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The Chin

I have no doubt you’ve seen this.

When someone who isn’t a real computer user sits down to use one, they stick out their chin.

You’ve seen this when your grandpa does it, or when some celebrity or politician does it at a photo op. Maybe you do it.

The Chin is a posture and an attitude.

In my experience, people with the Chin don’t use a computer the way others do. They surf defensively. Not only does getting anything out of the computer take a little longer, but people with the Chin look for less and don’t push as hard in their search for right answers or in their use of the tools available.

While there is a clearly a generational shift going on (watch out, here come a bunch of Chinless kids) it’s also being driven by economics and social status and profession. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to be permanent.

[Update! I’m not referring to my esteemed readers with bifocals… the last three instances of the Chin that I witnessed were people who weren’t even wearing glasses. All bifocal users are hereby excused.]

Stop Vomiting

It’s the middle of the night and your child has been up all night, vomiting. What does the modern parent do? How about type stop vomiting into Google?

Here’s an interesting ethical dilemma for our age. It turns out that the top match for this search [at least until this post replaces it] is a page at pharmcatalyst dot com (no link here for obvious reasons) that promises to tell you which medicine to take if you pay them $5 via PayPal. They point out that there’s a common over the counter drug that will help, but that drug manufacturers can’t tell you what it is because the government won’t let them. (I’ll save you the money, it’s doxylamine, the ingredient in Unisom. They encourage you to mix a tablet with Pepsi).

But wait! In most cases, most of the time, common vomiting is a body’s natural and positive reaction to something in the environment. Check here: Nausea and Vomiting. And when it’s not that, when it is something that should be stopped, you probably should be at the doctor anyway.

Other than trying to leave a legacy for future midnight surfers, the purpose of this post is to help us think about whether charging $5 for information like this is ethical–and if you think it is, whether it is possible to do it successfully for long…

We now take you back to our regularly scheduled programming.

34 years later, what’s new?

Robin points us to a McDonald’s training video from 1972. The first thing you’ll notice is the slow pacing (things have changed) but the message seems awfully timeless. It’s clear that a motivational video is not the solution–if it were, our service problems would be long gone.

The future of web media buying (and building)

A dry topic? Probably not, since it drives what gets built online.

MySpace was invented to generate pageviews. That simple stat got them sold for a lot of money. If no one cared about the stat, it would have never been sold, and if it couldn’t be sold, it would probably not have been built. Multiply by a million sites that want either ads or a buyout and you get the idea.

So what’s next?

Here are useful insights from two smart guys: Fred Wilson, Jeff Jarvis.

What waiters can teach marketers

Waiters (either gender) interact with paying customers in a more freeform way, more often, than most service professionals. Here’s one thing the good ones know:

If a customer tells you something, there’s probably a reason.

"I’d like a water, with no ice please."

Now, while some people like to talk just to hear their own voice, there’s probably a bigger reason the person said, "with no ice please." If you’re going to be a great waiter, you realize that every single time a customer says something, you need to listen.

You don’t have to do what they ask, but you do need to acknowledge it and respond to it.

Bringing ice in the water and hoping they will forget they asked is not good waitering. Or good marketing.

Zlist update

I’ve been amazed, then delighted and then disturbed by the response to the zlist plexo
I posted.

My original intent was to make it easy for people who weren’t on the list to be on the list. I knew after I posted the list I found that I’d hear from a bunch of bloggers asking to be added. Alas, I don’t have the time or the energy (or even the skill) to figure out which ones to add, so I decided to make it an open list.

You may have heard the expression, "everything in moderation." I wonder if it needs to be, "everything needs a moderator."

The open list doesn’t seem to work in porous, anonymous communities where there is a lot of self-interest involved. The potential for bad actors to spoil it for everyone else is quite large. (The lists that have been posted on other lenses that are focused on egoless topics are attracting fewer visitors but get more thoughtful votes).

Several bloggers worked hard to game the list I posted, instructing folks to vote other (worthy) blogs down. That’s sad.

Several bloggers added their blogs even though they were clearly irrelevant to the point of the list.

And many bloggers got their feelings hurt because if there’s a list, and you’re competitive, then being near the bottom of the list is a bad thing.

No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.

My intent from the beginning was not to game technorati nor to create a competitive environment for bloggers. It was simple: to provide a platform with traffic that would make it easy for good blogs on marketing and similar topics to get read. I still believe that we need that. I’m hopeful that with a moderator (and some changes to the plexo algorithm, which we’re instituting over the next week or two) we can accomplish that.

So, I’m looking for a moderator. If you think you’d like to run the lens, promote it, improve it, etc.,
stop by the site and enter a paragraph in the comments field at the
bottom (and I need way to contact you!). My first thought was to give Mack something else to do, but he is opposed to rankings like this, and I respect that.  If I can’t find someone to give the page to, then I’ll probably shut it down. The web is a daily experiment, and this one, like most, was interesting. I’m disappointed that a few dozen had such an impact on the rest of us…

The T-shirt rule

It’s a simple test of whether you’ve created a remarkable experience:

"Would I buy the t-shirt?"

A t-shirt for your blog or your accounting firm or your bug-fighting software.

If you’re not t-shirt worthy, what would it take?

The YouTube President

John F. Kennedy was the TV president. The debates got him elected and his newsreel footage lives on. (When was the last time you saw Eisenhower in a video clip?)

That began an era of politics that lasted more than forty years. That’s why it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to run for President.

John Edwards announces his candidacy on YouTube today.

With one hand tied behind your back

George points us to Empathica, pointing out how clueful the copy on the home page seems to be. I was impressed by all the white space and how calm and professional the site appears.

But I have to admit, after several minutes of poking around, I’m still not certain about what they do! Something about surveys, I think.

My guess is that someone made a company-centric flowchart of what the site had to say and do, and then they were smart enough to hire a designer and copywriter to make it pretty. The mistake is that it assumes that a visitor already knows all about them.

The straightforward solution is to present a first time visitor with the simplest, most complete overview you can.  It’s okay if it’s long, as long as each paragraph builds on the one that came before, and nothing along the way scares me away or bores me. Examples. Clear testimonials with specifics. Yes, that task is straightforward but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. But it’s worth it.

A note for John Harrobin

To: John Harrobin
VP MarketingVerizon Wireless
Verizon Communications Inc.
140 West Street
New York,
     NY 10007

Happy new year, John.

We’ve never met, and getting through to an individual at Verizon is (ironically for a communications company) pretty difficult, so I’m going to post my short note to you here, in the hopes that one or more of my readers can get it to you.

According to today’s Times, you’re leading efforts at Verizon to get banner ads and other advertisements on cell phone screens. The reason? Because advertisers want to buy those ads.

This is not a good reason. In fact, it’s a bad one.

A typical cell phone user spends more than $2,000 a year on telecommunications, and the number is going up. For a product with a marginal cost of zero, this is an astoundingly high figure. Why would you risk your market share and what little customer satisfaction remains by selling off screen space to advertisers?

Sure, some folks with more time than judgment will click on these ads, and sure, your advertisers will smile, but do you really want to alienate millions of users by giving us something we don’t need and don’t want?

Here are the two questions I hope you’ll ask yourself:
a. what does the money we make from this effort do to the long-term profitability of our relationship with customers and
b. is this something consumers want? How many calls a day does Verizon get asking for more spam/advertising on their cell phones?

The relentless march of capitalism probably means that this is yet another medium about to go down the tubes in the name of short term profit. I hope not.

How many people need to complain before you draw the line? Tell us where to send a note, and we’ll send one!