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The video to show your boss

Robert Scoble gave a talk at LIFT. He makes a great case for flipping the funnel.

Thanks to Garr for the link.

More on stamps

I’ve gotten a lot of pushback on my post about stamps and friction and metrics.

Let me clarify, because I was making a different point (about measuring) so I glossed over the stamps idea:

1. we all agree spam is a pox.
2. spam exists because of the free rider problem. Without friction, without responsibility (it’s anonymous) and with the cost absorbed by the ISP and the recipient, bad actors cause a problem.
3. also a problem: even permission email gets used up when senders take short term gains because it’s free. I probably don’t need all those emails from Amazon every time a book ships.

So, the answer I’ve agitating for is to add friction.

Stamps are great because you have to buy them. And buying them requires you to acknowledge who you are. Anonymity goes away.

Imagine a few big ISPs get together and say:

a. everyone gets an RSS reader that’s easy to use. If you want to have frequent permission-based contact with organizations, put their RSS feed here.

b. there are other organizations you give permission to email you. But you don’t want to hassle with RSS. No problem. Those organizations will pony up a quarter of a cent and that email ends up in your inbox. With a special flag indicating that the (non-anonymous) sender indicated you had signed up for it.

If you didn’t sign up for it, let us know. If more than a tiny number of people call it spam, then that sender is busted. They forfeit a bond and we blacklist them. Just because they paid doesn’t mean they can spam.

c. the old rules of email remain. BUT, if you get an email from someone who is not on your address list OR they’re not paying a quarter of a cent, we assume that this is mail you don’t really want and we put it in your suspect folder. Of course, you’re always welcome to take it out of that folder, add the sender to your favorites list (with one click) and that’s that.

So, what would happen:

a. the ebays and the amazons of the world would be in your rss reader, where they belong
b. the amount of spam in your goodbox would be tiny
c. people with legitimate reasons to reach you who don’t want to pay the quarter of a cent would be in your otherbox, waiting for you to find them.

Who wins:

a. ISPs. They save processing power, they make a few million bucks in stamp sales, they have happier users.

b. users. Less hassle getting through their inbox.

c. marketers with real permission who have an RSS relationship.

d. marketers with real permission who get more than a quarter of a cent of value out of bothering you (and again, if it’s not worth a quarter of a cent to you, it’s hardly worth three seconds of my time.

Who loses:
1. spammers. They default to the spam box.
2. marketers who measure tonnage.

Fashion breaks

Should we be angry when an iPod breaks after two years? Joe Nocera sent Apple a Nastygram in the Times yesterday (reveries).

I think it’s misguided.

"Hey, I bought this suit from Brooks Brothers two years ago! And I just spilled chicken soup all over it, and now they won’t fix it or take it back." Even worse, Brooks Brothers doesn’t even offer an extended warranty…

There’s still a business called the Fountain Pen Hospital. When you buy a pen for $100, you expect that maybe you can get it fixed. But pens are now disposable fashion items, not tools that last a lifetime.

What Steve Jobs has done, brilliantly, is turned the iPod into a fashion item. The very first iPods, the ones you can buy on eBay for $30, those still function fine. If you want a tool, buy one of those. But if you want to show off how cool you are, you need a fashionable one. When you buy a fashion, Joe, realize that this is what you bought… the fashion. Or spring for the $60 and buy the warranty!

First time?

I was mentioned in an AP story today, and the reach of the wire services remain incredible. So, if you’re here for the first time, here’s a summary lens: Squidoo:  Seth Godin.

Making your numbers

See the woman on your right? She’s cheating.

When you use a Stairmaster, you can score higher numbers by using your arms for support. This technique allows you to work out at a higher number.


Ridiculous because the number has nothing to do with her fitness. She is actually hurting her arms and back, just so she can work out at 12 instead of 11.

It’s human nature to want to beat your metrics.

The challenge comes in setting metrics that make sense.

In this article, Saul Hansell writes about a long overdue innovation that I’ve been lobbying for since 1996: stamps. Stamps for email add friction and will eliminate spam if applied properly. Bulk mailers pay a quarter of a cent per email to get their permission-based email handled properly. The rest gets treated as junk. (The new program isn’t just like my concept, but very close).

Matthew Moog of Coolsavings doesn’t like this idea. "No one wants Goodmail or any other provider to set up a tollbooth that
makes it cost-prohibitive for legitimate mailers to reach the in-box," he says.

I say that the right metric isn’t how much it costs to send a mail. It’s how much sending a mail is worth! In other words, if an industry-wide .25 cent stamp eliminates spam, it’s likely to double or triple the response rate to permission mail. A boon! If you send me 100 emails with stamps, and I read them all, you’ve spent a quarter. If you can’t cost-justify that, you shouldn’t be writing to me. If I were an email permission marketer, I’d love this… the same way the DMA should have embraced the do not call list.

The same metric mistake comes up when we see sites that do whatever they can to artificially boost traffic. Saw a blog post today in which the author mentioned the name of ten or fifteen bloggers, ostensibly in context, with links to each, all in an attempt to game the system. But what’s his real goal? When increasing the metric doesn’t increase the benefit, then you have the wrong metric.

In non-small companies, you need to invent placeholders so that everyone on the team is on the same page. But careful when pursuit of the placeholder doesn’t get you closer to the thing you were seeking in the first place. (Hint: Super Bowl viewers don’t necessarily equal car buyers).

Found it

Once I used the flash on my camera, I was able to find the port.

It is not located in the lamp.
It is not located in the big phone.
It is not located in the small phone.

It is, of course, located on the leg of the table.

I’m humiliated to report that I needed to call the front desk (twice) at midnight. Both times, the operator had no clue where it might be. When someone finally came up, and we found it (together, because she didn’t know either), I asked why they hadn’t made a sign. And she said, and I’m not making this up: "Because it’s in a different spot in every room."

Thanks to all who hazarded a guess.

Find the ethernet port

This photo, taken with room lighting conditions at the Intercontinental hotel in Toronto.

Where’s the ethernet jack? (note to hotels: wifi hubs are cheap.)

Answer tomorrow. First person to post the right answer on his or her blog gets an autographed book (I’ll even sign a book by someone else if you want).


Fashion is all about shared attention and the converstations it provokes.

Erin Crowe caught a fashion wave when TV noticed her Alan Greenspan portraits. She sold the last one on Ebay for a bazillion dollars (for charity) and along the way sold enough other paintings to make Alex Tew look like the owner of a lemonade stand.

The really interesting part is this:

Link: eBay – greenspan, greenspan Art, Paintings, Prints items on eBay.com.

Apparently, anyone with a crayon is now busy selling Greenspan paintings. At least they’re better looking than grilled cheese sandwiches with the Virgin Mary embedded.

Yes, this is a picture of a Mr. Potato-head of Mr. Greenspud. You too can bid for it online.

The other interesting thing: how much inside baseball talk I can put into just one blog post. Explained:

"fashion" and "conversation" are riffs from books like Unleashing the Ideavirus and The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Alex Tew is the guy who did the Million Dollar Homepage.

The grilled cheese on eBay reference comes from a woman who sold a years-old grilled cheese sandwich on eBay last year. For more than $20,000. She said it looked like the Virgin Mary.

And "inside baseball" is an expression for jargon and shorthand that leaves outsiders clueless.

Where big companies come from

From small companies, naturally!

It’s the seventieth anniversary of the Oscar Weinermobile. This history of Kraft is absolutely fascinating:  Kraft Foods Story.

What customer surveys measure

They don’t measure how good your service is. Or how optimal your product is.

They measure how well you did compared to expectations. They measure how well people rank you in the survey.

They’re not the same.

Doing things right is important. Setting expectations is even more important–if your goal is to spread the word.

The Conference Board of Canada just released a detaled study that showed that British Columbia has the best (by objective measures) health care system in Canada. It also reported that BC ranks among the lowest in customer satisfaction.

Not impossible, when you think about it.

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