Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Who would you like to Jott?

That's a phrase which I've been hearing frequently, thanks to the vision of four innovative Seattle-based internet entrepreneurs.

Jott.com is a very cool free web-service that provides it's users all the benefits of having a personal assistant, without the financial burden of paying an annual salary. Since it's inception in late 2006, the company has been building a solid foundation in the trade and national press.

Users sign up in a few easy steps, submit a mobile phone number and email address, the system syncs with your phone, and then sends you a call-in number for your speed dial.

When you call, the automated attendant answers with "Who would you like to Jott?" You then speak your message clearly into the phone, select from options on reminders, delivery time and method, Wha-La! Your message is automatically transcribed and sent back to you through the vehicle you've selected.

I was so intrigued, I created an account and have been using it avidly for a about a week. It's particularly handy when a big idea hits while you're driving. My wife is very thankful to the company for improving the safety of our family's road trips.

As of today, I received an email with details on how I can get more use out of the service in terms of list building and mass-Jotting other users. It seems that Jott is doing a remarkable job of marketing this service, as well as providing value to those who sign up.

One question remains. What type of web application is this? Web 2.o? Web 3.0? Something new? Hmmm...

Whatever the case may be, hats off to the creators of this nifty tool!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Golden Rules

Here are two golden rules guaranteed to help you make a good first impression:

  1. After the person you are calling picks up the phone, say hello, identify yourself and ask: "is this a convenient time to talk?" Rocket science? Not really. But you can bet it is a critical step in having your contact pay attention to the next 15 words you say.

  2. When going to a meeting, be there when you say you will be there. If you can, be there early. There's nothing worse than showing up late. We've all been late before. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control. The mobile phone was (and still is) a great invention. Use it.
No one is perfect. I'm sure as hell not. But making your very best effort and being respectful of others' time is a great place to start.

Thanks to Mike Figliuolo of thoughtLEADERS for a great coffee discussion on Friday, which reminded me to write about the golden rules.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

People Fighting for Change: EcoStudio

My thanks to Eric Elizondo of EcoStudio for turning me on to some great sustainability resources. His blog is jam packed with information on products, ideas and so much more.

Green City Blue Lake
is a website created by EcoCity Cleveland, a nonprofit organization that has been at the center of sustainability activities and creative planning efforts in Northeast Ohio since 1992.

Here's an excerpt from their newsletter that Eric forwarded to me:

Warming towards Earth Day
It may have seemed like a long Cleveland winter, but there are signs that our climate is growing warmer. Based on recent temperature data, the national Arbor Day Foundation has published an updated version of the 1990 USDA plant hardiness zone map. The new map shows that much of Ohio has warmed a full zone.

Go here to see an animated display of how the hardiness zones have shifted north.

If you only click on link in this post, click the last one. You'll be directed to an animated map that shows the change in hardiness zones since 1990. It's absolutely staggering.

What are you and I doing to prevent this situation from getting worse?

Monday, April 14, 2008

What Social Networks Accomplish

In a recent email, my uncle stated that he was unsure exactly what social networks accomplished.

While this is a much larger debate, here are a few ideas on why I believe these networks are valuable. Feel free to agree, disagree or share your own ideas:

Data Portability
Have you ever changed mobiles or computers, and lost contact information in the process? A significant advantage of social networks, both personal and business, is data portability. By maintaining your information via the web, you reap the benefit of centralized platform accessible from anywhere.

Reasons to Connect
In both business and personal settings, almost all social networks provide updates on your contacts activities. When someone makes changes to their profile, makes a new connection, even asks or a question, you will be alerted. This automated intelligence can be help provide legitimate reasons to reach out to any given contact.

User Generated Intelligence
In a few simple clicks through a profile in your network, you can learn about your connections work history, who you know in common, where they went to school, what level of degree they have, their accomplishments, and on and on. What's more, this data is updated by them - not a third party.

As adoption of any network becomes more wide-spread, the overall value increases. As your own personal network grows, you'll see an increase in the data and opportunities that are delivered.

On the flip side of that, without some type of control system in place, network value can also be lost. MySpace is a good case study to follow on that. I guess it's just human nature to create pandemonium if we're left with no rules.

For a fairly comprehensive list the social networks, click here.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

On Viral Marketing

My Uncle Jurgen, a prominent, super-savvy and retired business executive living in California, just joined my network on LinkeIn.

Here's what's interesting to me. I'd wanted to reach out to him for months now, but was a little apprehensive. We don't see that side of the family all that often. As a matter of fact, the last time we were in the same room was during my great-grandfather's funeral, a few years ago. (Salute, Grossopa!)

Sure - I could have asked others in my immediate family for his email address or phone number. But once I was notified on LinkedIn that he had joined the 20 million other business professionals using the network, I suddenly had a relevant reason to make contact. The awkwardness of the situation disappeared via web 2.0.

In the email thread we traded, Uncle Jurgen ended with this:

I am not really sure what these networks accomplish, so I have been leery of joining, but when relatives and friends ask...

A Powerful Statement

When the message comes from an individual you know and trust, the fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding the request, (in this case - the adoption of a new technology) is removed.

This premise is the corner stone of viral marketing. By receiving the message from a family member, my Uncle, after long consideration, changed his behavior and created a LinkedIn profile. The messenger, not the message itself, mattered most.

Why I Heart My iPhone

I bought an iPhone today. And I'm happy.

The experience at the Apple Store at Easton Town Center was awful. As always, a charged and super trendy crowed was lingering, busy gawking at the latest accessories and seeing who could look the coolest.

Enter me with my 19-month old son on my shoulders. We stuck out like a sore thumb. Apparently father-son duos are not trendy. Who knew?

The young dude at the counter was very helpful. His boss, the store manager, was a complete pompass-ass who made me and other customers feel like we were not worthy of such hip pieces of technology. Had it been a Verizon Wireless store and the Envy, I would have stormed out, foregoing the purchase all together.

But it wasn't Verizon Wireless. It was the Apple Store and the iPhone.
A Sucker for Good Branding
On my drive home, I was examining the hip, sophisticated packaging that carried what would in so many ways, make my life easier.

I began to think to myself how straight-forward setup would be. I thought about how nice it would be to have my email, contacts, calender and music at the touch of my finger tips. I even thought how wonderful it was going to be to have immediate access to the internet -- "not a boiled down version of the internet". I thought all the things that Apple had so deliberately persuaded me think about the iPhone.

All of these thoughts made me happy.

And Apple wins...

Why does Apple win?
The strongest brands have the power to evoke real and powerful emotions in the mind of the customer. Through brilliant marketing, advertising and design, it's safe to say that Mr. Jobs and his army have mastered the mode of persuasion known as Pathos.

Aristotle would be proud.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Beer

Here's a follow up to my previous post Case Study: Consumer Generated Media and Good Beer.

Cheers to The Beer Wench and the good folks at Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails for some innovative and fun marketing!



COLUMBUS, Ohio – COLUMBUS, OH April 4, 2008Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails has joined forces with local beer blogger, The Columbus Beer Wench, to develop an original beer tasting initiative.

With the goal of becoming more educated on the world of beer, The Columbus Beer Wench invites blog readers to join in her venture towards becoming a beer connoisseur. As of this February, The Wench has been hosting informal beer tastings with local citizens at a various local establishments.

The Beer Wench recently reached out to the owners of Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails for potential collaboration. Known for consistently listening and responding to the wants and needs of its community, Tip Top owners Liz and Tim Lessner jumped at the opportunity to support its local beer loving population.

In turn, Tim Lessner reached out to The Beer Wench for local input on Tip Top’s beer menu.

This past Friday, The Beer Wench met with Tim and Steve, Tip Top bar manager, to brainstorm ideas. The three minds collaborated to create the distinctive concept of a “community inspired beer menu”.

The concept is rather simple. Let Columbus citizens choose the beers they want Tip Top to offer on its beer menu. Let them also choose the ones that should be discontinued.

Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails, in conjunction with The Columbus Beer Wench, invites the citizens of Columbus to explore this new concept on Sunday, April 20th. The inaugural Tip Top “Drink With The Wench” will take place from 5pm until 8pm. The event will cost $15 dollars a head and includes the beer, various appetizers and Tip Top’s infamous sweet potato fries.

Tasters will sample six different beers, three from the current Tip Top menu and three new beers. Each person will have the opportunity to provide input to which of the current beers should be discontinued and which of the new beers should be offered on the Tip Top beer menu. Beers chosen by the group will be featured as local selections. All guests are encouraged to stay and socialize further after the tasting. As always, the kitchen and bar will be open till close.

The Columbus Underground has also volunteered to collaborate as a partner in this effort.

About Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails
A tipsy downtown neighborhood bar featuring Ohio Comfort Food, mean whiskey concoctions, draught microbrews, pinball, smiling faces, whiskey, Columbus pride, great local and not-so-local music, Cafe Brioso coffee and delicious pies. Located in the heart of downtown Columbus: The Independent Art Capital of the World!

About The Columbus Beer Wench
The Columbus Beer Wench is a local Columbus based beer blog written by Ashley Routson. With the creation of “Drink With The Wench,” Ashley has been successfully closing the gap between the interactive realms of social media with the real world Columbus community.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Changing Hands

The news has hit the stands - officially.

I'm excited to say that the firm I work for, Young Isaac, has recently merged with an SEO company called People To My Site.

You can read more of the details in the Columbus Business First article, posted yesterday. Artie has already posted commentary on his blog as well.

My Perspective

I'm extremely grateful to have been part of this change. Two really innovative companies have come together under the direction of some uber-smart leaders.

The clients will benefit immensely. Traditional marketing and search engine marketing are now under one roof, working hand in hand, sharing principles, people and ideas. Communication channels are open allowing true collaboration.

I'm excited for what's in store. This is going to be big...