— blending the mix

April, 2007 Monthly archive

Thanks to Nathan Weinberg for the image!

Apple only ever seems to be about one man – Steve Jobs. “Innovative” Steve Jobs, “marketing maverick” Steve Jobs, “innovator” Steve jobs…yet Microsoft, the largest and most (arguably!) innovative software company in the world seems to be perceived as thousands of little individuals conspiring against the world to….erm…make using a PC easier. We only see the good side of Steve Jobs.

Hugh is hitting the nail on the head with his Blue Monster campaign, but I am not convinced that the Monster is the icon that best serves the objectives of the campaign. If the monster does start to change people’s perception of MS (and I am sure it will with Hugh behind it), it will always be that negative connotation which reminds Joe Public of what MS WAS. Yes, currently people may see it as the monster dressed in blue but surely all the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood did was wear granny’s bed gear! The Monster only shows the bad side of Microsoft. Dressing it up as something it no longer is is defeating the point.

But what do Microsoft want? They want us to see them as a collective group of humans working towards a greater good through the medium of software. Ok, nothing quite so grand as that, but innovators providing the means to give us unlimited creative potential is pretty close to the mark. An exciting community of talented people working to create solutions to making using a computer easy is also pretty accurate too.

My two cents…make it personal. Make it about Bill. Make it about what he started out with, his dream and how he pursued that dream. Show us how far Bill has brought us from what we started with, show us evolution – show us what we can now achieve compared to what we could (not) before.

Make people remember that Microsoft IS a people business, with a person as a founder, with one person’s vision (ok two!), passion, fear, failure and unique talent. Someone who started in his garage and spent the best years of his life flogging his guts out to pursue that dream.

THAT is how you get people to believe that you care, that you really do have the same beliefs as your customers.

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Talking to a colleague earlier this week, it suddenly dawned on me I could actually be damaging my business through my own treatment of unwanted email.

Do you unsubscribe to emails you don’t want to receive or do you mark them as spam?

Just as I thought! Isn’t it so much easier to let hotmail, yahoo and google control what comes in your inbox by marking unwanted emails as spam than actually creating an unsubscribe email, replying with unsubscribe or following a de-registration process?

But in doing so, all you are doing is telling ISP’s that you consider a legitimate (albeit unwanted) business approach to be as relevant to you as Viagra or those, y’know thingy extensions (which actually begs the questions where WOULD you buy Viagra from online?!!).

Anyway…my personal issues aside (!)… most marketeers would rather shy away or hide the unsubscribe button/link for fear of losing subscribers and therefore business, but what would you do if you lost business because your emails never even made it past the ISP?

It takes less than a second to click "report spam". It takes less than a second to click "unsubscribe". It takes weeks if not months though to get yourself de-listed from the spam archives of the ISP.

Make it as easy to unsubscribe as it is to subscribe and you will end up with a receptive, fresh and eager subscriber base.

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I noticed today that I could add a Search History feature to my Google tool bar (assuming I had the tool bar installed and was using the page-rank feature) and was quite surprised by what I saw.

More often than not the history feature of my browser is used when I have forgotten to bookmark something or remembered something later in the day. To add Gmail style total searchability to my browser history is a fantastic feature and one which (when it needs to be used) I could realistically use more and more as a search tool for things I am interested in…but therein lies the problem – well for Google anyway.

Unless I am using Google Reader, I tend to visit mostly the same sites time and again – never really venturing far from the beaten path – that is what I have my delicious bookmarks for. Is this typical behaviour for a regular, experienced web user?

If so – Google, where are the ads in History? Even if it isn’t typical behaviour, Google – where are the ads?

In placing its PPC ads on conventional search, as we all know, Google tries to match search terms with the most relevant sponsored ad. If a PPC ad is especially relevant it is clicked on – obvious. But Google is still having to second guess the motivations and level of interest in the search term.

With history, you have a proven level of interest.

Take the examples in my image (above). I have searched for my blog (http://blendingthemix.com by the way!!), web analytics (several times) as well as a web design company. In a short space of time, I have proven a (repeated) interest in analytics, web design and blogging. There’s no mistaking that I am interested in those terms. So why are there no ads served? Is it because it is a first report? No. Is it because it is in Beta? No.

Google History is an Ad Serving system with one MEGA benefit – proof of search.

If Google History latches onto the fact that each recorded activity (or frequently recorded activity) IS PROOF of a heightened level of interest in a topic then they have opened up an absolute goldmine.

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Further to my post about most members of the public simply not getting blogging Steve Hodson seems to have a good take on it too, although Robert Scoble seems to think something bigger is at play…something we all possess but which seems to find a perfect outlet in our writing.

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Just what IS Google playing at.

With over 10 years to catch up on Paypal and Worldpay, does Google think that it can dominate payment systems too?

OR like with its office suites of products, is it just ensuring it has a presence in the field to build its experience?

Search domination is one thing, but in the other fields such as word processing (google docs), shopping search (froogle), email (Gmail – although to a lesser extent), news and images – they are way behind everyone else. Do they honestly believe they have the capability to catch-up, match, then beat microsoft, kelkoo, yahoo, bbc and flickr anytime soon or is there a matter of pride at stake here?

Why are they doing it?

It is crucial for Google to have a presence in other markets or else its virtual monopoly is wasted. And this is the crucial point by UK Consumer Marketing Chief, Obi Felton:

"The starting point is our core products,"

By offering a payments service too, Google is the conduit for the shop search, product search and now the payment.

With 75% dominance of UK search that is an awful lot of shops and products people are searching for – and it makes perfect sense. You wouldn’t take your car to a drive-through car wash and have to drive elsewhere to the next stage would you?

Interesting too is that user’s trust in Google is such that almost 60% of users who didn’t find what they wanted first time round in tests, thought they had typed the search query incorrectly.

So, all in all, it is quite a move for Google…using its trustworthy name to enter a new market rather than trading-off its technological expertise and capabilities. My only question is this:

What happens to Google’s reputation when fraudsters attack it as much as Paypal is attacked now? Is their search reliability and credibility likely to be affected too?

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Vic Keegan of the guardian reports that for all its pomp and fuss, blogging just isn’t breaking into the mainstream as expected (or as much as facebook or myspace have for example).

I’d written about this a while ago arriving at the conclusion that this was because the growth of the blogoshpere was being powered by the technologists behind and associated with the tech industries themselves.

One such case in question is techmeme. Look at the sister sites section…I’ve seen more content in a blank email. Where is comedy meme, car meme, soccer meme? At least digg has got the right idea – opening up channels to non-tech topics.

The very people pushing the growth of the blogosphere are the people who have designed and contributed to its conception, with several notable "non-tech" leaders carving out a niches for themselves (Steve Rubel springs to mind).

I strongly believe that the reason the blogosphere’s growth is slowing is more to do with the perception that it is run by techies FOR techies.

As a newbie, what do you choose…feedburner, newsgator, google reader? With posts, do you sphere it, delicious it, add to technorati favourites (what’s technorati most will ask?), stumble it, digg it…how about "fuck it" I can’t be bothered.

Yes, the barriers to entry are short and sweet, but isn’t it about time, it all stopped getting so damn confusing.

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Maybe I am months if not years behind, but in doing some research for a client, I noticed just how powerful Google Maps could be for chainstores.

Get your stores on Google Maps and let people see what you do, how you do it, why you are worth a visit. Let others join you in adding comments about your facilities.

Say you are a coffee house…tell people about your local cake specialities, if you are a club or bar, publish special events. If you are a gift store, highlight something different.

BLOG…lik to your blog…let people see another reason to visit you.

In my experience in-site store locators do nothing more than give you an address and phone number – here is a great opportunity to have so much more to say than a name and address.

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