Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Sponsor The Last Original Idea in Marketing

 The Last Original Idea in Marketing Contest has another prize to give away to it entrants. This week Jim Sterne donated a signed copy of his latest book "Social Media Metrics" to join the list of other fabulous prizes. We'll be doing a random draw from the entrants for this additional prize.

The Last Original Idea in Marketing contest was launched earlier in December. Voting will continue until the end of January so if you haven't had the chance to read and vote for your favorite entries please take a few minutes to do so.

More about Jim Sterne: In addition to being the author of this fabulous book, he's is also the driving founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and the Web Analytics Association.

I highly recommend his book for anyone who wants to understand the challenges in measuring social media.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Last Original Idea - Voted Top 10 Book for Small Business

During November and the early part of December, "The Last Original Idea - A Cynic's View of Internet Marketing" was one of 110 books nominated to participate in the 2010 Small Business Book Awards, Reader’s Choice edition at Small Business Trends.

With "The Last Original Idea" only becoming widely available the 1st week of November, it was at a distinct disadvantage as compared to some of the other nominated books, but through the use of Social Media (marketing) and reaching out to the books' FaceBook fans, our twitter followers, our LinkedIn Connection and yes our standard email contact list, we were able spread awareness of the competition and receive enough votes to secure a top 10 finish (7th place) overall and a 2nd place finish in Marketing Book category.

2010 Small Business Book Awards -
2010 Small Business Book Awards - SmallBizTrends.comWith this win the book was featured in a press release, received a valuable link (for SEO purposes), was granted bragging rights and the right to display these two banners.

The Last Original Idea can be ordered on-line at: or

The ebook version will be available some time in January.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let The Voting Begin

Voting for things isn’t a new thing, nor is running a contest. For those who read our book, you know that we believe that nothing is truly new in this world especially when it comes to marketing. So we challenged you to a contest; asking you to submit your ideas of what the last great idea in marketing was and we have received some interesting submissions..

Now it’s your turn to vote. Please give these worthy contestants a few minutes of your time, read their ideas and vote for the one(s) you like the best by clicking on the “Like” button on each post. The idea with most likes at our closing date of January 31, 2011 will be the winner of great prizes. We also have a great bundle for second place.

The Last Original Idea in Marketing Entries:
We’d also want to thank our sponsors because without their generous donations this contest wouldn’t have been possible.
Raven Tools SMX Toronto
479 Popcorn
gShift Labs

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Last Original Idea Contest

Free Pass to SMX Toronto
In case you missed it, back on October 15, 2010 “The Last Original Idea – A Cynic’s Guide to Internet Marketing” became available on several online book reseller’s websites. Yesterday we held our official book launch and now we’re kicking off a huge contest - “The Last Original Idea Contest”. Yes, we know that a “book contest” is hardly an original idea.

6 Months Free
As pointed out in the book, there really aren’t any new ideas in marketing, just different tools that in some cases make it easy and fast to screw things up. Well we actually assembled some of these tools (worth thousands of dollars) as prizes that in the hands of professional Internet marketers can help create successful campaigns. Prizes include tools from Raven Tools, SEOMoz Pro & gShift Labs.

6 Months Free
The basic premise is simple, just tell us what you think “the last great original idea in marketing” was and why in 350 words or less or say it in a video in under 2.5 minutes. We’ll be posting them on the book’s website on December 1 and then using the not very original Facebook Like button ao that people all over the world will have the opportunity to vote. Of course you are encouraged to get the vote out as you see fit. The winners will be voted on until January 31, 2011. 

6 Months Free
It’s that simple and no purchase necessary. There are a few other minor details which are posted on the contest entry page .

We look forward to your entries and while we have your attention, we’re starting to plan a book tour in the new year, so if you’d like to be part of the Last Original Idea tour just let us know.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Free Tweets – A Thing of the Past

Everyone has been wondering how long it will take until someone finds a way to monetize Twitter. Well ladies and gentlemen, the day has come and soon there will be no such thing as a free Tweet. As of November 1 there are now “Promoted Tweets”. What is a Promoted Tweet? Companies tweet on their own accounts and then pay Twitter to promote them. At the top of each search results page these Tweets will say “Promoted by” on them. The more clicks a particular Tweet gets the longer it remains promoted. Promoted Tweets are being rolled out in 3 phases:
• Searches on
• Searches through its partners
• In the user timeline
Is this a new idea? Sounds a lot like a sponsored link at the top of a search engine results page to me.
Is this going to work? Starbucks has already signed up. Reaction has been mixed with many predicting a backlash from users who do not want advertising on the site, but if it makes money it will continue. It is next to impossible that the backlash of those against Promoted Tweets will be able to put the genie back in the bottle.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Old vs. New School Publishing

Last week, “The Last Original Idea” became available through the publisher’s website as a paperback and over the next couple of weeks it will be added to the listings on Amazon and Barnes & Nobel. Within a month or so it will also be available as an ebook for both Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Due to vague guidelines, it’s going to be a month or more after that before it will be listed on Apple’s iTunes.
While, taking an idea from conception to publishing is an achievement in itself, there is a growing indication that the life of traditional paper books is on the decline and that the future lies in pure ebook production.  The pressure is even greater when authors such as myself & Geri, choose to abandon the world of traditional publishers and go with on-demand publishing (sometimes called self-publishing).

If one reads about the latest trends in ebook publishing you’ll see a fantastic growth rate for ebooks with the inevitable prediction that the future of words being printed on paper as a form of publishing is facing certain death. Environmentalist frequently join in on this discussion by referencing how many trees are being cut down daily around the world to support the paper industry and how ebooks help reduce this trend.

On behalf of the “The Last Original Idea” we took these three steps to appease our own personal environmentalist side.
  1. Brevity: we could have easily added lots of fluff to our book (more pictures), excessively sized chapter headings, larger margins, meaningless rambling on within the text to increase the number of pages of the book. Instead of being a trim and fit 100 pages, it could have easily been inflated to 150 or 200 pages without containing one iota more of insight or information.
  2. Print on Demand: we chose a print on demand publisher. By choosing to have the books only produced when people order them, we ensure that no paper is wasted by printing large quantities of books that may or may not sell quickly or that ultimately must be returned to the publisher for destruction. This process not only reduces the demand on paper, but also for the ink and electricity required to run the printing presses, amongst other things.
  3. Eco-Libris (  We participated in Eco-Libris which means that we arranged to have 100 trees planted in honor of the book being published and that it is printed entirely on recycled paper. Given the brevity of our book, unless it becomes an international best seller selling millions of copies; we have planted more trees than will be consumed in the printing of our book.
For those who believe that ebooks are still an environmentally sound choice consider these points:
  • How much pollution including heavy metals was used to create your ebook reader?
  • With the constant fear of oil shortages (a non-renewable resource) and rising oil prices how much plastic (created from oil) is required to meet the annual demands of the ebook readers?
  • And what will you do with your ebook reader when it becomes obsolete? Perhaps you’ll ensure that the few valuable metals in it are extracted before the remainder is sent to a landfill?
While we can’t deny the convenience of ebook readers (multiple books on one devise taking up no shelf room) there is still something to be said about the tactile feel of paper on your finger tips and the ability to read without worrying about dust/sand getting on your book or forgetting to charge the battery of before a long flight. When was the last time you had an author sign your Kindle? While we make no claim that ebook readers are not the natural evolution of the printed paper page, we do remember early failures like the Apple Newton and firmly believe that paper books will be with us for a long time to come.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We've Come a Long Way from Morse Code

Or have we?

Text messaging (and Twitter), a more sophisticated version of Morse Code has taken the world by storm. In the time of Samuel Morse telegraph companies charged based on the length of the message sent; therefore Morse Code's system of dots and dashes was a very economical and efficient way of sending messages across great distances. Although many people seem to be under the assumption that xoxo was a Morse Code term for hugs and kisses, in actuality 88 was love and kisses. However, many Morse Code abbreviations are strikingly like "text speak" today - tnx = thanks, tu = thank you, ge = good evening. Instead of revolutionizing the world with modern "text speak", we have just repurposed and remarketed Morse Code abbreviations.

According to the UN Telecommunications Agency almost 200,000 text messages are sent every second.

The International Telecommunication Union reports that:

  • In 2007 a total of 1.8 trillion SMSs were sent.
  • In 2010 the total number of SMSs sent was an astounding 6.1 trillion.
  • The revenues from SMSs generate a whopping 14,000 dollars (10,050 euros) every second and 812,000 dollars every minute.
  • Users in the Philippines and the United States were among the most prolific, accounting for 35 percent of all text messages sent in 2009.

Morse Code was invented in 1835 - 1836. In almost 200 years of evolution, is a text message the best that we could come up with? Where is the next latest and greatest in communication?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's the Price of Spam?

Finally we have a dollar value attached to spam and the magic number is 1 Billion dollars. That's what Adam Guerbuez, a Montreal resident, has been ordered to pay Facebook. It seems that Mr. Guerbuez spammed Facebook users with over 4 million messages promoting a variety of products including medication to treat such conditions as erectile dysfunction and enlarge men's genitals. Although the case is potentially precedent-setter it was a complete and total waste of time because although Mr. Guerbuez may have talent as a spammer, his business skills leave much to be desired. He declared bankruptcy over 2 months ago and the judgment was already deposed as part of the bankruptcy.In fact this whole hooplah has given Adam Guerbuez more free publicity than he could have paid for in his lifetime and he now has a book deal in the works about his case.

As Alan and I discussed in "The Last Original Idea", no one paid any attention to spam until it became the uncontrollable juggernaut that it is today. No laws were put in place to deal with the problems that spam causes and now cases like this are causing knee jerk reactions by the legal system that is spending money to bring monetary judgments against clients that will never be able to pay. Now let's talk jail time!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yoga is Now Mainstream

I recently read an article called "The Oversexualization of Yoga". The article is a hew and cry about how advertising Yoga with what are determined to be sexual photos and books and DVDs promoting Yoga as the answer to a better sex life is some how bastardizing the true value of Yoga.

Since the dawn of time man intrinsically understood that sex sells. There are very few industries on the planet that haven't used sex or tried to use sex to sell their wares. Yoga has become a huge business - Yoga studios, Yoga classes, Yoga mats, Yoga clothing, Yoga accessories, Yoga DVDs, etc. - thanks in large part to promises of a great body and better sex.

Critics of the oversexualization of Yoga may resent companies like Lululemon and mainstream America who are embracing Yoga in ever increasing numbers, but there is nothing surprising about the fact that sex sells. In this case sex has taken Yoga from a practice associated with the devoted few who practice Yoga as a religion and
and created a very successful industry, which history would have predicted.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Social Networking – An Old Fashioned Idea

You can’t read a newspaper (online or offline), watch the news or listen to the radio without hearing the words “social networking” - the buzz phrase of the day.

Yet this Internet marketing phenomenon has grown steadily since the early days when tech savvy people flocked to local bulletin boards or to Usenet groups to discuss common points of interest. In reality Social Networking pre-dates the Internet, the computer age, and electricity. Does the old expression “It’s not what you know, but who you know” ring any bells?

This expression is all about the power of your social network. I remember as a teenager how many kids at my local high school were landing unbelievable summer jobs when I struggled to find even a lousy one. When pressed them on how they found it, the typical answer was “Oh I’m working for a friend of my father’s...”.

This isn’t so different today with use of Internet based social networks. I’ve often seen posts from my social network telling me of people who’ve lost jobs and are looking for work, people plugging their business or skills, etc. So what is the key to an effective Internet based social network? Does it lie in the tool, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Friendfeed, and who knows how many more? The answer is simply no.

For Internet based social networks to be truly successful you need to treat your online social network as you would any social network, online or offline. Your social network is merely a collection of connections and pulling out a measuring stick of how many connections you have is a failed measurement. The key performance indicator is what you get out of maintaining this network. What are your goals (help spread the word, people to sell stuff to, people to pass your name one, etc.), objectives (i.e. increase lead generation by 15%) and how will you measure your success against these goals? Simply having 40,000 plus followers on Twitter, 2,000 plus connections on LinkedIn, etc. doesn’t guarantee you anything if they’re not interested in what you have to say or if they’ve filtered you out of their feed.

As with the old traditional social network, “it’s not what you know but who you know” are you connected to the right people to help you meet your objectives and most importantly as with traditional social networks, just having the connections isn’t good enough; it’s knowing how to approach your connections for help in meeting your objectives. Remember every kid’s parents knew people, but not every kids parents knew how ask for help in finding their kid a high quality summer job.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The 100 Mile Diet - Full Circle

The 100 Mile Diet is not a fad diet like the rice diet, grapefruit diet, or cabbage diet. It refers to eating only foods that are locally raised and produced within 100 miles of where you live. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Instead of buying fruits and vegetables that are grown thousands of miles away and picked before their prime because of the long distances that they have to travel in refrigeration units, locally grown produce is picked and available for purchase at its peak. Everything is fresher, tastes better, supports local business,lessens our carbon footprint, and is healthier.

The reality is that the 100 Mile Diet is not a new creation; it is the re-creation of how our ancestors used to eat. Before the world became a global village our ancestors lived off the land. They ate what ever was raised and grown in their immediate vicinity and most likely in a smaller radius than 100 miles. The result of eating fresher, healthier food was that our ancestors did not suffer from high cholesterol, blocked arteries, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Their simple and healthy diet rewarded them with good health. The 100 Mile Diet is not a diet at all; it is merely repackaged version of the way that our ancestors ate.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cirque du Soleil - a True Original

Everyone on the planet has heard of Cirque du Soleil and hopefully many of you have had the good fortune to see some of their shows. It's absolute magic! What you may not know is that the big tops are used and reused in a variety of original ways.

Cirque du Soleil tents were sent to Haiti after the disaster to provide shelter and to replace buildings that were razed. Did you know that the tents have 33,000 square feet of interior floor space and stand 61 feet high? These tents originally cost 5 million dollars.

The big tops have in fact spawned an entire industry. Many products and souvenirs available in Cirque du Soleil gift shops are made from big tops that are no longer in use. There are gorgeous handbags, back packs, umbrellas, and decorative items all made of big tops. Owner and Founder Guy Laliberte not only talks the talk; he walks the walk. For Christmas 2008 he gave artits a handbag made from the tarp of a retired Cirque big top tent. The handbags are made of the recycled material and fit into Cirque “eco-friendly” attitude, as well as featuring the wonderful bright yellow and blue of the traveling Cirque big tops.

Countless companies are making products from authentic Cirque du Soleil big top tent material. These unique products give a second life to these genuine circus tents and give everyone the opportunity to own a piece of Cirque du Soleil.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Original Solutions for Old VHS Tapes

Yes, I know about recycling and I could list all of the places that will recycle your VHS tapes instead of dumping them into a landfill, but that would hardly be original, would it? In my quest for original ideas and original solutions, I have uncovered some original and fun uses for old VHS tapes.

Have some fun crafting with the tape. Have a look at these beautiful objects that were made with your old VHS tape.

Crochet a purse

Make a bracelet

Ribbon for gift wrap

Make flowers that you can use as embellishments.

People are crocheting bags and dresses out of tape, building lamps out of clear cassette cases, weaving fabric using half polyester and half tape, and making wallets out of cases. Don’t throw out the case and the tape spools. They can be put to good use as well. Did you know that you can use the case and tape spools as a mold for chocolates and other goodies, as long as you remember to wash them VERY CAREFULLY? The cases can also be used as serving dishes for finger food.

If you’re not into crafts and still want some ideas of how to get rid of your old VHS tapes, ReUse Connection is an interesting website. If you enter the name of an item it will tell you how people or using it or recycling it.

Do you have any ideas on how to use old VHS tapes?

Friday, August 13, 2010

What is Your Social Footprint?

As an amateur genealogist, I’m frequently frustrated and astonished by the few traces my ancestors have left behind that says “Hey I was once here!” I’m sure many of my ancestors pondered many of the same thoughts as me and many others “Will I be remembered? What will they say of me in generations to come?”

Signature of my great-great grandfather David Knecht
 from December 1851
Proves he could at least write his name in Hebrew/Yiddish

Of course for genealogists there are various birth, marriage and death certificates and the occasional surviving tombstone (unfortunately for me, many of my family’s were destroyed by the Nazis during the Holocaust). What I’m really focusing on is the “Social Footprint” they left behind that says something about what their life was and who they were.

Definition: Social Footprint – the social impact of an individual on their family, peers and society

Occasionally I’ll find a census record so I’ll know where they lived; perhaps that they owned property, which family members or friends lived with them and what they did for a living. Back in the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s there was little opportunity for the average person to leave a social footprint beyond oral stories and a tombstone, unless you were a famous person, who perhaps wrote a book or two or even better that someone else wrote a biography of your life.

Yet today the opportunities to leave your mark behind are plentiful, growing in number and evolving thanks to the Internet. At everyone’s disposal is the ability to write a blog and save it (just in case your blogging host disappears, Tweet it, Facebook it, etc. and assuming that that the technology to read them will be around the potential is that they can last forever unlike written diaries (popular in the 1800s) which rarely survived (paper is so fragile).

Just the other day, Twitter announced a new policy to preserve (save a backup of) the Twitter feed of a deceased loved one . This means that all those Tweets you’ve been making about subjects of interest - where you eating, your opinions on movies, books, etc. - can be preserved forever and for generations to come providing a great insight into who you were. Facebook developed their policy back in October 2009 and I’m sure that other social media sites such as LinkedIn and Flickr can’t be too far behind (if they haven’t already) in developing their own protocols. 

Consider the social footprint you’ve left behind by posting & documenting your photos on Flickr, or in a Facebook album. Everything we do online now has the potential to tell the world who we were, long after we’re gone. While many have written of the dangers of posting everything online (lost job opportunities because some video of you during at a Frat party 10 years earlier, etc.) few have written about the long term positive impact.

So while there are analytic tools emerging every day to measure your current impact on your social network, it will only be in the long run that the true impact of your social footprint will be felt. And as we say in the book there is nothing new, and the desire to leave a mark on future generations is as old as Adam and Eve. It is just that technology has granted virtually all of us an easy way to document it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Extinction of the Phone Booth

Just this past weekend while driving along highway 540 on the western part of Manitoulin Island, I saw a sight that forced me to slow down, stop and take a photo. It wasn’t a stunning scene of natural beauty; it was simply a telephone booth - just a plain, everyday, normal Bell Canada telephone booth. There was absolutely nothing unique or antique looking about it. However, it was a sight to behold.

It forced me to ask my wife when she had last seen a telephone booth and she couldn’t remember. To the best of my recollection my last time was while watching a Superman movie with Clark Kent jumping into a phone booth to do his quick change. My 10-year old daughter didn’t even know what a phone booth was until we explained it to her.

Yes, there are still pay phones, mostly in malls and airports. They aren’t phone booths anymore but rather rows of phones that leave you open and exposed to the world. A phone booth was a little privacy enclave where you could close the door and shut out the world and the surrounding noise. While I know that the evolution and mass adoption of the cell phone has almost eliminated the need for phone booths and payphones in general, I can’t help but reminisce about them and long for the day when they were located at virtually every major road intersection.

Both my wife and I (and I’ll assume many of you) will remember how our mothers insisted that we carry a dime (10 cents) and later a quarter with us at all times just in case we had to call home for some an foreseen emergency. There is even a famous story about Frank Sinatra being buried with a dime in case he wanted to reach out to anyone.

I remember being in various office buildings and hotels where on one side of the main lobby there would be rows of phone booths with either full size or half sized doors to protect the privacy of the phone call. Alas, with so many people speaking on their cell phones in public, I guess the concept of privacy during a phone call is another thing relegated to the “good old days”.

While I’ll make no claims that the phone booth I saw was the last one in Canada, I’m sure it is one of a very quickly disappearing breed. If this were an animal it would already be on the endangered species list. So I guess my kids will grow up without the memory of being caught somewhere in a sudden down pour and having to squeeze into a phone booth with their friends just to stay dry.

Please share your own phone booth memory, or perhaps even a photo of a surviving one near you by using blog comment feature.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where’s the Originality in TV-Land?

Flashback to 1968 when a new runaway hit TV show exploded onto the scene. It was called Hawaii Five-0 because Hawaii was the 50th state and the show was filmed entirely in Hawaii. This was the first glimpse that many people had of Hawaii – a distant and exotic locale. Hawaii Five-0 brought it into our living rooms each week for 12 seasons, from 1968 to 1980, making it the longest running crime show on American television until Law & Order surpassed it in 2003. The original cast featured Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, head of Hawaii Five-O, with James McArthur playing his side-kick Danny Williams, Zulu as Kono Kalakaua and Kam Fong as Chin Ho Kelly. Everything about Hawaii Five-0 was iconic including the theme song which is one of the famous and recognizable of all time and Steve McGarrett’s famous line every week to Danny Williams - "Book 'em, Danno".

Original Cast of Hawaii 5-0
Come September a “new and improved” Hawaii Five-0 will be returning to CBS. They are not calling it a remake they are calling it a “re-imaging”. If you put lipstick on a pig it’s still a pig, and this is still a remake. Steve McGarrett will be played by Alex O’Loughlin and Danny Williams will be played by Scott Caan. The theme song will be back and so will the line "Book 'em, Danno".

My only question is why? Aren’t these brilliant, creative TV execs paid millions of dollars to come up with new ideas? Is the best that they could do was to resurrect Hawaii Five-0? Personally I’d rather watch the reruns.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

iPhone Versus Android

It's Pepsi vs. Coke all over again!

Unless you have been living under a rock you can’t have missed the hoopla about iPhone versus Android. It takes me back to the early days of Mac versus PC which is still going strong ad nauseum. In both of these cases each side is firmly entrenched in their point of view and will not budge from their positions. iPhone users are downright evangelical about the product, regardless of the well reported problems with the phone and Steve Jobs problems in dealing with the problems. He actually had the nerve to suggest that people weren’t holding the phone correctly.

I suggest that we settle things the way that Pepsi and Coke duked it out with a series of blind taste tests. Known as the Pepsi Challenge, Pepsi and Coke began doing these blind taste tests in 1975 and continued into the ‘80s and ‘90s. They even continued the Pepsi Challenge in outer space when they sent specially designed cans into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. Both brands came out the loser in that test as the astronauts didn’t like either one. Over 30 years later both companies are still battling for dominance in the “Cola Wars”.

Obviously no one is actually going to ingest one of these phones, but I wonder how people would react if they didn’t know which phone they were using. Let’s do blind call tests with both phones (which you can hold any way that you choose) and see what the outcome will be in the battle of iPhone versus Android.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Old Spice doing it Old School?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past couple of months with no access to TV or the Internet you’ve no doubt seen and been reading about the new Old Spice commercials. Old Spice playing off the popularity of social networking websites has taken this campaign to a new level.

Women are infatuated with the actor Isaiah Mustafa and men are fascinated with “how did they film that”. This series of commercials are starting to win multiple awards for their creators. Yes, another award winning campaign. Yet with all the infatuation and intrigue surrounding these commercials, one old school question has gone unanswered (at least so far), have Old Spice’s sales increased?

Yesterday I watched an interview on CNN with Jason Bagley the creative director behind the commercial. He was rightfully proud of it, talking about how successful it was in attracting attention and how it has become a phenomenon all in its own right. Yet when pressed by the reporter about if the commercials had improved sales of Old Spice body wash, the answers were evasive and he would merely say “the client was very happy”. Of course the client is happy; everyone is talking about their commercials which have significantly improved brand recognition, but can that be leveraged into sales increases and more profit?

I must admit that I’ve been a naysayer to these commercials from almost the first time I saw them. The Old Spice commercials were not compelling me to go out and buy the body wash they were advertising. Yet yesterday on the CNN interview, they pointed out an interesting fact - over 70% of body wash products in the home were purchased by woman and not guys. So, the commercial is supposed to get women to buy the body wash for the man in their life.

This is where Old Spice has gone Old School. I’m old enough to remember the Old Spice commercials from the late 60s where Old Spice was advertising their aftershave not directly at the men who would use it, but to his family (his wife and children). Everyone tried to whistle like the Old Spice guy; every little boy wanted his dad to put a drop of Old Spice on him just like in the commercials. Every kid I knew wanted to buy a bottle for their father for Father’s Day. They wanted their father to have that Old Spice smell. And yes, many of us did go out and purchase it or at least put pressure on dad to buy it.

So while the sales figures for Old Spice body wash as a result of these new commercials haven’t been made public yet and we don’t know if they’ll be successful financially, they proven one thing even if it wasn’t intentional - that old school still works. What is this old school concept? Target your sales message to the buyers of your product and not necessarily directly at its users and at the same time make them appeal to both and it should be successful. Simply look to what worked in the past to see what will still work today.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is Apple Repeating Others' Historical Failures?

For the past few years the world has been abuzz with the “breakthrough” device from Apple Computers known as the iPhone. Just last month they sold over 1 million of i’s latest incarnation known as iPhone 4. People stood in lines for hours just to be one of first to possess this miracle device. Yet as everyone knows, as soon as these phones hit the market complaints about it have quickly spread, all relating to the loss of signal and dropped calls.

I’m not going to go into the details as there are enough blog posts and news articles on it already, but I want to address how Apple is making the same mistakes companies have been doing throughout recent times.

Apple's first response was to blame the users for not holding the phone correctly. Excuse me Apple, do you actually have the unmitigated gall to tell users how they should hold their phone? Did you offer courses on phone holding as part of the purchase of this phone? What about all the usability testing Apple claims to do with all their devices? If it was truly an issue about how the phone is being held that surely would have come up during usability testing or did Apple only use left-handed people who would generally hold the phone in their right hand?

Next, they blamed a software glitch for reporting incorrect reception. Let’s see phone goes from 100% of the bars to Zero without the use moving. Oh yes, most certainly a software glitch.

There are now even reports of the iPhone overheating during the charging process and causing the phone to melt. Further throwing fuel into the fire, Apple just the other day started deleting all the negative comments from their user forums. Did they not think people would notice that their comments would be deleted? Do they not know that Google and other search engines have cached copy of the comments? Did they think the public would believe it was an accident or oversight like the Watergate tapes?

With this mountain of bad press the once irreproachable Apple is now facing a public relations disaster. Does this sound familiar? Earlier this year Toyota was faced with a problem regarding sticky accelerator pedals which they quickly blamed on incorrectly installed floor mats. We all know how that ended, and are waiting for the lawsuits to begin to find out what it really is going to cost Toyota.

I doubt Apple will face lawsuits over dropped calls (of course with the US legal system anything is possible); however the impact on Apple's brand and potential future sales of future iPhones is up in the air.

As we point out in the “Last Original Idea” those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it. Apple may have thought they were infallible and they didn’t appear to have a contingency plan in place to deal with bad product press. Instead of looking at how others have successfully handled similar situations they went and repeaedt a classic mistake and blamed someone else (their customers).

All Apple had to do was look north of US boarder to Canada at how Maple Leaf Foods handled a listeriosis contaminated meat disaster where many people got sick and some even died. Maple Leaf Foods didn’t come out of the gate blaming stores or customers for how they handled the process meat. Instead they took ownership and launched a full recall and investigation as to the cause.

Once the cause was identified they took out full page ads in major newspapers, purchased air on both TV and radio all for the purpose of apologizing to the Canadian public. They stated the plant in question would remain shut until they could prevent it from happening again. It also pointed out that they were meeting all government regulations at the time, but those regulations proved insufficient and were now going to exceed them. This tactic proved successful and the company is back to virtually where it was.

While there is no proof (yet) that Apple knew ahead of time about the problems with the iPhone 4, their handling of it is proving to be a bigger disaster than the problems with the phone. People now know that Apple isn’t perfect (not that it ever was) and only time will tell what the total impact on their brand and future products will be.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Coleman Gets It

I was watching television - a truly rare occurrence - when a commercial actually got me to listen to the message. If you are like me, commercials drive you to distraction. I understand that they are designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but I truly don't believe that the denominator that they are appealing to really exists.

This clever commercial was for the Coleman company. They make camping gear - tents, lanterns, stoves, etc. The commercial showed what looked like home movies from the 50s of families camping with scenes of family members pitching a tent, cooking, and sitting around a picnic table eating. The narration said that the Coleman company created their products to bring people together socially, therefore the Coleman company was the original social networking site.

This company really gets it. There is nothing new under the sun. As Alan and I discussed in The Last Original Idea, social networking sites began with prehistoric men and women sitting around in their caves or around the campfire. The Coleman company may not be the original social networking site, but they played a part in its evolution and were clever enough to recognize it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1970s vs. 2010

I came across an interesting web page today that highlights the top gadgets of the 1970s ( While it brought back tender, nostalgic memories of when as a young boy/teenager I longed for these items, I couldn't help but think that despite the nearly 30-40 years that have passed since these items were the hottest must haves; how we are all still longing for virtually the same items today. Yes there are no original ideas, just the evolution of the object. Here's my take on their list:

  1. 1970 the color television – I remember getting our first color TV around 1975. Yes most of my friends had them a few years earlier. So is that any different then people longing for 50+ inch flat panel HD TV or perhaps the last evolution to 3D TV?
  2. 1972 Home LP Recorder – I remember getting a tape cassette player for my birthday in 1971 and using the microphone to record songs from the radio so I could listen to them when I wanted to or even placing it next to the Hi-Fi to record my records. I only wish I had this devise (OK I got something similar to it around 1974 but it recorded to 8 track). Yes the introduction of MP3 players have made the downloading and portability of music easier, but who is out there that doesn't long for the latest iPod or better yet a iPod that can record mp3 as well ... hmmmm
  3. 1973 A Telephone – yes hard to believe that back in early 70s less than ½ of Americans had a telephone in their homes. At the cottage we had a party line, where several families in different houses had the same phone number. Even in the early 80s while at university a number of my friends couldn’t afford a phone in their apartments. So while we jump to 2010 and the number of phones in the USA out numbers the number of people, the long lines last week as millions scrambled to obtain a fourth generation iPhone clearly demonstrate that nothing has changed here. Yes relatively speaking the cost of ownership of a phone has come down, but the desire to possess one hasn’t.
  4. 1974 Electronic Calculator - Oh how I remember these and how you weren't allowed to use them for exams, yet a mere 6 years later just as I was wrapping up high-school you were required to bring a scientific electronic calculator to your physics and chemistry exams. Yes the electronic device put an end to all the geeky students carrying around their slide-rules and instead they strapped on a calculator.
  5. 1975 Household Freezer – OK here they got me (sort of), as home appliances go and as eating habits have changed, this might not be the latest must have for the home. Yet, the number of homes tossing out perfectly good home appliances to only replace them with stainless steel versions or the latest "hot" must have item for upscale home of cappuccino/espresso machine perhaps nothing has really changed here
  6. 1977 Atari 2600 – this one is easy. Anyone with kids knows that this has simply been upgraded to a PS3, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo DS, DSi etc....
  7. Apple II Computer – Oh give me something difficult, can you say Ipad? It’s nice to see that Apple is still making many people’s mouths water for their latest creation

So as we can all clearly see, the Last Original Idea (LOI) happened long ago and that this is especially true when it comes to household items. We only need to think back how we moved from rocks and sticks at a stream, to washboards & tubs, to washing machines to high-efficient front-end loading machines etc.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Should BP Be Looking to the Past Before Jumping on the New Media Bandwagon?

BP has created an environmental disaster the likes the world has never seen and now they are scrambling to stave off the world's collective hatred for their brand. Unfortunately there is not much thought that has gone into the process. Instead they seem to be throwing as much money as possible at their public relations problem without a plan and as a result, it all seems for naught.

It has been reported that BP has been buying up every conceivable variation of the keyword phrase "oil spill" in an effort to drive the traffic to the BP website to the tune of $50,000/day! This has only gone to further enrage the public who believes that $50,000/day should be spent on disaster relief and cleanup instead of Google adwords.

The BP media campaign is all over the map with photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube and search listings, and there are reports of massive spends destined for television. Where did they go wrong? They should have looked to the past for answers. The public responds to sincerity and heart felt apologies. They want to hear how BP is going to stop the spill and how much money BP will devote to the clean up effort, not to Google adwords.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How Did Your Profession Evolve?

Since "The Last Original Idea" chronicles the evolution of Internet marketing, it occurred to me that everyone could track the evolution of their professions. I'm a writer so I decided to take a look at how my profession evolved.

Writers tell stories with words. Prehistoric man told stories through pictures in their caves. In essence these pictographs were the earliest form of the written word. Pictographs evolved into a rudimentary alphabet used by the ancient Egyptians in approximately 3100 BCE which eventually gave rise to the Semite languages - Aramaic, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Hebrew, Babylonian, Assyrian, Ethiopic. The ancient Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet which eventually evolved into Latin and Cyrillic, while Aramaic evolved into Arabic. Handwriting as we know it can be traced back to the end of the Roman Empire. The script in fragments of Latin messages written by members of the Roman garrison at Hadrian's Wall in approximately 100 AD bears a great deal of resemblance to modern European language.

The 16th century brought about a revolution in writing - the engraving of letters on copperplate. The profession of "Writing Master" was created in order to train others in the technique of engraving. Engraving eventually evolved into printing and "the rest is history".

How did your profession evolve?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same

While Alan and I were writing The Last Original Idea, it struck me that it wasn't just Internet marketing that followed this interesting evolutionary cycle. There are in fact very few original ideas. Would Orville and Wilbur Wright have been the fathers of modern aviation if they hadn't watched birds soaring in the sky? What would our current mode of transportation be if Henry Ford had not looked at the horse drawn carriage and "had a better idea"? Ideas seem to cycle and recycle. Why do movie makers have to remake classics? Couldn't they leave Cape Fear or Sabrina alone and have an original thought? Of course they do. It's called 3D - also a recycled idea. Why do fashion designers have to recycle old ideas? The platform shoes of today burst onto the scene in the 1950s.

I challenge each of you to think of something that we use, buy, sell, eat, drink, or play that is entirely original. After reading The Last Original Idea think of how the evolution of Internet marketing mirrors other facets of business and industry and how everyone can benefit and profit from understanding history.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Update

Many of you have known for a while that I've had a book idea and some may even know that I teamed up a year ago with Geri Rockstein to get the ideas from my brain to paper.

I'm happy to inform you that the book is now completed. We are currently trying to make the final decision between self-publishing and using an established publisher. The book is currently being reviewed by a publisher (who's name we can't disclose) and we should know in a week or so how we're going to proceed.

I've started developing a supporting website for the book where you'll be able to download some sample pages and the introduction plus learn a lot more about Geri and myself.

Please subscribe to this blog so you can be ensured of timely updates regarding the book.