Thursday, December 09, 2004

Test Your Instructions With Users

I'm not in a good mood and there's a reason for it.

I just spent over 5 hours mucking around with installing a popular software program, actually an upgrade/renewal of a subscription to a service, and it should have taken less than 2 hours.

Why the extra 3 hours?

Somebody forgot or refused to test actual average typical users on the download instructions.

There are complex instructions, with many "if this occurs, it MAY BE due to (whatever), so you MAY TRY clicking on this, then this screen SHOULD appear, and then you should click on (whatever)"--totally worthless user guidance

The instructions were wrong most of the time. Certain functions to click on did NOT appear on the screens. Certain events did NOT occur as predicted in the instructions. Many things had no relation whatsoever to reality. Bogus.

Who approved these worthless yet complex instructions?

One thing's certain: the instructions were not field tested with users.

The software upgrade/renewal had to go through these phases:

1. Website Contact via Browser
2. Download
3. Install
4. Activate
5. Refresh via Computer Re-start
6. Operate (allow the software to scan and perform its functions)

I really like the company and their superior quality product.

I trust the company.

I will not even consider any competitive products.

But the Customer Service is rotten, horrible, ridiculous.

Another case of asinine Outshore Outsourcing strikes again.

First, the online instructions are a nightmarish mess.

Next, the toll free 800 Customer Service is manned by people seemingly in India or Pakistan, and while I love both of these countries and wish them no harm, the Customer Service representatives CANNOT CORRECTLY PRONOUNCE ENGLISH WORDS.

"Status" was garbled into STAY TUSS, sounding like SLAVE BUS or something. I explained that I pronounced it STA (A as in "AT" and "BACK") TUSS. I tried to be polite and patient. I feel sorry for these poor workers who are improperly trained by the ignorant American corporations.

I predict that Offshore Outsourcing is Corporate Suicide, and it will play a major role in the irreversible decline of the United States.

Offshore Outsourcing will enable China and the European Union to rise to global dominance, usurping the USA. Maybe we deserve to devolve into a third rate republic. Judging by American corporate customer service, I'd say we're shooting ourselves in the foot so we can hobble around like Oedipus, only to be blinded by the light of the truth.

You must TEST your instructions and procedures on actual representative users.

Too many companies seem to be throwing up instructions on their web sites, in manuals, in software, etc. without knowing if anyone outside their offices can figure out the damn things.

This is a user-hostile attitude.

This is Psycho Narcissistic Pseudo-Capitalism, based on selfish negligence.

My post on "Customer Service IS a Profit Center" needs to be heeded.

My post on "Dumbing Down vs. Simplicity" over at my Vaspers the Grate web usability blog needs to be heeded.

Common sense and decency are all it takes to understand that companies cannot merely assume that instructions are followable.

Just because the instructions make some degree of sense to the writer, designer, and manager does not mean that the market, user base, audience is going to be successful with them.

How many sales and repeat business are lost due to this crucial step in the implementation of a product?

Bosses should not be allowed to test anything.

Your only testers should be typical users, average customers, of your product. Test them with no coaching, no added explanations, just the raw instructions provided on the web site, or in the manual or software.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thinking Outside the Brainwashing Box

Mentally Correct Marketing consists of Thinking Outside the Brainwashing Box.

Here are some examples:


A church serves communion...with oyster crackers. You know, those little oval crackers you put in chilli. It makes you want to laugh, or knock them out of the usher's hand and crush them underfoot, whilst loudly proclaiming, "That's it. I can't stand any more disrespect and sacrilege."


Notice all the resignations in the United States government, secretary of this and secretary of that, and now the head of Homeland Security? And what is the reason they're giving? "I want to spend more time with my family."

How stupid and blindly obedient do these chumps think we are?

We know they didn't suddenly turn into family lovers.

Why can't they be honest and say, "It's not fun anymore" or "Honestly folks, I'm burnt out" or "I'm not the right person for this job. I'm interested in pursuing more lucrative private sector work"?


It's funny to see the big mainstream media chumps resign right after being exposed as liars, incompetent journalists, and political hacks.

It's also funny to note that their resignations occur right after they got together in a little pow wow and condemned the "bloggers sitting at their computers in pajamas" as though what a blogger wears has something to do with their credibility.


We have to think for ourselves when it comes to health products and services.

The pharmaceutical companies, many doctors and medical associations, and perhaps the liquor industry, are against the legalization of medical or recreational marihuana.

This is bad news for sufferers who gain no relief from "orthodox" mainstream medical practice.

The anti-drug groups express fears that people will abuse marihuana, but fail to notice all the abuse of allergy medicine, prescription pain killers, etc., and the massive doping of children with Ritalin, Prozac, and Dexedrine, as a "cure" for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

I think the children need less television, no video games, healthier diets, more outdoor exercise, and more compassionate discipline, not "mood drugs".

The recreational drug solution is simple and obvious: make any drug or alcohol related crime more punitive.

Be less forgiving as a society when someone causes damage or injury when intoxicated by anything, from sugared/fatty junk food to heroin.

The message would then be: if you get intoxicated, don't drive or operate heavy machinery or do anything that could endanger yourself or others.

But don't make the intoxication itself a crime...

...unless you want to make gluttony a crime, since overeating and poor diets result in higher health care costs and personal problems of obesity and increased health risks.

Vioxx has proven, along with other medicines that were sold then banned, that we cannot trust the FDA or doctors or the greedy pharmaceutical industry.

We can appreciate the good these groups do, but we must be wary of their imperfections and even sinister agendas.

It seems to me that marihuana is condemned largely due to how growing a simple plant in your garden or attic would result in huge financial losses to pharmaceutical companies. The side effects and "dangers" of marihuana pale in comparison to many other "approved" medicines.


How funny it is to hear that prisoners in G-Bay, Cuba, suspected terrorists, are being tortured with loud, incessant rap music.

There's nothing funny about torture, and the USA is supposed to be more civilized and moral than our terrorist enemies.

When people say, "They deserve it, they're terrorists, they want to kill more Americans, they are less than human" it makes me shudder.

That kind of talk is not patriotic, not representative of true American values.

We cannot fight the Taliban by becoming like the Taliban. If we become just as nasty, barbaric, and immoral as our enemies, do we deserve to win?

But what is funny to me is the use of rap music. To me, rap music is torture. Not black music per se, I like soul music.

And some forms of rock, dinosaur rock, outmoded bands that stick to plain old rock and roll or heavy/death metal, like AC/DC, Metallica, growl and scream bands, or Aerosmith, they're torture, too.

I wonder if any of the still living rap artists, the ones who haven't shot or stabbed each other, have anything to say about being labeled "torture" to listen to?

I suggest we use opera music. That's even more torturous than rap or old fashioned rock music.

But we must not use any music in an inhumane manner. Just enough to make them confess.

To be forced to listen to gangster rap, heavy metal, growl'n'scream punk, or operatic music 24 hours a day, seven days a week...well, that's a fate worse than death.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Content Hypertext Spam



Yes, precious fans, I've stumbled onto another horrible development on the web. This is so awful, I'm posting the exact same post on this site that I posted on Vaspers the Grate, my web usability blog.

This is too much. The internet is getting worse every day. Dig this...



Well, I thought that "Comment Spam" was the worst thing that ever happened to blogs and interactive functions of web sites.

Boy, was I wrong. There's something worse.

I call it "Content Hypertext Spam." Others refer to it as IntelliTXT, from Vibrant Media, the provider company that offers this "product" to dumb webmasters.

You know I never attack a company or a product. But this time, I'm making an exception, though I'm going to concentrate on the concept, more than the supplier.

What is "Content Hypertext Spam"?

Let's say you're at some web site.

You skimmed, skipped, and scanned until you found an item of interest, an article on a topic of concern to you personally or professionally.

You start reading this article.

You enjoy it. You're learning some valuable facts.

You see a blue, underlined word or phrase in the text.

You're no dummy.

You know that text is clickable/selectable.

You click/select it, hoping to be taken to another online resource that will explain in more detail some aspect of the topic discussed in the article.


You just navigated to a web site that wants to sell you something.

Some product that is probably totally unrelated to the topic or issue discussed in the article.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to:


Every time an unsuspecting user clicks on/selects such a deceptive link, the web site owner/webmaster gets some money from the advertiser.

HOVER STATE WARNING: You will know it's Content Hypertext Spam, prior to clicking on/selecting the link, because a box will pop up, like a tool tip, when you hover your cursor over the text. The box will contain a headline like "SPONSORED LINK", a paragraph of descriptive text, and a URL (web address) to click on/select.

What you thought was a legitimate hypertext link, was actually a Hidden Advertisement.

This is Spam...hidden in Content...and disguised as a Hypertext Link.

Content Hypertext Spam goes far beyond simple Comment Spam.

To be bothered or led astray by Comment Spam, you have to read an article, then activate "Read Comments" (navigate to comment posting page of web site), then read the Comment Spam, then stupidly click on/select the spammy, possibly dangerous URL contained within the (usually irrelevant) comment.

With Content Hypertext Spam, all you have to do to be annoyed or misled by this spam is innocently read an article and click on/select a linkable bit of text.

Content Hypertext Spam by IntelliTXT is "Spam" because it is:

1. unsolicited advertising

2. commercial in nature

3. disruptive of content path

4. irrelevant to topic of article

5. irrelevant to purpose of online resource

6. deceptive (pretends to be relevant content, but is really an ad)

7. destination is AWAY from topic, rather than TOWARD relevant information

8. harmful to editorial integrity

9. damaging to credibility of online resources in general

10. violates user expectations of link destinations and how links work

11. blurs distinction between editorial content and advertising

12. voluntarily, knowingly incorporated into web site content by webmaster, but users are in the dark about what the links really are (clandestine marketing ploy)

13. the link spam could target more words than the webmaster anticipated, thus making webmaster an object of ridicule and distrust

14. can result in users never returning to site and they'll start warning others: resulting in negative word of mouth advertising against you

How You Can Combat Content Hypertext Spam:

Add * to your restricted sites list.

Depart from, and never return to, any online resource, web site, or blog, that contains Content Hypertext Spam.

Contact the webmaster and complain about the deceptive Content Hypertext Spam.


For more insight into this new form of internet trash, please see:

Marketing Works-Julia Hyde "Vibrant Media's IntelliTXT--the next generation of annoying online advertising"

Editors "News Sites: new risks of confusion between ads and contents" "This Headline is Not For Sale"

Friday, October 29, 2004

Comment Spammers: Internet Pigs and How They Feed

internet pigs and how they feed Posted by Hello

NOTICE: This is an exact copy of today's Vaspers the Grate web usability blog post. This topic is so important to users, blog and web site administrators, and the entire internet, I felt it needed maximum readership.

ABSTRACT (SUMMARY): Comment spam is irrelevant, unethical, offensive, or unwanted, typically commercial, message propagation on comment posting pages of blogs and web sites.

Comment spam is invading every interactive and community building functionality on the internet.

Here's what you need to do to protect yourself, and to help stop this unprecedented attack by these "internet pigs."

PERSONAL AGENDA: Comment spammers killed one of the best blog directories, Blizg, which enabled bloggers to paste meta-tags into their templates.

Comment spammers are killing my favorite art magazine discussion forum. It's time to launch a savage techno/psychological assault on these depraved idiots.


If you operate or regularly visit internet discussion forms hosted by online magazines or professional organizations, I'm sure you've seen this foul predator.

If you operate or regularly visit blogs, I'm sure you've encountered this disgusting fiend.

Comment spam!

You know--you're interested in a question, issue, or idea being discussed online. You click on (select) the "thread" (topic) and begin to read. You enjoy good user-generated content, which enriches the value of this web site.







(Then....) What??????


Ladies and gentlemen, may I have the distinct honor to introduce to you all the Next Big Thing in internet garbage, your new and relentlessly ruthless Enemy: COMMENT SPAM.


(1.) automatic irrelevant drivel generated by spambots (program code strings), generally signed "buy levitra" or some other dubious commercial crap, and usually accompanied by URLS

(2.) human created drivel, or too brief, generic, stilted comments ("Hello. This is my first time here. I read almost the whole article. Nice work on an interesting topic. Will return to read more later. (etc.)"), usually accompanied by URLs

(3.) lengthy irrelevant lists of domain names for sale, pornographic sites, municipal law codes, literary reviews, news items, etc.

(4.) comments that are extremely offensive or irrelevant and Off Topic (OT).

I'm not refering to just plain dumb and dumber comments.

I'm talking about nonsense, confusion, insincerity, gibberish, or cut and paste editorial that is totally irrelevant, if not X-rated sexual crap, race hatred, or partisan political frenzy lunacy.

I call these spurious commentors Internet Pigs.

The comment spammer Internet Pigs seethe with rage and loathing for people like me, who expose them and teach others how to identify, throttle, thwart, and harm them.


Usually this comment spam will have URLs (web addresses, starting with http://www.) attached at the bottom or embedded in the text.

This is done to get readers to click on (select) them and thus boost the comment spammers Search Engine Ranking to drive user traffic to their site, or the site of some company they are promoting.

Just posting these URLs will boost Search Engine ranking for the spammers.

Sometimes the destinations of the URLs, the web or blog entry addresses, are legitimate.

But the comment spam is not legitimate, not ethical, and will soon become totally ILLEGAL.

Some people whine and moan and wave their "freedom of expression" flags in the air like we have to salute them, no matter how ridiculous or offensive that expression may be.


Discussion forums and blogs are not dedicated to editorial anarachy or "freedom of expression" at the cost of integrity, decency, intelligence, and relevance to the topic thread.

Comment spammers use "copy and paste" (copy text from anywhere on the web, then paste it in a comment posting area) and "random text generators" (meaningless, garbled word salad, strings of words that may almost make sense, but go nowhere fast) to do their dirty work.

If you've ever accidentally opened a spam email, you've probably seen some random text: (EXAMPLE) "She shopped near the tree crumb bloat factory bread as many unseen fingernails succumbed to ill noticed color dimension airplane meanderings in the smoke flush dawn bleak report."

This nonsense wording is used to sound somewhat literate, thus fooling the spam and virus filters on your email program. The same thing occurs on comment posting pages of web sites.

Spambots and human comment spammers will use philosophy quotes, quotes from Hollywood stars, song lyrics, anything innocent sounding, to trick filters into thinking the comment is real, relevant user-generated content.

Or you'll see weird little hash marks, umlauts, or accent marks hovering over letters. Another method for tricking rhetoric/syntax/vocabulary based filters.

If a comment is repulsive, misleading, hate-mongering, trolling, baiting, stupid, or just plain off topic (OT) will, or should, be deleted forever.

Some comment spammers cry about "strange" comments being possibly innocent "art". Or simply innocent blog/web site promotion tactics.

Who are they trying to fool? You shouldn't promote anything, without at least contributing an intelligent, informative comment that adds to the overall thread conversation.

Comments are content. Not an opportunity to blabber stupidly or unethically.

My reply to this, from an actual comment I made on a art discussion forum:

"Comment spam has been defined and so has freedom of speech.

If you don't know the difference between spam and legitimate comments, between search engine ranking techniques and bonafide conversation--how charming and quaint your hicktown aesthetics are, so unspoilt by technical considerations.

A forum is not a chat room, nor a page rank booster, nor a free advertising arena."

I got lots of hostile, obscene, foul-mouthed, spam-comment replies to that announcement in the art discussion forum. Which proves how sick these spam perpetrators are.

Sometimes a blog commenter will post a comment with a alleged link to an article he wrote on a web site, but when you foolishly follow the link, you're taken to some page of the site that has nothing to do with the alleged article.

This too is comment spam.

Blog commentors: get your act together, please quit commenting sloppily--or you'll likely be considered an Internet Pig comment spammer.

According to Adam Kalsey, CTO of Pheedo, comment spam began at Usenet, migrated to Email, and now is viciously attacking Blogs and Discussion Forums.

Spammers are hitting Trackbacks, Blogrolls, Email This Article To A Friend, RSS Feeds, Guestbooks, any interactive functionality they can exploit to their greedy advantage.

Elise Bauer at the MT tutorial site has a good explanation of these different spamming methods and site vulnerabilities. She also has a great policy statement on deleting any comments she considers OT (Off Topic), ignorant, or simply insubstantial in regard to the topic being discussed. Hooray for lovely Elise!

The Internet Pig Comment Spammers must really dread having to flip burgers at McDonalds, selling appliances at Sears, or going to college to learn a skill.

I rank the skanky Internet Pigs almost as low as crack whores/pimps or pharmaceutical companies anxious to dope teenage Johnny for just being a normal, active, authority-questioning male.

Joi Ito asks in her blog: are blogs "parties" anyone can attend...or publications that may be strictly edited? Depends on the blog, but most are both to some degree.

But her blog article discussing comment spam has spam in comments #27 to #32, which I complained about in a comment posted to the discussion. I must await her approval before seeing my comment posted. Good for her! That's one good way to combat the Internet Pigs.

Photo Matt blog states in "Weeds in the Garden":

" a good read. Now scroll down to the comments. Dozens and dozens of spam comments. I see this over and over again on MT and s9y sites. What’s terrible is these pages are just as dangerous as dedicated spam blogs. Think about it: I shouldn’t even be linking to it now."

Blogging expert and pioneer Dave Winer thinks that comment posting in blogs is not vital. As far as I understand, blogs were originally just lists of URLs of interest, not random drivel about boring personal feelings and activities.

Mark Pilgrim of Dive Into Mark blog compares the two possible comment spam riddance solutions to The Club or Lojack approaches to prevent or punish car theft. It's a very good, heavily-linked (full of linked external resources) read for all you intellectuals out there.

Amy Gahran, sort of a protege of Jakob Nielsen, discusses comment spam in her Contentious blog.

Jay Allen, Jeremy Zawodny, WIRED magazine, Steven Berlin Johnson, Jeffrey Zeldman, Google bloggers, Sun Microsystems bloggers, and many of the major web design and developer experts have recently been posting warnings and manifestos of war against comment spammers.

There are ways to hurt the comment spammers and deprive them of their sources of income, but you have to be fairly geeky to do it.

It includes reporting them to their hosting providers, telling ISPs what their connections are being used for, and complaining to the product manufacturers the spammers supposedly represent.


Mark Glaser at Online Journalism Review, provides these tips (my paraphrase, plus I add one or two to his list):

1. Turn off comments. Users and spammers both are unable to post remarks.

2. Turn off comment posting on older posts (spammers love them).

3. Don't allow URL links in comments.

4. Use a blacklisting (forbidden domains, email addresses, etc.) service.

5. Use a whitelisting (allowable domains, email addresses, etc.) service.

6. Redirect all links from your blog comments (no boost in Search Engine rank).

7. Require user registration prior to comment posting.

8. Require users to preview comments prior to posting.

9. Use a "captcha" device (numbers or letters contained in a graphic image that users must enter in a box, or an easy math problem users must enter the answer to).

10. Email verification of comment (users must reply to an email asking if they actually authored the comment).

11. Moderate the comments, imposing an indefinite delay on posting.

12. Issue legal warnings about criminality of comment spam.


Comment Spam is a hot topic right now. You should educate yourself on this.

USERS: Write emails to editors, administrators, and operators of blogs and online forums and demand that they either moderate the comments, add bot blockers like captchas, or install some type of anti-spam software.

BLOGS & FORUMS: Quit whining. Manual deleting of comments is not impossibly hard. Generally, it's just clicking. Even if it's 200 per day, so what? Hire a retired person do it for you, or a give a high school kid free pizza and soda for doing it. Find a solution.

USERS: Don't have a hissy fit if a blog or forum asks you to register, preview, or email verify before your precious comment will appear on a site. You can't wait for your comment to be posted? Comment posting is a privilege, not an inherent right granted by God to you.

EVERYBODY: Thanks for getting off your butt and helping to fight the comment spamming Internet Pigs.

Declare all out war on Comment Spam, before this blight forces us all to no longer allow comments anywhere, thus reducing the interactive quality of the entire web.

And a rampant disabling of all interactive/community building functionalities is doomsday for the internet.

In fact, along with offshore outsourcing, comment spam has the potential to severely damage information sharing, and ultimately, the United States economy--along with the inherent value and effectiveness of the global internet.

Makes you wonder who's really behind all this, doesn't it?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Mentally Correct Means Effective and Ethical

Posted by Hello

I spend a great deal of time yesterday debating an issue. The debate occured on a web developer's email discussion list.

"Pre-selection" of options on a form was the hot topic. As usual, I was the one who pretty much started the war.

You know what I mean: you register at a site, or sign up for an email newsletter, and you are presented with all these other options to choose from. Special offers from other advertisers, other newsletters and email alerts, etc.

Often certain items have check marks already in the boxes, and you have to click on the boxes to "unselect" them.

Someone had asked about code for pre-selecting choices on a form. But he meant post, not pre, selection. He refered to when a user updates a profile, and wants to see what he had already, previously selected.

I misunderstood the context, and dropped a bomb on "pre-selection" calling it an abomination. I was refering to actual pre-selection of check boxes on a form or function, forcing the user to "de-select" or "uncheck" the boxes, which is, in most cases, ridiculous.

Pre-selection, pre-checked boxes on a form or function violates the concept of the web: user empowerment, unconstrained by other parties, who may have dubious motives and agendas, greedy for easy income from unsuspecting people.

Someone actually argued that presenting users with unchecked boxes is coercive also: you're forcing the "No" option on them.

No: you're allowing users to decide "Yes" or "No". You are abstaining from forcing users to void your decision and replace it with their own.

That argument that unchecked boxes are coercive is like saying that not raping a woman is forcing on her the decision to not be raped, so it's just as brutal to not rape her as to rape her. Both acts are aggressive. What a pile of you know what!

I'll post a more in-depth article on this pre-selection topic over at my web usability blog, Vaspers the Grate.

But the lesson for all marketers and sales professionals is this: never bully or try to trick any customer into opting into something they don't really want or don't give their fully informed consent to.

I suspect that some unscrupulous marketers advocate the pre-selection of checkboxes in the hopes that users, who are nearly always impatient, inattentive to fine details, and in a big hurry, will not notice these pre-selections.

They hope some users will end up getting items or signing up for what the marketers want to push on them, rather than what the users knowingly opt in for.

Con artistry, manipulation, scamming, ripping off, lying, deceiving, misinforming, bullying, tricking, taking advantage of people is always wrong.

Unethical business practice is a guaranteed way to be miserable, to lose money, to ruin a company, to generate bad word of mouth, to turn public opinion against you, to acquire a lousy reputation, to attract negative forces into your life.

This is not "mystical" or idealistic or religious.

The Golden Rule: it's a proverbial, pragmatic truth that has been on the lips of the wise for millenia.

Treat others with respect, compassion, and truth.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Is Your Marketing a Corpse Flower?

Photo credit: Claire Ehrlinger, Quail Botanical Gardens. Posted by Hello


University of California, Davis Posted by Hello


from an article by
John Pickrell in England
for National Geographic News
July 18, 2003

"A flower taller than a man, stinking strongly of putrefying roadkill and colored deep burgundy to mimic rotting flesh, sounds like something from a low-budget science fiction movie. But Indonesia's titan arum—or "corpse flower," as known by locals—is a real, if rare, phenomenon, pollinated in the wild by carrion-seeking insects.

But corpse flowers are not only found in the wild and many have bloomed in recent years in botanical gardens worldwide from England to Arizona."

[Also see other National Geographic articles on the "stinky flower" and weird plants.]

Is your marketing a corpse flower?

Does it smell of rotting flesh, decaying substances, putrid decomposition?

I'm sorry. I don't mean to be gross, vulgar, or obnoxious. This is probably the strangest post you'll ever read on this site. But at least it will get your attention.

Let's face it: some marketing programs get you nowhere. They seem dead. Useless.

Some marketing fails to emphasize the one strong point that differentiates a company or product from the competition.

It uses "we-oriented" corporate fluff talk. "We (blah blah blah)...our products are (blah blah blah)...our expertise is (blah blah blah)."

It fails to provide photos of the product in use by people as they solve a problem, gain a benefit, or enhance their life.

It fails to provide complete, easy to understand details, complete lists of features accompanied by strong, desirable benefits of each feature.

It fails to clearly identify who the product is made for and why this type of user needs it right now.

It fails to explain powerfully how the product is honestly superior to competitive brands (if this is indeed true, not hype).

It fails to provide all the information the customer needs to decide which model, size, color, options, etc. best suited to their individual needs.

It assumes that customers already know certain things they may not know at all.

It has an arrogant, strident, hard-sell, old-fashioned "push the product on the customer" tone.

It consists of a web site constructed by someone's daughter as a college project, copy written by someone who knows what they want to say, but not how to say it as a professional copywriter, and art that is boring, building-oriented, or full of generic smiling people who are obviously stock images and not real personnel or real customers.

It fails to use satisfied customer testimonials or pretigious endorsements.

It fails to use 100% money back guarantees, limited time offers, or discount deadlines.

It fails to provide incentives for customers to refer friends and relatives.

It has reluctant, half-hearted, outsourced, impersonal, inept customer service, thus no sense of customer loyalty or word of mouth advertising power.

It's out of touch with dynamic business blogs and highly interactive web sites as marketing tools. It has no user-community building apparatus.

It's a big stinking Corpse Flower.

So everybody has to try harder. The sales staff, business process workers, customer service, dealers and distributors, advertising agency--everybody has to double their efforts, as they drag around a cadaver.

The corpse flower, stinky flower, devil's tongue, rotten flesh flower, or whatever it may be called, hides underground in a storage tuber and arises from its sepulchre once every one to three years.

It blooms, around midnight, for only 48 hours, then collapses again. While it's in blossom, it send out its hideous stench in undulating waves that alternate from the smell of dying elephant to rotten eggs.

The amorphophallus titanum stink flower attracts those creature that enjoy feasting on, and laying eggs in, decomposing carrion. Flies, carrion beetles, etc.

Heralded as the world's largest and stinkiest plant, it can grow up to 12 feet tall.

I first heard of these things on the disreputable Art Bell radio program about 10 years ago. I thought it was a hoax. It's not. These things exist. Nature is not exclusively beautiful, peaceful, and nice smelling. There are some real horrors and stinkers out there.

Similarly, all the flowers springing up in the garden of marketing are not pretty and pleasingly fragrant.

You must elevate your vision and seek marketing strategies that are living, in touch with how people really think. Mentally Correct.

If you're slogging along with mediocre, schlocky promotional material that doesn't do justice to your products, that keeps your business from growing vigorously, consider the root of the problem.

Maybe you need to dig up the stinky, sluggish, slop-bucket marketing "plants" and replace them with beautiful, professional, prestige marketing "flowers".

Step up to the bright light of living, real, vibrant Mentally Correct Marketing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Derrida documentary film

Rent it at Blockbuster or other film rental outlet. Posted by Hello


Yes, according to the description
at the web site,
in this film, Jacques Derrida
does indeed "deconstruct himself",
that is, analyzes his own
previous interviews.

Here it is folks, Jacques Derrida
in his own words. The leading,
and perhaps most controversial
, of the 20th Century.

Did Derrida really say
there is no "absolute truth"?

Well, I know that when asked
about O.J. Simpson, Derrida
simply said that only O.J.
knows for sure if O.J. is
guilty or innocent.

That's all he said, at least
in the press statement I read.

And that paragraph above
illustrates how Derrida claimed
that "truth", as used in philosophy
at any rate, depends greatly on
the intersections of various texts
and their contexts.

It is true that that is all
Derrida said about O.J. Simpson that particular moment,
according to that particular report,
by that particular journalist.

Derrida may have said many other
things regarding O.J. Simpson.
I don't know.

This is very different from
saying "there is no absolute truth."

O.J. absolutely did...
or did not...
kill that woman.

Bill Clinton absolutely did...
or did not...
"have sex with that woman."

The definition of "is" is "is"!

"Is" was "is", will be "is",
and is "is". Okay?

How does all this affect
Mentally Correct Marketing?

Derrida's analysis has major
benefits for marketing strategy
and advertising critiques.

Once you follow Derrida as he
uses, say, Freud against Freud
(as one example of
"text against text"),

showing how all textual empires
crumble from hidden flaws,
contradictions and inconsistencies,

it's easier to deconstruct a
mundane television commercial.

I love Derrida's books, and I
will soon view this
documentary film.

Though I may not agree with
all Derrida's opinions,
I do admire his analytical
methodology, the choices he
made for philosophical texts
to rigorously examine and
critique, and just the writing
style he employs.

Just check out my Derrida quote
and my commentary on it over at
my Vaspers the Grate blog,
the article "Blogs as
Deconstructionist Monsters

What Derrida says about
new forms of art, new media,
new anything being typically
perceived, at first, as
"monstrosities" is funny,
yet sadly accurate.

Derrida, the most difficult writer
I've ever read (with the possible
exception of Jacques Lacan), and yet,
at the same time, my favorite author
of all time (with the possible
exception of Proust).

We miss you JD.

Death is itself going
to be deconstructed
[if you know what I mean].

goodbye JD Posted by Hello

Friday, October 08, 2004

Beheading Videos: Poor Usability

Terrorist "marketing" strategy is off target. Posted by Hello

I think it's time someone stood up
and proclaimed the Triumphant Truth:

Beheading is not
what it's cracked up to be.

"Gruesome" is not the word for it.

"Ridiculously Underwhelming"
are much more appropriate words for
this desperate attempt by terrorists
to gain attention.

All beheading accomplishes is loathing,
and longing for more "shock and awe"
bombing of all nations that harbor
such timid and ineffectual villains.

DISCLAIMER #1: I have not
viewed any terrorist beheading videos, nor
will I ever do so.

However, I will, from a usability
perspective, engage in a critique
of this concept: beheading a person,
videotaping the process, releasing
the video to the public via web sites
and media coverage, and making
unreasonable demands based on
such vain nonsense.

DISCLAIMER #2: I mean no offense
to the families and friends of the victims of
terrorist beheadings.

I sympathize with their suffering and grief.

This analysis is my way of supporting them.

This analysis rightfully mocks the
ineffectiveness and futility of such
terrorist activity, which merely angers
us, and does not "shock" or "terrify"
us at all, in spite of what mainline
establishment journalists announce.

Dual Usability Factors:

Usability has a dual nature.
For a promotional or public
relations effort to be useful,
in a comprehensive sense,
it must accomplish two goals:

1. Influence the audience (the supposedly
"terrorized") to be sympathetic toward
(or frightened into groveling acceptance
of) the sponsoring organization's
(the "terrorists") goals, and decide
to support these goals, or
exert pressure on those who can.

2. Enable the sponsoring organization (the
"terrorists") to communicate an accurate,
motivational message to the audience about
the sponsoring organization (the "terrorists"),
to the end that this message is clearly
understood and endorsed by the audience.

Terrorist Beheading Videos
Exhibit Poor Usability:

1. Negative Message About the Terrorists:

The terrorists display themselves as cowards
with their faces covered up.

Like bullies on a school playground,
they represent themselves
as picking on weak, easy prey,
unarmed and unguarded civilians.

These civilians are then executed by way of
beheading, which is a relatively quick and
painless death (compared to many cancers
and other diseases and fatal injuries).

Civilians expiring in such manner should be
awarded Congressional Medals of Honor and be
celebrated as noble, involuntary martyrs for
freedom of thought and freedom of religion.

2. Undesired Response from Audience:

The results of terrorist beheading videos are:

(a) governments become more stubborn about their
refusal to negotiate with terrorists,

(b) the families of the victims hate the
terrorists and their cause,

(c) the general public is disgusted
with the terrorist tactics and
condemns their cause.

3. Wrong Tactic by Terrorists:

While it may be shameful to admit this point,
it must nevertheless be stated:
Americans in particular have
no strong aversion to gratuitous
violence, suffering, or gore.

Sorry, terrorists.

A beheading simply is not "gruesome" or
"repulsive" when considered in the context
of the standard entertainment fare of average
American teenagers or college age males.

The act itself is morally reprehensible,
and the terrorists are to be condemned for
such an act, but its effect is greatly
diminished in Western culture.

We avidly flock to R-rated, ultra-violent films.

We abundantly produce and purchase sadistic,
ultra-violent video games.

We gleefully watch the gross
"Fear Factor" reality TV program.

4. Wrong User Interface:

The people who are most affected by a terrorist
beheading video are the friends and families of
the unfortunate victims. But the video provides
no means for this segment of the public to
interact with the demands of the terrorists.

Individuals have very little influence on
governments or national policy makers.
Even the companies the individuals work for
are in no strong position to assist the
terrorists or influence their governments.

Message to Mainstream News Media
and Journalists:

Get with it. Terrorist beheading videos, and
news reports glamorizing or sensationalizing
such acts, are not influencing us at all.

The beheadings are not "gruesome" or
"alarming." For jaded American audiences,
they're not even "disturbing."

Quit trying to impress us with video
productions made by our enemies.

Quit subtly promoting such things
for their supposed "news value."

Genocide in the Sudan, North Korean nuclear
weapons development, partisan bias in
mainstream journalism--now these are
truly upsetting and horrific.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Earthlink Scores Big: TV, Web, Core Values

Earthlink Woman w/Orbiting Globular Object Posted by Hello


Here's a rare commodity:
a corporation that scores
big marketing and ethics points
in three major areas--

* TV commercial

* Web site

* Core Beliefs & Values

I just got blown away by the new
Earthlink television commercial.

Two women at kitchen table talking.
Woman A is criticizing Woman B.
"The other ladies are concerned about you."
Catty complaining over coffee.

Woman B has a "dangerous looking"
ball or globe or whatever (see photo)
orbiting, circling around, her head.

This is science fiction, avant garde
advertising at its best, and it also
conveys, in a remarkably memorable manner,
desirable benefits and problem solving aspects
of the product: Earthlink ISP
(Internet Service Provider).

I have seen this TV commercial only once,
but I have one strong impression in my mind:
the orbiting mini-planet is not dangerous,
but Identity Theft is, and Earthlink has
something that can prevent this crime
from being foisted on you.

I honestly don't recall much more.

But that's not bad for seeing just it once.

I remember their company name.
I remember their product.
I remember their logo (orbit & woman).
I remember one or two product benefits.
I remember their creativity.
I remember their innovation.

I remember their "rebelliousness"
(the woman with the orbiting globe
seems "different" but secure and
confident, asserting her secret.)

I crave a repeat viewing of this commercial.

I have a video cassette ready in my VCR
so I can record it and study it in
greater detail. It's bizarre.

Earthlink entertains me, shocks me,
amuses me, informs me, impresses me
pleases me with this new TV commercial.

So I went to their web site.

(For a more detailed review,
check Vaspers the Grate.
Soon I will have a brief
analysis of their site:

Earthlink Web Site comments:

A wonderful "About Earthlink" page,
with a wide range of sub-categories
such as:

* Subscriber Benefits
* Our History
* Contact Us
* Investor Relations
* Our Leadership
* Awards
* Global Internet Alliance
* Policies & Agreements
* Refer a Friend
* Press Room

...and more.

Under "Our History" I found:


Core Values & Beliefs

What's important at EarthLink?

We are convinced that the key
to creating a truly great
organization is an intense
focus on the values that
guide its people's actions.

These are EarthLink's
"Core Values and Beliefs".

If we don't seem to be
living up to them, call us on it!

We respect the individual, and
believe that individuals who are treated
with respect and given responsibility
respond by giving their best.

We require complete honesty and
integrity in everything we do.

We make commitments with care,
and then live up to them.

In all things, we do what
we say we are going to do.

Work is an important part of life,
and it should be fun.

Being a good businessperson does not
mean being stuffy and boring.

We love to compete, and we believe that
competition brings out the best in us.

We are frugal. We guard and conserve
the company's resources with at least
the same vigilance that we would use to
guard and conserve our own personal resources.

We insist on giving our best effort in
everything we undertake.

Furthermore, we see a huge difference
between "good mistakes"
(best effort, bad result)
and "bad mistakes"
(sloppiness or lack of effort).

Clarity in understanding our mission,
our goals, and what we expect from
each other is critical to our success.

We are believers in the Golden Rule.

In all our dealings we will strive to
be friendly and courteous, as well as
fair and compassionate.

We feel a sense of urgency on any matters
related to our customers.

We own problems and we are always responsive.

We are customer-driven.


I don't use Earthlink, and don't plan to.

I'm happy with my current ISP.

But if I ever become dissatisfied,

I'll start satelliting around their planet

to discover more realms within Earthlink.

Thanks for the user-friendliness, Earthlink!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Streight Eye for the Dairy Queen Guy

DQ logo with my recommended slogan added. Posted by Hello


I can't hardly believe the bad news about Dairy Queen.

I'll try to be civil, generous, and diplomatic.

Oh, flap a banana at a flop boat, I just can't be kind about this.

Thanks to Katherine Stone over at the blog Decent Marketing for this story.

In her blog, Ms. Stone refers to a Brand article about Dairy Queen seeking a whole new look and marketing platform.

Michael Keller, Executive VP, Marketing and R&D, International Dairy Queen (IDQ) says that by turning Dairy Queens into Grill & Chills, with upscale menus, special viewable ovens, and a (disconcerting) "take a number and wait for the food to be delivered to your table" service:

"'s clear this isn't your father's Dairy Queen..."

And he goes on to say it also isn't a standard QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) otherwise more clearly known to the discerning public as a FFJ (Fast Food Joint).

He also suggests that "Dairy" and "Queen" are not "food friendly" terms.

Mr. Keller admits that Dairy Queen is most famous for its Peanut Buster Parfaits, Dilly Bars, and Pecan Mudslides.


This is, in my quick, gut-reaction assessment, marketing suicide.

An established, well-liked company should emphasize what it's famous for, not destroy it.

Take what the public already likes about you, and think of new, creatively fresh ways to maintain that heavily promoted, highly financed position. Ever heard of "legacy"? Apparently not.

So many companies are ruining their brand by deviating from a solid position, in favor of some wild and reckless "new, more contemporary" hype-mongering.

Mentally Correct Marketing is very similar to the Ries Doctrine of Positioning: take the established mind-set and enhance it.

Why trash a good position?

Why try to change what customers already love about you?

Why try to force people to think about you in a completely new and different way?

Is your old, traditional marketing angle so rotten and worthless you have to throw it in the garbage? I doubt it.

I think this is Panic Marketing.

Too many old-fashioned, reliable, nostalgic things are passing away. Now we have to add "your father's Dairy Queen" to that poignant list? Please tell me this is just a nightmare and not true life.

I repeat: take what is already good, and enhance it.

This is why I, after thinking about it for 5 seconds, came up with the proposed Mentally Correct Marketing slogan:

"Dairy Queen. Where the food is now as tempting as the dessert."

If Dairy Queen paid me, I'd spend more time trying to resolve their marketing "dilemma" and maybe be lucky enought to come up with even better slogans and marketing ideas.

But for now, this is my answer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Capture Attention-Command Action

Two sides of your marketing coin. Posted by Hello

You use creativity
to capture attention,
communicate benefits,
convey the product functions
and features that make
these benefits occur...

...then use responsivity
to command or coax customers
into acting on your offer.

Responsivity elements include:

* limited time urgency
* free samples
* satisfied customer testimonials
* money-back guarantee
* reply deadline
* bonus gift
* reputable referrals
* trial use period
* upfront credentials
* credibility characteristics
* prestige indications
* easy to use reply functionalities

...but don't forget that "call to action."


For specific solutions to your
marketing problems...

Contact via email: steven DOT streight AT gmail DOT com

Do it right now...while you're thinking about it.

Psychologically Unsound 15 Second Sitcoms

Ads That Simply Entertain Are A Waste of Money Posted by Hello

We've all seen them.

Television commerical ads that seem like 15 second sitcoms.

A recent large airline company commercial shows a black guy trying to remember his new son-in-law's name, he thinks it starts with a "B." His wife, who, being a woman, is supposedly better at remembering family type stuff, keeps saying "No" to his guesses as they make their way to the airplane.

Finally, somehow, an airline ticket taker, also female, says (is she a psychic?) the correct name.

Maybe I need to see this again to understand how the ticket taker knew the name.

But no matter how many times I view this commercial, I'll never arrive at a good reason to use American Airlines, or whatever the airline was. Even that fact is fuzzy in my mind.

So many television commercials, radio spots, and print ads are pulling similar shenanigans, and some poor sap is signing off on them. Some dumb corporate advertising manager is thinking they got their money's worth. Now, that's a real joke.

Listen up people: this is lame, idiotic, ineffectual advertising.

I'm being harsh here for a reason.

It's not funny that terrorists used commercial airlines to attack the United States. It's not funny that some major airlines are facing possible bankruptcy. It's not funny that customers have to go through wearisome security checks. It's not funny that some customers are humiliated during security checks. It's not funny that bombs and guns and knives still slip past security checks. It's not funny that armed air marshalls may be required on board.

So why try to make light humor of boarding a plane. You do not see the couple, in this commercial, going through any security checks. Not that you must show this, but to instead show the guy trying to remember his new son-in-law's name? This is pathetic nonsensical advertising, and it happens all the time on television.

You may be able to make a micro-sitcom commercial work, I mean, make it create a powerful impression of why I should choose your product or service over all your competitors.

But I can't recall any recently that were successful from a Mentally Correct Marketing standpoint.

THEREFORE: if you want me to laugh, make a commercial that causes me to laugh at people who don't use your product, so I feel justified and smart when I buy it.

It's A Dark World We Live In...

Posted by Hello

Rathergate: deconstructive analysis of the "apology"

Rathergate Man Posted by Hello

FIRST KNOW THIS: Streight Site Systems is aggressively non-partisan. We favor no political party and no candidate. Liberals and conservatives are equally suspicious to us.

RATIONALE: CBS and other Mainstream Media journalists have launched vicious attacks on Citizen Blogger Journalists ("J-Bloggers"). Such anti-democratic, elitist nonsense will be gleefully commented upon in this forum.

J-BLOGGERS: You also need to shape up. Please always include hypertext links in your posts, so readers can link directly to sources of quotes and news reports. Don't assume that everyone knows where they are found.

For a full account of Rathergate and why our democratic institutions are threatened by his arrogance, please refer to Kathleen Parker of The Union Leader newspaper.


(CBS) Below is the text of CBS News Anchor Dan Rather's statement on the documents purportedly written by President Bush's National Guard commander:

"Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a "60 Minutes Wednesday" story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question-and their source-vigorously.

And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers.

That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where-if I knew then what I know now-I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

But we did use the documents.

We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry.

It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully."


1. "I find WE have been misled":
failure to accept personal responsibility.

2. "questions that have been raised in
the public and in the press":
how about the blogosphere, your nemesis?
Conveniently left them out.

3. "vouching for them journalistically":
you mean you would vouch for them
personally, the contents are true,
but the documents are fake?
it's only "journalistically"
that you find them coming up short?

4. "if I knew then what I know now":
but you should have "known then" what
you "know now"--that's your job as a journalist.

5. "But WE did use the documents.
WE made a mistake in judgment":
failure to accept personal responsibility.

6. "error was made in good faith":
this makes the error, the sloppy journalism,
any less serious and troubling?

7. "investigative reporting without fear or favoritism":
yet no apology to the Bush campaign, to Bush himself,
to the American voters, to the world? how is this stubborn
arrogance and attempt to cover up not "fear or favoritism"?

CONCLUSION: There are many blog campaigns to force CBS to fire or retire Dan Rather, who would rather deny that he has a political ax to grind, and who is possibly guilty of trying to illegally influence national elections, which is a federal crime. When the mainstream media attack bloggers, we fight back.

(More on blogs as deconstructionist monsters at Vaspers the Grate site.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Mentally Correct Product Promo Priorities

MentCorrMar promos Posted by Hello

Product Promotion Priorities:

1. Mind wants to get rid of problems.
(Your product solves them.)

BUT...if mind sees no pressing problems...

2. Mind wants to accumulate benefits.
(Your product provides them.)

BUT...if mind is satiated with benefits...

3. Mind wants to enhance life.
(Your product offers improvement.)

BUT...if mind sees no room for progress...

4. Mind wants to make money.
(Your product increases income.)

BUT...if mind has more money than it can use...

5. Mind wants to reduce costs.
(Your product economizes, controls waste.)

BUT...if mind sees super-abundance not threatened by leaking...

6. Mind wants to generate good will.
(Your product causes admiration.)

BECAUSE...mind can never have enough love.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

MC vs. PU copywriting Posted by Hello

MC vs. PU marketing Posted by Hello

Mentally Correct Marketing begins with:

"What do customers for
a product like this
want the product to do?"

"What do competitive products
fail to do for the customer?"

"What can honestly be said
about this product
that we haven't said yet,
but is a powerful benefit?"

Psychologically Unsound Marketing
cares only about seducing customers
and often goes about this clumsily,
due to the hurry to make easy profit.

Mentally Correct Marketing
is peaceful and compassionate,
and recognizes how the mind works.

It works with the mind, not against it.


Mind is repulsed by deception.
Mind is depressed by ugliness.
Mind is angered by contradiction.
Mind is dulled by repetition.
Mind is diminished by ignorance.
Mind is de-motivated by chaos.
Mind is disrupted by distractions.


Mind is delighted with truth.
Mind is charmed by beauty.
Mind is attracted to logic.
Mind is refreshed by variety.
Mind is excited by genius.
Mind is thrilled by triumph over obstacles.
Mind is energized by newness.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Four Corners of Your Marketing World

Turn to us for marketing solutions. Posted by Hello

You use ideas.
You use strategies.
You use words.
You use images.

You do your marketing.

Nothing happens the way
you want it to.

Using the wrong ideas?
Using the wrong strategies?
Using the wrong words?
Using the wrong images?

Maybe we can help.

Contact via email: astreight AT msn DOT com

(That's the spam prevention method of rendering email address.)

Also see:

Problem Solving Products defeat heavily promoted junk.

User-driven vs. Hype-driven

Posted by Hello

User-driven Problem Solvers
are ethical products that
seriously attempt to help
people or to enhance their lives.

Hype-driven Profit Makers
are "take the money and run"
products that are promoted
just to make a fast buck
off unsuspecting suckers.

User-driven Problem Solvers
need to be accompanied by
extremely good service
and money-back guarantees.

Hype-driven Profit Makers
tend to provide grudging service
and that's often offshore outsourced.

Mentally Correct Marketing is...

Posted by Hello

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Oprah Hawk Show Host

Oprah has gone from
talk show host to
hawk show host,
according to the
Chicago Sun Times.

They compare her egomaniacal
theatrics and audience hysteria
to the old television program,
"Queen for a Day"...

wherein materialistic,
discontented housewives
would present dreary, hard luck tales
in exchange for shiny new
kitchen gadgets & appliances.

When you go to Oprah's web site,
you will see nothing about her
grandiose car giveaway stunt,

until you go down to the bottom
of the homepage. There, in a
text link (no photo) is a sentence:

"We made dreams come true!
Cars for everyone. Watch!"

This desperate act of mentally
incorrect marketing was done
to bolster her sagging viewership.

MotorTrend reminds us that Oprah's
"My Favorite Things" giveaway
was spoofed on Saturday Night Live.

They also said that Jonathon Gray,
at the University of California, Berkeley
warns that these stunts could cause people
to think that charity requires sponsors
and he warns that these stunts just drive
people to consume more products.

Consider these facts and observations:

* Occurs during Oprah's 19th season premiere.

* Pontiac G6 model, not yet in showrooms.

* 276 audience members, selected due to
alleged "need for an automobile."

* In one hour, the Pontiac G6
dominates conversations.

* Oprah has never had a
homeless people audience.

* The Oprah show is now like
a game show without a game,
but with plenty of prizes.

* The success of this show depends
largely on how much longer viewers
will tolerate a vicarious thrill seeing
others walk off with gifts they may
not really need or deserve.

* Oprah is using "makeovers"
and "giveaways" to
promote her own brand
and increase her popularity,

this is not true, selfless
altruism or philanthropy.

* Oprah seems to have an
insatiable craving to be admired.

* On the Fast Company Now blog,
commenter "Urijah" said Oprah
never pulls a single penny out of her pocket,
it's the sponsors and advertising agencies
that provide the merchandise, whilst Bill Gates
makes pledges of $3 billion to charitable causes.

* The Chicago Sun Times explains how Pontiac
is the real winner, getting free plugs in all major
media, for nothing, just from a $8 million cost
on the cars that were given away on Oprah's show.

DISMAL CONCLUSION: reports on how Oprah
jumped up and down on the stage
yelling: "Everybody gets a car.
Everybody gets a car. Everybody gets a car."

Like with many televangelists
and professional religious figures,

the attention and glory is not given
to the true source of the blessings or gifts,

but to the vain one who struts around
bestowing it upon the adoring crowds.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Rational Capitalism vs. Psycho Capitalism

Posted by Hello

Psycho Capitalism focuses on how to gain more sales of questionable or malevolent products,
and provides grudging, unsatisfying service.

Rational capitalism
focuses on how to
better serve customers
with improved products
and enhanced service.

User interaction with the product = user mirror.

mirror of user reality vs. blank wall of marketing guessworkPosted by Hello

Customer Service IS a Profit Center

(Seth Godin's customer service problems ,
and the offshore outsourcing warning
in the Federal Times, were the
inspiration for this one.)

Have you heard the new joke?
It's enough to make me choke.
"Customer service is never
a true profit center." customer dis-service a profit center?
Is customer disloyalty good for business ever?
Tell me, does that bad word of mouth
make profits head north...or head south?

Now listen up.
I'm only going to say this once:
Now listen up.
Don't be a foolish dunce.

Customer service IS a profit center.
Direct marketers have known this forever.
Good customer service
may consume more time,
but those who don't have it
are low forms of slime.

Let's skip the poetic rhymes
and get serious now.

It's possible to track
the fiscal effects of
poor customer service
vs. good customer service.

You don't receive a check
every time you provide
a service to a customer,
they don't pay for it usually.

But this doesn't mean
customer service is a loss,
a money-loser, unprofitable.

Each good service you give,
you gain a vote and a voice.

A vote from the customer
a vote of confidence
a vote of satisfaction
a vote of loyalty
a vote for continued purchasing.

A voice of the customer,
proclaiming your virtues,
encouraging others to try your product,
cheering you on to victory
over your competitors .

Customer service is profitable.
Customer service is an expected
feature included with the product,
like a owner's manual or warranty.

It's not something reluctantly
thrown in as a bonus.
It's not a peripheral issue.

Ever stop going to a restaurant,
not because the food was bad,
but because of poor service?

Companies that shove
customer service off on
incompetent, unconcerned
outsource providers...they anger me.

Dumb ass, ask your
marketing department
if "customer service"
is a fringe detail of a product.

Dumb ass, your competitors will
take good care of your customers
if you refuse to do so.

You think corporate profit
is a "numbers game"?
Just sell as many products to
as many people as possible,
and leave it at that?

Just sell it, then move on
to the next sucker?
Once they've bought it,
they're stuck with it?

Your big budget advertising
will reach more people
than the bad word of mouth
of dissatisfied customers?

Customer service as a
grudging add-on,
are you kidding?

That's like courting a woman
lavishly, then beating her up
once you've got a wedding ring
on her finger.

Idiotic. Sadistic. Amateur.

Relegating customer service
to a low priority
is the mark of advancing
suicidal insanity.

Offshore outsourcing
of customer service
and the service personnel
can barely speak English,
and they're happy with
$1.30 a day, since it's
"much more than what
other jobs in that country pay."

Companies think
they're saving money?
They're losing customers,
but saving money?
They're defiling their brand,
but saving money?
Creating a negative mental profile
in the minds of the public,
but saving money?

The outsourcing "logic" is:

your in-house staff is careless,
they don't check references,
they mis-place files,
they aren't detail-oriented,
they resist new procedures,
they're too comfortable,
they're not dedicated,
they don't take their work seriously...

But total strangers who know nothing
about your business or customer base...

...your sensitive information:
employee records,
medical data, encryption codes,
and network security...

are in good hands with them...??????

Yeah, right.

Go "save a lot of money" all you want.

I'll be laughing along with your competitors.

You're "saving a lot of money" while
you're losing a lot of customers.

Poor service kills great products,

and "mind-blowing advertising"
during the Super Bowl,

or "awesome giveaways"
on the Oprah Winfrey show,

won't save them from
the spreading sickness
of poor service and
bad post-sale attitudes.

"The customer is always right,
so just put her on hold.
Eventually she'll get exasperated
and hang up." = corporate greed-psychosis.

Martha Stewart & Mentally Correct Marketing

Martha Stewart needs a strong,
but ultimately refreshing dose
of Mentally Correct Marketing.

When will celebrities, hot shots,
and smarty pants ever learn?

Here's how the human mind works:

1. People who do something wrong
should admit it.

2. People who don't admit it
seem like liars, con artists, egomaniacs.

3. People who persist in framing everything
in pretty doilies,
when more appropriate would be
a wreath of thorns,
are not respected or trusted.
Nor are they given sympathy.

4. People who feel like they're being
railroaded into punishment,
when they're actually innocent,
should quit whining
and acting magnanimous
about getting their just desserts.

5. People who are truly innocent
are usually better off
being humble, self-effacing,
patient, and even silent.
Jesus displayed these
qualities when being accused
and led to his unwarranted death.

6. Martha Stewart is using
image-centric marketing:
preserve the original image,
with no concessions, at all costs.

7. Image-centric marketing is
for losers, unethical CEOS,
and desperados.

Invasion of the Bloggers

"Beautiful bloggers, boldly
lashing out against frauds,
against tyranny,
against false gods...

Beautiful bloggers, told me
how to market me,
how to email free,
how to embark on
a blogging spree..."

Some lyrics to a
new hit song
in the radio
of my heart.

Yes, blogging really is
the next big thing.
Blogs distribute hot news,
URL discoveries,
personal, educated opinions.

Ignore the blah blah blah plogs,
the P [ersonal drivel web] LOGS,
filled with boring, egocentric trivia.

Turn toward the phlog blogs:
PH [ilosophical web] LOGS
filled with profound, user-centric treasures.

Soon, we will all get most of our
news, how-to tips, gossip,
web site recommendations,
technical help, encouragement,
spiritual illumination, even
inter-personal fellowship...

...from blogs. Blogs that act
as antidotes to the controlled media,
as remedies to the poisoned churches,
as refreshing relief from elitist cliques,
as answer machines seeking truth.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Mirror of User Reality

Everything you think you know
about your product, service, or organization
is a ridiculous lie. Every idea is wrong.
Until...envisioned and reflected
in the Mirror of User Reality.

The Mirror of User Reality.
The Truth of Product Viability.
The Fact of Service Functionality.
The Knowable Fragment of the Actionable Marketing Universe.

Nothing is "true" or "real" or "objectively actual"
until you observe, non-invasively, even secretly if possible,
typical users operating your product
or accessing your service
or interacting with your personnel.

The Mirror of User Reality.

Everything else is meaningless garbage.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

What's a "Benefit"?


As marketing consultants, we constantly proclaim:

"Tell customers what benefits the product provides."

"Explain how those features result in specific benefits to the customer."

"Put the biggest, most desired benefit of the product in the headline."

And clients sometimes ask: "What do you mean? What's a benefit?"


Okay. Here's a partially redundant
catalogue of what a benefit is:

...a good result that occurs
when you use the product
(e.g. products that only help
when we activate them)

...a nice thing that happens
because you have the product
(e.g. products that work
without our operation: a vaccine)

...the practical purpose of the product's existence

...what makes an item a buyable product,
rather than an object of useless curiosity
or callous indifference

...what, without the product, is accomplished
with much more effort, time, or expense

...the desired effect of a product feature

...what a product function must produce

...what causes a product to be liked by customers

...the reason why the customer buys the product

...what each product feature must be translated into,
when describing the product to customers

...what all promotional material must emphasize

...what every headline must contain

...what draws customers toward you...
or toward your competitors

...what all innovations strive to accomplish
in a new way, or for new customer segments.

Simplicity Shall Prevail


This is the official blog
of Streight Site Systems.


Not a chatty blog

where I try to be witty...

...and you post comments

praising or criticizing me.


This is a demonstration

of minimalistic marketing.


In this blog of business poetry,

simplicity shall prevail.


You'll receive good ideas

as easily as opening your eyes


faster than the speed of thought.


"Mentally Correct Marketing"

Welcome to it.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Mentally Correct Marketing #01

Mentally Correct Marketing.

Means knowing how the mind works.

Then developing promotional material.

That satisfies and delights the mind.

So customers enjoy reading or hearing or seeing it.

That's all. But that's enough.

Faster Than Thought

Your message must be


You must grab

the attention
of the customer.


tell them what they
need to know...

in language
they'll understand...

about how your product
will benefit them

with a benefit they
very much.