Humming bees and buzzing birds…goosefeathers! and Spamalot

I finally got a little window of time to sit down and try to digest BtoB’s 2007 Interactive Marketing Guide.  It’s hard for me to get jazzed up about reading about Podcasts since I’m still in many ways an old-fashioned girl, clinging to my hard copy ways of a paper agenda and pen-scribbled to-do lists driving me forward day after day.  Still, I plodded along, dutifully trying to mentor myself on new marketing trends fighting their way for dominance on this Web 2.0 that’s all the buzz.

Things I noticed in the 40+ pages of insight and “marcom”-ese: 

  • Formal Engagements: The term of endearment “engagement” now is being flaunted with a capital E, as in “…the true measure of Engagement is found in visitor contribution.”  This was the final capstone to the issue, contributed by Jim Sterne, who should know, being the president of the Web Analytics Association.  Uber-geek, I’m sure, or is that some more sour grapes from my private vineyard?spam
  • List hygiene: It seems we like to borrow from the medical field to describe some marketing terms.  Besides “viral marketing,” if you send emails or buy lists, you need to be concerned about your “list hygiene,” which in typical market hype has conveniently been converted to a verb, as in “reports should directly track to the actions you take to hygiene your list.”
  • Spamhaus: I just liked the pre-lunch images this organization’s name conjured up.  I picture an architectural school project with one of the principal creations being a castle made entirely of the original Spam.  When I looked into it a bit, I found it’s a worthy cause that I’m glad to give a plug to here.  Gratuitously, I’m also inviting people to view the Spam Museum, on Hormel’s web site, as the company cleverly piggy-backed on the now famous name of its product in a combination of camp and kitsch.  The site is replete with Spam recipes (no thanks), information on all varieties of the pate, and of course Spam MP3’s and screensavers for the diehard Spamophile.  
  • Bounce management:  Now all my childhood illusions are being burst. Until I read the particular article dealing with this issue of email marketing, I thought bounce management was the etiquette required for a grown person entering a bounce house in order to avoid setting off a series of tsunamis knocking over all the little ones, or perhaps learning how to manage one’s assets in an aerobics class.
Published in: on September 28, 2007 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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waterlogging the blogosphere

The number of blogs is said to double in size every three months.  The word itself is attributed to Peter Merholz, from around 1999, and bloggers sometimes arcanely refer to themselves as “escribitionists.”  There are currently reported to be well over a million blogs. 

You would think that all these blogs would clog the Internet.  But it’s like a vast library, expanding into perhaps limitless space, like a Big Bang, taking off, and shattering, smattering, creating jetsam and flotsam (oh, dear, now there are some mixed metaphors).  And the people who track such things say that Internet users now about half their online time visiting content, which must mean a few people are reading blogs, and well as hammering them out or surfing eBay for their latest fix (can you say $100 satin dancing shoes–guilty!, but they were a steal at $40 or so).

Perhaps the novelty is still too much with me.  There’s something hyperconscious and tautologically nonsensical about blogging about blogging.  My friends tell me sometimes to stop thinking so much, analyzing things.  But making analogies is fun. 

Several years ago, the founder of Dandelife spun cautionary words of wisdom about the self-indulgent nature of blogging.  Ironically, or perhaps because of his the very drive for universality of understanding and the need to share he has grown his personal blog into a mushrooming industry. 

For the rest of us, blogs don’t carry much value. We’re not all dieing [sic] to be heard, for one. For two, we’re not all good writers. Nevertheless, we are all driven to be understood, I believe. And we are all, goodness knows, guilty of being infatuated with our own selves.

Surfing blog entries from different writers can take on hues of self-education about ideas, discovering a melange of writing styles, and sometimes a little voyeurism mixed in.  I’d be curious about really stellar, compelling blogs that others bookmark to visit over time.

Published in: on September 27, 2007 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Business Babble

Sometimes I wonder how journalists writing about business can stomach their jobs.  How do they ingest, digest and regurgitate all the information glutting our psychic arenas?

When I initially started my blog, I was guilty of churning out some pretty arid stuff.  In self-parody perhaps, today I took a minute and spun some marketing babble with a few almost random words and phrases, but the result is so typical of business writing. Consider the result:

“Cross-fertilization of initiatives between marketing/sales silos will increase ROI, while behavioral marketing, gauging click-through rates, combined with viral marketing, corporate wikis inform analysis for new ventures directed at turnkey solutions, embracing consumer life cycles and subsequent conversion rates.”  Yikes!  It’s no wonder that I’m in search of fun new phrases that delight the imagination and lighten the scene. 

I found a new term today…“vampire creativity,”  which describes the after-effect of an ad or commercial that is so creative and entertaining that people remember the spot, but not the actual product.  How ’bout this new one, coined by Glenn H. Myers: to scrape a toad: borrowing something from a co-worker’s desk without permission.  Only problem is, there’s nothing worth borrowing from my current coworker’s spaces.

I had a struggle when I joined my current employment venture and was requested (mandated actually) to write emails without contractions, and prefaced by “Dear ______”.  Very formal, and stilted if you ask me.  But since many of the recipients of the organization’s communiques do not speak English as their primary language, I conceded to the request, as well as the instruction to write practically ever verb as if a committee were performing the action, in order for the organization’s four employees to appear as a league of mighty and helpful recruits, instead of the small band of struggling individuals which I joined as director of communications.  To think that the Better Business Writing class I embraced previously which sought to cut to the chase and implored writers to write like they speak was being buried for anachronistic stuffiness.  Sigh!

Published in: on September 25, 2007 at 7:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Slips of the tongue, er, keyboard, and other oddball phrases.

A recent mass email from a jobbing board called USAJOBS warned subscribers about malicious software that had been used to gain unauthorized access to the Monster.com resume database to steal the contact information of job seekers.  The email asked users to “remain alert for counterfeit “phishing” emails that may appear to come from Monster.com.”  Now I ask myself, how do I differentiate these fake phishing emails from the authentic phishing emails? 

Yet another email from a marketing newsletter advised address “customer pain points.”  Ouch, jargon hurts.  I read that the marketing buzzword “solutions” has been requested to be retired.  I wonder what Assurant Solutions thinks about that?  This one is perhaps to the point, “fuzzword” as one “having an aura of a new, more exciting reality, but one that has no basis in the real world.” or alternatively “a word or phrase that is deliberately confusing or euphemistic”.

Here’s a fun new word, “typosquatters,” who are unscrupulous people who take URLs designed to take advantage of a mistyped URLs when inputting a website address into a browser.  And then there’s the dreaded “spim,” or instant message spam.  The digital age also has spawned smexting, which is “sending text messages while standing outside on a smoking break.”

Well, for all their merits or demerits, I personally find jargon a lot more exciting than clichés such as “too many chiefs, not enough indians,” though when they’re fresh, they are refreshing as in “cast in warm Jello: (a  decision not yet made) or “open the kimono” which is to divulge detailed information about one’s business.

Published in: on September 24, 2007 at 8:12 pm  Comments (4)  
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Privacy issues online…scratching my head

Yesterday as I was driving home from work, I heard an interesting radio spot. It was an ad for a company called Lifelock that promised to provide subscribers up to $1 million in reimbursement in the case of identity fraud. The commercial stated out with the company’s CEO sharing his own Social Security number over the airwaves, in a testimony to the plan.

I’ve been reading a lot about identity concerns recently, especially as they relate to social networking sites like MySpace and facebook. This morning as I was chompin’ down some breakfast, I glanced through the remaining sections of the Sunday paper. “Parade” always offers up interesting fodder. The cover story was about a Miss (fill in the state here, I forget) who was being blackmailed by someone who had picked up photos she’d posted in the past on her MySpace page, which supposedly she’d limited access on to only her 100 or so contacts.

Yes, I’ve been guilty of posting an occasional Red Bull-for -the-ego photo of myself on a semi-public site like Facebook…something a la Mrs. Robinson meets Ginger from Gulligan’s island…clingy long dress with a semi-subtle leopard print. cimg0245.jpgI’ve seen a dear one of mine post a pic of herself glamming it up in kitten heels and a bikini by the pool. She asked me and another friend after posting it if it was appropriate and we both said no, but it rested out there for a while. Now this is a highly intelligent and educated woman who normally closely guards her information and image (rightly so, as she has ambitions for public office), but who is also rightly proud of her still enviable bod). Well, after letting it linger for a while, she then took it down, when she’d had her fling with pin-up-girl-hood.

farrah.jpgI guess most of us girls who can remember will admit we envied Farrah Fawcett’s poster when we were impressionable adolescents. Anyway, my family member found her reason and composure and the photo soon migrated off her albums on the site, being replaced with a lot more gorgeous pictures of her which I’m much happier with.

Published in: on September 18, 2007 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

slogging, blogging and carrying on…or there’s a book in them thar hills

Yesterday I wrote about Kaizen, and improving things gradually.  Writing is like that.  Good writing is an art form, and hopefully one that as we continue pursuing it, our writing improves. 

Eventually along the way, bloggers pick up technique on how to spiff up their sites.  Lord willing, I will too! 

A syndicated columnist, Dale Dauten, details how he got a book within him–It’s A Wonderful Job”–published.   Here’s his account:

“The result was a manuscript that I merrily sent off to my agent and my publisher, only to learn that they had no interest in it. After all, they told me, there was no money to be made from a book for people who had no money to spend on books. Hold on, I insisted, it wasn’t just for the unemployed, it was for anyone who wanted a new start, or even a new direction. Address the toughest case and all the others become that much simpler.

It didn’t matter, they reasoned – I didn’t have a big enough audience to have a part of it be people who wouldn’t be buying books. Other agents and publishers agreed. So the book manuscript had been sitting around, which seemed a shame since I believe it could be of use to a lot of people.

Then it hit me; I would give it away. So I had it converted to an e-book, and I also recorded it as an audiobook. My son put them on dauten.com and they are now available to anyone who might benefit from them. No sign-up or registration or anything else needed, just my writer’s plea that if it helps, you tell me about it and maybe buy one of my other books.”

It’s not easy to be a writer, especially professionally.  It can be a very solitary pursuit, with the rewards way off in the distance.  And then there’s writer’s block.  I searched Google and as I typed in the word “writer’s” I watched as writer’s block was served up as the second suggestion on my search, even before I began typing in “block.”  Selecting this option, I was led to the first page of results–showing 110 of about 3,310,000!  So if you feel alone in your writing, or in your fumbling about what to say or type next, know you’re not really alone, but suffering in grand company.  My theory on what to do with writer’s block is just to write anything, and then hone it into shape, much as an artist takes his clay and gradually forms it into a more and more distilled image from his imagination. 

Another thing I like to do when trying to problem solve or find direction, whether in setting life goals or finding out where I stand on a decision (and incidentally it works much better for me than a list of pro’s and con’s) is to do some simple, free-flowing mind-mapping.  Here’s a 60-second sample on writing…

60-second mind map

Published in: on September 12, 2007 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

ah, ah Kaizen! Gesundheit!

We can apply the Japanese management technique of Kaizen, or “continuous improvement”, to enhance any aspect of our lives or environment, whether at work or at home.  I am on a mission to simplify my home environment and through a gradual process I call “decumulation” and alternatively “divestiture,” I’m trying to weed out things that don’t add beauty or value, and simultaneously wean myself away from the material cycle of consumerism.  Small changes add up. 

In the interest of efficiency and saving, consider that household water consumption has increased by 200% since 1950.  By 2013, it’s estimated that more than 36 states will encounter water shortages.  Simply fixing a dripping faucet can save up to 74 gallons of water per day.

I will be revisiting the divestiture theme in the future, as I track my progress on this personal challenge, as well as perhaps the theme of another revered and sound Asian concept, feng shui, which fascinates me because of its focus on generating positive energy in one’s environment and mitigating negative energy.  I have never been as acutely aware of how much energy it takes to maintain one’s personal effects as I am currently.  Yes, much of feng shui focuses on the right placement of objects, but the most essential learning for me is truly that less is more, allowing energy to flow freely and our psychic attentions to be placed in the future, instead of an accumulation of things from the past and present.

Published in: on September 11, 2007 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Don’t worry, be happy (and live longer!)

In my last entry, I wrote about employees wanting to feel in control of their work environment.  This week, the Labor Day issue of The Miami Herald noted dramatic changes in the workplace over the past 25 years. In 1977, only a little more than a third of American workers were over 40 year; today over half are.  Workers are feeling more pressed, more stressed, and perhaps more depressed?  Today 39% of employees are not fully engaged in their jobs and 54% are less than fully satisfied with their jobs.  As expected, employers who offer flexible work environments find more fully engaged employees committed to staying with their employer.

Paradoxically, however Glenn Bassett wrote a little over a decade ago about an interesting case against worker satisfaction being a significant measure of productivity.  While it seems to remain true that employees’ dissatisfaction with their jobs may affect both turnover and absenteeism, it may be that satisfied employers may have lower standards or be less ambitious.  As Bassett notes, dissatisfied workers may be employees who are highly conscientious about work effectiveness and upset by the prevalence of poor management practices. 

Work satisfaction was found to be the best single predictor of longevity against actuarial tables of mortality in another study.  As a worker, or manager, this is food for thought.  For those interested in the fascinating study in detail, you can find it, hopefully, at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1038/is_n3_v37/ai_15505563/pg_5

Published in: on September 6, 2007 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Machiavellian or Pragmatic?

It’s pretty bad when you talk about collecting “chits” to use as a currency in gaining favors, but this article will have something for everyone. Just yesterday there was an office blow up where I work. If the characters in that little skit had recently read this article, they might have tempered their gender-influenced reactions to each other’s hurled verbal gambits and avoided a lot of frustration and raised blood pressure. Judging by the fact that over 40 people commented on this article, I’m not the only one who found gems here. How to Win at Office Politics, by Kelly Pate Dwyer http://www.bnet.com/2403-13070_23-93243.html?promo=713&tag=nl.e713

Sometimes the best solution to office politics is to be off on your own.  When you’ve “had it up to here” with the management or games in your current workplace, and “here” feels about six foot under, it’s reassuring to have an escape hatch.  That’s the concept behind a new buzzword Grindhopping, originally conceived for young hopefuls but relevant for anyone who wants to get off the corporate treadmill.  http://www.grindhopping.com/news.php

Published in: on September 5, 2007 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Linking in

pygmy headhuntersA recent article on Boston.com’s website stated that today’s workers have three clear priorities: flexible hours, work that leads to personal growth, and the ability to spend apygmy headhunterspygmy headhunters lot of time fostering personal relationships. While working for oneself may address the first two of these needs, the challenges of working from home include the difficulty of spending quality time interacting with others.  Social networking sites and email can provide a window to a larger world and connection with others.  It’s important to be flexible and open to different working and communication styles.  Some people are phone-friendly, while others prefer a quick email touch point.  Don’t discount investigating sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, but also don’t be discouraged if some of your friends, family or colleagues are not interested in going there.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of text messaging, but if “texted,” I’ll try to get back to the person…perhaps by text, or possibly by phone, which seems so much more expedient.  A personal peeve of mine, when I call someone’s cell and leave them a message, I’m exhasperated beyond proportion by that person calling me back without listening to the message.  I have this image in my mind that I’m being held hostage by pygmie headhunters who say you have one call you can make, but if your cell phone rings, we will behead you and serve you for dinner.  And so I call my friend and leave a message where this roast is to take place, so they can come and rescue me, but the friend doesn’t listen to the message, and just rings me back…of course I don’t answer, I just been beheaded!

If you do sign up for a social networking site, especially if you’re your own boss, it’s important to differentiate time spent on the sometimes distracting and tempting diversion of these links and true networking.  Part of that flexibility for some of us can be learning to accept less than perfection in ourselves, and not feeling guilty for some downtime.  So enjoy your contacts, but don’t lose sight of your goals and daily objectives!

 

Published in: on September 4, 2007 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment