May 29, 2003

Online Divorce?

Apparently so, reports CNN.

For fees ranging from $50 to $300 -- a small fraction of what most lawyers charge even for an uncontested divorce -- couples are being provided with the appropriate forms and varying degrees of help completing them.

The phenomenon is spreading. Rival firms and each say they have served 20,000 clients nationwide in less than three years of operation. Hits on the divorce section of the California court system's do-it-yourself Web site soared from 6,800 in May 2002 to about 15,000 last month.

Thankfully I'm not worried about this. I'm happily engaged to Amy. Who is, by the way, living it up in Ireland right now on an MBA trip. She says I'd love it because it's all about the Guinness and the pubs. I think she's right.

I wonder how long it will be before Rageboy and Locke call it quits? I wonder how they would decide who kept what on their wedding registry (I guess it's kinda obvious).

May 20, 2003

Corporate Adaptation to Blog Technologies

Hurray. Applause. Thank you very much. Thank you very much to Todd Brehe who might be the first in a marketing publication to give practical, real world, easy-to-use advice corporations can understand in how to adapt to blogging as a form of communications.

"Adapt." That concept has been missing from the lexicon of others writing about integrating blogging into corporate marketing and communication strategies. Todd calls blogs a disruptive technology ... and they really are in terms of the corporate world because as a means of communicating they are far different from the "attractive, expensive, stale, diluted ... corporatespeak" corporations are accustomed to providing. Blogs on the other hand "offer the human voice, which can be loud, controversial, and even wacky. But the realness of the blog inspires trust and piques people’s curiosity. A blog can create a community and a dynamic discussion."

Todd gives us four main benefits of blogs to business:

Blogs Are the “Real Voice" - which "inspires trust and piques people’s curiosity"
Blogs Are Simple - not to mention low cost
Blogs Empower the Individual - a "single person [can] capitalize on the reach and ubiquity of the Web"
Blogs Empower the Enterprise - "knowledge can be organized, distributed, and leveraged to increase the value of product and service offerings to the customer" through knowledgeable and passionate people in the company.

Todd tells us companies
should understand that controlling the content of the discussion is difficult. If you want an authentic exchange, you have to be willing to accept the stone-throwing and critical comments that often occur in a blog.

This requires extending trust and giving up some of the control a company would normally have when it publishes a press release or hosts its own online forum, for example. The upside is that people will listen to a real voice.

Hence, how and why companies should adapt and start using blogs a means of communicating.

May 16, 2003

For future reading. Dave Pollard has some good stuff (at first glance) on blogs in business.

This is a problem I have frequently. Find something with depth or length that I really want to sink my teeth into, but don't have time. Someone with more technical prowess than myself should create a tool that would allow one to quickly store links they want to reference later. Sort of a short-term Bookmark. Or a Blog Task, similar to Outlook's Tasks.

May 15, 2003

Are You David Nelson?

If so, you're on "the list." From Boing Boing (full article here):
David Nelson of Gresham says he was searched and screened three times at the Portland airport, then again at the gates of Dallas and Atlanta airports before arriving in Savannah, Ga., last month. "It's as if they think you've been transformed into a terrorist en route. You'd think one screening was enough, when you haven't left a secure area the entire trip."
"What really concerned me," says David Nelson of Northwest Portland, who recently was delayed trying to fly to Juneau, Alaska, to take care of his mother, "was even when they determined I wasn't the one on the list, it's like I had a label on my forehead that says, 'One must frisk this person at every opportunity and go through his luggage.' It's as if I were a pariah." David had no idea why he was being singled out; no one mentioned a list. "My son is a pilot for Continental; I thought maybe that had something to do with it."

Oregon state Sen. David Nelson, from Pendleton, also had no idea why he was being delayed at airports. "Then we flew into the Medford airport on Horizon, and one of the agents said, 'Your name is on the list. You're going to be checked every place you go.' That was a shock."

Remember Ozzie and Harriet's son, David Nelson? "I got stopped at the John Wayne Airport" in Orange County, Calif., he said by phone from Los Angeles this week. "Two police officers knew who I was and tried to explain to the guy behind the security desk. It didn't faze him at all." Even as another officer was saying he had once met David's mother, Harriet, David was being instructed to remove his shoes, he says. "I asked, 'Does the guy on the list have a middle name of Ozzie?' He said, 'It just says David Nelson.' "

There are approx. 37,900 search results for "David Nelson" on Google.

May 14, 2003

Adding 2 new blogs to the blogroll:
Conversations with Dina by Dina Mehta
For the Sake of Clarity: The Digital Tavern by Allan Karl.
Both of which have insightful pieces on corporate blogging (aka business blogging): Dina's and Allan's.

May 13, 2003

Who Owns Your Brand?

"Give customers ownership in your brand." So heard Kristine Kirby Webster, who wrote "Who Owns Your Brand" on MarketingProfs. Sounds similar to what David Weinberger said in a Fast Company article a while back: "The biggest mistake that most companies make is to think that a Web site belongs to them. Companies just don't get it. Individuals believe that the Web belongs to us." I commented then too.
From Kristina:
And in an increasingly automated society, brands that create an emotional relationship with customers stand to gain a great deal: loyalty, profits, brand ambassadors, and even growth.

May 12, 2003

Fundementals of Managing Business Innovation by Mohanbir Sawhney (thanks IdeaFlow)
– Radical innovation in value created , not in technology
–Often disruptive to core business, though not necessarily so
–More substantial than product innovation
–More dimensions than technological innovation
– Requires thinking holistically about the business system

May 01, 2003

Introduction to Blogs

Yahoo has enhanced their directory of weblogs. A pretty good starting point for blog beginners trying to get connected.

After exploring a little bit further I found this decent size list of baseball blogs. I was wondering when sports blogs were going to take off. I've registered one of my own on Blogger, "Blog to the Redskins," but haven't done anything with it yet.

The New Advertising Business

Doc's latest in Linux Journal.
The whole time I was in that business, I noticed how many problems derived from a single ironic fact: our customers and our consumers were different populations. This also was true for the media in which we placed our advertising. The people who paid for the advertising were not the same as the people who received it. Because readers, viewers and listeners paid nothing for the advertising they consumed, their direct influence on the advertising they consumed was about the same. Between advertisers and consumers, advertising was not a way for the twain to meet--that's what sales and promotion was for.

Doc Quoting Richard Holding of Google's Adwords program:
The premise behind the ads on the right side, Adwords, is an auction model. People bid on placement based on keywords. They set the maximum cost per click (CPC) they're willing to pay. In effect, they set their true reservation price: the maximum they're willing to pay. They pay no more than slightly above the next lowest competitor, so there's no winner's curse where you outbid everybody by an extreme margin. This creates a competitive marketplace where advertisers bid on leads generated for them by search results.
We take a relevancy factor into account. We rank the ad, based on the click-through rate. So a lower-bid ad with a higher click-through rate will be ranked, placed, higher in the list of results.

Doc argues that this model will change the face of advertising. I tend to disagree. While I applaud its effectiveness, it really is no different than a more sophisticated model of what the yellow pages industry terms "directional marketing." Directional marketing is simply a form of advertising where instead of the advertiser pushing a message out to the consumer, customers are seeking the advertiser. The auction and relevancy model at Google just makes this process easier and more customer-friendly.

There is still a need for businesses to generate brand recognition, awareness, preference and reinforcement. While there may be no customer demand for this messaging, that doesn't mean that good advertising is ineffective. The key to successful brand advertising and even direct response is to target an audience who will respond to, either the message or an offer, without being alienated or annoyed. It's just that we're in a world where this isn't being done effectively because frequency and intrusion is a primary strategy for many advertisers. The volume is being turned up, when really it's the composition that should be refined.