Monday, November 7, 2011

Online Checkout - In Real Life

This is just a great video for anyone who has ever bought something online.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Improving the iPad

More and more people at the office have been carrying around iPads.

But they don't like typing on them, so they also carry around this nice little keyboard.

You also have to carry around the little stand to make it all work. But carrying around three different pieces seems like a hassle.

You know what would make it all easier and more convenient to use? Put a hinge on the bottom of the iPad and attach it to the keyboard so that it is one convenient bundle. Sorta like this.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Free Marketing and Free Cats

There is no such thing as a free cat and there is no such thing as free marketing.  Both require something.

Someone might give you a cat for free, but then you realize that you have to pay to take it to the vet to get immunizations and buy all of the stuff that a cat needs. $200 later you have a free cat.

Some people think SEO is free.  Its not.  I once had someone tell me that with a little "Creativity" I could appear in the top results for some very competitive terms.  I am not sure what they meant by "Creativity" but unless they meant time, money and lots of effort, then no, you can't appear in the top results.

There are a lot of marketing tactics that may seem free.  SEO, Social Media, Guerrilla Marketing, Grass Roots, Word of Mouth.   But at the end of the day someone is still paying for it.  Either you are doing the work or you are paying someone to do the work.  Its not free.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to fix the Postal Service

The US Postal Service is in trouble and if it doesn't fix it, it will soon be bankrupt.

The Problem
USPS is trying, and failing, to compete with the big boys in the shipping and mailing business.  FedEx and UPS are the Coke and Pepsi of the shipping business, while USPS is the RC Cola.  In an effort to gain market share, USPS offers many of the same services as the two market leaders.  These include Overnight, International and Packages and Boxes.

The Solution
The solution is to do the opposite of what they are doing now.  Instead of trying to compete with the big boys and offering the same things they do, USPS needs to narrow its focus and offer something they can't.  But what can the USPS offer that a corporation with lots of money can't?

The Mailbox
That uniquely shaped box on a pole with the little red flag outside every home in America.  FedEx can't compete with the USPS delivery to the mailbox.  USPS basically owns them.   That's the focus.  That's the niche for success. 

And if it can't fit inside a mailbox, DON'T SHIP IT.  Period.  No exceptions

Companies succeed when they find a niche that they can be the leader in and stay focused on it.  FedEx is overnight.  UPS is ground.  USPS should be the mail.

Southwest Airlines

This is what Southwest did in the Airline business.  Instead of trying to compete with Delta and American Airlines, and offer everything they did and fly everywhere they did, Southwest found a niche and stuck to it.  They focus on interstate, point to point, low cost flights.  They don't offer first class or inflight meals.  They don't fly internationally and they don't fly to tourist destination.  And they only have one type of airplane, which cuts down on maintenance and training costs.  And they are profitable.

If it doesn't fit in a mailbox....
Don't ship it.  This means letting go of anything that is overnight, international or in a box.  Leave those to FedEx and UPS, they are the leaders in those anyway.

Dropping these other services will greatly reduce cost and will simplify the whole company.  It will greatly reduce the extras needed to run the company.  Like, special planes to fly a package across the country overnight, or a plane to fly a package to another county.

Focus on the mail.  Stuff you can put a stamp on.  Leave the rest to the other guys, who are already beating the USPS at it anyway.

Beat them at the Mailbox.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nuggets from Hugh

I am a big fan of Hugh MacLeod of Gapingvoid.

I came across these artworks of his and thought I would share.

Enough said.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Worldviews, Daydreams and Goals

People see the world the way they want to see it.  Its called their worldview.  It may not be the way the world actually is.  It usually isn't.  It is influenced by their ambitions, desires, hopes and daydreams.

Their daydreams are often an idea of what they would like the world to become.  Its a future worldview.  Again, not usually based in reality.  To accomplish those daydreams, they set goals.    They figure that if they want it bad enough and set goals to achieve it, they can change the real world to fit the future worldview they have created.  Since these goals are based on a biased view of the world and an unrealistic idea of the future these goals are destined for failure.

William Hung of American Idol fame wanted to be a pop star singer.  That was his worldview.  Reality (Simon Cowell) says otherwise.  I give the guy credit for trying, but the reality is, he will make a better Civil Engineer than a pop star.

When setting goals, we must step outside our worldview and face the reality of the situation.  Goals should be based on realities and not on wants or needs.  Just because you want your product to grow 15% year over year doesn't mean the market can bear it.

This isn't to say you shouldn't dream.  Dreams are great.  Dreams are important.  But Daydreams can lead you astray when setting goals for real life situations.  Daydreams may even make you miss out on real opportunities because you were too busy hoping for something else.  What if William is so focused on being a pop star that he never pursues engineering?

I've just worked with a lot of people who set unattainable goals because they never stepped outside their worldviews long enough to figure out if their goals were realistic.  When they fail to meet their goals, upper management isn't happy.  They are unhappy.  And the campaign seems like a failure.

Its a difficult balance.  I am sure what seemed like possible reality to the Wright brothers seemed like a Daydream to everyone else.  The trick is to find the balance between what is a dream that is actually possible and what is a dream in which you are hoping to alter reality to fit your worldview.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Life is like a box of Legos...

....You never know what you are going to build next.

As a kid, I always loved playing with Legos.  They were one of my favorite toys.

Sure, there were step by step instructions, but I didn't like following those.  I liked building what I wanted to build.  I liked using my imagination and creating something new and original.  Something that had never been built before that came straight out of me.

I love creating and building.  Its what gets me up in the morning and gets me excited.  My favorite thing to do is create.  Around the house building shelves.  Improving my yard with a new garden.  Making music with my guitars.  Building decorations for Halloween (I tend to go over the top building my own Halloween decorations).  At work trying to find a way to do something better or make the company more money.  Or just simply trying to improve something.

Creating is in my blood.  Its in my DNA.  Its how I am wired.  I can't look at something, even if its already good, without thinking of some way to improve it and add to its creation.

Sure, Legos come with instructions.  But before there were instructions, someone had to blaze a path without them and create them.  They sat there with a box of Legos with the possibility of building anything they could imagine.

So is life.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't confuse Buzz with Marketing

Just because people are talking about something, or interested in something, or buzzing about something doesn't mean they are willing to part with their money and buy what you are selling.

Marketing is the alignment of products and needs.  Buzz is just something that is interesting.

For example.  William Hung. (If you don't know who William Hung is, go to youtube and watch this video. ).

The media and everyone else was following William around wondering what he would do next.  Wondering if he would put out an album (Which he did called Hung for the Holidays).  Everyone was talking.  His videos went viral.  But that doesn't mean they were going to buy anything or that he would ever make it in the music business.

Sarah Palin is the William Hung of the 2012 Presidential Race.  The media is following her around and wondering what she will do next.  Will she run?  Everyone is talking.

People talk about them.  Blog about them.  Facebook about them. 

They make for good TV and are interesting to watch.  Interesting like Jersey Shore.

But at the end of the day, its Buzz.  Its not marketing.  When compared with how many people are talking about them, very few are willing to actually buy something.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Priority Tasking Not Multitasking

Multitasking.  I don't believe in it.  You can't do two things at once.  Its impossible.  I wise person once said:

"The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither", Confucius.

You can't chase two rabbits because they will run in opposite directions.  When a lion hunts it picks out one zebra to chase.  (That's why zebras have stripes.  To make them blend together and make it hard to pick out just one.)  The lion focuses on that one zebra and chases that one zebra, even if another crosses her path.

I am amazed at the number of job descriptions that are looking for people who are good multitaskers.  They might as well include in the job requirements "Must be able to chase two rabbits".  Notice it says chase two rabbits and not catch two rabbits.

People who are good multitaskers are often good at the chase.  They look like they are very busy running around chasing rabbits.  But they never catch any (They never finish anything).  I'd rather work with someone who can catch rabbits, not just chase them.

You can catch both rabbits, but you have to focus on them one at a time.  Once you have caught and caged the first one, you can then focus on the second one.  Maybe this could be called sequential tasking or priority tasking.  But not multitasking.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Website Compatibily Fail

I came across a website the other day that gave me this warning.

If this is your website you have failed and need to develop a website that is compatible with all major browsers.

I was using Firefox, which accounts for about 22% of users.  Your website should be compatible with it. 

IE only accounts for a little more than half of browser use.  That means that half of the users that come to this site, see this warning.  And just because the warning was posted, telling people to go use a IE, doesn't solve the problem that your website is poorly designed.

Signs, arrows, warning popup boxes, and other quick/lazy band-aids don't fix a poorly designed site.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Virante Link Analysis Tool

Came across a very interesting article today by Russ Jones, the CEO of Virante.  The article illustrates a possible example of how Google could be analyzing your link profile.

The Wikipedia Model

The Tool

I think what is most interesting to me is his thought process and the simple algorithm  he applied to analyzing the link profile.  Things like

  • "we determined how many OTHER links occurred within 300 characters before or after that Wikipedia link on the page."
A simple yet effective way to look at where a link is on the page and helps determine if its in the body content or in a linked side bar.

And a final point "If you are manipulating the link graph, it is pretty easy to see it. If Virante can see it, so can Google."  Google has lots of engineers hard at work at this and they are a lot smarter at analyzing a web page then we give them credit.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I have been going through this study/slide presentation that Susan Weinschenk created. Its got a lot of great info on the psychology of why people do certain things and how it should affect your web design and strategy.

I especially liked:
#1. You have Inattention Blindness
#10 You Want More Choices and Information Than You Can Actually Process
#33 Bite-Sized Chunks Of Info Are Best
#36 People are Inherently Lazy
#38 Even The Illusion Of Progress Is Motivating

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Information Overload - Ecommerce

I came across this study on information overload recently and wanted to highlight a few points from it.


"This assumption implies that people who have made a good decision often experience a high level of satisfaction during and after the process. Thus, in this study it is reasonable for us to use satisfaction with the decision as our measure of decision quality."

"H1: When one is dealing with rich information, using unconscious thought results in better decision quality than using conscious thought."

"H2: When one is dealing with rich information, an increase in the total quality of the information leads to an increase in the quality of the decision."

"H3: When one is dealing with rich information, an increase of the quantity of the information results in a decrease in the quality of the decision."

"When the information supply exceeds the information processing capacity, an individual usually has difficulty in identifying the relevant information, becomes highly selective, ignores much of the information, and fails to reach a satisfying decision."

"H4b: When one is dealing with rich information using unconscious thought, the greater the quantity of information, the higher the quality of the decision."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Worth Reading - Burn The Ships and Hail Mary’s…

Just read this great blog post.

Burn The Ships and Hail Mary’s…

"Unless you’ve got the basics of food and shelter sorted and a break from the relentless calls of the credit card companies that gave you the easy credit in the first place…
You’re not in any state, to start a business."

Monday, April 11, 2011

SEO and its Hats.

Read two great post today on the effectiveness of White/Grey/Black hat SEO and what really does or doesn't work.

White Hat SEO is a Joke by Kris Roadruck
White Hat SEO: It F-ing Works by Rand Fishkin

Both have great points, but I think the best point was made in the comments of Rand's post by Ross Hudgens.

  • I think it's important to not justify white hat SEO techniques (building really great content then spreading it), as white hat alone - often times - no, always - the most effective SEO in the world is extremely strong content and links that effectively "covers up" the grey hat techniques that large brands use to pick up exact anchor text citations. JCPenney didn't do this effectively - others, in verticals where links come in droves - it seems intelligent - and indescrinable - for them to blend in grey techniques, as it it extremely difficult to be picked up by a sniff test - and it is also the best way to pick up exact anchor citations. 
It may look white hat, but at the end of the day, all SEO is intended to boost/improve the rankings within the SERPs.  Whether or not its white or grey hat is just a matter of how the SEO technique is percieved.

Black Hat however, is another story and is outright deceptive and spammy and should be avoided.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Relevance and Spam

Spam is the opposite of relevance.  Spam is irrelevant and interuptive.  Its why spam simply doesn't work as a marketing tactic.  Spam is non targeted and simply sent out indiscriminately.

If we want our messages to reach our audience, they must be relevant.  And not just a little bit relevant.  If the message is only slightly relevant, its still probably spam.  It must be highly relevant if its going to reach the audience and cause them to take an action.