The Paradox of Choice...

Yesterday I saw two demonstrations of  Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice in action. This is one of the most useful books about decision making that I have found, and is a must read for anyone in marketing. Jeff Bussgang asked why everyone still uses 4 year vesting schedules at startups when, in the current economy, exits usually take longer. For those that don’t speak VC – employees at startups get shares of the company, usually granted in 25% chunks at the first four anniversary dates – to encourage them to stay four years and get all their shares. (Shameless plug – if you want to learn more about how to speak VC, check out the Marketing Over Coffee interview with Jeff that will be posted the first week in June) It’s a good argument, but as you can see from the post it has generated many comments – and this goes right to the Paradox of Choice. The more alternatives someone faces when making a decision, the less likely they will make a decision. This is most easily demonstrated at a store I go to during the summer in Northern Michigan. They sell different kinds of jam and jellies, and they have about a dozen of them out to taste test, and that’s a problem. If there were two out you would like one better than the other, and maybe buy it. An Economist can mathematically represent this, they use a unit called Utils (rhymes with noodles) to measure the benefit of making a purchase. Bob really likes Jelly A, buying it gives him +5 utils, he does not like Jelly B, buying it would not give him any utils. 5 utils beats the 4 util cost of giving up the $7 to buy...

Do You Know Anyone Serving in Iraq or Afghanistan?...

On Sunday I will be running the Run to Home Base, a 9 km road race that will finish at Home Plate in Fenway Park. As part of this race I raised $1,000 for a fund run by the Red Sox Foundation and Mass General Hospital to benefit soliders with traumatic brain injuries and/or post traumatic stress syndrome. For a huge change of pace I am not hitting you up for money. Thanks to the listeners of Marketing Over Coffee (and my family – thanks John and Helen), I’ve hit the goal so that I don’t have to pay any more than the entry fee out of my own pocket. But as a valued reader of this blog, you can still help out, and help someone you know. During the race volunteers will be making care packages for service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are saying they will have far more care packages than recipient names. They’ll probably all be sent regardless, but, if you know anyone serving there send me their information and they will be sent one of these care packages. It would be best if I get the info before Tuesday, you can email me at john at them$how dot c0m ($=s), or friend me up on twitter @johnjwall and DM me. I’ll also have to post some pics of the official Marketing Over Coffee race...

Tough Week

Normally on Sunday night I review my calendar for the week to see what’s coming up. Unfortunately things have been kind of crazy here and so I was not completely prepared on Monday morning for a book signing party that evening (click through for a rare photo of me with my arch enemy Mike taken by the Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner). I had to wait before entering the driveway at the Microsoft NERD center because a guy in a black cop car was going the wrong way out the entrance. As I pulled in around some other cars I noticed the Governor entering the building. Of course I don’t have my good camera, and am just barely dressed well enough just to show up. The good news is that after I’ve finished the book I’ll be setting up a time to talk with Jeffery Bussgang for a Marketing Over Coffee session. Aside from that it’s been a challenging week, my sister-in-law’s mother passed away yesterday, and my father-in-law was in the hospital yesterday also so there’s been a lot of running around. Hopefully it will be a restful weekend before The Last M Show on Monday. Sorry for burdening you with my personal tales, to make it up to you here’s a good interview with author Daniel Pink from crack team at the Spark Podcast. Mr. Pink (so psyched I could squeeze that in) has a new book talking about how motivation works. You can watch the video here: Interview with Daniel Pink, or get the audio by subscribing to the John Wall Gigadial...

Google is Still the Best...

Mitch Joel asked some good questions about free services from Google causing headaches when people get locked out. A quick summary – both Chris Brogan and C.C. Chapman lost access to gmail, calendar, wave, the whole deal. The idea of having a Google Premier customer service one is a very good one, the problem is that it is completely contrary to Google culture. Just like their search algorithm, determining when accounts are compromised and locked needs to be a fully automated one for it to scale. The other issue is that just because you have a premier service account representative, that doesn’t change the fact that the problem is probably technical in nature and the rep is only going to be able to say “Yes, we are working on it as fast as we can.” If it’s down, it’s down and no amount of inbound complaints will change that. If you go with the paid service at leads you have a Service Level Agreement (SLA), but really this is just an insurance policy. If there’s a big problem you will be compensated, but you will still have to go through the pain. An Attorney I used to work with had a unique job working for an organization that was unlike any other. He used to say “I’m the best there is, and I’m also the worst, because I am the only one.” Having your week messed up is a huge hassle, but I’m sure none of those guys are getting a new Hotmail account set up now. On the other hand, it’s easy for me to keep a level head not having been locked out. I was wondering you feel the same way about this that I do – when I am locked out...

Effective Segmentation...

A couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany an managing segmentation. I had been giving a lot of thought to one-to-one marketing vs. things like personas and how to go from the impressive strategy, to actually making it work as far as day to day logistics. I’ve been doing a lot of work with Manticore as far as email tracks and delivering relevant content, but the revelation I had was that its not as much the content as effective list management. Once you can create and send custom content it’s much more important to be able to map out the sales and customer lifecycles in terms of what list individuals should be on at what time. More importantly – the huge benefit is when you can automate the management of addition and removal from specific lists. I think there’s a bigger picture here that I am starting to see about a second level of marketing...

Why Are You At The Show?...

A friend of mine is considering some trade shows and asked: What would you consider to be a typical setup for a small booth? Signage? Table? etc. Is there anything that is a MUST have for a trade show booth besides marketing materials? The biggest mistake people make is not having a plan for what they want to accomplish at the show. It should be either to get leads, in which case you want to give something away or hold a contest to get all the names you can, engage leads already in the pipe, where you are really going to party with a short list of people you are trying to close business with, or you are going because you are a big company in your space and it would be noticed if you weren’t there. Aside from that Trade Shows are basically a big waste of time and money. Depending on your answer to the above, that will dictate what you need to do. If it’s #1 you’ll want signage pushing your giveaway or contest. #2 just have a banner with your company name and a big comfy couch for when the big wheels come along. For #3 burn thousands of dollars on an custom booth so that your competitors look small and weak. Pay no attention to the other vendors or show standards – figure out what you want to accomplish and do that, the rest of it is a waste of resources. Stunts on the show floor is a category all its own… Sharing booth space is a great way to get into shows without spending much. Partnering can save you tons of money, especially on shows that are new, or you’ve never tried before. For signage, these guys do...

The Ultimate Guide to Email...

Marketing Over Coffee has released a number of eBooks, and the latest covers email. It’s meant to work as a primer, introducing you to key concepts that you need to get started (White Belt tactics), ramping up to things like testing (Black Belt), and then going all the way out to Taguchi Testing and more advanced concepts. Chris has done the heavy lifting on the previous books, so I’m happy to finally have my contribution complete. It ended up being a lot more writing than I thought it would be, but I’m really excited that it’s getting out and hope that it will be a great resource for you. Click here to download the Ultimate Guide to...

Mr. Rogers and Authenticity...

Mr. Penn had a good post last week about refreshing quality content that’s deep in the archives, and I was looking for something that dealt with authenticity. Authenticity is one of the topics that came up in last week’s Marketing Over Coffee interview with Simon Sinek, which I highly recommend, it is one of my favorite interviews: [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingovercoffee/MoC153-why.mp3] A supreme example of authenticity is the speech from Fred Rogers in the link below: Although Fred Rogers ability to lay the smackdown is seldom discussed, I think this is a quality post that is underrated. It also addresses the important question of Mr. T vs. William Shatner. Fear naught, more serious marketing copy to follow, but I’ve been searching for levity after a week of getting the water out of my basement after 3 solid days of...

Beer You’ve Never Heard Of...

A few years back we went with our neighbors to make some beer at the local self brewery. I made up some custom labels for us and stumbled upon them last week and I still got a laugh out of them so I thought it would be worth posting. The beer was a light lemon brew, a summer beer. I started with the Sam Adams Label for inspiration: Our friend does an excellent job landscaping and takes great care with his lawn. The irony is that the guy across the street is the exact opposite, so the joke was that maybe beer would get Bill to take better care of his lawn: Talking about High Street led to this: The word “Hootch” is funny enough on it’s own, and that led to “Pimpin’ wit da Hootch” And finally, the only beer tougher that MF’in Snakes on a Plane… Here’s to your beer of choice this...

WebInno 25

After the server disaster last month I’ve been running behind and never had a chance to post my follow up from WebInno 25. The event has grown so fast that I’ve changed my strategy in attending. Instead of checking out the side companies after the main presentation, it’s much easier to do a little research the night before and cut my list down to a few companies so I can have some targeted conversations. It’s a little too busy to just meander around and see everyone, the crowd is huge. There were two companies I found interesting, and I thought instead of just throwing out links I’d make some comments (i.e. unsolicited advice) to see if that would generate any conversation.  The first was Conversion Associates with their product Lytiks. Some very interesting stuff with provisioning VOIP lines so that you can generate phone numbers for your website and have that information integrated into your web analytics. There were two things that came to mind after talking with them, one was from a branding side, I’m not big on companies less than $20M having to grow both a company name and a product name, but that’s a minor point (which saves a lot of money in the long run). The other was on the product marketing side – I think Salesforce.com integration is critical anyone making this type of software. There are three reasons why this is important: Having a second dashboard or tool to login to significantly reduces usefulness for the marketing team, and unless it can integrate into a screen for a sales rep it’s either useless or another set of reports for the marketing team to run every week. The AppExchange gives you access to a global market of people buying...