Learning From Apple’s Style: Let’s Play Dress Up! (Delivering Packages That Excite)

A few weeks ago I got my iPad2 thanks to UPS and the awesome Unbounce.com #ConversionFest blogging contest. It made me think about packaging and how we play dress up in the business world.

When you look at the iPad2 box, a few things stand out. There’s no product specifications or feature listings. iPad2 appears a few times but not in an over-powering font size or style. The one thing that stands out is the trademark pure white packaging and Apple logo. When you get this box, you know what it is without a doubt.

Hi, I'm an iPad.

Hi, I’m an iPad.

Apple is so confident in their brand power and the popularity of their products that they don’t bother with the extra stuff. The iPad2 box says, “Buy me and open me to see what’s inside!”.

So, what does that tell us about packaging and dressing up our products?

Quite a bit. Let’s explore and go beyond just the box… Continue reading

Support-A-Thon: What’s Your Digital Footprint Say About You?

This Support-A-Thon series was started as a way to help each other out with simple tips and initiatives we can start to implement TODAY. It’s also a great opportunity to share best practices and network further. Today, we’ll look search engine nuances, intellectual property theft, and how SERPs are replacing traditional resumes, amongst other things.

For our purposes, our digital footprint is essentially the collection of your online content. Thing is, content loosely defines a whole slew of things we do online and offline. In cyberspace, content includes, but is not limited to:

  • tweets
  • blog posts
  • comments
  • forums/discussion boards
  • status updates

And that’s just focusing on the stuff that is in public domains. These are all things that can be quoted, archived, forwarded, and, stolen.

With the speed of information delivery today, we must be mindful that any content we put out there can and will be used in some way we may not have originally intended or planned for.

Within minutes, that typo you made will be exposed to hundreds, thousands, then potentially millions of people! EEK. Continue reading

Who’s On First? The Disappearing Niche!

This one is going to be short and sweet.

I offer to you a challenge:

Consider your unique advantage and think, real hard, HOW unique is it? Do you even have a unique advantage or are you focusing on a niche to stay competitive or stand out?

You hear lots of talk about niche marketing and how it’s the “only” way to be competitive in a world of look-alike businesses and copycats. Well, I think niches are a load of crap. Focusing on them can kill your business in the long run.

Here’s why niches are full of suck… Continue reading

Google EVIL Panda Algorithm Update: Even Greater Urgency For Us Little Guys

UberGizmo recently posted an awesome article about the terrible Google Panda Algorithm Update (thanks to Brinked.com site owner, Will H, for sharing). To say the least, this article was not a good birthday present for me. April 19th 2011 could very well mark a turning point for all of the Internet.
 
The news about Google’s search engine changes comes with some revelations I’ve gathered over the past few years, especially recently. Several sources indicate that around 70 to 99% of (search engine) traffic goes to 1 to 5% of the web sites out there. Whatever the actual numbers are, the lesson remains the same: us little guys are in a real hard place. The minds behind Triberr, a service which helps like-minded people promote their Internet “things”, say that this is a shame because some of the best content can be found outside of “the top”, which I agree with wholeheartedly!

The problem here is that the Google (EVIL) Panda Algorithm Update essentially rewards technically-savvy web sites that lack creativity, heart, and innovation. As UberGizmo so effectively illustrated, someone can take original content, not even crediting the source, and out-rank the originator. WTF?

Google EVIL Panda

Is Google the big bad bear now?

 

I already had plans to ramp-up my creative efforts and create greater urgency for my fellow writers, marketers, and entrepreneurs but now we REALLY have to motivate! With these new rules in play, what can small businesses, bloggers, and innovators do? I have a few ideas… Continue reading

Persistence: Keeping The Creative Momentum Going When Blogging or Writing

A few weeks ago my colleague and close friend, Julio From NY, tweeted and used a peculiar hash tag (something to the effect of #oneaweek2011).  At first, I thought it was some sort of diet program or strange New Year’s resolution.  It turns out it was referring to a challenge at The Daily Post on WordPress.com.

While I could very well do “one post a day” I think the challenge takes the focus away from quality and leans more towards quantity.  No bueno.  One A Week makes sense.  As an SEO and SMO-minded web designer, copywriter, and editor on various fronts, the perfectionist in me dictates that I do not post anything that is at least somewhat interesting and has something for curious web searches to stumble upon.

Here I am trying to stick to this challenge.  I already mentioned I am involved on various fronts so this will be tough for me.  While I know I preach that you have to stay persistent as a blogger or you will lose your audience, it’s tough to do so when you also do freelance writing and try to sell, syndicate, or share other content via different distribution channels.  One post a week means you have more people returning more often.  When people see your commitment, they will be more likely to share your content with others!

I have several things in the pipeline for my blog here on WordPress.  I hope to syndicate some content and get some quality backlinks going too.  Some of the topics I wish to discuss include latest video game releases (Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Dead Space 2, for example), the state of the video game industry, the economy of gaming, current projects I am working on, and, of course, random rants and raves thereof.  I invite you all to brainstorm your ideas now and stay persistent.  Don’t lose momentum!

If you’re doing the One A Week 2011, post on my comments and/or guestbook – I’ll be sure to add you to my blogroll and promote your featured articles whatever way I can!  If you run out of ideas, maybe we can brainstorm together too.  I’m never without ideas..  Just need to carve out more time.  Good thing I have this handy-dandy WordPress app for my Blackberry Bold – now I can blog on-the-go!

I’m really passionate about writing.  Specifically, blogging is a great way to learn more about topics you are truly interested in, while writing in a manner that is fun and fresh.  In fact, I find out so many interesting things in my SEO research, Wiki lookups, and random reading that I find myself overwhelmed by the many topics to write about.  My hopes are to focus more and more on writing and game design, my biggest passions in life.  Part of that will be moving my WordPress blog to a self-hosted setup.  I’m excited!  Let’s do this OneAWeek2011 FTW!

One A Week / One A Day BLOG CHALLENGE 2011

Think you have what it takes to stay persistent with your blogging efforts? Leave a comment on this article and get a badge for yourself!

Gaming Shop Talk: Microsoft’s Majestic Marketing – Halo 3 Zero Hour

Today is the day that many geeks and overly-competitive gosu gamers have been waiting for: the Halo 3 launch. For me, it is business as usual. I played the beta and wasn’t particularly impressed and I am not a huge fan of Halo to begin with (you’ll have to forgive me for that) but, whatever way you chop it up, this is a historic day. This is the story of a somewhat obscure developer that hit it big by allying with one of the biggest brands out there – Microsoft! It is also the story of how online multiplayer games really got put on the map. Halo brought a gleam of hope to those that wanted something different…

Halo 3 - a ray of light for a different type of gamer!

For many years, the online gaming community has thrived in great numbers on the PC front but it was mostly underground, cult-like, not very organic or viral. Some home consoles tried to capture the magic of PC gaming but failed, mainly because they treated multiplayer modes as an after-thought. Along comes Halo to change everything. Halo is, without a doubt, the killer app of the XBox, comparable to Final Fantasy and Super Mario, easily. It is all a matter of brilliant marketing. The XBox cultivated a huge gaming space that was, for the most part, a vacuum waiting to be filled by a big idea. Bungie was a quiet developer that gave Mac users what they rarely got: fun games that weren’t family-oriented or overly-nerdy. Marathon arguably started it all yet few people even heard of the game. In this case, it is clear that the Bungie brand made little difference as crossing over to the “dark side” (Mac users tend to dislike anything Microsoft) would have lost the long-time followers. Surely, the amplifier of the Halo franchise was something outside of the developers and branding, surely the market was ready and waiting for something to come along. Halo certainly filled void by meeting the needs of those that wanted hardcore competition in a not-so-nerdy package. Finally, an FPS that was fast-paced, revolved around multiplayer (both coop and versus), and didn’t have a complex control scheme!

Had Halo been released on the PC like Microsoft originally intended to, it would not have been as popular; instead, they attacked the console market and used college dorms as marketing hives, the gaming bees buzzing about about their latest gaming addiction. Why do I say this? Well, the game is a rehash of what has been done before but, since it was new to those that only knew console gaming, it was easy to spread.

The brilliance of Halo was never it’s unique storyline or break-through architecture. The technical aspects are all commonplace in a marketplace where ideas are just repackaged and regurgitated. The marketing is where the real money was made and where the Halo franchise became rock-solid. The console market was in dire need of a fast-paced online multiplayer game. Something that was easy to find (accessible), easy to talk to others about (smooth), and simple to play (inviting). The major gripe for people that dabbled in other First Person Shooter (FPS) games is that keyboard-and-mouse control schemes were too complex. Halo opened up the FPS genre to the masses and targeted the most aggressive, competitive gamers as well as everyday, casual gamers that needed something simple to enjoy with friends. These two segments spawned many fans spreading the message: here’s something UNREAL! Continue reading

Finding the Perfect Toothbrush: A Lesson in Marketing

A few articles back, I talked about Oreo and how their message is simply this: we are America’s favorite cookie. These are the sorts of messages that can backfire but, executed properly, you really boost the perceived value tenfold. The brilliance in Oreo’s current strategy lies in their use of contests and celebrity lick races, promotions that people talk about with others. These are ideas that spread in a viral manner or, as Seth Godin puts it, ideaviruses. The key to this strategy is creating simple, consistent messages that anyone can spread onward; of course, you have to get people excited.

In this article, I’d like to discuss a marketing strategy that is a little less buzz and hype-driven yet still viral in nature. Let’s look at a simple thing that everyone uses (well, mostly everyone): a toothbrush. Traditional marketing and old money business people will tell you that the better toothbrush will sell more but what does “better” actually mean? It depends what your target customers are. For kids, both big and small (some of us are still kids at heart), cartoon-stickered and music-generating toothbrushes are the epitome of oral hygiene devices.

Does this cow do anything for you?

For the rest of the world, style still matters but effectiveness, practical use, becomes a greater distinction. Think about the last time you purchased a toothbrush and how often you make this decision. What affected your decision? Did you go for the toothbrushes in the front or did you look further back on the shelve? Was it an impulse buy, perhaps triggered by a clever end-cap display or cashier counter arrangement? Did you even notice how hard or soft the bristles are? Was the type of grip and general structure of the toothbrush a big focus for you? What was the final tie breaker (assuming you were initially indecisive)? The chances are that, if you were put in a group of 50 people, your decision-making process would be quite distinct. Once we recognize that not all consumers think the same way is a humbling experience for all business people…

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StumbleUpon, Digg, Web 2.0/3.0, Social Media – Why Should YOU Care?

Let’s play a game. I will toss some buzzwords at you and you stop me when you come across something that interests you. Here we go… De.licio.us, Technorati, Digg, StumbleUpon, Web 2.0, social media… Anything yet? Chances are nothing in that sentence really grabbed you. If it did, you may be amongst the 5% that actually cares about the ubiquitous Web 2.0 format and the push for social media. For everyone else in the world, why should YOU care? Let’s explore that now…

If none of the aforementioned buzzwords spoke to you, you may not be excited about the boom in social networking (the above diagram explains it all – well, not really); that is, all the sites like MySpace, Facebook, CherryTap, Hi5, LinkedIn, and the like that are out there. These sites are all part of a great movement called “Web 2.0” by some, or immersive user-driven web design by others. The terminology changes around depending on whom you speak with. Those on the technical side will use more tech-speak while those more on the business or “soft side” of things will use more seller talk and marketing terms. In the end, Web 2.0, or whatever you call it, is about making the web useful to the average user again.

If you used the Internet before the dawn of the World Wide Web, you may recall Bulletin Board Systems (arguably the precursor to modern-day forums software such as YaBB, SMF, and PHPBB), Gopher, Usenet, Telnet, and other fun services that are now all but obsoleted. In these modern times where instant gratification is demanded by virtually everyone, people want things fast and their way. The savvy information seekers of the Digital Age know to use the Web to avoid what can otherwise be more noisy, crowded information channels (i.e. television and other well-established mediums). Web 2.0 comes along, as nothing more but a general idea, and says “the web is the vehicle for those adventurous, insiquisitive seekers – give them the keys to that vehicle.”

Social Network Craziness Somewhat Simplified

Original Source: Relenet Social Network Services

 

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Oreo Double Stuf Race – You Guys Win!!!

I just wanted to share a few thoughts on the recent CWTV Oreo Double Stuf Race promotion. First and foremost, thanks to all of you that actively voted and told your friends to do the same. I saw some exponential growth in the traffic going from my pages on MySpace and WordPress. In the final hour, many of you put in hundreds of clicks which really kept my brother in the race.

According to the last vote refresh I got to see (right before the poll page was taken offline), the top two videos were Oreos In Bed and Deliocioso. I think I share the sentiment of most people out there when I sit in complete bewilderment and wonder just how in the world such a piss-poor entry made it as a finalist, let alone won the grand prize. Apparently, since other people found the jump from 5% to 63% [practically overnight] to be rather suspicious, an investigation got started. I don’t mean to sound like a sore loser but, really, my brother’s video was infinitely better than “Oreos In Bed” – I would have rather seen “The Last One”, “Search for Stuf”, or “I Love Oreos” in the #1 spot since they had much more substance and production value.

I reviewed the Oreo Double Stuf Race contest rules and it seems that 70% of the vote is based on “personality” – call me crazy, but I don’t think there was much personality in that bed scene. What there was in that video was a whole lot of suggestive sexual content. Boobies sell and I guess that is enough for the general public. Sad times indeed…

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