I have used a lot of webcam and conference systems that are all designed to allow you to participate from miles away.  Today I got to test drive, Beam from Suitable Technologies in Palo Alto.  Emily from Suitable sent me an email with my invitation and a few clicks later I was ‘beamed’ into their sunny California office.

Beam is a remote presence device, think Avatar and Jonny #5.  I was able to take over a robot, drive it around the office and interact with people all from the comfort of my desk.

Here is the video of my test drive:

A good example of brand loyalty

Posted: November 22, 2014 in Found on the web

How many brands can say customers plan to stay for life? @USAA way to rock band loyalty #marketing #branding


Open PaymentThe Open Payments Data system from the CMS is available online.  You can access the system (account needed – but free to sign up) with THIS LINK.

As part of the effort to increase transparency between Pharmaceutical companies and their payments to Physicians the CMS database (still in beta) allows the general public to see what payments were made to which physicians.  The system is robust supporting a ton of ways to slice the data or even export the data (using their API) into your own analysis tool.

Because this system has so much you will find a $9,645,117 payment from Genentech and a $13.52 payment for travel expense in the system.

Users can also conduct a search on a specific physician.  Put in some basic details like Name and State to get any information the system has on payments to a specific physician.

This is still in BETA and the disclaimer is clear:

“This is a beta release of a search tool to improve the ability of users to search the data. The beta release of this search tool only searches identified data. Additional enhancements will be released in upcoming versions, including summary data, visualizations, the ability to search de-identified data, and more. The datasets are large and the search tool searches millions of records. For some searches the results will take some time to load, please be patient.

JUST TO BE CLEAR: “Open Payments does not identify which financial relationships are beneficial or which may cause conflicts of interest.”

USGSYou can’t control social media!  Stop it!  Stop it! Stop it!  The reason user review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor work is because people are free to tell the world how good or bad your product or service is.  Amazon ratings are hugely important to products. The site; SEARCHENGINELAND.com released the stat that “79% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations (source)”.

The latest comedy of marketing madness is the policy of the Union Street Guest House that states; “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.” (NY Post report).

The result so far has been a flood of 1 star reviews on their Yelp page.  I have already seen the typical BS excuse that brands try to make ‘this was all a joke, we didn’t mean it’.  That is another tactic that does not work.  The bottom line is you can’t control what people say and any attempt you make to control the voice of the customer will backfire on you.



Look_a_Distraction_Design_by_eecomicsI don’t mean to get off on a rant here but can we talk about the mess that FourSquare has caused in the effort to ‘evolve’ its brand?  FourSquare, the social media check in app that started in 2009 was always targeting the techier consumer.  Geeks would use the app to tell their network where they were and what places were offering.  It was gameified by offering badges for checking in repeatedly at coffee shops (yep I had that one).  If you checked in more than most at a location you could become the MAYOR.  As the system grew, brands jumped on and gave an incentive to be the mayor.  Some bars and restaurants would offer a free appetizer to the mayor or a special for checking in.  In 2011, FourSquare teamed up with American Express to offer a special rebate to customers that 1. checked in with FourSquare and 2. payed with their American Express.  That promotion/partnership was brand-spot-on.  The two services complimented each other and increased the usage of both.  If you checked in to a concert, airport or other popular venue it might say that the place was ‘swarmming’.  You could connect with other users and it was crowd sourced fun.  Fast forward to today.  FourSquare has divided their application (and ecosystem of users) by forcing check-ins to use a new application called SWARM and the main application, the one people know the name of FourSquare is a bad attempt to be Yelp.  Guess what FourSquare, I was already a member of both.  What your latest move has done is create no reason for me to keep your app.  Sure check-ins are getting competition from FaceBook and Yelp but FourSquare was the place for fun badges and deals (something Yelp and FaceBook) were not competing with.  Staying true to the start FourSquare was able to outlast and outplay the likes of GoWalla (closed in 2012) and Loopt.  FourSquare mayor-ship even made it into the “Gotta Share! The Musical” video in 2011.

Disregard for your base

Swarm-FoursquareWith 45 million users FourSquare is/was still a niche player.  It is the base/ core users that helped to create locations.  To establish social locations for small businesses that might not be ‘techie’ yet.  Similar to the Judgement of Solomon, FourSquare has split the baby.  Many users that have been with FourSquare since the beginning in 2009 are ditching the service.   IMO disregarding your base was not a good move for your brand.

Entrepreneur Barbie takes to LinkedIn

Entrepreneur Barbie takes to LinkedIn

Barbie has joined LinkedIn.  As part of the Entrepreneur Barbie line the iconic dolls has established her page on the business social network.  Right now she has 50 followers.

In her post she writes:

“My new business is “Dream Incubator” where I act as a consultant, helping girls around the world play out their imagination, try on different careers, and explore the world around them. Our company tagline is “If you Can Dream It, You Can Be it!””

This is another example of humanizing brands to connect with consumers and from what I have seen so far they are going an awesome job.

Copy Cat Marketing

Posted: April 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

I wonder if marketing is the last industry that allows its practitioners to rip off someone else’s idea. To be clear I am not talking about adopting best practices or changing a tactic seen in one industry and applying it to another. There is honor in that. Learning from others and using it as inspiration to develop your own product, ad, service, campaign is a good way to stay current and fresh.  The behavior that I am talking about is ripping off someone elses idea so blatantly that at first glance you can’t tell the difference.

Here is one example.  The image below is of cards that are updated every week at every Starbucks.  Starbucks provides a code for the iTunes store for a free song, application or TV show.


Can you spot the CopyCat?  The card with the QR code is the copy cat.  This QR card sends you to download other companies application.  The application has links to their advertisers.  I also want to point out that the company is putting these cards in Starbucks coffee shops next to the sugar table right where the official cards are.  In my opinion these tactics show a lack of creativity.  It also tells me that the company behind it is shady and happy to profit from consumer confusion.


Posted: April 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

Can you keep a secret?

Posted: February 19, 2014 in Found on the web

Can you keep a secret?

People have a need to share.  The group Improv Everywhere created a great video (video below) about our continual need to share.  I want to take a moment and talk about the need to share secrets.  Do you share secrets?  How do you share?  Do you post on blogs anonymously?  

PostSecretMaybe you write your secret on a postcard and mail it to 13345 Copper Ridge Road, Germantown, MD 20874.  Did you know that many people have sent in their secrets.  Frank Warren has been receiving postcards for years, scanning them and posting them on the Blog for the world to enjoy.  Frank has taken many of the submissions and turned them into a hardcover book (Available at Amazon).

Secret Speak FreelyNow there is an app that lets you share your secret with the world.

secret shared

Secret.ly is an app that is currently only available for iPhones.  People can post text and images they want the world to know about.


The difference between PostSecret and Secret.ly is that with a postcard the medium does not contain much information.  There is your originating post mark that would locate the sending location.  With Secret.ly the app is on your phone, and the company uses your cell number to verify you.  If you want something to remain secret, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF!

#hashtags or #MashTags?

Posted: February 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

I came across this post on The Grocer site today.  I wonder how long it will take for someone to write a tweet with these and ketchup?  Or, will Campbell’s Soup respond with an updated Alphabet Soup.