with this client.

Every business is unique and has their own goals and challenges. My friend Kaarina who is really sharp (read her blog!), did a guest post about Marketing Strategy which really hit home. Most Agencies and Marketers sell you on Tactics. TV advertising is a tactic. A Facebook Page or buying Facebook Ads is a tactic. But having a coherent strategy is what makes a marketer special. It is what brands and Businesses pay big bucks for. You will not find this expertise in a book you pay $10, $20, $30 for or in a Webinar. You can get ideas and you can learn tactics, but is hard to figure out the big picture. Not a lot of people have a big picture view of the world, never mind business.

If you ask me what is a human, I will tell you it is trillions of human and non-human individual cells that combined make your body. Each living in their own world with no idea what the sun or grass or water is like. They all work together so that you can be you. And somehow the electrical currents and nerves allow us to eat, breathe, walk, learn....just like a computer chip operates but at several magnitudes more complex. 

Strategy is choosing the right marketing channels that not only fit your goals but budget. Strategy is timing, when do you execute. Strategy is research and discovery. Strategy is living entity where you try things and sometimes they don't work and you need to change tactics. Strategy is message and coherence. Are all the efforts in all the channels working together. Strategy is matching goals, with tactics, expectations, and budgets. 

Want to know why there are crickets when you ask a Marketer to show you a successful stand alone Social Media Campaign? Because only a handful exist. And you will hear the same ones from a few years back. And they aren't repeatable. Ask though for a Marketing Campaign where Social Media played a valuable supporting role? There are a lot of them.

Finding someone or an Agency that can provide that is priceless. Finding someone or an Agency that can spend your money on tactics? A dime a dozen.

3 Things Edition 12!

Three Things Edition 12 with my cohorts Gini Dietrich and Michael Schecter!

Everything is My Fault  

Michael on Responsibility. Blaming others is easy. It can even be fun. As I type this, I’m blaming Gini for the need to think back through my week attempting to remember what I read in order to pick something for our weekly segment. I mean this whole series was her idea after all. Enjoyable as that may be, this isn’t Gini’s fault, not even a little bit. I committed to doing this with her every week, I enjoy sharing these things, and I forgot to capture ideas for this series as the week went by. So, tempted as I may be to blame Gini for my woes, I can’t. I mean, I can, but I wont. Why? Because earlier in the week Derek Sivers encouraged me to take responsibility, to own that “everything is my fault!” And once I remembered that little tidbit, this week’s “Thing” became clear. 

Patented Book System Writes Books in 20 Minutes  

Howie on Efficiencies. My esteemed colleagues both wrote took on big writing projects in November. On top of that, Gini co-authored a book with Geoff Livingston that she spent like half a year traveling and promoting after spending lord knows how long writing it. All that work. All that time. But they are slow. Books should only take 20 minutes to write. at least that is how long this professor takes to write his books and he has more than 100,000 of them published and listed on Amazon. In the time it took for me to write these two paragraphs he has written and published two books. 

 What Kinds of Stories Drive Engagement? 

Gini on Engagement. Earlier this year, NPR embarked on an experiment. One that would tell them the types of content people respond to best. One that would help them localize their messages, despite their global reach. One that would "beat" the Facebook algorithm so they wouldn't have to pay to reach their more than two million fans. After 10 months, they are ready to share their findings. They discovered there are nine types of content that create the most engagement. I think you'll walk away from reading this with ideas of your own! Now it’s your turn. Is there a podcast, video, or article you think we need to see?

Now it’s your turn. Is there a podcast, video, or article you think we need to see?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Square Pegs in Round Holes

In Marketing very few agencies can offer it all (one reason clients waste their money). In fact even the mega companies that do offer it all, need to do it with many divisions. So there is a natural tendency when you have a receptive client to force their needs into your offerings. Or to make believe you have the solution internally vs say referring them elsewhere.

In my many years in direct B2B sales I have never once lost a customer that I referred to another company for help. Even when I had to send them directly to a competitor. Customers appreciate the honesty and integrity, and if what you do offer is top notch they will stay around a long time.

I was working on a project for a client that while I did what I was tasked to do, and did it very well, it was  the wrong task and wrong focus. I was not involved in discussions with the client when the work was being proposed. It is possible the wrong people were in those discussions from both my company and the clients company. I did have email exchanges with the client reinforcing the proposed work to assure them the results were going to be. But the work was put on hold and yesterday after 4+ months was in jeopardy.

So I was asked to be in an emergency call to save this work with the CEO of the client. He sent an email to my partner upset and my partner and I had a long talk about it. Then we called him. After hearing his frustrations, I explained the solution options to him. Those solutions probably mean shifting some of the billings from us to external solutions. But they will achieve his business goals and make him happy.

Happy customers mean they are successful, have strong cash flow and revenues, are growing, and thus will stay with you a long time. Too often I hear or read how a business went to an agency thinking they need their help, the Agency sensing money just rubber stamps and forces the clients needs into one of the solutions they offer (Social Media, Digital Advertising, etc) and then fail the client.

In the advertising industry there is significant turn over with agencies. If you get the trade emails you see big companies putting tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in review all the time. Why? Because the Agency that was taking their money tried forcing the Square Peg in their Round Hole. Don't be that Agency.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Three Things, Edition 11

Welcome to the eleventh edition of The Three Things presented by Michael Schechter, GiniDietrich and me! Just a little more than two weeks until Christmas.Wait there is a war on Christmas right? So it is the Judeo-Christian-Pagan Holiday celebrating the Winter Solstice and the days finally getting longer! Hooray for that. Having it get dark at 4pm in Vermont limits my suntanning time!

A Quiet Reflection on Failure, Part I | David Seah
Michael on Failure. I’m a big fan of David Seah, both of his writing and of his products (his Emergent Task Planner changed my game). I’m also a fan of how upfront he is with his approach to his work and where he is at with his endeavors. I’ve only read part one of two (looking forward to part two this weekend, so who knows, it could be next week’s “thing”), but as someone who strives to improve, but often struggles to thrive with the work I do online, I couldn’t help but relate. David’s honesty really helped as I begin to assess my 2012 and make plans for 2013, I hope it will for you as well.

The PC All Over Again
Howie on Disruptive Technologies. This blows my mind. It’s a machine that would ‘print’ 3-D model aerospace parts out of cornstarch. This way a company can ‘print’ the prototypes to get a real feel for size. Even the internal parts are all there. Can you picture going to the new Batman movie with your kid and then printing out the batmobile from the movie without having to go to a store? Can you imagine the pricing disruption? In music, cutting out the middleman meant eliminating packaging, shipping, and more. Think of how eliminating packaging for many things would help the Earth. Hurt brick and mortar. Question is do you pay online for the design from the IP owner? Or do you steal it and print it from a file share?

Nurse Dies After Royal Pregnancy Hoax
Gini on Decency. Did you hear about this prank two Australian DJs played on the nurses at the hospital where Kate Middleton was staying last week? They called in, pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and made their way to the nurse who was tending to the Duchess. The nurse, who thought it was the Queen herself, gave the DJs private information about her healthcare on the air. This article is about the strange twist that includes the death of the nurse who transferred the call without triple-checking the caller was who she thought it was.

Now it’s your turn. Is there a podcast, video, or article you think we need to see?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Social Media Perspectives

I hate articles like this:


How Walmart Won the Facebook War vs Target


It shows that there are plenty of Agencies who don't understand Social Media. And how sensationalism is why so many people are still suckers. To be fair I can come  up with many bright comments about the details in this story. From how many Fans Walmart and Target have on Facebook to the number of page actions taken as a great source of insights and feedback.


But that isn't what is in this article. And shame on Business Insider for allowing it to be printed.First off the title. The war will never be over. Don't use such a ridiculous title. And the stats inside  are so simplistic you wonder who comes up with this stuff. But the basic premise:


Walmart - 25 mil fans Target 20 mil fans and basically that Walmart has superior engagement levels and actions.


Yes. But why? Has Walmart run more games and contests or coupons? What time period is this over?Has either done heavy Facebook advertising? Do we know how much? 


No the author makes believe none of that is important. Here is my perspective. Facebook has been a zero for both brands.


Using the weekly 'Talking About' numbers:


Walmart 672k this past week or 96k per day.


Target     916k this week or or 130k per day


Worldwide Customers:


Walmart 500 million? More? Lets say 500 million. I bet it is higher.


Target     300 million? More? Let's say 300 million.



5% of customers like the Brand on Facebook. Average Fan takes an action on the page (Share, Like, Comment) once every 260 days. 



6.7% of customers like the Brand on Facebook.   Average Fan takes an action once every 153 days.


And of course the article mentions nothing about sales generated, coupon or campaign conversions etc. So based on the data above in the big picture Facebook is not driving sales for either company. and considering Walmart had $440billion in sales last year and Target only $67 billion on Facebook Target is wiping the floor with Walmart. In fact the doctor had to be called in to stop the fight and bandage Walmart's face.


Granted some of the numbers like Talking About are just from the last 7 days. But the article author gave no time line and if the war is over why did Walmart lose so badly in the last week?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

3 Things Edition 10

Yep it is another Edition of the 3 Things! With your hosts Michael Schechter, Gini Dietrich and Moi your favorite Ex-Chief Alien.

Enough - Ep 178 - Experience Happiness  

Michael on Emotions. Patrick Rhone and Myke Hurley’s weekly conversations on the Enough podcast on The 70Decibels network are always thought-provoking, but this week's examination of our emotions and the control they have over our lives was easily my favorite episode (which is saying something when you consider I’ve listened to nearly every episode of this 178 show run). While my own thoughts on the subject fall right in between Patrick and Myke, this is a very a worthwhile listen, especially if you feel like your emotions have far too much control over your life.

It Just Smells  

Gini on Science. You know white noise that helps you sleep when you're not in your own bed? Now scientists have figured out something comparable for smell. They've discovered, when more than 30 scents are combined, we can't distinguish anything in there, including very easy-to-tell scents such as coffee or sulphur. It doesn't really have a use yet, but it's a big step toward figuring out how our brains work when more than one sense is used. Now it’s your turn. Is there a podcast, video, or article you think we need to see?

How a Nice Jewish Boy Learned to Like Christmas  

Howie on the Holidays. I am always conflicted this time of year. Born Jewish who gave up the religion the Sunday after I was Bar Mitzvahed, and currently a semi-practicing Buddhist/Taoists/Pagan/Spiritualist/Logicalist I always have found this time of year very perverted in terms of Christmas and Hanukkah. I personally cannot believe Jesus would be okay with this holiday of rampant consumerism. And nothing made sense. No way Santa could ever have been in Israel. And do they have evergreen trees? I always assumed palm trees there. Why do we celebrate a birthday in December for someone born in the spring?. Could eight days of oil versus one really have saved the Jews from ancient oppression? Was that the first war over oil? And why did the gifts have to be money? Other than reinforcing Jewish stereotypes. Read this. You will think differently about the holidays and the symbols. And it is okay...feel proud to embrace your Pagan roots. We all have them. And seriously I think it is pretty cool that we still celebrate Winter Solstice and that my Jewish people had a Santa Claus character thousands of years before the big red party animal came onto the scene.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who has the relationship with your customers and fans?

I am a firm believer that companies should participate in Social Media even if they outsource the work. I have run Marketing for a client for 3 years. She has a small business that is mobile. I have begged and pleaded to have her employees participate on Twitter where we have a very passionate and rabid following. They are Tweetphobes. Because the Owner doesn't do twitter she has pretty much no relationships with her customers online and she is based in Los Angeles. I am in Vermont. I know a lot about her fan base. And no matter what I relay to her or her crew they do not have relationships with their customers online.

For another client which I took on last summer the same is happening. On Facebook and Twitter I have begun forging new relationships for them. Again this client is based in Southern Calfiornia with franchises in Texas, Georgia and Florida. I am in Vermont. There are some very important business connections I am building and I share this with the client. Often nothing happens. They are busy. 

Which has me thinking about Social Media. It is Social. And while I feel it is ok to outsource Social Media if you find the right people or agency who can represent your brand authentically, by not participating your become vulnerable to seeing all this work and good will disappear if you change agencies or even internal personnel. I know where my clients fans live, work, play. I know who is passionate about different things in life. Food. Sports. Health. Travel. I know who supports them the most and who goes the extra mile for them online. There is no way to generate a report to relay this. You need to see it, feel it, live it first hand.

So what do you do? You are very busy. You have Social being run via marketing or outsourcing it. You feel the work is below you? You are scared because you don't Tweet or Facebook? You are shy? You are too busy?


is what I say. Are you too busy to take care of other engines of your business? Are you too busy to wine and dine your biggest customer or take their call when needed? Are you too busy to enjoy dinner out with the family or your weekend off?

I don't care the size of your business. 4 people in a garage or a Fortune 20 company. I suggest you make time to participate via Social Media. Either as yourself or as the company and you will gain insights no report or presentation can ever tell you. and you will forge relationships that won't leave the next time you change personnel or marketing agency.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday's 3 Things!

Once again it is Sunday! Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and if you shopped on Black Friday scored some sweet deals.
Fish: A Tap Essay  

Michael on Loving Something on the Internet. Many of us shared a common and awkward moment this week. While stuffing our faces full of stuffing, we were forced to go around the table and tell our family what we were thankful for. Of all the things that were likely to come out of our mouths, something we love on the Internet probably wasn’t it. I mean if, while surrounded by my family, I were to declare my undying gratitude for Radiolab, Back to Work or even friends such as Gini or Howie, my four-year-old might take it personally. Yet, moments after this unfortunate holiday ritual, the conversation picked up and chances are that you did talk about something you love on the Internet (or at least it’s a certainty I did). It’s also probable someone else at the table turned you on to something they love on web. Because none of you invited me to Thanksgiving (not that I’m angry), I thought I’d share something that I love on the Internet: Robin Sloan’s app Fish. Fish is an app-based manifesto that (quite fittingly) encourages you to recognize the difference between the things you like and the things you love on the Internet. Not only is it great, but having a better understanding of that seemingly subtle difference between what I like and what I love is something I’m very thankful for. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. 

 Consumers Punish Brands  

Howie on Brands Using Social Media. Social media has become complete anarchy. Every brand wants to talk with you on social media....RIGHT NOW! Yet we spend most of our time interacting with our friends and family. So few people consumer brand's social network engage. And their networks tend to be just a fraction of total customers. Yet if you aren't there to respond, take complaints, give stuff away, people have their pitchforks out and are ready to light you on fire. Your mistakes get amplified. Your triumphs often barely mentioned. And yes, if you intrude, they will hate you. 

The Branding of Black Friday  

Gini on Crazy Shoppers. More than a century ago, Black Friday referred to the day the stock market crashed. But today we know it as the day after Thanksgiving. The busiest shopping day of the year. The day people camp out for hours, waiting in line to be the first inside to grab deals. But how did it come to be? This Bloomberg article explores the evolution of the name and gives credit of its branding to Philadelphia cops. 

Now it’s your turn. Is there a podcast, video, or article you think we need to see?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why Marketer's Shouldn't Be Honest

Well I don't mean it that way specifically but I can see why they aren't.


There I said it. Is there a more irrational behavior that gas prices when it comes to eople's perceptions vs reality? If people find gas say 10 cents cheaper they tell people. They filled up 15 gallons maybe. Saved $1.50 and brag about it. They could use a 20% off coupon and save $10 on clothes and won't tell a soul.

This defies logic. There are lots of examples of people being illogical. Most have nothing to do with marketing. But marketers see this and so they think they can snow the average person and guess what? They do very often.I blame the people for allowing themselves to be duped. Buyer beware was coined for a reason.

I would love you to share examples that astound you.
Welcome to the seventh edition of The Three Things, brought to you by Michael Schechter, Gini Dietrich The Three Things arrives in your inbox on Sunday mornings (unless you don’t suscribe, but that can easily be fixed if you hurry over and enter your email address or add to your RSS feed) so you have some extra time to spend perusing the obscure content we’ve curated for you (and one another) before your week begins and deadlines, meetings, and work takes over.

Monday, November 5, 2012

3 Things Edition 6!

Welcome to the sixth edition of The Three Things, brought to you by Michael Schechter, Gini Dietrich and myself.

Before we get started, everyone send well wishes to Shrek. Because he’s in New York, he’s had to work from home all week, plus he’s creating a big new writing project as part of NaNoWriMo. He’s a little busy, flustered, and probably a bit ADD from all the extra stimulation.
For those of you new to this series, The Three Things is ppublished every Sunday so you have some extra time to spend perusing the obscure content we’ve curated for you (and one another) before your week begins and deadlines, meetings, and work takes over.

Squarespace: Sandy Updates

Michael on Dedication. This week has taken its toll on many of us here on the east coast. While my family and I were more than fortunate, there are many who have not been so lucky. Through all of the stories of pain, there have also been tales of triumph. While there are many to choose from, I’ve been particularly impressed with the efforts that the team at Squarespace have taken to keep their service up and running. If you want to see what doing right by your customers and your service looks like, especially in the face of serious logistical and emotional adversity, take some time to read through their regular updates.
Disclaimer: Squarespace is a frequent sponsor of Michael’s podcast.

Fake Storm Reports

Howie on Citizen Journalists. I blog often about the limits of social media due to the platform’s short comings. That any tweet or Facebook post will be seen by maybe one to three percent of your network, due to the high volume of posts and size of your network. Typically, individual content never goes viral but topics do, such as updates on Hurricane Sandy. This article covers the recent discussions about whether speed is more important than accuracy and how often it compromises the quality of reporting. Obviously this one tweet got lucky that it was picked up by the right accounts and reshared. Even the Washington Post admits being duped and it cost someone his job.

When a Daughter Dies

Gini on Medical Care. I’m not going to lie. This father’s story about his daughter’s 20 day battle with cancer made me cry. Told on the Freakonomics blog, Steven Levitt’s dad (who is a doctor) tells the story of how his 50 year old daughter had an unsteady gait and went to the doctor only to discover she had brain tumors. During the next 20 days, she goes from being healthy and active to needing ice chips and morphine. While the blog post is written in highly technical medical terms, I think it will affect you the same way it did me. Near the end he says, “In this era of molecular biology, the most valuable medication was morphine, a drug that has been available for almost 200 years.” Amen, Dr. Levitt. Amen.

Now it’s your turn. Is there a podcast, video, or article you think we need to see?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

3 Things Sunday Edition Week 5

Welcome to the fifth edition of The Three Things, brought to you by Michael Schechter, Howie Goldfarb, and me.  Please let us know if there is anything you'd like to see in here that we aren't covering. 

Execute: A Book by Drew Wilson & Josh Long  

Michael on Creativity. Tomorrow, Drew and Josh will finish writing Execute. While that may not pique your interest, the fact that they started it on Monday should. Why do this? Why write a book in a week? Well, their goal is to prove you can execute on ideas “immediately when inspired rather than following the normal rules.” As a life-long procrastinator and as someone who tends to want to wait until just the time is just right (and just in case you were curious, there’s never a “right time”), I’m fascinated and can’t wait to see how this project pans out. While it may not be worth the $29 to pre-order a hard copy sight unseen, I’ve been enjoying following the project and look forward to seeing the end result of a weeks worth of channeled creativity.  

Italy Scientists Guilty of Manslaughter  

Howie on Ridiculousness. I took geology in college. I learned in China, they can evacuate a city of five million if they knew an earthquake is coming. But if they did evacuate and there was no quake the next time, the people wouldn't believe them and not leave. In Italy, sis scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison because of the 2009 deadly earthquake in L'Aquila. So now you have to cry wolf everyday to ensure they don't get in trouble (wouldn't you predict a quake everyday?) or they won't work in the field. This is bad for science and bad for Italy.  

Bond Ambition  

Gini on James Bond. You can't help but see James Bond-related articles, videos, and news right now. Their publicity machine is very well-oiled in advance of the movie's release on November 8. While Daniel Craig is not on my top five list (I know, I know...he just doesn't do it for me), this is a fascinating article about taking over the James Bond reins, his thoughts on bloopers, whether or not there is a secret "I played James Bond" club, and what he does when people buy him a martini at 11 a.m. Plus, the photos by Annie Leibovitz are amazing (as always). They almost make me want to put Craig on the top five list. Almost. Your turn. What do you think we should listen to, read, or watch this week?

The title photo isn't us but we want to hear the Tres Amigos play! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

3 Things 4th Sunday Edition

Welcome to the fourth edition of The Three Things, brought to you by Michael Schechter, Howie Goldfarb, and me. What do you think of this series so far? Do you like it? Are you getting new and different content you wouldn't otherwise see/listen to/read? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Customer Experience Saga

Mr. Customer Experience Adam Toporek was just highlighted by Gini Dietrich last Friday as someone to follow on the Twitter and read his blog Customers That Stick. I fully concur! So this just happened to me and I figured good blog fodder.

I bought the Motorola Droid Razr specifically because it has Gorilla Glass from Corning and is touted as durable and rugged in billboards and commercials. It is Kevlar strong! I got the phone in April. In August the screen cracked from a drop onto a dirt road when jogging. It slowly got worse and I reluctantly replaced it via Asurion Insurance 2 weeks ago. It was simple. 5 mins online got the phone the next day. Was TOTALLY HAPPY! In fact this was probably my 6th happy experience over the last 8 years with them. But the problem was where I was going to be wasn't in their computer for the address. So had to set up shipping where I wasn't going to be. And had to wait to get my phone a few days.

One week after activation of the new phone a drop on a hard wood floor broke the screen dead. I tried to use the insurance again (I am allowed two replacements per year at $99 deductible). Because it was so soon I was asked to print an affidavit, scan or fax and send with ID. This was easy but I didn't get a response that the documents were rejected until after 5pm Monday too late to fix to get the phone out that day.

Why was my claim rejected? I chose the wrong model on the drop down menu in the system. It didn't match the model I hand wrote in the affidavit. I said I have your shipper this is what it says what is the problem? 'The model is different on the form and computer they need to match'. 'You sent me this phone. Don't know you exactly what phone I have?' 'Sorry Sir you can get that info from Verizon'

So Yesterday it took 2 phone calls and redoing the claim online 2 times before I got to shipping. Again won't take the address. I figured place it and call to change the address I am going to be at today. Sorry Sir once the file is processed can't change shipping. WHAT?! 'Well to be honest if you get the email that a shipper is printed there is someone we can call and get it changed' Total 4 phone calls.

3 hrs later. Get the shipper call Asurion. Sorry Sir, it is too late the shipper printed. I explain what I was told. Sorry Sir that is not our policy you can call UPS. I call UPS who was helpful but to get to a person was traumatic with their phone system. They failed to give the 'talk to a person option'. There was no option for 'Change a shipping location' or anything related. Their answer? 'Our contract with this client prohibits us for changing the delivery address.

Today I am here waiting for my phone so I can then drive to Vermont costing me more money in babysitting. And I am not happy with Asurion who until this time was great (also on previous claims). But the moral of my saga is first how a horrible customer experience will have a lasting impression even if there have been many positive experiences prior. Second is it is wonderful to nail down processes that handle 99% of your business effortlessly. But you need to have flexible procedures for out of the ordinary circumstances. When the 'System' rejected the address because we have no official USPS address, we have a PO box for mail, but UPS and FedX deliver direct to the house address. Would of been nice to have an option to call for help vs no instructions. Or allowed me to have the shipping changed in their system.

And notice UPS and Corning responded to me but Asurion did not. While often these outreaches don't get me to respond I did write UPS and was pleased they both asked.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

3 Things Third Edition October 14

Look at that! The third edition of three things you should read/listen to/watch to start your week out right by the three of us.  We do this Sunday's so you have some extra time to spend perusing the obscure content we've curated for you (and one another) before your week begins and deadlines, meetings, and work takes over.

What Doesn't Kill You  

Michael on NPR. I’m torn. Two things stand out and I can’t decide. So, as Yogi Berra says, "When you come to a fork in the road, cheat” (or at least I think that’s what he said, I wasn’t really listening). Radiolab and This American Life were both exceptional this week. Because I can’t choose between Tig Notaro’s story on the “What Doesn’t Kill You” episode of TAL (although you really should buy her whole set on Louis CK’s site… darn it… that’s another thing!) and Dave Wolf’s near death experience on the “Dark Side of the Earth” episode of Radiolab (Jad Abumrad’s gift for sound design is nothing short of exceptional), I’m just going to pretend like they are one thing, but you really should listen to both.

Robbie and Ruthie Talk About Pickles.  

Howie on Advertising. This isn't new. But you will think it is new. Football season always has advertising on my mind. I am a big fan of Bob Hoffman who writes Ad Contrarian. When I made a career change from direct B2B sales of high tech industrial parts to advertising/marketing mid-career so much stuff did not make sense. Things I would read about advertising confounded me. And I would think, "People buy impressions? How does Nielsen know you are watching TV? If only the ads were better we would really love them?" I thought advertising was about trying to sell a product or service showing how good it is. This is the best blog post I ever read regarding advertising. Two to three times a year I go back and read it, which I did yesterday. It will always be current. You will see.

The Mogul Who Made Justin Bieber  

Gini on Entrepreneurship. This article in the New Yorker is about Scooter Braun (who, by-the-way, is only 31), the manager of Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, and PSY (Gangnam Style). In other words, a manager of rock stars. What's interesting about Scooter is he created his own business out of nothing. It's a story of working hard, networking, dropping names, brown-nosing, greasing some palms, and putting everything on the line (including your credit cards) because of someone you believe not only will make you rich, but will take the world by storm. And boy was he right! The underlying theme is how he uses his now-famous clients and their social networks to build a brand and awareness for up-and-coming stars. Now we leave it to you. In the comments, tell us which stories, podcasts, or videos you think should be on our radar.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Three Things - October 7th

Welcome to the second edition of The Three Things!

We had a fairly decent first edition last week so we're moving on to week two. Our goal is to bring you three interesting articles from a wide range of topics. Yes mine is Facebook which I have blogged quite a bit about, but this new tactic is a winner I mean a wiener.....but first to my esteemed gang members....

Michael on Macs. I apologize in advance, but this week’s “thing” is going to cost you. That said, if you’re a fellow Mac user, it’s money well spent. David Sparks, author of Mac At Work and iPad at Work, and Brett Terpstra, the creator of Marked, just released 60 Mountain Lion Tips. The book is useful for novices and weathered Mac geek alike and it does a wonderful job of showing off the potential of the new iBooks author platform (you can also get it in PDF if you’re not an iTunes or iPad user).
The first few tips saved me enough time this week alone to rationalize the $6.99. The book runs the gamut from easy to attempt keyboard shortcuts, to tool suggestions, and even offers some serious terminal geekery towards the end. If you want get more out of your Mac and are curious as to the future of books, you’ll want to give this a shot.

Gini on Restaurants. This is a great story about how to get a table without a reservation in some of New York's most popular restaurants for as little as $20.  From Gourmet (an oldie, but goodie), one man's journey to tip his way into the best restaurants in New York City. He discusses what works, what doesn't work, and how to manage the same for yourself. He details the days and times he tried different tactics, who was offended and who took the cash, and how to present it as a tip for outstanding service instead of a bribe.
If you're a foodie and love to go to the newest restaurants, but hate the long line or endless reservation game (like me), it's worth a shot!

Howie on Facebook. My friend Chris Baccus shared this with me. Chris used to be the head of digital and social media at AT&T, and I have had a long running discussion on the marketing effectiveness and stock value at Facebook. If anyone remembers Beacon this is kind of a private B2B version. With Beacon you bought something and it would be shared with all your friends. Now somehow there will be a connection between you seeing a Facebook ad, you then buying that brand, and Facebook telling the advertiser they helped sell product for you. 
Being a huge privacy advocate  I am curious how they make this connection, but also how they can take credit for a national brand's sale of a product or service that also has advertising, direct, email, PR, and more.

Same time same place next Sunday and we promise to make your day more exciting than having biscuits and grits for breakfast. Or even Eggo's!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Inagural Sunday's 3 Things

One of my friend Gini Dietrich's very favorite blog posts of the week is Six Links Worthy of Your Attention that Mitch Joel does with Hugh McGuire and Alistair Croll every week. It typically has links she wouldn't otherwise read because they're outside her scope of work and personal passions. But she told me she learns something every week and appreciates the work these guys put behind each blog post. I admire Mitch very much for his intellect and love his monthly podcast with Joseph Jaffe . And Mitch's blog is linked on your left.

After asking Mitch if he wouldn't mind if she shamelessly stole the idea, she asked Michael Schechter and myself  to join her in a weekly post. I agreed because the three us share interesting things via email all the time and have divergent interests outside of marketing. If you read Michael's blog you would know he is a big fan of tech and Apple. If you didn't know Gini was a big foodie just follow her pinterest page (and she has a blog somewhere I need to link) So welcome to the new edition of The Three Things! It'll arrive in your inbox on Sunday mornings (if you don't subscribe, you'll have to check in here on Sundays). 

Michael on Technology. As more of our lives exist on hard drives instead of photo albums and filing cabinets, there’s a lot that needs to be considered. Hard drives fail, personal information gets stolen, and essential information for loved ones live behind a myriad of passwords. Two of the smartest (and geekiest) guys I know, Eddie Smith of Practically Efficient and Gabe Weatherhead of Macdrifter, help you better understand why you should care and how to better manage digital planning. This gets geeky (and a bit paranoid), but it’s too important to ignore.

Howie on Privacy. I am a huge proponent of privacy, or at least having proper controls online to manage your presence. It has been one of the bigger beefs I have with Facebook and I champion opt-in versus opt-out in the advertising, marketing, and technology industries. When asked if people care, they do. In a 2009 study by the SSRN, not only do a majority of people reject tailored advertising and being tracked across websites without their knowledge, more than 50 percent felt managers at companies that do this should go to jail. 
So it didn't shock me the Do Not Track voluntary industry initiative has been a failure. What did shock me is companies such as Google who claim, "Do no evil" and Apple allow mobile app developers to watch not only where you go and what you do on your phone, but even see the numbers you dial.

Gini on Decency. We've all done this and now I feel badly (I just posted a photo of the back of some guy's head because he was cutting me in line). Someone took a photo of a bearded woman standing in line at the airport and posted it to his Reddit page, where hundreds of people ridiculed her. When the woman found out, she acted with grace and charm, while teaching the users a lesson or six about her religion and beliefs.

There you have it. The very first edition of The Three Things. If there is anything you'd like to see us include or do differently, you know the drill. Comments, tweets, direct messages, emails, texts, pigeon carrier all work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Uniques are Important for Buzz not Total Actions

My friend Gini Dietrich posted today about Social TV. And while there is a mention of Social Media Buzz determining TV programming, I have seen articles showing sometimes buzz on Social did not mean a successful movie or TV show.

How could this be? Easy. You can not use total buzz. It means as Gini would say....Horse Hockey.


Why? Because that is the important number. Look at the follow screen shot of Skittles:

The BUZZ says 193,464. But that is not a real number. It is not 193,464 people. It is the 7 day total of all mentions, likes, shares and comments on the page. It could be just 1,000 people who each took 193 actions that week as rabid fans. Or it could be 193,464 people who took just 1 action. Facebook doesn't give us Uniques.

So let's look at TV. What if there was 1 million people who mention a TV show in a week. Vs 1,000 who are such hardcore fans they talk nonstop all week adding up to 1 million mentions. Which scenario will mean much more a sign of if the show will be successful or not. Those 1,000 people talking non-stop might expose your program to 1 million but unless they get people to join in we have no idea if there was influence.

In fact while running Twitter for some clients I find people like this all the time. Look at how many tweets and how small a network. How many people is this person really reaching outside that network? I bet not many based on how little content gets retweeted.

I had a conversation not long back with Scott Monty of Ford. He said he would rather have 10,000 hardcore fans on Social than 50 million people pay half attention to Ford's TV spots. Well what if that 10,000 do not influence anyone? What if they do not attract more people to participate because there is only 10,000 rabid fans? I will take the 50 million half watching the TV spots even if they cost more personally.

The point is uniques trump total buzz for insights. And unless those uniques are attracting people to the conversation their impact is negligible. But I will guarantee most marketers would prefer to give total buzz to their Boss, CEO, CFO because it looks better.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back from Hiatus, News and Thoughts

Life has been hectic. Needed a short break from blogging. I live near cows in the mountains and yes life is hectic! Just no traffic or smog.

The Chief Alien is involved in some new career adventures, putting Sky Pulse Media in the closet and partnering with a good friend's venture called Web Choice Consulting. Basically we decided her Web Building, SEO, and Sales expertise pair well with my Marketing Strategy and Social Media Expertise. This should be fun!

My new Twitter handle is my name for now. @HowieGoldfarb

I will be blogging for Web Choice on a Wordpress platform so all of you who hate my blogger use because I am non-techie like you can rejoice. I do plan on keeping Space Agency Notes going though and modifying the mission here and also move to Wordpress so stay tuned.

Quick thoughts: 

When do the Olympics start? I can not recall less excitement. I have not watched 1 minute yet and they are almost half way over.

Is social media a powerful force on singular events? Not really. Time and Time again we see outrage when someone or a company do something we can't believe and then we move on to the next thing. Short attention spans mean nothing really changes. 

Some people like Ryan Holiday are really bad people, almost as bad as Rush Limbaugh. But being bad often means staying employed and making money while good honest decent folk struggle to make ends meet. This is very sad.

There still isn't a Twitter platform that has all the functions I need yet. Ahem...Jugnoome hurry up!

And lastly, Quality Product, Great Service, and the Right Price Point still trump all marketing. But since most business struggle with one or all is here just ask!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Will Facebook Rule The World? Sell Apple?

Uhm no to Facebook. Maybe for Apple.

I was looking at the Fortune 500 because Apple's earnings disappointed. They only had a 20% earnings increase. With quarterly profits ONLY double Facebook's 2011 Revenues! Do you know how long it would take Facebook to get to have even as much revenues as Apple has in profits?!!! Years. 

And I remembered when big bad Microsoft everyone was freaking out. They were taking over the world. Well they were once the most valuable company in the world. Now they rank 37th in the US. They are worth $241bil as of today. They were once worth almost $500bil. In 1999. Apple is $537bil today. In today's dollars Microsoft was worth $650 billion back then!

So Facebook if they are lucky will rule the moment or the year. But they will fall just like everyone else. Very few companies have staying power. Not hundreds we are talking tens. Tens world wide. So don't get caught in the hype. In late 1999 someone bought Microsoft at $58 a share. Today they can be bought for $28 a share.

Time spent has been dropping. All sorts of metrics point to Facebook having peaked in terms of user activity. Yet they only corner 11 minutes of our day. Out of a 24 hour day. And they might of peaked........tells me there are other time sucks waiting to be invented.

Do you sell Apple? Have they peaked? Will they become like Microsoft a cash cow behemoth? We don't know. But stock price is based on future earnings and earning growth. Not past performance. All I can say is careful when you buy. Careful when you sell.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Let's Face It You Never Had Control

Working on a new client project. This client had no social media presence. They are a B2C/B2B Home Service Provider. B2B because they can also service commercial properties. The consumer target is upper middle class and above. 

I do not get the email alerts when a new follow is on Twitter. Someone I connected with is young and while fits the demographic (or knows many people who do) had something in her bio that offended my client. She is a minor TV Personality and Model who called herself a hooker and a bitch. She isn't a hooker but she calls herself one because she thinks it is cool and funny. Twitter is filled with porn stars, pimps, bitches, ho's, niggaz, racists, mafiasos,  crazies, gangstas, etc. I have a rule anyone posting unsavory content in my own feed or a clients I unfollow. I can block them but this won't stop them from tweeting about me or my client. I just don't want to see their tweets in the feed.

I got an email that my client didn't want a 'prostitute' in their network. And they are allowed to ask this and so I blocked this account. Then I felt it a good time to explain they have no real control. I have no control. Accept it. It is actually a good thing usually.

Name the brand they all have customers they don't want to know for real. I can list quite a few scary hashtags on Twitter with crazy content. I have no control and my client and brands have no control over what is said. We never have.

I can't stop this person from creating new accounts to follow my client. Same on Facebook. Everyone who knows me, knows that Mashable banned me from commenting on articles I felt were poorly written or deceiving. I have 4 personal twitter accounts. I can create more. I still comment. They blocked just my @SkyPulseMedia . They can't stop me or anyone. I slam them on Twitter all the time. They can not stop me. So they ignore me. And I don't blame them.

But this is good. The enemy you know is easier to deal with than the enemy you don't. The person I blocked for my client has no reason to say anything bad or become a 'terrorist' like I am towards Mashable. But if you wronged someone they can and often will. It happens. People go Delta Skelta.

But I also explained that before Social Media real damage was done in private. People complained, lied, even slandered and still do behind brand's backs. In places they can never see. Doing real damage. They still do. Most human communication is not visible to brands. 

But isn't it great that now there are platforms for these people to rant and tweet on? You might cringe thinking 'But they have networks of people who will see it'. But they always did off line. But now we can know the threat. We can fix the brand image. We can engage. And we can even convert angry people into brand ambassadors. 

Having no control of what is said via Social can be a good thing. Most people want to feel good about your brand. Imagine being able to fix issues with 80% of your upset customers when before they just stewed and complained and you never knew?