Project Update

Here’s what’s been going on and why I haven’t been posting here. We are still barrelling along at EventHero. It is not easy, but we’ve had some big wins recently and this is the best team I’ve ever worked with. If we continue on our present course life could get a bit easier, like just “software startup difficult” not “flat out alchemy”. So if you have anything to do with events and need badges, lead retrieval, session tracking, or integration between event technology systems, please remember me. Marketing Over Coffee continues to be a great project, even since Serial brought in a fresh wave of listeners things have been growing faster than ever before. Even if you are not into listening to podcasts, you might want to sign up for the MoC newsletter. The biggest topics from every show are sent out a couple times a month, all the goodness without having to listen. To be honest, that’s been the biggest killer of this blog, the newsletter gets 10x the readers and is backed by sponsors so that’s where my free time goes first. On the audio gear front I decided back in the spring that I wanted some over the ear headphones for the office. My favorite Shure 530s died after many years of service and the new Bose QC20i is amazing for travel so I looked around for something new while at the desk. I was very impressed with the Sony 7506 as a huge value when you look and price and sound quality. Then I went a little further down the lunatic path – I’ve been modifying them, adding a removable cord so you can use them with your phone, or with a high quality boom mic. I’ve tested dozens of aftermarket...

Beefing Up Audio

I’m just posting this because I listened to a Tim Ferris interview with Tony Robbins this week and it doesn’t do well in the car or while running because of the mix. Tim has a page where you can submit comments and I wanted to post a sample to show what I’m talking about. For anyone podcasting here are two simple things that can significantly improve your audio. Here’s a screenshot of an audio wave: You can listen to this audio file here: If you cut the picture above in half, the left side is the “Before” and the right side is the “After”. On the left side the recording is not taking advantage of the power available to it. In other words, you are going to have to turn the volume up twice as much compared to the average song, or audio cues on your phone. These are the situations where you turn up a podcast and then when you get a text message, or your running app cuts in to tell you how many miles you are at, it blows your ears out. Now there’s an entire profession dedicated to mastering audio – making it sound great and taking into account the devices it will be played on. I am by no means an expert in this area, but I can give you two simple things to at least get from annoying to sounding closer to an NPR podcast: The Levelator is a free tool that will adjust the entire file so that it uses most of the dynamic range. This includes fixing where one person is louder than the other. All you do is drag and drop your file on to the window and it spits out a second file that sounds better....

Stu-Stu-Studio

Jason Keath posted about building a home studio on Facebook and asked if I would throw in my two cents. Jason is a mensch and I realized that my comment would be one of those annoying five page Facebook comments so it was much easier to write an entire manifesto here. I probably know about 5% of what you need to know to build a studio, but that doesn’t matter because there are two easy options. Either call Parsons Audio and spend the money or talk to some podcasters who are always experimenting with cheap stuff, which is often pretty good thanks to the current level of technology. First things that come to mind: Do you really want to build a studio in your house and lose a room? Renting allows you to not have weirdos in your home, will sound fantastic, and means that you won’t have the UPS guy ringing the doorbell or the General Lee driving by honking the dixie horn. It’s also just like the gym, when you go you will get the job done, if the equipment is in the house it will probably end up as a clothing rack. On the other hand, the big upside is setting up a bunch of stuff and then never having to take it down. Let’s say you’re sold on that. Most people I know have an office and create a studioffice. Or maybe an officudio. Or something. Noise kill: John Federico makes a great point about Dynamic vs. Condenser mics – I’ve found it easier to use dynamic mics in a room with carpet and some stuff on the walls than trying to make sure everyone is out of the house and gluing up foam egg crates. Capturing the room noise before and after recording...

Sound and #MyHeadRoom...

Longtime readers know that I usually check in every six months or so with a sound update. Between loving music and producing the Marketing Over Coffee podcast I keep an eye on what’s happening in audio (and tend to spend more money than I should). I got a push this time from the folks at Headroom, I mention them every time we talk audio because of their great shared testing results. Since I’m writing anyway I can also enter this in their #MyHeadRoom campaign which is giving away 2 sets of Shure SE846 earphones (if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to drop $1,000 on earbuds), and a set of SHR1540 headphones (which I would love to take for a test drive). Listening to music is the only peace and quiet that happens in my house full of kids, and I have worn my Shure’s for a full day as part of work so thanks Headroom! Last time we were talking about getting better sound out of your iPhone. Since then: Bose replaced the QC15 with the QC25 and all reports say they are even better, so if noise reduction is your thing (hello road warriors), that’s the way to go. I also found an interesting app called Dirac. It optimizes the sound for Apple Earphones and EarPods (the freebies that come with your phone and most sound fans laugh at and throw away). For $3 it is no joke, it makes the EarPods sound much better, as in better than some earphones costing $100 or more.  The catch is you have to use their music player, it doesn’t work for all apps (i.e. no movies, games, etc.) If you want to nerd out on it some more check out their site...

2014 Results, 2015 Targets...

With year end it’s time to look back and see how things went, and to figure out what the plan is for 2015. In the past I would review and report every quarter. By the time we had two kids, my goals could be boiled down to “Survive”. We’re starting to make it past survival mode, and occasionally I even have an hour to myself, or a chance to use the bathroom uninterrupted. The funny part here is that it’s been so long since I have had anything like free time I usually sit there in a stupor absorbing the silence and trying to remember what it was I used to do when I would have free time. Here’s the map as it stands for 2014:   The funny thing is that the goals are only the milestones. Even though I only accomplished about half of what I wanted to, I would rate this year as a huge success. Our family is doing well, and there have been some flashes of brightness that could be the beginning of great things in 2015. The segments: Family – Everybody did well this year in spite of health troubles, my brother came out early in the year for the first ever Wall Ski Trip: The Next Generation. We visited my family in Michigan that I haven’t been out to see in a couple of years. With the exception of the college funds being under funded, all went well. Everyone is doing pretty well, score this a win. Personal – Getting a cold/flu for the Falmouth Road Race was a backbreaker for me last year. I wasn’t in great shape but I was on track to finish well (for me), and this would have been my 10th. Instead I...

What’s Your Mobile Strategy?...

I had the opportunity to talk with Tom Webster about his new book: The Mobile Commerce Revolution. Here’s the transcript, or if you’re into audio you can listen to it over on Marketing Over Coffee. John: Tom Webster is here. He’s going to be talking about his brand-new book, The Mobile Commerce Revolution, written with Tim Hayden. If you don’t know Tom, if you haven’t run across him in all the major social channels, he is VP of strategy and marketing at Edison Research, the folks that do the exit polls for the major political races. But he covers a lot of stuff, and most notable for us is his Infinite Dial report that talks about the state of online music and audio. We’ll have him tell us about that. Also the author of the BrandSavant blog, talking about what’s going on in his neck of the woods. He has the Marketing Companion with Mark Schaefer, a podcast that he does — a two-man long format marketing discussion. Most importantly, he’s the producer of award-winning Friday Five podcast, and “Discovering the music DNA of interesting people” is the tagline on that. Tom, welcome to the show. Tom: Thank you. The Friday Five is coming back. I have three in the can now. I wanted to get four or five in the can before I launched, because, as you know, scheduling a podcast is awful. John: That is the number one thing that people don’t think about that just takes so much time. It’s so great because I’m a huge music fan, so I love to hear that. It’s amazing to hear the stories people have behind the music they choose. Before we jump into the book and all that, tell us about your background. Obviously,...

The 2nd Elephant and 2nd Gen Marketing Automation...

Ok, this post is huge and may be painful if you’re not a huge fan of the Gartner Hype Cycle, Crossing the Chasm, Marketing Automation Tools, Inbound Marketing and marketing campaign analytics. To spare you a headache, here’s the bullets you need to know and you can decide if you want to read on.  Tom Webster asked “Is Inbound Marketing Actually Profitable or Just a Slogan.” over at Jay Baer’s blog The time is ripe to ask with new data available as part of Hubspot’s IPO, which confirms they are burning a lot of cash (like everyone else from startup to Amazon) If the Gartner Hype Cycle holds, Inbound and Social Media are overdue for a beating from the press Don’t believe the hype, effective inbound campaigns trump everything Inbound is the right message for the mass market, and will continue to be even if the press beats on it. If it gets really bad they can easily switch the message to “Best of Breed Marketing Automation” 2nd Generation Marketing Automation will be about improving campaign performance based on the data vendors have aggregated. Easy to use automation of email and social media is just the price of entry for the market Questioning inbound’s effectiveness is the 1st elephant in the room. Why so many marketing automation programs fail is the 2nd. Hubspot’s competitors won’t bash inbound because the same arguments undermine marketing automation in general. This scores an amazing combo – unique story and unbreakable defensive position Tom’s post is an excellent read with a lot of great comments, but to boil it down for you: Does a $34 million loss on $77 million of revenue after 8 years make you think that inbound marketing is not the cure-all that it’s advertised as? Inbound Marketing has run the normal hype cycle, lots...

Simon Sinek – Leaders Eat Last...

I first interviewed Simon Sinek for Marketing Over Coffee back in 2010 (transcript here). His sophomore effort was published at the end of last year and is another exceptional book. You can listen to the original audio here, or read this transcript. Transcription service by rev.com. John:We can wind back to 2010. I got “Start With Why” sent to me from a PR person behind the book. I clearly remember the pitch said, “Look, check out this TEDx video that talks about it.” I looked, and thought, “Wow, a TEDx video that has over 1,000 views. There’s got to be some meat here. This is a big deal.” Here we are, four years later, 16 million views on that TEDx video. We’re going to talk about your latest book here, “Leaders Eat Last.” You’re just coming off of the big TED, if you will. I’m very pleased to welcome back Simon Sinek. Simon, thanks for joining us. Simon:  Thanks for having me. It’s good to see you again. John:  Pretty much our audience are all huge TED fans. Tell us about that. How was TED? How did that all go? Simon:  It was my first time at the big event, speaking and attending. It was overwhelming in every proportion. It is exactly what you would expect it to be: surreal, brilliantly choreographed – I mean, it was one of the most buttoned-up, if not the most buttoned-up, event I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot – and just the people that show up, it’s astounding. They don’t just come in for an hour, they come in for a week. Really humbling to be a part of, and there are various times where I thought, “What am I doing here?” Really excited...

That’s Not Funny...

In September it will be two years since the release of B2B Marketing Confessions. I spent the year after it was published on promotion and working on the audio version of the book, and then it was time to start the next big thing. After writing about one of the most boring business topics of all time I was excited to get working on a concept that came to me before Confessions was done – the intersection of business and humor. The big ideas were clear – the question of why things are funny is a fertile topic, and the mirage of the “viral video” that every marketing department chases at at least once (if not dozens of times) is often ridden towards on the camel of humor. After over a year of research I bring you… nothing. Or, maybe this is a true gift, a blog post with a few good points as opposed to a 200 page book with 195 pages of filler. What I have learned that is important, but not enough for a book: There is no formula for funny. Like chess, there are some proven openings, but you have to do the hard work of filling in the details and there’s no guarantee you’ll get it right (in fact you won’t most of the time as you start). And get this – comedy case studies are useless, once the joke is out copycats are viewed with disdain. At the heart of comedy is the irony of us being woefully unable to deal with everyday life. For more on this, Steve Kaplan’s “The Hidden Tools of Comedy” is worth reading. Brute force does work. As a young person I thought Johnny Carson was just an amazingly funny guy, then I...

Recent Marketing Resources...

I caught up with a friend for lunch at The Merchant yesterday, which is a hot lunch spot right now. It’s always fun to watch the responses people give when the host informs them that unless they have a reservation they are out of luck. I’m able to get advice from both a seasoned entrepreneur and parent, and he gets the benefit what’s come out of Marketing Over Coffee, distilled down to what tools or tech might be useful for specifically his business. And, when I start writing long winded emails full of links I figure I might as well take the general stuff and share it with the whole world. Google Analytics is changing so fast it makes my head hurt. That’s disconcerting considering number of years I’ve worked with web analytics. I feel bad for someone digging in for the first time. The good news is there’s Training and Certification here, and some good ongoing stuff published here. I haven’t gotten around to posting the transcript of my talk with Simon Sinek on his new book, Leaders Eat Last. That link goes to his book, and here’s one to his first book, Start With Why, which is fantastic. If you want to get an overview on both of them you can listen here on Leaders Eat Last, and here for Start With Why. We’ve also been using Slack at Qrious and it’s great. Sort of like having your own private Facebook for work. If you know Salesforce.com it’s like Chatter. Anything new and interesting in your toolkit?...