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Groupon Is Good For Something. Newspapers Actually.

Groupon Is Good For Something. Newspapers Actually.

I have never used a Groupon. And there are plenty of nightmarish stories about how they kill small businesses. No big news here folks — it’s going, going, gone.

But not the model.

It should actually be out there reviving newspapers. That’s kind of a non-sequitur. Let me explain:

I was talking to my older friend who was a former editor and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer about how to save newspapers. He’s kind of a media curmudgeon (sorry AC!) so he didn’t quite get — or consider — the following — I’m curious to hear what you all think:

Let’s allow people — and even newspaper professionals — to post suggested stories — just like Groupons are posted and with the same gamification. Like this: People who are interested in a story can pledge some money to it, and when a level of interest and financial support is achieved, the story gets kicked off and assigned to a reporter (or a pre-assigned reporter).

This would give readers editorial pull — and it gives newspapers a business model tied to performance. Practically and financially speaking, I’d rather (or likely) spend $300 in small increments across a year, investing in particular stories or reportage rather than spend $50 on an annual subscription for content that often never connects with my interests.

I love local news — but I’m always frustrated that the ratio of good content to bad content + fluff is 1:100.

So, is the Groupon model just a model? And if it is, can it be the thing that saves journalism? It might just be able to de-couple the content-advertising dependency that has corrupted journalism.

 

 

 

I Just Got ‘Warm Transferred’. It’s A Southern Thing.

I Just Got ‘Warm Transferred’. It’s A Southern Thing.

I dig language. I dig analyzing human interaction. And I dig marketing. That actually means every interaction with every business is like a moment in the lab for me.

So I hit a triple play today when I was on the phone with a State Farm customer service rep. The rep told me she wanted to get me to speak to someone from my state. She said: “Let me warm transfer you to someone in PA.”

Dingdingdingding.

My prefrontal cortex woke up with a jolt. I have honestly never heard this before.

I knew of course what it meant: to be transferred to another agent with a live agent-to-agent hand off. Of course there should be a word for that!

Shouldn’t all transfers be ‘warm’?

This is customer service gold. Use it — do it! — and your customers will be delighted.

So at the end of the call, when she asked me if I had any other questions, I checked in with her: “Did you say ‘warm transfer’?

Yes, she said bemusedly. She then politely explained what it meant and added: “It’s a Southern thing, I guess.”

Well, that makes it twice as nice.

 

We Need (And Already Have) Better Economic Indicators

Today, I asked Kathleen, my sensible dental hygienist, how the “dentist business” was going.

I honestly didn’t expect the answer I got — I assumed that folks’ teeth would be one of those “recession proof” things. At least regular check ups and cleanings.

Not the case: “It’s been different… worst recession I can remember,” she said.

According to her, my region’s dentists and their office staff are reporting “not even getting their co-pays”.

That’s not good — and for a multitude of obvious reasons — but here’s a different way to think of it:

For all the official economic stats out there, and specifically the “leading economic indicators“, those stats like the “Average weekly jobless claims for unemployment insurance” and the “The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index” that supposedly represent the trajectory of the economy, there’s probably not one that is as straight forward and tangible as the nascent one implied by my anecdote: are the folks in your town skimping on basic health maintenance?

I think it’s fair to say that it might be time to think about changing that phrase, “All politics is local”, to “All economics Is local”.

If we want folks to understand the state of the economy, why start with national, abstract measurements? Why not anchor it to the folks in your town?

Actually, I’ve been meaning to write about this concept for a while… Way back in 2009, I noticed that when I went to the bank I’d see a lot more people than normal with their change baskets at the counting machines — dumping change, waiting patiently, dumping more, waiting and then finally taking the paper print out to the counter.

I had the fleeting thought back then that it would be really interesting to see the data regarding the usage of those machines?

My thesis: you could gauge the anxiety or budget stress families were having in a region by measuring the frequency and volume of change redemption across banks.

Who ever thought the change in the couch could give you so much insight?

 

 

 

 

Uberconference’s Beta Gamification Is Kinda Awesome

Uberconference’s Beta Gamification Is Kinda Awesome

Uberconference is the new kid on the block for online meetings. It looks like it’s gonna kick WebEx in the shins–if not in the mouth. So, yeah, I did this:

Uberconference's join beta input field

Uberconference’s Beta Sign-Up Form

 

And that brought me to this brilliant little game: Promote my interest in Uberconfernce and get points. Get enough and I get ‘to the front of the line’.

That’s pretty smartypants. And damn simple. Wonder if they did an A/B test–and what the lift is.

It’s scavenger hunt-esque.

Uberconference's Beta Invitation Gamification

Uberconference’s Beta Invitation Gamification

This also makes me think of the amount of time it took to build this company vs. WebEx. I’m sure it’s a multiple of 10.

 

 

If You Want To Contact Us, Don’t Reply To The Email We Just Sent You

Really. That’s what it says at the bottom of an email I just received from Starbucks–subject line: “We’d like to know a bit more about you — it’ll only take a minute.”

Actually, here’s the whole thing:

“This email is sent from an account we use for sending messages only. So if you want to contact us, don’t reply to this email – we won’t get your response. Instead, use this web form or mail your comments to PO Box 34067, Seattle, WA 98124-1067. Thanks.”

Where did this marketing convention come from? It is THE MOST NATURAL THING TO DO to hit reply in response to an incoming email. If companies want to hear from us–We the Customer–then why don’t they make it easy for us? Instead they totally buck the way we all operate.

Sheer bewilderment.

 

Why Pinterest Should Pivot And Help The Real Contributors Of The Web Get Paid

Reviewers of the world it’s time to start getting paid.

There’s something wrong with the state of the internet. In particular, reviews.

We write them. We look through them. We rely on them!—even when they’re written by total strangers. They provide enormous value to internet users worldwide. They’ve transformed ecommerce. Yet we don’t own what we write.

Amazon does!

Can’t we snap our fingers and ask the silicon valley rainmakers to take the democratic ethos of the internet one step further and give individuals automatic intellectual property rights for the content we create?

Pinterest is almost there.

It allows users to curate what matters to them—but it doesn’t let us get paid if our curation brings value to a company or organization. I do recall them surreptitiously trying to swap out user-pasted urls with affiliate-laden ones. Hmm. Good idea–bad execution.

Gumroad is making waves by making any link an ecommerce storefront. Not sure if this can be executed as a default in one’s ‘lifestream’.

Yotpo is doing something interesting–using algorithms (what else!?) to find the best reviews for any product. And, Yotpo, will the writer of that ‘best review’ get something in return?

And then there is VRM–or Vendor Relationship Management. There’s lots of interesting things over there–for example, a few of their goals:

  • Make individuals the collection centers for their own data
  • Give individuals the ability to share data selectively
  • Give individuals the ability to control how their data is used by others

It’s good to know we’re heading in the right direction. Heck, there may be a startup being featured right this very instance who has solved the problem.

Regardless–let’s decide to turn the corner together and demand ownership of our thoughts and social content.

 

If It’s A Pain In the Ass, People Won’t Do It And You’ll Lose Money

Great snippet from the NYTimes here–one that illustrates THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. PART. OF. PRODUCT. DESIGN.

Simplicity.

Flurry, a mobile-software analytics company, estimates that 65 percent of all revenue generated in the App Store — roughly $2 billion — has come from free games that charge for extra goods. Peter Farago, vice president for marketing at Flurry, said that was partly because Apple had made it easy for people to buy goods within apps and charge them to a credit card on file with Apple.In contrast, Google has said that its app store, the Android Market, has generated little revenue. Mr. Farago said that was because making payments in the Android Market was more difficult.

 

Do I Really Want To “Like” Bad News?

Do I Really Want To “Like” Bad News?

No. I don’t.

And this draws attention to a unique Facebook issue–on their mobile app.

Take a look:

In this circumstance, I would like to share this news–but it’s a bit creepy to “Like” it. You know, the other meanings of the word “Like”?

They’ve got it figured out on their web site–but when are they going to get to updating their mobile app?

Lesson: be on the look out for semantic snags or the linguistic impact of your UI elements.

I throw this in as a bonus (if Facebook happens to be reading this!): let me share with a subset of my friends not everybody. Google+ has got you here, FB.

Small Biz Folks, Ditch Your Crusty Email Newsletter Sign Up Form Now!

Small Biz Folks, Ditch Your Crusty Email Newsletter Sign Up Form Now!

If there has ever been an analog-t0-digital snafu worth solving, it’s the small biz email newsletter sign up form.

How many times have you seen those little note books covered in pizza sauce, jammed-up on the counter, closed or otherwise being ineffective and uninviting? It screams: “We’ll never add these to anything and you’ll never get an email from us!”

That’s why MailChimp’s Chimpadeedoo is my hero. Looky here:

MailChimp's Chimpadeedoo

That’s a sweet iPad rendering of their new technology. With auto-sync to their email platform, MailChimp has elegantly left small biz folk with a sweet opportunity: to actually communicate with their clients via email.

There’s no reason anymore not to do it.

Technology that makes things suuuuuuper easy takes the cake every time.

Big Chains Are Losing Out By Not Having Local Store Websites

So I went to Chipotle.com looking for info on their West Chester, PA store.  I expected a full-fledged site dedicated to my particular local store—with local info, reflecting local culture… Unfortunately, all I found was basically a phone number and a map!

Listen up national brands/big chains: From a customer’s perspective, the local store is THE chain. So when I go to your site, give me an experience that has significance with regard to the local store… before the you give me the “chain” story.

I checked Starbuck’s out too—they do it incorrectly as well.

Are CMOs scared of diluting the BRAND message by offering local content? Are they uncomfortable with the messiness of enabling local managers? Or the expense of that?

Let’s put it this way: If your friend opened a restaurant in your town and he didn’t have a website what would you do? You’d shake him silly? Isn’t that what Chipotle is doing when they send local searchers to the corporate site?

Does anyone know of a national brand that has a local-orientation to their web strategy?