Saturday, December 27, 2008

Try This Easy Email Productivity Tip

Perpetually buried in email? Here's a quick and easy tip that may help you out...


SEND less email!

Sure, it's not the be-all and end-all to your problems.

But there's no question about it...

When I get on a email-sending binge, I pay for it later BIG TIME... in the form of all those replies.

Which then multiples the problem!

So before you dive into your pile and start firing off replies or new email messagess, think carefully about what you're doing and alternate options for each one.

Can a quick visit to the office next door solve this? How about a 30 second phone call? Has it already been addressed in a later email? Or will benign neglect work out just fine.

Try it out! Just keep telling yourself "The delete key is my friend, the delete key is my friend!"

Friday, November 7, 2008

News of the Weird?

File this under "Whacky Headline Sequences".


Check it out...

Headline 1:
BREAKING NEWS: General Motors reports $2.5 billion Q3 loss, burns $6.9 billion in cash

Headline 2:
Ford plans more cuts after loss Firm burns up $7.7 billion.

Headline 3:
Obama seeks advice from top execs

Doh!
I hope he's being very selective.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

$100 Million Before Break Even? That's a Lot of Pizzas!

I'm REALLY glad I'm in the online information publishing business. You know, where you can start a web-based business for a few hundred bucks - and where the sky is the limit.

Imagine, instead, being in the restaurant business. Good grief! No thank you. Here's one example why not…

A new place just opened here in downtown Delray Beach. Vic & Angelo's. It's gorgeous and the food is good - I checked it out just after opening night.

I'd been watching them renovate the building for about 18 months. And I knew they had to be spending a TON of money. But I almost fell over when I read the final figure.

$3 million on renovations and another $1 mil on additional start up expenses. Holy cow - $4 million bucks to open an Italian restaurant in Delray Beach!

Restaurants keep only 4 cents of every dollar spent by a customer, according to Hudson Riehle, VP of research and information services at the National Restaurant Association. The rest of the money, he says, is split amongst food and beverage purchases, payroll, occupancy and other overhead.

Now I'm no accountant…

But that sounds to me like they'll have to make $100 million in sales before they even break even. $100 million bucks - that's a lot of pizzas! About 5 million in fact!

OK, OK – so they sell all kinds of nice meals. That’s still a million covers (dinners) at (say) $100 each. Yikes.

My initial impression was that the person who did this had to be nuts.

But that was before I found out the owner, David Manero, is an experienced restaurateur. And this is actually Vic & Angelo's second location. They have another one up in Palm Beach Gardens.
So he must, you would think, be well aware of all the margins, risks and rewards.

If this second store is a success, well, I'll say more power to him.

But meanwhile… remind me to never start a business where I have to sell $100 million before I can break even!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The pain of discipline or the pain of regret?

With October comes shorter days, cooler weather, turning leaves…

And football coaches trying all SORTS of things to inspire their teams to play to their highest level.

New York Jets head coach Erik Mangini is an especially strong advocate of motivational speakers and techniques.


In the past three years, he’s brought in all-time receiving leader Jerry Rice; Jim Calhoun, men’s basketball coach at UConn, former Olympic decathlete Dan O’Brien and the boxing trainer Teddy Atlas, to name just a few.

This week I heard Mangini mention something that Baltimore Colts coach Mike McCormack used to ask his players (although it's also attributed to others including Jim Rohn).

"Would you prefer the pain of discipline or the pain of regret?"

Point being, of course, that the pain of discipline is fleeting, while the pain of regret can be eternal.

It reminded me of something my marathon training buddies and I talk about when we're out sufferin' and griping in the mid-August Florida heat running 16 miles.

"You can pay now… or you can pay on race day."

It's all about choices.

Life is short...
Don't let those last few moments we'll all have someday be filled with what-ifs and might-have-beens!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

So I Think I've Got Problems?

“Hi… I found… found you guys online and I was wondering if I could run with… ya… you?”

Every few months, a newcomer shows up for our Saturday morning marathon training group. But there was something very unusual about the young lady who joined us this this morning.

“My name is K… K… Ki… Ki … Kim.”

She was about 30, looked to be in good running shape, and beamed a big, friendly, and outgoing smile.

And, as we all soon realized, she had a serious speech disability.

Along Ocean Boulevard on Boca Raton, we have our routines. We chat as we run, and the conversation flows quickly and easily.

But now, every time Kim had something to say, it was turning into a 30 second episode.

I began rooting for that one final word to come out… you almost want to shout it out… help her along. But you don’t. And after a while, it can get just a little bit "uncomfortable".

We had a nice run. But afterwards something was bugging me. That's when I started thinking about it all.

Uncomfortable? I was uncomfortable? The nerve of me!

What about Kim!?

Every day, every hour… every conversation, every confrontation, every chance meeting… the simplest dialog must become an incredible challenge. Filled, no doubt, with stares, strange looks, sometimes, no doubt, even ridicule.

How brave she must be to live that life, and to then come out and meet a group of 10 total strangers, smiling and telling light-hearted stories the whole time. What courage!

Shame on me for my self-pity when I whine about my trivial little “problems”. My issues don’t amount to a hill of beans compared to the millions who face real difficulties and challenges, many of them far tougher than Kim’s.

The next time I’m feeling down, I’ll think about Kim and thank my lucky stars for inspirations like her.

And I'll hope that should I ever face such challenges, may I be able to summon up Kim's kind of courage.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Does This Discounting Strategy Make Sense?

I hadn't been to the Pineapple Grill in about a year, so their ad in a local monthly newsletter caught my eye.

"Dine with a taste of the Caribbean! - Special: Purchase one Appetizer and one Lunch and receive Free Second Lunch (of same or lesser value)".

Well that sounded like a good reason to go back. Last time the place was in transition and we'd been disappointed.

But then I took a closer look at the ad. And the next few words took me aback.

"Free Lunch Not to Exceed $11".

Huh?

So let me get this straight...

They want to attract new customers... and possibly bring back old ones.

But if you have more expensive taste... i.e. you want to give them MORE money... you get a worse deal?

I understand about food costs and all, but there's just something about this that seems wrong to me.

Am I the only one? What do you think? Good idea or bad? Lemme know... let's hear your comment on this post.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Copywriter Needed; Apply to NY Yankees, Bronx, New York

The 3rd place "Bronx Bombers" baseball team may be struggling on the field this year…

But they could sure use some help in their Marketing Department as well. And so, for that matter, could the Florida Marlins, the LA Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves.

Go to any one of their websites and you'll find the most HORRIBLE violations of Copywriting Commandment #1: It All About Your Prospect, NOT You,

Let me explain…

I'm sure you familiar with those special events that teams hold throughout the season when fans get treated to fireworks, entertainment, bobble-head dolls, you name it,

So guess how these baseball teams describe these fun bonuses on their schedules…

Fantastic Fan Freebie Night? Nope, you're cold.

Gala Goodie Giveaway Game? Sorry, you’re ice cold!

Two-For-One Fan Appreciation Day? Freezing!

None of the above and not even close. They call them… drumroll…

Promotion Nights.

Ugh! Arghh! Yikes!

A promotion is a marketing technique. It is what a marketer DOES.

But that's never how they should present it to their fans.

After all, to paraphrase a great thinker, no one's ever gotten up on Saturday morning and said to his wife "Gee honey, I think we should go to a Promotion tonight".

Bottom line: When your marketing department comes up with a good idea, make sure it gets run by a copywriter who knows how to present it as beneficial to your prospects and customers.

A good marketing idea is useless if it never makes it through to the heart of your prospect.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

He'll Kill You With a Feather

Last night I was privileged to see guitar virtuoso Mark Knopfler perform in Miami Beach.

I've been to literally hundreds of rock concerts over the past forty (yikes!) years or so (Zeppelin, McCartney, The Who, Tull, Springsteen, etc etc) and this one definitely lands in the top ten.

Most listeners probably know Knopfler as the leader of 1980's group Dire Straits and author of megahits such as "Sultans of Swing", "Money for Nothing" ("I want my MTV...") and "Walk of Life" ("Here comes johnny singing oldies, goldies Be-bop-a-lua, baby what I say...").

But you might not know that he's gone on to become a prolific film score composer and magnificent solo artist. And I use the term artist with all due respect.

One reviewer on Amazon described the "Cal" soundtrack as "a beautiful, haunting set of instrumentation and melody, combining Knopfler’s outstanding musical talents with his study of traditional Irish music."

Mark is a true master artist. Sure he can bang out a killer riff of staccato notes with anyone on the planet. But he doesn't NEED to hit you over the head like that.

He knows that subtlety is more powerful. He'll let the rhythm section do the heavy lifting. And he just drops in the occasional perfect accented note.

Understated and brilliant.

He's also a master of anticipatory tension - something all writers can relate to and should study.

Watch as his tune opens with a quiet story, engaging the listener.

Slowly the pace augments. In the background, the snare picks up. One by one, another instrument joins in...

Violin... accordion... penny whistle… bass... more drums...

And then the release - the explosion!

Afterwards, unlike most, he'll pull it back and give you yet another tasty and brilliant quiet morsel.

Sometimes he goes on to a dramatic buildup again.

But more often than not... he's gotten you revved up... he built a crescendo... gave the release... withdraws... and then slowly teases you with an understated refrain.

You're waiting, gasping for breath... listening to every quiet note and echo...

Wondering, anticipating… will he take me to that magical place again?

Ultimately, great art, great writing, great music mirrors the waves of passion that lie within the human spirit.

And there's a reason.

They come from the same place - they ARE the essence of what it means to be human and ALIVE.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don't Send Mixed Messages

Sneak Insider Report - Overheard in our offices at Early to Rise this week...


Actual interview for a Customer Service Telephone Representative position!

Consider this the new Poster Child for how not to interview and how to send the wrong message...

ETR: Hi, thanks for coming. So first of all, tell me… why are you leaving your current job?

Applicant: The calls, they are so stressful.

ETR: What do you find stressful about them?

Applicant: There are so many. And the people, they're all unhappy.

As Miami Herald writer and author Dave Barry sometimes says, "I swear this is true."

Talk about sending the WRONG message.
NEXT!

Words do matter.
Make sure you're sending the right message about yourself...
your products...
and your company.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Marketing Genius Found at Denver Car Wash

I'm in Denver this week - out here at our rocking and rolling Internet business-building conference...

And I stumbled across some OUTSTANDING marketing copy yesterday.

It happened in, of all places, outside a car wash - and the timing was PERFECT.

Last night I was walking down Colorado Blvd with my wife, returning from Wahoo's Fish Tacos. (Yum).

I'd been mentally preparing in advance for my big talk on Copywriting today, and yet a few things were still missing... and bugging me a bit.

For example, I needed a good example of how "it's all about your prospect" and how your copy should "appeal to your prospect's deepest and strongest core emotion" and "solve their biggest problem".

And that's when we walked past the local car wash one block from the hotel and spotted their billboard:

"Waxed Cars Use Less Gas".

Wow - brilliant!

Five Words.

Simple, clear, succinct.

And everything else a great marketing message should have and do. Especially right now in July of 2008 in the USA.

Proving that sometimes you just step right into wonderful things staring you in the face...

And that you can find all kinds of valuable examples of how to do things right...

Just by keeping your eyes wide open!

PS: The car wash was packed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Keep Track of All the New Airline Fees

Planning a flight and wondering about all the new add-on fees?

Wonder no more.

Rick Seaney of FareCompare.Com has put together a real nice chart including virtually every US airline and every add-on fee, including...

Phone reservations, first bag, second bag, advanced seat selection, soft drinks, snacks, alcohol, pets, adult movies, curbside check-in, and more.

I wonder when they'll add water and oxygen to the list!

Check it out at http://rickseaney.com/domestic-airline-fee-chart/

PS: Just kidding about the adult movies. Wanted to make sure you were reading. :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How NOT To Apply For A Writing Job

You would think if someone were applying for a writing job, they would pay special attention to their…

Well, to their writing, yes?

But if you thought that, I am afraid you would have thought wrong!

Here are just a few of the lowlights from recent resumes and cover letters I've received. Each line is from a different letter, (followed by my comment)…

* "The benefits for you in hiring me are that you get a versatile pro who works hard. If I miss a day of work, it's because of a hurricane or I'm contagious."

(NOT SURE IF CONTAGIOUS IS A GOOD "RESUME" WORD).

* "Words have been passed down even before Christ himself came to earth to sacrifice himself for human kind."

(MAY NOT BE THE TIME OR PLACE FOR THIS).

* "Current Job Title: The talanted Mr. Cordero"

(IF YOU ARE GOING TO BRAG, AT LEAST LEARN TO SPELL).

* "Objective: To Secure a Job to Suit Related Interests"

(AND HOW EXACTLY IS THAT GOING TO HELP ME?).

* "Writing has always been a pass time for me; however I would relish the opportunity to make it a career."

(DITTO - AND I THINK YOU MEANT PASTIME).

* "Organized and creative thinker, who is very much part of the work experience; establishing, ethics, diversity and above all innovative thinking"

(HUH?).

* "while I am a very good writer, I consider my major strengths to be more intangible."

(WHAT?).

* "I am a curious about everything under the sun, the sun itself and its' orbit."

(NASA MAY BE LOOKING FOR ASTRONOMERS BUT NOT ME).

* "I am particularly interested with self help topics, news headlines and just recently fashion."

ISN'T THAT SPECIAL.

Next post, I'll show you a few of the ones that were actually good.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Smoke Em if You Got Em

Flew up to JFK last night for some personal business meetings in NYC this weekend. I actually used frequent flyer points on JetBlue for this trip.

I'm starting to use up ALL my FF points right now. I think you should too...

Yesterday CO announced 3,000 folks laid off. The press release - like so much air news these days -mentioned "crisis" more than a few times. Sure, they're probably fishing for a bailout. But there's real trouble here too.

As fuel prices explode and air fares follow, those 25,000 points that were worth a $200 flight are suddenly worth $300 or $400. So using them up now has become a great deal.

But with all the trouble in the industry, you've got to think this party is not going to last. You've got to think frequent flyer programs are the next thing that are going to be cut.

I'm looking at various redemptions now (Delta, CO, USAir) and the summer's almost impossible, but right after Labor Day there are plenty of openings.

If you've got a stockpile of points you've been hoarding, now might be the time to use them for some autumn travel.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Power of Specifics

How much would you be impressed if your telephone or cable company said they’d be “on time” for your home service appointment?

Well sure… it sounds okay. But it’s so vague; your eyes would probably glaze over.

“Whatever… I’ll probably end up sitting home waiting half the day.”

Now suppose instead they said “Your serviceman is currently scheduled to arrive at 10:43 AM”.

I bet that would catch your eye!

It sure did mine.

During a recent trip to Maine I saw that promise made in a commercial for “Bob's Discount Furniture Delivery”. Type your order number into their website and you’ll get a very specific message such as…

“Your furniture is currently scheduled to arrive at 11:34 AM”.


Wow. That got my attention, even though I wasn’t the least bit interested in the commercial and certainly not in ordering or receiving furniture.

Now who knows, it could just be a lot of hot air. Maybe they are late as often as any other company.

But if the goal of an advertisement is to snap you out of your everyday somnolence, as copywriter John Carlton has said, this one worked.

It’s a testament to the power of specificity.

General numbers and phrases imply lack of real knowledge… hedging… maybe even bluffing or lying.

“We should be there in a couple hours.”

Translation: Yeah, right.

Roy H. Williams, in "Secret Formulas of the Wizards of Ads" says, "The simple truth is that nothing sounds quite so much like the truth as the truth, and most people seem to know the truth when they hear it. The truth is never full of loopholes and generalities. The truth is made of specifics and substantiations. It's solid. That's why it's easy to spot in a world full of paper-thin lies, half-lies, and hype."

If you’re writing about a stock advisory service, don’t say “Our service produced impressive gains last year.”

Say “Between February 12 and November 23, 2007 we picked gains of 78%, 143% and 353%”.

If you’re writing about improving health, don’t say “Our program will make you feel better.”

Say “With Acme supplements, you’ll hop out of bed smiling at 5AM… you’ll be able to lose up to 15 pounds in 12 weeks or less… and you’ll love the new vitality you’ll enjoy from our 18 unique and fast-acting ingredients.”

Of course, your product or service has to deliver on those promises. If it doesn't, you might make the first sale, but you'll immediately lose credibility. And even if customers don't return it for a refund, they won't buy from you again.

And adding specific details is more work. You have to dig deeper. Spend more time. Make a bigger commitment.

But just think about what kind of payoffs it can bring you. You could double your response rates to your sales promotions. Your pay-per-click ads could attract thousands more visitors to your site. You could increase your email list size by 25%. And all that could mean hundreds of thousands - even millions - of dollars in extra income for you or your clients.

Side benefit: You'll get a kick out of seeing your writing really coming to life!

Who knew you could get all that just by adding a few specifics?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Avoiding Yet Another New Airline Fee

If you didn't like it when airlines announced $25 fees for "2nd checked bags"... here's worse news...

American Airlines will now levy a surcharge for ANY checked bags.
AP reports AA "will start charging $15 for the first checked bag, cut domestic flights and lay off possibly thousands of workers as it grapples with record-high fuel prices."

For now, competitors are saying they have no plans to match this increase.

We'll see how long that lasts!

Want to avoid these fees altogether? Here you go...

http://charliebyrne.blogspot.com/2008/04/how-to-save-50-on-your-next-airline.html

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Me? Not Late... Just Running Late

"Peter's running late... but he wanted to let you know he's on his way."

Poor Peter. Something must have happened to him...

But he's doing his best... after all, he's "running". That sounds urgent.

Funny phrase, that "running late" is.

Kind of absolves you of the blame... almost makes your situation passive.

Oh no, I'm not late. I'm just "running late".

That's not so bad, is it?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Copywriting Challenge #1 - Can You Top This Copy?

Ready to go on a mission to save the world? AND get your “name in lights”? PLUS win a genuine Early to Rise hat and T-shirt?

Good, because I’m looking for some volunteers. Now mind you, I’m not talking about stopping global warming, ending the war, or turning “green”.

I just want to make the world safe for… readers. Yes, it’s time to put an end to The Plague of Bad Copy that threatens the planet.

Take a ride around your town and you’ll see it on signs everywhere you turn. Self absorbed… inner directed… and completely without benefit to the reader.

Here’s an example of one I came across just the other day outside a local strip mall.

“ALL TENANTS OPEN DURING CONSTRUCTION”

“Tenants open”? Why should I care about “tenants”?

Obviously the mall owners created this sign to appease their renters…

But what they really should be doing is appeasing their “tenant’s” customers. You and me.

Wouldn’t something like this be more likely to attract shoppers:

“All Our Friendly Shops Open While We’re Sprucing Up!”

I bet you can come up with even better suggestions.

Sure, we can’t expect every retailer and landlord to be professional copywriters - or even well-educated Early to Risers.

But why not lend them a hand - and have a little fun at the same time? So here’s what I propose…

Send me a digital photo of the worst copy you can find. I’ll post it and ask our readers in ETR to suggest better alternatives. Then we’ll take a vote, and maybe even send a copy of the winning entry to the offending “author” if we can track them down.

By the way, here’s one of my favorite examples of a GOOD store sign. I came across one outside Gray’s Papaya in New York City a few years ago:

“OUR HOT DOG – The Thunderous Pop When You Bite Into It – The Saline Tang of the Pink Flesh – Oh YES!! (Please I’m Getting Hungry Already!).

Now that’s got some appeal, don’t you think? It’s almost… erotic, dare I say.

A bit more inviting than “tenants open during construction.”

OK So here’s what to do right now.

Think about better copy for that sign outside the Mall that is open during construction.

Then, post your copy in the comments section below. Next week I’ll take a vote from our readers in ETR, and the winner gets their name in lights and a genuine Early to Rise hat and T-shirt with our compliments.

Meanwhile, when you come across a bad sign in your town, email it to me at Charlie@ETRFeedback.Com.


We might just make it the subject of our next Copywriting Challenge!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Is Your Web Developer Chasing Away Customers?

Most web developers and programmers couldn't care less about your site visitors. They're largely technical nerds more interested in bits, bytes and "cool" stuff.

So it's up to YOU to make sure what THEY produce is user-friendly.

Example: Phone number entry fields on forms. How often has this happened to you...


Enter Phone No: __________

So you enter the digits and here comes an Alert Box:

"PHONE NUMBER MUST NOT CONTAIN DASHES!"

or

"PHONE NUMBER MUST CONTAIN DASHES!"

or God only knows what else.
Doesn't this drive you crazy? It should.

It's a sure sign that a real moron programmed this application.

Why?

Because it's just as easy for an app to trim the input string into the desired storage format itself, as it is to demand the user do it.

If your site features user interaction, make sure your web developer isn't making your users jump through hoops just to provide basic information.
If he is, kick his butt or better yet, fire him.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Irish Blessing - Or Is It A Curse?

I'm fortunate to live exactly one mile west of the Atlantic Ocean - and I love my morning runs to the beach. But the other day I ran right into a little problem...

Normally I leave the house, run a mile east to the beach, a mile south along the Atlantic, and then retrace backwards, for a total of 4 miles.

On Wednesday I left the house late and so I knew I'd only have time for 2 miles - one out and one back. So I head out, run due east 1 mile (going very fast, I was feeling great) and turn around.

Uh oh!!! I'd been running with a west wind at my back. I was wondering why everything seemed easy… too easy.

When the going was good, I'd used up all my reserves with no thought to the future. Now, with the wind in my face, I was suffering.

I have a feeling there's a business lesson here…

The Irish blessing says "May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back."
Sure, go full out if you know that wind is never going to die.

But in the real world, sooner or later it will - and you better be ready for that.

So whether you are Dutch, Italian, Irish or anything else…

Make sure to use the good times to do a little bit of planning… for the bad ones that sooner or later surely will follow.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How to Save $50 on Your Next Airline Trip

Looking to save $50 on your next airline trip?


Here's how...

United Airlines and others are now charging an additional $25 for a second bag.

MSNBC reports "Five of the seven major U.S. airlines (Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Air) plan to charge most customers $25 each way to check a second bag starting May 5. Of the largest carriers, only American and Southwest have decided not to go along — for now. Airtran is adding a $10 second bag fee for travel on or after May 15. Spirit Airlines already had a $10 fee if paid online, or $20 at the airport."

The motive behind it? From Fortune Magazine:
"United has also made some moves that, while they may not be popular with customers, are at least mitigating the effect of fuel-price increases... "We will continue to build on this work charging customers for services they use and products they value while rewarding our best customers for their business and their loyalty," CEO Glenn Tilton said... "An example is the $25 fee for a second bag that we initiated, which we expect will generate over $175 million annually for United."

Everyone's shopping for low fares, so airlines will continue to look for non-fare based incremental revenue.

But even if you're going on a long trip and even if you're mixing business and pleasure, do you really need that second bag?

Not if you follow this advice from Michael Masterson and Early to Rise. Here's what Michael, a VERY frequent traveller has to say:

Pack Faster and Travel Lighter - By Michael Masterson

I travel a lot. So does K. Neither of us ever checks luggage. And I, at least, never spend more than 15 minutes packing. Here are some tips to make preparing for your next trip easier and faster.
1. Choose one or two colors. Reducing your wardrobe to a single color (and one contrasting highlight color) greatly reduces the number of items you need to bring. My choice is black and white or black and gray.

2. Pack only one pair of shoes. Shoes are the most space-consuming item in your bag. If your main color is black, bring black shoes. Wear one pair on the plane - a comfortable pair that can double as gym shoes - and pack a dressier pair that (1) will look fine with a suit/dress, and (2) you can wear to walk in the city.

3. If you're a man, you only need one jacket. A blazer or conservative sports coat is best. Wear it, don't pack it.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Time of Inconvenience

I’m having a great time this weekend at ETR's Profits in Paradise conference in Orlando.

The weather's gorgeous, the speaker's dynamite, and the attendees are having a BLAST picking up TONS of great wealth-building advice.

So it's all been good so far. Except, that is, for one MAJOR disaster...

Morning room service doesn't start until 6:30AM.

You see, I'm up at 5 (hey at Early to Rise we practice what we preach)… And as a certified caffeine addict, I need an immediate fix. Sure, I can make one of those mini-pots of Joe in my room, but that mystery brown liquid doesn't really even deserve the "c__fee" designation.
So what's up with that 6:30 "mid-day" breakfast time???

Is our hotel setting this time for the convenience of their guests? Or is it for the convenience of their staff and management?

Here at ETR we try our best to keep our reader's convenience in mind. A few examples:

* We heard complaints that folks couldn’t print out our newsletter. Some prefer to read on paper. So we went to considerable time and expense to make it easy to print out the daily eletter.

* When we plan our conferences, instead of timing them during the week (handy for us), we build them around weekends (convenient for our readers).

* We’ve upgraded our customer service desk to ensure faster and more accurate help with any issues.

Make sure your business decisions are about (and convenient for) your customers and not YOU.

Of course I’m no so na├»ve as to believe you don’t have to keep expenses in line and optimize and streamline processes and procedures. But…

Don’t have early arriving restaurant staff park in the best parking spots.

Don’t close down bank teller windows at lunchtime.

And please don’t start room service in the middle of the morning!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nietzsche versus the Harvard Business Review?

I'll admit it.

I'm sometimes suspicious of academic business commentary.

Just imagine how often this scenario plays out: A bright, well-off high-schooler gets accepted to a top Ivy League college. He majors in (say) economics, graduates and goes on to post-grad work and eventually moves into academia as a professor.

Next thing you know, reports on business are coming out from "respected Harvard professor so-and-so".

Sure, he's STUDIED business for years, but the sum total of his hands-on business experience? Zippo!

Nietzsche called this the difference between “wissen” and “erfahrung”. Rough translation: the difference between book-smarts and street-smarts. At Early to Rise we've found that the street smart advice usually ends up with a higher correlation to actually making money and being succesful than theory and academics.

And so I was pleasantly surprised to open this month's Harvard Business Review and find good “street-smart” advice on managing hypergrowth from Alexander Izosimov.

He’s not a professor but the CEO of Vimpel Commuciations, Russia’s second-largest mobile phone company.

Yes, HBR does run plenty of intellectually interesting and occasionally useful articles from the academic elite. But I’ve noticed I find myself reading the ones from seasoned business executives more often.

Izosimov should know about rapid growth: He’s helped roll out cell phones in Russia as market penetration jumped to 120% (yes some have two) from 12% - and his company’s market cap jettisoned to $40 BILLION from $600 million in the same period.

His recommendations sound very much aligned with what Early to Rise and Michael Masterson in Ready Fire Aim advise when managing a rapid expansion period.

1) Sell First and Ask Questions Later. Don’t waste time on perfection or the opportunity will pass you by.

2) Don't Try Too Hard to Innovate. They call it the bleeding edge for good reason.

3) Organize Like McDonalds. Get standard structures and procedures in place so your infrastructure doesn’t bog you down.

4) Push Decisions Out to the Front Line. Paralysis by excessive corporate analysis is death.

5) Foster a Can-Do Culture. Enable an action-oriented company. Don’t punish rapid failure. Learn and move on quickly.

If this kind of advice makes sense to you, check out Izosimov's full article. And if you don't already have it, get a copy of Ready, Fire, Aim - I guarantee the best $20 you'll ever spend.

[Note: An earlier version of this post was released while it was still in draft form. Whoops! If you saw that, I apologize for any confusion and probably several misspellings, no doubt including Nietzsche. – CFB]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

JetBlue's Web Usability Mistake

Will you join me in a little experiment today?

When first planning a trip and searching for airline flights, how many passengers do you indicate in your initial search?

One? Two?

Maybe the whole family - 3 or more?

Or how about zero?

Personally, I always start out looking for 1, because at first I'm really just price and schedule shopping.

I can fine tune later.

But one number of passengers I'd NEVER book for? Zero.

So why is that the default on JetBlue's main booking page?

I'm guessing here that many folks - maybe 50% or more - are like me and start out looking for a flight using just 1 person... then change it later once they've found a good deal, right date and time, etc. But ZERO?

Hey, I like Blue a lot. Fly them all the time.

So after I enter my From:, my To:, and the out and back dates, I'm ready to see what they've got to offer:














BUT... Click Search at that point and here's what you get:









That's not very friendly!

Web usability icon Jacob Nielson says "In forms and applications, pre-populate fields with the most common value if you can determine it in advance."

I say, "Here here!"

Isn't it preferable, if you MUST "inconvenience your customers" (by forcing them to fill out a form), that you irritate say 50% rather than 100%?

If you've seen other goofy form defaults, let us know about them in the comments below.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Give Your Customers (Even "Enemies") What THEY Want

It's tough being a Florida Marlin. Maybe even tougher working in their Marketing Department. But they recently made one astute change that caught my eye...

You see, this major league baseball team suffers from a common South Florida affliction: Competition for attention in an over-saturated market.
Here amidst the beaches and palm trees, there's always "something else" to do. And so they've been drawing small crowds pretty much since they opened their franchise.

Problem "B" for the Marlins? Fan loyalty.

Nearly everyone in SFla is from somewhere else. And that means you've got Yankee fans, Mets fans, Red Sox fans... and just a few Marlins fans.

In fact, when one of these teams visits (as the Mets did this week), sometimes half the ballpark is filled with "enemy" fans (like Mr Met, yours truly).

In past years I've been surprised browsing their souvenier stands. They've got tons of Marlins hats, shirts, pens - you name it.

But wouldn't it make sense, I thought, to offer goods from the visiting team?

Given how many prime "prospects" you've got just walking past... wallets open... ready to buy.

Looks like they've finally decided to give their customers what their customers want.
At Opening Day this Monday I was glad (I guess) to see a full array of Mets merchandise. My wife even bought (yet another) Mets shirt.

Sure, love your own products - but swallow your pride when necessary - and don't fall prey to Not Invented Here syndrome.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Web 3.0 ("Semantic Web") and Microformats Preview

Interested in previewing Web 3.0 technology?

Better yet, want to create your very OWN "Web 3.0-enabled" web page right now?

OK - then just follow along with these easy steps...

1) Get latest version of Firefox browser if you don't already have.

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/

2) Get the "Tails" add-in which lets you view Microformats (data structures embedded in the XHTML behind the page).

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2240

3) Get a Blogger account or use one you already have to create a new post.

4) Go here, create an hCard for yourself (Personal Contact Info) and paste the HTML into your Blog:

http://microformats.org/code/hcard/creator

5) Go here, create an hCalendar for some future event of yours and paste the HTML into your Blog:

http://microformats.org/code/hcalendar/creator

6) Publish your blog page and open it up in Firefox. The Tails add-on will have a separate panel on the left side. You should see these Microformats displayed there.

Below are the visible entires for the hCard and hCalendar I created for this post. If you are viewing in Firefox and Tails, you should see the Microformat Tags on the left side right now (if not, see screen shot below).

You should be able to mouse over them and see options for easily exporting into your Contact mgmt program, your Calendar program, etc.

Here's a MicroFormat hCard:

Charles F Byrne
Early to Rise
245 NE 4th Avenue
Delray Beach, FL , 33444
USA

This hCard created with the hCard creator. End of hCard.

Here's a MicroFormat hCalendar

November 9th12th, 2008 ETR 2008 Bootcamp– at Delray Beach, Florida
This hCalendar event brought to you by the hCalendar Creator.

End of hCalendar
----------

And here's how it looks when you open up this very post in Firefox with Tails.

Note the yellow/orange tags on the left side.

There's our Microformatted data!

Hey, it's not much but this really works.

Here I've clicked on the hCalendar "export" and now I've got a dialog box opened up.

If I like, I can now import this event into my Outlook calendar, all with the click of the mouse.



Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ski Lodge More Efficient Than Doctor's Office!

I'd arrived at Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Valley ski area Friday around 2PM - and I only had the next day to get in some quick skiing before business meetings on Sunday.

Looking to get an early morning start on the slopes Saturday, I decided to stop by the base lodge and rental shop to check things out in advance just after I'd checked in to my hotel.

I was delighted when I found the rental shop offered a very nice feature: early "online" registration. All too often, Saturday morning at a ski rental area means waiting on long lines and filling out endless forms and releases.

But this shop had a computer terminal and I simply entered all my info (age, height, weight, shoe size etc), saved it to their computer, and printed out a reciept.

When I arrived at the shop Saturday morning at 8AM, I handed them my papers and was on the slopes just minutes later (that's a photo of me an hour later, at the peak of Heavenly, with Lake Tahoe in the background).

Contrast this efficient and customer-friendly program with the ridiculous scene that occurs in so many doctors and dentists offices every day all across the country...

"Oh, you haven't been here in 6 months? Fill out these 8 pages of forms. I know, we have the old ones with 99% of the same information but I need these all new."

Arghhhhhh.

So you spend 10 minutes filling out the same crap and then some clerk spends 20 minutes typing it in and probably getting half of it wrong. So the insurance company then spends 30 minutes processing a bad claim.

Would it be too much for medical professionals to have some kind of online or computer data entry forms for their patients? Just set up some system on a table in the corner when you first check in?

Seems like it would be a win/win to me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

JuiceBlendz.Com Blows It - The Insanity of Image Advertising

It still amazes me to see companies just THROWING money away on image/brand advertising.

Most recent example....

Last night Peggy and I go to the NHL hockey game at Fort Lauderdale's Bank Atlantic Center, 18,000 people in attendance. Arrive at the arena and each seat has an empty styrofoam drink cup in the seat's drink holder.

We sit down, pick it up, and look at the cup. It's colorful on the outside and says something like "Juice Blendz Smoothies".

I look inside the cup, surely expecting to find a 50% off coupon or some other response device. Nothing.

I look on the outside of the cup again. Maybe there's some print "Bring in to store for free smoothie".

Nope.

I have to really look hard simply to find any useful information at all. Finally way at the bottom in small type I see "JuiceBlendz.Com". That's it.

Wonder how much JuiceBlendz spent on this promotion? One thing is for sure - whatever they spent, they'll never be able to quantify their ROI.

If they'd added a simple direct response device, they could have done that - and they'd have meaningful data for improving future campaigns based on the results. And they could have collected email addresses too, by driving their prospects to a website.

Instead, today they have nothing but a vague idea that they spent some money on a campaign.

It reminds me of the classic line... roughly this...

"50% of my advertising budget is money well spent, and 50% isn't. Problem is I don't know which 50% is which".

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Carlton, Makepeace, Masterson writing goes in the Toilet!

Send an article or promotion to run in Early to Rise these days, and it could very well end up right here...


And I don't care if you're Gary Bencivenga, John Carlton, Clayton Makepeace or even Michael Masterson himself!


But here's the thing. It's not because the copy might be crappy. Let me explain...


You see, I review a TON of writing (cue strings).


Every word that runs in Early to Rise, every word of every promotion, advertorial, email, JV deals, you name it, I've read it. And that's not to mention the edits, changes, deletions, etc.


I'm not complaining - I love it - but this is a lot of copy and it takes a lot of time.


And so after ten to twelve hours (or more) on the computer at work, I just can't stand to stare into the monitor at home for 2 or 3 more hours at night. (OK, I can to read sports updates, restaurant reviews, microbrew news, travel ideas... but puhleez - no more friggin work!).


But Lord knows, at ETR we have a daily ezine and the issues must go out - and so they must go through our very strict "quality control" gauntlet of which I am just one part.


So lately, I've started a new routine. I print stuff out. Wow, paper - what a concept!


The advantage is that I can then carry it around and review a few pages whenever I have a moment. At a traffic light... At a quick lunch... When I'm waiting for a haircut... or even when I'm in the... well, you know.


Call me old-school, but I like reading from paper. I seem to get a clearer picture. Little problems with promos jump out at me. Of course when I'm doing serious reviews I do them in quiet and in one session. But for smaller blocks of non-urgent copy, I'm getting a lot more done with this new approach.


Are you an old-schooler too who still likes paper? Let me know if I'm not the only one!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top Ten Blogger Sites - February 2008

Check out the Nielsen Online top ten traffic drawing Blog sites for Feb 2008, via MarketingCharts.Com.

We're not on the list quite yet...

Look at the rapid growth of travel blog Gadling.
Probably worth a look over there to see what they're doing right.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

$597 Million in Free Customer Service Advice!

Can you really build a succesful company based almost entirely on Customer Service?

If you look at online shoe sellers Zappos, the answer has to be a resounding "yes".

I've written before in Early to Rise about my exceptional C/S experiences with them.

But does that translate into cash? Let's look at the numbers:

Zappos Gross Sales

2000 $1.6 million
2001 $8.6 million
2002 $32 million
2003 $70 million
2004 $184 million
2005 $370 million
2006 $597 million

I had a chance to meet briefly with their founder and CEO Tony Hsieh last week in Austin. (He's the one that looks about 17 years old):

Stay tuned to Early to Rise next week where I'll be relating more on that experience - and giving you some of his best advice for building a half-billion dollar company in 6 years!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Solve Your Reader's Problems - Not Yours

Picture your consumers/customers/readers as the cat.

Picture yourself as... well... the guy.

Your marketing message is not about you!

Humorous Pictures

The message may seem obvious - and yet so often I see copy that just out-and-out blows it.

Latest example came at a NHL hockey game, walking amongst the crowd during intermission...

Along comes a young lady holding a sign: “50/50 raffle – get your tickets here”.

I walk right by, briefly wondering what's a "50/50 raffle". I see a few more people holding similar signs, and ignore them (like just about everyone else).

Next week, go to another game. Same people with same sign. Finally, I stop one of them...

"What's the deal with this?" I ask.

"What do you mean?" she says.

"What's the deal with the raffle?" I elaborate.

"Oh, the winner gets 50% of all the money from the tickets sold. It's usually about $1000".

Ahhh - now we are getting somewhere.

"Maybe your sign should mention that," I offer.

"Oh, okay, thanks." she says.

I'm going to a game Friday night. We'll see if they changed, but I'm not counting on it.

Too bad.

How many more tickets do you think would they sell if the sign read "Win $1000 Tonight" instead of "50/50 Raffle"?

Or they could even address a deeper benefit: "Win Free Hockey Tickets Tonight!" (and explain that with the cash you could pay for future tickets).

Wouldn't that be an improvement? What would your raffle sign say?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Airline's Useless Words: This Will Serve as a Blog Post

If airlines want more satisfied passengers, perhaps a small start would be to skip the bizarre lingo and speak like normal people...

Airline: "This will serve as the final boarding call for flight 1123 to Atlanta."
Real Human: "This is the final boarding call for flight 1123 to Atlanta."

Airline: "Be careful as luggage in the overhead compartment has a tendency to shift."
Real Human: "Be careful as luggage in the overhead compartment may have shifted."

Airline: "Please watch your step as you deplane."
Real Human: "Please watch your step as you leave the plane."

What "stupid airline trick" drives you crazy? Let's discuss in the comment section below!

Attention: This will serve as the final sentence in this post. The cabin doors have been opened and at this time you may feel free to deblog.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sheraton NCAA Wave: Instant Social Network Case Study?

Want to witness the launch of a huge, corporate Social Network -building effort as it happens?

Social media maven Shiv Singh from Avenue A/Razorfish advises you to stayed tuned this week for Sheraton Hotel's massive promotion.

Their goal is to get involvment by letting the online community build a sports "wave" for the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament. (You know, like "The Wave" at a real stadium).

A few of Singh's bullet points on Social Influence Marketing:

  • Become your consumer - get closer to them, be like them.

  • Aggregate information for your consumer.

  • Articulate product benefits better.

  • Amplify favorite business stories.

  • Participate where your comsumers are.

  • Don't do it all at once.

You can no longer leave the conversation to marketing!

Zuckerberg / Lacy Meltdown at SXSW: Twitter, Meebo to "Blame"?

Gosh, maybe some of the speakers at SXSW should have read my post last week on managing Live Conference presentations in the new "Age of Meebo".

Grumblings from one session I attended (and was Meebo-ing myself) are now making the rounds as "SXSW Interactive Day 2: Audience Revolt at the Metrics Panel."

And on a much larger scale, things really fell apart in a big way at yesterday's jam-packed Sarah Lacy interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. While Lacy fiddled on stage, Rome was burning in the audience via Twitter and Meebo.

Documentation of the meltdown is spreading like wildfire, a testament to the power of both Meebo and the Blogosphere.

Why You Definitely MUST Sweat the Small Stuff

In copywriting we constantly talk about the importance of specificity.

For example, in Early to Rise we discussed it on June 10, 2006 and on Novemeber 4, 2004 and even on May 12, 2005.

Small details bring writing to life and make your story credible. Michal Masterson once told me "Vagueness, generalization and summaries are death!".



Details count in products as well. Kathy Sierra of "Creating Passionate Users" gave a packed talk yesterday on "Tools for Enchantment: 20 Ways to Woo Users" at SXSW.



At her talk she gave an example of the WOW factor caused by just one little detail...



Have you seen the iPhone?



Have you scrolled it?



Have you noticed the little "bounce" when you stop?



Cool, right?



Just a little detail, for sure, but Sierra explained that the little details add up to the difference between a mediocre product - and a cultural phenomenon like the iPhone.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

From Good to Great - LL Bean Does it Again

Good companies live up to their customer's expectations...

Great companies exceed them.

And sometimes the difference is just a nice little surprise. Take, for example one of my favorites, LL Bean. They surprised me again just this morning.

I take their Nightfinder II Travel Alarm Clock on the road with me. For $19 it's worth having a FAMILIAR alarm of my own instead of fumbling with hotel contraptions.

So I wake up this morning and my hotel alarm clock and the one on the microwave in the kitchenette both say 5:37.

WRONG.

Daylight saving time started Saturday night and it was actually now 6:37.
And what, somehow, did the LL Bean clock say? 6:37 of course.

Again this was just a little thing... but when I saw that correct time I thought to myself
"Wow, LL Bean - there they go again."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

How to Read Your Audience's Mind with Meebo

Taking http://www.sched.org/ a step further, Meebo allows all the attendees in a conference session to chat online amongst themselves.

This could actually be most useful for the speaker. Have an assistant monitoring the conversations and giving you feedback via an earpiece.

"You're losing them... may want to cut this short..."

"You hit a nerve here, they want more info, keep talking..."

Could be horribly distracting for a speaker - but might work if done right.


What do you think? Good idea or no?

Austin, Texas, Beautiful March Evening

Friday night in Austin Texas ...





























Is Twitter for Twits?

BTW, notice I specifically did NOT recommend using Twitter.

Here's what becoming a Twitter-head can say about you...

"I'm an idiot who doesn't have control of my own life. I want other people to control it via interruptions, where they tell me what to do."

It's almost as crazy as the circa-1997 desktop "push" programming movement.

Sure - be a supplicant to someone else's agenda. That's cool, right?

No - Get a life!!! (your own)!!!

I couldn't agree more with Tim Ferriss and Michael Masterson on ignoring the so-called "urgent" issues and sticking with the "important" ones.

Next post has some photos I took walking around Austin tonight... uninterrupted...

It is quite a town.

=====

UPDATE MARCH 14 2008...

I may have to change my thinking on this a bit.

Twitter could be handy in exactly the situation of being at a conference with a group of like-minded people. Then, shut it down until the next event.

More later...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Some Leading Edge Social Time Management Tools

There are some very nice new tools out there for coordinating your time/schedule at busy (aka multi-track) conferences.

Just got out of an opening roundtable at SXSW featuring an "Internet Star" lineup...

* Tim Ferriss (Four Hour Work Week)

* Ian Lloyd (http://www.accessify.com/ - Web accessability tools)

* Rannie Turnigan (http://www.photojunkie.ca/ )

* Jason Toney (Disney Online Developer http://jasontoney.com/ )

* Matt Mullenneg (WordPress founder) @ http://www.ma.tt/

* And the entertaining "Internet bon vivant" Min Jung Kim (http://www.minjungkim.com/)
Some of the cool new things they mentioned...
Every complex multitrack event going forward should have a nice online feature like this:

http://www.sched.org/. Go ahead a play around with it even if you're not at the conference!

Mobile social software Dodgeball (http://www.dodgeball.com/) can also come in handy as a sort of less annoying and more managable Twitter if you're trying to stay in touch with a group of friends or colleagues in a particular major US city.

Sending an “@ location” message (where the location is a restaurant, venue, bar, etc) to Dodgeball will forward your current location to your entire list. If your friend doesn't know where that place is, he can ask the system “location?” and it will ping the person back with an address.

Ian Lloyd produced an interesting site just for the event - it's a list of the"fun social events" - using an upcoming technology called Microformats - which cutting edge SEO folks and bloggers might want to keep an eye on.

http://www.austin.adactio.com/

Techies may want to do View Source on the html.

More from Austin tomorrow. It's Friday evening and time for some serious BBQ.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Bizarre Mystery of the Wireless Network Name

Is there some dastardly reason hotels and airports like to keep their wireless network names a big secret?

How many times have you seen this in an airport recently....

Several people in a waiting area... laptops open...

"Excuse me...are you getting a signal?"

"Yeah, I'm pickup up a few but none of them seem to be working."

"Is there real service here, or are these other people's laptop network's?"

"Beats me."

I've seen this scene played out many times at Washington's Reagan National (DCA) US Air terminal... at Newark (EWR)... and lots of other places too.

C'mon guys... Would it be too tough to post a few signs with the available wireless network name???

And now, I just checked into my hotel here in Austin. It's a nice Marriott, I get up to my room, and good news: Free Wireless! OK, that's a bonus, a lot of hotels charge $10 or more (Paradox: At cheap hotels it's free, at exclusive luxury hotels, it's a fortune).

So I fire up the laptop, and here's which neworks show up from my 11th floor room:

988A
atomic
stayonline
COA_MESH
Magahoc

There's a nice brochure announcing the free wireless but no Network name - argh!

Hmmm. I guess it would be too hard to make one called "Marriott Wireless".

I ended up taking a chance on stayonline, and it turned out to be the right one.

Tell me your war stories of annoying practices with computer access on the road...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Can I Bring You Along With Me to SXSW?

OKAY... here’s a list of just SOME of the very interesting-looking sessions and/or speakers (I’ll bet you recognize at least a few of these).

What question would YOU like me to ask one of these presenters if I get the chance?

Maybe I can get the latest inside stuff from folks at Flickr, Yahoo, Google, Twitter, Facebook and others.

Let me know what ONE question you would ask - and I’ll see if I can get you an answer… It's next best thing to being there. (But sorry, I can't send you that Texas BBQ or great Austin Mexican food I'm hearing about).

Check it out...

Micah Alpern, Yahoo! Inc
A/B Testing: Design Friend or Foe?

David Altounian, iTaggit
Following the Lifecycle of an Idea

Simon Batistoni, Flickr/Yahoo! Inc
Taking Over the World: the Flickr Way

Jim Benton, AdBrite Inc
Online Advertising for Newbies

Rohit Bhargava, Ogilvy
Core Conversation: 10 Easy Ways To Piss Off A Blogger (And Other Mistakes Marketers Make)

Michael Buffington, Grockit Inc
Worst Website Ever: That's So Crazy, It Just Might Work

Daniel Burka, Digg/Pownce
Social Design Strategies

Stuart Candy, Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies
Futurists' Sandbox: Scenarios for Social Technologies in 2025

Alan Citron, TMZ
Gossip

Peter Cole, AKQA Inc
Creating Findable Rich Media Content

Adam Conner, Facebook Inc
Friend Me! Vote for Me! Donate Now!

Blaine Cook, Twitter Inc
Scalability Boot Camp

Henry Copeland, Blogads.com
The Suxorz: The Worst Ten Social Media Ad Campaigns of 2007

Christian Crumlish, Yahoo! Inc
Online Identity: And I *Do* Give a Damn About My Bad Reputation

Jeff Eaton, Lullabot
Content Management System Roundup

Michael Eisner, Tornante LLC
A Conversation with: Michael Eisner

Matthew Esber, NCSoft Corporation
Following the Lifecycle of an Idea

Tim Ferriss, www.fourhourworkweek.com
The Art of Speed: Conversations With Monster Makers

Jason Fried, 37signals
10 Things We've Learned at 37signals

Steve Ganz, LinkedIn
Social Networking and Your Brand

Seth Goldstein, Socialmedia Networks
Peas in a Pod: Advertising, Monetization and Social Media

Will Graham, The Onion (Onion News Network)
Behind the Scenes at the Onion News Network

Janet Greenlee, Fleishman-Hillard
Just Over 50 and Not Dead Yet

Quentin Hardy, Forbes
Managing the Media Blur

Eric Hellweg, Harvard Business Online
The Care and Feeding of Your Startup

Chris Heuer, The Conversation Group
Self Replicating Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing

Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com
Top Ten Lessons Learned in E-Commerce

Guy Kawasaki, Garage Technology Ventures
True Stories from Social Media Sites

Tim Kendall, Facebook
Peas in a Pod: Advertising, Monetization and Social Media

Gary Leland, Podcast Pickle
Core Conversation: Marketing to Real People in Second Life

Ynema Mangum, BMC Software Inc
Social Marketing Strategies Metrics, Where Are They?

Simeon Margolis, Utterz
Scoop the Story on Your Blog

Brian McConnell, Worldwide Lexicon
Lost in Translation? Top Website Internationalization Lessons

Thomas Myer, Triple Dog Dare Media
Lead Generation on the Web

Denise Shiffman, Venture Essentials
The Age of Engage: Reinventing Marketing for Today's Connected, Collaborative, and Hyperinteractive Culture

Jeffrey Veen, Google
The Elephant in a Creative Designer's Living Room

OK So which industry hot-shot should I grill with YOUR question???

Let me know what (and who) you want to ask, by clicking the "Post a Comment" or "x comments" link below...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Heading to South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW)

Later this week I'm off to the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) conference.

I've been wanting to attend this for years. Looking forward to hearing from (and reporting back to you) on cutting edge idea-generators such as MIT professor and futurist Henry Jenkins, Mark Zuckerberg (23 year old founder of Facebook), Tim Ferriss (Four Hour Work Week), Frank Warren (of the viral "My Secret" postcard phenomenon) and lots more.

I can't wait to see what happens when Ferriss (Mister "Turn off your life's interuptions") sits on the same Keynote Panel with one of the principals from Twitter ("Spend your entire life being interrupted").