Archive for August, 2008

John McCain Steals

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Jackson Browne is suing John McCain for using Browne’s song, "Running on Empty," in a recent ad. McCain and his team did this evidently without asking Browne’s permission to use the song.

Before that, McCain ran an ad with images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears without asking their permission to show their likenesses.

How out of touch is this guy? Are the people on his team a bunch of 12-yr-olds that think that if they find something on the internet, they can just use it without proper permission or licensing? What is he thinking?

The ironic thing is that these are ads meant to make Obama look bad, and the ads feature McCain stealing intellectual property from other people. Boomerang theory! McCain is making himself look bad.


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RescueTime.com

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

I’m trying rescuetime.com. It’s a kooky name, but here is what it does.

Install it, and it lives in the sys tray. You then get an online dashboard and other online controls and settings from their website. It watches all the apps you open and all the sites you visit. You can then tag them.

You can then go to your list of tags, and say how productive each tag is. So since I work with eBay sellers, I might tag my visits to the eBay site as productive since they’re more likely to be for work than fun. I might tag my visits to Pandora.com as fun and personal, but I’ll leave it at neutral productivity. I don’t think that enjoying some music while working is not productive.

But messing with my computer is not productive. Having to go into utilities and other things is, so I can tag those say as "system," and decide that’s not productive. And if you’re going to use your computer for a big block of personal stuff, you can just tell RescueTime to stop logging what you’re doing.

Productivity ratings are -2, -1, 0, 1, and 2. You can then see lots of graphs on how you use your time.


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Attention, Phone Salesman

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Attention, phone salesman.

When you try to get me to leave my current system to use yours, you’re going to need to do better than you’re doing.

When I ask the difference in features, I need more than, "Ours make event registration look like people are on your website. Theirs looks like their site." I am unlikely to pay more for that as most people aren’t terribly troubled by being sent to another site for event registration. I’ve never had someone refuse to reg for my event because the reg site didn’t look enough like my website.

When I ask how much more I’ll pay for your system than who I’m using now, saying, "Our pricing is similar to theirs," isn’t enough. When I ask you pricing, TELL ME PRICING. Don’t make it a mystery.

You had lots of "ums" and pauses in what you were saying to me. If you don’t know, get more training, or choose a job where you are comfy. Non-confident people are unlikely to sell me on anything.

And in other news, I can’t get pricing on your website, nor do I see a simple chart of how you compare to what I’m using now. You say they’re your sister company, so there should be no reason you don’t have a simple comparison chart to help me to choose what I need.

Take me off your call list.


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My First Home Studio Recording Since 1996

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

I used to do the home recording studio thing a bit. In the mid-1990s. And then I got busy. And all messed up.

I haven’t been doing my music lately, and it’s kinda been killing my soul. So for a personal moment in this blog, let me introduce my first home studio recording since 1996. I used some different equipment, so get ready to laugh at what I used.

* Dell Inspiron 8500 laptop I got in 2003.
* Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 I got in 2000 and never installed before this week.
* Shure SM58 mic I stole from college in 1993.
* To make things sound better, I ran the mic into my Tascam 688 MidiStudio, then out to the mic in jack on my laptop. :)

I sang 8 tracks. Some better than others. This is a bit rough and not my best performance. My singing it definitely better than this. But ya know what? It was fun, and I don’t have enough fun. This took around 4 hours from writing out sheet music for my arrangement to singing all the tracks to mixing it down. No warmup and not much practice. Mostly sight reading my own arrangement as it recorded.

For those of you who like to compare to what this is supposed to be, this is "New Dress" from Jonatha Brooke’s "Steady Pull" album. She does it much better, but hey, artistic license. :)

OK you can listen to it if you really want. :)

I have started recording a really hard song on the Tascam but I’ll see if I can transfer it to Cakewalk, and clean it up. My lead vocal and other foreground bits came out awesomely… definitely some of my best performances possibly ever. My background came out like mud on a muddy day in a muddy world. :)

Thanks for giving me a personal indulgence moment.


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Songs You Didn’t Expect on a Theremin

Friday, August 15th, 2008

These speak for themselves. THIS is remarkable. Be the best at something, and then do something innovative and interesting with it. I love that.


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JetBlue Offers 5% Discount to RocketPlace Attendees

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

JetBlue wants you to take 5% off your flights for our event! Here’s what you need to know:

  • Fly from any city to Las Vegas (LAS).
  • Depart on 8, 9, or 10 Sept, and return on 12, 13, or 14 Sept. Sorry, any other dates won’t work with our discount code!
  • Book at JetBlue’s special conventions page.
  • Use discount code rocketplace2 to get your 5% off discount.

Learn more about RocketPlace or register now!

Did you already book on JetBlue and your flights match these parameters? Call them to get your discount.

1-888-JETBLUE
(538-2583), option 4


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Brand Loyalty

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

I can be a brand loyal kinda gal. I used to love anything made by iRiver; I think I had 3 of their MP3 players. I’m on my 2nd Toyota. I like pretty much anything the Amy’s food company does.

I used to be loyal to Best Westerns. I found them to be everywhere, pretty cheap, and fairly consistent. Until they weren’t. I don’t know what happened, but somewhere along the lines, they just didn’t seem that good.

And somewhere along the lines, we had stayed in Hampton Inn as if it were some amazing step up… but it was. It’s no Ritz-Carlton, but it matches what I like in hotels. Consistent. Clean. Some of the most comfy beds I’ve been in in my LIFE. So we started being brand loyal to Hilton, especially to Hampton Inns. This was over a year ago.

Driving to and from eBay Live, I stayed exclusively in Hilton properties… Hiltons, Hilton Garden Inns, and Hampton Inns. Racked up an insane amount of Hilton points. :)
Driving back from eBay Live, I decided I had to see it. Branson, MO. Well if you read an earlier blog post, you’ll know that went badly mostly because I picked a Radisson. I thought it would be a step up from Hampton Inns, but it was a major step down, at least in Branson. It was a room only a crime scene investigator or a person with no working senses would like.

And we asked ourselves out loud why we bothered trying to stay anywhere but a Hilton. We found a Hampton Inn, and we checked in around midnight after 20 minutes being disgusted by the Radisson. Going to that Hampton Inn was like going home. Not to my home, but to something that felt home. I knew what it would be like, and it met my expectations.

Recent east coast biz trip: 10 nights through four states. 8 nights in Hampton Inns or Homewood Suites. 2 nights at Stratosphere. :) It was supposed to be three nights at Stratosphere and 7 nights in Hilton brands, but they cancelled my flight out of JFK at 11pm. A local Hampton Inn with a free airport shuttle was quickly found. Paid for in Hilton points since I didn’t want to open my wallet for the airline’s mess. Done.

Actually, it was 7 nights in Hilton brands and 1 night in a yucky Comfort Inn by Marriott. The Hilton I booked decided to overbook and bump me. Not nice to do to someone this brand loyal. She can look in the system and see that I’ve put on something like 40,000 Hilton points in the last 6 weeks, and she should say, "I’m not going to bump her." I had also called at 10pm and said to save my room because I was going to be there late. No problem, they said!

Do not mess with your most loyal customers! I am positively viral and I will keep coming back unless you piss me off enough! I used to be brand loyal to someone else, and I can switch again if you piss me off!

Thanks, Hilton, for all the great nights we’ve had. For all the times we knew that the Hampton was going to be great. Mediocre breakfast. Free internet. Some of our favourite beds. Some of our best nights’ sleep. Some of the nicest desk clerks and other staff. I’ll probably never be a fancy hotel kind of gal. But no matter what mood I’m in, the Hilton will have a brand that matches me, what I need, and usually what I am willing to spend.

To which brands do you find yourself loyal and why?


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RocketPlace Announces September 2008 Speakers

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

RocketPlace Announces September
2008 Speakers

 

RocketPlace,
the premier conference for new eBay sellers and PowerSellers, is proud to
announce our speakers for our September 2008 event at The Rio All-Suites Hotel
in Las Vegas, Nevada. The full schedule of sessions can be found at http://www.rocketplace.com/agenda.shtml.

 

Confirmed
speakers include:

 

*
Todd Lutwak, Senior Director of Seller Development at eBay, who will be giving
the Advanced track keynote as well as a session for the Beginner track.

 

*
Marsha Collier, best-selling author of eBay For Dummies and many other For
Dummies books, will be giving the Beginner track Keynote.

*
Jane Judd, Senior Manager of the Customer Service Loyalty Team at Zappos.com
will deliver the closing keynote for the Advanced Track.

*
Jay Berkowitz, CEO of Ten Golden Rules, is a seasoned marketing professional
with over twenty years of business experience. He has managed marketing
departments for Fortune 500 brands: McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, and has developed
traditional and direct marketing programs for AT&T, Sprint and eDiets.com.
Jay was the highest-rated speaker at our Spring 2008 RocketPlace conference,
and we welcome him back!

 

*
John Lawson of 3rd Power Outlet, David Yaskulka from Blueberry
Consulting, Tim Woda from buySAFE, Cindy Litchfield from Cloud Dome, Bodin
Suttles from Endicia, Amy Kendall from HammerTap, Jason Guzman from
JunctionQuest, Michael Lambert from Merchant Advantage, Brian Gibbs from Refund
Retriever, Edward Sayers of RPM Business Group,

Phyllis Wischer of
SageFire,
Adam Morris from Sell Center,
Michael Levit from Vendio, Lisa Suttora from WhatDoISell.com, and a variety of
the experts at As Was including CEO Debbie Levitt.

 

RocketPlace
has one track for beginners looking for the road map for eBay business success.
A second track is for PowerSellers looking for tips on how to grow with all of
eBay’s recent changes as well as how to use the latest techniques, strategies,
and tools to improve their eBay businesses. More information is available on
http://www.rocketplace.com

 

 

About As Was

 

As Was is a full-service consulting
firm specializing in branding, design, sales and marketing strategies,
operations management, and training for eBay and online sellers. As Was has
been making the world’s marketplace your marketplace since it was founded in
April 1995, and has been an eBay Certified Service Provider since August 2004.
For more information, please visit www.aswas.com or call 520.204.1935.


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eBay Live 2008 Presentations Available

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Many people have asked where they can get the presentations that I did at eBay Live. Well, I don’t think they are whole… I think they removed a few of my slides. But these will be mostly them!

http://www.ebaylive08.com/ is the main site. Here are my presentations:

eBay Strategies That Can Increase Your Profitability
Serious eBay sellers know that in order to sell and grow, they need to
list strategically list their items in certain ways, at a certain
times. This seminar features representatives from As Was and Vendio, who will discuss tools for fine tuning your listing
strategies as well as general strategies for listing. Topics will
include title keywords, listing upgrades, Store vs. Core, categories,
and timing of listings.

Attract More Customers With Marketing and Merchandising
Learn to look like a seasoned professional. A panel of certified
providers will provide tips and tricks on how to market and merchandise
your listings to attract new buyers. Find out how to develop your
brand, write better listings and use merchandising tricks to get
people’s attention.

Looks like How To Stop Breaking The Most Commonly Broken eBay Rules isn’t up there… maybe because rules changed since then! You’ll have to come hear it live at RocketPlace.


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Companies Who Won’t Be Here In a Year or Two

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

There are some companies in this industry who I think are not going to be around for the long haul. What might make a company tank?

Value of their offering. Especially in this economy, people are going to want more value for what they spend. You can keep lowering your prices, but if you are charging $1000 for an eBay listing template that looks like the ones people can get on templatemonster.com for $60, the value is just not there.

Competition. We’re watching the "template sweat shops" (the people who just keep pumping out computer-generated or cookie-cutter templates) have more and more competition. We don’t do this, so I’m not writing about us. But it’s an easy business model to jump on (doing the same thing over and over but selling it to multiple people), so companies who had little competition 2 years ago now have a pile. The barrier to entry was low, and the ability to replicate what they do was easy. If people can do what you do cheaper and faster, you might lose out.

Reputation. Remember that when you mess up a template project, someone calls me. :) I hear about what you charged, what you were like to work with, what time frame you promised, how long the project is going on, how you tried to charge for extra things, etc… People who are unhappy often like to spread the word. Check Google and online forums. Not delivering what you are promising will kill your reputation, and then who will hire you.

I’ll include inside "reputation" the idea of sabotage. I know one company out there who used to and probably still sends its staff to blog about companies they think are competitors. Post in discussion forums about these companies. And all "anonymously" as if they’re just a regular eBay seller who just happens to super hate these companies. How much will people trust this company when that practice is outed?

Failed partnerships. Who is going to partner with a company like this? To make it worse, I know of a company in this industry that had a close partnership with a company, and now mostly seems to be biting that hand. OK they don’t have to stay partners, but when I see a company really crap on someone who used to be a partner, I learn that anybody else who becomes their partner could be the company they publicly crap on tomorrow.

There is a company in our industry who wanted to partner with us in a way I rejected. I knew at that point they’d try to compete with me, and I was right. A few months later, they decided they were template designers (which only partially competes with us). They decided to never send us any business while we sent them lots of business. Their biz dev guy even had the cojones to call me up to tell me I wasn’t being a very good partner. Huh? We send you clients, you send us nothing, and we’re the bad partner? OK, we can certainly stop sending clients to you!

Failed venture capital or other investments. In most cases, if an investment company gives you $1M, they expect to get 10X that out of you when you are sold or after a certain amount of time. That’s $10M, and if you make cookie cutter templates for $500 each and let’s say $100 of that is your profit, you’ll need to do $10,000 just to have enough profit to pay off your investors. And was the first investment enough or are you looking for another round of investment? If the first investment wasn’t enough to keep you running and profitable, then you might get into the investment hole. When people stop putting in money, will you just have to shut down?

 

I’m thinking about this because of a few conversations I’ve had this year with different people about companies who I am not sure will last another year or two, especially in a down economy.

And I will say "I told you so" to some of the people who I told to NOT get into bed with these companies. I know what I see coming, and I cared enough about these people to warn them. I see some of these people getting in deeper, and I’m just concerned that when the house of cards fall, how will their resume look? This failed biz, this had to close, got into bed with these guys, etc… I can only warn people. The rest is up to them. I know the money is green and looks good right now, but not everything is worth getting money to do it. :)


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