Author Archive: Willie Cole

10 Advanced Features I Want from Apple Tablet

Steve-jobsTo hear some commentators tell it, Steve Jobs is going to single-handedly save the newspaper industry with Apple’s new tablet, which is rumored to be announced next week (Read Newsweek’s Article: Five Ways Apple’s Tablet May Change the World).

I wish him, the newspaper industry, and the world the best of luck.

But while we’re pontificating about what the Tablet might do, here’s hoping its rumored crowdsourcing need aggregation and fulfillment app (codename: iGenie) will pull in my wish list and make it a reality.

Apple-tabletBesides the basics — Music, Internet, eReader, etc., here are some things I’d like to see in the new Tablet. In the interest of time, I’ll stick to the higher points.

  1. A magic pixie dust dispenser (Credit Joe “YOU LIE” Wilson)
  2. Unlimited battery life
  3. If not indestructible (wouldn’t be “green”), it would be at least highly durable.
  4. A 20 Megapixel camera with 1600x optical zoom, nightvision, flash, and macro and panoramic views.
  5. Free 4G connection running on a viable unloaded network.
  6. Video conferencing that makes it look like you’re looking at the person and not the camera.
  7. Autotuning.
  8. Wireless Enhanced Neurological Projection (I made that term up. Think of Neo’s ability to learn Kung Fu in “The Matrix,” but without the holes in our heads).
  9. A Step-by-Step Guide to Kung Fu eBook (See previous wish).
  10. Can be used as a flotation device and re-breather in the event of a water landing.

There’s much more, but you get the point. What are some of the features you want to see? –Cam Beck

The Value of Y-O-U

Value_based_feesRecently I read Value-Based Fees: How to Charge and Get What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss. I’ve coveted this book since I wrote Innovation by the Hour last year. After I worked through my rather large (and growing) stack of reading material, I finally was able to get my hands (and eyes) on it, and I am glad I did! (Thanks to Lisa for the recommendation).

Many, if not most, people in service industries bill for time and material. This is problematic in industries whose output includes ideas, for who is to say when (or on whose dime) ideas were generated? Who owns the idea formed in an employee’s head if it never sees the light of day?

Weiss argues that the problem is far more pernicious. Many of the headaches involved in consultancy or agency relationships stem from a systemic flaw in their billing methods. Weiss says it plainly: It’s “simply crazy” for consultants to base fees on time and materials. When you sell value and do your job correctly, you maximize your margin while ensuring the client feels like they got a bargain.

That is the definition of a “good deal.”

The book is well-written, memorable, and at times shockingly honest. Weiss says he’s glad his accountant hasn’t read his books, because he’d pay a lot more if he had to pay for value, not for time and materials.

He also practices what he preaches. The Kindle version of the book, which obviously does not require printing or distribution fees, is still $32, which is much more than typical new releases sell for on the Kindle, and not much less than the printed version, brand new. This is because Weiss is selling an idea and techniques to implement it, not paper and ink.

That idea in the book is worth the same regardless of the method in which it’s distributed. And if you’re currently billing by time and material, at $32 or $100, it really is a bargain.

The Supply and Demand of You
Weiss claims that “There is no law of supply of demand in the consulting profession.” What he’s referring to is that the fees you charge should have nothing to do with your supply of hours in a day, week, month or year.

However, as Weiss himself iterates elsewhere, there is only one person in the universe who is the product of your education, skills and experience. The supply of you is exactly one.

The question, then, is what is the demand for that product? It depends on what value you mutually establish.

  • What are the client’s business objectives?
  • How will success be measured?
  • What results can you deliver against these objectives and metrics?

You, as a product, may be of significant value to a client, regardless of how much time you need to spend on a project, as long as you are willing to believe in your value enough to make yourself accountable to actual, measurable results. Do the work necessary to educate the client and establish agreement on what your goals are.

Then you can both come away confident that you’ve been successful at meeting those goals. The client will feel like they got a bargain, and you will come away knowing you’ve been adequately compensated for your expertise.

Pick up the book today. You’ll be glad you did. – Cam Beck

A Case for Moral Selfishness

“[H]aving lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that, the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment of others.” – Benjamin Franklin

I am a skeptic.

To an outside observer, my skepticism may look a lot like cynicism. I don’t just believe people and companies are motivated by self-interest, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

A person doesn’t simply buy a book from Amazon because they believe it will help Amazon make money or employ more people. They buy it because they want or need the book for themselves — either to inform, improve, or entertain. This is most often true when people realize that they’re spending their own resources – they tend to spend it in a way that benefits them, not others.

If they’re spending other people’s money, they tend to be less careful with it.

This doesn’t make everyone manifestly selfish, necessarily, because self-interest can indeed be naturally reconciled with service to others, without requiring one person to pick another’s pocket to do so.

For instance, recently I bought and read A Project Guide to UX Design because I believed it would make me better at my job. Continuous personal improvement improves my marketability (self-interest), but only if my improvement leads me to help others get what they want (service to others).

I also get a lot of joy (self-interest) by making a tangible and substantial contribution to the financial success of other companies (service to others), their employees (service to others) and the satisfaction of their customers (service to others).

It’s remarkable how often those things go hand-in-hand, when you work in a service industry, when regulations do not unnecessarily restrict your abillity to operate freely.

Once you realize that no one is more important to individuals than themselves, you tend to require stronger evidence that supports others’ claims of all the great things you’ll get if you just follow their lead.

A personality or “brand” may persuade you to be either less or more stringent with your requirements for evidence, which is just another way of saying that you trust those people and companies who have previously delivered on their promises, to the best of your knowledge.

However, healthy sketpicism, in light of moral self-interest, will allow the evidence to lead you wherever it may, even if it contradicts what you previously believed.

As a skeptic, I’ll be the first to admit that the process is sometimes uncomfortable, but it also allows you to be less judgmental of other people’s errors in thought and deed (which are intertwined), because you will realize that, in pursuit of your self-interest, you’ve managed a few whoppers yourself.

However, if there is a self-interest that should transcend all others, it should be the pursuit of the truth, which requires being capable of contradicting yourself when you find  your thoughts and deeds to be erroneous. Do not let love or hate of either personalities or brands to stand in the way of your dedication to think critically. – Cam Beck

Branding is Character. What Does Your Character Show?

Stuff happens.

So does branding. This is true whether you call it “branding” or not. As it turns out, branding has less to do with cutesy creative and clever themes than it has to do with your ability to consistently keep promises of your company — to build your company’s reputation as a firm of good character.

Not all promises are created equal, and all people do not assign equal value to all promises. This is why it is so difficult — and increasingly useless — to build a brand that pleases all people, all of the time.

Before all else, know who you are and what you stand for. Only then can you focus on making extraordinary promises to an audience that places a high value on those promises — and then over-deliver. – Cam Beck

Keep it simple

Ist2_440585-information-overloadThe transition from traditional media to digital media is a lot like going from a desert to a rain forest. Although there are quite a few ways to measure traditional media, many times it’s not cost effective to pay firms to get the data. It’s all a bit suspect too because you’re forced to use sample groups that may or may not be representative of the rest of the population.

Online media is infinitely measurable. Geography, activity, technology and in some cases even behavior before and after the click is measured in a way that floods an analyst with data. Those of us who have built our careers within the digital space love to pour over the data and talk about all types of information. The problem is that not all of it is relevant.

I love this recent article from Mark Walsh from the OMMA conference on Avoid ‘Data Diarrhea’. Although I wasn’t at the conference, I can relate to what must have been said:

“Data is useless unless it becomes currency for making a decision,” he said. To make sure online measurement is on track, he advised advertisers and analytics professionals to be sure they are asking the right questions, have the right expertise and the right mindset”

It’s important to begin with the end in mind. Understanding what metrics are important should be done at the beginning. Dash boards for digital marketing should resemble car dashboards, not the dash board for the Space Shuttle.

An important reminder.

– Paul Herring

The Marketing of Conceit


“Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms: the one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it.”
 — Thomas PaineRights of Man

The longevity of the spurious concept of tolerance among smart people never ceases to amaze me. The brilliant Seth Godin, author of one of my favorite marketing books, planted his flag on Tolerance Hill today, and I’m guessing that, as with most of Tolerance’s great advocates, no fierce bombardment of arguments could remove him from it.

Wisely, Godin was not specific or direct in his criticism, lest he alienate his fans. However, it’s possible to infer, given the entire context of the article, that he was subtly ridiculing a Polish politician who articulated a position that maintained that sizeable public investments should produce sustainable returns.

People who wrap themselves in the Tolerance Flag are quick to pat each other on the back to congratulate themselves on how tolerant and open-minded they are. However, they often mistake the self-congratulatory applause for being right, and they are quick to eschew all reason that contradicts them. They are so enamored with their assumed virtues that they lack interest in hearing any argument that demonstrates contradiction.

“The nations…cling to their opinions as much from pride as from conviction. They cherish them because they hold them to be just and because they chose them of their own free will; and they adhere to them, not only because they are true, but because they are their own… It was remarked by a man of genius that ‘ignorance lies at the two ends of knowledge.’ Perhaps it would have been more correct to say that strong convictions are found only at the two ends, and that doubt lies in the middle.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tolerance is not a virtue, and it is not superior to intolerance. Both of them are simply conceit, and neither of them deserve marketer’s promotions.

If confronted with someone who doesn’t value the same things you do, you may indeed attempt to sway his opinion and change his behavior (after all, as Godin essentially notes, this is what marketing is about), but keep in mind that with respect to the virtue of those beliefs, “[N]o earthly power can determine between you.” – Cam Beck

Don’t Panic. Just Lead.

Bethharte_thom1At MPDailyFix, Beth Harte related a story about how a friend of hers, who is a senior-level marketer, was offered employment with junior-level pay. She goes on to explain some of the reasons this is happening and why she believes it will become more commonplace if marketers don’t show their value. She’s right. But if I can add my own perspective here, the problem Beth identifies can be understood economically and solved in the same terms.

Unemployment means there are too many people for too few jobs. In other words, there is a surplus of labor.

Surpluses tend to drive down prices.

The price of labor is measured in wages. Thus, when there is a labor surplus in any industry (like marketing), it tends to depress the wages of the people in that industry.

This is especially true when the hiring manager believes it doesn’t matter from which part of the labor pool he chooses. One person is just as good as another — or in Beth’s words — a commodity.

Being good — being great — these things don’t matter unless we distinguish ourselves from the rest of the pack. It is the perception of our expertise and effectiveness that will enable us to demand higher wages.

Actual expertise can help drive perceived expertise, but it does not guarantee it. Now, more than ever, a marketer must be both good and an excellent self-promoter.

Doing this effectively is about all the things Beth mentioned. Among them:

  • Be a leader.
  • Measure.
  • Document.
  • Foster and nurture relationships.
  • Continuously improve.

However, this effort shouldn’t resemble a campaign — which is temporary and smacks of insincerity. In order to assure others of our value, we must first strive to be valuable. We must both improve the product and promote the improvement.

Luckily, in our cases, the act of successfully promoting the improvement, in some ways, actually helps to improve the product — especially when we’re willing to make mistakes and learn from them.

Instead of curse the conditions that led to this difficulty, we must embrace it as an opportunity to revolutionize the way we practice marketing. And we can apply to our clients the wisdom we gained from the experience of practicing it on ourselves.

I’m afraid that this won’t guarantee a happy ending for everyone — even a lot of the good ones. However, being a jack of all trades (and more importantly, being the sort of person who can adapt to changing circumstances) all but promises that we’ll find someplace to be of use. – Cam Beck

Social media snake oil

Snake%20Oil%20SalesmanIt’s the latest thing. What every brand needs to be engaged in if they’re going to survive. You have to be on it.

That’s the message that a lot of people are sending to marketers out there. Unfortunately, many of them are listening and haphazzardly putting their brands and reputations at risk. Creating a Facebook group, a Twitter feed and a Ning social network is not something every brand needs or can benefit from.

Here are ten ways to know if you’re selling social media snake oil:

10. You tell your clients that EVERY brand needs a Twitter account.

9. You really think the web will eventually be more like Second Life and everyone will have an avatar.

8. You think even B2B companies should have a Facebook page.

7. You have more social media presentations than actual examples of social media work that you’ve participated in.

6. You think Ashton Kutcher really is more popular than CNN because he has more followers.

5. You’re considering opening up your own twitter agency.

4. Most of your experience with social media is due to your own self-promotion via social media tools.

3. You’re speechless when people ask you how to measure social media.

2. The NING network you set up only has five members, one of which is your mom who hasn’t been on it in months.

1. It’s the only thing you sell or do.

The bottom line here is that social media is great. It may disrupt and change everything we do in on-line marketing but it’s not likely. If you’ve been doing on-line marketing for more than five years, you’ve seen a lot of these things come. They don’t usually go but they become part of the framework. At the end of the day it’s about your competitive environment, your customer and your strategy. Work on those first and then understand which tool is the right fit.

I don’t agree with everything he says but Jaffe had a great rant on Twitter:

– Paul Herring

Know your limits. And push them cheerfully.

One of the great things about having a toddler is the lessons they can teach you about the value of having the proper outlook on life.

This weekend we cleaned my son’s room. And by “we,” I mean my wife and my son, Avery. I brought my daughter, Faith, in there just to get in their way provide moral support.

This is very important to involve siblings in each other’s things. It might appear simple but when you are doing it you will know the complexity. Just like how the concept of cryptocurrency seems simple in theory. You can learn more via how a robot can work well.

Now, both Faith and Avery have a lot of stuffed animals, but Avery keeps his on top of a bookshelf and far out of reach of anyone who hasn’t yet been through puberty.

Still, they’re plainly visible to anyone, and of course Faith is still young enough to enjoy them. Finding one that struck her fancy, she pointed up at the stuffed animals on top of the book shelf and said hopefully, “Kitt-ee Cat? Mee-oooowww!”

Those of you with kids might expect that this wasn’t a request or a question. She was going to get the stuffed animal she wanted. The problem was that Avery has no stuffed felines. I would have gladly gotten it for her for a “please,” (which I would have gotten), but I didn’t know exactly what she was asking for.

“No, sweetie. There are no kitty cats. Do you want the stuffed doggie instead?”

“I’we get it,” she helpfully chimed. And with no hesitation, she leaped a good inch or two off the ground, coming a mere 5 feet shy of touching the nearest stuffed animal.

Everyone else in the room just lost it, and Faith was happy enough to join the fun (even though she likely didn’t know why we were laughing).

I noticed something else, though: She only jumped once.

She didn’t keep jumping, hoping the next time the result would be different. She jumped once, learned conclusively that this particular method of obtaining what she wanted was beyond her limits, and then she found another way.

Had I not gotten it for her, I wonder if she would have moved a chair into position to take another shot at it, but there are some things I’d prefer she not have to learn the hard way. – Cam Beck

Can they make it to profitability?

Social_media_non_profit11In a recession what’s real in terms of sustainable business models comes to light. I lived through the dot com boom and there were any number of companies that were “changing the rules” or creating a new economy. Economics, unfortunately, is a lot like gravity. It’s pretty difficult to change the rules.

YouTube and Facebook have changed the world online. It’s hard to remember how hard it was to post a video online before YouTube.  Facebook has successfully created the first global scale online community and seems to becoming one of those sites that just about everyone visits and engages with on a daily basis.

How profitable they are is one main concern as nothing in this perfect world works longer when there is no profit. In trading where there are several robots and software to take care of every transactional need, the newest trends are the crypto robots. With all the raving reviews that cryptocurrency is getting, the investors have left no stone unturned when it comes to simplifying ways for the traders. With these robots coming into the picture, the kind of return rates the traders have been seeing is quite high. There is a constant buzz about these robots in the industry and even leading websites wrote about it recently. They are completely free to be used with zero charges.

The problem is that neiter one is profitable. Although YouTube has seen tremendous growth its still yet to come up with a way to monetize that growth into profitability. The number of ads that Facebook would have to display based on their own tool is staggering. Both are in desperate need of a new advertising model that can either show direct correlation to sales or one that proves that brand awareness can be built on these site more effectively than through other vehicles, say TV.

At the peak of economic growth, like in 2007, companies are willing to invest in what hasn’t been proven. In the depth of a recession, however, the hard questions get asked and just like during the dot com boom, many companies cease to exist.

I don’t think this will happen to either of these companies. However, something has to change with both of them in order for them to be sustainable for the long term. I’m just not sure that anyone, including those inside the company, know what that something is.

– Paul Herring