Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dadnab Media Coverage

A couple of weeks ago, I sent a press release to Austin media outlets announcing the launch of Dadnab. (The service has been operational for over a year, but for various reasons I had held off on announcing it to the traditional media.)

Two weeks later, stories or mentions of Dadnab have so far appeared in three publications:
  1. Austin Business Journal. A blurb appeared in the 6-22-2007 print edition.
  2. Austin Chronicle. The "Naked City" column dedicated a section on Dadnab in the 6-28-2007 print and on-line editions. Also, on 6-25-2007, an entry on Dadnab appeared in the "Chronic" blog.
  3. Daily Texan. Both the print and on-line editions of the 6-28-2007 University of Texas campus newspaper contain a full-blown article on Dadnab.
Properly-crafted press releases really do stimulate media coverage.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Seth Godin on Focus

Seth Godin points out one reason that focus is so important in marketing:
[Y]ou can learn much earlier in the process if you've gotten it right or not.
Because you're making more per sale, you can spend the time necessary to figure
out what really sells and modify your offering sooner in the process.
When you're all things to everyone, you're nothing to anyone.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance

The power and pervasiveness of cognitive dissonance and the rationalization are phenomena that all marketers should understand. Read about them here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Requirements Elicitation Research

Over on Seilevel's Requirements Defined blog, Joy Beatty wrote about some research into requirements gathering. The results of the research appeared in a paper, "Child's play: using techniques developed to elicit requirements from children with adults" (IEEE membership or subscription required). The research was mainly into eliciting requirements from children, but many of the same lessons apply to adults.

The main lesson from the paper seems to be that it is foolhardy to elicit requirements from children or from adults by simply asking them what they want. Placing them in realistic scenarios and focusing first on what they are trying to achieve - rather than how to achieve it - is the key to successful requirements elicitation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Project Comparison: Agile and Waterfall

Chris Woodill wrote about two software projects that his organization is working on. One project is using agile methods. The other project is using a waterfall process.

Chris compared and contrasted the results so far.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Lessons from Apple

The Economist has an article about Apple and business lessons to learn from it. According to the article, the lessons are:
  1. Incorporate outside innovations. Not all innovative ideas have to come from within your own company.
  2. Design from the perspective of users, not from the perspective of a technologist. Usability is key.
  3. Be willing to ignore what the market says it wants today. Sometimes, concentrating on prospective instead of existing customers is the best policy.
  4. Fail wisely. Expect some of your products to fail and to learn from those failures.

More on "failing wisely":

The fourth lesson from Apple is to “fail wisely”. The Macintosh was born from the wreckage of the Lisa, an earlier product that flopped; the iPhone is a response to the failure of Apple's original music phone, produced in conjunction with Motorola. Both times, Apple learned from its mistakes and tried again. Its recent computers have been based on technology developed at NeXT, a company Mr Jobs set up in the 1980s that appeared to have failed and was then acquired by Apple. The wider lesson is not to stigmatise failure but to tolerate it and learn from it.
Will the iPhone ultimately be a success, or failure from which Apple learns? Time will tell.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Seth Godin: Against Meaningful Logos

The best logos and brand names have little or no preconceived meaning and little or no relation to your product. So it's good to see Seth Godin come out so unambiguously against "meaningful" logos:
If you're given the task of finding a logo for an organization, your first task should be to try to get someone else to do it. If you fail at that, find an abstract image that is clean and simple and carries very little meaning--until your brand adds that meaning. It's not a popularity contest. Or a job for a committee. It's not something where you should run it by a focus group. It's just a placeholder, a label waiting to earn some meaning.
If you find yourself or your team evaluating the quality of a logo in terms of what it conveys about your product - instead of it conveying little or nothing at all - you're on the wrong track.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Reference Cards

If your marcom team is thinking of creating a brochure, stop and think about its purpose and context.
  • Where are you going to make it available to prospective customers?
  • Do you expect or want them to read it as soon as they pick it up?
  • Do you expect or want them to take it home or to work with them?
  • Do you want customers to hand them out to their colleagues/friends?
  • Do you want customers to keep them on hand for reference?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you might consider information or reference cards instead of a brochure. If you distribute durable cards the size of a standard business card (3.5" x 2"), customers are more likely to:
  • Take it home or to work.
  • Hand them out to their colleagues and friends.
  • Keep them in their purses or wallets for reference.
Sometimes a brochure is the way to go, but it depends.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Ayn Rand and Taxation

Ayn Rand is a hero of libertarians and other advocates of limited government. Many of her fans complain about progressive taxation and favor a flat tax. A progressive tax system is one in which the tax rate is higher for larger incomes, profit, or sales cost. A flat tax system is one in which the tax rate is the same for all incomes, profit, or sales cost.

Most proponents of flat taxation argue that having the wealthy contribute a disproportionate share of their income towards the government's expenses is unfair and wrong. They may even quote Ayn Rand as part of their argument.

I don't want to argue for or against a flat tax here. But I do want to dispense with the notion that Ayn Rand opposed the wealthy contributing a disproportionate share of their wealth or income to the legitimate operations of government.

The money quote is from Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness:
It is in their own interests that the men of greater ability have to pay for the maintenance of armed forces, for the protection of their country against invasion; their expenses are not increased by the fact that a marginal part of the population is unable to contribute to these costs. Economically, that marginal group is nonexistent as far as the costs of war are concerned. The same is true of the costs of maintaining a police force: it is in their own interests that the abler men have to pay for the apprehension of criminals, regardless of whether the specific victim of a given crime is rich or poor.
Almost sounds like class warfare rhetoric, doesn't it?

A couple of subtleties and qualifications:

First, recognize that Rand believes the government's only proper role is defense, enforcement of contracts, and law enforcement. Rand's opinions on the funding of government therefore cover only those expenses.

Second, Rand did propose a flat tax of sorts but it was voluntary:
[T]he cost of . . . voluntary [my emphasis] government financing would be automatically proportionate to the scale of an individual's economic activity.
Rand pointed out that most of the poor, since they have little at stake, would likely not contribute at all. So what may have appeared to be advocacy of a flat tax in fact more closely resembles progressive taxation in its effect.

A pure disciple of Ayn Rand therefore must therefore favor not only a minimal role for government, but a progressive system of funding it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Positioning Statements - Courtesy of Wal-Mart and GSD&M

A leaked Wal-Mart competitive analysis (prepared by GSD&M) gives some nice positioning statements:
  • Best Buy = Electronics, because they provide information and knowledge to help you make an informed decision.
  • Kohl's = Apparel, because they provide a wide selection of brand-name apparel for any occasion, any style and any budget in a stylish environment that inspires browsing.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond = Home Decor, because they have great displays that provide ideas on how to pull looks together.
  • Walgreens = Quick Prescriptions, because you get them quickly and efficiently so you can get back in bed.
Details here. Via Brand Autopsy.