— blending the mix

April, 2006 Monthly archive

Maine Web Report » State Contractor Files Federal Lawsuit Against Me is an incredible story about a blogger who is being sued for several million dollars for publishing an ad that was created by the Maine tourist board in which they accidentally included a sex-line telephone number instead of their own!

What happened to freedom of speech? Do these people not realise their own Government colleagues invaded a foreign country to remove someone who was restricting the freedoms of his own people.

You can say many things about the press in the UK, and the politicians (!) but at least freedom of press means something – or else Private Eye would have gone out of business years ago!

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 The BBC reports on the stories circulating about Nintendo’s next generation gaming console, called the [tag]Wii [/tag](pronounced “wee”).

Are they taking the p*ss…sorry wee?!

[tag]Nintendo[/tag] claim that the Japanese spelling is supposed to show their origins yet at the same time demonstrate that the device is open to everybody.

Now I don’t know whether this is all intentional and the device will in the end be called something other than Wii, but  are they playing a sly card here…?

Have they, by giving a much anticipated device a ridiculous name, ensued that the device gets talked about – very [tag]Pinko Marketing[/tag] (Tara would be impressed!) and that in having to justify the name, every person who hears it will by default want to know what it means – thereby ensuring the machine’s key benefits get discussed at the same time?

If they get ridiculed enough, they change the name and claim simply that they listened to the public (again, very Pinko!).

Or have they just shot themselves in the foot…wii’ll see! (sorry for that pun!)

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  Seth Godin writes a great anecdote about how one of his previous compay’s fired their biggest customer with only 6 weeks of payroll left in the bank – and survived!

He also goes on to talk about how a bad customer will bad mouth you no matter what you do to help them.

Granted, some customers are real pains in the ass but as long as you do everything you can to ensure they have nothing to complain about then the transaction may be uncomfortable but otherwise satisfactory.
Conversely, those customers that try to take advantage of you are bad news from the start (return used goods after 3 months for example or in one of our cases, claim lost parts after 3 months!)

So how do you deal with them? Seth’s advice is to be polite and decline to do business with them. Whatever happens, they are likely to bad-mouth you so what else have you lost? If you have no trading record with them, what justification or evidence do they have of impropriety?

As long as you are polite and do not rise to their baiting then they have nowhere to go.

Say someone comes to you saying that your competitor can do the same product $200 cheaper than you – so be it. If you are talking more or less the same product or field of business, you should know that the $200 the customer is quoting is rubbish.

Equally if a customer tries to claim a return long past its return date, quoting Company X as having a return period twice as long as you,  let them return the branded item to them or ask the customer why they think Company X NEEDS such a long return period.

I often find when trying to get battered down on price or service that turning the query round on the customer makes them question their own reasons for bringing it up.

After all, if they wanted to get the item at the cheaper price with the longer service from somewhere else, why have they come to you?!

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Scoble blogs about a post from Tara Hunt aka “Miss Rogue” aka “Pinko Marketeer” in which she say that the big coirporations just don’t get comunity, what it is and how it can help grow (and in fact finish!) a company.

What is interesting is that for me, the overiding dilemma is how to adopt small-company ethics on a larger scale.

I know most of my customers by their first names, the type of house they have, their intersts, occupation etc., because I converse with each and every one. As a co-business owner it is in my own interest to get to know each one of these people as well as possible so that they will buy get to know me, trust me and buy from me – not be sold to.

Many people may argue that I have a vested interest in the company and that is why I strive for the information, but it is a basic selling technique that the larger companies tend to forget as they plough through their call queues.

People do business with people and the more you know them whether B2B or B2C, if you feel a bond with someone, you warm to them and buy from them.

For me, this is the most basic rule which the bigger corporations need to find a way of implementing.

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 In my previous post about monetisation of perviously free websites, I took flickr as a case in question.

Most people can happily use their allowance, but the time will come that they have SO many pictures on there, that they will find it hard to leave.

But, flickr is way ahead of the game in more than just creating a wonderful product. The way they communicate is HUMAN and i done in a way which is rarely seen. I FEEL part of the community and that is half the battle.

is another case in question. even the simplest things make a difference. Check out the home page URL:


How friendly is THAT? OK, not necessarily the most dramatic illustration but look how else the talk to you:

“sharing good, not sharing bad, spread the love, sharing is good”

are all engaging phrases that engage for the fact they they sound like they come from someone you are familiar with, someone who knows you and who sounds like they understand you. They talk in conversational tone.

Likewise here:

“all updated every couple of minutes”

The value of the RSS feed item is not affected, but the fact they use partially coloquial language to explain what they mean makes you warm to them all the more.

[tag]Flickr[/tag] does an equally great job, giving-out arguably more personality than [tag]Skype[/tag]:

When was the last time a website greeted you with “Aloha”?

Holy smokes! Surely a website can’t communicate with its customers in this way? What about The Queen’s English? What about grammar rules? What rules?

2 of the biggest and most successful applications in the world are using commonly-spoken language to engage its customers. What is one of the main reasons blogs are so popular? Because they are not full of the usual stuffy grammatically and politically correct language.

In my early days of copywriting for a UK mail order company, a Frenchman (I know!) gave me some great advice –

write to the customer as if you are talking to them face to face in a way in which they understand.

Now, the fact that not many of you will have made it to the end of this post makes me wonder if I haven’t listened to my own advice, but the advice still rings true – speak to your customers like they are your friend, in a respectful way and you have yourself and engaged customer!

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I have frequently blogged about the need for companies who want to behave ethically  to use some sort of feedback system. If you are doing a good job tell others about it, if you are doing a GREAT job, let your customers tell other people about it.

I get just under a third of my business from people who have checked out my eBay feedback and have then gone on to buy from me over the phone – bathroom suites at £950 a time with no hesitation in handing out credit card details to a total stranger.

Equally, because I know bad service or problem resolution may result in negative feedback, I go FLAT OUT to try and ensure total and utter staisfaction with my customers.

Negative feedback has far more bad consequences than positive feedback has good ones, so I strive to make sure that everyone in the business has the customer as king.

Too many companies hide behind the excuse of a lack of measurement tools to provide customer feedback – but now there are no excuses and only those companies who have something to hide will not adopt this type of scheme soon.

thanks to techcrunch for the images.

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Stephan Spencer is offering a [tag]FREE eBook[/tag] by one of his clients on how to become a Google Power-User and it is great!

Many people blog about [tag]Web 2.0[/tag], where it is going, how it is going to change our habits, when and where we will be using it etc., but how many people actually experience the products themselves? How can you recommend something you haven’t tried yourself?
[tag]Google Calendar[/tag], [tag]Gmail[/tag], Google Search, [tag]Froogle[/tag], [tag]Adwords[/tag], [tag]Adsense[/tag]…(there are many many more!!) are all tools that if you learn to use yourself, ONLY THEN can we understand how they can benefit your business.

Soemone told me I was a salesman’s dream – because I am a salesman. Likewise, you can only expect to sell to people over the internet and via [tag]Google[/tag] if you use it yourself and understand it.

[tag]Stephen Spencer[/tag] is one of the most knowledgable and readable SEO and Internet guru’s around and if his clients are making mega-bucks from his advice, it might be prudent to read the book!

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Techcrunch reports that Microsoft may be first to launch online storage and NOT Google. Rumours are flying that the much-vaunted Google GDrive will not be ready until 2007, to allow them to work on a way to provide it for free, giving Microsoft time to launch an early version, tagged along with their growing “Live” range of products.

I like the idea of having online storage. I use my backpack account frequently to enable me to track websie development progress as well as the office mvoe as well as the changes to the showroom . I like using Google Calendar to enable me to log on (in a time of total chaos) to any computer anywhere and see what is going on…but still have a hang up about giving Microsoft my personal, sensitive and sometimes financial information.

OK, I don’t have to use it, but the benefits of freedom to travel are immense. BUT, if IE is such an easy target for hackers, why would my MS data be any better protected?

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After noticing that Yahoo! Audio is up and running I now see that they have put MyWeb2.0 into beta too.

Tapping into the del.icio.us online bookmarking as well as tagging it also allows the full importing of existing bookmarks.

is there ANYTHING Yahoo! aren’t into at the moment? They are really leading the pack in CGC and social tools at the moment.

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[tag]Yahoo![/tag] UK officially launches its Audio search enabling you to find locations online for your favourite sounds!

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