poelog: Commentary, thoughts and opinions on the web, ebusiness and marketing -- a web log by Rob Poel
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Thursday, October 31, 2002

A great story: Act of kindness speaks volumes about football’s spirit (as read and discussed this morning on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in the Morning.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Gotta spend some more time with this - BlogStreet: Who's in your Neighbourhood?

Thursday, October 24, 2002

More great stuff from 37signals: 37signals » Research. Their first brief: Sites that Don't Click (pdf), reviews 10 major retail web site home pages and notes how difficult they make it for prospective customers to make impulse buys from featured products on the home page. The report is simple, well-designed, and well-wrriten. Although I like the report ... I think what I most like about this initiative is how 37signals has found so many ways to build a business leveraging their knowledge. They consult, build interfaces and designs, give usability reviews, teach classes/workshops and now, they're looking at another revenue stream from their Research Reports (briefs such as the one I linked to above are free). Knowledge firms are always looking at ways to get paid for that knowledge rather than having to give it away ... 37signals research reports are an innovative example of how to do that.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Mercury News: Dan Gillmor: Software idea may be just crazy enough to work - Sounds interesting (via Daypop Top 40).

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Yesterday morning I was swindled. I feel violated, utterly taken advantage of ... and most of all ... just pissed off!

10-15-02: 7:50am
I'm pulling away from a gas station that is 2 minutes from my office. A guy walks up, knocks on my window and asks for a ride. He tells me that he locked his keys in the car and that he lives only a few minutes away and wondered if I could give him a ride to pick up his keys. I'm normally quite hesitant to pick up a stranger but the guy was earnest and it sounded like it would only take 10 minutes so I'd still be able to be into work on time. I reluctantly agree and open the door for him.

7:55am
We approach his house which he told me was on the main road. As we approach the house he says, "Shoot - looks like my wife is gone with the kids, I won't be able to get in. We're going to have to go to my Mom's to pick up a spare pare there." "That's fine," I said, "Where does your mom live?" "Just a few minutes away," he tells me. Allright, no problem. I keep driving. A "few minutes" turns into 7-8 minutes.

8:03am
We approach his mom's house. Again, just like the first time I don't know the address or a particular house because he comments that her car isn't there as well, saying this as we drive by a number of houses that line the street. "Man," he says, "allright, looks like I better stop by this guy's house I know that has a slim jim. If I pay him some money he'll let me borrow it until I return it." "Where does this guy live?" I ask. "Oh, a few minutes away. It won't take long to get there."

8:10am
We pull up near his friend's house. Again, I don't see the specific house, but I park in a small business driveway nearby. Now ... you have to understand ... up until now we've been talking most of the drive, it turns out he's the same age, he has two kids, we discuss Christianity once he found out where I went to high school, he thanks me countless times for helping me out of this jam and for being kind enough to drive him all over. I'm beginning to get a little bit impatient as it starts to look like I'll be late for my 8:30am meeting, but then again, I was glad to be able to help the guy. After I parked, he turned to me and said "$20 should be enough. I'll pay you back when we get back to my car (his wallet was locked in his car)." As I open my wallet and thumb through my bills he says, "You better make it $30 just to make sure." I hesitate and he tells me, "Hey, I swear, I'm good for the money." I hand him the bills. He leaves. I stay in my car but find myself looking over my shoulder quite frequently, awaiting his return.

8:15am
Jeff (at least that's what he said his name was) returns. His "friend" wasn't home but he was able to call another guy that he thinks could help us. This guy, though, lives 15 minutes away near one of the main Grand Rapids malls. At this point I had sort of already gotten myself in this far that I couldn't back out now. We drive to the mall ... again, continuing our discussion, discussing football, war, life, etc.

8:30am
We arrive at this apartment complex near the mall. As he opens his door he says, "You better give me another $20, it'll probably take $50 to get this guy to help me." My response: "Wait a second, what is this guy going to do? Is coming with us or giving you some set of tools to get into your car?" "Oh, he'll be coming with us to help," Jeff says. "Well then," I reply, "Why don't we wait to pay this guy until he actually comes with us and gets your car open." "Hey, I'm good for the money, man," Jeff confidently replies. "Let's just wait," I say. Jeff leaves and walks around towards the back of the apartment complex.

8:35am
No sign of Jeff. I get out of my car and walk around toward the back of the complex to see if I can see him.

8:40am
Still no sign of Jeff. My blood is beginning to boil.

8:45am
Jeff is nowhere to be found. I get back into my car and start searching the apartpent complex and surround roads. I hail a passing police car and provide them with a report. Their first comment to me, 10 seconds into my story: "And you let the guy in your car?"

So, there it is. I was swindled. Now, thanks to Jeff, EVERY time I get asked for assistance from any stranger, I will think twice. And it's likely that I'll NEVER let any stranger into my car again. What a sad statement on society. What a pathetic individual.

Of course, now, in hindsight, there are so many things I would have done differently. First, I would have verified his keys were locked in his car. Second, I would have taken him to a phone to call someone so that they could bring him his keys. Third, I would have thought things through more as his story was unfolding rather than take what he said at face value. In hindsight his story had a lot of holes in it as I think he made it up on the fly. Fourth, I would never have given him ANY money. No one would have need compensation until a service was rendered.

Now, I suppose I should be thankful that all I lost was $30 and that Jeff didn't draw a gun or knife on me or force me out of my car and taken that with him. That is something to be thankful for. Right now, though, I find myself more mad than thankful.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I'll explain later.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

MarketingProfs.com: What Becomes A Brand Most? - This sort of ties together 3 of my more recent posts.

In branding, advertising it not the most important element; consistency is. Consistency is eminently more important than advertising when it comes to branding. “Consistency in what?” you ask. Consistency of message, of product or service, of delivery, and of experience. These are vital elements of successful branding. Without this consistency, the brand is doomed to fail.

If you read my post on the Internet and branding (two down) ... you'll see that the author of this article and I are on the exact same page (of course, she's a little more eloquent than me).

Brands that want to last need to focus less on advertising, less on creating “noise,” and more on things that matter--offering value to the customer, effective merchandizing, filling a niche in the market, product innovation, doing it better than the next guy, and internal branding.

Now ... that's someone that understands branding.