Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Kill Me Now!

OK. This one hurts.

Remember a few years ago when advertisers were convincing poor (silly) college students to walk around with logos and branding materials on their heads? Well, this goes quite a bit further down the road.

CBS is tattoing eggs with logo information...on eggs.


Here's a potent ad message, critical to the progress of civilization: "CBS Mondays - Leave the Yolks to Us."

Business innovation is being driven by design and creativity. However, we need to consider not just what we can do, but what's worthwhile. This falls into the "just because you can do it, doesn't mean that you should" category.

I fear for us all.

Read the article.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dell Computers Burst into Flames?!

This is choice.

You know I've been on a computer jag for quite a while. From smoking, crackling computers to levitating Lenovos (keep reading this blog to figure out what the hairy-heck that one was about) to laptops that grow legs and run away -- it's getting dicey for us GOSSIPS (gadget obsessed, smugly superior, internet professionals). Now, they just catch fire.

Here's the scoop. Turns out that Dell computers equips some of their computers (about 4.1 million of 'em) with an additional, no-cost feature...a high-yield heating source, great for those chilly Midwestern winter nights. However, during these sultry summer days, it's not such a good thing.

Every evening Garland (hubby-fabulosa) and I retire upstairs to watch The Daily Show and tap out the last of our work for the night (actually, Garland's queuing-up tasks for the next day, and I'm learning something random from wikipedia -- tonight was about Cheddar, England and, yes, I need another hobby). Garland stepped away to get something from his office and, I sat there staring at his Dell computer, sitting there innocently on his side of the futon.

My brother in Hotlanta, told me that an FAA rep assured him, on a recent flight, that airplane fire retardants were sufficient to put out any computers that catch fire, particularly in the holds. His concern? That one catch fire on the tray table in back of his seat (no sense of adventure, that one).

I'm wondering why this is an issue now, particularly when, as it turns out, Dell can trace this pesky problem back to around July of 2004! For how long have they known, I wonder? The government has been on a tear about cigarette companies who, knowlingly promoted their deadly product. If they knew about the problem, it could run Dell afoul of the same laws that are plaguing cigarette manufacturers -- the RICO Act.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ramsey Suspect Captured, But Who Else Might We be Killing?

Just weeks after Patsy lost her life to ovarian cancer, it appears the murderer of her six year old daughter, JonBenet, may have been captured.

The JonBenet Ramsey case is an unfortunate example of negative buzz -- the kind of "where there's smoke there's fire" thinking that spreads almost as fast as the hype around "Snakes on a Plane." The public immediately seized on the peculiar nature of the pageants that JonBenet participated in with her mother, another pageant winner and lifelong pageant enthusiast. Under a cloud of suspicion, Patsy Ramsey tried to live her life, raise her son and struggle with cancer while grieving a daughter that many thought she'd killed.

Let's face it: We're a nation of gossips. And I don't mean GOSSIP -- Gadget-Obsessed Socially Superior Independent Professional...those cats who have a blackberry, a personal and work cellphone and drink pricey, branded coffee even if the coffee's free at work. Our amusements are rife with reality programs that allow us to voyeuristically eavesdrop on people and then chat, IM, blog and talk about it the next day. But the line between what's real and what' spun is getting blurrier. One story can become a runaway train with little hope of turning or slowing when new facts come to light.

A couple of years ago, a local businessman was rumored to have hit his wife. It wasn't true, as it turned out, but people were talking about it. He was shunned, asked to step down from a public accountability and his business suffered. His wife, a chick with some substance, denied the rumors and even found the person that had started it -- a little self-aggrandizing that got out of control -- but it didn't matter.

For me, when I met with him shortly after this began to heat up, I felt a little ashamed of what I'd heard, so I told him what I knew and from whom I got it. Then, I went back to my "Don't talk about that with me or I'll squeal" policy that had been so useful years before.

One of the worst things I think we do in business is assume. We do it when we network, when we prospect, when we hire. We shortcut our thinking because, many times, it works....Except when it doesn't. Now, I'm not saying never assume. What I am asserting is that assuming without assumption-testing is worst than going off half-cocked. See if you're right about your assumptions.

Our most powerful weapon against false info: the question. So, be sure you ask.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Samuel L. Jackson Called My Husband

OK, fine! So it wasn't actually Samuel L. -- it was a recording of Samuel L. that called Garland. When he gathered the voicemails on Sunday, what did he hear? "I can't stand all these %@#!$#@%#@$ snakes on this %@#!$#@%#@$ plane!"


Now, I'm not entirely sure that this movie is my cup of tea. Yes, I enjoyed lots of slasher movies in my earlier years (Shu-shu-shu-shu-shu. Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah.*). However, I think I've grown significantly over the years.

Not really.

I had a point. Oh! The cool thing about the movie isn't the scene where a couple, trying to get into the Mile High Club buys the farm in the lave (evil laughter). It's the fact that Samuel L. solicited so much word of mouth to generate buzz for this flick. He listened to his fans and supported them, even when they suggested substantive changes to the movie. An army of fans rallied around the project, starting websites, selling t-shirts and other merchandise. They even pressured the studio to change the name of the film from Pacific Flight 121 to Snakes on a Plane, which the studio did.

This movie has achieved cult status -- and it isn't even out yet.

What does this have to do with your business?
The studio execs were surprised and Time magazine did an article on this "phenomenon." Though word of mouth is the least studied marketing method, it just happens to be the most effective...and the oldest.

There is an endless list of products that people have bought because someone else said it was the neatest thing since deep-fat fried turkey (I ate it only because I heard people raving about it --Eh!). Our customers know what they want and, for the most part, there's no amount of focus grouping or consumer psychology that will shake them once they've decided that a thing is cool.

The thing is: How to we more effectively dial-into WOM buzz? Companies are beginning to spring up to answer this question. Their magic bullet? Ask 'em. Customers will tell you what they want when we stop talking. They'll tell us what they want, how they want it, when they want it, what color they want it in and what they want you to call it.

We just need to do more listening than talking.
Like this movie, the fans decided that they "owned" the film. They were more than consumers. They were stakeholders of the highest order and they felt that their opinions counted. Luckily for them, Sam Jackson listens to fans. As he pointed out in a recent Time magazine interview, most directors only work on about a dozen films in their professional careers -- he has over 100 movies to his credit. In all that time, he's learned that his fans are smart about their entertainments and will vote with their feet if they don't get what they want.

Your customers, too, are voting every day about you and your product and services.

Have Samuel L. Jackson call a friend and tell them to see his movie...


* A reference to the Jason, Friday the 13th movies that dominated the 80's and 90's slash and dash movies.

Friday, August 11, 2006

LNB #018 - The 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing (Pt. 5)

Leighton Haynes, of Twin Phoenix Marketing, continues his marketing series with
Lalita, discussing the power of brand and customer sensitivity on business success. He urges

  • Not taking customer relationships for granted -- with both internal and external customers
  • Authorizing employees to take immediate action for customers with the tools needed to satisfy them, rather than passing it along to management.
  • Leading, or anticipating, customer needs -- not waiting for a complaint or a need
  • Measurement!

Leighton suggests the book, Primal Branding: Create Zealots for Your Brand, Your Company, and Your Future. Also, pick up must-read magazines Business 2.0 and Fast Company.

Contact Leighton, 202 203 7737

Duration: 27:25 File Size: 6.58 MB

Listen Now:

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Crazy -- Just Like Me!

There are a lot of places where I must be crazy. I started a business at the bottom of the Tech Bust. I'm in a marriage that I believe will last (just like the 60 or 70% of the others who've said the same thing -- right before filing for divorce). I think people in the Middle East want peace and I think there's a good alternative to fossil fuels hanging out out there.

Yup. I'm a nutter.

I play a lot of music at home, at work, in the car. Right now, I'm between songs (getting ready to turn on NPR's Ed Gordon to wind down the afternoon's work).

The song, below, is Crazy by Gnarles Barkley. He's done about 50 different versions of this song (and videos to match) -- in one, he's dressed up as Darth Vadar (the song is about being crazy). They're all good. I like the lyrics. Sounds a lot like the lives of the me and the people around me. Unsure about the world. Hopeful.

What music is playing for you right now?

Gnarls Barkley - Crazy EXCLUSIVE Slow Version LIVE!!

Lyrics to Crazy, by Gnarls Barkley

"I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place
Even your emotions had an echo and so much space
And when you're out there without care
Yeah I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough I just knew too much

"Does that make me Crazy
Does that make me Crazy
Does that make me Crazy

"And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that's my only advice
Come on now who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
ha ha ha bless your soul
you really think you're in control well

"I think you're Crazy
I think you're Crazy
I think you're Crazy
Just like me

"My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on the limb
All I remember is thinking I want to be like them.
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little It looked like fun
And there's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

"But Maybe I'm Crazy
Maybe you're Crazy
Maybe we're Crazy

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mean People are Made to Pay!

Earlier I blogged about workplace bullying and mobbing (Mean People Suck!), a prevalent system of mistreatment that amounts to psychological abuse. This mistreatment can include exclusion from workplace information and resource networks, humiliation, gossip and rumoring (which has destroyed personal, as well as professional, relationships), threats and intimidation. It can be caused by one person acting alone or by a group, or mob. Bullying and mobbing steal productivity, cause rampant turnover and create a relatively dismal work environment. In the extreme, bullying is a precursor to workplace violence.

Still, companies see it happening and do very little of any substance to make it stop. Some attempts are half-hearted, leading to more entrenched behavior. Now, companies who don’t effectively settle these claims in their HR departments are settling them in the court systems.

The British courts have just awarded a former female employee of Deutsche Bank $1.5 million in what is the largest award ever for workplace bullying. She claimed that she was subjected to "offensive, abusive, intimidating, denigrating, bullying, humiliating, patronizing, infantile and insulting words and behavior" – that she was ignored and excluded, her authority undermined and, as a result, found herself increasingly stressed-out, to the point of illness. Beyond catty, the Deutsche Bank "Gang of Four" (four other female staffers) moved quickly from the petty and catty to derisive, relentless personal and professional commentary and attacks on her competence and humanity. They didn't stop, even when she had been admitted to the hospital on a suicide watch.

Maybe we’ll start getting point: Mean people really do suck…and now they’re being made to really pay.

Read "Mean People Suck" or the article on YahooNews!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I Want One...Gimme!

As I mentioned before, I'm the short, Black Inspector Gadget. I've got it bad. I've got a gizmo for everything. By the by, the new breadmaker is in (the other one...melted). My husband (who has a fresh-baked bread "problem") is rolling in fresh, steamy bread (weird metaphor, to be sure) and I can send a loaf to everybody in Congress with more leftover.

My Kyocera 7135 smartphone, a lovely and dependable little gizmo is getting long in the tooth. It's 2 1/2 years old, which in high-tek years, is 175! While my heart is heavy, I'm planning for its replacement. I looked at the usual suspects: Treo 650/700 and the Crackberry, which (is it just me?) is ugly and a little too wide for my girl-sized paws.

On my radar screen is the Nokia E61. It comes with Bluetooth and can use VOIP over Wi-Fi. No camera (yay), which I just don't need (I'm counting on using Garland's -- which is, I got it for him last Christmas).

I'm still looking. But this does feel like petting trusty old Fifi on the head, while plotting for her replacement.