Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why companies MUST dedicate themselves to design... or die.

We live today in a renaissance of design.  There is no Scarcity of information.  There is no Scarcity of bandwidth.  There is no Scarcity of choices.  The most Scarce resource for the modern company is design.   Design requires 2 very disparate groups to be completely aligned: engineers and creatives.  Products, Services, Brands, and Everything in between now compete using the last scarce resource: design.  Here are some examples:
  • Would you buy an "ugly looking" candy bar?
  • Would you shop at a grocery store with an "ugly" sign?
  • Are you going to spend money at a website that is "hard to use"?
  • Do you enjoy "waiting in line"?
  • Does processing power matter more or less than operating system?
  • Are you likely to "keep using" a complex application when a simpler one exists for the same price?
My story of how I became "an Apple guy":

I used to be a MAC hater.  I loved my PC because it could play games (and I love games).  I hated MAC because it was popular, it couldn't play the "best" games, and because I had to "pay" for all of my software.    iPhone changed all of that!  First, it has games (so I had to get one).  Second, the games are cheap (Free - $0.99)... and they are good.  But what really "got me" with iPhone was its incredible user interface design.  I "FINALLY GET" why people love their Apple Computers (Mac, iPhone, Powerbook, or what have you).  It is exactly because Apple does not rely on "the mouse and keyboard" for its UI, that it's UI works.

I recently bough my first Macbook Pro. ... and I'm starting to "get it".  Apple has infused in its UI guidelines and very strict application approval process, the notion that "design matters".  In many cases design matters most.  Interestingly, some of the elements of Apple design should be considered for ANY platform:
1.) Clutter: There shouldn't be any.
2.) Organization: There should be good.
3.) Automatic Mode: Should always be on.
4.) Configuration Options: Should usually be hidden.
5.) Function: Should be intuitive and should have as few as possible.

Companies will soon realize that if they don't compete on design, they will consistently lose.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Giving back. Karma->back: Karmaback now turns points into charity donations!

In Eastern Philosophy, Karma is that earned thing which leads to something you deserve (good or bad).  Karma comes full circle when it is shared... it gets amplified back upon itself.  It is this "circle of Karma" which my company Karmaback, Inc. now offers to both businesses and end users.  We have just announced our "Donate points to charity" program.  This program allows users to donate their points to charity, which Karmaback turns into cash donations to that charity.  The circle starts with businesses who use Karmaback services.  Users interact with those companies, and EARN points (Karma).  Then those points can be spent on "stuff", including Charity, completing a circle of Karma!

To learn more about Karmaback Points for Charity and how to turn your online activity into cash donations or to become a participating charity, please visit karmaback.com/charity.

Non-profits participating in the Karmaback Points for Charity program include:
  • The Bob Woodruff Foundation: The vision of the Bob Woodruff Foundation is to provide resources and support to injured service members, veterans and their families -- building a movement to empower communities nationwide to take action to successfully reintegrate our nation's injured heroes-especially those who have sustained the Hidden Injuries of War-back into their communities so they may thrive physically, psychologically, socially and economically.
  • Learn To Be Foundation: Learn To Be was organized on the principle of using the World Wide Web as a medium for people of all ages to grasp their educational potential. The Foundation fosters free online tutoring services that are driven by a community of users dedicated to teaching and mentoring those in need.
  • Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society: The mission of the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society is to improve the lives of equines by educating and helping owners, assisting law enforcement agencies, rehabilitating abused and neglected equines, and placing them into safe, permanent homes.
Got a business?  Check out our Social Platform to learn how you can get MORE FANS/FOLLOWERS, MORE VIRAL SHARING, and MORE SALES for your business... by giving Karmaback points, running Karmaback Sweepstakes, and Karmaback Coupons and Feedback.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Research: Fans are worth over $130.00 EACH.. and they want to BUY your stuff!

We've dug up some research on how much having a Facebook Fan/Twitter Follower is worth: it is well over $3.60/yr, more like $130.00!  In addition, what do fans want?  The #1 thing is "Receive discounts and promotions"!  Now, what better argument to use Karmaback "Social Sweepstakes" to get fans, and then give them special offers with Karmaback "Social Coupons"?  It works folks!

According to Mediapost.com:

"A new study by ExactTarget and CoTweet finds that ... the number one driver for consumers to "like" a brand on Facebook... [are it's] discounts and promotions. [40%+]"
"In addition, getting free samples or coupons, and updates on upcoming sales, tie into the discount/promotion motivation. "
Motivation to "Like" Company or Brand on Facebook
Facebook Motivations % of Respondents
Receive discounts and promotions
Show support for the company
Get a "freebie"
Stay informed about company
Get updates about products
Get updates on upcoming sales
Fun and entertainment
Access to exclusive content
Learn about company
Source: ExactTarget, August 2010

    "Additionally, ...  the average value a Facebook fan provides a brand is $136.38, but it can swing to $270.77 in the best case."

    Thanks to Precision Marketect (Barry) for sharing the research!

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Karmaback Pricing... and new services!

    A lot of our customers really liked the fact that Karmaback was "Unique" in that we only charge when we successfully grow new Fans or Followers for our partner companies' Facebook and Twitter pages.  Well, great news! We have brought back the "purely variable" pricing again, and now have a "Cap" on fees so you know your maximum possible fee up front!  Just $0.25/New Fan we bring you with a max fee of $99/month.  Check it out: http://karmaback.com/platform/pricing/

    While you are there, check out our new "Customization" and "Software Engineering Services" offerings... we'd love to build customized Website/Social Applications for you!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Extroverts, plan your Introvert time. Introverts, plan your Extrovert time.

    Seth Godin (and many other business authors) agree, growth comes from "stretching" your discomfort.  DO the uncomfortable and you will grow.  Don't want to grow?  Stop reading blogs for goodness sakes!  Want to grow, here are some tips for HOW to Stretch and Exercise your "discomfort zone".  (Extroverts and Introverts both)

    Extroverts (like myself) prefer to think "outside their head".  We like to draw on white-boards, engage in debate, and generally "talk & interact" with people.  The problem is this: if all you do is extroversion, you miss out on deep thinking, attention to detail, and most of all quiet focus.  For an extrovert, it is "uncomfortable" to have quiet, work alone, or focus on details.

    Planning your introversion and "forcing yourself" to spend time alone, focusing on details, is the best way to stretch that uncomfortable muscle.  It will grow from there (or at least you will minimize the effects of lacking introversion).

    • Each day, plan out 2 x 1-hour blocks where you will DO something introverted.  
    • (fix bugs, add comments to code, handle accounting, submit expense reports, research competition, develop formalized strategy/documentation)... 
    • most important do it ALONE, and make sure you force yourself to do it for the whole 1-hour block.
    • Because you set an "end-time" for the discomfort to end, you will find it less dis-comfortable to do it (just for 1 hour).
    • I find the best time for me to do it is 1st thing in the morning, and then again right before I leave work.

    Introverts (like my wife) prefer to think "inside their head".  They prefer to work alone, to think deeply on problems, and to focus on details.  In many cases, they fear (and are VERY uncomfortable) engaging "with people".

    Planning your extroversion is even more important!  Unlike extroverts, you have to make plans that involve other people.  Here are the tips:
    • Each day, plan out 2 x 1-hour blocks where you will DO something extroverted (WITH others).  
    • (brainstorming session, lunch hour, happy hour, coffee, phone call)... 
    • most important do it WITH someone.. preferably NOT someone you know really well.
    • Because you set an "end-time" for the discomfort to end, you will find it less dis-comfortable to do it (just for 1 hour).
    • Lunch hour and happy hour are the best times.
    • THE ADAGE: NEVER EAT LUNCH ALONE comes to mind... that can be one of your hours!
      • just invite people you are connected with on LinkedIn or Facebook to lunch... be sure to say "dutch, just to catch up".
    • GO to those events you hate (the happy hours, etc.)... but just spend 1-hour there... for the whole hour set yourself a goal:
      • talk to x people
      • pass out x business cards
      • whatever
    • Then.... next time, try to improve on the target #!
      • You may find it turns into quite a "game".. or you may continue to hate it... but at least...
    • You are out there!

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