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Here come worldwide gimmicks

Local businesses have always loved gimmicks. Upside down billboards, plush characters with men inside, rude waiters and hot air balloons abound.

It’s inevitable, it seems, that with online traffic easily measured and increasingly valuable, that same tactic would move online. And it has, in droves.

A poker site is embracing the tactic with this obviously transparent ploy for traffic. I’m not linking to it here, because I don’t want to reward the cheesiness (move along, people, there’s nothing to see here, it’s just one page), but I want to show it to you as a sign of things to come.

Very quickly, these sites are going to be like car wrecks or rock groups–only the grossest or the loudest (or possibly the most clever) are going to earn the attention of the public. After all, once someone sells the pixels on his site for a million dollars, you don’t want to see it again. And once someone cuts off his finger (I think he should have used Photoshop) then what… a head?

1918 and more

Some quotes found by Tom Asacker (go to Thought Pieces and hit his ebooklet).

“We’ve been around way too long, and people have
heard all our lies. We just have to deliver.”
— Rick Wagoner, Chairman of General Motors

and this one, from a book published in 1918, Modern Business:

“Psychologists tell us that the mind is under a continual
bombardment of ideas, all of which are trying to make an
impression on it. The prospect, therefore, does not sit
around with his mind a blank, calmly waiting for someone
or something to capture his attention without a struggle.
The salesman enters a field already well occupied and must
fight for the undivided attention that is a successful sale.”

What goes around, comes around. Thanks to Andrew Rupert for the link.

For Jerry Shereshewsky, on his birthday

A long time ago, it seems, I dedicated the book Permission Marketing to my friend and colleague Jerry Shereshewsky. Jerry stayed at Yahoo! long after I left, and he’s still there, ambassador to the world of advertising.

I’ve been thinking about Jerry a lot lately. As I work on my new project, I find myself telling stories about him and his impact on me, on organizations and on the way people think.

Every once in a while, you work with someone who carries a distortion reality field, someone who impacts everything he touches, causing it to respond. Jerry pushed me and the rest of our team farther,and in more ways, then most of us expected could happen. And he did it with an energy, generosity and love that seems way too rare.

It’s hard to believe Jerry’s sixty. Thanks, JHS, for the stories, the excitement and the love of everything.

What are you afraid of?

SleddingMore important, what are your prospects afraid of?

We had a snow day here in NY yesterday. Hundreds (thousands!) of kids out sledding. And most of them without a helmet.

Sledding without a helmet is 10 times riskier than taking Vioxx and a thousand times riskier than flying in an airplane. Driving in the passenger seat without a seatbelt (which I saw that ten-year-old doing this morning) is a million times riskier than Lyme’s disease.

Yet parents (and regular people too) obsess about the longshots and take crazy chances with the likely dangers.

We can shake our heads and insist that people get more rational ("how can you be afraid of flying!") or we can understand that this is human nature. And by understanding the irrational risks and helping our customers deal with them, we sell them what they really want… peace of mind.

Please hold

I don’t get it.

It’s the holiday season. Ho Ho Ho. Spend spend spend.

Companies spend a fortune to get you to call. Call 800 CLUB MED to book a room. Call 1-800-WWW-DELL to buy a computer. And it’s not just consumer marketing. They want you to call to buy insurance, business travel, hotel rooms and a new energy-efficient roof for your warehouse.

And then, when you call… hold.

Can you imagine visiting Dell’s web site and waiting more than two seconds for it to load? Well, it takes more than half an hour to reach a salesperson at certain times if you call Dell. 1,800 seconds. Or call Club Med without a touchtone keyboard and the system hangs up on you…

Obviously, there’s a load balancing issue. In order to have enough well-trained operators to answer every call Saturday at 2 pm, they’d have thousands of underemployed people later on.

But instead of punishing the customer, why not reward them?

"Hi, you’ve reached us when we’re too busy. Quick, write down this code: 123×23. Now, give us your phone number. When we call back (within an hour, we promise), give us the code and we’ll pay you $20 on the spot for the hassle in getting this order processed."

The problem is that people who build call centers try to lower costs instead of increase revenues. They view what they do as a commodity, not a strategic tool to dramatically increase customer joy.

Marketers have worked hard to jam a huge amount of buying into a real short window of time. Alas, there’s a big cost to that.

RSS breakthrough

Ed points us to rsstroom reader – toilet paper printer!.

My favorite part is the comments. Did you know that the new edition of the American Heritage Dictionary failed to include the word "gullible"? It’s true.

odd and end

Ken Weary indirectly commends us to: Amazon.com: Yesterday’s Top Sellers > Everything Else.

And six people recommend istockphoto.

The new source for free photos

Ever since Garr Reynold’s wrote about my presentation approach on his blog (Presentation Zen: The "Godin Method" of presentation design) the downloads of Really Bad Powerpoint have been going up.

And sooner or later, after people read the ebook (the free ebook) they write me a nasty note, pointing out that Corbis no longer sells digital photos at a reasonable price. In fact, unreasonable is not even close to what they charge.

Here’s the good news. StockxChange just launched version 6, and it’s better than ever. 175,000 free photos, most of them amazing. They also launched a for-fee site, but this is a great place to start.

Do you produce?

What, exactly, does a producer do?

In the movies, the producer doesn’t act, sing, write, put up the money, build the sets or direct the feature.

And yet, no producer, no movie.

I think the producer asks questions. "What next?" "What now?" The producer is always focused on more, whether more is quality, revenue, customer satisfaction or market share.

The job you do, apparently, has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not you have the mindset of a producer. I’ve been called by talented salespeople who are clearly producers… and by failures who were just following a script. I’ve worked with people who always manage to make something happen… and with those who manage to have an excuse ready when it doesn’t.

Producing is not about making something. It’s about making something other people thought couldn’t be done–or were too distracted to do themselves.

Posture matters

Ramit Sethi points us to Scott Andrew – lo-fi acoustic pop superhero! > blog > archives > 2005 > 11 > overexposed.

Anyway, it kind of hammers home the lessons I’ve been learning for the past two years, namely that most of the time, exposure is just exposure. It’s one thing to get in front of someone; it’s another thing to keep them interested, and another thing to get them to care. It also gives you an idea of the numbers game the Big Labels have to play in order to make the bucks they need to stay in business.

People go to Amazon to buy stuff. They go to MySpace for free stuff and to explore. It’s not just what you say, it’s where you say it.

The post has some amazing stats about how exposure all by itself isn’t enough.

And I think it’s an essential lesson in the value of permission… done right… over time. Not all at once.