viernes, 29 de febrero de 2008

Permission, Advertising and Free

I finished reading the book Permission Marketing by Seth Godin. I’m a fan of his blog so I got his book for 5 bucks used off of

Traditional advertising is the science of creating and placing media that interrupts the consumer and then gets him or her to take some action. The problem is that the amount of advertising begging for your attention has increased. As the clutter has increased, advertisers have responded by increasing the clutter. Permission Marketing is based on the premise that the expense of interrupting potential customers can be leveraged into multiple interactions. The internet threatens the traditional form of interruptive advertising because there are millions of pages instead of just a few TV channels. This is a very big haystack and advertisers don’t have that many needles.

Although, advertisers wish the internet was like a TV, where they could control what people see. This strategy is based on an old-media worldview in which we are all masses that can be bought and sold. Microsoft - like too many advertisers and media companies - thinks we think of the internet as just another TV. It believes it can own content and technology when, in truth, we own it now. It shows in their work to thwart the threat of DVRs. In a New York Times article, the ABC network is establishing an on-demand video service that would allow viewers to watch ABC shows like “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” any time they choose. The catch: It uses a new technology that disables the viewers’ ability to fast-forward through commercials. Also a Wall Street Journal article talks about how advertisers are trying to make their ads stick even when they are being fast forwarded. Obviously Godin’s observation is true, the mass market is dying. The vast splintering of media means that a marketer cant reach a significant percentage of the population with any single communication.

There are two metrics in advertising: reach and frequency. Reach is how many people see it and frequency is how many times it is seen. No single ad, no matter how well produced, is never enough to sell you product. You need frequency to earn trust and you need trust to sell. With larger reach, the percentage of ideal customers that are interested in your product will be very small. A lot of money is wasted on people who are not in the market for your product. Permission Marketing makes frequency work. It encourages the commitment and frequency that made mass marketing work years ago. But it replaces continuing interruption with ongoing interaction.

Godin’s idea is to first interrupt the customer but then engage them in a bargain where the customer opts-in. They opt-in by signing up for your newsletter, registering at your site or adding you to their rss feed. They opt-in because of some kind of bait or offer that you give for free. Chris Anderson wrote an article about free in which he says that today it's digital technologies have become too cheap to meter. The traditional free sample is the promotional candy bar handout or the diapers mailed to a new mother. Since these samples have real costs, the manufacturer gives away only a tiny quantity — hoping to hook consumers and stimulate demand for many more. But for digital products, this ratio of free to paid is reversed. A typical online site follows the 1 Percent Rule — 1 percent of users support all the rest. In the “freemium” model, that means for every user who pays for the premium version of the site, 99 others get the basic free version. The reason this works is that the cost of serving the 99 percent is close enough to zero to call it nothing. In another post by Godin, he gives reasons why someone would pay for something when it can be free.

Then after the customer has opted-in and the exchange of data with the customer has taken place, you then teach and eventually leverage the permission you’ve obtained with them. By continuing the dialog, you can teach the customer until a stranger becomes a friend and then a friend becomes a customer. If you offer something that is genuinely of interest of the customer than they will look foreword to your messages. Inviting people to opt-in to become their friend and then a customer won't reach everyone. In fact, it will reach almost no one. But that's fine if the few people you do reach are the people who are looking for you.

martes, 12 de febrero de 2008

Discovering the Soul of Service

I finished reading Discovering the Soul of Service by Leonard L. Berry and thought it was a great book. I’ve always wanted to start my own business or go after other business pursuits for the sake of making money. I learned that seeking for money is not the best goal for enduring business strength. Core values, focusing on customer needs, focusing on value, investing in employees and generosity all are much higher and nobler pursuits that will inevitably lead to success and ultimately satisfaction.
A successful service company first starts with never-changing core strategies. Some of which are excellence, innovation, joy, respect, teamwork, integrity, and social profit. “These values reflect what the leader holds worthy, what the organization assigns worth. They are the ideals, principles, and philosophy at the center of the enterprise. They are protected and revered. They reveal the company's heart and soul. They energize the covenant.” These values of excellence do not permit organizations to rest. Excellence keeps you awake, striving to improve and searching for ways to enhance competitiveness.
Next, the company should focus on serving a specific need rather than on marketing a specific product for that need. I feel that always focusing on the customer rather than the marketplace or competition is paramount. Identifying a need rather than a product allows the company to create an enduring path to follow. Successful companies are aware of what the competition is doing but they resist copying what they are doing. Instead, they focus on what the customer wants.
Service itself is so important in creating value to its customers to be able to compete. Value and price are not the same thing. Price is part of value but not its equivalent. Value is the total experience; price is price. Its value that customers want. The lack of physical differentiation among competing services encourages managers to overuse price as a marketing tool. When the products themselves can give customers non-price reasons for favoring one brand over another, services managers are limited to nonphysical means of differentiation. Managers frequently use price cutting to differentiate, which may lead to cost cutting and weaken execution. Preparing for intensified competition requires strengthening execution not weakening it. Many managers prefer price cutting because it can be implemented quickly and may be deemed more salient to customers. Without differentiation in quality, without superior total experience to offer customers, a company has few, if any, non pricing options when key competitors cut their prices.
The ability of adding this value to the service that a company provides comes down to the quality of its employees. A company must invest in their employee’s success by using strict hiring measures to find those employees whose values mach those of the company. Companies also instigate ownership attitudes in their employees. Helping the employee feel like they are part of something bigger, part of the team, and in the loop is essential. The more people know about the organization the more they will care. If there is anything a company can do to enhance communication with their employees they should do it. Those who truly invest themselves in the business expect to participate in the success and the company earns the employees trust in doing so. It isn’t hard work is not what defeats people on the job. What defeats people is work without personal growth, without teammates, without kindness, without meaning. The goal of making money in itself is not heartening.
All this investment with employees pays off in the end. A company that can’t maintain this trust with its employees can’t hope to maintain it from their customers. Employee turnover causes less money to be invested in employees which causes less satisfaction from the customers which continues to add to the problem of not having enough money to invest in employees. "The best-run companies find ways to leverage the flexibility intrinsic to the services they market. They accomplish this with strong values and thin policy manuals; with well-selected, prepared, and empowered service providers; and with systems that facilitate flexible execution. Flexible systems support excellent execution through service customization and adjustable capacity" The degree that strong values can guide employee’s behavior, companies can function with fewer rules. I like the idea of being guided by two categories of rules: those that can’t be broken under any circumstances, and those that can be bent or broken depending on the circumstances.
Generosity is the secret weapon for success. Working for a generous company gives the employees pride which in turn, builds pride in themselves. “Humane values power great service companies; generosity continually reinforces and enriches these humane values. When the product is a performance, winning the hearts of the performers helps companies win the hearts of their customers.” Selfish companies cannot serve. Making money is not enough. It is more important to positively influence the broader community.
Wealth creation is too small a pursuit. If fails to fully unleash the human spirit in organizations, or fully tap into the natural generosity of the human heart. By generously sharing with society they talents, their leadership, and their money, excellent companies make a bigger more meaningful difference in the quality of life; win the hearts of their employees, customers, and other stakeholders, and become even more excellent companies.
I want to eventually become a real estate investor. Instead of going about it to become financially independent, although that is an attractive outcome, I want to go about it with the attitude of helping someone in need of a good place to live be able to live in a quality, affordable home. As an advertisement salesman I want to help businesses succeed. As a small business owner I want to serve those with the talents that I have.

sábado, 5 de enero de 2008

Video Games World Domination

In BusinessWeek's article The Gaming Stories of 2007, the number one is 2007 Game Sales to Shatter All Records.” This really is amazing: “Through November, the U.S. game industry is up a whopping 50 percent to $13.12 billion. Considering that December sales can often wind up accounting for as much as 25 to 30 percent of annual sales, the industry will easily break all previous records in 2007, likely coming in around $18 billion or more…Consider this: According to the Motion Picture Association (MPA), in 2006 all-media sales (movies, home video/DVDs, and television) in the U.S. totaled $24.3 billion. Video games are rising, and they're rising fast. Games are no longer in the shadow of Hollywood. In some sense, Hollywood and the games industry look at one another as equals – there's lots of collaboration and that's only going to continue.”

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, editor Stephen Moore describes his pain in seeing his sons “muscles began to atrophy right before our very eyes,” when last summer his sons started spending virtually every unsupervised hour camped out in front of the computer screen engaged in multiplayer role games. “I'm not one to blame every human frailty on some faddish psychiatric disorder. But I'm persuaded that computer games are the new crack cocaine. The testimonials from parents of online gamers are horrific: kids not taking showers, not eating or sleeping, falling behind in school.”

For some reason I just grew out of video games when I graduated from High School. When I went to college my video games stayed home. Possibly because the Playstation 2, Game Cube and Xbox were too expensive for me to buy at the time. Now whenever I play any game with others I’m so lost that I get killed almost instantly making me loose interest just as instantly.

If my kids ever become addicted to video games I’m going to take the TV into the back yard and smash it. I don’t have any tolerance for my kids squandering their childhood. One book that tries to fight against this growing “playstation culture” called The Dangerous Book for Boys. Within the first week of its US publication on May 1, 2007, it reached number two on the bestselling book lists, being outsold only by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It covers around eighty topics, including how to build a catapult, go-karts, and bows and arrows and also included are famous quotes, stories, battles, and phrases that "every boy should know."

I also think that part of the blame for kids spending too much time with video games is that their parents are too worried about their kids getting hurt. Living in this digital age, parents hear stories about molesters and kidnappings much more frequently from all over the world than parents of the past did. I’m sure wickedness is more prevalent today than back then, but picking your kid up from school just to save them from walking home alone and then setting them down in front of the TV and inviting the world into your living room is no safer.

jueves, 3 de enero de 2008

Zax Best of 2007

Scariest moment: Almost drowning while swimming in the ocean in Ixtapa, Mexico.

Crappiest moment: Standing in the freezing cold for 45 minuets as goalie on an intramural soccer team on the game that decided weather or not we advance in the tournament and letting 5 goals get scored and therefore losing the game.

Successful moment: Winning 1st place and $100 in an elevator pitch competition and then winning 1st place and another $100 at a business case competition at college.

Crappiest class: Geology and Geology Lab.

Best Vacation: Orlando FL.

Number of jobs held in 2007: 4 – Internship in Mexico (4 months), Construction (1 month), Dish Network Telemarketer (2 days), Melaleuca Spanish Phone Rep (2 months).

Biggest waste of time: Watching all 3 seasons of Lost

Best Day: May 25th, I got married

Best Movies I watched: Half Nelson, Hot Fuzz, Sicko, Transformers, Vacancy,

Worst Movies: Broken Flowers, Next, Ghost Rider, Fantastic Four: Rise of Silver Surfer (cant think of any more right now)

Best CDs of 2007: Against Me!: New Wave, Alkaline Trio: Remains, Bomb the Music Industry: Get Warmer, Chuck Regan: Feast or Famine, Tiger Army: Music From Regions Beyond, Tim Armstrong: A poet’s life

Best book I read: The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

martes, 18 de diciembre de 2007

The Backlash Against Tithing

In accordance with my earlier post, I found this article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, The Backlash Against Tithing, and I decided to comment on it from the prospective of a Latter-Day Saint. The article is about the question churchgoers are asking as the tradition of tithing -- giving 10% of your income to the church -- is increasingly challenged. Opponents of tithing say it is a misreading of the Bible, a practice created by man, not God. They say they should be free to donate whatever amount they choose. In response, some pastors have changed their teaching and rejected what has been a favored form of fund raising for decades. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe the Bible indicates that God’s people followed the law of tithing anciently, and through modern prophets, God restored this law once again to bless His children. To fulfill this commandment, Church members give one-tenth of their income to the Lord through His Church. These funds are used to build up the Church and further the work of the Lord throughout the world.
In replying to the WSJ article, as I have posted before, it is so weak to change your teachings so that it fits better with the crowd's lifestyle.
Secondly, in the article, John Magrino, a New Jersey lawyer, says he regularly donated money during the weekly collection at his Catholic church, but tithing was a different story. "It's my money to do with what I want," says Mr. Magrino, 39, a father of two. Saying, "It's my money to do with what I want," is a pretty scary thing to say in my opinion. We have God to thank for everything we have including the money that we make, he only requires that we give 10% back and in return The Lord says, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10).
Would any of us intentionally reject an outpouring of blessings from the Lord? Sadly, this is what these people do when we fail to pay their tithing. They say no to the very blessings they are seeking and praying to receive. Especially the story of Kevin Rohr, the employee for the church that was concerned about providing for his family on his $32,400 salary. He would have been able to better help his family by paying the tithing and relying on The Lord than he will ever be able to by quiting his job and driving trucks.
Tithing develops and tests our faith. By sacrificing to the Lord what we may think we need or want for ourselves, we learn to rely on Him. Tithing also teaches us to control our desires and passions for the things of this world. Payment of tithing encourages us to be honest in our dealings with our fellowmen.
The Apostle Robert D. Hales said, "My beloved brothers and sisters, the eternal blessings of tithing are real. I have experienced them in my life and in the life of my family. The test of our faith is whether we will live the law of tithing by our obedience and sacrifice. For, in the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”

lunes, 17 de diciembre de 2007

Apostle Urges Students to Use New Media

From the Newsroom at – “Two hundred graduating students at Brigham Young University-Hawaii were urged today to use the Internet — including blogs and other forms of “new media” — to contribute to a national conversation about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Elder M. Russell Ballard, a senior apostle in the Church, told the mostly Mormon student body that conversations about the Church would take place whether or not Church members decided to participate in them.

“We cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches,” he said.

“While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.”

“Church leaders have publicly expressed concern that while much of the recent extensive news reporting on the Church has been balanced and accurate, some has been trivial, distorted or without context.

“Elder Ballard said there were too many conversations going on about the Church for Church representatives to respond to each individually, and that Church leaders “can’t answer every question, satisfy every inquiry and respond to every inaccuracy that exists.”

“He said students should consider sharing their views on blogs, responding to online news reports and using the “new media” in other ways.

“But he cautioned against arguing with others about their beliefs. “There is no need to become defensive or belligerent,” he said.

Why I like this: I like how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints understands the impact of “new media” like blogs (and the concept of “The Long Tail” of conversations online: “While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller… there were too many conversations going on about the Church for Church representatives to respond to each individually”) God has inspired people to create these new mediums with the purpose of further spreading his Gospel and doing good. We should be active in keeping up to date and understanding the news and then respond to it through the perspective of a latter-day saint.

domingo, 19 de agosto de 2007

Moms at Work

In 2004, 70.4 percent of women with children under 18 years of age were in the labor force. The more men and women do what they do in exchange for money, and the more work in the public realm is valued or honored, the more, almost by definition, private life is devalued and its boundaries shrink. It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated; not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters. The value that mothers add to the world must never be over looked. What else could be as important as molding the lives of human beings? Yet we do not recognize mothers enough. Why do so many mothers spend so much time at work and so little at home? First of all there is the problem of financial stress, which is a definite problem. But more than that I think it is because mothers are not being valued enough and the male role in society is praised too much. Spencer W. Kimball asked a question in an address to Regional Representatives, that we too should all ask ourselves, “How can we help the wife and mother understand the dignity and worth of her role in the divine process of motherhood?”
Too often the pressure for popularity, on children and teens, places an economic burden on the income of the father, so mother feels she must go to work to satisfy her children’s needs. That decision can be most shortsighted. It is a truism that children need more of mother than of money. Financial strains are obviously a part of more mothers entering the work force, but in a 1995, a national study found that 48% of American working women and 61% of men claimed that they would still want to work even if they had enough money to live as “comfortably as you would like.”
According to Arlie Russell Hochschild, in her book Time Bind, the real reason for leaving kids at home to pursue a career is that women feel more valued at work than they do at home. Work feels more like home and home feels more like work. At work you get recognized for doing a good job as an “internal customer.” You are made an “empowered” employee to make you feel like the company cares about you, not just about making money. On the other hand, how many recognition ceremonies for competent performance are going on at home? Who is valuing the internal customer there?
And who can blame them? However hectic their lives, women who do paid work, researchers have found, fell less depressed, think better of themselves, and are more satisfied with their life than women who don’t do paid work. “Paid work,” says psychologist Grace Baruch, “offers such benefits as challenge, control, structure, positive feedback, self esteem…and social ties.”
Other than the problem women face of not feeling appreciated for being mothers and house wives is the problem that our society sees the “male” world of work as more honorable and valued than the female world of home and children. Too often women use the world as their standard for success and basis for self-worth. Folklorist Joseph Campbell said, “Women have come to believe that only the aim and virtues of the male are to be considered, and that male achievement is the proper aim for everyone, as though that is what counts. No indeed.”
“In the early stages of the women’s movement many feminists pushed for restructuring of work life to allow for shorter –hour, flexible jobs and a restructuring of home life so that men would get into the action,” explains Hochschild, “but over the years, this part of the women’s movement seems to have surrendered the initiative to feminists more concerned with helping women break through the corporate glass ceilings into long-hour careers.”
As more mothers enter the work force we are increasingly becoming a society taught by capitalistic companies, not by loving mothers. Companies realize that time invested in their employees to make them committed believers in the company, instead of just a cog in the machine, is well worth the effort. People who feel empowered by the company and who feel like they are appreciated for the value that they contribute work harder and longer. Most companies also offer free courses in “dealing with anger” or “how to cope with difficult people.” At home, people seldom receive anything like this much help on issues so basic to family life. Also, some companies stage events in response to loosing customers to competitors such as “Large Group Change Events” held in assembly rooms where they work as a group to talk about problems they, as employees, are facing and ideas for the company. The purpose of all these activities is to convince each worker to renew his commitment not to his spouse or church, but to his workplace.
A re-emphasis of the importance of stay-at-home-moms and a restructuring of work time are good steps in the right direction. It has been proven to work in countries like Sweden, Norway and Germany, which have created alternative architectures of time. Many sectors rely on 35-hour workweeks and continue to have economies that thrive. Swedish and German workers average six weeks of paid vacation a year while Americans average only two and a half weeks. Men must be willing to share in house work, parenting, and community participation while valuing work in the home as highly as work on the job. President David O McKay said: “The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”