Archive for February, 2007

The Seth Godin and Oprah problem

February 24, 2007

What do Seth Godin and Oprah have in common?

They can kill a website that isn’t setup to scale with web traffic. 

Seth checks out how much his domain is worth with a new SEO tool, the targeted use being for expiring domains. 

As an aside, there’s a virtual land grab going on right now, with ireit, demand media, and a number of “smaller” players (1,000+ domains under registration) buying all kinds of domains.  They buy expired domains because google likes older domains, someone probably put some effort into marketing the site, and they likely have a lot of backlinks.  It’s easy search engine optimization

In the process, he overwhelms the website with traffic because the application and database haven’t been setup to scale.  This is the same problem Oprah creates with her “favorite things” (Oprah is unbiased of course) episode, where the web traffic crushes the small businesses she highlights.

Now imagine you’re an up and coming company with a website that is going to be prominently featured on a Superbowl commercial, in 3 weeks.  Most don’t know enough about the problem to fix it anyway, so we’re back to the Seth and Oprah problem.  Fortunately for that Superbowl advertiser, a scalability expert stepped in juggled a web traffic spike into the tens of millions of unique visitors.  Awesome.

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Everyone has a bias, get paid for it.

February 24, 2007

Bloggers continue to debate the idea of getting paid to blog because doing so shows your bias, even though your content likely shows that bias already.  Everyone has a bias, so you might as well get paid for it.

Now some bloggers argue there’s a difference between shout outs, ads, sponsors, and paid posts, but if you’re going to put someone else’s name and content on your site, you’re already biased.  From the short comment and link to a friend’s site to a 4 paragraph gushing about a random company, everyone has a bias, so you might as well get paid for it. 

If you don’t like it, stop reading the newspaper and watching TV.  The only difference is it that they’re better at making the bias subtle and therefore do a poorer job of monetization.

It’s your turn Jack

February 23, 2007

I’m a big fan of Jack Johnson, but he decided to take a couple years off after finally reaching the mainstream.  Maybe he didn’t like the spotlight, listening to handlers, or mass producing his talent.

37Signals, a small web company creating simple applications, follows a similar internet product marketing strategy.  They create products that are simple, work well, and solve problems beyond email, word processing, and spreadsheets. 

The problem is that they’re just so slow in their development of new products, it seems like a waste of talent.  They’ve shunned money guys (except for Jeff Bezos), hired 1 employee at a time, and grew a popular blog.  It’s the Jack Johnson story all over again.

Well, looks like Signals has gone back to work, starting to tease a new product called Highrise.  (see the previews of Highrise, Highrise, and Highrise)  If they really did web-based CRM with collaboration, instead of an online address book, then they will once again be successful, at their own pace. 

Keep an eye on how it’s integrated with email, as that seems to be the difference between cowbell and more cowbell with other small business CRM products.  From my experience in internet product development, I’d guess 37Signals will have a webmail function embedded that works with your domain, or at a minimum an email address you blind copy that feeds into your Highrise account. 

It’s your turn Jack.

The 5 Fears of RSS

February 23, 2007

1. Someone else will use my content. 
Good point, but you’re also telling me that you can control the content put on another website.  If you’re producing content with the goal of search engine optimization, there should be a significant number of links back to your site already.  So you’re really just seeding backlinks for the search engines to gobble up.  Even better, these RSS feed -stealer-monetizers are really good, so they’re less likely to be caught by the magic algorithm.

2. Nobody will click-thru to my website.
Ideally, you shouldn’t really care about how someone reads your content, the point is that they’re reading it.  Now if I never plug Ralston Ventures in this post, and never tell you that I’m a jack-of-all-trades online marketing and internet product management consultant, then yes it would be a shame to have to click-thru and read that tidbit.  If you think your content is that good (it’s not), run a teaser feed that requires the customer to click-thru to read the whole diatribe. 

3. RSS is too technical, email works for my customers.
Then I should assume you have a 0% bounce rate and a 100% open and click-thru rate on your email campaigns?  There’s nothing more technical about RSS than anything else, and there are a hundred companies out there trying to make it easier.  The point about email statistics is that RSS feeds are unfiltered, direct to the customer, unlike email which can be blocked as spam, filtered as junk, or lost among 4 email accounts.  With RSS, the customer gets it all and has the power to unsubscribe at any time (and know it worked). 

4. I can’t make money on a RSS feed.
You actually can, Feedburner will slip them right into the end of your feed.  Of course, when was the last time you clicked on a banner ad?  Focus on the content, the customer relationship, and the message; ignore the pennies.

5. RSS feeds require content which requires creativity which requires work which requires time.
Content is king, so make the time to produce more content, or hire an online marketing expert.

Free Coupon for Google Apps

February 6, 2007

Apparently Google is starting to follow the internet product strategy idea known as “free-mium” according to BusinessWeek online.  Up until now, Google was free all the time relying on PPC ad revenue, but with Google Apps for your Domain the internet product strategy for Google has changed.

On a hot tip from Jason Kolb, who apparently reads the fine print, anyone who signs up for the beta of Google Apps will continue their service for free.  So I present to you, a FREE COUPON for Google Apps, which is probably closed to new accounts…

Multiple sources are proclaiming there are companies that would pay for business-style gmail or just a bigger gmail account, but most think the value is in 24/7 tech support and not in the Google Apps features offered to business users.  Of course, one of those companies is Pixar who is run by Steve Jobs, so it’s probably no surprise the IT guy can’t go out and buy Microsoft Exchange.

Now there is a little detail that in the past wasn’t associated with internet product strategy, and that is a ton of downtime across Google’s network.  Wait until your entire office is left stranded by an gmail outage that doesn’t have a five-nines SLA, not to mention can’t get a SAS-70 certification and the free pens don’t even work.

Evil Steve and his PR machine

February 6, 2007

Evil Steve decided to make a big announcement today about Apple dropping DRM that most realize we should be a little cynical about due to the timing of the release.

But it wasn’t because the music industry is already headed that way, it was because Wal-Mart made a big move into movie downloads by offering movies from all 6 studios today.  Evil Steve, because he’s Disney’s largest shareholder, already knew Wal-Mart would announce the movie download service today, and therefore waited until the Wal-Mart news broke and then got the last word in

He must have the best public relations firm in the Bay Area