What's more important in business, consistency or personality?
My wife and I were visiting our local Pekoe Sip House this morning and she got a chai, commenting that she really liked their drinks at this particular café. When she tasted her drink, however, she found that she didn't like it this time, commenting that "last time they added agave, this time they didn't. Maybe they just forgot?"
It got me thinking about what differentiates Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) from these local coffee (and tea) houses, and it's the very same thing that has made McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) an international powerhouse: consistency
Continue Reading "What's more important in business, consistency or personality?"
PayPerPost creates DisclosurePolicy, TechCrunch calls it absurd?
I've been in the middle of this debate for a while now, the question of whether you should leverage your blog traffic by accepting advertising or writing what magazines blithely call "advertorials". In fact, you'll notice that I not only have advertising on my Web pages but also have a Pheedo ad stream trickling into my RSS feed on my Ask Dave Taylor site. No tricks, no sneaking about, just a publishing model that you accept every time you turn on a TV or pick up a magazine.
When PayPerPost showed up on the scene, with its simple and blunt offer of paying bloggers to write about advertisers, I nonetheless had my reservations, as I documented all over the Web, including Should I sign up for PayPerPost? and How do you get bloggers to write about your product?
As with many marketing professionals, my concern has always been with whether or not the individual bloggers would disclose that their content was hijacked, or skewed by their desire to participate in a PayPerPost campaign. Similar site CREAMaid has a slightly different spin on the entire debate and I even earned $10 writing a blog entry, as I detail here.
But does that please bloggers, even those like Mike Arrington whose sites are a veritable mosaic of advertising themselves? Ohhhh nooo....
Continue Reading "PayPerPost creates DisclosurePolicy, TechCrunch calls it absurd?"
When did conference attendees become so rude?
I'm here at the Blog Business Summit in Seattle and it's a very interesting event with a terrific group of both top bloggers and people and companies coming up the learning curve. Smart, professional and all busy making a sound that I can only liken to the pitter-pat of rain gently falling on a rooftop as everyone earnestly types notes into their laptops.
But here's what I don't understand: every 5-10 minutes the speaker is interrupted with a cell phone ringing, a computer chiming, a BlackBerry being adjusted, or even someone playing a video -- with sound! -- on their laptop.
What the heck?
Continue Reading "When did conference attendees become so rude?"
Does Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron CEO, deserve his sentence?
I have been following the Enron trial with great interest as it's slogged along in the courts and drawn in dozens of executives from the company and even more outsiders to share their perspective and experiences within the firm. There's no question, the executive team at Enron did wrong, and did very wrong, consistently and constantly lying to shareholders and members of the company.
The two top guys of the huge financial house of cards that was Texas-based Enron, CEO Jeffrey Skilling and Founder Ken Lay, were convicted in May, 2006 of deceiving investors about Enron's true financial condition.
I'm rather surprised that it took five months from conviction to sentencing, and Ken Lay is either up in heaven looking down at the proceedings (or down in the other place) as he passed away of a heart attack a few months ago.
But Jeffrey Skilling. Well... let's first go through a quick refresher on what happened with Enron...
Continue Reading "Does Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron CEO, deserve his sentence?"
What if Google bought Thomson Learning?
Interesting news a'bubbling in the business world this morning as media giant Thomson (NYSE: TOC) has let it be known that its Thomson Learning division is potential up for sale. That ringing a bell? Most likely, at least half of your college textbooks were published by this company, among other things: it's expected to fetch about $5 billion in the sale.
But who might be interested in buying this division and who could afford it? Two companies immediately spring to mind for me, actually. Either the Mountain View giant Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) or Apollo Group (NASDAQ: APOL), though I admit that the latter company might be a bit hard pressed to acquire Thomson Learning for $5 bil when its market cap is only $6.5 billion.
Continue Reading "What if Google bought Thomson Learning?"
Does the University of Phoenix really require a statement of faith?
My blog entry University of Phoenix reinvents the week, again has over time become quite a magnet for discussion, pro and con, regarding the University of Phoenix. A few days ago, a comment was added that piqued my interest:
"The University of Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ) is also a stinker. Its business degrees are not accredited by AACSB, and the tuition is $1,764 for graduate courses. Additionally, this institution requires that instructors sign a "statement of faith" concerning their religious views."
Hmmm..., I said, I know the latter certainly isn't true since I'm an instructor and would never sign a statement of faith, even if it was a perfect match for my own faith, just on general principal. To dig further into this, I checked in with colleague Pete Wright, who works with the University of Phoenix, and here's what he said...
Continue Reading "Does the University of Phoenix really require a statement of faith?"
Toyota offers up superb proof of The Long Tail
I bought my Toyota Prius a few years ago and had quite an experience buying the extended service warranty: an experience that not only let me save almost $1000, but also created a situation where I was able to blog about how I saved so much on my warranty, for the benefit of many, many people on the Internet since then.
Start by reading my original blog entry: Toyota Prius Insider Tip: Saving Money on your Extended Service Warranty and then my AskDaveTaylor entry: Where can I buy a Prius extended warranty?
Note the many, many comments on that entry too, all from people thanking me for helping them also save quite a few dollars on their Toyota (NYSE: TM) purchase.
Now go to Google and search for Prius Warranty. Can you see that I'm #2, just after Toyota Corporation? Scroll down a bit further and my other article is at #6.
After receiving maybe my twentieth thank you note from a happy reader, I called up Troy Dietrich of Toyota of Greenfield to chat about the situation, and during the conversation mentioned that a small commission would be a very cool secondary outcome.
That's why, many months later, I am delighted to have received a check for $690.00 from Troy and the following letter...
Continue Reading "Toyota offers up superb proof of The Long Tail"
Edelman screws up with duplicitous Wal-Mart blog, but it's okay?
I've been watching the furor around the rather interesting Walmarting Across America blog with great curiosity as it's unfolded. The blog's been running for quite a while now (though all the historical posts have been pulled down, interestingly. In a bit, I'll show you how to get to them all, though, so keep reading) but only in the last few days has the blognoscenti figured out that it's actually all a sham and that far from being a couple who just "happened" to drive their RV around the United States, parking in Wal-Mart parking lots as they went, it's actually a carefully scripted - and funded - campaign from the esteemed Edelman PR.
That's a familiar PR agency because Steve Rubel, one of the best and the brightest in the blogosphere, joined the firm a while back and since then Edelman has been in the forefront of figuring out how to intertwine public relations and the world of blogging. With, apparently, mixed success...
Continue Reading "Edelman screws up with duplicitous Wal-Mart blog, but it's okay?"
Listen in to our Amazing AdWords Results conference call, free!
In just a few days, I'll be launching a new six-part telecourse on Google AdWords with my friend and Google AdWords Pro Joy Milkowski and I'd like to invite you, my faithful blog reader, to join us on the first call for free.
Truth be told, I'm actually pretty excited to get started with the course, Amazing Results with Google AdSense next week. What's most intriguing me is the question of whether bloggers can effectively use a pay-per-click program like AdWords to generate and drive targeted traffic to their blogs. I have a sense that the answer is most definitely YES, but I also know from experience that it's all too easy to spend far more than you want on AdWords or related programs.
That's one of the main reasons I consented to host the course. The other being that Joy is just a great person, sharp as a tack, enthusiastic, and funny. We're going to have lots of fun with the course, I am sure!
So, please, do try and join us for the first call, where we'll offer up a critically useful overview of AdWords and the three aspects of AdWords that you must understand before you pay a dime for a click. We'll also talk about the other five calls and exactly what we'll be exploring, including, I'm sure, the relationship between AdWords and blogging.
Here are the call details:
Date: Oct. 16th
Your best bet, however, is to pop over to our site and sign up for the AdWords info mailing list too, so you can get a copy of our class handout and other prep materials:
Feel free to share this information with your colleagues too and even blog about it if you're so inspired. We have lots of capacity for that first call! :-)
Continue Reading "Listen in to our Amazing AdWords Results conference call, free!"
Why can't Google differentiate editorial from adverising?
Just encountered an interesting and rather troubling situation as I dig around and try to find out more information about Sprint's Broadband Mobile service and just how compatible it is with a Mac PowerBook. I did a Google search for sprint broadband "mac os x" and the #3 match is:
Problem is, if you actually go to the referenced page there's no mention of Sprint Broadband anywhere. Possibly the result was in its "top news" box but I'm guessing, from the words that appear in this search result, that it was a sponsor or other advertising block.
Hmmm.... this calls into doubt some of the esteem with which I hold Google's search results.
Continue Reading "Why can't Google differentiate editorial from adverising?"
A Bright Idea: Competitions Managed with Flickr
Seems that Craft Magazine is running a Halloween craft competition for the creepiest and scariest crafts and my sister was picked for her weird disembodied hand pincushion.
As the Craft folk say on their blog: "Yikes! This is creepy, CRAFT Flickr photo pool member AK-IceCube made this severed hand pincushion and entered it in the MAKE & CRAFT Halloween contest, woo! You can see more photos and some of the construction here, nice work!"
As a result of this, my sister's already sold two new pincushions, but more on that -- including a creepy picture of the disembodied hand -- after the jump...
Continue Reading "A Bright Idea: Competitions Managed with Flickr"
Innovation or Branding: Which Comes First?
My colleague Gary Lundquist publishes the Colorado Innovation Newsletter, and just about every issue is a thoughtful and interesting essay on an important business topic. With permission, here's this issue, on branding and innovation, and it's well worth reading...
Which comes first? The business or its brand? The product or its brand? Silly question, right? Of course the brand comes first. What? Wasn't that your answer?
I'll say it again. Brands logically precede businesses and products. Both for good business reasons, and because that's the way people and teams actually think. They always have the brand in the back of their minds when they innovate.
Perhaps you question my perspective. If so, we may not share the same views on brands and branding. Let's build some common ground.
Any study of brand, branding, or brand strategy uncovers a very distinct dichotomy. Two camps exist - one relating to symbols and the other to value as defined by customers.
Symbol View: The American Marketing Association and marketing guru Philip Kotler, among others, define a brand as "a name, term, design, symbol or a combination." With this kind of high profile reinforcement, many practitioners equate "brand" with words and symbols. They believe that companies own brands; that businesses and products should be developed first, then branded; and that brands are built through advertising that connects names to products or businesses.
Value View: Today's best marketers see brands differently. Businesses own names, but markets own brands. We can write names on paper. Brands are written in the neurons of people's minds. Names can be brainstormed. Brands must be organically grown. Names are cognitive. Brands are emotional. Names are labels on mental file folders that help people remember information about a product or business. Brands are the relationships that fill those folders with trust, respect, loyalty, track records, and willingness to overlook mistakes.
Continue Reading "Innovation or Branding: Which Comes First?"
eBay and Nikon exemplify the use of modern media marketing
I talk with a lot of companies and pay attention to hundreds of different firms both in the Internet space and throughout the businessosphere and am always surprised at how few of either group really understand how to leverage the benefits of modern media and popular social networking sites and their technologies to promote the firm.
That's why I was pleased to see that today both eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) and Nikon are offering up textbook examples of utilizing third party Web sites for their own benefit in a way that's inoffensive, valuable, and, heck, kinda cool.
Let me explain what they've both done, and why it's even more surprising that Nikon's one of the two companies I'm highlighting...
Continue Reading "eBay and Nikon exemplify the use of modern media marketing"
Homeland Security To Spend $2.4 Million to recreate Umbria?
The New York Times has a very interesting story [sub required] about how the Department of Homeland Security is going to invest $2.4 million over the next three years to fund Cornell, The University of Pittsburgh and the University of Utah building a "sentiment analysis" system.
The goal of the program is to create a software system that can monitor and analyze what foreign newspapers and journalists are saying, and therefore thinking, about the United States. Researchers are going to test the system on "hundreds or articles published in 2001 and 2002 on topics like President Bush's use of the term 'axis of evil'".
There are two concerns I have after reading through this particular story, however: first, I don't necessarily expect Homeland Security to understand the blogosphere, but surely someone at one of these three universities could have said "uh, guys, what about tracking blogs?" My other concern is that they haven't done their homework and identified companies that already have content analysis systems in place, like Colorado firm Umbria.
Continue Reading "Homeland Security To Spend $2.4 Million to recreate Umbria?"
The Playaway Audio Player: Marketing Can't Overcome Economics
Surely this is a product that only a marketing team could love: Playaway has introduced an audio book player preloaded with a single audio book that's essentially a "play and dispose" device. This, by itself, isn't necessarily a bad idea (other than environmentally) but there's a whole facet to this product that is poorly thought out: its economics.
First off, fair disclosure: the company sent me one of these Playaway players with the audio book The Kite Runner (by Khaled Hosseini) doubtless hoping that I would be enamored of it and write lots of positive things about the Playaway here on my weblog. Ah, well, that's not quite how it's worked out...
There are some things I really like about the Playaway nonetheless, and lots of things to not like about this product. Let me preface this by observing that I have a lot of mp3 players, including five iPods, a Dell DJ, and many other devices that can also play mp3 audio files, like my trusty Sony PSP. I also have lots of headphones for testing, so I'm pretty sensitive to audio quality.
Continue Reading "The Playaway Audio Player: Marketing Can't Overcome Economics"
Elsewhere in my
Latest Entries at
The Business Blog