Friday, August 31, 2007


One of the products I'm most excited about for this holiday season is the Roboquad. The Roboquad is the successor to the Roboreptile from last year. I'm going to shoot some video over the weekend of the Roboquad in action; I've already seen a web video of it being controlled remotely over the Internet.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007


Thoughts on sending Tchotchke as a vendor:
If it will sit on someone's desk, and be visible, that helps your cause. Business card holders, Magic 8 balls, and pens tend to work well.
Sending a digital picture frame, with your company video embedded, is a novel idea. However, it costs enough that people are going to be uncomfortable with it.
If you have a theme, carry it through. We recently got a jar of candy, in a solid glass candy jar. It was heavy enough, it must have cost $20 to ship it. The theme was solid "Build an online community that your customers will eat up." If you're going to go to the trouble to send this, you probably want to eventually call the people you're sending it to. :)
A five year old GPS system, even as a prize in a raffle, will feel like something you found in the back of a closet in your office. Your name may get mentioned, but if you're in a cutting edge field, being incorporated into jokes about outdated technology may not be good.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Home Depot Advertising

Home Depot advertising - split personality?

Two different Home Depot ads - you evaluate which is more effective.

On TV - something about true stories. They had the speaker mentioning he felt like he could do anything after revamping a room in his house; and show him looking at his dream project, restoring an old historical house.

Radio Ad - A couple is talking, she wants to paint the kitchen, he wants to do the living room, suddenly the project is both. Then, there's a voice over about "nothing will get you going to do your projects like our paint sale, $5 off Glidden cans of paint, even $5 off of Polo"...

The first TV ad rings true. The second ad has you wondering... nothing would motivate your more than the paint sale? Nothing? Not even the conversation with spouse that just happened? What about $10/off a can? Wouldn't that be more motivating that $5? Fascinating how the focus of the ad completely changed with the absolute message of "nothing could be more motivating" vs. a message along the lines of "Home Depot can help", which is their usual tag line.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Matt Huggins

Review: Matt Huggins is an "aspiring Internet Entrepreneur". You can see that on the header of his blog, which is one of the best blog headers I've seen. It's very aspirational, showing a beach, where, presumably, Matt hopes to spend a great deal of time.

He lists his most popular posts on the right side, a helpful tool to quickly get a sense of the site.
Several good posts include:
A definitive list of social networking sites. and 55 essential posts for bloggers. He also has a stats page targeted to advertisers, that shows you how he ranks on various metrics.

Suggestions I'd offer:
I'd move some of the popular posts and recent posts to the left side nav, and move the navigation to the site right under the header. As it is now, you have to hunt around a bit to find out more information.
The link posts on the weekend contain good information, I might try and expand those to include a few more links.
The long posts are very informative... Matt might want to open the posts with some of the benefits of the tools he reviewed. Leading with the conclusion, or a valuable piece of information, would encourage people to read further.

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Search Engine Strategies coverage

I've been following coverage of the Search Engine Strategies conference that's taking place this week. The best overview of coverage that I have found is at SearchEngineLand. Sessions of interest from yesterday included: Images and Search Engines and Are Paid Links evil?. SEO Moz also had more on that panel.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

I'm huge in Turkey.

Last year, we posted the following demo video of the RoboReptile to YouTube. I had pretty much forgotten about it, but lately, there have been a few comments posted to it, which triggers a notification to me. Turns out, it's currently the #2 most popular video on YouTube for "Roboreptile", and has been seen nearly 20,000 times. The other fun thing is 650+ visits have come from what appears to be a Turkish e-commerce site. The Roboreptile, appears to be selling for 244 Turkish lira, or $173 US. The good news is the Wowee Dragonfly will only cost you $98. :)

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Baby Shower Cards

Baby Shower Cards - I was impressed with the number of free baby shower cards that I found online. I'm going to have some links soon. However, there were quite a few that I was happy to send for an upcoming baby shower we're attending.

I did some visiting to the Corner Stork Baby Store, which had some useful stuff

There's also a sale at Baby Phat, which I always find amusing.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Corey Stroeder review

I'll occasionally be reviewing other websites. I met Corey Stroeder online, and am looking at his site, My Retirement The idea behind the site is that he's tracking his progress towards an earlier retirement, by using his site to generate additional revenue. There are several posts I particularly liked, including his "Who is Ethan Haas?" post, and his post about the Grand Canyon skywalk. Corey is also tracking his progress towards generating revenue with his blog, with this example from July. My one bit of advice as he tries to increase the revenue, would be that he might want to do a small collection of the best retirement related advice he's seen. That would probably draw some natural search traffic as well as other incoming links. Plus, it'd have the side benefit of drawing higher value AdSense ads. Overall, I like where Corey's going with the site; it feels like he just needs to continue building it out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Search Engine Strategies San Jose is coming up next week. I've gone to several in New York, but never on the West Coast, and at four days, seems a bit long. There's a good behind the scenes look at running an SES conference. There should be some good resources online to follow along with, including the TopRank blog. Anyone attending?

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Affiliate Summit broke my email. :) Several years ago, I attended Affiliate Summit. I've been on their monthly email list. We use Lotus Notes at Discovery, and every time I open their email, it crashes Notes and forces a reboot. I've never had this happen with any other email I've received. Anyone seen something similar?

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Monday, August 13, 2007

The MineThatData Blog: Praise To Infrequent Customers!!

The MineThatData Blog: Praise To Infrequent Customers!! - Great thought provoking post on infrequent customers.

Final thoughts from eTail:

Dynamic speakers with a message are the ones that tend to get remembered. You don't have to be dynamic to get a great idea across, but it helps. Zappo's CEO talking about getting pizza restaurant locations from customer service, Bath & Body's marketing VP talking about meeting their customers are ideas that stuck.

The most valuable conversations were those with other retailers. The two best sessions for that were the card swap (aka, speed-dating for retailers) on Tuesday night, and some of the private gatherings organized by Bill Me Later.

Site search was a very hot topic, with more vendors than I would have expected exhibiting.

And, three organizational thoughts: Holding a conference's main session in a room without WiFi or cell phone connectivity is a bit counterproductive. Some forward thinking vendor could have hooked up a few WiFi repeaters to offer branded WiFi service and garnered a great deal of goodwill.

It's clear that sponsors paid for their sponsorship. Starting each day with six straight speakers, with many of them from those vendors, starts to make it appear that you really don't think much of the audience, or their ability to notice it. There's generally a balance that conferences try to strike, and this was pretty far off to one side.

Promoting a $5,000 giveaway, at maximum volume through the exhibit hall is a bit much. Requiring a randomly drawn attendee to hit two consecutive 45 foot putts, that sloped uphill at the end is silly, and makes the people promoting it look foolish.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

More notes from eTail yesterday: One of the compelling presentations was by Brian Beitler - VP, Bath and Body Works:
Multichannel customers are 3x the value of a single channel customer, not just self selected, value goes up 60 to 70% when someoneuses a 2nd channel.
Very important to know value of customers and communicate it...each address is worth $25 in sales, each eamil is $18.. Communicate to store staff.
When a sales associate "touches" a customers hand with a sample, conversion goes up to 65% from 30%.
Important to go out and view in realtime your customers, and what they're doing, and talk to them. He had a lot of great examples; even if you're online only, make sure you use your tools to do this.
Coincidentally, Marketing Sherpa has a post on how Bath and Body works improved their converstion rate on the site.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I'm at eTail in DC and will be posting notes from some of the sessions:
First up,

Tony Hsieh - CEO - from yesterday - they're slowly moving into other areas, figuring out the model.
They didn't start out day 1 with FedEx overnight shipping for orders and returns, they gradually got there, putting marketing funds into it.
Ten thoughts:
#1 Ecommerce business is built on repeat customers
#2 Word of mouth really works online
#3 Don't compete on price - $10 off customers not loyal
#4 Make sure inventory is 100% accurate
#5 Centrally locate your distribution - KY is good
#6 Customer service is an investment
#7 Start Small. Stay focused.
#8 Don't be secretive, don't worry about competitors
#9 You need to actively manage your company culture
#10 Be wary of so called experts

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Harry Joiner got booted by Facebook after attempting to invite his 4,600 Gmail contacts to join. A good summary is on Huffington Post. I'd assume this'll hit main stream media early next week, first on Valleywag, and then into the Wall Street Journal. It does open up an interesting question; with the rise of Web 2.0 applications that encourage you to upload lots of information, what happens when they no longer want you? I rely on LinkedIn to keep in contact with a variety of people I used to work's a bit scary to think about the established relationships that could have a significant amount of "static on the line" if free services of this type were cut off. Hopefully, Facebook will apologize, or they'll be looking at another "Jeff Jarvis/Dell" type incident.

[Updated] - I received this from Harry:
Hi Josh,

Thanks for the coverage on this. I know that many of your readers are members and "Internet Retailer" subscribers, so I'll take a moment to clarify:

All I did was follow the instructions on the Facebook UI to invite my current contact list to join. Facebook never informed me of a limit. My understanding is that technology writer Robert Scoble has 4200 Facebook contacts — and last week, Mr. Scoble described Facebook as "the new Rolodex" and hyped its click-to-call compatibility with the iPhone.

Moreover, Facebook's email address inhaler slurped up every single Gmail address I had on file — which just happened to be 4600 and change. Facebook even served up hundreds of photos of my contacts who were already members.

Honestly, it appeared to me as if everything was cool when I hit SEND. It was only when Facebook's customer service rep gave me the boot in a misspelled email that I realized that I had been "F'd"

If Facebook had given me a limit, I would have obeyed it. No problem. I am a member in excellent standing on several online communities and social networks.

Note to members: Even as this thing continues to gather steam in the blogosphere, Facebook has remained quiet on the matter. A mistake. Moreover, Facebook customer service was incredibly resolute about the permanence of their decision -- even though they never gave me a Warning or an opportunity to atone for my actions.

It was like getting an instant death penalty for speeding on an unmarked highway.

Kind regards,
Harry Joiner
As seen in "Internet Retailer" magazine

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Friday, August 03, 2007

I'm attending the eTail conference in DC next week. I'm looking forward to seeing Steven Johnson, who wrote "Everything Bad Is Good For You". There's also a panel on affiliate relationships that looks like it should be excellent, with some good speakers, like John Lucey from Brookstone, and Veronica Katz-Smith from David's Bridal.

On the downside, apparently WBR, which puts on the show, has given vendors a list of attendees. This has resulted in dozens of phone calls and emails. The folks who manage to email me have clearly done some research (my contact info isn't that hard to find online), as many of the phone calls have asked for my email, indicating they hadn't gotten it on their list. Some of the outreach is genuinely interesting (we have an application to manage search marketing that saved 3 Fortune 500 retailers 13% in last Q4) or quirky (our CEO lives in Napa Valley, and if you come to our dinner, you'll enjoy a 93 point, Robert Parker rated wine that has been aging in his wine cellar).

There have been a few vendors, however, who have clearly hired an outbound telemarketing firm, with minimal knowledge of the product. The typical call of this variety has been along the lines of "Hi..I'm with Company Y, we provide Ecommerce Solutions... Do you use ecommerce solutions? [Why yes, yes we do. We run an online store. We've probably got one of those in the back room]. If you could just answer this list of questions, including some highly proprietary metrics, we'd be thrilled to have one of our salespeople prepare some information for you, to give you when you stop by the booth. I'd bet the response rate is pretty low on that tactic.

If I'm unavailable, several people have decided that if they can't get me on the phone, they'll leave their entire script on my voicemail, ensuring that even if I am interested, it's going to be inconvenient to get to the phone number.

I'll post next week on how the conference itself is :)

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