Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Intelligence and libido

May 14, 2007



Nerd

Originally uploaded by Elinay.

So I came across this article:

Interesting data on IQ vs. virginity for college students

The article highlights that while 87% of college kids have had sex, only 51% of MIT students have. And more generally, students with higher than average intelligence have a lower than average likelihood of nooky during the college years. The article went so far as to draw the same correlation with kissing and even holding hands.

Possible reasons:

The taboo nature of sex increases along the intellectual curve, sexologists and the like notwithstanding.
The family structure required to rear a kid into MIT is, in a word, more structured.
For whatever reason, the smartest kids generally aren’t the prettiest.
Brains of really smart people may develop at a different pace and differently in general.

I think within a hop, skip, and jump, you can get to pretty much all the reasons from the above four.

Realities of the above can wreak havoc on perceived reality. There’s just a lot going on:

Peer comparison
Mating pressure
Traditional marketing messages
Media
Imagination

The truth is that most of the 49% of the MIT kids that haven’t had sex — and I would guess nearly all of the males in this group — would rather not be part of the group. The ugly part of this truth is that this perceived grim reality is magnified by their perception of the world. When you want something that the rest of the world seems to be getting, you don’t feel very good about it.

Like it or not, our desires are socially influenced including — maybe especially — the most private.

Blogzeal

May 2, 2007

So, I enjoyed reading this article about Blargon — jargon among the blog community.

Quite enjoyable, but at over a year old, I’m sure some of these terms have expired and have been replaced.

I thought it would be fun to make up my own rather than scour for popular jargon with Google. To limit myself, everything has to start with blog.

blogineer

1. One who provides solutions, typically software code, by way of his blog
2. An innovator in the progress of blogs and social media.

bloggeter

1. As opposed to just “blogger” a “bloggeter” is fairly obviously promoting something such as a consulting practice. Most business-topic-related bloggers are bloggeter.

blogonomics

1. Study of traffic, ratios, etc, that match economic value to production and consumption of blog content. Important for deciding when it is time to learn how to link to books on Amazon.com in exchange for taking a toll from your loyal blog readers when they make a purchase by way of your link.

2. Derogatory: over simplification of actual economics to make blogready (below) commentary. Example: With all the outsourcing going on, the US programmer will soon be an endangered species.

blogotron

1. An unusually tricked out blog, with a minimum of five widgets — two of which must have been released within the last six months.

blogcentric

1. An online marketing strategy that drives audience focus to a blog. A Web site in which most content, particularly updated and rich content, is published in the blog.

2. Product development strategy which emphasizes blogs and the blog community. May be in reference to the product itself — a product that can be embedded within a blog. Or may be in reference to adding features that bloggers are likely to enjoy and write about.

blogify

1. To overhaul a site design, typically that is over 12 months old, and make it more blogcentric (above).

2. A culture and PR strategy which takes content, thoughts, conversations, and ideas which until recently would not be for public consumption, and voraciously makes it public. Example: the John Edwards campaign using Twitter.

bloggy

1. Informal. A simple way to describe a Web site (or even printed book or magazine) which has adopted a bloglike look and format.

2. Language (tone, voice, style, and words) that sounds appropriate for a blog.

3. Singular noun of bloggies (below).

bloggies

1. A populace who consumes an inordinate amount of content by way for RSS feeds and who are proud of it

2. A populace whose opinions are formed largely based on the consumption of content from blogs (delivered by RSS feeds).

blogtastic

A mashup of blog and fantastic. The word mashup is blogtastic. Enough said.

blogstarved

1. The state of a bloggy who is removed from an Internet connection for more than four hours.

2. The state of an industry, company, or topic that does not enjoy wide attention of the blogger community.

blogicles

1. Derived from blog and chronicles. Blogs that read like diaries and delve into personal subject matter. Typical of blogs found on such Web sites as MySpace.

Usage: Dude, love your blog, especially your posts on Apple, but can you leave out the blogicles? My feedreader doesn’t want your blogicles.

blogspeak

1. Language highly appropriate for blogs.

2. Content in blogs written by a blogger who assumes a common base of knowledge from its readers, which could not be assumed of the general population.

3. Use of acronyms and jargon. Frequent appropriation of terms from one subject matter (such as a technical field) to another.

blogsweep

1. The consumption of a large amount of blog content in a short amount of time, generally about a specific topic, such as the release of an Apple product. Usage: I just did a total blogsweep of the YouTube acquisition.

2. The production of a large amount of content based on an original source. A large number of bloggers will reference the same “subject article” and add their own commentary. Usage: It would be awesome if there were a total blogsweep of this post.

blogopoly

1. A blog that has become extremely popular and commands a loyal audience and special position in the market. Example: TechCrunch.

blogdex

1. A listing of a large number of blogs about a specific topic. Not to be confused with blogroll.

2. An index that tracks the performance of blogs or that tracks the metrics of a term (or subject matter) in the blog community. Example: Apple’s new release of Apple iProduct is skyrocketing on the blogdex.

blogform

A format that is bloglike in nature.

blogalytics

Similar to blogonomics, except more technical in analysis. Web site analytics and blogalytics are similar. When a rule of thumb, common metric, or ratio has differences between Web site analytics and blogalytics, this term is particularly useful.

blogpro

1. A person who goes to extraordinary lengths to make his personal blog the next Time Magazine. Generally is adept at making YouTube clips from scratch.

2. A person who would detest someone comparing his blog to Time Magazine, interpreting this as an insult.

blogfrat

1. The community of bloggers who clearly know much more about almost everything than the rest of the world’s population.

2. A social or professional community whose membership grows and strengthens by mutual publishing and consuming of blogs focused on content of mutual interest. Usage: The venture capital community is a blogfrat! And: Gosh, I would love to be a part of their blogfrat!

blogdrain

1. boredom experienced by overconsumption of blogs, usually delivered by RSS feeds.

2. the state of a blogger whose interest in publishing blog content has waned. The primary symptoms are weak or non-existing new articles within the last five days or more.

blogiquette

1. Behavior deemed appropriate by the blog community. Varies.

blogready

1. Content that is deemed finished enough for publication on one’s blog. The content must contain more correctly spelled words than incorrect ones.

2. Other content, such as pictures, formatted for publication on a blog. Pictures ready from screen printing on posters are not blogready.

What do Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and America have in common?

May 1, 2007

They all have a lot of detractors who constantly have ANT’s when thinking about or discussing any one of these names. An ANT is an automated negative thought, and I am borrowing the term, which is usually associated with depression. In the context of depression, it refers to negative thoughts, mostly about one’s self, that tend to occupy the sufferer’s mind to an inordinate degree. (Example: I am not good enough. Everybody hates me.)

But think about this: whenever Microsoft does anything, there is a great deal of the technical elite, especially the Mac faithful, that will instantly respond with ANT’s.

Wal-Mart, same. Anything Wal-Mart does triggers ANT’s. Whether it’s the “what about the little man” crowd or the anti-corporation crowd or the “rebel” crowd, Wal-Mart is always getting “ANT-ed.”

America, same, especially internationally.

This is a marketer’s nightmare, especially when the detractor, ANT crowd is vocal. Again, think America. Even Americans are becoming increasingly prone to ANT’s about America. [Yes, I am purposely using America, instead of United States because America is the primary brand. Still, US, United States, USA have about the same ANT trigger I would guess.]

ANT’s also tend to blend, merge, distort, confuse, generalize, magnify and do other ugliness. Bush –> Administration –> Washington D.C. –> America – ANT ANT ANT!! Meanwhile, the Bush Administration has to be composed of tens of thousands (likely hundreds of thousands?) of people who are not all bad and who are not all doing bad things. Even the leadership (say 1,000-10,000 depending how you might count), cannot possibly all be bad, no matter what your politics are. Then, even the top leadership, even Bush, sometimes does good things. Probably usually, but certainly not always, does good things. (I am quite sure, many readers are having their own ANT’s right now. They can’t possibly entertain the thought of Bush doing good. ANT. ANT.)

I don’t want to spend too much time focusing on politics because ANT’s are so prevalent in this area, regardless of political persuasion. Maybe the one possible silver lining (thin lining) is that at least ANT’s are predictable. Suffice to say, if you find someone is infected with ANT’s and that wants to engage in a conversation in any way related to his or her ANT’s, run. Quickly.

By the way, in Austin, real estate developers are one of the top targets of the ANT phenomenon.

For companies, the problem with a good portion of the market having ANT’s about you is that it puts you at a perception disadvantage. Microsoft and Wal-Mart are obviously still strong and profitable companies, but the ANT problem clearly has an eroding effect.

The trouble with it, and I don’t have a good solution, is it’s hard to counterattack. The reality is the group effect that ANT’s and their purveyors have on the ANT-susceptible crowd can only be attacked by identifying how blind the people entertaining these ANT’s are being. Unfortunately, this goes to herd mentality, follow-the-leader, sameness. Unfortunately, being Microsoft or Wal-Mart (and yes, America, too) attacking this is the pot calling the kettle black. Of course, the companies and America achieved their following by growing and achieving dominance. The subsequent ANT population grew by attacking them for being big and dominant. And for having to deal with the realities of being big and dominant — and staying that way.

If a sizable (I would say 1%) of your market are both ANT-ridden about you and vocal, this is a serious threat that should be monitored and dealt with aggressively. Again, I wish I had the answers. To add to the challenge, these ANT-ers are often fanatical about their ANTs. The ANT-ers are one with their ANTs. Very hard to attack the ANT without being perceived as attacking the person with the ANT.

Perhaps, if possible, preventative measures are the best way to fight and contain the problem. Keep your ears to the ground and try to listen for ANT’s popping up.

If you’re an Ayn Rand fan, ANT’s of ANT-mongerers is what ultimately drove the industrialists to the hills.

Seattle’s Best – epicenter of global marketplace?

April 30, 2007

I’m working on a longish essay on China, globalization, World Is Flat themes. But it occurred to me that Seattle’s Best might provide a shorter lesson but equally important insight on ‘butterflies in China.’

See, Seattle’s Best is not just a place that sells coffee. The store contains things that were purchased from all kinds of industries and markets, especially considering the customer traffic and all their accompanying possessions.

This thought, of course, dawned on me while sitting at Seattle’s Best, so it was easy to simply look around and take in a random sample:

Furniture
Chemicals
Coffee Beans
Packaging
Juices
Water
Holiday retail
Leather
POS systems
Payment processing
Credit card issuers
Commercial printers
Lighting
HVAC
Electricity
Architecture
Real estate
granite
marble
copper
media
garbage collection
paper
textile
semiconductors
education
publishing
cell phones
telecommunications
eyewear
makeup
watches
jewelry
tea
paint
labor
security
delivery
music
music players
hair care
denim

After a few minutes, I just quit listing because I realized the list would be endless. In fact, I propose that Seattle’s Best can be substituted for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and any kind of enterprise (even cottage industry) can be connected back to Seattle’s Best within six degrees. Try it in your head. I am working on a better way to illustrate.

Greenling: Food 2.0?

April 26, 2007

Greenling is not exactly the typical high tech startup. Their product? Organic vegetables. Their service? Delivery to your door of high quality, fresh, organic vegetables.

Based in Austin and growing “organically” if you will, it will be fun to watch.

Grocery delivery? “I thought that was a dud.”

Why does this seem to work where grocery delivery never took off in the dotcom days? Well, grocery delivery actually has worked, in certain markets. Peapod, for example, still delivers in select densely populated markets. And many grocery chains offer in-house delivery services in selected regions.

Smarties in the business figured out that geographic factors have a lot to do with the opportunity for success in grocery delivery. What Greenling is perhaps figuring out is that product specialization might be another, perhaps better, success factor.

Let’s take a look:

As I wrote about in a previous post, choice abundance in the grocery store is off the charts. Offering a delivery service for 40,000+ items sounds like a logistical nightmare. By specializing, this “sku count” gets cut dramatically. Even if Greenling put in new categories one day, such as meats, they can still control expectations. By setting up the brand with a specialty focus, there will never be an expectation to get a 3 oz tube of Crest Tartar Control Peppermint flavor toothpaste along with my produce.

On the other side of the coin, as a consumer, the specialization is more compelling than grocery delivery in general. The mental leap from Albertson’s to home delivery is actually gigantic for families. Grocery shopping is an integral part of our survival routines. Even if home delivery makes sense, getting people to make this leap is challenging. It’s a big behavior shift and the level of convincing required to make it is high. Catalyzing trial is much easier said than done. But, with a specialization, the mental shift is easier. Organic is specific. Produce is specific. Fresh organic produce is very specific. It is either challenging or impossible to go to Albertson’s to get fresh organic produce with the selection Greenling offers. So the behavior switch is natural. If a consumer has a desire for this type of product, there is no behavior switch–no mental competition of inertia. In many ways, home delivery is secondary; it’s about being the choice brand for the product itself–organic produce. In other words, home delivery is a great feature, maybe even the compelling feature for many customers. But I don’t think it’s the core value proposition.

Unfortunately, I like my steady diet of fast food and Diet Coke too much to sign up just yet. But one day, I’m sure I will grow up diet-wise and on that day, I hope Greenling can deliver to my zip code!

Quote of the day

April 23, 2007

quote

seen on 2nd and Colorado, Austin, TX at:

design within reach

Mac, Firefox, Camino, non-IE uptake

April 22, 2007

IE still is the far and away leader. But that matters less and less every day. The opinion leaders of the Web use other browsers in large numbers and use Macs in large numbers as well. Not keeping these users top of mind makes no sense for companies in the innovation business. Yes, even today some companies release software that is not Mac supported or requires IE. But I’m sure anybody developing anything meaningful for the general market now, would not start new projects making this error. The exception of course is software developed for specified environments–i.e. internal corporate software. Of course, these developers would be wise not to box themselves in either. Why would you?

I only write this because I remember working on projects several years ago where the custom was to focus on IE and make market coverage tradeoffs with ease. The bigger question back then was versions of IE. Rare was the client who would demand QA testing on Netscape.

Celltop is useful mobile eye candy

April 19, 2007

celltop — is more than a pun-like name. The project done by frog design for Alltel is also a demonstration of things to come on the mobile handset. Mobile handsets have come of age in a big way the last couple years. To me, the progress of the handsets has outpaced application/UI innovation for a while (this is in contrast to 6-7 years ago when the opposite was more or less the case). So I am probably not the first to predict an industry-wide push in application/UI efforts to play catch up.

Oh, so what exactly is celltop? Well, they will do a better job than me (here). But essentially celltop puts handy “mini-applications” at the ready on your cellphone. The “cells” are actually visual containers that sit on the phone’s interface. These cells morph (size, navigation) based on what you’re doing. So, even though you might have 8 ‘cell apps’ you only see 2 at any given time. And then when you want to focus in on 1 in particular, the UI morphs to accomodate.

The point of celltop is to make mobile more user-friendly. They did a great job and the reviews have been positive. Excellent work, guys. I’m sure frog will be subsidizing your well-deserved sabbatical to the tropical destination of your choice.

format, format, format

April 19, 2007

The theme du jour is format. Google’s Eric Schmidt was quoted saying “mobile is the next dvd” — meaning that mobile format is not going to be some side show, but more like the main act.

Then there’s all the format – content separation buzz regarding Web 2.0. It appears that this is a very significant, if not the significant, technological evolution that has allowed for the next generation, 2.0 moniker to have any real meaning.

I’ve been listening to some audio clips of Bootstrap presenters done by HearThis.com’s Brian Massey. These make me think about format, too, because he does a good job inserting a nice music/voiceover intro in the beginning, and just working to smooth out the kinks of the audio production, instead of the lack of attention to detail in the usual podcast.

I also recently watched a webinar (yet another format!) with tips for professional presenting–whether in front of a large audience, board room, or a computer giving a webinar. Again, most of the talk centered on format, organization and packaging.

And then of course, with the upfronts coming up in TV (bulk buying of advertising for Fall and Winter top programming), there’s all kinds of talk on format. TV versus Internet. TiVO’s new format for advertising at the end of a show.

All very Marshall McLuhan: “The Medium is the Message”-esque.

A few ideas:

1. Format decision. There is so much out there in terms of options. Survey the landscape. Make sure you pick the right ones. This holds true whatever you’re producing.

2. Format polish. Format is not lipstick on a pig, but lipstick is involved. Details matter because they can stick out and their impact on perception is unpredictable.

3. Format unlocked. 1 and 2 were about executing on specific format(s). This is about keeping as much as you can flexible. And open, where possible. Format and content (or other substance*) take turns evolving. Nirvana is being able to substitute content in your existing format, and change format while maintaining content with equal ease.

*I couldn’t think of a better word than substance. I’m not just talking about text, or even media in general. I drive a Toyota Highlander. This SUV is in fact built on a Toyota Camry frame. This frame is also used in the Lexus RX 300…and probably others.

Life on teh interwebs: dating sites

April 11, 2007

The Internet is a crazy place. In some areas driven by commerce, maybe it should be called intermanipulateweb.

True.com has bombarded myspace with advertising. Yet, I think their domain name is quite ironic. They are probably the worst culprit of exaggerating expections to generate subscription revenue.

Yahoo! and Match, two of the most popular, seem to generally steer clear of excessive manipulation, but they all do to some extent. The tease email is a great example. This is when you are not a paying member, but you get a message from a user. But, in order to read it, you must pay. I am a capitalist and don’t think this is particularly unethical, but still plainly manipulative. I have guesses about how they can use user behavior to “time” search results on such web sites to generate these inquiries at statistically proven intervals.

For the sake of my blogs ‘PG’ rating, I’ll leave off the adult personals. But let’s say the ‘big players’ in this area are especially sophisticated manipulation experts.

Review sites are fun, too. These sites, purported to rank/evaluate dating sites, are typically paid to refer customers who sign up with those sites. An extra dose of manipulation. [P.S. this type of manipulation in ‘editorial’ is rampant in all sorts of areas. I love and hate it at the same time. Another post.]

Of course, we can’t leave out the actual user manipulation. At this point, probably not too far off from a mirror of real life dating scene, it’s just part of the dance.

I do like to hear success stories of online dating. And before I am accused of being overly whiney about the interdatenet, I don’t mean to be. I’ve been a member of both Yahoo! and Match before. I have friends who are as well. Success is mixed. Personally, I haven’t had a ton of luck. Perhaps my profile doesn’t manipulate quite enough? OK, just kidding.

Bottom line, dating sites are big business. Match.com parent InterActiveCorp reported $311 million in revenue for their Personals segment in 2006. Big business that is fiercely competitive, depends on consumer behavior, and involves something as psychological as dating, provides an extremely potent recipe for encouraging, nay requiring, manipulation on the part of participants.