Daily Life Photos

The Time for Training is Over

Lately I’ve been testing a few things out and I’ve found that I’ve learned a lot more from the practical application of tactics than just reading about them. Yeah, I know, big surprise. The thing is – it’s much easier to just read as much as you can rather than try some experiments on your own. All the training in the world can’t substitute for time spent in the field under fire. This is probably why I don’t spend my time doing case studies – I’d rather be doing the program than reporting on somebody else’s results.

Speaking of projects, I’ve rented a 15mm fish-eye lens for the weekend and I’m going to be putting it through the paces at Tanglewood. I’m also starting to think about two other photography projects – there’s a studio in MetroWest that can be rented for less than $300 a day (includes lighting gear), if you are interested in a ghetto style photo clinic drop me a line. In the same vein I’d like to make some prints that could be shown in a gallery, but that’s a much bigger project than I want to bite off (right now).

Productivity Buster

Random Friday Copy Entertainment

We’ve had many stories on Marketing Over Coffee about things I’ve run into with the Google alert on my own name. Between high profile college basketball prospects, nature photographers and Saints there’s a lot going on in the world of the John Walls.

This week I found the first tie to Professional Wrestling, John Wall, the husband of Gladys “Killem” Gillem. It’s actually a great short read, a bombastic story of a pioneer Lady of Wresting, Lion Taming, Alligator Wrestling, The Fabulous Moolah, and a guy getting crushed by 500 pound crate.

I was also glad to see that the $70 gallon of milk on Amazon now has well over 1,000 reviews, great reading.

Have a great weekend!

Graphic Design Great Marketing

Rebirth of the Cool

While in Traverse City, Michigan over vacation (“Up North”) for those in the know, I came across a store called M-22. They had casual clothing with the M-22 logo on it, a highway that runs along the coastline and is travelled by kiteboarders. You can read their story here and check out their stuff.

In the store you can see that the merchandising was done with the brand in mind – it’s not just “How much crap can we put our logo on, and how cheap can we get it”, but rather going a higher quality route. Between having a higher quality product, and the hip Tribes-style appeal of the kiteboarding community you’ve got a great brand that will attract all the cool kids… at least for a couple of years until enough middle-age bozos like myself start wearing the stuff regularly.

Amid a whole street of “Traverse City” T-Shirts, and lots of cherry or fudge related tourist bait, M-22 takes the higher ground. What’s your edge?

Brain Buster

Nobody Likes A Critic on The Web

Sometimes my brain feels like my Grandfather’s workshop, overflowing with random stuff, ideas on projects all in varying states of completion. My daily dose of Seth Godin in Google Reader is like hurling a wrench into the workshop – it tends to knock some stuff around, wake me up, and perhaps think about something differently.

This week he did a piece on critics, please check it out before going further. No problem, I’ll wait…

So I start going through Robert Morris’ reviews and spot an interesting trend – the majority of them are positive, 4 or 5 stars. Based on adding his RSS feed to my reader I looked at over a hundred and didn’t see any 1 to 3 star ones.

This made me wonder about the Janet Maslin point he made – is there a place for negative criticism on the web?

I can see the mean spirited ivory tower stuff getting extinguished by two way communication and community voting, but what about legitimate negative criticism? For example, I recently bought a memory card adapter so that I could use a standard MicroSD memory card instead of the proprietary Sony card that’s 4x the price (big shocker, betamax-style baby!) . Of course the Sony device wouldn’t read it (shocker #2).

Posting a negative review would be very helpful as a “buyer beware”, more helpful than another 5-star review for a book on the NY Times bestseller list, but putting up a negative review has consequences – both the seller and the manufacturer have an interest in voting the review down. The buyer may consider the review but odds are, won’t vote because they don’t know for sure, and now they are less likely to try the product and find out.

As I’ve written this, another idea starts to gel – negative criticism has a tipping point and perhaps that’s the key. When you see something on Amazon with 20x the 1 star ratings over 5 star you avoid it. 80% of those are “pile on” 1 stars, and the 20% of 1 stars that came in were people so angry that they didn’t care about what anyone thought, they had to vent.

The end result – those who write negative reviews will always be always be at a disadvantage in scoring, and therefore visibility and level of trust (due to the automated nature of the system), compared to those who avoid writing any negative reviews.

This raises a bunch of interesting questions:

Will the job of the critic transform to that of referrer of quality stuff only?

What’s lost by having only positive reviews on the web?

Is it worth the risk to be a negative critic in a public forum?

Should negative criticism only to be done in private forums? Think about the waiter that will mention avoiding a certain dish, as opposed to reading a negative review on Yelp.

Web reviews could be considered SEO, content generation, social networking, branding, providing a good and valuable customer service, demonstrating thought leadership, perhaps even generate leads, or it could be just a hobby. With so many different motivations, what’s important?

I’d really like to hear your opinions on these items, and I’d really like to hear more from Seth Godin. Here’s my offer – if he’s willing to answer the questions above (in the comments, send them to me, whatever), I’ll give him $100 (or $100 to his favorite charity). Everybody else, you can get the latest Marketing Over Coffee audio program from iTunes for FREE! Ok, not as good as $100, I know, but this is a one man show…

Daily Life

Vacation is Over

Today is my first day back in action, I had a wonderful vacation and I’ll be giving the full story out over the next couple of weeks, but here’s the highlights:

We flew out to Michigan about 10 days ago for MarcusMania, the annual family runion. On the way up we missed our connecting flight and met up with two other folks who missed it too, so I rented a car and we all drove up to Traverse City – myself and the lovely Carin, along with one of the curators from the MFA and the manager of a Squash Club downtown – a great random adventure.

A week on the lake was incredibly relaxing, as it always is and we also had a chance to wander around town. I found a really cool new brand called M-22 that I’ll be writing more about, it’s where the cool kids are hanging.

On Thursday it was the return flight to get back in time to see Chris Botti at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Friday. Saturday was Carin’s High School Reunion, and then a mad dash off to the Cape at 6:30am on Sunday for the Falmouth Road Race, complete with “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” reference.

Along the way I also stumbled upon Steel Panther, the most offensive 80’s band parody ever. Sadly, I find it one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard (NOTE: Not Safe for Work – your family, your kids, etc. You have been warned!)

Unfortunately vacation got in the way of Podcamp Boston 4, which sounded like a great show, and catching up with people who had come to town for it. Plenty of interesting things going on, but for now I have to dig through the pile that grew while I was sleeping on the dock.