I think that everyone should have a blog just so it can be neglected. It's not that I don't enjoy writing or that I don't have things to say, it's just that writing is hard work, especially when there is something good on TV.
All kidding aside, this got me to thinking about some of the mistakes that companies have made with blogging. I think the biggest mistake is that they lack consistency. For example, if I'm evaluating a company for products or services, I frequently use their blog as a reference point. I look to answer these questions:
- When was their last post? An out-dated blog suggests that they have abandoned the strategy because they went back to their "day" jobs. They didn’t believe in the business or they didn’t believe in blogging. To them it was a gimmick.
- What do they talk about? Are they talking about superficial topics or do they get deep enough to matter? If it's superficial I recognize it for what it is, a pathetic attempt to game Google for SEO purposes. "They said a blog would drive traffic to our site...."
- How many comments do they have? This suggests engagement. This means the product or services provided resonate and solve real problems.
In the absence of the above, I really have to ask myself if I'm willing to take the risk of doing business with them.
I think this is a widespread problem and there is a business model in hunting down neglected business blogs and convincing them to use you to provide content. I'd hire a bunch of talented writers that focus on specific industries and then I'd have them write meaningful articles that will help establish the company as a thought leader. I have a name for this business too: LivingIdeas.com. It's a domain I've owned for years but if I wasn't so engaged in being a product manager for a health information company, I would be tempted to pursue it. But right now I LOVE product management. If you're currently in MBA school, I would recommend that you consider a career in Product Management because it is fun, challenging, and rewarding.
I'm currently a part-time professor at a respected University that also offers online courses. I teach an online course and I love it! I love that I can share my knowledge with people all over the world and I get paid for it.
As I've thought about the next tech venture that I want to do, I keep coming back to the idea that learning should have no boundaries. We don't necessarily get the skills we need from a formal academic environment and in fact, many of the crucial skills we actually do need can't be obtained in a university for 5-10 years AFTER we should already be experts.
So where do you go when you want to learn something new? Or if you want a quick answer to a question? For example, one of my most popular posts on this badly neglected blog is the video showing you how to compute a portfolio's risk using excel. The answer is that most people go to Google and they spend way too much time trying to find the answers they need. Let's say that you find a video on YouTube. If it has thousands of views, that might give you some comfort that it is a good video and indeed often this is the case. But what if you only need :30 of a 10 minute video? Are you going to spend the 10 minutes to get what you need? Maybe. It depends on how desperate you are.
So based on my experiences above, I believe there is a better way for me to learn what I need when I need it. It might be as easy as calling or emailing someone who I know is THE expert who knows the answer to my unique problem. With that, I am putting together a plan on how to solve this need through a new website: MonkeyPass.com.
If you are an expert in ANY area, I would love to hear from you. If you're just someone who would use the site, I want to hear from you too. Please visit the site and provide your email today!
Not long ago I did a web search to find an ebook company that would allow me to pay with PayPal. Unfortunately, Amazon does not so that ruled out buying a Kindle book. As a result, I did a little more digging and was happy to find out that I could have bought it on Barnes and Noble. I can install Nook software and read my books on the iPad or my Samsung Smartphone.
However, I ended up buying "Inheritance" by Christopher Paoloni from Kobo eBooks. I was surprised that I hadn't heard of them before but that appears to be doing a great job. The site is Kobo Ebooks. It's a platform neutral book site complete with apps for every major tablet, smartphone and computer system. I downloaded it to my iPad 2 and my Samsung Galaxy S smart phone. It kept my book synched between both devices. My only complaint is that it seemed to take a lot of energy from the iPad on account that it continually synches and thus requires a near constant wifi connection. I'm sure they'll work that out soon enough. And they too take PayPal. But what makes them different is that they are trying to add a social element to book reading.
Just think about it, you can get clarification on a passage, or discuss the deeper meaning of a chapter with members of the community. Plus it keeps track of your personal reading statistics. I would not be surprised to see authors having direct conversations with readers as this technology grows up.
In general, I think it's a really great concept but it has its work cut out for it if they are going to be successful given the powerful competition: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. I think in order for Kobo to be successful, they are going to have to get the word out and quickly. With the right marketing plan and perhaps first book discounts, they may be able to obtain the critical mass that would be required to make it a success. At any rate, I highly recommend that you check it out. The software was easy enough to download, install and use.
If anyone has been following Amazon.com's movements, it should be clear that they are planning something big. I predict it will be one of two things.
They have or are building distribution centers all over the country. They have invested millions and employed thousands. Why would they do this?
The most obvious reason is that they are trying to blur the lines between traditional retailing and online retailing. As the world's largest pure ecommerce company, their stiffest competition comes from the store that is within driving distance. Brick and Mortar customers don't have to wait, they can touch and feel the product and they can use it that same day. How do you overcome this as a 100% online retailer. You do this in one of two ways.
1- You minimize the time it takes to get items into customers' hands. They've done a great job with this. Amazon's Prime program allows 2-day shipping from their distribution centers anywhere in the continental USA for a reasonable annual fee. The next logical step is to find a way to offer SAME DAY DELIVERY. Given how many distribution centers that Amazon has built, it wouldn't be a very hard thing for them to offer same day delivery on select merchandise. I predict this will be something they launch in 2012.
2- The other way for online companies to compete with bricks and mortars is to become one. Yes, that's right, how difficult is it to imagine that Amazon would shy away from creating physical warehouse-type retail locations? If nothing else, it could be a liquidation arm for merchandise that comes back from customers. At some point, this may even be essential for Amazon to maintain its top position. As proof of this, all you need to do is look at the companies that are growing significantly and those that are spending significant amounts of cash on online advertising. Take a look at Target and Walmart. These companies have a keen understanding of what it takes to be successful in retailing and advertising is one of those pillars.They spend millions on online advertising. And if you can order online and pick it up in-store, why would you order from Amazon and wait for it to be delivered?
I expect that we'll see same day delivery in 2012 and bricks and mortar by Amazon in 2013 or 2014.
Kj = Rf + (Ko - Rf)
Kj= return for the job
Rf= risk free rate
Ko= cost of capital for entire organization
One of the reasons I started this blog was to test different things that I wouldn't otherwise do on a website that is very important to me. Case in point, take a look at the post below. Before I made that post, I had a Google Importance Rank of "3". After the post, I have a "0". The reason why this happened is because it looks to Google like I'm just adding links. There are a tremendous number of sites out there that will sell blocks of links from sites that have Google importance ranks of 2-3.
I may have been able to mitigate the damages if I had used the rel="nofollow" in the link html. In other words, I should have entered links like this (I've since updated it so we'll see how long it takes until I have a Google importance rank):
<a href="linkehere.com> rel="nofollow">link anchor text</a>
The above link looks like this on the page:
Had I included the "no follow" tag, it would have told Google that theses are primarily for my users and not meant to be sold to would-be advertisers.
One might argue that it may have been simply an algorithm change at Google and not something that I did. The counter argument is with the other sites that I manage-- they did NOT go down in their Google importance rank.
Fortunately, some of my most popular posts still receive a significant amount of traffic so I'm not sure what the real value of a Google rank is these days.
Moral of the story- keep a "learning" site like this so you don't kill a major site.
It looks like after I put in the No Follow tags, my site regained an importance rank of 3.
This is a list provided by my MBA professor who taught us how to value a company.
(use the Treasury.gov site to predict interest rates as well as what interests were predicted to do in the past. Rates are based on t bills)
In short, conjoint analysis is a customer-driven feedback mechanism that asks customers questions in such a way as to help quantify trade offs. It can also be used to evaluate and predict success of new product introductions in capturing market share.
In practical terms, it lets you decide which features to develop and for which market segments. For example, if you wanted to predict the success of a new computer introduction, you would ask questions to evaluate the importance of Brand, vs. Price, vs. Features. You would do it by asking users to evaluate the importance of one feature over another.
For an example and for software to help you create and manage conjoint analysis, visit the following website: http://www.sawtoothsoftware.com.
For a more detailed explanation of conjoint analysis, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjoint_analysis
Excellent Example of a "Contact Us" Form for a Business to Business Website
I came across this on a website and had to share. This is a trend that exists in ecommerce for checkout pages but this is the first time I've come across it used in this way. It's a brilliant move I might add.
Go to this link and hit "Contact SAP Online" in the top right: https://www.sap.com/usa/
Please note, they take away all the unnecessary links and leave you with only those that you need in order to submit the form. This is probably very effective at getting people to fill out the form rather than browsing away. In other words, this reduces your bounce rate or abandonment rate.
How much is this modification worth? It could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more to SAP because if even 1 more person fills out the form in this format over the traditional format and that contact results in 1 more sale, that single sale could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to SAP. I trust that they split tested it (A/B tested it) before they launched it and it must be successful at increasing conversions.
Take note of your favorite ecommerce sites. They are doing this during checkout. Take a look at Amazon today.
But they didn't stop there... NO. These guys are bright people. If you close the form before filling it out, it warns you that you haven't filled it out yet. It's hard to believe that more companies aren't doing this. It makes such intuitive sense especially if online referrals are a big part of your business.
There are several ways to sell your used text books online but they all boil down to two main ways: 1-Sell it through a buyback program or 2- Sell it yourself to a customer.
There are pros and cons for both but in short, if you sell it through a buy-back program, most companies pay shipping and will send you a check or put money in your PayPal account fairly quickly. You won't get as much as you would if you were to sell it yourself directly to a customer but you'll have to plan on doing a lot more work. For example, instead of printing a label from your computer and dropping it at the nearest UPS location, you'll have to post it with a description, answer questions and ship it. Shipping may be a big pain depending on whether you have access to a UPS/FedEx account or not. Most sites that facilitate selling will also have rating and some kind of protection for sellers and buyers. Regardless of where you decide to sell it, you'll still feel like you overpaid and aren't getting as much back but you may feel less so if you sell it yourself.
In short, if you're looking for a quick buck, sell it to Amazon or another company that will buy it back and be done with it. You won't have to worry about the dropping value or the time it takes to sell it (both transaction time and the hassle of doing the work). Below is a partial list of companies that will buy your books and resale them taking the hassle out of your life. I sold all of mine on Amazon.com because they tended to have the highest trade in value because they give you money via online credit. Since I love shopping on Amazon, I don't mind spending my proceeds there.
Amazon (they will give you trade-in credit): http://www.amazon.com/tradein
I highly recommend that rather than checking the price at each of the above sites to find out where you could make the most, just go to www.bookscouter.com and they'll search these sites and tell you how much you'll get and where.
Here are the top markplace sites that enable you to sell it directly to a customer:
Ebay's Half.com site: www.half.com is probably the best and biggest marketplace for used textbooks followed by Amazon.com.
The challenge with DIY is that if you don't sell regularly online, you could end up with the books after they have lost even more value.
Finally, instead of buying your text books, you could lease them for much less. Check out www.chegg.com for details.
If you know of other DIY sites, please let me know.