Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Japanese Variety Show Comes To US via Hulu and Joost

If you've seen "I Survived A Japanese Game Show" and "Wipeout" you've probably been exposed to some good ole Americanized reality shows that put their contestants through ridiculous experiments and challenges. But all these are merely ripoffs of the authentic Japanese Game Shows that have existed for years. One of the ones we've been exposed to recently was Gaki No Tsukai. This group of comedians seem like the Japanese version of Jackass, a group of young guys out of West Chester, PA that push their bodies and friends to the limit everyday. Gaki No Tsukai has now been part of recent US launch on and Both video sites have picked up the the episodes and created channels to show off this hilarious japanese video content. In addition to the Hulu and Joost channels (this is only available in the US), there is Gaki Attack, where with your account, you can experience the weapons used in the Gaki episodes and send attacks to your friends on Twitter. What better way to celebrate your love for your friends than slapping them with some Yamasaki or a wonton noodle?

Here are the links to each website:

Hulu - Gaki Channel
Joost - Owarai - Japanese Variety Show
Gaki Attack Twitter App - Join the battle and show your inner ninja

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Final Open Web Awards Update - The Winners Announcement

The Open Web Awards Winners Are Here!!
You can read about the news over at as well.

Mainstream & Large Scale Social Networks

Winner: Netlog
Runner-up: Platinum Lounge

Embeddable Widgets

Winner: Qoof
Runner-up: Sprout

Blog Plugins

Winner: ShareThis
Runner-up: AddThis

Social News

Winner: Help a Reporter Out
Runner-up: Hubdub

Social Networking Applications

Winner: Aritition
Runner-up: Digsby

Social Bookmarking

Winner: Diigo
Runner-up: ShareThis

Search & Social Search

Winner: Scour
Runner-up: Artiklz

Sports & Fitness

Winner: Gyminee
Runner-up: FitFiend

Photo Sharing

Winner: ipernity
Runner-up: TinyPic

Video Sharing

Winner: ffwd
Runner-up: YouTube

Start Pages

Winner: Google
Runner-up: iGoogle

Places & Events

Winner: Doodle
Runner-up: Muchmor


Winner: SpottedByLocals
Runner-up: GeckoGo


Winner: Noisetrade

Social Shopping

Winner: Pikaba
Runner-up: A Full Cup


Winner: Coolspotters
Runner-up: Polyvore

Celebrity & Gossip

Winner: Oh No They Didn’t
Runner-up: BollyScoops

Mobile Applications

Winner: Evernote
Runner-up: MocoSpace

Dating & Romance

Winner: Zoosk
Runner-up: DateHookup


Winner: Encyclopedia Dramatica
Runner-up: WikiHow


Winner: Politics4All
Runner-up: CreateDebate


Winner: A Full Cup
Runner-up: College Cram


Winner: Ecomii
Runner-up: Gazelle

Non-Profit Causes

Winner: Stop Political Calls
Runner-up: SocialVibe

Online Games

Winner: Playfish
Runner-up: Power Pets

Niche Social Networks

Winner: The Star Tracker
Runner-up: Wadja

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vote For Your Favorite Nominees - Mashable's 2nd Annual Open Web Awards

I decided to donate my blog to help support Mashable's 2nd Annual Open Web Awards. When you sign up to do something like this you don't think, eh I'm not really going to make a difference. Then I thought, if I don't do this it's like not showing up to vote 2 weeks ago. I've got a lot of colleagues and friends who are nominees this year and I'd like to think I can help support their efforts and the web community by asking my blog readers to take 2 minutes, choose a category and pick your favorite company. To make it even easier for you, here is the voting widget!

Monday, November 03, 2008

A New Digital Team is Born

So in case you haven't heard the news, had layoffs about 1 month ago. As with the other 200,000 people that were laid off in the tech space, we all searched for our new path. Well my path has led me to partnering up with Adam Levenson, former Product Marketing Manager at SB. Working with Adam over the past year has shown to be very positive in that we complement each others skill-sets and don't mind rolling up our sleeves to get it done, whatever that may be.

So Digital Operative was born. You could call us a boutique digital agency focused on digital strategies for marketing and technology. Our focus will be helping companies engage their customers and have them participate, whether that be in an online community, guerrilla marketing campaign, social app or just improve their overall user experience on their website. We both have work experience across many areas from UI design to PHP development to SEO to Go-to-Market Planning.

What you get when you work with us is a supercharged, agile team that can see the big picture, focus on getting the little wins and create some buzz around what you're doing. At the end of the day we're data guys, we love measuring ROI, making decisions based on analytics and having the data to support and shifts in strategy.

So if you're a top 50 interactive agency, need better customer engagement for your website or need to drive awareness and conversions via digital marketing; go to and contact us.

thank you for subscribing to this blog and I'll also be blogging at the Digital Marketing blog.

If you want to follow what I'm up to, check out my Twitter page.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Startup Marketing Strategies and Tactics

For the past 12 months I've been putting all of my efforts into and I wanted to share some of the things that worked on the marketing side that I actually got to implement. The article is posted at, but I feel it offers some great examples of things you can do to ensure that you are utilizing the most of your time when creating marketing strategies at a startup.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Provide Your Feedback And Enter To Win A Netbook

Andy Beal over at MarketingPilgrim launched a new contest to help improve his Trackur product and given people some incentive for sharing their great ideas. Simply submit a suggestion for what Trackur can improve and Andy will pick the best suggestion on Oct. 3, 2008. Contest details here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Chance to Speak To The Community

Recently I had the chance to sit down and have a conversation with Becky Carroll over at Customers Rock! blog. We were talking about how came about and how it could help companies during the current economic downturn. In every organization each person has their own perception of how the product addresses a pain point for someone and that is refined by the ultimate vision. Focusing on the customer relationship with the company and finding ways to help make that better was my segment of our vision. Read the conversation.

Here are some interesting data points that reinforce why connecting with your customers now can help you avoid over-binging on that marketing campaign, guessing on product price points and other day-to-day thoughts you have on your way into the office.

  • According to Nielsen Research, 49% of consumers plan on spending less due to the economic squeeze.

  • Everyday consumer spending is taking a beating, with some 56% of 3,359 online shoppers surveyed April 29 to May 23 indicating that they are cutting back because of the weak economy and growing inflation - source

  • Retail-focused ETFs taking a dive - source

  • Consumer spending takes toll on retailers as inflation rises - source

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Personal Tweet Cloud

So if you don't know what Twitter is, it's a micro-blogging tool to keep people updated on what you're doing. Simpler than that ... You can post endless 140 character posts on what you're doing and people follow your activity.

So I loaded my Tweet Cloud again to see where my textual relevance laid. Check out my cloud here. I'm going to break it down into categories to see if there is anything interesting at all :)

Top 5 Twitter Words:
New - 147 occurrences
Great - 136 occurrences
Twitter - 85 occurrences

Heading - 68 occurrences
Thanks - 57 occurrences
Going - 54 occurrences
Getting - 39 occurrences
Listening - 37 occurrences
Trying - 23 occurrences
Wonder - 23 occurrences
Working - 19 occurrences
Doing - 16 occurrences

Twitter - 85 occurrences
Time - 59 occurrences
San Diego - 54 occurrences
Blog - 49 occurrences
Feedback - 49 occurrences
Today - 48 occurrences
Love - 45 occurrences
People - 45 occurrences
People - 45 occurrences
Marketing - 44 occurrences
Event - 42 occurrences
Home - 36 occurrences
Office - 34 occurrences
2.0 - 32 occurrences
Team - 32 occurrences
Customer - 28 occurrences
Supernova2008 - 23 occurrences
SuggestionBox - 22 occurrences

People I Converse With The Most:
@jbrewer - 25 occurrences
@ConversationAge - 17 occurrences
@armano - 15 occurrences
@rebelstance - 14 occurrences
@funktalking - 13 occurrences
@andybeal - 12 occurrences
@jowyang - 11 occurrences
@stoweboyd - 9 occurrences
@jcrites - 9 occurrences
@groovybrent - 9 occurrences

Conversations Around The Web

Today I'm taking the time to point out some insightful blog posts that are focused around conversations, positive change in the world and action.

  • Scott Monty of Crayon leaving focus on one color, Blue.

  • Read the Crayon Manifesto if you call yourself a Social Media Expert ... really? I think there are visionaries, strategists, but experts? Who knows it all?

  • Follow Doc Searls if you've heard of "Markets are conversations" and the Cluetrain Manifesto.

  • If you're interested on some current news around Social Media Marketing read this and gain some insight into Samsung's newest campaign.

  • If you're just getting into this thing called Conversational Marketing, read Kelly's blog post about using Conversational Marketing to market yourself and read the comments about some marketers' own manifestos.

I try to update my blog as much as I can, but am currently splitting my time between my Twitter account, Gooruze account, Flickr page, new CMO role with SuggestionBox and being a devoted husband :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shift Your Giving To Razoo Donations

This post is very timely as we're just finishing up our taxes for 2007; yes we filed an extension. One of the key areas is "donations." So I had to flip through emails from all of 2007 to find the ones that were receipts for online donations I had made to organizations that I've been supporting like American Forests, and others. What if you were like me and weren't the best at keeping it all in one spreadsheet or one notebook? Enter Razoo Donations ...

I was invited to test out this alpha version of their new platform for giving to your favorite organizations online. When I went to the alpha website it had these red and blue tabs at the top directing you to Giving Opportunities and keeping your total giving in plain sight; always in a way reminding you how much or little you've given. I definitely see some type of psychological tug of the heart strings within the placement of this key data point. If you're also the kind of person who needs to part with more money towards the end of the year and you need a quick release of cash, this updating data point can shed some light on how much more there is to give.

Snapshot of Homepage

The next feature is the Giving Guides where Razoo can lead you to a bundle of organizations based on the type of cause you're looking for whether Human Rights, Microfunding and more. I really like this feature and see them leveraging this area to actually recommend organizations to you based on some type of filtering tool where you could choose NPOs (nonprofit organizations) based on geo-targeting, topic matters, similar portfolio holders or your spending patterns.

Razoo Donations has also solidified its back-end by partnering with Network For Good, a popular organization database and funding network. If Razoo wants to truly gain my adoption, I'd recommend looking at tools like and for their UI design and UX frameworks. Their dashboards are some of the best, their data points are truly valuable and their graphs are juicy!

Being in the customer feedback and interaction space, I wanted to touch upon Razoo's dedication to gaining insights from alpha testers and having a mechanism for collecting that feedback. I was presented with the following SurveyMonkey URL and took it upon myself to provide Sebastian and the Razoo team with my undivided feedback.
Long Survey Monkey Survey

Though I know the team and worked with them in the past, I would definitely recommend the SuggestionBox platform as a way to capture insight, BUT be able to respond to people based on individual features to build fulfillment and therefore gain a platform for re-connecting with these people down the road as their ideas get implemented. Aside from that blatant promotion, Razoo Donations can truly be an effective tool for Donators and keeping all of their giving in one place. Your donation portfolio is here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why a $3.50 Nonfat White Mocha with Whip Makes My Morning

Most of us are creatures of habit. We wake up to the automated aroma of our Costa Rican breakfast roast, the feeling of the our dog's slober upon our brow or my soon to be wake-up call from the nursery. These are things that define our mornings; let's call this series of events micro-actions. Why micro? If you bundled up the things that you did prior to leaving the house; they are all planned and scheduled on a timeline that is strung together in order to get you to where you need to go each morning. So your major actions are:

1. Leaving the house
2. Getting to work
3. Compiling that marketing report
4. Eating your lunch
5. Finishing the meeting
6. Getting home
7. Going to bed

Not to sound so mundane, but these tend to be the most common major actions within a day. Between each of these are many micro-actions. Make sense? Please let me know if this sounds crazy, but I'm going out on a theoretical limb, where most marketers shudder to think.

If each of these micro-actions leads us to some milestone action, how can you associate this to marketing and a $3.50 Nonfat White Mocha with Whip? Here's how. Every morning I perform the following string of activities between "Leaving The House" and "Getting To Work":

1. Place my things strategically so they don't slide around the car.
2. Tune my radio to my favorite radio station
3. Take the same route
4. Stop at the Solana Beach Coffee Company for my Nonfat White Mocha with Whip.
5. I'm a regular, they know what I want. (There's an expectation and maybe because I'm in the Gen Y demographic, a Digerati, etc. or maybe not)

This interaction each morning with this business is a crucial micro-action between a series of major actions that create the timeline for the rest of my day. If that is thrown off at all, it could create some chaos in the predictable nature of my morning. Something would need to take the place of that micro-action. Solution ...

This morning I stop, walk in and I'm told that their espresso machines are getting maintenance and they didn't send them out in time and the holiday threw everything off. This micro-action is about to be replaced ... They then apologize and present me with a "Free Mocha" card :) Now you can guarantee they understand the value of my loyalty and meeting my expectations. What they don't quite see right off the bat is the "micro-action marketing" they are performing by giving me the free mocha card. You could call this blog post Word of Mouth marketing, Conversational Marketing, but in the scheme of my whole day, they kept my timeline in tack and in fact exceeded my expectations as a small business.

So is micro-action marketing something of value? Yes and no. Yes, be aware of how customers currently experience your product, service, event or location. Plan ahead for their expectations and you've achieved successful micro-action marketing that ignites word of mouth marketing and the feedback loop that most businesses are currently trying to be a part of.

Thanks Solana Beach Coffee Company for my free mocha ;)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Customer Feedback Gets Interactive

Experience SuggestionBox.comAside from covering conversational marketing tactics by other companies, I to have a day job like most of you. From 9 to 6pm or sometimes 7 or 8, I'm the Chief Marketing Officer of a new technology startup in Solana Beach, CA called Positive Digital Solutions. We're setting out to create some innovative platforms for changing the way companies and customers engage each other as well as some other areas for which I can't discuss yet. So for anyone part of a startup, you know the environment ... everything is a priority and there never seems to be enough time to tweak that last piece of code, move that pixel 5 more centimeters or brainstorm new copy for the homepage; then Techcrunch calls you and says they want to write you up. Everything pauses like time stood still and you take a deep breath and hope you're ready for the traffic.

Launching has been a great experience in understanding what the user truly want AND the best part is ... now they have a place to leave us all of their feedback, suggestions and ideas, in one place. Outside of being a blatant "toot our own horn", I'm going to give the straight forward why SuggestionBox is good for your business. Yes we don't have an API yet, yes people have to sign up, yes you need the email of the company in order to contact them, BUT there's a lot of great features for those Small to Medium-sized businesses that want to get a feedback mechanism setup in a matter of minutes.

SuggestionBox is trying to fill the gaping void of "customer fulfillment" that exists from the online to offline channel. You submit feedback to any big website or put a comment card in a wooden box on the wall, what happens..? Usually nothing. You don't know who got it, if they are going to respond and if it ever gets implemented. This is the core of You submit an idea or suggestion to a company, they post it to the public and update the status. You receive a notification in your dashboard that it's been updated from New to Under Review, Under Review to Pending Implementation and so on. Finally, you're getting something in return! And that's why you sign up. Every company you wanted to submit suggestions to is in one place. What do you do when you want to pay for something online? Do pull your credit card out everytime or is PayPal an option; simply login and click pay. We know isn't the standard yet, BUT we're positioning it to be something as simple as the name for SMB, Enterprise, Fortune 1000 to 50, etc.

For the marketers out there and being one I know, think about reaching out to your customers and letting them you're listening, willing to "engage" them and then having the ability to re-connect months from when they submit ideas letting them know you've implemented their suggestion. If you know anything about lifetime value, then you can see the value in re-connecting with customers instead of missing an opportunity and losing them to a competitor. If you're not putting the time in with them; you can bet your competitors are.

What about if you're in HR and you're trying to figure out why your front line employees aren't performing or aren't loving their job? You assign employees to various customizable categories. As you categorize incoming suggestions, these employees receive the idea and then can respond to customers directly or leverage the internal scoreboard to weigh in on the Pros and Cons of the idea. Employee Empowerment? Pretty sweet.

Go check out and try it out. Leave your feedback in the account and if you don't I'll run into you at the many events we'll be attending.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Work Out Season 3 - SkyLab's Lisa Quick Wit Gets Her Nowhere

So I fell asleep last night at the end of Work Out, but luckily we have DVR! As soon as I walked in the door today, she started on with, "Did you hear what the new manager said about a cancer survivor on Work Out last night?" (pause)

As we are both avid watchers of the show because it's reality tv plagued with drama; this is how a conversation was created between two viewers. Earth to Bravo and Work Out , are you listening? Because we all are!

I won't go into the details, but comments were made about the breasts of a "client" who was training with Brian Peeler. These unprofessional comments were made by Lisa, the new manager. Bravo edited out any comments by Jackie Warner and the confrontation with the client's boyfriend who overheard all of the comments and confronted Jackie and Lisa. Why were they edited out? What was said? So Lisa blogs on Bravo's website here and attempts to cut off the evident onslaught of hate mail and comments by trying to be witty and posting a blog titled, "Open Your Eyes and Shut Your Mouth." Now seriously, maybe Bravo could hook Lisa up with a PR person, Communications Director or even a Marketing Assistant to give her some tips on how to blog and how to start a conversation that includes an apology.

IF anyone would like to continue the conversation or educate Skylab's new manager on etiquette, here is their contact information:

Sky Sport Spa & SkyLab
8500 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Tele: 310.652.7721
Fax: 310.652.2616

Hours of Operation:
6:00am - 9:00pm, Monday thru Saturday (Sunday Closed)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How Throwing Out Your Private Documents Into The Dumpster Is Like The Current State Of The Inernet

I know I usually cover Conversational Marketing and how companies are creating value-added conversations with their customers, but one of my great ideas was brought to the forefront when I read David Whitney's post on web 3.0 and an Open Identity Platform. Everyday we search for the next web app that can bring some more efficiency into our lives; something that both combines multiple features into one interface and makes some mundane process entertaining at the same time. Why? At the end of the day, we're all trying to save time doing the mundane stuff so we have more for the fun stuff. You take your 9-5 and add in going to the gym, walking the dog, going grocery shopping, spending time with the kids, watching the game, competing in sports, playing an instrument and so on; you get a full packed day. So what if you could go to the gym, watch the game on your iPod and spend time with the kids? Sounds nice right? Figuring out how to maximize time is everyone's goal.

How does this relate to throwing your private documents into the dumpster?

Just like throwing out documentation containing personal information, we all upload photos, post videos, blog about our work, connect with new friends, IM, email and some micro-blog. All of this information is available to EVERYONE. Just a reminder. And all of this personal information needs to be added whenever we signup for some new website. We grow tired of having to do the mundane like upload more photos, add more friends, track various news, type in more personal information and so on. Why can't I just have one profile that is portable? Let me store all my info with one provider or in my own server like Whitney states and then I'll tell you when information you can have access to. I"m tired of spewing the same information into the dumpsters of the web and not remembering which ones I put my information into and which I didn't.

Like any smart entrepreneur, I've got an idea along with a fellow entrepreneur. Stay posted, a solution is coming.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Late Night Links For The Owls

So it's 11pm PST and I'm not usually on Twitter and other sites, but they are churning tonight and I wanted to share some of the things that conversations are being created around:

  1. Ultimate Social Media Resources List - great list Jordan

  2. Google allows trademark bidding in the UK - thanks Gooruze news item

  3. Could PayPerTweet be a viable business model? - source:

  4. Techcrunch50 vs. DEMO - Who will survive?

  5. Survey Industry Doomed! - $27B in Survey Industry and 30% of surveys are bogus

  6. Link Building Fundamentals - great starter list, filter through the stuff you can skip

  7. San Diego Web Standards Group Launches

  8. Twubble - Do you know who you should be following on Twitter?

Friday, April 04, 2008

We're Hiring! Marketing Role ...

If you love the young company environment, an office across the street from the beach, a group of creative/passionate people and marketing is what helps you get by everyday ... we've got an open role for you. Email me for more info ... bj at

Must love:

* Analytics - data junkie, reporting Excel, Google Analytics, HBX or Omniture or fave tool, Crazy Egg, etc.
* Conversation - connecting to real people with authentic ideas via blogging, Twitter, social networks
* Promotion - SEO, PPC, Link Building, Forum chat, Email
* Traveling - local/national events, managing booth, passing out items, talking to people about app
* Tech - love apps, have lots of accounts, BETAs, widgets, badges, chiclets, RSS, mobile, etc.
* Self-Managed - start projects on your own, execute them, give me the why, when, how, who + measurable goals

still interested? Shoot me an email to bj at

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Chrysler Starts Listening

Chrysler LLC with help from its digital marketing agency Organic has integrated an online suggestion box into its corporate website that also features its blog, environmental practices, community initiatives and more. The new section is actually available at, where they are asking people for their insights on how to improve their products and company.

"Submit ideas for future products, make current product suggestions or just tell us what would make us a better company."

Seems pretty simple and all you need to do is enter a zipcode and let them know if you already own a Chrysler. Seems to be a little market research going on there, but the process remains very simple to submit.

There are a lot of companies taking the leap into trying to engage their customers better and find ways to drive the conversation using various online tactics. My hat off to Chrysler for trying to get into the game and find ways to improve their relationship with their customer base and maybe even snag a few loiters from other competitors.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Did Google’s Secondary Search Create Some Waves?

To this day my mom loves to remind me about her experience with greed: “Any time I have gotten just a little tiny bit greedy, it always backfires on me in the end.” Her point is that she has never and will never profit from greed, and neither will I. Maybe Google should have had a conversation with my Mom before rolling out their latest feature.

Recently Google introduced a new feature to their search results page called the “Secondary Search Box”. When you do a search on a trademark term for sites that have a large presence (i.e. New York Times, Best Buy, YouTube, National Geographic, etc.) you will notice that a “secondary” search box appears underneath the website’s organic listing which encourages you to enter another keyword to help narrow your search.

Like every new feature Google rolls out, the secondary search box was supposedly introduced to enhance the search experience and generate a more relevant search result for the searcher. In the past I have always felt that most new features that Google has introduced have delivered on that promise of enhancing the search experience, and therefore improving the experience for the advertiser as well. Lately, though, the features that have been rolled out have caused me to sense a very slight hint of desperation or maybe some greed from our friends at Google. On their Blog, Google provided the following explanation for the roll out of the Secondary Search Box:

"Through experimentation, we found that presenting users with a search box as part of the result increases their likelihood of finding the exact page they are looking for. So over the past few days we have been testing, and today we have fully rolled out, a search box that appears within some of the search results themselves. This feature will now occur when we detect a high probability that a user wants more refined search results within a specific site. Like the rest of our snippets, the sites that display the site search box are chosen algorithmically based on metrics that measure how useful the search box is to users."

Okay, sure, I could have been on board with this initial explanation. This new feature could have the potential to help narrow a searcher’s results which may lead to a better organic conversion rate. But, all of these benefits were quickly minimized by the fact that the secondary search resulted in a whole selection of paid ads associated with the secondary search term, diverting the searcher from the organic listing or the single paid listing owned by the brand.

So, let’s say you searched on New York Times because you were looking for real estate listings. The secondary search box appears so you enter the keyword “real estate”. Earlier this week if you had done this search, you would see organic results for the query “real estate”, as well as paid listings generated by the general term “real estate”. This was horrible news for sites that had these secondary search boxes associated with their trademarked terms. Before that secondary search box was introduced, the searcher was probably going to do one of two things when they searched a trademark term - click on the organic listing, or click on the one paid ad which was probably the ad of the trademark owner. But now, with the secondary search in play, the searcher is presented with a whole array of paid ads which are very likely to distract the searcher from clicking through to the site associated with that original trademark search.

Anyone who manages a PPC campaign knows how profitable those trademark terms are; especially for large, well-known brands. That’s one of the reasons why we go through the effort of submitting trademark letters - to prevent competitors from bidding on our trademarked terms. If you do a search on any trademark term owned by these large sites, you will probably only see at most two paid ads – the ad owned by the brand, and occasionally an affiliate. This is because these large brands have a trademark letter in place with Google. But the secondary search box was encouraging users to perform an additional search so that the trademark letter could essentially be bypassed, providing a chance for the searcher to click through on an ad associated with a more generic, higher cost keyword. Most likely a competitor’s ad. It seems to me that Google was utilizing the massive search volume associated with these “big brand” keywords, then converting those searches into more “general” searches, therefore driving clicks to higher CPC ads.

So, just today as I was doing some research together for my blog posting/rant about Google “using” the popularity of these huge brands to make money, I noticed something very interesting. All of the paid ads that used to show up as a result of that secondary search, are now gone. Now the secondary search only results in organic listings for the site associated with the searched trademark.

Another interesting thing I noticed – The Secondary Search Box associated with the trademark term “WalMart” is now gone! I am 100% sure it was there earlier this week.

So, the question is, did Google recognize their subtle greediness and “do the right thing” on their own, or could there have been a behind the scenes uprising from the big brands that forced them to make the change?

Post written by: Alison Ganz, Director of Marketing at Hawkeye Search - PPC Experts

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How Target Is Teaching Us To Be Green - 10 Ways To Reuse Your Bag

From the looks of my account, it seems as if we spend a lot of time at Target or as some say Tar-shay. We enjoy our little trips to this big retail store; everything is always in the same place, it features great affordable designer brands like Method and you never leave without spending at least $100. The thing I never noticed was that Target was continuing the conversation with me in my home on my dinner table. Something caught my eye ... 10 Ways To Reuse Your Target Bag. You've all got that little stockpile of plastic bags stuffed into a plastic holder, in the shelf in a closet or maybe strewn about the floor because the cats love to play in them. Well, I bet you didn't notice the little top 10 list provided by Target on some of them. So here it is:

1. Tiny Trash Can Liner
2. Doggy Duty
3. Water Balloon
4. Road Trip Rubbish
5. Soggy Laundry
6. Ice Pack
7. Toiletry Tote
8. Kitty Litter Liner
9. Tomorrow's Lunch Bag
10. Care Package Padding

So then I thought about what else could you use that bag for and here's BJ's Top 10 Ways To Reuse Plastic Bags:

1. Makeshift Rain Hat
2. Convertible Car Window in the Summer
3. Storing Ex-Lovers Belongings
4. Socks
5. Fishing Tool When Stranded On Island
6. Gym Bag
7. Grease Collector
8. Multi-Plastic Bag Holder (string it through multiple handles)
9. Stuffing A Scarecrow
10. Diapers when you don't get on Ellen's Mother's Day Show

So if you have some creative ways to use those old bags, post them in comments here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

5 Classic Ways Companies Should Communicate With Their Customers

A company's success hinges on how it communicates, both internally and externally. Too much emphasis on interpersonal relationships can have a dire effect on outside interaction. Obviously, such a breakdown in communication between the company and its customers will greatly impact customer satisfaction and overall sales.

Businesses that regularly speak with their customers, whether it's directly or indirectly, will flourish. The advent of the Internet has obviously changed customer interaction for the better. However, one mustn't overlook some classic ways to touch base with customers, as some of them have certainly stood the test of time.

Below are the top five ways a company should communicate with their customers:

1. Telephone – No, I'm not referring to cold calls during dinnertime. I'm speaking of old-fashioned, remote customer service. When a customer has a question or concern, they will often want to personally connect with the company (and rightfully so). Whether this results in an inbound call from the customer or a friendly follow-up from the company, this keeps customer dissatisfaction to a minimum when executed properly.
2. Live Chat – Many people are glued to their computers these days, preferring digital communication to personal phone calls. A live chat option with a customer service representative is both practical and welcome in today's society, particularly if a company receives many inbound calls. No one likes to hang around "on hold," after all.
3. Newsletters – Newsletters are an excellent ways to keep customers abreast of new developments and, obviously, new products/services. Print newsletters aren't as common as they used to be, but they are still quite effective for small businesses. The electronic newsletter, however, is flourishing right now and helping many businesses to improve their customer relations. However, companies should make any kind of newsletter an opt-in service, lest it be viewed as "spam."
4. Company Blog – One of the newest successes in the realm of customer communication is the company blog. Often written by higher-ups within the company, it can make even the biggest corporations feel as if it's one with the people. Like a newsletter, it serves as a news service. However, it also encourages highly valuable customer feedback in the form of comments.
5. Customer Surveys – How will a company know what its customers want if it doesn't ask? Customers should be surveyed on a regular basis. However, companies should make this feel like a painless process for the public. Offering prizes to random participants is one of the most effective ways to garner a widespread partaking in a survey.

Companies should never stop experimenting with new technology, such as social networking sites and applications. However, the communication methods above are tried and true ways to keep communication flowing between a company and the widest audience possible. Perhaps older methods like the telephone really will become obsolete one day, but some of them are still quite effective.

Heather Johnson is a freelance business, finance and economics writer, as well as a regular contributor at Business Credit Cards, a site for business credit card and best business credit card offers. Heather welcomes comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address

Monday, March 17, 2008

Conversations Around Twitter

Wow, I think I've been abusing my subscribers on here lately by not posting anything new or of value. Well, that's about to change. I'm working through a sinus infection right now, on Day 5, hopefully it will be over soon. I wanted to post a few interesting tweets I noticed today that are very relevant to this blog's purpose and audience. If you care about conversational marketing then you'll enjoy these and I'd love to get your feedback on what you think or some other great quotes about this topic.

"Communities don't build themselves nor do they get built. There are always catalysts and champions, but no directors." MissRogue

"I hope Flickr never adds video, sometimes communities are just fine having only one cool object" Blueace

"I'm not into Second Life, but I hope people who live their online personnas in forums and communities will discover SL and move there." Randulo

"SmugMug's employees are simply nicer to people. So are Zooomr's. Which is why both have fanatical communities." Scobleizer

"Communities work like clubs and are closed to many outsiders" - I guess this is why they work at all" NewConversation

"Publics are the communities themselves, I like that idea. especially because it brings it back to value systems" Brunoamaral

These are posts from that I found via MissRogue's tweet and searched in These are the very expectations that we have as users and that companies need to be aware of when engaging us with their push marketing tactics. What all of these conversations reveal is that communities that are value-based and have a simple set of features will continue to grow with the help of super-connectors, passionate members who feel the need to spread the community to their own network. You can't control a community, forecast its growth, tell members to spread the word; it just happens. You just better be ready for it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Personal Email Assistant Is Pissing People Off

You know, you sign up for something and you think it's a god send, your savior and then it goes and starts harassing your friends and family. Ever come across software like that, uh hmm ... Plaxo, SMS.AC, etc. There's a new one called I Want Sandy and people over at GetSatisfaction are complaining about how it's pinging their contacts and trying to get them to sign up. Even if there's a feature to turn this off, what were they thinking when they created this functionality if they knew it was like opening Pandora's box? Anyone else have any interesting stories about software that has taken over your life? Why do personal assistants go too far?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Customers Key To Survival During A Recession

I was on our flight down to Riviera Maya in Mexico to celebrate our 1 year anniversary and invite both families down to share in our joyous occasion, when I started thinking about everything I was reading about the upcoming recession and how the government was giving us back money only to have "us" being consumers go and buy unnecessary items. What it brought me to was this notion that with companies potentially limiting their spending or moreso being more cash-conscious, there were going to be areas that would still see significant growth from consumer spending and some areas that would be able to make use of their funds by leveraging those consumers and their insights. So here are my top 10 observations on how customers will lead you to the promise land during a recession:

1. Companies will downsize and outsource to create cost efficiency and at the same time lessen the control they have at certain customer touch points. Look for these companies to invest in ways to garner and respond to customer feedback.

2. Softening real estate creates opportunity for franchisees. Listen to your customers and bring your business closer to them in areas where dirt is cheap and getting access to former corporate managers gets easier with layoffs.

3. Companies, who can, will gain more market share and more customers.

4. Corporations will cut too quickly, require emergency outsourcing. Customer feedback is critical to this process, better have it in place.

5. Innovation will lead to product diversification, increasing the number of vendors you'll have to deal with also. Have a system in place to capture business critical data to ensure smooth transitions and that all those who need it are getting it. Look for an increase in Employee Feedback platforms.

6. SBA is trying to automate front end customer service. This will require employee ideas and suggestions.

7. Consumers cut spending, adopt better "green" products and initiatives. Players in this market will need ways to capture customer feedback to innovate on existing technologies and products.

8. Going Green = new processes, services & products = solution for capturing employee and customer feedback.

9. VC and Angel wells will start to dry in the tech industry. Getting to critical mass is one thing, but having a way of managing all those customers is another. Keep them happy and your word of mouth will spread; bring them discomfort and you'll have to pay to bring them back.

10. Entrepreneurs and Companies alike will look outside of their doors for new revenue streams in the form of partnership distribution channels. Gather the feedback on how it's going and take action.

As the election year 2008 moves on and we progress into this upcoming recession, look to your customers to help you shape and finetune your products, strategies and direction. At the end of the day they're the ones paying and keeping you in business.

Friday, January 18, 2008

75+ Internet Marketing Gurus on Twitter

Connect with the movers and shakers of the internet marketing and promotion (and maybe spam once in a while). Are you on the list????

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