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Archive for July, 2008

Generate Change

Have you ever wanted to change the world but you think there is not much you can do by yourself? Now you can! Imagine all the change you can generate in your community if you were to give the round-up cents to a non-profit organization. Now, it’s possible thanks to Generate Change, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that helps local socially responsible organizations to get help from consumers with the support of local retailers.

The way it works is simple: a participating retailer at your local community will ask you at check out if you want to round-up your bill to the next dollar. If you say yes, all those pennies and dimes will go to an account which can be accessed by local nonprofits affiliated to the program to used those valuable resources in their day-to-day activities.

It sounds simple, isn’t it? Well it is indeed the opposite since Generate Change will make sure that the funds are properly used by everyone in the program and this is hard work. Moreover, Generate Change will help retailers to implement all necessary IT changes to make the transaction as transparent for the user as possible.

Excellent way to make social impact. An outstanding idea!

They are currently operating in the Greater Boston area and hopefully going national soon! I can’t wait to Generate Change at my local supermarket instead of using Bank of America’s “Keep the Change (for yourself)”. Is time to stop being selfish.

I guess the guys from IDEO, the ones that came up with the “Keep the Change” program, didn’t see this one coming. In your face!

To find out more, visit their web page www.igeneratechange.com

My most sincere congratulations to Jennifer Green & Team. I’m pretty sure in the future you will serve as reference for our Babson Class of 2008!

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It’s the law!

There is no doubt that one of the easiest ways to market a product is when you can (legally) use the sentence “it is the law!”

Since July first in the State of California, a new law went into effect forcing anyone talking on the phone and driving at the same time to use a hands-free device. Moreover, if you are under the age of 18, you can’t use your mobile at all while driving. This law tries to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel to prevent accidents caused by distraction.

Retailers couldn’t wait, all hands-free sellers went nuts advertising any technology they had to keep the customers driving safely and under the law, and of course there was no add on TV or radio that didn’t use scary type of sentences such as “it is illegal”, “you will get a ticket” and of course “it is the law!”

Of course, most of the 23 million drivers in California don’t want to get a citation so sales of Bluetooth devices and other kind of headsets increased since September 2006, when the California Wireless Telephone Automobile Safety Act of 2006, or SB 1613, was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It is amazing how a device that wasn’t selling very well can ramp up with a little push. The funniest thing about this law is that dialing is not prohibited, meaning that you can actually write text messages while driving (not that I encourage doing so, but you could).

Anyway, I think that despite this law, drivers are still distracted from of the road because they are eating, daydreaming, applying makeup, shaving, scratching random body parts, etc.

I really hope this this law will reduce the number of car accidents in California at least in the same percentage sales of Bluetooth devices grew (figures that have not been released by any manufacturer, by the way)

“We have definitely seen increased interest in all things hands-free these weeks leading up to the law,” said Charles Hodges, RadioShack’s national director of media relations. “Based on the number of people that drive in California, we made sure stores are well-stocked for customers.” CNET News.

If you don’t have money but don’t want to brake the law, here is an idea: alternative hands-free

Written from my iPhone while driving. Just kidding.

Measure… measure… measure… but measure the right thing!

I flying back to San Francisco from Austin after the SEM for SMB conference and I’m thinking about how many times the word measure came up during the conference. I agree 100% with the “measuring statements” such as “you don’t get what you don’t measure” or “if you can’t measure it, better don’t do it” but what these statements assume is that you are measuring the right thing.

For example, I was really surprised when small business owners from Austin where asked the main objective of their Search Engine Campaigns. One out of eight people said “increase sales” or “increase revenue” whereas the other seven were more focused on being the number one result in Google, increase visits to the site and be found by the keywords they wanted. Yes, yes I know that some of those are good indicators, but those should not be the final variables to measure. For example:

  • What if you have 100,000 visitors per day but none of them purchased your product? Wouldn’t you rather have 100 visitors and five of them making and actual purchase? If you are selling several kinds of products then also watch for margin, you may direct demand of your product with the best margins.
  • What if you are happy because you are listed in Google with the keywords you wanted, but those keywords are seldom used by your real buyers. That would mean that despite being the number one, you are not what people are looking for; hence, you just put money and time on the garbage.

So, if you are about to start any kind of marketing campaign and you are planning how to measure it, be sure to measure what matters for you, margins, EBITDA, profit. Not only measure eyeballs on your advertisements, unless you have tons of money to throw out the window. Even if you are tracking lead-genration in your website, follow those conversions to see how many ended up in a real sale.

Have a great weekend

Wants vs Needs and Features vs Benefits

Let’s assume you have a great product or service and you would like to sell it. That is pretty much any entrepreneur challenge, to sell. Since you created the product you will think that is so amazing that as soon it hit the market, people will fight each other to get it as if they where future-brides on a wedding gown sale.

Alas, the truth is that situation seldom happens (unless you are selling wedding dresses to future brides at half-price or less), and usually is really depressing or shocking for the entrepreneur to notice that no one understands how marvelous product or service offered is and how is going to make their lives simpler, more comfortable or more entertaining!

If you are having that problem even after your marketing campaign has started, then you may need to re-evaluate what are you broadcasting to your customer and what kind of product or service are you offering. Among many possible issues, I will mention two common problems when creating comprehensible marketing campaign:

  • First, you need to know if you are selling something that is “a must have” or “a nice to have.” Your marketing communication have to make emphasis on whatever the nature of your offering is, so you can tell the consumer either how does it solve their pains, or how does it make their lives even better.
  • The second one is whether you are broadcasting the features or the benefits. Usually is better to broadcast the benefits of what you are selling, for example: let’s say you sell a top notch computer mouse, and you know that it is ergonomically designed and has 3000dpis of resolution. Those are features and that may not be understandable for all your potential customers, but if you translate those features to benefits such as “your hand will never get tired after playing computer games all night” or “the accuracy of the mouse will let you click on what you want without struggling” then you are telling something easy to understand to the consumer. After this step you will need to figure out which benefit is the most important for your potential customer.

Defining these two concepts will help you to determine what you need to tell to your customer in your marketing copy so they can understand and see the value on what you are offering.

By the way, I know this blog is not (yet) a “must read”, I’m just warming up. I hope it is at least “nice to read”

Negative Keywords in your Pay Per Click(PPC) SEM strategy

Pay per click (PPC) is a way to advertise your webpage through services like Google AdWords and YahooAds to reach consumer that are searching for products or services such as the ones you offer. It is also a great way to waste valuable marketing dollars if used improperly, even though search engine strive to prevent your doing so. For example, Google AdWords lets you set a daily budget, put a maximum cost per click, target your ads geographically. As if it were not enough, gives you lots of information about how the system works; however you can still manage to spend unnecessary money, most of the time without knowing so.
One of the tips for preventing this from happening is to use negative keywords when you don’t want you ad to appear or when it just doesn’t make sense. Here is an example:

– If the objective of your campaign is to sell video cards for PC then your keywords could be “video card for PC” (This is too generic by the way, but is just as an example). The problem here is that you may appear (depending on your bid for the keywords and competition) under the following search terms:
o video card for PC free
o video card for PC drivers
o sell video card for PC
o repair video card for PC
o compatibility of video card for PC
o etc..

As you may have noticed, probably none of those queries will end up as a sale of your PC cards just because the user is not looking to buy, moreover, their click on your ad will cost you some green.
To prevent this from happening, you can use negative keywords. If one of your negative keywords appears on the user’s query your ad will simply not appear. The way you set this up in your Google campaign is to use a dash “-“ before a keyword.

I recommend you to use the following keywords if the objective of your campaign is selling a product or service:
-free
-information
-“what is”
-“how to”
-definition

If the objective of your campaign is to generate leads or to get people to subscribe to a newsletter, even to drive traffic to your site, then those negative keywords should change, but I will let you guys think about it, I don’t want to ruin all the fun for you.

Latter on this blog I will write about wild cards and other search variations.

Have fun, and if you just like spending money, better buy me dinner! Google has enough already!

F.

The guys from Site Tuners forgot about Economics

While doing my daily research about new products and services related to search engine marketing (SEM) or search engine optimization (SEO), I stumbled with a white paper from Site Tuners that is outrageously incorrect.

The product is called PriceTuning and they claim to: Establishing the profit-optimal price for a product or service. They supposedly do this by testing various price-points and getting the highest price you can charge your product or service according to the revenue per visitor, and here is the fallacy.

First of all what they are measuring is the Maximum Willingness to Pay for the customer, not the optimal price point. Why? The maximum willingness to pay is the highest price a customer agrese to pay for a product or service whereas the optimal price-point would be defined as the price that maximizes your profits of the business.

But, if I sell always at the maximum price wouldn’t I be maximizing my total profit? Well, not necessarily, and here is where the Site Tuners guys trip.

There is something in economics called price elasticity of demand that measures the nature and percentage of the relationship between changes in quantity demanded of a good and changes in its price. Uh? In simple words it measures how many units more or less are sold when a price change occurs.

I think is better if I explain it with an example, and I will use Site Tuners exhibit to illustrate it:

Site Tuners Error
This image was taken from the Whitepaper ProfitTuner from SiteTuners.com

You are selling a product and the price may range from $20 to $50, then you go to Site Tuners and they tell you the optimal price is $47 (according to their graph, because is the maximum point of the curve) and this price will give you the maximum profit from each visitor. This would be the optimal price only if your demand is perfectly inelastic. However, the optimal price should be linked to the quantity of sales you make. That is, if you charge the $47 you may have only 50 clients while you could be selling at $33 and getting 300 customers.

This analysis is done assuming there are no incremental costs if you produce more or less pieces of the product, circumstances that change the profit curve (but don’t worry, site tunes didn’t take this into account)

So, if you are using PriceTunning, review your total profits, you may be leaving money on the table, and please be careful on who you trust your pricing strategies. In addition, Site Tuners, please don’t call optimal something that is only half true, that could come back to you in the future as half number of clients maybe.

Why Karma Marketing?

The well known karma concept (according to Wikipedia) says: “…the effects of all deeds actively create past, present, and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life, and the pain and joy it brings to him/her and others.”
You may or may not believe in karma; however, in marketing it is totally true. Whatever you do right, wrong or don’t do at all will come back to you in the end in different ways. If you do the wrong thing (like phisihng, clogging, spamming) they may come back disguised as good or bad reputation, decrease in sales or a lawsuit. On the other hand, if everything you do you collaborate with the right people using the right tools, then you will get great joy and fruits (as Wikipedia says).
For example, I know that my written English is not very good and probably this will come back in the future and bite my hand, but in my defense, English is my second language and we never stop learning throughout our lives. I hope this blatant apology vaccinates me from that poisonous bite.

But, if you decide to go the wrong way, do not worry… this may not haunt you in the next life (if there is one… hmmm)
I won’t even try to relate this any religion or philosophy and my most sincere apologies if someone feels that I’m using a sacred concept in vain efforts; don’t worry, it will come back to me in the future and smack me in the face.

This is an introductory note to this blog and I hope is interesting enough to keep you coming here and perhaps, leave a comment.