Archive for May, 2007

Problems You Didn’t Know You Had

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

When the pharmacy companies run out of drugs to sell you for real problems, they make up diseases. I wonder why they don’t just work on making drugs for the real diseases that already existed.

Anyway.

I just saw a commercial for Dove deodorant. Usually, an antiperspirant/deodorant’s claims are going to be that you will be drier and smell lovely.

Dove didn’t mention that at all. They said you will have softer, smoother underarms. I live in the desert. I wear tank tops, and plenty of people do too. Underarms abound here. And I’ve never noticed any underarms, and thought, "MAN that is one not soft and not smooth underarm."

Is this a widespread, huge problem? Is the biggest problem with people’s underarms dryness and rough skin?


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By “Unique,” We Mean “Like Everyone Else”

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

There’s a company in my industry with whom I don’t compete. Their core service is software for eBay sellers. They offer "creative" services, which would include eBay listing template and e-commerce Store design. So we have some overlapping services, but the way they do their designs is quite unlike ours. We approach it like a marketing firm, and spend weeks hammering out something custom and unique that fits that client’s personality. They mostly use the same cookie cutter for everybody. I’ve always felt that if you want that same look, you want them and not us. If you want something truly unique, you want us and not them. So we really don’t compete.

They recently ran this as some sort of promotion. Click to enlarge.

I found it interesting that they’re using many of the same words we use in our marketing, but I have to say that I disagree with what this ad says! I don’t believe that a top banner with a stock photo and your message means company personality. It’s still a banner. When people scroll past it, what personality are you conveying? According to this ad, the background colour expresses your uniqueness and enhances the buying experience. Wow! That’s a lot to hang on blue #012d96, but if they’re promising it, it must be true! :)

What makes this site or its design special? If you are shopping jewelry websites, will this one stand out? If this layout is the one that works and everybody gets it but with a different stock image and a different background colour, how will any of these stores stand out? We think they won’t.

This company is charging $1999 for this. We’re charging $1500 to customise their storefronts (if we’ve done your listing template and can make the two match), except that ours will be based on truly custom and unique work.

I’ll give them "custom" in that they probably let you pick a basic layout, background colour, and top image, but it’s still a cookie cutter. I don’t want the definitions of custom, unique, or personality to get muddied. They still mean what you think they mean. I’m just not sure those words were used correctly here. We define "custom," "unique," and "personality" very differently.


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Meet Ugly Men

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

An alumni group of which I’m a part just switched to Google Groups for all of our communication. The right side has sponsored links that are supposed to be relevant. Well, the alumni group is for our college a capella group, so it’s not about dating. It’s not about ugly people. It’s not about race.

How does Google think this is relevant? Who is sitting around hoping to date an ugly man? What the heck is going on here?


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My Shirt Says…

Monday, May 14th, 2007

A guy on line behind me at the Chinese food place isn’t bad looking. Young. Looks like a construction worker or painter given the condition of his jeans and shoes.

And then I notice his shirt.

TD’s Show Club. That’s his shirt. It’s made to look like a Tommy Hilfiger American flag design, but that doesn’t change what it is and what it says. And what is TD’s? A strip club.

Then I notice he’s not wearing a wedding ring. OK. Then II’m thining nobody is terribly wounded when he’s out stuffing g-strings with dollars.

But it got me thinking. If you were single and you wanted to meet women, is that the best shirt to wear around town? If you’re gay and you want to meet men, that’s definitely not the shirt to wear around town. So I guess this shirt really says,

I’m single, and I want to stay that way.


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What Are Pets

Friday, May 11th, 2007

I found this blog post http://survivalofthesickestthebook.com/blog/wp-trackback.php?p=156 and I have to say I agree with it.

I think our society is trying to take dogs (and some other pets) and turn them into very well-behaved people. Forget that they’re animals. Forget that dogs are more sensitive than most people. We should have them sitting around alone, waiting for us, and then when we get home, we just don’t have the time and energy for them. We want them to sleep where and when we want them to sleep. We want them to eat where, when, and what we want them to eat.

I have known people who have confined their pets while they go to work, and they all tell me their pet is fine. What does that mean? Your pet hasn’t murdered you yet? Your pet still eats when you finally give it food? How do you know your pet is fine? Would you be fine if you were left for 8 hrs in your bathroom or in a cage? So you’ll confine your pet all day and then give it anti-depressants? Or you’ll be surprised when it doesn’t behave like a well-punished child?

I agree with the blog post. Why did you get the pet? If you are not going to be around with or for your pet, and you’re not going to give it space to run in while you go to work, get a plush toy dog. You can treat that pretty much any way you want. It will love you unconditionally.


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No Interest Until…

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

I see a lot of commercials saying if you buy this furniture now, you won’t pay interest until like 2011. I never understood how those people made any money. I couldn’t keep my business open if you got our services now and got to slowly pay them off for 3-4 years. That’d kill my cash flow!

Evidently that’s OK for this furniture company. But one thing I noticed in reading some fine print is that usually, the interest is deferred. That means that if you can’t pay off your whole balance by a certain date, you get ALL the interest you accrued over those years all of a sudden DUMPED on you.

That’s going to be bad. If you haven’t paid off the balance after being given a long time, adding the interest is going to be a very unwelcome surprise. So just make sure that before you jump on any promotional interest offer, you read it thoroughly. They don’t always explain these clearly or in large enough type to read. :) I wonder why!


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Proven Strategy

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

I got a spam mail, even though my spam filter. It wanted me to go to a wealth-building workshop. It told me to expect:

  • To Learn No-Bull Proven Strategy
  • To Gain Real-World Industry Knowledge
  • To Begin YOUR Step-By-Step Business Plan
  • To Leave This Workshop EDUCATED & INSPIRED!
  • To Work Hard and Retire Rich!

So what can I really expect? 1 strategy evidently. Lies and common sense are knowledge, so maybe they should be more specific. :)

I wonder if I can get a guarantee in writing that if I do what they say that I will retire RICH within 10 years, like the email said. If you can’t guarantee it, don’t promise it, don’t offer it, and don’t put it in your marketing.


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Selective Service

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Don’t ask why, but I’m on hold to talk to the Selective Service… our government agency who gets men 26 and under to register in case we have a military draft. I will never think that "Selective Service" is the right name for this programme!

The on-hold message is very interesting. Heaps of information. But what stands out to me is when the guy says that the Selective Service is like an insurance policy so that American is never caught "off guard."

I would think that if you started drafting people, you would have a HUGE amount of people caught off guard. In fact, just about every person you drafted would be off guard and not exactly ready for military service. If those people wanted to be in the military, they would have just enlisted.

So in case of some sort of military emergency, America’s military would evidently have to be made up of untrained people who didn’t want to serve. How is that going to help us!?!?!?


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Yahoo Closes Auctions

Monday, May 7th, 2007

http://auctions.yahoo.com/show/us/eol_retire?type=message

So it finally happened. Yahoo decided to close Yahoo Auctions, and evidently quite soon. I’d guess that it was either not being used much (easy to close) or it was bleeding money/resources (desperate to close).

Through the years, clients and eBay sellers with whom we spoke always wanted to know if they should be selling on other sites. We’ve always said the same thing all along, so I’ll say it again.

We think that for many online sellers (but not everybody of course), a great strategy is a combination of selling on eBay and selling from your own online e-commerce site. We hear lots of great things about selling from Amazon, so we’d recommend that too, though without you getting to do much branding or design, there’s nothing our company can do to help there.

From there, it’s up to your marketing and advertising dollars. You’ve got to know eBay strategy to make sales there. You’ve got to spend money getting people to your website. You can’t just open a website and assume it runs itself. Certainly the same is true for an eBay business. So this has to be in place for the model we’re recommending.

We’ve never been excited about Yahoo, Overstock, or any of the other sites. I’m sure some niche sites work for people, but in general, we wouldn’t push most sellers to sell there.

Am I saying anything amazing or ground-breaking? Probably not. But I will say that I never though Yahoo was a strong spot for auctions, and I’m still not sold on Overstock. Considering the data I’ve seen from them, I won’t be surprised if they stop bothering with auctions at some point.


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By “Printing,” We Mean Photocopying

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Out of curiosity, I just called Kinko’s to quote a printing job. Their website claims up and down that they can print anything. I usually take my large poster printing to them. So I was curious what they would quote me for regular colour printing.

I told them I needed 5500 letter sized brochures, CMYK colour on both sides, and then folded in half so that they’re 8.5" x 5.5". Plain glossy paper would be fine… nothing special or heavy.

The guy quoted me nearly $4,000. He told me that they print one, and then colour copy it, both sides. Huh? Is that really the smartest? I always thought colour copying loses quality. Who would want that? That probably looks pretty unprofessional compared to having it run on a press.

I used to order my printing from psprint.com. I found that the quality was VERY uneven. I was convinced that nobody was checking things as they rolled off the line.

The printing company I use, Beard Printing, can be found at custompostcards.com. You want to talk to Brenda at extension 115 as she’s my FANTASTIC sales woman, and has been for years. They’re going to print my job on a real press, and they want around $800 to run 10,000. The friendly and personal service, the great print quality, the good pricing, and lots more keep me quite loyal to them.

Kinko’s – bad marketing. Beard Printing – good marketing!


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