“Google Slap” and other silly myths

December 13th, 2011

Google doesn’t have the time or resources to hunt down a website that is using black or gray hat techniques — They simply change their algorithm to be a bit smarter.  e.g. if you repeat your keyword 5000 times on a single page, they detect it and give you no credit.

Much of the Google algorithms are geared towards promoting the obvious good and trying their best to filter out the obvious bad.

The more obscure the keyword, the bolder you can be.  If you’ve a somewhat obscure or true niche keyword, you can probably be pretty bold and delve into somewhat gray-hat techniques to promote it.  Think about it… if there are only three sites in the world with a keyword, Google is more about promoting the most popular than filtering out the imposters.  Three is a silly number, but you get the idea. Google isn’t going to hunt you down if you are the only one selling “bent 1976 pennies”.

Bottom line advice:  If you are in a real niche’, don’t be so paranoid.  Get yourself some questionable back links and see your site rise to the top.

Podcasts at Warp Speed

September 12th, 2010

I might be a little behind the curve but I just discovered podcasts.

Of course I knew of them, but never really got into them.  Wow, there are about a zillion of them, and on just about every topic you can imagine… and FREE!  The XM-Radio app on my droid stopped working with the last OS update (I’ll rant about that another time) and was desparate for something to keep me company on my daily walks.

The cool part, again, maybe something that everyone else knew but me… there is a double speed option on my ipod-touch.  It’s perfect for listing to podcasts… (I can listen way faster than most people talk :)

Learn to Love What You (think that you) Hate

August 23rd, 2010

I heard a stat today:  “Most people who are rich HATE what they do, but LOVE the results.”

It struck a chord.

It’s the Good Salesman Dilemma.  Technically they hate cold calls, but the good ones recognize that prospecting is required to succeed.  So indirectly, they love cold calling, but yet each call… well it doesn’t feel much like love — it sucks.

The principle translates to many things: 
Sports:  Training sucks — winning rocks!  So training doesn’t suck?
Joe Blue-collar: Earning sucks — New boat rocks!  So digging ditches is fun?
Dilbert:  Hates his boss and cube — New PC and geek collection… way cool.  So does he really love his boss?

Success is about focus and priorities.  If building a company is the joy and the prize, then the hated paperwork minutia is actually fun, even though you hate it…

Successful people learn to love the things they hate because they lead to the things they love.

It makes your head hurt and maybe gets you dizzy.  But it’s truth.  Grok it.  Live it.  Love it.

Spreadsheets are Evil – Monitor and Measure

August 14th, 2010

Making marketing spreadsheets – their results are fickle.  A spreadsheet  will tell you anything you want to hear.  Tweak up the conversion rate, noodle with the average order price, and factor in the lifetime value… you can make millions (in the spreadsheet) without breaking a sweat.

Every marketing campaign needs a goal, needs to be monitored, and most importantly… needs commitment.  Noodle with the spreadsheet all you want… at the end of the day, only results matter.

Whether you are doing PayPerClick or direct mail, you need to monitor and measure.
Commitment is always hard.  The right thing to do is to use a spreadsheet to explore options, decide on pass/fail criteria (unemotionally) and then go for it.

Pulling the plug on a marketing campaign is of course always an option, but better (MUCH BETTER) to decide up front the expected returns (or losses) and ride it out or pull the plug according to plan.  If the plan is six touches, then early results may be misleading.  Zero after five does not necessarily mean you should bail.

Decide up front the risk, and follow through.  It is the only way to get smarter.  If you think you might bail after five touches with zero response… then architect that into the plan.  Think through all forks in the road and plan for them.  Do things on purpose.  React mode is always scarier then executing a plan.

Swirling gut feel and instincts into pure numbers is still the correct answer for successful marketing.
 
It is a thinking game.  If it was anything else, everyone would be rich.
Adding just a little bit of order to the chaos of life makes everything just a little easier.

Good Clean Marketing

August 7th, 2010

I’m continually shocked at the number of companies and/or sales people who seem to not to want to make the sale.  They make their process so hard, or are unresponsive to the point that I put my dollar back in my pocket and move on.

One of the things I vowed when I bought the EmbroidMe store was that I would run the business logically.

Logic means many things.  At the core of my store (Hey… that rhymes :) is that I try not to overreact to anything, and maintain a very rational business exchange.   I don’t sell.  — I print on shirts, if you need printed shirts we should talk. 

As a business, of course my prices are competitive, but again of course,  not always the lowest.  I’d give you my rant on low-price-shopping here, but I’ll save that for another day.

When we talk, I know the technology and costs, and quote fair and reasonable prices.  I don’t expect my customers to understand all the nuances — that is my job.  I am more than willing to explain why the swirling thing-a-ma-jig will cost a little bit more than a one color logo.  

Many of the things that have kept the store in business for five years (woo-hoo!  Five years!!!) Is that we are what our parents taught us to be… kind, Courteous and respectful. 

Real Example:
Someone emailed me two days ago about a quote for shirts.  I responded to him in less than a day (he was shocked).  Even more shocking, I brought him a sample today (at no cost) .  He was wow’d at the level of service.  I’m glad that he thought it was special, but really… if someone is interested in 400 shirts, a one shirt investment on my part is very “logical” — why not?  And bringing it to him made sense too.  Why would I want a customer to work.?  It was just the right thing to do.

 Doing the right thing is not hard.  Doing the right thing is usually Good Clean Marketing

I can spot a bad design a mile away

August 6th, 2010

I spent most of my afternoon wrestling with one of the most convoluted and unfriendly programs I have seen in quite a while. 

Sometimes, being a software engineer and understanding a bit about the internals, I can be more understanding or at least sympathize with technical challenges.   Some things, in spite of all of our wonderful technology, are inherently difficult or awkward to implement.  I get that.  But in this case, it was just bad design.  

When I was through being frustrated, I was just sad. 

Sloppy engineering just makes me sad. 

If you can’t do something right, don’t do it at all.  Really.

Synergy of Things

August 4th, 2010

 It’s way too easy to be overwhelmed by all the things that you should be doing. 

 Have hope.  There is a way out!

I’m currently noodling with marketing strategies and honestly am overwhelmed.  That said,  I have a plan.  A plan that I have seen work again and again — So am confidently pressing forward.

 In the development world, I use the “done” and “Done-Done'” approach to getting a job completed.   Whether I actually invented it or borrowed it from somewhere matters not … it works.

 The essence of the plan is that a project needs to be “done” long before it is really “Done”.

 Done with a small “d” is that the project hangs together such that the principal decision makers can now peel their way to the REAL requirements.   Done (small d) is a wire frame, with hooks into the good parts, such that everyone  can see the dream and intelligently see what’s missing.

 Complete requirements are a difficult thing. 

 So back to my marketing dilemma… I have a million ideas and limited time and budget.  What to do ?

 Easy, actually.  I will wire-frame the plan, knowing  what needs to be done with each  piece, prioritize, and progress.  Get to done, and know that Done-Done will come later.

 The essence of marketing is the sum of the parts.  No one thing necessarily works or fails — but any one part can easily win the day.

 Confused?  Don’t be.

 Here is the answer;

1. List all of the things that you should or could  be doing

2. Prioritize the list

3. Have a “next step” for everything on the list

4. Start Doing (get to done on each step)

 The key is picking reasonable “Next Steps”. 

 For example, if you need a website, a reasonable next step is to get a simple landing page in place.  The website is done, but certainly not Done-Done.

 Along with my “done-done’ strategy, I also believe in the synergy of nuance. 

 Do what you believe to be true.  The little things, the nuance, create an unstoppable synergy.

 Do.

Win.

Be well.

Field Runners: Round 500

July 11th, 2010

Focus is on stopping the air attacks, while putting the skeleton in place for the maze that will be needed to keep the ground attack in check. (e.g. put the mortar where you will eventually be building a Gatling wall, but direct all funds towards the middle until you need it. a couple Gatling’s NOT BUILT can mean a timely upgrade to stop a would-be escape.

If the ground guys are still being stopped in the first third, then focus on the middle.  (Be mindful of the motorcycle and Boss rounds… )

Avoid Early Attrition:

Looking back at screen shots:
At round 227, I still had all 20 lives!
Round 247: 19 left
Round 287: 19 left
Round 301: 18
Round 320: 18
Round 407: 14

 
Favor upgrade over new (get out of the early rounds efficiently as possible.  Decide where the next placement will do the most strategic damage.  Place your mortars, and then upgrade it before moving on.

Goo is important — study the field of fire, put the goo where it will do the most good.

Try to put new towers such that if you get upgrade points mid or late round, you can upgrade the tower and it will help you win the round.  (Some of this is luck, and some is using  jedi skills.)

Pause or have quick fingers.  know what you want to upgrade or build and do it as soon as funds are available.  Sometimes it is the difference between a clean round and something sneaking through.

More Mortars in the middle.  Not just coverage over the middle, but down the middle row.  The mortars tend to take a long time.  Side mortars lobbing into the middle are less efficient than mortars down the middle.

FieldRunners Round 500

What Business Can Learn from Field Runners

June 25th, 2010

If you have a winning strategy (plan) you need patience. If you are saving for a ZOT, the chaos matters not.  If a motorcycle slips through… shrug; you know you will have to take a couple of losses if you are going for the big win. 

If you panic (react to the fray) it means the beginning of the end.  Diverting precious resources to avert a small short term disaster (one escaping motorcycle) will domino into an even bigger disaster in later rounds.

In Round 300, when you are just $20 short of an upgrade to a critical zot that would have stopped five helicopters, you will regret the early round panic.  You will.

Field Runners also teaches us that some strategies are just wrong.  No amount of quick reflexes or strategic tower upgrades will help… given the real world, the plan is just plain flawed and will fail.  If your gut says the plan is flawed… just reset and start fresh.   

So where does that leave our heroes?  If you  have a plan that you are confident in … work the plan.  Resist the temptation to fiddle with a well thought out plan.  Let the rouge motorcycle escape.  It makes you sad, but surviving to round 450 is worth the angst.

FieldRunners as an Art Form

May 16th, 2010

Ok, so you’ve made it to a million and getting a bit bored… check out this beautiful layout.  Tell me it’s not art!

FieldRunners Gatling Gun strategy

Fieldrunners strategy using only Gatlings