Why Google is still far better than MSN Search
Alright, I saw Robert Scoble's rather self-aggrandizing post about an ostensible April Fool's joke at MSN search and did an MSN Search on 'Dave Taylor'. Predictably with such an incredibly common first and last name, I am mixed in with various other Dave Taylor's, including a trombonist, a hockey player, and one of the key programmers of the original game DOOM.
But check out the ads and you'll instantly see why Google is still far ahead of MSN Search.
On MSN Search you see ads like this:
Now maybe it's the case that these merchants have just blanket paid to have ads show up in every possible result, but that's poor advertising and in this case it's certainly poor targeting too: I am 100% confident that you can't buy me or any of the other Dave Taylor's at Dealtime, for example.
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Marketing to kids through Instant Message bots?
I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it with my own eyes: Proctor & Gamble's "Secret" brand of deodorant has a chatbot that's designed specifically to engage kids in the world of P&G products and get them to think The P&G Way.
Here's how they describe it:
"SecretSparkle is a brand agent from Procter & Gamble's Secret brand. From makeup tips to celeb scoop, SecretSparkle has the 411 on what it takes to look and feel fresh and cool. To try SecretSparkle, click on the link below."
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What does blogging have to do with affiliate marketing?
This coming Thursday is shaping up to be a busy day for me, I must say. Thursday afternoon Steven Van Yoder and I are starting our Growing Your Business with Google teleseminar which will then stretch for three months as we help lots of savvy businesses and entrepreneurs understand how to grow their business quickly and sustainably.
An hour earlier on Thursday, however, I'll be chatting on the phone with Marty Fahncke, Shawn Collins and former pro-ball player Jim Boulton, who was a member of the New York Yankees, best selling author of Ball Four, TV Sportscaster, actor, inventor, and businessman.
We'll be talking about the upcoming Affiliate Summit this July in Orlando, Florida and I know you'll want to take the time to listen in on this free call.
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Wal*Mart reveals photo plans for future, including Snapfish and cellphones
Since I've been writing about the retail powerhouse Wal*Mart recently (see Wal*Mart aggressively moves into organic foods over on my parenting blog, for example) I was surprised when I caught a TWICE article about Wal*Mart and Snapfish entitled Wal-Mart Seeks More Profit in Digital Photo Biz.
The story broke some time last week, but somehow I didn't catch it in any of the major media. Really, I'm so pleased as everything keeps coming up roses for Mark Hurd and Hewlett-Packard. Once they bagged Carla Fiorina (who I wrote critically about more than once in this weblog) the company seems to really be finding its stride in this new, dynamic marketplace and that's great to see.
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The perfect course for people ready to grow their business!
I'm pleased to announce that my friend and colleague Steven Van Yoder and I are launching a three-month teleseminar called Growing Your Business with Google.
Steven is author of the terrific book Get Slightly Famous and a top-notch ethical PR person who really gets the online world, so I'm really pleased that we're going to be able to work together on this project.
I'd like to tell you a bit about what we're doing, and hopefully you'll be excited and sign up to join us. First off, as you can tell from our information page, the entire workshop is about information, not hype. We both abhor the breathless marketing hype of most Internet marketing out there and refuse to make any sort of guarantee that you'll become wealthy overnight with our techniques.
Real business, real success, comes from being strategic, from long-term thinking, from understanding how your industry works and where it's going and making sure you can get there first and better than any of your competitors.
Take a sec and read through our workshop information: Growing Your Business with Google
Now let me tell you about what we're going to do with this innovative course, why it's better than any other "marketing" course out there, why it's an amazing value for what you get, and then make you a pretty sweet offer to push you to sign up and join us...
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Prosper.com creates person-to-person loan site, but can it work?
I received a pleasant email message from one of the marketing people at Prosper.com and was rather startled when I checked out the site and found out that what they've created is a marketplace for people seeking loans, and other people seeking unusual investments.
It's hard to imagine how this isn't some huge scam magnet and I even wonder about the legal implications, tax consequences and, yes, even whether Homeland Security would have concerns. So I asked them some questions, and Prosper's Chief Technology Officer John Witchel was kind enough to answer them...
Q: How did you come up with the idea behind Prosper.com?
The original idea behind Prosper was from our CEO, Chris Larsen. He had founded E-LOAN so he knew quite a bit about credit. And like all ideas he started with the most basic question: "Why?" Why is credit so
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Blog site under the microscope: ConversationBlog
This continues my efforts to help some lesser known weblogs gain additional visibility. These sites are either splendid examples of the state of the art, or works in progress, in which case I will also point out areas where I believe they can be improved, hence "under the microscope". I hope you continue to find this informative!
One of the most interesting facets of the blogosphere is that there are people who are really into the communication side of things, there are people who are really into the design and layout side, and rather astonishingly few who are somewhere in the middle.
This blog site under the microscope, ConversationBlog, is an example of a weblog written by someone who clearly has lots of interesting things to say, but just hasn't done everything needed to have a readable and understandable weblog within which to say it.
The author, Belgian Philippe Borremans, describes himself as having "more than a decade in Public Relations, specialising in crisis communications, media relations and, since 1996, in "online PR". A public relations person who blogs, that's cool, there are lots of really good PR people in the blogosphere.
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How can technology help us fix education?
I have been invited to speak tomorrow on an education panel at the state-spnosored Colorado IT Summit through a pleasant coincidence of connections, and think that the convergence of information technology and education, particularly K-12 education, is a darn interesting and critically important topic.
Here are the two questions I'll be asked by the moderator during my portion of the panel:
What are your thoughts on these two topics?
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You're invited to attend my LinkedIn workshop
I've been honored to work with a group of very smart, highly connected entrepreneurial organizations on developing an important new professional workshop focused on how to use LinkedIn to build a stronger Colorado networking community. These organizations include The Association Catapult, Integrated Alliances, The da Vinci Institute and Rockies Venture Club.
We've got a fabulous venue at DU, a date, and are ready to offer our first workshop in the series on April 7th in Denver, Colorado, focused on how to use LinkedIn to find employees, land a new job, network with specific businesses or industries and even to make sales contacts and avoid cold-calls.
My role? I'm the person who will be leading the workshop and I can guarantee that it's going to be a highly educational event, one that would even be worth a day-trip to Denver if you're not local to Colorado.
Note: seating is limited to 80 people, it's an incredibly inexpensive $69 for this half day workshop, and tickets are going fast.
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Moxie Moms: "No, honey, it's not racketeering when Mommy does it..."
There's a very interesting situation brewing here in Boulder, Colorado between two mom's groups. In one corner of the ring is Moxie Moms, who've been around for a couple of years, and in the other corner is the new group Babes and Babies. They're ostensibly competing for the same resource - mothers in the local area - but their tactics are quite different.
The story is covered with unusual directness by the local paper: Moms groups in spat over business-partner offerings.
Before I talk about what's happening, though, I want to talk about Nintendo, because a few years ago they got into significant trouble with the Department of Justice over violations of the so-called RICO anti-racketeering laws. These laws were originally created to fight organized crime (read "the mafia") but turn out to be applicable to business too.
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Reunion.com: it's sad when reasonable companies succumb to spamming
While I am sure that I get more than my fair share of spam - at least 500 messages a day, all filtered out thank goodness - I nonetheless sometimes look through and try to get a sense of what kind of products are popular with spammers (which is to say which products they believe can sell through less than savory marketing) and how they tend to position and promote individual products. It's like listening to a huckster or streetcorner vendor to learn person to person selling, I imagine.
Every so often, though, I find that legitimate companies are using techniques that are perilously close to spam and often actually get caught in my spam filters. A while back I wrote about how Disney uses spam in its marketing and indeed, a few days ago I received a notice from Disney about its new Adventure holidays, even though I'm 100% sure I opted out of future mailings from the company.
And then there's Reunion.com
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I've succumbed: I now have a "link blog"
For a long time I've talked about how the best blogging techinques involved less, longer postings rather than lots and lots of one-liners, but all the time I've been tracking over 200 sources and bumping into a variety of business and industry stories that were darn interesting, just not interesting enough to turn into long articles on my weblog.
So I have succumbed and have created a separate blog with the help of the slick Bloglines toolkit:
It doesn't work perfectly - I wrote an entry this afternoon that somehow vanished into the nether regions of Bloglines after I saved it - but as I bump into interesting material, I'll do my best to pop out a sentence or two along with a link.
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Walmart and Edelman PR lead the way on working with bloggers
Rather out of the blue a bunch of bloggers are suddenly talking about how Wal-Mart Corporation and its PR agency of record, Edelman, are sharing press releases and other material with selected bloggers. Doubtless the recent addition of uber-blogger Steve Rubel helped with this project (heck, even Richard Edelman blogs about it), but the blogosphere reactions are quite fascinating.
Glenn Reynolds writes about PR and Blogger Ethics and Kevin O'Keefe goes even further, decrying how Walmart Exploits Bloggers in PR Campaign. Dan Riehl even labels this The Blogging For Walmart Scandal and Robert Scoble has a snide comment about hidden agendas, somewhat of the pot calling the kettle black given Microsoft's history, don't you think?
Thankfully more level-headed folk like Jeff Jarvis (Does the "P" in PR stand for Press or Public?), Steve Broback (Walmart Courts Bloggers Says Wall Street Journal) and Dan Gillmor (Bloggers and Disclosure) have a more rational perspective.
Me? I couldn't disagree with these critical bloggers more.
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The Failure of Wikis
I've been called a curmudgeon before [edit: because you are] and there are some technologies [edit: like television] that I don't really see as astonishingly useful evolutionary steps in the world of information and technology, but even with that disclaimer, I have to say that I'm completely unimpressed with wikis and really don't understand why so many other people love them so [edit: maybe because they're just smarter than you are, jerk!]
Intellectually, the idea of collaborative editing and maintenance of text documents is quite appealing, but the pragmatic reality of having essentially zero editorial control over content is problematic at best and dangerous at worst. Would you trust a medical encyclopedia built around wiki technology?
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Building your Business with Google: Free Teleseminar
You may think that developing a Google-friendly web site isn't worth the time or hassle. You're not technically savvy. And isn't having a well-designed web site listed on your business cards good enough?
Ask yourself this: What percentage of your new customers currently find your business online? What if your company could double that percentage? It's possible when you apply a basic working knowledge of search engines into your marketing mix.
The Role of Search Engines in Buying Decisions
Search engines play a growing role in helping potential customers find you, evaluate you, and decide whether to do business with you. Research shows that everyone--from individuals to major corporations—is turning to the Internet to make buying decisions.
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What happens when phones are no longer geography?
I'm quite psyched. Thanks to some wizardry from the folks at Vbuzzer, my Voice over IP provider, I now have my business line ringing in multiple physical locations. Call me and I'll have phones in different parts of Colorado ringing with the call. If I power up Vbuzzer on my laptop, I'll also be able to plug in a headset or traditional phone and have that ring too, regardless of where I am in the world.
This isn't particularly rocket science: most of the VOIP systems on the market can do this, but what's surprising to me is that this feature, what I really consider a killer capability, is barely mentioned by the VOIP providers and even the third-party VOIP resellers who are popping up like mushrooms after a heavy rain.
Think about it, though: you could have your home phone number ring in parallel with your office line. You could have the phone in your weekend cottage or beach house ring at the same time, and you could even unplug the hotel phone and hook it up to a device no bigger than a box of cigarettes and have that ring and appear to all callers as your main office line. No "please hold, trying to track Dave down" stuff, no call hunting, none of that. Just what I believe is a revolution in telephony: the separation of phone number from geographic location.
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Blog site under the microscope: Email Overloaded
This starts a new series that I'll be running on my site to help bring some lesser known weblogs some additional visibility. These sites will either be splendid examples of the state of the art, or be works in progress, in which case I will also point out areas where I believe they can be improved, hence "under the microscope". I hope you find this informative!
I'm really the target reader for the Email Overloaded weblog, with well over 150 messages coming into my mailbox every day. Many evenings I spend an hour or two just trying to clear things out and a good day is one where I can get my mailbox down to 30 messages or less. Last night I had my inbox down to 22, but by this morning it was up to 68 by the time I woke up.
Email Overloaded is written by Itzy Sabo, though you can't tell by looking at the weblog. That's my first bit of advice for Itzy: why not have an "about the author" or some other way to at least associate a name with the weblog? Even the entries on the Wordpress.com site lack an author name attribute, unfortunately.
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