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It’ll pay big dividends. Ben and Jackie’s new book pubs today: Church of the Customer Blog.

Pencil Drop (The end of Digg as we know it?)

So, the latest bit of civil disobedience from the seventh grade is the pencil drop (nothing new). Word goes out that at exactly 2:04, everyone drops their pencil.

Teachers hate this.

Coordination turns random events into noticeable events.

I’m on record as being a huge fan of Reddit and Digg and the other social bookmarking sites. I’m still a big fan. But I wonder about the self-inflicted damage of their success.

Now that they are so powerful (the front page is worth hundreds of thousands of impressions, for free, in one day, among some of the most influential people online) people are starting to notice.

They’re noticing by encouraging their fans to post in a coordinated way.

Sometimes they do this in ways that most of us would consider ethical (hey, please Digg this post if you think it’s worthwhile) while others are hiring clickfarms in India to do it for them. The leverage is just so great, it’s irresistible (in some categories, just a few hundred Diggs is enough to work your way up to the top).

As this gaming approach catches on, I have no doubt that the social networking sites will do a pretty good job of stopping the spammers. But they can’t (and shouldn’t) stop the semi-organic ones, the good blog posts where the blogger asked for the Digg and made it easy, right?

So the market will adjust and the good will still win.

Except it won’t. It won’t because the truly good, the overlooked, the stuff that is built by someone who doesn’t know how to IM the top Diggers, doesn’t want to pay a bribe or even know how to put in links to the sites–those pages can’t possibly compete with the coordinated pencil drop. So they disappear.

I’m fully expecting that sometime quite soon, the front door won’t be open quite so wide… that it won’t be so easy to get a dubious page into the clickstream. The idea of social bookmarking isn’t going to go away, I think, but it can’t help but evolve.

Under New Management

Newmanagement
Another mystery to ponder.

Why would anyone put a sign like this up on her store?

If I liked your store before, now I’m on notice to be careful–it might not be as good.

If I didn’t like your store before, why on earth am I paying attention to your little sign and why should I go out of my way to take another chance?

This is a vivid symbol of the ego-centric nature of most marketing. The sign is about the owner, not about the prospect.

I have no explanation

Here’s a link to the ingredients of Kraft Guacomole.


WATER, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT AND SOYBEAN OIL, CORN SYRUP, WHEY
PROTEIN CONCENTRATE (FROM MILK), FOOD STARCH MODIFIED, CONTAINS LESS
THAN 2% OF POTATOES, SALT, AVOCADO, DEFATTED SOY FLOUR, MONOSODIUM
GLUTAMATE, TOMATOES, SODIUM CASEINATE, VINEGAR, LACTIC ACID, ONIONS,
PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, GELATIN, XANTHAN GUM, CAROB BEAN
GUM, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, SPICE, WITH SODIUM BENZOATE AND POTASSIUM
SORBATE AS PRESERVATIVES, GARLIC, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, CITRIC ACID, YELLOW
6, YELLOW 5, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, BLUE 1, ARTIFICIAL COLOR.

 
As you can see from this list of the ingredients in order of quantity, avocado is the ninth ingredient by weight, coming in at less than 2%, less, in fact, than the salt.

I think I understand why the folks at Kraft prefer to use modified food starch instead of avocados (cheaper, easier to source, keeps better) but what I don’t understand is why people buy it more than once.

In fact, over time, a generation grows up thinking this is the ‘regular kind’ and wrinkling its nose at the chunky, irregular original kind.

How did we get programmed this way? Is it an inevitable part of the human condition to prefer things that are bland, preprocessed and not so good for us? Or did we market ourself into this corner?

The 5 pump chai

That’s what the guy in front of me at Starbucks had. "No water," he added. I don’t even know what a 5 pump chai with no water is…

The next guy had a latte, 120.

I think that’s degrees.

There’s no longer 19,000 different beverages at Starbucks. There may be several million if you count outliers like these.

And why does it matter? Surely we could agree on, say, 1,000 different options that would be enough.

Nope. Never enough. Never enough because the selection is the equivalent of friendship, of recognition, of self worth. Having it your way is a power trip, and one that’s well worth $4.

It’s hard for me to imagine a business that couldn’t offer the same to its best customers.

Commercializing Captcha

Picture_43
So, here’s my great branding/commercialism/capitalist captcha idea for the day:

Everyone has this stuff now. Comments, sign ups, it’s everywhere. We only want people, not computers. But it’s way way too hard to decipher the writing.

What we need is a centralized captcha server that everyone can use for free. And how would it be monetized, you ask?

Easy. Logos.

It might be for soup or a server or an airline…

Type the brand you see above, please.

Only the very best

If you are an all-star, please read this. It’s one of the most amazing organizations I’ve ever worked with… and you would be a good match:

Dear Friends,

We are looking to quickly fill the role of Chief Development Officer at Acumen Fund. I have attached a detailed job description to this note; however in summary, this individual would sit on the senior management team and be primarily responsible for the organization’s revenue generating activities to ensure a funding base for Acumen Fund’s investments as well as operations.  He or she would also be heavily involved in setting the strategic focus for the organization.

Prior fundraising experience would certainly be beneficial in the role; however we are also looking for someone with a strong track record of managing and building systems and who would be excited by our fast-pace entrepreneurial environment.

Given the need to fill this position quickly we will be accepting resumes until next Friday, December 8th and would like to fill the role by January 1. Please contact our Talent Manager, Deepti Doshi (ddoshi@acumenfund.org) if you are interested and feel free to send this out to others who you think may be a good fit.

Lifetime warranty

Laurie writes, "amazing customer service from le creuset, the french enamel on cast iron cookware people

i dropped something on a pot cover while it was in the sink and the knob shattered

i called …

"give me your shipping address and we’ll send the replacement knob for the pot cover"

no questions asked … i’ve had that pot 10 years … lifetime warranty really does mean lifetime warranty …

while i had them on the phone, i mentioned that i had another pot of theirs that got a chip on the enamel on the inside, and i had been wondering about getting it fixed

no questions asked …

"we don’t repair, we replace; here’s the address to send the pot and we will replace it, and here’s your confirmation number … just put it on the inside of the package"

that pot is at least 8 years old …

and here i am telling you all about it"

Stopping, not starting.

Helene points out that Google is shutting down Google Answers.

My first response was "oh no!! I love Google Answers… I use it all the time. It’s amazing! I’ll miss it."

And my second was to think about this as the obvious side effect of being in the fashion business.

If you’re going to launch stuff, and launch it often, then you must clean house. Even though Google Answers is a great idea (hint, someone should recruit all their brilliant researchers), it’s not a great enough idea to hit Google’s numbers. So kill it.

Ignore people like me who scream and yell about how much they love it and how much potential there is. Just kill it. That’s what fashion companies do.

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