Welcome back.

Have you thought about subscribing? It's free.

Shiny and deep

The most successful marketers tell two stories at the same time. A shiny one and a deep one.

The shiny story is easy to notice, easy to enjoy, easy to spread.

The deep story is fascinating, worth your time. It has texture and mystery and it lasts.

Consider The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. It’s more than 800 pages long. Dylan is shiny (sometimes). His songs get played on the radio or around the campfire. It’s not unusual for a teenager to hear an old Dylan song for the very first time and then add it to her iPod.

But Dylan’s also pretty deep. Hence the encyclopedia. Can you imagine an encyclopedia about… The Back Street Boys?

Most marketers choose to be just shiny. Deep, it seems, is way too much work.

I don’t love it. But I think it’ll grow on me

Matt points us to this very fine post about context, design and the swoosh: Design Observer: writings about design & culture.

Do you have too much monoamine oxidase?

Japanese researchers diagnose neophilia, the unhealthy love of the new, so says Media Life Magazine.

I for one don’t think it’s organic. If it is, why does it strike computer geeks and people who live near oceans, virtually bypassing certain suburban subdivisions?

It’s a great neologism, though. I wish I’d thought of it.

Thirty Thousand Pennies

I have no idea how much that weighs. A lot, I think.

You can win them all here: Squidoo Thirty Thousand: 1 to 1,000.

It’s really cool to see that much stuff, edge to edge. Makes you realize just how big the web is.

Now they spam the new social news finders like Furl

A quick look at popurls shows that of the top 20 sites featured on Furl, more than half are spam (unless there’s been a huge upswing in interest in colon cleansing and acne).

At first, the spam problem for things like Furl and Digg was about self-hype. "Hey," the poster says, "It only takes 30 people to ‘Digg this’ for me to see a huge traffic flow, so please, do it." But now, it’s a more focused and concerted effort.

Spammers are short-sighted and selfish, and don’t care what they wreck. It’s the enemy of anything open. Once again, just like with email and with comments, the answer is reputation. Get rid of anonymity or at the very least, track reputation over time. When reputable people speak up, it should count for more than when a stranger does. That’s the way it works in the real world, right?

[update: reputation, by the way, is not the same as a real-world ID card. It just means that your virtual identity benefits when you are consistent over time. Clark Kent has a reputation, even though he’s really… Superman.]

Talking to the future

Mark Hurst makes it easy for you to talk to yourself by email… tomorrow. Good Experience – Introducing Gootodo, a bit-literate todo list.

And Brandon points us to the free app oh, don’t forget….that lets you text message yourself (or a buddy) at some date in the future.

[PS I wrote this at 4:30, but arranged to have it posted near midnight. Just because I could.]

Changing everything (again)

Eder points us to this post about CPA ads from Google.

Bottom line: in addition to buying clicks from Google, you can now bid on actions. Meaning sales, or sign ups. An action is worth 100 or 1,000 times as much as a click, so this means that a huge amount of the marketing risk is being transferred from the advertiser to Google or the affiliate.

A thoughtful profit-maximizer would buy every single bit of available inventory. Why not?

The challenge is thus on inventory. With such a low production rate (only one in ten thousand or a hundred thousand impressions pay off), the ads are more like lottery tickets for a typical website. The next step will be landing pages that are optimized for these actions. Example: company X does a bad job converting, so they start buying CPA ads. They pay, say, $100 an action. But media company Y figures out an efficient way to convert people. So they build pages that do this for say $50 each. They can scale and make money all day long being in company x’s business… without the pesky overhead.

Should happen pretty quickly.

Time to quit?

The Cowen Group reminds me of this piece I wrote about five years ago:

I just got back from lunch with my friend Doug Jacobs.

Doug just got another promotion. He works for a software company in Indiana, and over the last 14 years, he’s had a wide range of jobs. For the first seven or eight years, Doug was in business development and sales. He handled the Microsoft account for a while, flying to Redmond, Washington, every six weeks or so. It was hard on his family, but he’s really focused — and really good.

Two years ago, Doug got a huge promotion. He was put in charge of his entire division — 150 people, the second-biggest group in the company. Doug attacked the job with relish. In addition to spending even more time on the road, he did a great job of handling internal management issues.

A month ago, for a variety of good reasons, Doug got a sideways promotion. Same level, but a new team of analysts report to him. Now he’s in charge of strategic alliances. He’s well-respected, he’s done just about every job and he makes a lot of money.

So, of course, I told him to quit.

“You’ve been there a long time, my friend.”

Doug wasn’t buying it: “Yes, I’ve been here 14 years, but I’ve had seven jobs. When I got here, we were a startup, but now we’re a division of Cisco. I’ve got new challenges, and the commute is great –”

I interrupted him before he could go on. I couldn’t help myself.

Doug needs to leave for a very simple reason. He’s been branded. Everyone at the company has an expectation of who Doug is and what he can do. Working your way up from the mailroom sounds sexy, but in fact, it’s entirely unlikely. Doug has hit a plateau. He’s not going to be challenged, pushed or promoted to president. Doug, regardless of what he could actually accomplish, has stopped evolving — at least in the eyes of the people who matter.

If he leaves and joins another company, he gets to reinvent himself. No one in the new company will remember young Doug from 10 years ago. No, they’ll treat Doug as the new Doug, the Doug with endless upside and little past.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of evolution: Species that evolve the fastest are the ones that don’t mate for life. By switching mates, swapping genes with someone new, you continually reshuffle the gene pool, making it more likely you’ll create something new and neat and novel and useful.

Our parents and grandparents believed you should stay at a job for five years, 10 years or even your whole life. But in a world where companies come and go — where they grow from nothing to the Fortune 500 and then disappear, all in a few years — that’s just not possible.

Here’s the deal, and here’s what I told Doug: The time to look for a new job is when you don’t need one. The time to switch jobs is before it feels comfortable. Go. Switch. Challenge yourself; get yourself a raise and a promotion. You owe it to your career and your skills.

No word back from Doug yet. How about you?

[this is post #1505 for my blog (I missed the milestone earlier in the week.) No plans to quit any time soon, I’m afraid].

Googling prospects

I got a cold call on my cell phone yesterday. Someone was looking for me, trying to sell me something. Typical cost of a call like this (not from a boiler room)–perhaps $100 when you add it all up.

When I explained to the person what I did and where I did it, she realized that I had no interest at all in what she had to sell and politely hung up.

She followed up by email asking for a referral and I asked her why she didn’t Google me before calling. Her answer, (ellipses are hers) "It depends…  you came recommended by more than one source (confidentially).  If I trust someone I make the call right away…  if someone is interested in talking, then I dig deeper."

So, it’s okay to waste my time (and by extension, hers) and she’ll do some research after she’s got a warm lead.


Twenty seconds in Google would have saved both of us a lot of time. More important for her, that twenty seconds could have turned a "no" call into a decent shot at a referral.

SEO: Passive vs. Active

A lot of search engine optimization writing passes by my desk, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a simple distinction made.

PASSIVE SEO is the idea that you can do things to your site (metatags, phrases, even the articles you choose to write) that will be warmly received by the search engines. As we all know, the best passive strategy is to make great stuff, but beyond that it’s pretty clear that architecting your site properly is smart. There are people far better at this than I am.

ACTIVE SEO is the act of going outside of your site to build other sites (blogs, Squidoo lenses, delicious tags) or influence other sites (links and directories) to point to you. Not just you doing it, of course, but your readers and fans and employees as well. I wrote an ebook about part of this  (download for free: flippingpro.pdf).

There’s no doubt that these two activities need to be closely coordinated. But I’m not sure they should be done by the same person. Sometimes, dividing a task increases your ability to get it done…

[updated] Peter Bell writes in to amplify:

In the SEO industry, it’s often referred to as "on page" vs. "link building".

Not only should on page and link building be done by different people, on page should also be divided between technical and content.

A technical person should follow best coding practices to optimize site tags (including proper use of CSS and headers) for SEO (and accessibility). It’s about 2-8 hours of work to redesign most site templates and then whatever it takes to load that into your content management system.

A writer and/or subject domain expert should create the great content to drive traffic.

A top SEO guru should ADVISE you on how to do the link building with the latest hints and tips (2 hrs at $300/hr – high rate, low hours).

Someone between your sales/marketing team, an intern and a college kid in Vilnius should then actually implement the various recommendations depending upon the skills required for each.