How Google Works: Infographic/Flowchart Presentation

This interesting graphic from PPC Blog shows how Google ranks pages, what happens when a user searches, and how ads are incorporated. Useful for anyone who creates content for the Web or uses Google AdWords (click on the image to see it full-size):

How Google Works.

Infographic by PPC Blog

AB — 29 June 2010

Classic e-Book on Internet Marketing – Now Available in Free Archive

Some readers might recall that in 1995 I released one of the first e-books published and sold online, The Smart (aka Small) Business Guide to Internet Marketing. Publishing this e-book was a great adventure and was a good experiment in online marketing itself — I didn’t get rich from it, but it did pay the groceries for the Bredenberg family for a few years.

So if you’re interested in finding out what the state-of-the-art thinking was about online marketing in the mid-1990s, the whole thing is now archived on my Optimization Marketing site at: The Smart Business Guide to Internet Marketing.

AB — 25 May 2010

Business Lessons From the Grateful Dead

Not only has the music group the Grateful Dead created a musical and cultural phenomenon, but as a very successful business, they make a good case study in management.

That’s the conclusion drawn by Joshua Green, writing for The Atlantic — see “Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead,” March 2010.

American Beauty album cover at NY Historical SocietyGreen’s article is inspired by the recent announcement that the members of the Grateful Dead would be donating their archives to the University of California at Santa Cruz. UCSC will be using the archives to create extensive publicly-available resources. The institution is currently processing the materials, but you can read about their progress at The Grateful Dead Archive. Initial materials from the archive are on exhibit now through July 4, 2010, at the New-York Historical Society — see “Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society.”

Green reviews the curious and controversial history of academic scholarship focused on the Grateful Dead but highlights an interesting truth of the Dead’s story — they were and are a very successful business, and much of that is due to their enlightened focus on providing customer value. Green writes that,

Without intending to—while intending, in fact, to do just the opposite—the band pioneered ideas and practices that were subsequently embraced by corporate America. One was to focus intensely on its most loyal fans. It established a telephone hotline to alert them to its touring schedule ahead of any public announcement, reserved for them some of the best seats in the house, and capped the price of tickets, which the band distributed through its own mail-order house. If you lived in New York and wanted to see a show in Seattle, you didn’t have to travel there to get tickets—and you could get really good tickets, without even camping out. “The Dead were masters of creating and delivering superior customer value,” Barry Barnes, a business professor at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University, in Florida, told me….

As Barnes and other scholars note, the musicians who constituted the Dead were anything but naive about their business. They incorporated early on, and established a board of directors (with a rotating CEO position) consisting of the band, road crew, and other members of the Dead organization. They founded a profitable merchandising division and, peace and love notwithstanding, did not hesitate to sue those who violated their copyrights. But they weren’t greedy, and they adapted well. They famously permitted fans to tape their shows, ceding a major revenue source in potential record sales. According to Barnes, the decision was not entirely selfless: it reflected a shrewd assessment that tape sharing would widen their audience, a ban would be unenforceable, and anyone inclined to tape a show would probably spend money elsewhere, such as on merchandise or tickets. The Dead became one of the most profitable bands of all time.

In the early days of Internet marketing, I remember reading the article by Dead songwriter John Perry Barlow, in Wired magazine of March 1994, “The Economy of Ideas: A framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Age. (Everything you know about intellectual property is wrong.)” I was impressed at the time by his prescient grasp of the intellectual-property issues presented by the Internet and online commerce.

In that article, Barlow wrote:

With physical goods, there is a direct correlation between scarcity and value. Gold is more valuable than wheat, even though you can’t eat it. While this is not always the case, the situation with information is often precisely the reverse. Most soft goods increase in value as they become more common. Familiarity is an important asset in the world of information. It may often be true that the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away….

In regard to my own soft product, rock ‘n’ roll songs, there is no question that the band I write them for, the Grateful Dead, has increased its popularity enormously by giving them away. We have been letting people tape our concerts since the early seventies, but instead of reducing the demand for our product, we are now the largest concert draw in America, a fact that is at least in part attributable to the popularity generated by those tapes.

True, I don’t get any royalties on the millions of copies of my songs which have been extracted from concerts, but I see no reason to complain. The fact is, no one but the Grateful Dead can perform a Grateful Dead song, so if you want the experience and not its thin projection, you have to buy a ticket from us. In other words, our intellectual property protection derives from our being the only real-time source of it.

Insights from thinkers like Barlow led me to write my 1995 e-book, The Smart Business Guide to Internet Marketing, one of the first e-books published and sold online (now archived for free at Optimization Marketing). In fact, Barlow was one of the people who bought a copy, although I don’t flatter myself by thinking there was much in it that he hadn’t already thought of.

I think a key insight from the Grateful Dead case study is that a successful business ultimately has to rest on customer relationships. Interactive media and technologies place unprecedented control in the hands of customers, and the smart business these days is the one that realizes that the success of its brand will rest on its customer experience.

In the Atlantic article, Barlow tells Green,

What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back then—the important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value. Adam Smith taught that the scarcer you make something, the more valuable it becomes. In the physical world, that works beautifully. But we couldn’t regulate [taping at] our shows, and you can’t online. The Internet doesn’t behave that way. But here’s the thing: if I give my song away to 20 people, and they give it to 20 people, pretty soon everybody knows me, and my value as a creator is dramatically enhanced. That was the value proposition with the Dead.

AB — 16 May 2010

Kodak’s Evocative ‘Turn Around’ Ad From the 1960s

I was happy to find a YouTube version of this Kodak ad from about 1963. I’m not sure why a 12-year-old would understand how it feels to watch your children grow up, but I remember I used to cry watching this ad.

I would have to say this is good advertising — makes a strong emotional connection with the viewer and an excellent tie-in to the product. Until today, I hadn’t seen this ad for over 40 years, but I still remembered that it was for Kodak.

Interestingly, the ad is two minutes long. I understand that the song “Turn Around” is by songwriter Malvina Reynolds.

AB — 7 April 2010

SlideShare Presentation That Got Her the Job She Wanted

I ran across a great use of a slide presentation: To make a job pitch that gets attention and demonstrates your skills visually.

Laura Gainor wanted to go to work at Comet Branding in Milwaukee, so she developed a SlideShare presentation targeted at the advertising agency. I’m familiar with SlideShare as one of the applications available on LinkedIn. With SlideShare, you can upload presentations authored in PowerPoint and share them.

This approach worked well for Gainor, as she was applying for a position in social media at Comet, and the presentation gave her an opportunity to demonstrate her thinking and skills. It’s not a slick presentation, but is quite personal and engaging:

AB — 19 March 2010

Cool art print: ‘Big Evening’ by Jim Flora

Ran across this crazy, exciting art print just released by Jim Flora Art. If I was flush right now, I would consider shelling out the $175:

James Flora lived 1914-1998, and was known for his jazz album covers and children’s books. Looking at the Flora web site, I would say the family is doing a great job of marketing his art.

AB — 21 July 2009

Daylife: System for creating just-in-time content portals

Daylife cover exampleI read today in John Blossom’s ContentBlogger about Daylife, provider of content-development and -management applications that allow a publisher to create instant content portals — see “Life With Daylife: On-Demand Feature Content Development Grows Up.”

Blossom says Daylife permits a publisher to quickly put together content, marketing, and advertising resources from both internal and external sources. He believes this kind of toolset can allow publishers to duplicate the Huffington Post‘s successful integration of marketing elements and editorial content.

Daylife describes its management interface as simple and intuitive, designed for non-technical editorial personnel for point-and-click interaction.

It seems to me that the Daylife model offers a useful option for news organizations that are struggling to find a new and workable business model. Blossom says,

[A] service like Daylife cannot replace all of the editorial value of a traditional newsroom and more robust editorial content development platforms, but when it can provide most of the robust functionality that people expect from an online publication today along with access to deep and high-quality content, it’s time for publishers to think more actively about how they can use tools such as Daylife to enable their content to succeed in any number of topic-specific “instant portals” and other efficiently managed content presences far more actively.

AB — 21 July 2009

Innovation in online direct response copywriting

I’ve long been a fan of the “long copy” approach to direct response copywriting and have done a lot of it — mostly for postal direct mail projects, but for some online projects as well.

The idea is that in direct marketing a longer sales letter is usually better than a short one. Long copy gives you more space to sell the product — with the caveat that you actually have to have something useful and compelling to say!

Most of the sales letters I have written were four pages, although I have seen some great letters of 12 pages or even longer.

Today I was especially impressed to see a landing page created for Power4Home, a business started by solar-energy entrepreneur John Russel. The page makes great use of web graphics and incorporates embedded video in a very effective way, I think. See the landing page here:

“Who Else Wants To Create Their Own Electricity And Laugh At Rising Energy Prices While Saving The Environment And Having The Electricity Company Pay You?”

I don’t know anything about the product being advertised — just wanted to comment on the marketing being used. If you’re interested in the topic of do-it-yourself solar power, the blog DIY Solar Homes offers some guidance, as well as reviews of some of the books and information products on the topic, including Power4Home.

AB — 18 June 2009