Archive for March, 2008

When Someone Great Saves The Day

Monday, March 31st, 2008

http://www.cary.intlminutepress.com/

They saved the day for me. I want to thank them, and I want everybody to know how GREAT they are. Thank you PAUL.

So Friday morning, I’m at the gym at 7:30am when I realise that my current company brochures are unusable, and I was supposed to get brochures to ChannelAdvisor in 1 biz day so that they can be put in the attendee bags for Catalyst.

What do I do?

Well, I rip my husband off the treadmill (sorry, honey), and we run home. I’m in a panic. Who is going to print these that fast? He says someone near ChannelAdvisor. I said I’ll start with my current print company. Long story short, my current print company had a noon deadline, and at 11:30am, their website stopped working. Oh it worked well enough to charge my card, but I couldn’t upload my files. So they’ll be crediting me.

But everything happens for a reason. I went to Yahoo Local and looked for printing near Cary, NC. I found Paul’s shop. Paul was amazing. I haven’t seen the printing, but I’m assuming it’s great or good enough. :)

Paul had my job PRINTED before I had even paid. I DID pay, and he put it and his wife on the back of his motorcycle. He offers free delivery in the area, and with the nice weather there, he decided it was going on the bike. Thanks to Kathy Todd @ CA for receiving our last minute package!

We’ll have Paul print our signs too, and we’ll get to meet him today. We land in Raleigh-Durham at 2pm. We should be at Paul’s shop around 3:30pm. I am just so thrilled and grateful. There are great people out there with nimble businesses who are willing to help and get things done. That’s great marketing, and I always appreciate that.


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Referral Commissions

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I was just thinking about something. Play this out with me. :)

We offer partners a referral commission. If they send someone to us, we give them 5% of the contract amount for the person they sent. Our average sale is $3000, so some people are happy with that percentage, especially since we want you to do NO selling. Don’t sell us! Just refer people to us and let us do the sales. We’re good at it, plus we only want to sign the right people for the right services.

Some people think that 5% is too small, and they want more of a cut. Firstly, I’m not sure how much they deserve when they’re not really doing any sales or work. They’re just telling someone to call us, or us to call them. Secondly, if Company X can afford to give someone say 15% as a commission, then that’s money they can lose and STILL be profitable.

As in let’s say you pay someone $1500, and let’s say they pay $225 to their affiliate as a commission or referral fee. That means that this company could be charging you $1275, and still make money. When the sale doesn’t come from a referral, Company X just makes even more.

I was just thinking about giving people a great price for the services you provide. I feel a little weird that some people can offer 10%, 15%, maybe even 25% kickback to someone else. This year, we raised our prices because we have been packing more service and attention into what we do. It costs us money internally, so we need to bring that in as revenue.

How would you feel if I raised our prices just to have more of a buffer to give out as commissions? Anybody can do this math. If you know that I only give 5% to everybody, then you know that I am pricing things pretty much as low as I can. If you find out another company gives 25% in commissions, imagine if you got that 25% off instead of that company pocketing it or giving it to the friend who referred you.

It reminds me of a conversation I had in my eBay Live booth a few years ago. A woman stopped in my booth, and was nearly angry that I didn’t have lots of freebies for her. She asked me where was the free stuff? I replied, "You think that free stuff is free? The more I have made up to give you to for free here, the more I have to charge you when you hire my company." She walked off in a huff.

I guess I’m still part socialist. I like to see the client get the best price rather than build in huge buffers for us just in case someone gets a commission. I’d rather that commissions be small thank yous rather than things that drive people, or something that makes or breaks relationships. I’d like people to refer us because we’re the best, and then enjoy the thank you. :)


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Advertising iPods

Friday, March 28th, 2008

I was in Vegas last August, and the place seemed to be full of huge iPod billboards. Now, I know a few things about marketing, so I look at those and wonder…

Do they need the visiblity? No, I think many people have heard of iPods.

Do they need the market share? I heard somewhere that iPods have 70% of the MP3 player market share. They probably don’t need to advertise to maintain or gain market share.

Do they need the billboard to sell you on it? I don’t think so. As I once heard Seth Godin say, there are two kinds of people: those who have an iPod and those who want an iPod.

Now, I’m the unmentioned third kind of person, but the billboards won’t sell me anyway. I’m AnythingButIpod, and now enjoy my new Cowon.

So what’s the point of huge billboards for iPods in Vegas? I wasn’t sure. I didn’t think Apple needed to spend more on advertising something that many people want, many people have, and just about everybody knows about.

On what could Apple spend this money instead?


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The Dixie Chicks, Again

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I held my Board Games Meetup last week, and I don’t know how we got on this topic, but one woman said she didn’t like the Dixie Chicks. OK, I’m no major fan (I like one song), and she’s entitled to not like them. Someone playing the game asked her why. I didn’t see this answer coming.

"The Dixie Chicks are anti-American."

Huh? They said they were embarrassed that Bush was from Texas (because they’re from Texas). Lots of people say far more cutting things about Bush, and are NOT accused of treason. So I pushed this woman on it a bit.

The woman started saying that she defended their right to feel and say whatever they want. (OK, then where’s the problem here)

Finally, the woman seemed to hit on it. When the Dixie Chicks said that, this woman was way pro-Bush, and felt it was un-American to say that. Nearly 5 years later, she no longer supports Bush, but was still thinking of the Dixie Chicks as bad for what they said.

This reminds me of how people need to update things when they get new information.

It also reminds me of a commercial that ran here in the 2006 Congressional elections. The challenger ran a commercial with a stern sounding woman saying that the other candidate hung a picture of the President UPSIDE DOWN!!!! IN A TIME OF WAR!!!! I didn’t think that was so bad. It’s not like he burned a flag while peeing on it. He turned a photo upside down. Big deal.

PS: Guy didn’t get elected. And I will always think of him as the guy who hung a picture of the President upside down… in a time of war… and then I have to laugh.


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What Else Is A Digital Download on eBay?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Following along the lines of yesterday’s post about eBay getting e-book sellers, Evan P of PESA was lovely enough to Skype me and mention that by the letter of eBay’s Digital Downloads law, more things fall under that than just e-books. eBay listing templates, logos, banner ads, and other things that people may sell as stock things or custom things would technically be digital downloads as well as they are delivered digitally.

That means that all the people selling eBay templates, eBay Store designs, and other things like that will have to list those items as Classified Ads, and receive no feedback for it.

I’m actually OK with that. Personally, I think that if you are selling that type of good or service, you should end up with some sort of rating in the Solutions Directory. I really want to see the eBay Stores Design Directory have ratings. To me, people should see how these companies and dealers are rated specifically on these products and services. That should be separate from feedback that may be on how the transaction went.

I’d like to see feedback about how people’s businesses improved when they use a service or template or eBay Store design. I don’t think the current feedback system really covers that anyway, plus it might be hard to find feedbacks just on that if the seller sells other things. So I’m for this, and I hope that the Stores Design Directory will eventually have ratings and comments from customers.


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eBay Gets The e-Book Sellers!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Oh I am SO happy about this. For seeming ever, I have been railing against the so-called eBay experts who tell people one or both of two things:

1) Selling e-books and information products on eBay is so easy and you’re just going to make money wildly!

2) It’s a great way to do so little, make money, and get LOTS of feedback!

I knew eBay hated this because they felt that most people were just buying and selling feedback. They had all kinds of triggers to try to find which sellers were doing this. So as "experts" were telling you to do this, I was out there screaming for you to not do this.

Well, now eBay is my back-up screamer. :) http://www2.ebay.com/aw/core/200803241300132.html

HOORAY!

The big change is that if you sell a digitally downloaded good, aka an e-book or information product, you have to use the Classified Ad format. So you can still sell them. You can make all that money those experts are promising you. But you can’t get feedback. Problem solved!

So, "information product" sellers, look out! I hope you’re making a lot of money with your 99 cent e-books after all your eBay fees because you can’t get feedback for them anymore!


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The Iraq War

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

I don’t say much about politics here, but I will say this.

I just heard some stats on how many Iraqi civilians we’ve killed the last like 5 years of this war. By some counts, it’s higher than some of the genocides Saddam undertook.

If we’re killing as many or more people than Saddam’s genocides, what the heck are we doing, and how can we say that this war is "working" or going well or mission accomplished?


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eBay Live! Hotels

Monday, March 24th, 2008

With eBay Live! open for registration again, I noticed that hotels are once again a sticky situation. Now, I booked mine in August 2007, so I’ll be 2 miles away for $237/night. Not the best, but I try to find the best of proximity and price. Call that same hotel now, and they want $480/night. The trick is to book it when they don’t yet know there’s a convention on.

This year, on eBay’s list of hotels, one list says "under $200/night." There are three things to know about that list.

  • I mapped some of those hotels. Some are airport hotels 11 miles away. I am guessing that’s not very convenient for a daily round-trip drive in a major city.
  • I priced some of those hotels. Many were $199/night. So they are under $200/night, but let’s not imagine they are well under $200/night!
  • One of them is a hostel. As in youth hostel. As in imagine European backpackers with tiny beds in a room and the bathroom down the hallway. Well, I guess you can get a private room with a bathroom, but it’s still a backpacker’s. And eBay thinks you should stay there?!??

This was like Live! 2007, when one of the suggested lodging choices was an RV park. Anybody with an RV was going to stay at one anyway. Anybody not with an RV was probably really wondering why eBay would list that as a viable hotel choice.

If eBay Live! is going to continue, one thing they need to change is getting it in a city where hotels are more affordable. This has to be awful for the eBay sellers who want to attend!


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MLM Madness

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I belong to a local business meetup.com group. It’s just had its second meeting under the new organiser. And so far, it seems that about half the people there are involved in one or more MLM system, which greatly decreases my enjoyment of the event. I don’t want to become an independent executive for (insert MLM system here).

But last night, looking at one of the guys who comes to these things, I thought of something. He showed up with 5 different business cards, each for an MLM system. Oh, he’s a travel agent, a life coach, a Zrii rep, etc… And when it was time for each of us to do our 20-30 second introduction, he mentioned being part of a great opportunity and how you want to get in now, but didn’t even say what it was. He evidently doesn’t want to sell anybody on being his CLIENT… he doesn’t want to book your travel, sell you Zrii, or coach your life. He wants you to be under him in the pyramid.

If MLM promises so much wealth and freedom, as I often hear, why did this guy just add a 5th MLM system this week? Wouldn’t he be rich and busy from the first four? He has time to add a 5th, and he needs the money that could come from the 5th?

I definitely can’t do the MLM thing. I can’t rope friends and strangers into being part of a pyramid. If I like a product, I recommend it. If I get a commission, that’s nice. But I can’t imagine trying to make a living off getting friends and strangers to sign up to sell things I’m also trying to sell.


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Please Don’t Lie To Me

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Over the last few weeks, a few people have told me some lies that I immediately knew weren’t true.

Even without me asking you to NOT lie to me, please don’t lie to me. I am never fooled by this stuff. And once I catch you lying to me, you’re really hurting trust. How can we continue working together when I already know that you are willing to tell me things that aren’t true to try to get me to do something I otherwise wasn’t going to do?

I still feel badly that a number of people made me promises relating to our recent RocketPlace conference. Vendors and speakers promised me all sorts of things, and a few of them followed through on NONE of those promises. We even had one speaker not show up without contacting me, which I’d say is really not acceptable. I would rather hear what you think is "bad news" than have no contact or be lied to.

Actually, I was recently fooled by a couple of really big lies from the same company, who I trusted so much that I believed their really logical but unfortunately untrue explanations, but I’m not going to post about that until everything is settled with those people. Then, I want people to know what happened so that they can learn from my mistakes.


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