Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

Is IBM building a SPAM list using Jigsaw?

I had to share this email that I just received from IBM…

*****

Dear John,

We are pleased to have found your business contact information on Jigsaw (www.jigsaw.com), an online directory of business information. We think that your business is a valuable contributor to the technology industry, and we look forward to sharing valuable insights, information and offers with you that can help drive your business forward. There is nothing you have to do to take advantage of this opportunity. If for any reason you prefer that we not share information we think will be valuable to you and your business, you can also choose to opt out from IBM communications.

Sincerely,
The IBM Marketing Team

You may also mail a written request to IBM at:
IBM DMC, 777 E . Wisconsin Ave., 31st Fl., Milwaukee, WI 53202

******

Now is it just me, or am I reading correctly that good folks at IBM Marketing have decided that a good way to build an email list is to pull it off a public directory and opt me in to more communications. I’ve read Todd Watson’s blog before, and I wonder if he would approve (Todd is the Social Media and Search Marketing Manager, IBM Software Group).

Part of me wants to think that IBM would not do such things, so I did trace the route on the link. It goes to a domain “IBM-jgs.com” which is either IBM or a person involved in copyright infringement. The domain is registered to ClickMail Marketing of Foster City, California.

In any case, I wanted to post and hopefully hear back from either IBM or ClickMail clarifying their business practices.


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April 9, 2010 at 9:34 am 1 comment

The science of marketing

Before I started typing, I checked the Category as “rambling” as I don’t know where this post is going, but I was thinking while driving home this evening (always a dangerous prospect). My conclusion: marketing is no longer an art. Marketing is now a science.

Back when I was at UBC, I obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts (English & Art History). And while marketing was not even on my radar at that point, I never considered myself a man of science. I mean, I always enjoyed Science Fair projects, but I really was not a fan of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc. Math was something I dreaded going to. The benefits of Science at UBC, was the 432 and some of the beer gardens.

When I got into marketing, I was focused on the copy writing, communications, branding, programs, and the like. I have been calling it “extroverted marketing” now for several years… though this is mostly to differentiate it from the “introverted marketing” that I was doing over the past 5+ years. Introverted marketing is the product marketing, market requirements, technical specifications, product road maps, and the like.

In conversations with my father-in-law (an Engineer), marketing has always been second fiddle to a man of science. We were the ones that wrote the “spontaneous quotes” to feed the executive team. Science was what made the world go round. But at some point in the past few years, marketing has become a science. I don’t know the exact moment it tipped, but it has.

This really hit home when I was reading a very good post from ClickEquations called “The Economics of Quality Score”. In this article Craig Danuloff wrote:

So What Is Quality Score Worth?
Knowing this is how cost-per-click is calculated, we’re able to determine the specific impact of any quality score on your cost-per-click.

And therefore the exact cost or savings from any single-digit increase or decrease in your quality score.

Yes that’s right – we can tell you the specific change in your CPC that is due to the quality score you’re getting for each of your keywords.

For example, your QS=10 keywords are enjoying a 30% CPC discount as compared to if they were QS=7 and in the same position. And your QS=4 keywords are paying a whopping 75% premium for their position.

This excerpt was followed by a very good analysis of the importance of quality score and how it can dramatically impact your paid search marketing activities. Check our the piece for sure…

But here I was, a self-professed math-o-phobe, reading with interest the statistical analysis of quality score. This is, of course, on top of the bi-weekly Marketing Experiments webinars on landing page optimization. More science.

Every day, I am pondering the stats and metrics of my assorted paid search campaigns. What gives?

You see. Marketing has changed. It is no longer an art. It is a science.

What does that mean to the world at large? Well perhaps the next marketing recruits will no longer be coming out of the art schools. Perhaps agencies should be scouring the Physics and Math departments of university campuses. I don’t know… maybe they already are?

Years ago, I was brought back to UBC by the Arts Undergraduate Society to talk to 1st and 2nd year students in a session called “Beyond the BA”. The focus was on what a person could do with an Arts Degree. Of the other panelists, I was the only one to go out and get a ‘real’ job. The rest had gone on to a technical program (BCIT), onto Education [when in doubt, teach], or onto Law.

The advice I had for the students at the time was that it was OK to go out and learn business on the job. Use your BA as an opportunity to learn how to learn, how to communicate, and how to synthesize. These traits would be useful wherever life takes you, and at the time this took me into the marketing of software.

But in hindsight, seeing at where marketing is at presently, perhaps the advice I should have given was this. If you want to be a good marketer, forget about studying English and Art History as yours truly did. Go out and look at the hard sciences and learn to do research. Think about the math programs so that you could discover the next formula for optimization. Be a scientist. And with it, you will become a better artist.

March 26, 2009 at 11:12 pm Leave a comment

Northern Voice 2009 – Thoughts and ponderings

EDITED POST …  2-days later …

My first Northern Voice conference is about to begin. I am here thanks to DreamBank (thanks Dawn!). I haven’t been back to UBC for years, having left the campus in 1995 (degree in Enlgish and Arts History). I will attempt to live blog as I come across interesting points, or meet interesting people.

Sitting next to Benson Wong for Stewart Butterfield’s keynote address. Benson is the IT manager for Sutton Group Realty.

Interesting little ramble about identity and the web from Stewart. I have been listening to the audio book on the drive in for Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Need to think more about the power of community and the concept of an idea “tipping”. Hmmm…

Stewart is talking about ubiquity of devices enabling community. I wonder what came first, the desire to be part of the community (and thus the use of the device), or the device itself? I hope I can learn later if this is why I am Twittering? Did I get a Twitter account because everyone else that I am aware of is starting to Twitter, or am I Twittering for my ventures (www.Twitter.com/SMSTexts and www.Twitter.com/GolfTeeTimes) because there is actually utility in there somewhere. Hmmmm.

UPDATED on Sunday, 2 days after I started “live blogging” the conference.

Well I learned something about myself in the past couple of days: I absolutely suck at Live Blogging. Let’s see… I got a few points down during the opening keynote, and then failed to blog anything else for the entire day. I think this actually reminded me of my experience at UBC [dripping irony] and my classes there. At the end of every term, when I would go back and review my notes for an exam, I would have page after page of single item “notes” for an entire class. The note would read: “Important to remember about Goya’s etchings that you need to remember is that” … and that was it… Oh sure, I may have underlined the word “important”, but rarely would I have finished my thought.

I guess my learning style is what you would consider participatory. I listen, I ask questions, I engage, I synthesize. But for the life of me, I can’t multitask and write down what the presenter was saying. Oh well.  Stick to your knitting as they say. For those that wanted realtime commentary, you should have paid attention to one of the following blogs:

Hummingbird604 or Miss604.

I will offer my thoughts on the event in a separate post.

February 20, 2009 at 10:29 am 1 comment

Clarifying your value proposition… and your elevator pitch

Forty-seven minutes. That is how long it took me to drive home from Downtown Vancouver to back here in Maple Ridge. Through the fog every mile of the journey… that is until I got to my front door.

You see, I live out here on the edge of a Mountain, slightly elevated above a very scenic commuter community. For those who are not local and would not know, there is a low pressure inversion blanketing the Lower Mainland. Our home is above it. When people ask me why I live out here, I often have standard answers: more affordable housing, a small-town feel, wider parking spaces [which is great for small children]. However, I now have another answer to give.

“Living in the suburb provides you with more opportunity to clarify your value proposition, practice your elevator pitch, and come out of the fog.”

You see… I had one of those days of meetings and networking. I met a former colleague for lunch to catch up and talk about the latest business projects, what’s new, what’s different and how we are going to change the world. A quick hop into Starbucks [London Fog Latte… it seemed appropriate] to work on a business plan that I was preparing for the late afternoon’s First Round Capital’s Office Hours. Then a meeting with a business partner to discuss development plans on one of my ventures (TeeTimes.net). Followed by the aforementioned Office Hours [I pitched an angle of Texts.com, not the business plan I was preparing earlier]. Followed by a quick dinner (responding to a day’s worth of emails while eating). Followed by networking at the Vancouver Entrepreneur’s Meetup. Followed by a late night coffee with a few other entrepreneurs and genuinely nice people that I met tonight (here, here, and here). And then the drive home.

All day long, I practiced my elevator pitch (or on a day like today I should say, “pitches”). And all day long I listened to others explain their business models and communicate their value propositions. Some were well done, and others like the presenter from the Investor’s Group who must have misread the 30 second pitch guidelines as 3 minutes… not so much.

But the drive home provided me with 47 minutes to rehearse my pitch and think about what resonated with my day’s companions, and what left people in a fog. Well actually it was only 45 minutes. The first 2 minutes were spent listening to the radio to hear that the Canucks blew another game.

So here is what I learned from tonight:

  1. Texts.com –  One of the things that I like about good quality generic domain names, especially when it is your company’s name, is that it leads your audience into your pitch before you open your mouth. At the Entrepreneur’s Meetup on my name tag, I scribbled “John” and beneath it I wrote “Texts.com“.  From here, depending on the audience, I could adjust my pitch to one of the following:
  • Texts.com provides international text messaging and SMS Marketing services. With our international text messaging service, we save money for those who wish to send an SMS message internationally. Rather than paying your standard carrier a message rate that reaches as high as  $0.50 per message, we can deliver a text message to your overseas friend or family for as low as $0.10 per message. In other words, we simplify international text messaging.” … or…
  • Texts.com provides international text messaging and SMS Marketing services. Our SMS marketing services focus on the smaller local merchant. A typical short code that is required for mobile marketing campaigns costs anywhere from $15k to $30k per year and takes 12 weeks to set up. This is not practical for a small business. Likewise, a merchant could lease a shared short code, and while this is more affordable, if a person unsubscribes from a campaign that happened to be on the same network, you lose that customer. Instead, we are implementing technology to let a person “Call-to-Subscribe” to a mobile marketing campaign at rates that are much more affordable than the cheapest shared short codes. Small businesses now have an affordable option to participate in mobile marketing.”

So in hindsight (and one 45 minute drive later), how did I do? I think it would have been better to simply lead with a single message around local SMS Marketing. Next time I would start off with the key value proposition of our SMS marketing and how we differ from existing systems. Full stop.

  1. TeeTimes.net – A few times tonight I had the opportunity to talk about another one of my ventures, TeeTimes.net. Once again, the domain name says a lot about the business. A person who has any sort of understanding about golf, would know that this business has to do something about TeeTimes and they would probably even conclude that it is a place for online golf reservations. So how did I do?
  • “We operate a web-based golf reservations business that allows golfers to book their tee times online for more than 1,000 golf courses across North America.”

People got this. They understood what we did. It was simple. In some instances, I delved deeper into the business model and our execution strategy that made us unique, but for the most part, I stopped it after the first sentence. In other words, to paraphrase Jerry Maguire, “You had me at Hello”.

What other messages did I hear tonight that I liked?

  • Elizabeth Southall of PowerhouseCopy (a direct response copywriter) — “I specialize in direct response copywriting for the web that helps you convert more of your visitors into paying customers.” Cool. Sounds good. I could use that.
  • Tom Gibson of OutsideIncredible (a product marketing consultant) — “I’m a product value specialist. I help companies make their products and services resonate instantly with buyers.” He even had that exact pitch written on his business card. Nice touch.
  • Derek Bell of Tynt“We enable people to Graffitti  up the web, sharing their thoughts via the social web”… At least I think that was it. In any case, I got it right away… but perhaps this is just because I have always been a fan of the website PostIt note model since I came across Third Voice many, many years ago.

For everyone else that I met tonight… I look forward to seeing you again real soon.

John

January 16, 2009 at 2:35 am 1 comment

Using kiosks in your marketing mix – and a Vertisi response

Just a quick update on my opinion on Vertisi and its potential (regarding this post here where I described Rick Schwartz introducing the new product at TRAFFIC). My intent was not to doubt the utility of the product, it was just to call attention to the fact that the technology has been there for a few years.

Owen Frager tracked back to my original post in his column today entitled “Rick Schwartz’s Vertisi- Not As Dumb As You Think“.  With regards to the product’s usefulness, I do believe it is right up there with advances in retail or point-of-presence businesses like the now pervasive gift card [there is a reason that nearly every supermarket now has a rotating display cross-promoting gift cards for other companies right at the point of sale].

I believe that kiosks–or in the case of Vertisi, the “kiosk-less kiosk”–provide a natural integration between the online and offline. In fact, I had visions of an integrated network of kiosks when I founded a “universal gift registry concept for online and offline merchants” circa 2000 [no longer operational]. Also, you only have to look back at the writing that Chris Anderson did on his research into The Long Tail to see how it would benefit someone like HMV or Barnes & Noble to expand their physical inventory by dedicating a percentage of their physical store space to a kiosk promoting additional inventory.

I also think that Vertisi as a design concept is very sound (why invest in a whole Kiosk, when you can turn your display case itself into a kiosk with a strategically positioned projector). I’ve had some conversations with Vancouver-based ePortSystems and while their kiosk is very striking, takes up little footprint, and provides a value-add for any partner who uses it in their facility–it obviously makes sense that if you can provide the same functionality without having the kiosk at all (and probably be more cost effective in the long-run as well). Though, with something like the unite promoted by ePortSystems, a Castello Brothers Kiosk (or a kiosk promoting Kevin Ham’s Vancouver.com in my own backyard) strategically positioned in a local hotel or tourist makes a lot of sense. Imagine a kiosk in a Palm Springs hotel with a big PalmSprings.com graphic front and center, allowing all those who use the kiosk to browse restaurants nearby and book their reservation for dinner (using an affiliate relationship with OpenTable). Such a presence can not only generte revenue for the location, for the kiosk owner, and the services being promoted, but the value of branding for the person that wraps the kiosk itself cannot be ignored [though it is harder to measure].

In any case, do I think that Vertisi is a revolutionary product? Not in the sense that it is not the first, but could it be the start of a revolution for retail as more and more wake up to the fact that they have an easy opportunity to integrate their online and offline marketing channels (and grow their revenues in the process)? Absolutely.

June 5, 2008 at 3:41 pm Leave a comment

New Ventures BC Competition – Who’s Who (Part 4)

Well it has been nearly a month since I posted part 1, part 2, and part 3 Who’s Who of the Round 1 companies for the New Ventures BC Competition. I figured that with the announcement coming soon as to who has made it down to the final 30 for Round 3, it would be good to finish the list.

As such, without further adieu, here are the remaining emerging startups who applied to the New Ventures BC Competition:

Malcolm Kendall Indel Therapeutics Inc.
Matt Ferguson Progressive Health Innovations Inc.
Matt Holme ForumTrak [behind SoccerGaming.com as well]
Max Fanderl BookingCalendar.com
Mehrdad Gharibnavaz Kimiatech Specialties Inc.
Michael Alexander Crown Skis Ltd.
Michael Jeffs PerformanceObjects Inc.
Michael Johnston Duo [check out their YouTube video explaining Duo and what they do here. Interesting possibility to mesh the social web with Geo-based marketing]
Michael-James Pennie goodboog Global Virtual Catalog Inc.
Montgomery Bondy Brilliant Lighting Products Inc. [here is their US Patent Application for “Energy saving extra-low voltage dimmer lighting system” … it sounds like the kind of thing that
Morgan Lam Pensito [Here is Morgan describing the Pensito concept on YouTube for his SFU business class]
Nancy Lee Personalized Genomics
nicholas goossen The Painters Edge
Nicholas Mckenzie Filmryder Technology [Nicholas… I registered FilmRyder.com…. contact me]
Nick Bouton Protagonize
Nicole Reader The Modern Mirror Inc.
Nigel Malkin Brand2hand Media Inc.
Nikki Layton Volo Innovations Inc
paddy kamen CPlates Inc.
Paul Ruskay The Chronicles of Aveon
Peter Tingling Amadeus Decision Making Software
Philip Caines Rezgo – Internet Tour Booking
Pierre Lapointe Sharing Books
Randy DeLuca RCOTECH WASTEWATER SOLUTIONS inc.
Ray Walia Razor Technology Inc. —- FireTonic mobile content distribution platform [I had coffee with Ray a couple of weeks ago. Very interesting technology.]
reaz baraty reducing GHG by reducing excessive use of vehicles and gradually reducing speed of cars chased by police to full stop
Reno Gajo End-user application software creator/cloner (software tool) […I think this is GenRe Software]
Rian Bowden DailySplice
Richard Schultz 100Watt Solutions Ltd.
Richard T. White Prospero Media Group Ltd.
Richard Tennant Vanport Ecologies Inc. – VASH-ACCESS Model; Vanport Artificial Soils, Hydrogen and Advanced Carbon and Clean Energy Storage System
Riel Roussopoulos StrataXL Software Inc.
Rob Lo Ubiquitous Discussion Forum
Robert McCrea Zebra Logic Inc.
Robin Hiet-Block Vsiant
Ron Zaitsoff custom pipeline Welding Tractor with unique track suspension system
Roy Suzuki Clean electric power generating system
Ryan Rigby PeerMint – Online Peer to Peer Lending
Saxon Shuttleworth ClicVue
Sean Hodgins QCDocs Systems Inc.
Sean Simmons Map Manager
Sean Young Greendex
Shawn Burns Greenhouse Gas Management Business Solutions [this is the Carbon Credit Corp as featured here in the Vancouver Sun]
Shawn Pedersen Echoflex Solutions Inc.
Shoji Kanamori Cooling Device for HTS Industries
simon backer Wireless Image [I’m pretty sure Simon is the same Simon who was the SVP for Wireless Services for MDSI]
Sorin Pasca Beetlecrete Products [Sorin… this is a great concept and something the province needs; however, I would recommend a different product name modeled after the success of “Denim Pine” of a couple years back. If you are stuck on Beetlecrete, Beetlecrete.com is still available.
Sreekant Sreedharan MyOlive Small Business Portal [my guess is you can buy the family portal for the dot com version of the domain. This would be marketing dollars well spent]
Stefan Avall UniversitySolutions
Stephen Jacura PAC RES GRU – Pacific Research Group Inc
Steven Jones Small Energy Group
Tanis Steward iSociety Networks Inc.
Thomas Steiner Etalim Inc. [I am intrigued by this company and their involvement in trying to manufacture a Stirling Engine, something I’ve read about since that infamous “IT question” first mentioned them back in the day …which of course became the Segway. The chairman is also Amos Michelsen (ex-CREO)]
Thomas J. Seitz BAIT-CAR.COM PRODUCTS
Timothy Webster Genist Systems Inc.
Todd Caldecott Chakra Cola
Todd Winship Primisyn
Tom Koftinoff Portable Logging Trailer Attachment and Clean Energy Engine
Trong Hoang Innisoft – Intellegent Investment Software
Valerie Harrison Destinations Multimedia
Vladimir Savchenko SoundOfMotion
wahiba chair PortaReader [Wahiba… PortaReader.com is still available. I would recommend you register it ASAP if this is your company or product name]
Weilin Zheng Online English Education
Will Huggett ALTEN Energy Solutions Inc. [I know these guys well, and I like what they are doing]
William Choi CB Williams Bio-Energy Group – has a Disruptive Clean Energy Catalyst Technology
William Edmondson Transphat Imports
Willy Ferstl Mechanized Shrinkage Jumbo
Zheng Tan Twicebright Lighting Ltd.

June 4, 2008 at 12:54 am 4 comments

On Q Communications Doesn’t Get It and is “Irresponsible”

One of the last sessions of the 2008 Canadian Franchise Association’s Annual Conference was provided by On Q Communications in a session entitled Public Relations: Reaching Your Target Audience. While I appreciate their willingness to share their thoughts and opinions on the role that PR has in an integrated marketing strategy, the message that they communicated was, in my opinion, inaccurate and misleading. Another audience member (Nicholas Austin from DraftFCB) commented to me afterward that not only do they not get it, but their message is “irresponsible”. I couldn’t agree more.

While there were several points that I take issue with within their presentation, I feel obliged to comment on one point in particular. Normally, I would just let things slide by, but as the conference provided every attendee with a copy of each of the presentations, I would hate to see not-attending participants misled by what they read. Hopefully, this post will start to clarify some facts. Or at least cause them to question the message before they accept it as gospel.

In their presentation, On Q had the following slide:

Is Advertising Dying?
Prices keep rising, yet audience is declining
Banner click through rates <0.20%
99.8% of advertising dollars wasted!
Measurement flaws

Not only did they butcher John Wanamaker’s famous axiom that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half””, they misled the audience. Though the actual number is always argued between analysts, search-based advertising represents approximately 40% of online advertising spend (and a 29% increase year-over-year according to Efficient Frontier’s “Search Engine Performance Report: Q4 2007). In fact, one could legitimately argue that because you don’t pay unless someone clicks on your advertisement, there has never been a more effective means of advertising, nor one that is as accountable. One could even argue that 100% of such advertising can be effective in the online world if used appropriately.

If a company who uses search marketing is not seeing a positive, measurable ROI from their campaigns, they are not doing it properly. No other medium can be measured with the detail that paid search can. As the owner of the destination site, you control their experience when they get to your site, you control the lead follow-up, you control the conversion, you even control the keyword that a user is clicking on [it is not the clickers problem if the search phrase and advertisement is not relevant to your business]. The beauty of search marketing is that if you truly can’t find keywords that are affordable within your business model, and you can’t convert them when they get to your site, then you have a flaw in your business model. Period.

One final rant… I am also not advocating using online and search advertising in isolation if your goal is overall brand awareness. There is still a place for “traditional” advertising. A new report by ThinkBox and the IAB indicated that “advertising on TV and online together results in 47% more positivity about a brand than using either in isolation” (see story on UTalkMarketing.com). And just to clarify, I am a huge proponent of integrating public relations into your marketing mix.

After the 2007 conference I came away telling a tale to colleagues about a question asked in marketing-centric session. In that session, a question was asked of the panelists [and I paraphrase], “What do you think of advertising on Google as the YellowPages sales reps were trying to push this”. To which the panelist, a CEO of a highly-successful system [and an award recipient at this year’s conference] replied [and again I paraphrase], “Well, it is not measurable, so she doesn’t recommend it.”

At the time, I wondered how she could have been so misled about the measurability of paid search advertising. However, after sitting through On Q’s presentation, I now know where such misinformation is originating.

It is definitely an uphill battle in communicating the value of new marketing techniques into this vertical. But also, there lies the opportunity.

May 7, 2008 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

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