How to Make your WordPress Blog Stop Working by Trying to Make it Run Faster

I finally found the time to update this blog, hopefully some fresh content will finally get me a third reader.

Why I haven’t posted since March, 2010:

I decided that enough is enough and after having been laid off by no less than three printing/marketing places, then suffering through unemployment along with the other thirty million Americans like me, I went back to college to get my BS. That is, an official BS, not the BS I usually deal in (HA!). Thankfully, I have been working during that time, and so was left with very little time left to write on this.

Why my blog went off the air:

I thought that the internet had, like, ghosts or something that would alert me to problems. Let’s say you installed a plug in on your WordPress blo, in order to make it run faster, as an “experiment in www”. Then let’s say that this plug in, out of the goodness of its heart, creates and deploys what’s called an .htaccess file all up in your server’s face to get it to do its bidding. Now, this is a long story, and I’m not going to bore myself with the details of it, but let’s say that the plug in did this WITHOUT TELLING YOU. I’m not mad at it (I am kind of mad at it). Now, when you put a(n) .htaccess file on the root folder of your webserver, usually that’s okay, it actually needs those instructions. But when you put that file in a subfolder on a server, and you point a URL to that subfolder, apparently you are then FORBIDDEN to enter. As in “403 Forbidden“. After a couple days, I was able to find the .htaccess file that was hurting me, hid it, and voila, my site pops back up. Thankfully this is my own thing and I’m not running it for someone else, otherwise I might be looking for yet another job. Thanks a lot, W3TC!!! But I will not give up on the whole CDN thing. Once I nail it down I can pretend to be cool by saying my website utilizes a cloud-computing architecture, or some such gibberish. {I did not know the word gibberish was spelled with a “g;”. I’ll be darned.}

Anyway:

Buried deep in this post is another reason I am back on this experimental blog. I DID in fact set up a site for someone else, and I will probably need to test some stuff out over here to make sure everything paechy before I deploy it on my client’s site. Here it is

StudioLazerus Logo

So, go check it out (yes, I am telling you what to do), buy some jewelry for yourself and your loved ones, and stay tuned to see the results of further experiments in www and in real life as well.

What Do You Mean by “On Demand”?

Not everyone agrees on the definition of “on-demand”. They’re all right, AND they’re all wrong, too.

How many ways can you make change for a dollar?

The phrase “on demand” is pretty self explanatory. Software makers use it, video services use it. Even “print on demand” has been pretty much lumped into the book publishing domain.

Digital printers and marketing service providers have taken “print on demand” a step further to include things like web to print, short run reprints of marketing collateral (maybe digital, maybe not), pick and pack fulfillment, and there are others lurking in the shadows. All of these processes are different in a lot of ways. (BTW, there are 293 ways to make change for a dollar. And probably more ways to define “on demand”). Continue Reading →

How “Mine Magazine” stepped on itself and exploded

Please for the love of god keep in mind that this blog is completely my opinion. I really respect and admire the effort Lexus and their marketing/advertising people have put in over the years to create a truly personalized experience for customers and prospects alike. They’ve done some really creative things, things which even I have had the unique pleasure of contributing to while at the now semi-famous Rastar, doing variable data programming work. Lexus truly are cutting edge and have shown how digital printing technology can benefit everyone in the marketing supply chain, when well thought out and well executed.

I read WITH GREAT INTEREST about Time’s new “Mine Magazine”, touted by some in the print industry as the variable data savior of all that we know and love in a very problematic era. The idea is very sound: allow readers to choose their own interests and create a magazine that is directly relevant to those interests. A magazine publisher with many titles (like Time) could potentially get more subscriber interest this way. I like Travel & Leisure, Money, Food & Wine, and Time news. I don’t really care about Sports Illustrated or InStyle.

So, they can custom-make (not really, but in a way) a magazine tailored specifically to my interests. Panacea! (I like to reserve certain words for proper dramatic effect. Plus, panacea is just a cool word!) Anyway, a couple of weeks after ordering Mine, I get an email:

Dear Jeff,

Thank you for subscribing to mine magazine. We want to let you know that a computer error may have affected the first issue you received this week. It’s possible that this issue did not contain the combination ofmagazine content you selected. Please know that the problem has been resolved, and that each of your subsequent issues will reflect the exact content you originally requested.

In appreciation of your support, we have extended your five-issue subscription to include a sixth free issue ofmine. You can also access real-time mine content through your smartphone device at http://mine.mwap.at.

We apologize for the inconvenience and, again, thank you for being among the very first to experience mine.

Best regards, 
Wayne Powers
President, Time Inc. Media Group

 

Wow. The whole point of Mine (sorry, mine with the lower case em for added coolness), is that it is customized to my preference. Botching this one thing is the ONLY POSSIBLE mistake that would ruin the effect. They made the ONLY POSSIBLE MISTAKE that would damage their reputation. Worse, though, is that at a time when printing in general and digital printing in particular need as much good PR as an industry can get, this happens. I can hear the critics now doing the “I told you digital printing is all hype” song and dance. 

I can talk. I have been personally responsible for quality control in digital printing jobs like this many, many times. I have seen mistakes like this that cause $25,000 in postage go up in smoke (another story). I’ve seen Roger’s face get printed on the back of Alex’s card, etc. The thing is, it doesn’t have to happen. Ever. Digital printing, is NOT THE SAME as traditional printing. It’s got that whole ugly database thing embedded. It really is like a landmine. 

I would like to offer my services to Time Magazine as a Variable Data expert. Of course, it’s possible they have laid off all the experts as a cost cutting measure, and perhaps that’s why this happened. Just conjecture, ya know? Just conjecture. THANK GOD they got they variable elements in the Lexus ad correct. That was cool.

Read more articles about mine in the mainstream press and other blogs: 
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Marketing Money is Going to the Wrong Places

According to a study by Bredin Business Information (BBI) (from an article in Marketing Charts), marketers are spending too much on channels that their audience doesn’t care about, and not enough on channels they like.
The article says that marketers are putting their most of their eggs in the online basket, but the way SMBs want their communication is in a more passive form. From the article:

BBI, which surveyed both marketers and small businesses about their online and offline media preferences, top concerns and brand ratings, found that marketers are most interested in using online tactics such as microsites/resource centers, webinars and webcasts, and social networking. Offline, tactics such as PR and telemarketing are most appealing to marketers, while interest in direct mail, print advertising and trade shows all declined.

These efforts are at odds with what SMBs say they prefer, according to BBI. As a source of information about products and services, SMBs rely most on newspaper and magazine articles (43.6%) and direct mail, including letters, postcards and catalogs (43.5%)

It is perfectly reasonable that marketing agencies and enterprise marketers are moving toward the online channels. The benefits (to the marketer) are critical: more touches for less cost, theoretically better targeting, online methods are significantly easier and faster to deploy, and marketers can track response accurately and quickly.

But, if your audience prefers to get their communication in a magazine, newspaper, or direct mail, isn’t it a big waste of time and money if you choose to ignore that preference?

I think that there is are important differences between the online and offline channels that marketers should try to understand. First, with print marketing, the recipient is in control, they have the choice about where, when and how they want to read. They can carry it around, put it in the briefcase until the time is appropriate for them. A much when the reader chooses, and controls his environment for doing that, he’s going to be a lot more receptive to the information. At least that’s what I’ve found in my own world. On the other hand, online marketing is typically pushed at the reader, and even if the recipient is in a state where he’s receptive to the message, as soon as he answers his next email or visits the next website, he’s gone. And, possibly gone forever. It’s easy to attract a buyer, and just as easy to lose a buyer.

The boys (in order from left to right): Eric C...
Image via Wikipedia

Like the say on South Park: I think we learned something today. Buy some printing if you want your ads to actually work.

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Social Networking simplified

I love this chart. Brian Solis combines intersting data about social networks, analysis, and a nice readable representation.

 

The Conversation Prism

The Conversation Prism

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A New Era of Marketing Gobbledygook

Paying people to hold signs is one of the olde...

Marketing has long been the platform of choice for $#!t-shovelers, wise-crackers, pseudo-scientists, bs-artists, hucksters, shysters, and so on. I believe the Post 9-11, post-internet-boom, “social media” era has upended a large rock under which these people have been hiding, crawling, secretly practicing their weasel words, inventing new ones, creating verbs out of nouns and vice versa, and collecting data by polling each other on their blogs in order to come up with a NEW AND IMPROVED proven method for separating the average person from his hard earned money.

To wit:

I am the Knowledge Sharing Partner, meaning that I am tasked with ensuring information is distributed, knowledge is gained, and best practice deployed for systems and tools to help learning within, and beyond, the company.

It’s hard to summarise what we do succintly but here is our attempt at explaining ourselves in the digital marketplace we work in.

We believe in working collaboratively with our clients to understand their business goals.

We believe in gaining an intimate understanding of our clients’ customers, their behaviours and motivations, the language they use and the networks and communities they belong to.

We believe that a successful brand understands, grows with and seeks to become more influential within its network – it connects with its customers.

We believe in communicating with people authentically, every step of the way is what builds trust in a brand.  Trust is the only basis for a long lasting relationship.We believe in working with responsible clients who understand the need for  an authentic approach. 

What do we do?

We create simplicity out of this complexity.

We help you understand your new opportunities and where to get started.

We find the people that matter most to your business, identify the language they use, describe what they’re looking for and explain how to provide it quickly.

We exploit technology that listens, maps, visualises and reveals customer behaviour and journeys. This insight is the basis of the strategies and programmes we develop with our clients.

We connect brands online by understanding the role of online advertising, user generated content, brand generated content, search engines, information architecture and web development – and the role that they play in the customers’ online experience.

We blend traditional and digital channels, such as search, advertising and creative content in innovative ways to deliver measurable results

We take part in the conversation online by being an active and useful part of the network.

We use proprietary engagement metrics to measure how well connected a brand is with its customers. We ensure our metrics are useful and understandable by presenting them to our clients as stories, pictures and numbers.

Who are we?

We are a full service digital agency, with a ten year heritage in search. We have 650 people in 13 international offices.

We’re the best of a new breed – innovative, results driven, accountable, agile. 

We act as a lens to help you maximise engagement and value.

We’re on the journey as Agency of Record for Coke, Epsom, Unilever and more.

If been able to make it this far, congratulations, I hope your eyes haven’t dried up the way mine do when I read it. And I’ve had the masochistic displeasure of doing so several times in the preparation of this post. My favorite paragraph is this, where he talks about his “authentic communication,” and how they require their clients to communicate authentically (even though they can’t authentically tell you what they do):

We believe in communicating with people authentically, every step of the way is what builds trust in a brand.  Trust is the only basis for a long lasting relationship.We believe in working with responsible clients who understand the need for  an authentic approach. 

GRR!! You’re in the COMMUNICATION business but you can’t even create a sentence with a noun and a verb! “We believe in communicating…is what builds trust in a brand”. Whaa??

moe2

Lets look at some of this more closely. That all sounds very nice. If I were going to spend $100,000 on a marketing campaign, I would want some seriously flowery speech to decorate my thinly veiled excuse for traditional marketing tactics that a student could execute. I think what their really saying is that they will act as an agent for companies who desire some control and brand monitoring whithin various social networks, they’ll check blog postings for you, get you on Twitter, Facebook, and so on, and basically infiltrate internet communication about your company in order to either: retain customers or acquire new customers.

Go to the Plain english site and study up over the weekend, you’ll make at least one more friend. 

 

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Next time I’m in London, I’m going to Ling’s place FIRST!

sethgodin
Image by technokitten via Flickr

Is it wrong for me to be such a fan of this person?

Wow! Jeff, thanks so much for your support!

You know, I met Seth Godin this week, I have a page on my site: /sethgodin.php

I must say, he has been very helpful, he even mentioned me in his talk in London. You are spot on with many other blog posts here, too. I found you as I noticed a visitor on my site, from here. Cheers!!

By the way, I am making some small improvements following Seth (and other) advice. I have better images and some better navigation. But, I insist, my website will always be personal 🙂

– Ling

Originally posted as a comment by Ling Valentine on Regular Guy’s Experiments in www using Disqus.

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Creating a Business Page on Facebook

Google Trends Facebook

Image by AJC1 via Flickr

So, I get this genius idea to start using the web for promoting my employer. I remember Facebook. Open my page, and see a link on the page (somewhere, I forget) for “Advertising”. I go there. In the tabs on the advertising page, I see something called “Lexicon”. I like big words, so I click it. Looks interesting because there are a lot of visuals depicting all the lucious data I might get. Seems like it’s going to be a knockoff of the Google model, where I can deliver ads to some kind of target through the Facebook platform.

I am still trying to understand the appeal of Facebook for someone like me. I have friends. If I want to “connect” with them I call or email, or wait for them to call me. I’m not really someone who socializes much. I enjoy a quiet evening at home, with the family, possibly taking in some Food Network or playing something on the Wii, reading a book, etc. Boring. I like it that way.

Anyway, I understand that Facebook is the preferred social Networking platform for many, why exactly I still don’t know. Nonetheless, if that’s where people are spending time online, and I want to communicate a business in that realm, I need to get a presence there and make it “searchable”, or whatever it is people do on Facebook to find things/interests/people.

I am resistant, however. The basic premise of Google is that people search for things, businesses, information, enterainment and so on. If my business fits the searchers query, I can present a targeted ad or if I’m lucky I might show up organically. Facebook exists for a different purpose. To connect with friends online. If someone is interested in printing or marketing or whatever, a cosmetic dentist, say, why would they be looking for that on Facebook?

Plus, the word “Facebook” is… I don’t know… kind of uncomfortable?

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Marketing Spending in 2009: Where’s the Money Going?

Wordle Cloud of the Internet Marketing Blog - ...
Image by DavidErickson via Flickr

In November 2008, BtoB Magazine, a magazine for marketing strategists, did an exclusive survey of marketing executives. The results were reported in their December issue. Among the results are some encouraging numbers for vendors to the industry.

According to the article’s author Kate Maddox, of 211 b-to-b marketing professionals, 31% plan to increase their marketing budgets, while 43.5% will keep their budgets flat. Only 24% will decrease their budgets in 2009.

From the article: “Significantly, of those planning increases, one-quarter intend to raise them by more than 20%, and nearly 9% plan increases between 15% and 19%.”

Some traditional media platforms will also see increased spending next year, including direct mail (36.9%), events (31.0%), telemarketing (21.8%) and print (20.6%).

However, while some marketers plan to increase spending on these media, others plan to cut spending. The survey found that 33.2% of marketers plan to cut spending on print; 30.5% will cut spending on events; 25.6% will cut direct mail spending; and 21.3% will cut outdoor advertising spending.

Where’s the money going? You guessed it: “social media” and the internet. According to Dr. Joe Webb at WhatTheyThink.com, printers can win some of that spending by exploring the “role of new media in strategy development and tactical implementation”. Print is a crucial media component in the marketing mix.

See the whole article here.

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