Saturday, June 02, 2012

All About the Arts campaign

During the month of October 2012, the Central Illinois arts community is planning a series of arts-related activities that will coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month and the grand opening of the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

ArtsPartners is encouraging local artists to send us colorful, dramatic images of you caught in the act of expressing your own art form.

We are also looking for business people to provide us a photo of them doing their thing, even if it's not traditionally considered "art". We believe there is something creative and aesthetically-pleasing about any job that's done with skill and enthusiasm.

Along with your photo, please send us a clever, one-sentence action statement that describes what the arts do for you (vs. just describing the arts) starting with the words "The Arts..."

The statement should be catchy and tie in with what you're doing in your picture.


A dancer leaping, with the statement "The Arts give my heart wings."

A chef sprinkling curry powder into a pot of chili, saying "The Arts spice up our lives."

A lawyer in court, with the phrase "The Arts help us judge true beauty."

A bus driver behind the wheel, saying "The Arts transport us to new realms."

This statement can be insightful, poetic, inspirational, or humorous. The sky is the limit in terms of the statement you send us.

If you don’t have a photo and need us to send a photographer your way, let us know, as several photographers have volunteered to take the photos.

If you can’t think of a catchy statement to go along with your photo, send us your photo anyway. Our creative team will come up with some catchy statements.

Send your photos and statements, or requests for more information, to:

Monday, April 11, 2005

Blogs That Are Unique

Have you ever heard professional people ask, "How could a blog benefit my business? What would I do with a blog? Why do I need to consider having a blog? What would I blog about?"

The following unusual and special interest blogs prove the point: any business can use a blog. Note that these are not all business blogs. I've included blogs on philosophy, science fiction stories, cartoons, ham radio, free expression rights, biology, art, bird watching, etc.

I don't endorse every blog listed, nor do I approve of every aspect of them. Some may even deviate in some ways from usability and blogology guidelines.

These blogs are simply here to serve as examples of adventurous blogging in unexpected terrain. It's my hope that this interesting variety of blogs will inspire you.

Just take a few moments to visit them and see what you think, see how they're using a blog for their specific purposes. It could be very eye-opening and in some cases (e.g., The Home Depot Bet Blog), rather amusing.

Unusual Blogs: Examples of Innovation

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Writing and Technology: A Student Interview with Steven Streight

"Three KLCC airport (Malaysia) robots" - photo manipulation by S. Streight, original photo of single robot, by Messy Christian. Posted by Hello

A senior student at Arizona State University, majoring in Technical Communications, contacted me today via email.

He said that his assignment in a course was to contact a marketing professional.

He had read my article "Slogan Slogging" in the TC EServer data base, went to this blog, read my bio, and decided to contact me.

Here is the email survey and my responses...

Writing and Technology:
A Student Interview
with Steven Streight

In your direct marketing career, what kind of tasks did you/do you perform on a daily basis?

STEVEN STREIGHT: I began as an Account Representative at a pioneering direct marketing company, Ruppman Marketing Services, Peoria, Illinois, which was started by guys from IBM and Donnelly Yellow Pages.

The company was low profile, but all the big corporations (General Motors, Sony, State Farm Insurance, Caterpillar, Hitachi, Panasonic, Sears, Lennox, Department of Defense, etc.) used their services in yellow pages advertising, inbound telemarketing technical helpdesk customer service, data warehousing, direct mail campaigns, product literature distribution.

I had approached the company with a portfolio of short stories, reports, dummy ads, a ridiculous hodge podge of "writing samples" and was merely interested in learning what they did. The "exploratory interview" (as opposed to "employment interview").

They liked my zeal, my thinking, my personality, my shoes, whatever, and they offered me a job. I wasn't even finished with college. I never did finish. My career took off during my junior year at college.

Since then, too busy to complete university work, and no regrets. I create my own credentials through my work and prestigious clients.

Well, I found that I was okay with "schmoozing" clients at fancy restaurants, but not liking sports, and having bizarre interests (surreal French fiction, underground electronic music, avant garde films, science fiction), I was limited in potential as a "good old boy" account rep.

But--voila! (er, Eureka!)--I was best at writing and marketing strategy.

So I moved onto other firms in the field of advertising copywriter.

Today I'm a web usability analyst and blogologist, but the core of everything I do, and the cause of success, is super strong writing skills, coupled with intense fascination with psychology and marketing concepts.

As a direct marketing copywriter, I've promoted Crafts, Shooting Times, Rotor & Wing, Profitable Craft Merchandising magazine subscriptions, Troy-Bilt tillers, Doubleday (including their mystery and science fiction bookclubs), General Motors, Pepsi, American Express, Chemical Bank, Wall Street Transcript, dental supplies, Governor Cuomo's loaned executive program, Scholastic magazines, wood burning stoves, chamber music ensembles, greenhouses, and Pantone color selection products.

My responsibilities included:

* meeting with clients to understand what they want to achieve with the marketing, meeting again to show them alternative ideas (never present just one or two options, show several, but emphasize what you most believe in).

* talk to the engineers to discover facts about the products.

* research competitor products and their marketing campaigns, ads, commercials, direct mail, etc.

* focus group sessions with prospects or with customers.

* home visits to customers to gather testimonials and listen to complaints, suggestions, and questions.

* interacting with the art department, making "writer's rough" sketches of brochure or ad design, then workting with artists on the real design: they often considered the copy to be just another "graphic element", didn't even pay much attention to the words, even of headlines, just slapped it on the layout. This had to be remedied. But I loved working with artists and designers, as I also create digital art at my Art Test Explosion art gallery blog.

* sometimes even visiting the production shop to see how material is printed and packaged for distribution.

* studying books on direct marketing, advertising, technical writing, and whatever field my clients were in (gardening, magazine publishing, whatever).

* knowing enough about office politics to not fall into traps or play the game poorly (worst part of job, I was not too good at it, I didn't see how stupid or mediocre people could defeat me in gossip or other political ways).

* read great classic or modern literature, great--not trendy trash, to keep my overall writing level high (this was a requirement I imposed on myself).

* study great classic and modern art to stay sharp about design concepts (another self-imposed duty), plus works on the creative process, innovators, new ideas in various realms.

Although I was a direct marketing writer, a lot of it was highly technical, especially the Troy-Bilt tillers and other gardening machinery products of Garden Way Manufacturing Company.

Also, I wrote brochures for Caterpillar's usability testing lab and multimedia training programs.

So in these cases, I had to understand and use technical terminology, yet in a way that customers would understand and be able to see the clear benefits of the products or services being promoted.

Daily tasks were largely: talking to clients, doing research, writing, and interacting with art department.

Mostly writing, writing, writing. I loved it.

Daily tasks now are more: studying the top ranked blogs of all types, studying marketing blogs, learning web design and development, researching various topics to then write about them in my own blogs and in books I'm preparing for publishing, occasional writing of online articles for other online magazines or newsletters, meeting with clients, reading books on sales, marketing (Seth Godin and Al Ries especially), psychology, classic literature, art. Mostly the same as when I was a direct marketing writer, just new tech fields now, such as blogging and webs.

What kind of skills are involved? Software skills?
Writing skills?

STEVEN STREIGHT: As a copywriter and tech writer, I had to have typing skills and word processing expertise.

(Actually I began by writing copy with pen and handing it to a secretary to type up on an IBM Selectric, then a "memory typewriter", then I advanced to skipping the secretary and composing on my own Macintosh).

I had to have good interpersonal ("people") skills, good personality, get along with all types of moody, arrogant, lazy, workaholic, mediocre, genius, etc. people.

I had to have tremendous self-motivation and self-confidence, especially when presenting marketing strategy and copy to the creative staff and the clients.

I had to have some skill in understanding scientific, technical thinking, and in sales psychology.

I think a tech or marcom writer should excel in everything, or at least try, including poetry, novels, magazine articles, press releases, owner's guides, screenplays, radio and television commercials, technical manuals, catalogs, newsletters, personal journals, email, blogging, all forms of writing.

Some you'll do better at, and enjoy more, than others. But at least be familiar with the basics of all.

You make yourself more valuable. You don't want to say "I've never done that" when a boss asks if you can help out or if you can tackle some new aspect of the job, like for a new client.

Force yourself to master, as much as possible, all forms of writing.

I started as a poet and song lyricist as a teenager.

It was poetry (Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, Longfellow, Wordsworth, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Auden, Bill Knott, Arthur Rimbaud, John Asbery, Kenneth Patchen, Kerouac, Sappho, Allen Ginsberg, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Horace, all the modern poets and some ancient poets) that prepared me for technical and advertising writing.

Another big influence is Marcel Proust, though his writing style is almost the very opposite of effective advertising, email, web site, blog writing. I guess I enjoy reading Proust as a change of pace. Long-winded sentences that may fill an entire page, obsessively minute details of flowers and personalities, frequent use of analogy to amplify descriptions of characters.

Learn as many computer skills as you can. Know about web services, wireless networks, VOIP, online virtual musical instruments, podcasting, email marketing techniques, online community software, image file formats, JPEG optimizations, all the stuff coming down the pipeline into the working world and the art circles.

Did you work in a team environment? What are your
thoughts on teaming?

STEVEN STREIGHT: I'm an average team player, I admit. I'm not a star
team player. I have trouble keeping my thoughts to myself, though I try to be diplomatic and sensitive to others.

I have a strong "do it myself, to do it right" streak in me. I hate to hand over projects to others. Not that I'm vain or possessive, I just know a lot about art and design and marketing and sales, so I try to have some control or input in all aspects, even the paper and the ink that is used.

I'm a good teamplayer in the sense that I truly believe in helping the employer or client succeed.

I'm not a sandbagger who just wants to do the bare minimum and get a paycheck. And I enjoy working with other people, as long as they are high caliber professionals or at least willing to learn. Mediocre, immature, mind-gamers I can't stand and can't work with very well.

Get the book "How To Work for a Jerk" by Robert M. Hochheiser (Vintage, 1987). I think there is a recent title that's similar and it may be good also. But this book is filled with anecdotes and practical tips on dealing with difficult bosses and employees. One of the best business books I've ever read. Sheer genius.

Like: if your boss keeps complaining, unjustly, about your writing ability.

The author, Hochheiser, began teaching a course on technical writing at a local prestigious university.

Next time boss complained, "This ad is poorly written, and you better improve it. Your writing skills are not all that good.", he just said, "That's not what Columbia University thinks. They hired me to teach a class on technical writing for graduate students."

He pulled out a sheet of paper displaying the course description, with his name as the instructor. "Now, what specificially do you not like about that ad?"

The boss mumbled a few dumb, incoherent things and walked away, never to trouble him again on that matter.

What kind of computer software did you work with back in the early days of your career in direct marketing?

(This is not part of my assignment, just a personal
question. I have always had an almost perverse
interest in the early days of computers and graphic

STEVEN STREIGHT: From pen to IBM selectric to IBM "memory typewriter" to Apple Macintosh to IBM desktop computer.

I loved the Mac, hated the IBM. This was around 1983. The Mac had the mouse and clicking, whereas the IBM was all keyboard commands you had to memorize. I still avoid keyboard commands, though I could probably use them in composing email, for bold or other stuff.

I remember how in 1978, Ruppman Marketing Services in Peoria, IL used microfiche a little bit, and also had a "mainframe" that used big reels of tape and punchcards. That's when "floppy discs" were really floppy, flexible plastic discs.

They refered to their mainframe as "FRED" the frigging ridiculous electronic device.

An older VP used to complain that PCs will never be a revolution, because nobody can figure out what the heck to do with a home computer.

The story back in 1978 was you could use a home computer to organize your shopping lists, to inventory your groceries, to send out invitations to parties. Huh?

It turned out to be Communication (email, online shopping, financial transactions, and blogging) that was the killer app for home computers, plus file sharing (photos, music, films).

First: computer. Second: home/office work station computer. Third: internet. Fourth: web. Fifth: blogs.

Next (my best guess today): wearable computers, "glogs", bio/info/nano applications, the internet as a unified assembly of seamless web services, wireless wonders, embedded computers, computerized lifestyle and environment, influencing the external world via home and wearable computers (negative example: virtual hunting, where you kill a real deer in Colorado while operating a home PC in Taiwan).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Stop Putting Personal Details in Your Blog

keep personal details out of your blog Posted by Hello

Extreme distress was caused by my post "You Are Not A Blog", in my Vaspers the Grate blog.

In this post, I cautioned bloggers against putting personal details into a blog, especially a business blog.

I have now written a sequel. Since this topic is so important and urgent, I have reproduced the "Dangers of Personal Blogging" post at my Vaspers the Grate blog. Here is what I need to tell you...

Vaspers the Grate on
"Dangers of Personal Blogging"

Hype machines are spewing forth how every individual and every organization must start a blog.

I agree. In fact, I have called blogs the mandatory interactive business cards of the 21st Century.

Blogs can, theoretically, provide a competitive edge to a company, when the blog is done right. (However, if done wrong, a blog can cause massive damage to a company.)

I've sung the praises of blogs ever since I gave Blogger a try and fell in love with it. I have aggressively promoted blogs to clients, friends, pastors, entrepreneurs, military organizations, you name it.

I wrote a post called "Blogging is Good For You." Writing daily or weekly blog entries can improve your writing and thinking skills. I like blogging as an activity.

I've described how blogs are helping to kill the evil monsters of Main Stream Media: "For Whom the Blog Tolls: Death of the MSM".

But now it's time for a word of caution, a warning.

Now it's time to explain the Dark Side of Blogging.

My preliminary research has provided me with three primary dangers of personal blogging. There are bound to be more hazards out there, but the big three are as follows...

3 Big Dangers of Personal Blogging

(1.) Alienating Employers

Seth Godin has recently published a post entitled "Blogging doesn't matter":

In Seth's post, he provides a link to the article "Ten Reasons Why Blogging Doesn't Matter" by Rui Carmo at Tao of Mac blog. Rui's post is a point by point commentary on "Ten Reasons Why Blogging Is Good For Your Career" by Tim Bray.

Rui discusses how a blog can hurt your chances for employment or promotion.

Here are some nice quotes to ponder:

"...organizations...will always promote the quiet, reliable guy over the noisy troublemaker, even if (s)he is merely outspoken."

"Getting noticed by having strong opinions is more likely to label you as a prima donna even before you step into a meeting room, be it for interviews or for decision-making."

"Valuable people are noticeable because they get things done, not because they make noises about what they're doing..."

"...most of the time what you've written about is not what they are looking for when they're evaluating you either as a prospective hire or for a promotion."

"...this hysteria about corporate blogs and blogging in business settings seems to be almost completely US-centric..."

Seth Godin and others are warning bloggers about reckless blabbering, grammar and punctuation errors, ill-conceived topics, vulgar language, poorly researched articles, lack of substantiating links, and other aspects that cause your blog to make you look bad.

Remember--the personal details you dump into your blog, whether personal blog or business blog, could come back to haunt you. Don't be paranoid or excessively self-censoring, but exercise some restraint and wisdom in what you reveal about yourself.

Ask yourself: Could this glimpse into my private life be misinterpreted? Could this personal detail be distasteful to certain types of people?

Could some people take this the wrong way, read into it more than I mean to convey?

If I rave about a movie in which drugs are glamorized, would a professional person consider me a possible drug user?

I just posted a seemingly justified rant against something that annoys me. But--could this rant cause others to see me as a potentially violent, unstable, immature person who cannot control his temper?

(2.) Attracting Stalkers

"...any personal information on the internet is going to be abused. When it comes to posting on the internet, it's like using heavy machinery. Make sure you have your wits about you."
Parry Aftab, NYC lawyer and Executive Director of
(Quoted in

"My advice to new bloggers is to be careful what you share. It can be dangerous."
Robyn Pollman
(Quoted in

There are stories of stalkers seeking blogs of local people, perverts and child molesters seeking photos of children to kidnap, harm and kill, and many other tragic consequences of posting personal information in blogs.

Are you a mom? Do you have a blog? Do you talk about your children in your blog? Most moms probably do. Do you post photos of your children? Do you tell their ages? Do you describe the toys and movies and restaurants they like? Have you revealed what school or daycare center or church they attend?

Are you crazy? You're giving child molesters and older males who prey on teenage girls exactly what they're looking for. You're practically handing your children over to them.

You need to read this eye-opening article about the dangers of personal blogging:

"Risks abound in online journals, some turn to password protection"
by Ron Word, Associated Press Writer
(Not sure if it's oh zero, oh oh, or zero zero, dot html)

One woman mentioned she had a miscarriage, and then shuddered in horror as weird freaks made fun of her, and even saw this intimate revelation discussed on other web sites and blogs.

A woman who used her blog to express political opinions also disclosed what restaurant she was going to check out one night. When she arrived at the restaurant, she was confronted by angry blog readers who disagreed with her politics and wanted to hurt or harass her.

You have no idea who is reading all your personal details, nor what they intend to do with that private information. The consequences could be far different from what you expect.

You're nice and normal. You may think the blogosphere is populated with decent, ordinary people. You can't begin to fathom how evil, mentally sick, and horrible some blog readers can be.

Some personal diary bloggers have shut down their blogs and created password protected digital journals that only friends and family can access.

For example...

Ain't Too Proud to Blog


(3.) Enabling Identity Theft

Any personal details you provide on your blog can help an identity thief to assume your identity and ruin you financially, or worse.

Identity theft criminals go through garbage cans and dumpsters. What makes you think they won't comb through your blog, looking for what city you live in, what company you work for, what bank you happen to mention in passing (perhaps a complaint or a compliment), what church you attend, what companies you do business with...anything that can lead to eventually gaining sensitive private and financial information.

What details are you providing on your blog that could be used by identity thieves?

of Personal Details
in Blogs:

(1.) Personal details are often interesting only to you. To others, these facts are usually boring, trivial, trite. They can make readers think less of you as a person.

(2.) Personal details are usually irrelevant to the main purpose of your blog, especially a business, marketing, academic, or other serious topic blog.

(3.) Personal details can alienate an employer, who just doesn't like or agree with specific opinions, attitudes, or habits that you reveal.

(4.) Personal details can be easily misinterpreted and used against you. People may "read between the lines" or otherwise inflate what you reveal and blow things out of proportion.

(5.) Personal details about your family can lead to endangering family members.

(6.) Personal details, from a teenage girl for example, can entice male perverts and kidnappers to try to seduce the young female blogger into meeting them in some dark part of town.

(7.) Personal details about your lifestyle, habits, and haunts can be used by stalkers who don't like the opinions expressed on your blog, and wish to harm you physically.

(8.) Personal details can make you an easy target for identity theft.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Spammy Subject Lines in Email

Posted by Hello


If you send email to those who may not know who you are, you need to avoid putting certain words and phrases in your Subject: lines.

Spam filters block email messages that have certain words in the Subject: line, and human recipients may consider any Subject: line with these words in it to be spam, virus, or phishing emails.

Here are some words to avoid using:

* Please reply to my email

* Please respond

* Final warning

* Update your account information

* RE: your account

* Pre-approved application

* Hi

* Hello

* We need your update information

* Free

* Act now

* RE: your code # [number]

* Tired of paying high costs for your medications?

* Did you receive my email of last week?

* Thank you for your attention

* Rate approval

* Lowest rates [prices, cost, etc.]

* Security update

* Security warning

* Full length adult DVDs

* Downloads

* Your application has been approved

* cheap meds

* pharmaceutical

* enhance

* enlarge

* software

Even if your message is non-commercial, sincere, requested by a customer, still--avoid these words at all costs.

Think of some other words and phrases to use in your Subject: lines and in the first sentence of your message. Some email clients display the Subject: line and the first several words of the first sentence, prior to the recipient opening the email.

Another ignorant tactic of spammers is to put my email address in the To: line, instead of my name. This is a dead giveaway that the email is spam, or worse.

Remember: when you open a spam email message, simply out of stupidity or curiosity, you have sent a signal to the spammer that your email address is valid and active. Then the spammer will send you more spam and will also sell a list with your email address on it to other spammers.

You may greatly increase the amount of spam that is sent to you, just by opening a spam email message.

Fight back.

Delete all email that looks strange, unprofessional, amateur, or like it's trying to trick you into revealing sensitive personal or financial information.

Never give your email address to your bank, insurance company, hospital, etc. That way, if you receive an email from such a sender, you'll know it has to be fake (phishing).

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Serial Killer Detection via Mentally Correct Perception

Behold and See. Posted by Hello

Here we go again.

Another suspected serial killer is taken into custody, and the familiar chorus rings in our ears.

About half of those who knew the BTK killer suspect say he was a nice, normal, stable, job-holding guy...

...a family man and church leader...

...with all the trappings of the achievement of the "American Dream".

The other half claim he was creepy, a bully, and did suspicious things, like videotaping the back of a person's house while her husband was on a business trip.

Or "acting weird" in the Cub Scout pack, so that a mother removed her boy from it.

I side with this second group. I side with the skeptics.

I have always maintained that, from a Mentally Correct Marketing viewpoint, there is no such thing as the "Separation of Surface and State."

What I mean is, the truth about a company, a nation, or an individual always leaks out, somewhere, somehow.

I believe that a rotten company (morally corrupt leadership or inferior products) will have advertising that contains subtle, if not obvious, lies, exaggerations, or stupid claims about its products.

Likewise, the evil in a person's heart cannot possibly be rigidly contained at all times. If it explodes in a rage of murder, rape, or other hideous act, it will also tend to leak out in other situations where such behaviour is not safe for the perpetrator.

A murderer will tend to be a bully, a grouch, a manipulator, in both gruff and brutal behavior and in sly, charming characteristics, which are the two ways in which victims are caught and trapped.

My point is this: many people are so lulled into comfort zones, especially in America, they have great trouble believing any neighbor or family member could be a child molester, serial killer, terrorist, or other illegal and immoral type.

People are often just mentally lazy, dreamy, living in a delusional world where everything seems just fine and everybody's "nice".

They are not sufficiently skeptical, cynical, or suspicious.

They brush aside disturbing comments or aspects of other people. They don't want to think about potentially or seemingly evil people, because then they might have to leave their comfort zone and do something about them.

I have alerted people to highly suspect potential child molesters and serial killers. Nothing is done. I am made to seem like a bad person for even stating my concerns.

The defense of the suspect is always, every single time: "But he's such a nice guy."

In the case of the almost certain child molester, I hear: "So what if his only friend is a 5 year old boy? So what if he lavishes money and attention on him, avoiding all other people? So what if he demands that the child and everyone else call him grandpa, when the child already has two real grandpas?"

Why is it that the pastors, who are supposed to have some grandiose connection to Almighty All-Knowing God, and the church people, are the dumbest of all?

Is it because it's so easy to be a church fake, to go through the rituals and pot luck suppers with a smile on your face and a hymn on your lips?

Take a look at this newspaper clip:

Detroit Free Press
"THE VICTIMS: BTK killings suspect was Jekyll and Hyde, cops say.
Churchgoing family man charged in 10 killings over 17 years."
March 2, 2005
by Sharon Cohen, Associated Press

Some described him as a friendly man who helped neighbors and recently brought spaghetti sauce and a salad to a supper at Christ Lutheran Church, where he was an usher, president of the council and a member for 30 years. "Dennis was in church as often as I was," said Pastor Michael Clark.

Others said he could be a nitpicker and a bully, always looking to cite his neighbors for petty violations, once using a tape measure to determine whether a neighbor's grass was too long.

If Rader turns out to be the BTK killer, he won't be the first serial killer to lead two lives.

"They lead a benign, if not friendly and helpful life with family and friends. Then they kill strangers," said Jack Levin, author of several books on serial killers and director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University in Boston. "It's almost like the death camp doctor who goes home and plays with his children."

These two lives are "the way they survive. That's the way they're not detected," said Steve Egger, a serial killer expert and associate professor of criminology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. "Their actions with people who love them, with people they associate with, are very natural. But they're able to split off and compartmentalize these fantasies they have. ... Then they go out and have to act on them."

Rustigan, the California criminologist, said he wonders how Rader, if he is the BTK killer, could hide a sinister life from his wife.

"You can fake 'nice guy' at work," he said. "But how do you fake 'nice guy' when you're married? That's a very powerful question in this case."

I hate all this "mystery" supposedly surrounding serial killers and their ability to assume supposedly split personalities. I don't buy it.

It's not that the serial killers are so good at hiding their evil personality.

The reason the serial killers can be two separate people, is that many dumb people don't see the serial killer lurking in the creepy bully, who is also a family man and church leader.

Consider the creepy, evil church leaders, like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Oral Roberts, and Jim Baker.

Baptist physical abusers and Catholic homosexual predators. Hare Krishna temple sexual misconduct allegations. Every type of religion and secualarism has its creeps and bullies.

Some local ministers in my home town are examples of deeply unspiritual, profoundly sinister church leaders, who are in effect, nothing but cultish dictators.

We have to ask more questions and pay more attention to those around us. Your Cub Scout leaders, your pastors, your priests, your school bus driver, your doctor, your husband, your wife, your children, everyone.

If serial killers, child molesters, and sleeper cell terrorists escape detection, in my opinion it's not their genius or brilliance.

It's our laziness, exaggerated optimism, and plain stupidity.

It's our fault, not their cleverness.

People want to believe that this is the best of all possible worlds. They don't want to really face the horrors and suffering and insanity that lurk everywhere.

Some person tonight is doing their usual routine, and will be kidnapped, tortured, and killed.

Some child is playing happily, but will soon be violated sexually and ruined for life.

Largely due to our laziness, dreaminess, and stupidity. Not entirely our fault, but we are more to blame than we like to admit.

Let's wake up.

Let's ask more questions. Let's take steps to investigate, or ask the proprer authorities to look into, some of these things that have bothered us.

I'm pursuing something today, writing letters to the directors of a certain local religious mission organization. And it involves a suspicious, possible serial killer or sexual predator.

Evil leaks out of its phony "nice guy" shell.

Watch. Behold and see.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

They Destroy, They Do Not Terrify

Posted by Hello


Politics has nothing to do with it.

Marketing uses words. Even in war and insurgency, words are used. But are the words used correctly?

This is simply a critique of the word "terrorist" as applied to those who destroy, maim, and kill as a means of accomplishing their goals.

I have seen "terrorists" who were unable to stop a fledgling democracy from holding free elections. Insufficient "terror" was generated.

I have seen "terrorists" who were shocked to discover that U.S. Marines run toward shots that are fired, and not away from them.

I have seen women bravely attend school in lands where such an act by the allegedly "inferior gender" used to be punishable by death.

I have seen "terrorists" who began to kill women and children, who occupied a school building, who kidnap defenseless civilians.

I have seen "terrorists" hide behind scarves and masks, afraid to reveal their identities.

I have seen average civilians, surrounded and infested by "terrorists", stand in line to vote, and look into television cameras, with no disguises or concealment of faces.

I wonder who is truly terrified and who is simply hoping to cause terror.

This use of "terror" and "terrorist" may be very inappropriate.

We do not call someone a surgeon if they've never operated on anyone.

We do not call someone a chef if they've never cooked anything.

So why do we call someone a "terrorist" if they fail to inspire terror?

If a person kills, that's a killer.

If a person rapes, that's a rapist.

If a person destroys, blows things up, but fails to scare people, that's a destructionist, not a terrorist.

The Main Stream Media (MSM) seems to like saying that beheading videos or threats of nuclear attack "strike fear into our hearts." Not my heart. I have had zero fear ever since 9-11. I'm more observant, more skeptical, more suspicious, but not more fearful.

Not one person I know, including soldiers in Iraq, is "terrorized" by anyone. If shots are fired, they have a healthy "fear", or actually the better word is "avoidance reaction", to being an easy target. They don't cringe in cowardly terror. They get angry and fight back.

"Fear" and "terror" are not operative in much of the world. Governments may give in to "terrorist" demands out of concerns for public opinion, but I doubt that even weak governments have much real "fear". The only thing they fear is civil war, or not getting elected again.

I will not refer to those who kill civilians and blow up buildings as "terrorists", since they fail to cause much terror.

I prefer to refer to them as "destructionists".

Why glorify them by granting them a title they have not earned, and thus do not deserve?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Lightning Strikers Manifesto


LiStriMani. Copyright 2005 by Steven Streight. Created in Paint Shop Pro 7. Posted by Hello

Against Guy Kawasaki's Marketing Mediocrity

I just read a bizarre post on a blog, a post that spoke of the "Don't Worry, Be Crappy" theory of marketing.

This idea is declared in Rules for Revolutionaries(1999) by Guy Kawasaki.

Is this the old "put out the flawed product, hype it like crazy, and generate enough hysteria that you'll sell tons of it before anybody knows what's really going on"?

You bet it is.

One aspect of it is the attitude of "Who cares if the product is junk? Hype it and hard sell it."

Generate fast revenues from it, then, at your leisure, after many duped customers have invested heavily in the crap product, issue "patches", "fixes", "add-ons", or "upgrades" that fix the flaws, using the income derived from the shoddy product.

It's the opposite of "Disciplined product development process and the refusal to ship crap."

As my web developer discussion list friend, Peter McGregor stated in a recent post:

I recall way back in the early 1980s when the first PCs appeared and software for them was not plentiful, someone (who shall be nameless) telling me:

"If you write a program for the PC and place a small advert for it in the pages of Byte Magazine, (circulation was huge both sides of the pond) even if is riddled with bugs, you'll have 100k responses within a couple of weeks. Charge $10 a time for your offering CWO and you then cut and run as a rich man before anyone realises it isn't that good a product!"

Yes, a small percentage of a large base can be very profitable. (Sometimes wish I'd followed the advice - but at least I can live with my conscience!!)

---Peter MacGregor (used with permission).

This "Don't worry, be crappy" concept is the single most vile, self-destructive, anti-consumer, pro-mediocrity concept to hit marketing in probably the last 50 to 100 years.

Let's take a closer look at this "real piece of work" of misguided Marketing Stupidity.

Here's what Joe Agliozzo, over at Disruptive Business Models blog, says about releasing defective, shoddy, poor workmanship, dysfunctional, or bare minimum function, bug-ridden products to the consumer:

What you lose in "polish" and "presentation" along with some functionality is more than made up for in finding out (1) whether the customers are interested in buying what you are selling and (2) what you forgot about that customers actually need.

No matter how much thinking the team does on product features, customers will always come up with different or additional stuff that they have to have and they will let you know about it.

Of course, you always have to reach out to your customer base and communicate that your product is under development and needs more work, you want to partner with the customer in making the best product possible, etc. Don't claim your product is perfect when you know it is not, be humble.

Heaven forbid that the pharmaceutical companies follow this "crap product" release idea.

Or the automobile airbag manufacturers.

Or the vehicle child safety seat manufacturers.

Or railroads.

Or any product or service related to public safety and health. Which means most products and services, except for pure entertainment.

"Be crappy" with software and computer products?

Well, they tie in with national defense, food distribution systems, nuclear reactor regulation, etc.

See the PC World "What's Biggest Security Problem?" article, the third subhead, "Holey Software" at:

Here's what I recently added to the Wikipedia entry on Guy Kawasaki:

[UPDATE EDIT Sunday Feb. 13, 2005: Wikipedia administrators deleted my comments. So if you follow the link, and don't see my statements as provided below, it's not because I lied. It's because they removed my wiki edit.]

Some of Kawasaki's ideas are not accepted by experienced direct marketers or consumer advocates.

For example, in Rules for Revolutionaries he advances the controversial principle of "Don't Worry, Be Crappy" in which he encourages companies to release shoddy, buggy, dysfunctional or barely functional "crap" products to the consumer. The hope is that the consumers will then forgive the company, send in their specs for improvement, and eagerly await the new improved version. Some consider this the "dumbing down" of beta testing and sheer marketing suicide, since it ignores negative word of mouth advertising by "chumped" customers.

"Ship shoddy, but ship first" can also be open to allegations of false advertising. Also, it is not universally valid to state that "first in the marketplace" equates to "market dominance" or the lion's share of all potential sales. Many leading brands were not the first in the marketplace with an offering in a specific product category.

This "be crappy" seems bass ackwards to me.

Worse, it sounds misanthropic.

Talk about betraying the trust of your customer base!

This is definitely *not* "mentally correct marketing".

It sounds like "marketing suicide for dummies."

The dumbing down of beta testing.

Beta versions should ideally not be sold, but distributed free to typical, representative users, who provide feedback on bugs and malfunctions.

Beta testers then ought to be altruistically offered a steep discount on the improved version, prior to general release of the mass distribution/improved product to the general public.

This "Be Crappy" approach to product development and distribution blatantly ignores the devastating effects of "word of mouth" advertising by angry, disgruntled, cynical customers who have been "taken" and "suckered" by a "crap" product.

No way will customers send complaints to the manufacturer, wait for the manufacturer to supposedly fix the product, then rush out to buy the new, improved version of the "crappy" product.

What idiotic dream world is this, where customers forgive a provider for gross, intentional foisting of bad products on them?

I buy a "crap" product once and I never go back and buy anything from that manufacturer ever again.

Screw me once, and I hate you forever. There are too many competing products and brands out there to muck around with a loser.

From what I hear proclaimed about his theories, in my opinion, Guy Kawasaki knows NOTHING about marketing or consumer psychology.

NetMarketing, No. 54, December 18, 2000 quotes Gerry McGovern's article of December 1l, 2000 "In Praise of Simplicity":

The technology industry is a speed addict.

The only thing that matters for many companies is to get the product to market before the competition, regardless of whether it works or not. Ship then test. The consumer is not happy [with such shoddy, fault-ridden tech products].

So now let me introduce you to the very opposite of "Don't Worry, Be Crappy" marketing strategy...

The Lightning Strikers Manifesto

(1.) Find out what customers want, before you create and release a product into the marketplace.

(2.) Test the usability and desirability of the product, before you release it to the public.

(3.) Use instant intuition where accumulated facts and data are lacking.

(4.) Once you have the most perfect possible product, based on customer needs (Deming's "voice of the customer") and manufacturing capabilities (Deming's "voice of the process"), strike like lightning with it.

Like lightning, hit the market with your perfect as possible product.

Like lightning, hit the public consciousness, the main stream media, the blogosphere, whatever, with accurate, enthusiastic information about your as perfect as possible product.

Like lightning, hit the competition with sales of your perfect as possible product, taking market share away from them.

Listen to the thunder of customer applause, critical reviewer raves, and competitive groans.

(5.) Reject the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" mindset of mediocrity. Like lightning, speedily seek weak spots, improvement points, enhancement exciters in your product before the competition does. Constantly seek to find new and better versions of your as perfect as possible product.

(6.) To produce a "good enough" product is to invite the total and irreversible loss of credibility. Once the consumers form a mindset, a belief, a conviction that your products are junk, inferior, or faulty, expect a horrendous, nearly impossible uphill battle to change that perception.

(7.) "Don't Be Blurry, Be Snappy" is a better slogan for those who would destroy the competition and win the hearts and minds of customers. Don't have an unfocused image of the ideal product and settle for an lesser version. Be "snappy", have quick response to verified customer needs and manufacturing capabilities.

(8.) Instant Perfection and Immediate Dominance does occur. Aim for this, and if you fall a bit short, if you must make a gradual progression toward it, at least your target is admirable and worthy of the best thinking you can generate.

(9.) Never release to the public a product that you know is not as good as it could be. Never treat the marketplace like a focus group. When you release a "crappy" product to the customer, you're expecting them to buy something so you can learn more about it. Treat customers like "guinea pigs" and they'll let you wallow in the mud of shame,failure, and poverty.

(10.) Think: is this product, and marketing/distribution strategy, altruistic/philanthropic (i.e., good for others, with others as the priority, but also, therefore, ultimately, eventually, inevitably good for me too)...or narcissistic/misanthropic (i.e., good for me, but detrimental to others).

We have enough "crap" products, "junk" food, "garbage" television, "toxic" politics, and "dysfunctional" family relationships.

Don't dump more waste material on this planet, on sentient beings, or on your precious customers.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Donald Trump and Mentally Correct Marketing


"what the sea cucumber said to the soup" (Copyright 2005 Steven Streight. Created in Paint Shop Pro 7.) Posted by Hello

Donald Trump and Mentally Correct Marketing

By now, everybody's buzzing about last night's episode of The Apprentice, the reality television show on NBC.

The Apprentice features Donald Trump, marketing and business operations project assignments, and a bunch of losers who try to act managerial and intelligent.

For a great recap of The Apprentice Dove Commercial episode, and a brilliantly short and coherent URL query string attached to it (other web masters please take note, especially online newspapers), please rush over right now (I'll wait for you to read and then return to this blog) to:


When the two slacker project teams tried to put together a tv commercial for new Dove Cool Moisture Body Wash, they failed, predictably, miserably.

Donny Deutsch said they had to be crazy to make commercials that stupid.

Cucumbers, token gay lovers (admittedly based on "Will & Grace" which does NOT portray the reality of most gay men, who don't hang all over women like they're hetero coupling), street race runners, sweat and towels.

In one "commercial," I thought I was watching the Subhuman Special Olympics Parody on Saturday Night Live or Mr. Show.

In the other "commercial," I thought I was in dilapidated dork brothel, or some no-budget, no-imagination, satirical, wanker-core porn movie set.

Here's what the NBC recap states:

The first thing out of Donny's mouth was the team can't wear goofy outfits and be taken seriously.

So Donny made them take off their hats. Then Donny and the two managing partners watched Magna's commercial.

Donny shook his head, but made no comment. He thanked the team and sent them out. Next, Net Worth presented their commercial. Donny thanked the group and sent them out.

Donny started the discussion with his two managing partners by saying that he was really disappointed. He thought that both commercials were "silly", "stupid" and "off". Both executives agreed.

One said that the choice was between a disgusting commercial where a sweaty runner rubs on body wash without using any water and a semi-porn piece.

Donny brought both teams back into the conference room and got Trump on the line. Donny pulled no punches and said that both teams "missed big." He had to tell Trump that there was no winner - an Apprentice first!

So, Trump responded with his own first and said that both teams would return to the boardroom to face him and someone would be fired.

Such wretchedly awful advertising and marketing incompetence!

The likes of which neither Dons had ever seen before.

And yet...forgive me for being so hard on the project teams. They had no experience in advertising or television. Why did anyone think they could avoid a total disaster?

This "make a tv commercial for Dove" was really just a "3D" publicity stunt: for Dove, Deutsch, and the Donald.

The worst commercial was the Deutsch spot. They are a real ad agency. And they still blew it bad.

You can't sell soap with dancing, smiling, and Miss Piggy.

What's so hard about advertising?

We're all experts at it, since we have consumed millions of radio and televison commercials,print ads, and junk mail since babyhood.

We have all formed opinions and discussed commercials with friends and co-workers. Those slackers on The Apprentice should have not been utterly clueless dolts.

No one had the guts to say, "This sucks. We cannot go through with this. We'd be better off doing nothing and apologizing, than doing something this brain dead."

I used to turn the volume OFF on the tv programs, and ON during commercials, when I was in my 20s and trying to study advertising. An ex-girlfriend named Molly can vouch for this, and she still giggles about it.

The Apprentice aired the actual Dove commercial produced by the ad agency, and I have to speak my mind here again: it sucked too.

Very trite, unimaginative, pointless.

Was that Miss Piggy? Who cares about Sesame Street or whatever Miss Piggy stars in?

This commercial contains no solid, problem-solving or benefit-providing message, no dramatized reason to buy the Dove product, and I would not have signed off on it.

Here's what I posted on the "Ad Rants" ( blog site:

Deutsch should have dramatized dry, rough, itchy skin. Seth Godin says you have to explain the problem to most consumers before you can offer the solution and make the solution attractive. I agree. There are lots of ways to dramatize what it is that the Dove Cool Moisture Body Wash provides as a benefit. But too many pseudo-ad types think: "Let's have fun with the product. Let's have people dancing and smiling. Let's show happiness and imply that the product ultimately enhances happiness." So the problem and the product's unique solution get lost in the haze of stupid theatrics, music, costumes, Miss Piggy, and other brain dead idiot ideas--in the name of "fun."

How To Produce an Advertising Concept

Just look at the product.

Look at the problem it solves.

Look at the benefit it provides.

Think about why people need
that solution or benefit.

Think about what it's like
to NOT have that
solution or benefit.

Think of a good way to convey how
the product solves the problem
or how it provides a benefit...

...and why this product
is ideal and necessary NOW.

[That's the hard, but fun part.]

Streight Site Systems
Mentally Correct Marketing Version of a
Dove Cool Moisture Body Wash commercial

Take One:

A guy takes a gal on a date.

Everything is romantic and wonderful.

He goes to brush a crumb off her bare arm.

His hand starts bleeding, scraped by the rough skin.

He looks in shock and horrror as the gal begins
to turn into a Sandpaper & Barbed Wire Monster.

He runs for his life, dripping blood.

Dove Moisturizing Body Wash.
Antidote to dangerously dry skin.
Soften YOUR world...with Dove.


You could do all sorts of things
to dramatize dry skin.

Criminally dry skin.

Monstrously dry skin.

Embarrassingly itchy dry skin.

Dry skin that itches at
inopportune moments.

That's it.

Dove will have to pay me
to learn more.

My wife had an even better idea
for the commercial, but it'll
cost you to hear it, Dove.

BTW, Dove shampoo, conditioner,
and shower gel liquid soap stuff
are incredible.

I highly recommend
all Dove products.

Now if only somebody would do
some astonishingly smart and
effective television commercials.

Like EarthLink.

Like that financial company
(Edward Jones, I think)
commercial where the therapist
speaks a foreign language to
the mental problem "client".

(It must not be that good,
however, if I can't recall
the company name, some broker?)

Donald Trump:

"Mediocrity is always
due to laziness,
the refusal to go
the extra mile."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Selling the "Pre-sold" Customer


First, let me explain what led up to the uproar over the issue of allegedly "pre-sold" ecommerce web site visitors.

The Law of Promo Photos

In a certain internet-based forum of mutual technical assistance, and occasional heated debate, I recently read a statement that amazed me.

I had stipulated in that forum that in direct marketing, it is a proven fact, based on numerous A/B split tests, that photos in advertising and sales material should show:


In use by customer.

Solving a problem.


Providing a benefit.


Enhancing someone's life.

Again: show typical users as they use the product, or obviously just finished using the product, to accomplish some specific goal.

Never just show the corporate office building, or a flagship product, or the entire line of products.

Those photos can come later, somewhere within the promotional/sales material, but not upfront and dominant.

When Product in Use photos were tested against Product Alone photos, in measurable direct response test situations, the Product in Use photos always produced greater customer response than the Product Alone photos.

There are exceptions, especially for universally known brands and products, like Coca Cola, IBM, or Madonna.

For some products or services, it may be difficult or impossible to show them being used by the customer. But in most cases a little imagination, plus knowledge of the customer, is all that's needed to come up with some type of product benefit image.

Application of Promo Photo Law
to Web Sites

I believe that this general guideline applies to web sites also.

A web site performs many functions for a company.

It can POTENTIALLY act as a virtual product showcase, corporate receptionist, advertising billboard, salesperson, brochure, catalog, order form processor, distribution point, PR agent, customer service department, etc.

The Comment That
Freaked Me Out

So, in the midst of debating these principles, my importation of database direct marketing principles into the realm of ecommerce applications at web sites, this comment occurred [paraphrased slightly, not the exact quote]:

"People visit an ecommerce web site to get information about the product. They already know they need an item, so they just want to know what the site has to offer in that product line. Photos of products are sufficient. The site visitor doesn't need a full sales pitch. He or she is already sold."

See that pile of hair on the floor?

It's okay, believe me.

I'll grow more eventually, to replace what I tore out.

Selling and Overcoming Buyer's Remorse
of "Pre-sold" Customers

"Pre-sold" customers visiting ecommerce web sites?

That's ill considered, unintentionally negligent, and abundantly disproven.

Remember the dot com bust in the 1990s?

That was one of the detrimental, self-defeating assumptions that caused so many ecommerce "web presences" to sink and disappear forever.

You must NEVER assume any customer or prospect is "pre-sold".

They don't visit your site eager and ready to part with their hard-earned money. A certain percentage of web site visitors may be wanting to quickly pick out appropriate or desired products and proceed to the virtual check out counter...but never assume that all visitors are so disposed.

Even if a web visitor is "pre-sold", what about upselling and cross-selling them? Sales pitches, of varying intensity and depth, should be taking place on an ecommerce web site.

A Web Developers Virtual Library tutorial on ecommerce shopping cart abandonment "Ecommerce and Usability" by Andrew Starling:

states that up to 30% of ecommerce site shoppers abandon their shopping carts. They selected products to buy, but did not proceed to the order form to actually purchase anything.

Studies have also shown that even when a person is 100% ready to buy, the mentally correct marketing strategy is to Sell Them Again, at least to reinforce their wisdom in deciding to buy your product, and to buy it now.

In fact, some customers, including me sometimes, will view an ecommerce web site to gather product information and price quotes, then go to a bricks and mortar store to wheel and deal with that information as ammunition.

This is a far cry from being a "pre-sold" customer visiting a web site.

Then there's Buyer's Remorse.

"Buyer's Remorse" is the technical term for what Selling The Already Sold Customer overcomes:

**Soon after people buy any product, uncertainty assails them, and they begin to wonder if they made a huge mistake. Most medium to high level purchases are subject to this principle of Buyer's Remorse, while it rarely occurs with the purchase of candy bars or habitual purchases like cigarettes.**

No matter how "pre-sold" any customer is when they walk into your store...or visit your ecommerce web site...they still desire, in most cases, to be reassured.

Reassure your customers about their supposedly "pre-sold" condition. Reassure them that they have indeed made the right decision.

For those customers who really are "pre-sold", provide them with detailed product comparisons to help them determine which product offering is best suited to their needs. Then give them a fast and easy route to ordering the products selected.

Do your best to accommodate each customer type, but don't assume that most are "pre-sold" and don't need any reminders of value, or reassurances that their decision to buy from you is wise.

This is the essence of Mentally Correct Marketing, and one of its most important principles.


EDIT UPDATE (Thursday Feb. 3, 2005 at 11:45PM):

I just got "flamed" on that same forum.

I will not divulge the name of the forum,
nor the name of the flamer.

But here is my response:

[________] asked me to provide sources and
citations for my claims.

How about WDVL web site?

An article on Ecommerce Shopping Cart Abandonment
["Ecommerce and Usability" by Andrew Starling]
at the Web Developer Virtual Library site states:

"...[ecommerce shopping cart abandonment statistics]
are generally reported at around 30%.

You don't see 30% of customers in a real supermarket
abandoning their carts, so why is the figure so high
on the Internet? There are many factors including
security, reliability, and high shipping charges (a
major influence) but another big factor is the
intimidating nature of the Web. It's technical and
lacks human contact."

This is related to my claim that we cannot assum that
visitors who go to ecommerce sites are somehow
"pre-sold" and just seek product details and ordering

That is really a wrong-headed idea.

I stand by my post on Selling the "Pre-sold" Customer
over at Streight Site blog, but thank you for pointing
out the fact that I really should provide links to
reputable sources.

ConsumerWebWatch has reviewed my web sites and found
them to be in compliance with their guidelines for Web
Site Information Credibility, and I am listed on their
site as a company that has pledged to continue to
adhere to these guidelines.

Have you any credentials this good?

I have the advantage of many years experience in
database direct response marketing, and some years as
a web usability analyst and user observation test
designer and administrator.

I'm just a beginner at HTML, XML, network security,
and other web-related issues.

Most of the [_______] list folks could make me look bad
quite easily and quickly on those technical issues,
which I therefore avoid debating.

I'm a tiny wee bit concerned to hear someone I like
and respect, who sent [did me a certain favor],
claim that he has:

"not heard a SINGLE thing contributed to ANY
conversation [I] have joined [er...I start some
conversations, I'm not just a joiner or a lurker]
based on ANYTHING BUT preponderance and speculation."

Search the [_______] archives and see if I merely make
wild statements of pure, unverifiable opinion.


the word means "weighs more than something else" and
yes, my comments on usability, and especially database
direct response marketing do "weigh more" than
comments on this topic from someone who lacks such

I never mean to "bait" or "flame" anyone, but if I
read a statement that in my professional expertise I
consider wrong, or even potentially detrimental, I
will speak out.

---Love and German (not French) Kisses,
Vaspers the Grate

EDIT UPDATE (Friday, Feb.4, 2005 at 10:34 AM)

My beloved flamer had to respond to my [flame response] post in the forum.

Though he's a web designer/developer, he said he went to Consumer Reports WebWatch and was unable to find me listed on their site. I'm not going to take him by the hand and teach him how to navigate a web site.

He asked what on earth is "database direct marketing" and if I'm one of those people that call him on the phone in the middle of his dinner. Well, at least he has a sense of humor. But if he doesn't know what "database direct marketing" is, he should find out for himself.

He insists on mentioning, by first name even, the person whose statement he claim I have horribly mangled, misrepresented, and used in an "inflammatory" manner.

Well, the person said words to the effect (I refrain from giving exact quote, to make it harder to trace, because I don't want to embarrass the person) that visitors to an ecommerce web site are already "pre-sold" and don't need any sales pitch, just details about the product line and instructions on how to order.

He, as many flamers tend to do, avoids direct discussion of the ecommerce and "pre-sold" customers issue. I guess he knows it is indefensible and outrageous.

Instead, he attacks my credentials, my expertise, my supposedly wild speculations. This is a common ploy that I'm used to encountering in online debates.

He also, and I had to chuckle heartily on this one, asked who I was, since all he could see was "a collection of free blogs."

So now he wants a list of all my clients, and all the web sites I've helped to improve via usability analysis and user observation testing? Sorry, he's just not worth the trouble to go into all that. But I could, if I deemed it truly important to do so.

He also has not been initiated into my esoteric faith, what I refer to as the doctrine of Zero Budget Marketing, a slightly revolutionary concept based on:

"What can a company do with zero, or near-zero expenditure of funds? And if a lot can be done with virtually no budget, just think what might be done with decent or merely average funding of a program!"

I will be posting an article soon here on my theory and implementation of Zero Budget Marketing.

As much as I enjoy lively discussion, passionately held beliefs, and dedication to facts obtained via long professional experience and rigorous research work, I feel I should not make any more replies.

Sometimes self-defense and explanation is appropriate. Other times, it just makes you look pathetic and overly concerned about being perceived as "right" about something.

Love and combative generosity,
Vaspers the Grate

EDIT UPDATE (Friday, Feb. 4, 2005 at 11:30 AM)

At the forum, someone expressed his habit of going to ecommerce web sites knowing exactly what product he wants, thus he is "pre-sold".

He was so happy that others are proclaiming that ecommerce web site visitors are "pre-sold". His expression of delight and relief was odd.

Perhaps he has grown to hate sales and marketing. Maybe he's shy and passive, and has been chumped by unscrupulous, slick, aggressive sales people in the past.

Maybe he doesn't know much about sales and marketing, thus resents being told that ecommerce web sites must incorporate such knowledge, knowledge he is not adept at.

Who knows?

He claims, or maybe I should more accurately say, he seems to think perhaps that he is typical of most ecommerce web site visitors.


His anecdotal evidence may be true for him in most of his ecommerce experiences, but I question if his experience is typical for most ecommerce site visitors.

I press this point, because of how important it is for ecommerce site owners to decide upon the expected nature of visitors to their site.

Ecommerce is about intelligent, appropriate sales messages, not "here's our stuff, and here's the order form."

Here's my recent reply to this thread at the online forum...


"Then try this experiment:

Set up an ecommerce site that assumes that *all or
most* visitors are "pre-sold" and need no solid
explanations of the benefits and great features of
your products.

See how profitable it is, compared to another version
of the site that assumes that *all or most* visitors
can bear to be exposed to a stronger, but appropriate,
marketing message explaining or at least listing the
benefits and great features of your products.

This idea of an ecommerce web site being simply a
"digital brochure" or "online catalog" with little or
no marketing or sales strategy is not only old
fashioned presumption, but is largely responsible for
the dot com bust of the 1990s:

...thinking "if I just have an online presence,
customers will flock to it and buy my products

There are many reasons for shopping cart abandonment
and for the fact that most web visitors bail out of a
site within 1-2 page views and within 10 seconds.

But assuming the "pre-sold" nature of web visitors is
a fallacy that contributes to failure."

[NOTE: Now watch them swarm that statement of "bail out of a site within 1-2 page views and within 10 seconds". This will probably offend them as web designers, some of whom can't bear to think of anybody not being awed by their site designs.

If they are typical flamers, they'll attack at what they think is the weakest point of my argument, not knowing all the reputable internet research statistics that support the statements.]

Love and debatable debacles,
Vaspers the Grate