Monthly Archives: June 2008

Leaving well enough alone

I’m not a Luddite, by any means.  That should be obvious based on the field in which I consult (digital media) since the business of digital media itself didn’t really exist 15 years ago.

Mozilla has released Firefox 3 and it’s great.  Mostly.  Except it breaks things.  My site looks funny in it – I know other sites have had issues too.  Some folks’ CMS refuses to work properly with it.  I’m sure there are applications that are a bit screwy too.

Sometimes in our zeal to make things better, we screw up some of the things that are working well.  We used to hear that at the NHL when we’d tinker with rules, etc. and I know Mozilla released enough betas that we could have tested.  But I do think there are times  when maybe we need to think about leaving well enough alone.  As my friend the hit midget (for another post) reminded me – New Coke wasn’t exactly a huge improvement.

So here’s the business thought.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t continue to improve but sometimes we change up our businesses to make smallish incremental gains.  Maybe we’re blowing up the good stuff to fix the stuff that’s not working?

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Filed under Consulting, Thinking Aloud

Knife skills

If you spend any time in the kitchen, at some point you realize that knife skills are indispensable.  In fact, learning those knife skills is, IMHO, more important that learning about mother sauces, braising vs. boiling, etc.  Why?  Because those basic skills make everything else you do in the kitchen faster and better.  The even surface area that a nicely diced cube has makes it cook evenly along with all the others like it so that one part of the dish isn’t overdone while another is still raw.  If you cook seriously, having great knife skills, along with very sharp knives, is a prerequisite.

Why bring this up?  Because business has knife skills as well.  OK, I can hear the cracks about stabbing people, etc. but stop being so literal.  What I mean is the basic, underlying skills that are prerequisites if you’re going to have success and make what’s coming out of your kitchen better than what’s coming out of many others’.

In no particular order:

  • The ability to read carefully and comprehend what it is you’re reading
  • The ability to write well and convey meaning clearly
  • The ability to listen
  • The ability to keep an open mind
  • The ability to keep calm and stay focused

Those are just the basics but without them you’re at a disadvantage.  Sure, you can prep a great meal using a serrated steak knife and little else, but without knowing how one uses that inferior tool, I’m thinking you’d better have gas in the car and directions to the ER so those pesky fingers can get reattached.

I was always surprised how many interviews I’ve done over the years where it was painfully obvious the candidate lacked most of the above skills even if they had been working for years and had a decent resume.  If you don’t have them, try and learn them or hire someone who does to be your personal chef.

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Filed under food, Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

Someone paid to prove this?

According to Adweek, advertising on multiple platforms results in a significant increase in a campaign’s conversion rate measured by the percentage of consumers who actually purchase the product or service being advertised, according to new research by Integrated Media Measurement Inc.

The research, “Understanding the True Value of Multi-Platform Advertising,” also found that increased frequency yields better conversion rates.

DUH?

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Integrated Measurement

As Emily Litella might have said, “What’s all this about integrated measurement?  Why, all the people measuring media already measure everyone – Black, White, Asian, etc.  What more integration do we need?”

OK, so that’s not as good as “violins on television” but the point is we DO need more integrated measurement of all media.  It’s a big topic right now and I’ve had a number of folks ask me how, or if, I think it happens.

To me, it’s a “when” not an “if” and the “how” is through the one place that seems to be the junction of all media these days – the ISP, and more specifically the cable guys.  A large percentage of folks get their TV and their Internet through the same pipe.  It’s not unreasonable to think that as those providers move into wireless and other places (or in the case of Verizon, if they’re already there), use of mobile devices can be added to the mix.

Good column discussing the topic by Diane Mermigas today.  Add to that what Sony is doing with set top boxes, the growth of companies such as Phorm, Microsoft’s purchase of Navic, and I think you get a sense that this is where we’re heading.  I, for one, am glad.  Having spent many years living and dying with the Nielsen TV ratings, which are estimates and less accurate than what we’ll be getting in a few years, the process of analyzing consumers’ media habits and the most efficient ways to reach them will be a lot easier.

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Filed under Consulting, Thinking Aloud

It’s Different

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the NY Video 2.0 Meetup.  We (myself and 449 of my BFF) heard presentations from Boxee, Hulu, Move Networks, MediaMerx and Visible Measures, all of which were interesting and pointed to the continued migration of media onto well-integrated (across devices and networks) digital platforms.  More on them in another post.

What was most interesting to me was the spirit of camaraderie that prevailed.  Most of the folks in the room were working for early- or mid-stage companies.  Most seemed no older than their mid-30’s (babies!).  All seemed enthusiastic about the business they were in and had a sense that they were helping to change the way the world consumes media.  There was, most of all, a sense of community.  People were encouraged to grab a mic and offer up positions they were trying to fill or consulting help they needed.  It was a feeling of openness and “we’re all in this together” even though you know many of these companies compete head to head and there will be both winners and losers.

Very refreshing and hopefully as a new generation of businesspeople bubble up, a spirit that will come along with them.  Way less cutthroat then the way I remember it being as I was making my bones.  Maybe a side effect of all the social networking is making people more…social!

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Filed under What's Going On

Check It Out

Over the course of my career, I’ve been involved in a lot of press releases.  I’ve also spoken with quite a few reporters.  Most of the time, I worked with the internal PR folks at my place of business.  Most of them were very focused on telling the best story while staying on the right side of the truth.  They and I never knowingly gave out false information.  Sure, we put the best face on whatever information we gave out and maybe we didn’t highlight (OK, or even mention) the not so good stuff.  But that’s it.  No lies.  Nothing made up.

Maybe I’m naive, but I’m surprised how often I read something that clearly has come from a press person, or from an executive who generally works with a press person, and something says to me “check it out.”  Like most folks these days, I have a pretty good grasp on what the “search” bar is for and it generally doesn’t take more than a bit of looking to figure out if there is a disconnect with the facts and the story.  Sometimes I even know someone who does know the real story and, frankly, I’m sad when I find out someone I know and/or respect is outright lying.

There are a number of sites that do this in the political world but not that many in business.  In fact, the New York Times was embarrassed not too long ago by their failures to check out information they’d been fed.  Is the amount of information we get every day making us lazy?  Are we expecting to be spoon-fed everything?  Or are we just overwhelmed and the demands on media to publish RIGHT NOW make careful analysis and commentary impossible?

Next time you hear some fantastic numbers or a great business story, do some checking.  Let’s see if someone didn’t let the facts get in the way of their story.

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks

Carlin

I am old enough to remember when George Carlin was doing the hippy-dippy weatherman routine.  He was funny with a unique point of view.  His language was a lot cleaner but his thinking was always as clear as it was when I saw him perform a couple of months ago.

As we both got older and our hair got longer, I would listen to his albums (right – vinyl!) a LOT in college.  He inspired me to try to do stand-up, which I did at a parents weekend in college.  I don’t remember much about that except a story I told about finding my Mom’s diaphragm and thinking it was a yarmulke that was definitely a Carlin-inspired rant.  I also remember thinking, as I drowned in flop-sweat, that comedy was HARD but Carlin, like all great stars, made it look so easy.

I’m really sad about his passing, but in his words:

I don’t wanna know about sports teams that sew the initials of dead people on their jerseys for one whole season, as if it really means something. Leave that stupid superstitious bullshit in the locker room. I don’t wanna know who’s in mourning. Play ball, you fuckin’ grotesque overdeveloped nitwits!

So we’ll be sad, George, but we’ll keep playin’ ball.

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Filed under Reality checks