At least somebody noticed that Americans weren't really going for that whole "ownership society" thing.
The two books by Seth Godin that I've read, Purple Cow and The Big Red Fez, were both good. So, when Seth announced The Big Moo on his blog, I was excited about getting my hands on it. The Big Moo is a collaboration between Seth and 32 other business writers, with each writing contributing a chapter on how to make your business remarkable. As an interesting marketing idea, galleys (pre-release) versions of the book were offered in boxes of 50 for $2 each ($100 per box). Their goal was to get word of the book out early so big companies would buy truckloads of the book for their executives.
Back in 2000, the president of BNW bought everyone a copy of Tom Peters's The Professional Service Firm 50. The Big Moo is a similar type of book, but without the annoying typography (lots of different font sizes, bold, exclamation points, etc. I hate the style of writing in Peters's book. If you need to trick me into getting excited about your writing, you haven't written a very good book. Get me thinking, and I'll be excited.) It's not that it's a bad book, but it definitely under-delivers. Each of the authors contributed a single chapter, and most "chapters" are two or three pages long. It feels like you're reading a brain fart that the author couldn't bother to think through fully.
It's definitely not the type of book that forever changes your thinking: it wouldn't be included in a personal MBA list. So I'm not sure what I should do with 48 unread copies of the book (I did give one copy away). I can't give it to people saying, "You have to read this!" And I don't really want to give it someone and say, "Here's an OK book you might want to read if you don't have anything better to do."
The book does what it sets out to do: motivate the reader to get out there to put ideas to work to develop a remarkable organization that gets everyone buzzing.
As does Jack at 800-CEO-READ. Though he seems to like the book mostly because the proceeds go to charity. That's not a very good reason to read a book. You'd be better off giving the money directly to charity and avoiding the printing costs.
Update (10/10/05): I managed to unload two copies. Thanks, Heather!
Update (10/18/05): John, who also took a copy off my hands wrote up a review on his blog.
There's a story on CNN Money about some dude that makes t-shirts who refuses to sell them to Wal-Mart. There's no indication in the story that Wal-Mart wants to buy his t-shirts, which apparently feature naughty words and poker-related imagery. Good job in the publicity department, Mr. Carlton.
I have been using Schick Tracer FX razor for years. It's a great razor; the best feature is that its two blades flex, giving a close shave for people without two-dimensional faces. It's increasingly difficult to find Tracer FX blades, though. Apparently, Schick has eliminated the product, and replaced it with the Xtreme 3 (3 blades) and the Quatro (4 blades), which reminds me of this:
Hitchhiker: You heard of this thing, the 8-Minute Abs?
Ted Stroehmann: Yeah, sure, 8-Minute Abs. Yeah, the excercise video.
Hitchhiker: Yeah, this is going to blow that right out of the water. Listen to this: 7... Minute... Abs.
Ted Stroehmann: Right. Yes. OK, alright. I see where you're going.
Hitchhiker: Think about it. You walk into a video store, you see 8-Minute Abs sittin' there, there's 7-Minute Abs right beside it. Which one are you gonna pick, man?
Ted Stroehmann: I would go for the 7.
Hitchhiker: Bingo, man, bingo. 7-Minute Abs. And we guarantee just as good a workout as the 8-minute folk.
Ted Stroehmann: You guarantee it? That's -- how do you do that?
Hitchhiker: If you're not happy with the first 7 minutes, we're gonna send you the extra minute free. You see? That's it. That's our motto. That's where we're comin' from. That's from "A" to "B".
Ted Stroehmann: That's right. That's -- that's good. That's good. Unless, of course, somebody comes up with 6-Minute Abs. Then you're in trouble, huh?
Hitchhiker: No! No, no, not 6! I said 7. Nobody's comin' up with 6. Who works out in 6 minutes? You won't even get your heart goin, not even a mouse on a wheel.
Ted Stroehmann: That -- good point.
Hitchhiker: 7's the key number here. Think about it. 7-Elevens. 7 doors. 7, man, that's the number. 7 chipmunks twirlin' on a branch, eatin' lots of sunflowers on my uncle's ranch. You know that old children's tale from the sea. It's like you're dreamin' about Gorgonzola cheese when it's clearly Brie time, baby. Step into my office.
Ted Stroehmann: Why?
Hitchhiker: 'Cause you're fuckin' fired!
Update (09/15/05): The above is even more apropos with the announcment of Gillette's Super-Mega-Turbo-Mach-Power, 5-blade, facial-hair-obliterating gizmo. (via Seth)
Anyway, fretting the day when my supply of Tracer FX blades runs out, I have been on the lookout for a replacement razor. Enticed by a four-dollar Costco coupon, I bought a Mach3 Power. I knew the razor-cum-vibrator was a marketting gimmick and a way for Gillette to sell more Duracell batteries now that many battery-powered devices come with Lithium-Ion or other rechargable batteries. But, just what if all of those Ph.D.'s slaving away for years in Gillette's labs really did make a huge breakthrough in shaving technology. Did I really want to miss out on the revolution? (It was televised, but my Tivo sheltered me from the 30-second clips.)
In short, the Mach3 Power is nothing special. Because it's vibrating, it sounds similar to barbers' clippers. This doesn't make for a better shave, though. I'm also not very fond of the swiveling cartridge; I feel like I don't have enough control of it.
I'll be on the lookout for old stock of Tracer FX blades before they become a relic of history.
Update: I guess it's "Mach3" rather than "Mach 3". I've made the appropriate copy changes.
Commercials that make you think are always good. Here's an example.
We haven't had much luck with Google Ads for Postica so far. There's a lot of competition in the spam filtering market so it's hard to stand out among 10 ads for spam/virus filtering products and services on the same page.
It's frustrating having what I think is a great service, and not being able to reach potential customers. We're mostly focusing on selling through partners now, but we haven't completely given up on Google Ads yet. Here's our latest.
Over on TJ's Weblog, they picked a company planning on opening a spa in Slovakia as one of their top 3 business plans.
TOP 3 - comes in MAGMA ZAFÍR s.r.o. that aims to develop a hot water spa in Slovakia. Central Europe has been less then well served with wellness facilities so far and has the advantage of cheap labor costs. A world-class spa for clients from Germany and Austria could easily fill a market void.
I'd be interested in reading their business plan. Slovakia already has a number of spas, and Piestany has attracted foreigners from around the world to its spas for a long time, even during Communism.
Slovaks, in general, see spas as places for the elderly and infirm, but that may start to change. When I was in Slovakia a few weeks ago, there was an article in a magazine describing a visit to a spa by a young woman. She hadn't been too thrilled about her assignment to visit and write about her experiences at a spa. She figured she had twenty or thirty years before she should start visiting spas. She was delightfully surprised by her experience and concluded that visiting spas was a great way for young professionals to relax.
I think there could be a good opportunity in marketing spas to Slovaks between 20 and 40.
There was one ad in a recent edition of Time Magazine that caught my eye. We've been trying to figure out how to best market Postica since officially going into production in July. I'm pretty skeptical about the effectiveness of advertising in general. Since we're bombarded with so much of it, I think most people simply ignore it. But every once in a while, some advertisement will catch my eye. I don't know if the fact that I read it means that it actually increases sales of the product advertised, but it obviously can't be worse than an ad that nobody reads.
The full-page ad in Time was for men's white dress shirts. Just plain, white button-down shirts that I buy every 5 years from Ross when the one I bought five years previously no longer fits. I had never heard of the brand; it was a man's name (two first names, I think). It was one particular shirt, rather than an ad for the brand in general.
What made me read the ad was simply that I wouldn't expect to see such an ad in Time Magazine. I wonder how sales of that shirt are doing. I believe one could order the shirt in question online or by calling an 800 number, similar to ads for overpriced cds composed of the Best Love Songs of Some Period within Some Genre or "collectible" coins that aren't legal tender.
Does placing an ad where potential customers wouldn't expect to see it help sales?
The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. - Frederic Bastiat