Archive for July, 2008

Dreambank.org launches a marketing dream

I attended the official launch party for Vancouver-based Dreambank.org tonight. Congrats to Dawn Bowles and her team for turning this dream into a reality. In their words…

DreamBank.org is about helping dreams come true and doing it in a way that helps the planet and important social causes. Instead of giving gifts that, although appreciated may not really be wanted, with DreamBank you contribute to someone’s dream. As well as helping fulfill a dream, your contribution helps spare the planet some of the nasty side effects of manufacturing and packaging unused gifts. Plus your gift automatically generates funds that are given to important social causes.

What intrigues me about this opportunity as a marketer is one that may not be self evident, but it was a driving force behind Stepcast when I was running this circa 2001. The concept of a wishlist or gift registry (which, when you distill it right down, is exactly what Dreambank is… but with a social conscience) is a marketer’s dream. If marketing is about getting a customer’s attention and getting them to raise their hand, this is what happens in the registry.

Consider a few of the most recent dreams that you see posted on Dreambank. Andrew Halt posted his dream/raised his hand and said he wants to go “heli hiking in the rockies”. I wonder what Canadian Mountain Holidays would pay to be able to contact Andrew? I assume that their marketing budget is pretty standard and that they would be willing to pay anywhere from $50 to $100 per lead. After all, they are doing search marketing for phrases like “heli hiking” [sorry… I clicked on your ad, but I’ve linked to your site, so hopefully you can forgive me]. In Andrew, the marketing effort is done. Now all they have to do is nurture the relationship over a period of months (or years) and then they will have a customer.

Then there is Rebecca Bollwitt of Miss604 who dreams of the bright lights of Vegas and BlogWorld. I wonder what they spend on their marketing budget trying to convince people to come to their conference? Do you think they want to do everything they can to help Rebecca (or her friends and family) make her dream come true?

In any case, the concept behind Dreambank is solid. I don’t know where the longterm vision holds for enabling this (if at all), but it really could become a marketer’s dream.

NB. For those interested, they prompted all of us who attended to add our own dream. I was initially going to try for something simple and realistic, but instead I opted for something more unlikely. But one can dream.

July 11, 2008 at 1:19 am 1 comment

Reliable Flagging, Maple Ridge BC, Phone: (604) 466-3524

Reliable Flagging of Maple Ridge, BC, has turned me into a momentary domain squatter today, and I’m not proud of it.

It all started around four years ago when we moved into our new home, sampled some VOIP technology that was before it was time, and had to get a new phone number. The number that was assigned to us apparently use to be owned by a Maple Ridge flagging company called Reliable Flagging (as in traffic control to make sure construction happens safely).

The phone calls started coming in immediately. At least one per week that we answered, and that is with call screening where we ignore pretty much every number that we don’t recognize. After the umpteenth wrong number we found out that their phone number in the phone directory was still listed as our number. We contacted the phone company and they said they would fix it … they didn’t say that this fix would take two years mind you.

Anyhow, even after this correction in the phone book, we kept on getting calls. “Is this Reliable Flagging?” No. No. No.

I am not sure if it picked up more over the past few months or it is just that I am working from home more often and now sitting next to a phone without call display, but the calls seem to be increasing in frequency. And then I had a phone call this morning from a prospect looking for flagging services. In the midst of a Seinfeld flashback with Kramer answering the mis-dial for MoviePhone, I thought I would help him and Reliable Flagging out by trying to find the real “Reliable Flagging”, or if I couldn’t, at least source someone from another flagging company who could help him.

So I started searching. First it was a basic “Reliable Flagging” search on Google. The first response was from a company called iBegin that had a listing for Reliable Flagging. The phone number listed… yep… our phone number. A few listings down, there was another listing, our phone number once again.

I think I realize what is going on. Apparently, a trend started a couple of years ago where people are taking advantage of some loophole in copyright law where they were sending out-of-date phone books overseas and having the whole thing copied in tandem to reproduce their own directory listing. These copies then form the basis for many of the web directories that are popping up in various places [note: I’m not saying this is what iBegin has done]. In any case, wrong numbers are being perpetuated, and now thanks to the power of web search (especially local search), they will never go away.

So after I hung up the call today, I did some more internet research for Reliable Flagging, and found a phone number that was also out of order. And the I found another one that didn’t ring through. I then called a competitor who ranked at the top of organic results for the search phrase “Traffic Control Vancouver” (who I will not promote by naming them for reasons that will come clear below). They expressed that Reliable Flagging was no longer around. Which made sense to me, and I didn’t doubt this given the calls that I received.

And this is when I became a Domain Squatter. I registered the domain name ReliableFlagging.com. My intent was to try and use the medium to my advantage. If I could outrank the earlier listings, I had hoped the calls would stop. This is also why Reliable Flagging and Maple Ridge Flagging Services keywords are peppered throughout this blog post. Fight fire with fire.

And then in a further act of defiance, I posted my tale of woe on Craig’s List with an offer for any flagging company who wanted these phone leads to let me know, and I would be more than happy to sell them to them.

A mere 6 hours later I had a phone call from someone who worked for Reliable Flagging. While I was happy, they were pissed that I was trying to make money from their name. I said, “Good news… you’re in business! Tell me your number and I will tell everyone who calls what the new number is” They didn’t like this, and they refused to give me their new phone number.

Another hour passes by, and I had a phone call from Reliable Flagging’s owner (Jane). As my wife said to me just a few minutes ago, “Ah the immortal Jane Baker.” We felt like we had gotten to know her through her calls… especially for my wife whose first name combined with her maiden name sounds phonetically very similar, especially when it was said with an accent — a factor that only contributed to confusion over the years.

Anyhow, Jane was also not too pleased that I was trafficking on her good name and business. She threatened to sue. I said I am just trying to do the rightful thing [I did take the Craig’s List ad down as soon as I heard that Reliable Flagging was still providing traffic controlling services to Maple Ridge]. I have even offered to transfer over the domain to her at no cost to her and help her with her web presence. I guess I am not very good at this cyber squatting thing. And really, who am I kidding, this is more for my sanity than anything else.

Hopefully, WordPress works its SEO magic, and Reliable Flagging’s traffic control services will be found by all Maple Ridge residents very soon. With the correct phone number. Which, for hopefully the last time, is 604.466.3524.

And for those who weren’t paying attention, the moral of the story is that you should control your web presence. Your yellow pages ads are not enough. It could be a simple website (even a free one). Your audience is searching for you. If they can’t find you, how much business are you leaving on the table?

July 8, 2008 at 10:44 pm 3 comments


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