Category Archives: tools

I4U Newsletter Ends – Sign of Things to Come or a Last Gasp?

Like many of you out there, I have a bit of technolust. I like gadgets. I own a modest collection of tech gear, and I have a drawer full of retired power cords and adapters, but more to the point, I like to be in the know about the new stuff. The gizmos and thingamajigs that push the envelope or hint at cool features that might just become mainstream. Of course most don’t, but that is part of what makes it interesting. So for these reasons one of the few newsletter that I used to look forward to appearing in my email inbox was the eye-jolting green missive put together by Luigi Lugmayr & company over at I4U. It was a newsletter that did a great job of sticking to their mission – they brought you the new stuff. It felt more informative than sales-y. Like I might actually have the jump on other nerdy friends when it came to discussion of cool new laptops or innovative portable electronics. Well imagine my surprise when instead of their usual array of thumbnails of interesting gadgets I received this note:

Hello I4U News Readers,

This is our last weekly I4U Newsletter. We feel that email newsletters have had there time and are not the preferred way anymore to receive our news.
Thank you for being a subscriber and I hope you will continue to read I4U News for you daily technology news and shopping tips.

Please consider to follow us on Twitter and subscribing to our RSS feed.

I mean what’s going on here? The company is continuing on, but the newsletter is going away? Is this a sign of new marketing truths from a progressive company that has always had it’s eye on the future? Or is this a last gasp of a failed campaign? Perhaps they got the reach, but couldn’t convert the readers, or maybe the readers simply stopped opening it because we’re all so flooded these days with a zillion more newsletters than ever before.

So why do I care, and why should you? It’s not because I thought that this newsletter was cool – that’s too subjective. It’s the mystery that gets me. It doesn’t cost much to put out an e-newsletter, especially if you’re already aggregating the content for other purposes, which is exactly what I4U does. So it’s cheap to produce, and VERY measurable. That’s something we like in the marketing department. That’s why there is such a glut of newsletters heading your way everyday. We get to measure what happens: we know what gets opened, we know if you click, and if we’ve planned our landing pages right we know if that click led to a conversion. These things make a marketer get up early in the morning with a big smile, because what you measure you can tune.

But I4U is throwing in the towel on its newsletter contender. How low does the threshold of response have to dip to make the superior measurement ability not worth the effort? Have they found equal or better measurement through Twitter and RSS? I want to know and unless you’ve got unlimited time and resources for your marketing department, you should want to know too.

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Twitter goes mainstream – will it survive?

Just an observation: Twitter is in the the process of “crossing the chasm”.   Once accused of being the playground of narcissists and navel-gazers, the popular micro-blogging service is now going mainstream.  How do I know?  Well a few months back I used Twitter’s contact feature to see if there were any Twitter users in my Google contacts that I  was not already following.  There were three.  I did the same thing again a couple of minutes ago and there were now 120! And these weren’t techies, new adopters, and geeks.  All of my friends that fit those categories were already on the service and had been for some time now.  No, these folks are financial planners, real estate agents, business owners, interior designers, consultants, bankers, etc.

So my question is why?  Is it because the usefulness of Twitter has suddenly become widely understood and embraced by the majority?  I’d like to say yes, but somehow I doubt it.  I think the sudden rise in Twitter popularity is due mostly to CNN and the election coverage – and this is why I ask the question, will it survive?  Twitter’s ranks are filling, but will the new users add value or just consume resources?  Will they find a useful means of communication and embrace some kind of monetization of the system, or will the fail-whale dominate the site in between massive doses of sales pitches and self-serving links to personal and company websites?

Twitter, I’m rooting for you, but I think the jury is still out.

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A practical dose of efficiency

Yes, I admit it.  Sometimes I will indulge in a little high-brow, high-level or high-concept marketing-speak.  I can’t help it, it is in my nature (blame the right brain).   That’s why I am glad that I have friends like Dave Eissman to keep me grounded, and I hope you don’t mind if I give him and his new blog a plug:

Dave has a knack for breaking down marketing tactics into straight forward, approachable steps that get results.  I have had the good fortune to collaborate with Dave on behalf of the International Business Academies, Limited, for whom we are both advisers, and I have always admired his straightforward, make-it-practical approach as well as his warm and generous nature.  Dave recently started a new blog – One on Many Marketing, and his current post, What is One on Many Marketing? is a wake-up call to B-to-B businesses to make use of the efficient tools of the Internet to bring scale to their lead generation and relationship building processes.  Dave is offering a free tele-seminar on the subject (details here) – I plan to attend and I hope I’ll see you online then too.

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One down – many to go

Well it was a great morning – we had a full house for the kick-off meeting of TAG‘s newest society, Enterprise 2.0.  Our society chair and vision leader, Sherry Heyl, did a great job acting as emcee and blog-journalist.  Check out her blow-by-blow report written live during the event.  And our featured speaker, Puneet Gupta, CEO of Connectbeam, gave a great summary and product demonstration, which I think helped to open our audience’s eyes to the advantages of well-managed social bookmarking in a corporate context.

The point I keep coming back to when it comes to Enterprise 2.0 is the idea that the trend toward adoption of social computing tools is already widespread – the people in your corporation are already using these tools and operating on different paradigms of communication.  The younger the employee the more likely they are to be “infected” with a web 2.0/social media mindset.  These are the people being hired by companies big and small every day.  Whether you choose to put an Enterprise 2.0 strategy in place for your organization, there is already a strong contingent of users who know from direct experience that there are other choices for communication and collaboration than those that may be already blessed by your IT department.  Progressive companies will recognize this and do what is necessary to keep apace of this wave of innovation and cultural change.  They’ll do it because they know that the young upstarts – the ones with no baggage are already there – and they are moving nimbly forward, unfettered by old-school command and control driven approaches.  The people know the tools, and like ’em and knowing the taste of transparent collaboration it is hard to go back to restricted access and cumbersome methods.  Today policies of restriction and banned IP addresses may be met with grumbling compliance – tomorrow the response might be rebellion and defection.

The Connectbeam offering was a great focal point for our first session because the concept of bookmarking is so well understood by virtually anyone who has used a browser in the last decade or so.  Shared bookmarking doesn’t require learning new and complicated skills, but through relevance algorithms and intelligent use of meta-data the social bookmarker gains advantages over the older tool.   Data becomes more meaningful and portable.  Communities of shared interest grow organically from the clustering of bookmarks and knowledge centers are exposed throughout the organization.  Now who wouldn’t want that power working for their corporation?

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Live from Barcamp – Day 2 – Session 4 [for me] Ruby on Rails panel

Looks like just two panelists.  Didn’t get the names.

Starting discussion with scaling issues of mongrel server.  I was expecting more of a discussion of rails, pros and cons, this seems to be more of a discussion of memory use on the server and scalability.  Database load failed to scale for Twitter, sooner than the ability to run enoug instances of mongrel.  Logan, jumps in and interjects “F*ck scalability”  with the contention that when you have the problem of scalability you better have money coming in and can then deal with the issue.   Is Ruby creating a brain-drain on Java talent.  Still more jobs for java developers?   There is a rebutting point that sometimes an app can catch fire before monetization and can outpace the scalability of Rails.  PHP might be better.  But how do you anticipate rate of acceptance, and usage growth?  In one company, not named, prototyping is done in rails, but all that code is tossed for the production environment. The prototyping is useful for creating real requirements, but in the company referred to it is all java for the production.

Lookup: panelist mentioned a video on building a blog app in rails in 15 minutes – assume this can be found on youtube

Panelist expresses difficulty in his experience getting separate rails apps to communicate well.  Not well-suited task for rails.  Application growth tends to get unmanageable.  Not just a rails problem.  Michael chimes in with a plug for Ruby and reinforcing the point that Rails is not very ruby-like.  Learning and loving Ruby can enrich the experience and open new doors.  Very expressive.  Syntax for ruby is very expressive.  Ruby is fully object-oriented.

Rails vs. Symfony — Symfony is a framework for php that borrows much from rails — panelists likes rails much better — more nuance, better unit testing.  Other frameworks, like Zend, etc.  don’t provide the full simplicity, but they do help put you in a better paradigm for development.

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The Everything Syndrome

That Swiss army knife is great, it has everything in it, and it can do just about anything — if you don’t happen to have any real tools around. The multi-tool sacrifices the ability to do any one thing great, by trying to do everything. Unfortunately, the same is true of a lot of marketing pieces. Anxiety about not missing anything leads to cramming in every last little thing a company can do, so we overload the copy. We think we’re communicating (and therefore selling) the value of the company, but we’re often just causing confusion. In the end this makes messaging less memorable. Each piece of marketing collateral should be serving a purpose, a particular function within your selling process. Don’t try to make every piece do everything. Instead, try to make each piece effective in its given role, and don’t be afraid to hang your hat on the one thing that your company does best. Otherwise, you may end up with a stack of Swiss army knives and still not be able to hammer in any sales.

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